Posts by: Economic Development

Louisiana Economic Development Secures Biomedical Company Expansion With 425 Jobs

Biomedical company Renaissance RX is relocating and expanding its headquarters operations in New Orleans.

Renaissance RX in New Orleans

Renaissance RX in New Orleans (photo –

Renaissance RX, founded in 2012 at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, is investing $8 million for moving to a larger 30,000-square-foot headquarters in the Central Business District in New Orleans itself.

As part of the expansion, the company will create 425 new jobs with an average annual wage of $54,100, plus benefits.

As per estimates from Louisiana Economic Development, the project will support the creation of another 407 indirect jobs, adding up to a total of more than 800 new jobs in the Greater New Orleans region.

Renaissance RX already has 80 employees in the region, and a total of more than 800 across the country.

LED Secretary Stephen Moret said in a release that the remarkable growth of homegrown Renaissance RX adds yet another significant economic development win for Louisiana, and added that the company’s expansion plan offers the promise of hundreds more professional jobs in New Orleans’ biomedical sector.

LED began negotiating with Renaissance RX for this project earlier this year in March, and secured it by offering the company five annual performance-based grants totaling $925,000. The $185,000 grants will be paid out annually for five years.

Renaissance RX will also receive workforce solutions through LED FastStart, the state’s workforce development program. The company is also expected to be eligible for incentives under the Quality Jobs Program.

Renaissance RX Founder and CEO Dr. Tarun Jolly noted that the State of Louisiana has created an extremely conductive environment for new businesses through unrivaled programs including LED FastStart workforce training and tax incentives for creating quality jobs.

Greater New Orleans economic development organization GNO Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht said they are thrilled with the expansion of Renaissance RX in New Orleans, and added that the company’s growth is clear evidence that the region is primed to become a hub for medical research commercialization.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu likewise noted that Renaissance RX’s expansion and growing investment in the city is a strong indication that New Orleans is poised for continued growth in the bio-innovation and health services industry.

The Mayor also commended the partnership of economic development agencies and their unwavering commitment to positioning New Orleans and Louisiana as industry leaders in this sector.

Businesses at Large NYC Economic Development Projects to be Covered Under Living Wage Provisions

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that raises the Living Wage to $13.13 per hour and expands its scope to include commercial tenants at NYC economic development projects receiving over $1 million in City subsidies.

Mayor de Blasio signs NYC living wage  executive order

Mayor de Blasio signs NYC living wage executive order (photo –

The executive order, made through New York City’s Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, will expand living wage provisions to an estimated 70 percent of all jobs at firms receiving support from City agencies.

With the executive order in effect, the new living wage of $13.13 will be applicable for roughly 18,000 jobs over the next five years, as compared to the previous living wage of $11.90 that would have reached only 1,200 jobs.

The City’s analysis indicates that roughly 4,100 of the impacted jobs will be those who earn the state’s minimum wage of $8 at fast-food and retail outlets. For these workers, being covered under the new living wage provisions will mean a hike in gross annual income from $16,640 to $27,310.

The Living Wage will furthermore be adjusted each year to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Mayor de Blasio said in a release that with this order, thousands of breadwinners working at projects supported by taxpayers will earn higher wages and be more likely to receive the kind of benefits critical to supporting a family.

The executive order does not apply to small businesses with gross income below $3 million or certain city-backed affordable housing projects. It will also not apply to manufacturers, who will instead be encouraged by city agencies to assist employees with skill-building and upward mobility on the career ladder.

South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation President Phillip Morrow said that individuals and families who work hard to support the local economy and local businesses will directly benefit from this executive order.

Community Service Society President and CEO David R. Jones said that these policies ensure that when NYC invests in large economic development projects, workers, businesses and local communities will all benefit.

Center for Urban Research Director John Mollenkopf said this measure was long overdue, with the City spending almost $700 million annually on property tax exemptions for developers, in addition to other forms of assistance. Mollenkopf added that this executive order balances the scale by ensuring that the people who hold jobs in these developments will also benefit in a real way from that effort.

Texas Small Business Awards for Three Austin Businesses

Three small businesses in Austin were presented with Texas Small Business Awards at the 2014 Getting Connected event at the Palmer Events Center, which included a Governor’s Small Business Forum.

Texas Small Business Award winner

Texas Small Business Award winner (photo –

The event was hosted jointly by the City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Small Business Program, the Texas Workforce Commission, and Texas Wide Open for Business.

The three winners – The Entermedia Group, Austin Sailboat Rentals, LLC, and D. Martin Homes, LLC, were picked by managers of various city departments out of all the nominations sent in by local nonprofits.

The Entermedia Group (TEG) was chosen for excellence in the use of a microloan. This award category honors small businesses for creative use of microloans (not exceeding $50,000) for starting or expanding their business.

Before seeking the microloan, TEG only had two employees. Now the firm, which specializes in diversity compliance consulting and software, has been awarded multiple term contracts and has increased its staff to include ten diversity and contract specialists.

Austin Sailboat Rentals, LLC won an award for excellence in keeping the character of the community. This category honors local firms that embrace Austin’s culture and give back to the community while adapting to change.

Austin Sailboat Rentals won this award because it provides an environment-friendly recreational opportunity and supports many community service organizations. They have trained over 1,000 people learning to sail, including 300 children between the ages of six to fifteen.

The third small business, D. Martin Homes, LLC, won the award for excellence in hiring. Their Green Solutions Systems division worked with at-risk youth through American YouthWorks’ YouthBuild program to install solar panels on energy efficient homes in East Austin purchased by low-income first-time home buyers.

Since then, the firm has continued working with Youthbuild and has even employed several of the Youthbuild participants they worked with, who would otherwise face significant barriers in finding gainful employment.

City of Austin Economic Development Department Director Kevin Johns said in a release that companies like these three are exactly what makes Austin such a great place to live and do business.

Johns added that small business is vital to the Austin economy and said he wants to thank the award winners and all the other small businesses in the city that give so much back to the community.

Apart from these awards presented at the State of Small Business luncheon, the free Getting Connected event also offered attendees one-on-one consultations about issues that are important to small businesses. The event also featured several panel discussions and learning sessions for small businesses on topics such as exports, creative funding options, and writing government proposals.

Uber Expansion in Chicago to Create 420 New Jobs

Ridesharing giant Uber is expanding its regional headquarters in Chicago and will be adding 420 new jobs by the end of 2016.

Uber Live in Chicago

Uber Live in Chicago (photo –

Uber’s expansion announcement was made by Gov. Pat Quinn, who last month vetoed legislation (HB 4075) that would have imposed restrictions on Uber and prevented any further growth by the company in Illinois.

Uber’s Chicago office serves as their headquarters for the company’s Central Region that includes the Midwest along with Canada and Texas.

They already have 80 full-time employees in Chicago who oversee the operations and provide support for Uber ridesharing in more than 40 cites across 16 states and provinces, of which 11 are in Illinois.

Uber outgrew its current office space in Chicago in just three months, and is now moving to a 56,000-square-foot space in a building currently being remodeled for tech tenants including Uber, Twitter and Gogo Wireless.

But Uber and other ridesharing companies are facing regulatory pressure to shut down in cities all over the map. Unlicensed drivers using these transportation network companies to pick up passengers are typically considered illegal by default under state law, and it requires legislation from local or state governments to make them lawful.

For instance, the Austin City Council in Austin, TX is currently considering a resolution that would make Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing operators in the city legal. At the same time, taxi companies are lobbying the Austin City Council to introduce amendments that would force Uber and others to shut down their service in Austin.

Governor Quinn’s veto of the Uber bill in Illinois ensured that there would be no statewide restrictions on Uber and ridesharing, and individual local governments will now be able to craft their own legislation based on their own transportation needs.

Governor Quinn said in a release that Illinois is making a comeback, and cutting-edge companies like Uber are a key part of it.

“Through innovation and job creation, Uber is helping drive Illinois’ economy forward,” said Gov. Quinn.

Andrew MacDonald, regional general manager for Uber Central, said the innovative nature of their business requires that policymakers do their homework on how it works and the appropriate way to regulate it.

MacDonald noted that when policymakers do their homework, they will learn that Uber brings a number of benefits to cities including service to neighborhoods ignored by taxi companies, fewer drunk driving incidents, and higher income for drivers.

According to data published by Uber, their platform is creating 20,000 new driver jobs every month and generating $2.8 billion annually for the U.S. economy. Their econometric analysis shows that Uber’s entry into Seattle caused the number of DUI arrests to drop by 10 percent.

MacDonald added that they are glad that Gov. Quinn understands this and chose to side with consumers by vetoing the anti-ridesharing bill that would have prevented Illinois cities from enjoying these benefits.

California Governor Signs Economic Development Legislation

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed a raft of bills intended to boost California economic development and strengthen the state’s business climate through everything from enhanced infrastructure project financing powers for local governments to a redefinition of distressed areas.

CA Governor Jerry Brown

CA Governor Jerry Brown (photo –

One key piece of legislation that became law is AB 229, introduced by Assemblymember John A. Pérez. It authorizes local governments in California to form an infrastructure financing district for financing projects on a former military base.

The law also allows funds from the RDA Property Tax Trust Fund to be used for the district, and allows the district to finance projects in former RDA areas.

The Governor also signed AB 2292, introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, which allows communities to use infrastructure financing districts to create communitywide broadband projects.

Another bill that became law is SB 614, by State Senator Lois Wolk. This bill allows local agencies to use tax increment financing in newly formed or reorganized districts for funding improvements in disadvantaged unincorporated communities.

Legislation introduced by State Senator Jim Beall (SB 628) was also signed into law after extensive negotiations. This bill allows for the creation of enhanced infrastructure financing districts for specified infrastructure related projects and facilities at the local level.

These infrastructure financing bills will help local governments raise funding for everything from affordable housing to energy efficiency and water and sewage projects. The legislation signed will also ease a vexing issue faced by cities and counties across the state that were left holding approved and in-progress redevelopment projects when the state’s redevelopment agencies were eliminated.

The proposal for enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs) was included in the budget, and the Governor’s Office has been pushing for enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts for some time now as a way to perform certain urgently required functions which the former redevelopment agencies were doing, but without bringing the RDAs back to life as they were.

Which is why the Governor also vetoed bills such as AB 2280 by Assemblymember Luis Alejo which would have authorized local governments to create “Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities” as a replacement for the eliminated redevelopment agencies.

Other bills signed into law by the Governor include AB 337 by Assemblymember Travis Allen. This bill seeks to modernize California’s international trade strategy by requiring an evaluation of the state’s ports of entry and their capacity for handling international trade.

Assemblymember Jose Medina’s bill (AB 2022) also became law and redefines economically distressed areas so as to encourage business in areas across the state that have the highest poverty and unemployment.

States, Cities Align Advanced Manufacturing Events With National MFG Day

The third annual National Manufacturing Day, which has come to be known as MFG Day, is on Oct 3, 2014.

National Manufacturing Day

National Manufacturing Day

A total of 1,408 MFG Day events have been officially registered as of now with the organizers of MFG Day, which is co-produced by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International.

States and local and regional organizations all over the map are putting together these events to raise awareness of advanced manufacturing and bring together manufacturers and educational institutions.

Manufacturers are throwing open their doors to invite student groups and others for open house events that include facility tours, presentations and learning sessions.

For example, a group of 40 students from the Kansas City, MO school district will be touring the GM Fairfax Assembly plant. In California, 3D printing technologies provider Purple Platypus is offering a tour of their 3D printing showroom wherein manufacturers can learn how 3D printing advances product development and helps you get your product to market faster than competitors.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick has proclaimed Sept 29 to Oct 3, 2014 as Advanced Manufacturing Week. Patrick Administration officials will be participating in events across the state that promote advanced manufacturing careers and raise awareness of the programs in place for supporting manufacturers.

In North Carolina, the NC Industrial Extension Service is taking the lead to coordinate and support MFG events across the state.  The Michigan Manufacturers Association is likewise pushing manufacturers and educational institutions to get together and organize events in Michigan.

In Florida, FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center) is working with partners around the state to make a big splash on MFG Day. In Iowa, Elevate Advanced Manufacturing is serving as a clearing house for announcing manufacturing day events planned by the state’s educational institutions and other organizations.

In California, the regional EDC leading San Diego economic development efforts is hosting a manufacturing day breakfast that includes a panel discussion featuring leaders from various industries.

The National Manufacturing Day organizers themselves are trying to get the word out about MFG Day by challenging supporters to change their Facebook and Twitter avatars and use the “I ♥ MFG DAY” icon until Nov 11 when most of the events will have been held.

Also, the Science Channel is airing a week-long How It’s Made marathon with 200 episodes from Sept 29 through to Oct 3, ending with a day-long celebration of Manufacturing Day that showcases modern technology and careers.

MFG Day is also hitting the large screen in twenty cities that are hosting screenings of American Made Movie as part of their MFG Day event lineup.

Orlando Economic Development Commission Gets IEDC Accreditation

The Orlando Economic Development Commission announced that it has been accredited by the International Economic Development Council.

Orlando EDC accredited by IEDC

Orlando EDC accredited by IEDC (video)

Only the top one percent of the 4,400 economic development organizations in North America have been accredited by the IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Association.

IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle said in a release that the Orlando EDC and its team led by Rick Weddle display the technical expertise, commitment and professionalism that is deserving of this honor.

Weddle, who is the president and chief executive officer of the Orlando EDC and served as the IEDC’s first Chairman of the Board in 2002, said that the Orlando EDC is proud to be recognized by the IEDC and for the opportunity to highlight its work in the Orlando region recruiting high-wage jobs and mission-critical strategic jobs initiatives for the community.

The Orlando EDC is a public-private partnership serving the City of Orlando and Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties. The EDC’s efforts at attracting, retaining and growing businesses and jobs since 1977 have resulted in projects adding up to more than $9.5 billion in capital investment and 176,750 jobs announced.

The AEDO program, a peer review process that holds EDOs up to the highest standards in the profession, has two phases – a documentation review phase followed by an on-site visit. Each of these phases is designed to evaluate information about everything from the structure of the organization to its funding, staff and the programs.

The transition from the first phase to the on-site visit happens only after a rigorous review from Certified Economic Developers (CEcDs) and economic development leaders.

During their on-site visit, IEDC representatives met with past and incoming leaders and board members of the Orlando EDC. In order to find out how the EDC partners with the community, the IEDC representatives also met with the EDC committee of regional economic development professionals from member communities and counties, and with other stakeholders including workforce development organizations, utility companies and educational institutions.

They also met with Florida economic development organization Enterprise Florida, and with leaders of the new International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research.

Accredited organizations have to maintain their AEDO status by going through the documentation submission and on-site visit process once every three years.

Firefly Space Systems Gets $1.22M from Cedar Park Economic Development Corp for Relocation to Texas

Firefly Space Systems announced that it is getting up to $1.225 million in incentives and grants from the Cedar Park Economic Development Corporation.

Firefly Space Systems

Firefly Space Systems (photo –

The rocket company relocated its headquarters from Hawthorne, CA to Cedar Park, TX, and plans to create 200 jobs in the Austin suburb by 2019. These are jobs with an average annual wage of at least $60,000, adding up to an annual payroll of $12 million.

Cedar Park Assistant Economic Development Director Larry Holt said in a release that 200 jobs was a very significant project for them.

The company also plans to invest $7.5 million in the expansion during the 10-year period of the economic development agreement it has entered into with the City of Cedar Park.

The 20,000-square-foot office space which the company is negotiating for in Cedar Park is ideally located in terms of proximity to FireFly’s test site spread over more than 200 acres in Briggs, TX.

Firefly hasn’t determined launch sites yet, but their COO PJ King expressed interest in having a launch site in Brownsville, TX, and said that they “absolutely want to build a launch site in Texas,” which King said would be a triple whammy that brings together design and engineering, testing and a launch site all in one state.

According to a post on the company’s twitter account, Firefly is also looking at launch sites in at least four other states including Alaska, Florida, Hawaii and New Mexico.

Firefly’s ramping up of operations in Texas and interest in Brownsville as a launch site follows SpaceX’s groundbreaking on their commercial spaceport in Brownsville. SpaceX is investing $85 million and will be creating 300 new jobs.

Meanwhile, Midland International Airport in Midland, TX received a commercial spaceport license from the FAA on Sept 15. The launch site operator license for Midland is the first one ever to be awarded to an airport that also hosts commercial flights.

Midland’s successful application for the spaceport license for its airport came about as a result of the XCOR Aerospace project. Back July 2012, XCOR announced the selection of Midland for their Commercial Space Research and Development Center, aided by $10 million in Midland economic development incentives.

As part of their deal with XCOR, the City of Midland also agreed to apply for a spaceport license for Midland Airport, where XCOR was provided a renovated 60,000-square-foot hangar for its operations. The approval of the license by the FAA means that the company can now perform test flights at the airport itself.

Midland International Airport’s name is now being changed to Midland International Air and Space Port. Midland Development Corporation Board Chairman Robert Rendall said in a statement that the co-location of the spaceport with their commercial airport will allow Midland to attract additional aerospace companies.

Furthermore, the region’s strong history in in oil and gas production means that workforce skills are easily transferable to aerospace, aviation and supporting industries.

Jacksonville, Florida Economic Development Teams Secure GE Oil & Gas Advanced Manufacturing Facility

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced today that GE Oil & Gas has selected Jacksonville, FL as the location for a new advanced manufacturing facility.

GE Oil & Gas Jacksonville, FL project announcement

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, FL Gov. Rick Scott and City Council members with GE representatives at Jacksonville project announcement

GE will invest at least $50 million for manufacturing and IT equipment, and millions more in real estate improvements to establish the 500,000-square-foot facility at AllianceFlorida Cecil Commerce Center in Jacksonville.

The project will create a minimum of 500 full-time jobs over the next three years with an average salary of $48,850.

The GE Oil & Gas project, referred to until now as “Project Speed,” was a collaborative effort where the City of Jacksonville Economic Development Office and the JAXUSA Partnership worked with the JAX Chamber, Hillwood Investment Properties and Enterprise Florida.

Hillwood Investment Properties is the developer of the AllianceFlorida Cecil Commerce Center, one of the largest industrial parks in Florida. Hillwood signed a contract in 2010 with the City to develop 4,475 acres of City-owned property in the industrial park, which is located on what was formerly the Cecil Field Naval Air Station.

GE Oil & Gas is getting $10 million in incentives from the City of Jacksonville and $5.4 million from the State of Florida.

The Jacksonville City Council has already approved a resolution authorizing the City to enter into an economic development agreement with the company. As per the agreement, GE will get $2.5 million in local and state incentives under the Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Tax Refund program, including $500,000 from the City as its local match for the $2 million the State of Florida will provide.

The City would also provide the company with a Recapture Enhanced Value (REV) grant estimated at $6.5 million over the 15-year period, in addition to an Economic Development Manufacturing Employer (EDME) grant in an annual amount not to exceed $200,000 over 15 years (or a maximum total of $3 million).

Apart from the $2 million under the QTI program, the State is providing additional incentives through the Quick Action Closing Fund (QACF) and additional support and funding for workforce training through the Quick Response Training (QRT) program.

Mayor Brown said in a release that they competed against a number of other communities for this great economic opportunity, and won. “It shows that Jacksonville is a great place to do business,” said Mayor Brown.

Jerry Mallot, president of JAXUSA, the economic development arm of JAX Chamber, said this project would not have happened without the city, state and JAXUSA working together, and this is another example of how the strong partnerships in the city and state are bringing high-paying jobs to the community.

North Carolina Kicks Off 1000 in 100 Workforce Development Initiative

Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker kicked off the statewide 1000 in 100 workforce development initiative with a listening tour in which they visited employers in different cities.

1000 in 100 NCWorks tour - Gov. Pat McCrory and NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at Epes Transportation in Greensboro, NC

Gov. Pat McCrory and NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at Epes Transportation in Greensboro for 1000 in 100 NCWorks tour

The initiative, announced as a part of the new NCWorks program, called for local workforce development teams across the state to visit 1,000 businesses throughout the state’s 100 counties during the last 100 days of this year to seek input from employers about their workforce needs.

NCWorks itself was launched earlier this year as a program that consolidates all of North Carolina’s workforce development efforts under one roof.

The 1000 in 100 initiative started off in Cary, NC with Gov. McCrory and Secretary Decker visiting DB Global Technology Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. DB Global Technology expanded its software development center in Wake County last year and announced plans to add 431 new jobs.

Company officials talked to the Governor and Sec. Decker and outlined their concerns about finding, hiring and retaining skilled workers.

State officials, accompanied by North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls, continued the listening tour to Charlotte to speak with company executives from Cummins/Atlantic, Novant Healthcare and HAWEUSA.

After that, the tour continued to Greensboro, where they spoke with executives from Epes Transportation, the state’s largest privately-owned transportation firm. Epes already works closely with Guilford Technical Community College for finding and hiring employees.

Epes also has an apprenticeship program for veterans taking truck driving training through a special arrangement with Fayetteville Technical Community College that conveniently allows the training to be completed at Fort Bragg.

Individual counties and local governments across North Carolina are arranging their own listening tours as part of the 1000 in 100 initiative. For example, teams of workforce development partners from Brunswick County will be visiting local businesses starting Oct 1.

The Brunswick County effort is being co-chaired by Cape Fear Workforce Development Director Margie Parker and by Velva Jenkins, vice president of Continuing Education, Economic and Workforce Development at Brunswick Community College.

The team undertaking the effort includes representatives from the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, three local chambers, and the Small Business Center, among others.

Similarly, Town of Harrisburg Economic Development Director Anna Lu Wilson is coordinating the 1000 in 100 outreach efforts to contact businesses in Harrisburg.

The information gathered from all such efforts across the state will be combined with other research to develop recommendations for changes to improve North Carolina’s workforce development system.

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