Posts by: Economic Development

Cool Planet Investing $168M for Louisiana Bio-Refineries

Greenwood Village, Colorado-based Cool Planet Energy Systems announced plans to build three modular biomass-to-gasoline refineries in Louisiana.

Cool Planet Energy Systems

Cool Planet Energy Systems (photo –

The bio-refinery projects at the Port of Alexandria, Port of Natchitoches and another as yet undisclosed site in Louisiana will require the company to invest $168 million.

The projects will create a total of 72 direct jobs with average annual wages of $59,600, plus benefits.

Louisiana Economic Development (LED) additionally estimates that the projects will support the creation of another 422 indirect jobs, leading to overall job creation possibilities of almost 500 new jobs.

The Cool Planet projects will also support another 750 construction jobs while the refineries are being built.

Apart from the three refineries, Cool Planet plans to establish a regional office in the City of Alexandria. This commercial project will require the company to spend around $500,000 for infrastructure improvements.

Cool Planet Energy Systems CEO Howard Janzen said they chose Louisiana as the location of their first commercial refinery for multiple reasons, including a business-friendly attitude towards innovative companies such as Cool Planet. He also cited the availability of renewable feedstock supply as one of the factors.

LED began negotiating with the company last year in September. Incentives offered to Cool Planet include a $750,000 grant under the Economic Development Award Program for offsetting infrastructure costs.

The company will have access to LED FastStart for recruitment support and workforce training. They will also be eligible for additional incentives under the Louisiana Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin said they were excited that Cool Planet was not only creating new jobs for the local economy, but also doing it in manner that was environmentally responsible.

Cool Planet will be harvesting forest byproducts and wood waste for making gasoline at these refineries, each of which will have a production capacity of 10 million gallons of high-octane pressure gasoline compatible for use in vehicles.

The gasoline will be federally certified as renewable cellulosic gasoline made from wood chips that are sustainably harvested. The wood residue (tree bark, thinnings, branches and tops of trees) Cool Planet will use creates additional value for timber management companies and forest owners in Louisiana.

As a byproduct, the refineries will produce biochar that can go back into the soil and help maintain nutrients and water levels. This whole process reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 150 percent as compared to regular gasoline.

Cool Planet has plans to develop 400 such refineries across the United States over the next decade. The company is funded by investors including Google Ventures, BP, and North Bridge Venture Partners, among others.

Ardagh Metal Packaging to Set Up Manufacturing Plant in Reno, NV

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) announced that Ardagh Metal Packaging USA Inc. will establish a new manufacturing plant in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in Storey County, NV.

NV Governor Brian Sandoval, Storey County Commissioner Marshall McBride and Ardagh CEO

Governor Brian Sandoval, Storey County Commissioner Marshall McBride and Ardagh CEO (photo –

The project will create 140 jobs in northern Nevada over the next five years, of which 72 are slated to be created within the first six months.

The new positions created will be for skilled technical workers, and will have average annual wages of more than $24 per hour.

Earlier this month, Ardagh announced the choice of Roanoke County, Virginia as the location for a new metal can manufacturing plant on the east coast. That project is slated to create 96 new jobs.

James Willich, CEO of Ardagh’s metal packaging business in the U.S., said they evaluated many sites for the western region expansion. He said Storey County offered attractive factors such as proximity to one of their major customers, infrastructure and logistical advantages, a low cost of living, availability of skilled labor, and a favorable business tax structure.

A statement from EDAWN noted that the company had considered 37 buildings in two states before settling on the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. They said one of the factors that influenced the company was the support of state and local governments for the application and permitting process to demonstrate that they would work with Ardagh.

TRIC is a 107,000 acre park which includes a 30,000-acre industrial complex pre-approved for industrial and manufacturing projects. It is on the I-80 nine miles south of Reno, and offers rail serviced sites with sewerage, water supply, high pressure gas and five generating power stations on-site.

EDAWN CEO Mike Kazmierski said they were thrilled to welcome Ardagh to the community, and added that the announcement was the direct result of concerted efforts, including by the Storey County team and by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and his staff.

The Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group manufactures and supplies metal and glass packaging for food and beverage companies. Their clients include major food companies such as ConAgra Foods and beverage giants such Coca-Cola, Bacardi, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg.

The Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group’s U.S. metal packaging business is based in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The company has more than 18,000 employees across 100 facilities in 25 countries, and produces more than 32 billion containers annually.

Walmart Manufacturing Summit Announcements – $70M Investments, 1000 Jobs

The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Summit held Aug 22, 2013 in Orlando, Florida got off to a good start in its stated goal of jump-starting the U.S. manufacturing industry and adding another $50 billion to Walmart’s purchase of goods from domestic suppliers.

Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Summit

Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Summit (photo –

Walmart suppliers announced investments worth more than $70 million during the event, with said projects expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs.

GE Lighting announced plans to expand manufacturing operations in Bucyrus and Circleville, Ohio, and Mattoon, Illinois to produce energy-efficient soft white light bulbs that will be sold through Walmart stores starting next summer. GE will invest $30 million for these expansions and will create 150 new jobs.

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said GE and Walmart understood how to bring the best people and technologies together for making the world work better. He said this announcement reinforces their belief that manufacturing is a competitive advantage that allows U.S. companies to compete and win in all corners of the world.

Another major announcement was made by Element Electronics Corp., which said it will open a new flat-screen television production facility in Winnsboro, South Carolina. The project calls for a $7.5 million investment, and will create 500 new jobs. This is a reshoring project which relocates the company’s manufacturing operations from China back to the U.S.

Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said their collaboration with Element Electronics had facilitated state level discussions which made the partnership a reality.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, one of several governors attending the Walmart Summit, said they welcomed Element Electronics to South Carolina’s business community, and added that the announcement was another indicator that the State was doing the right things to attract job-creating investments.

Other companies who announced domestic manufacturing investments include Kayser-Roth Corporation, Renfro, Chobani and Hampton Products International.

The Walmart Summit brought together 1,500 attendees, including 500 supplier companies and 32 state governments and major retailers. Governors and other state officials were able to speak directly to hundreds of manufacturers looking to create jobs, and suppliers were able to learn about the resources available in different states for potential projects.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said she applauded Walmart for convening the summit to bring together multiple organizations from the public and private sectors. She said it was exactly the kind of cooperation that is required for growing businesses, creating jobs and keeping America competitive.

Brown-Forman Pours $103M Into Jack Daniel’s Expansion

Brown-Forman Corporation executives joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and other state and local officials to announce an expansion project for the historic Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.

Jack Daniel's

Jack Daniel’s (photo – nola.agent/flickr)

Brown-Forman Corporation, the parent company of the Jack Daniel Distillery, will invest $103 million for adding stills, barrel warehouses and other infrastructure required for the expansion.

The project will create 94 new full-time jobs during the next five years.

Construction will begin later this year on the same site where the distillery is currently located, and the new facility will use the same cave spring water.

The expansion, the biggest yet in the history of the brand since it was founded in 1875 right after the Civil War, is required because of a spurt in global demand for the distillery’s famed brand of Tennessee Whiskey.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey  production volume has increased for 21 consecutive years, and the net sales of the family of Jack Daniel’s brands grew nine percent in the last fiscal year.

Jeff Arnett, master distiller of the Jack Daniel Distillery, said the global demand speaks volumes about the specialness and craftsmanship of a spirit that is distilled in Tennessee from a small cave spring hollow. He said the expansion would help Jack Daniel’s continue bringing its distinctive charcoal-mellowed whiskey to the world.

Metropolitan Lynchburg-Moore County Mayor Sloan Stewart said Lynchburg is proud to be the home of the oldest distillery in America. He said they appreciate all that Jack Daniel’s has done to give back to the community, and added that they were looking forward to many years of continued success.

Gov. Haslam said the company was an American brand, but also a Tennessee brand recognized around the world, which he said makes it a global ambassador for the State. He said Jack Daniel’s was one of Tennessee‚Äôs most historic exports, and helps in their efforts to introduce new Tennessee products to the global marketplace.

John Bradley, senior vice president of Economic Development, Tennessee Valley Authority, offered congratulations to the Jack Daniel Distillery on behalf of TVA and the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation.

Bradley said it was exciting to see existing companies prosper, and added that they were pleased to partner with local leaders and the State of Tennessee as they helped existing business and industry add jobs and invest within their community.

The Jack Daniel Distillery, officially registered in 1866, is currently the oldest registered distillery in the U.S. and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It has grown in the last 147 years into a global brand sold in 160 countries. The Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF:A and NYSE:BF:B) now has nearly 4,000 employees and generated $3.61 billion in revenue last year.

Fritz Industries To Build Manufacturing Facility in Greenville, TX

Fritz Industries, Inc. announced plans to build a new manufacturing and office facility in Greenville, Texas.

Greenville, TX economic development

Photo –

The company will invest $37.5 million to renovate and equip the former Newell-Rubbermaid plant.

The Fritz Industries project will create 250 new jobs. The State of Texas offered them $800,000 through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to close the deal.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that the TEF investment in Fritz Industries would create hundreds of jobs in Greenville, while pumping millions of dollars into the local economy and further strengthening the state’s economy.

The Mesquite, Texas-based Fritz  Industries already has an existing manufacturing facility in Greenville. They manufacture products used in cementing and drilling, and stimulation fluids required by oilfield service companies. The company also conducts R&D for improving productivity of new oil and gas wells, and extending the life of existing wells.

Dan Montgomery, president and CEO of Fritz Industries, said their employee-owned Texas-based company was proud to be making this investment in the City of Greenville, and added that the TEF funding would help them build a state-of-the-art facility that would be critical to developing new initiatives for the oilfield sector and creating jobs for Greenville residents.

When the Rubbermaid plant was shut down last year, Greenville lost 490 jobs. Greenville Mayor Steve Reid said they had worked very hard in partnership with the State to make this deal happen, and Fritz Industries would fill a major void in Greenville’s employment and tax base. He thanked Gov. Perry, Rep. Dan Flynn and Sen. Bob Deuell for their support for Greenville.

Rep. Flynn said he appreciated the Governor’s Office working closely with his office and Greenville’s leadership and economic development team to bring the company and its jobs to the area. Sen. Deuell said he was honored to be part of the team effort that got this accomplished, and added that the Fritz manufacturing plant in Hunt County would have a profoundly positive impact on the local economy.

The Texas Enterprise Fund has become one of the most competitive tools used by the state to recruit and bolster business. To date, TEF funds worth $498.9 million have been invested in projects that have led to 20.8 billion in capital investment and the creation of 69,277 new jobs.

Palm Beach County, FL in Line for Hundreds of Clean Energy Jobs

The Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County, Florida, will be meeting next week to decide on an incentives package for a clean energy producer that is planning a major expansion of its operations.

Palm Beach County relocation and expansion

Palm Beach County relocation and expansion (photo –

The company, identified only as “Project Gas,” is a wholly-owned subsidiary of an international company. The subsidiary is currently located in a leased facility in Palm Beach County.

The project will help Florida retain 372 jobs and create hundreds of new jobs with average annual wages of $69,000, excluding benefits. This is 150 percent higher than the county’s prevailing average annual wages.

Apart from the Town of Jupiter in Palm Beach County, Florida, they are also looking at sites in Virginia and Tennessee.

The company has filed two sets of expansion plans with Palm Beach, and is asking that both plans be conceptually approved, so that they can finalize the deal and sign the agreement quickly once they decide on the location and the scope of the expansion.

The first plan filed by Project Gas says they will invest $31 million by 2016 for constructing a new 137,000-square-foot facility and renovating 180,000 square feet of existing space to accommodate office space, warehousing and their R&D operations.

Under this plan, the company would commit to creating 120 new full-time jobs within three years. They would agree to retain both the new jobs and another 372 existing jobs for at least five years. The county estimates the project will have a $617 million economic impact over a five year period.

The State of Florida would support the project by providing incentives worth $2.5 million under the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund Program, requiring a local match of $218,000 each from both the Town of Jupiter and Palm Beach County.

The second option Project Gas has filed involves the company investing $65 million to build a 360,000-square-foot facility. This plan will create 330 new jobs by 2020, in addition to retaining the existing 372 jobs. The plan will have an economic impact of $642 million over a five year period.

If the company opts for this bigger expansion, the State of Florida will provide $6.3 million in QTI tax refunds, matched by an $800,000 ad valorem tax exemption from Palm Beach County and a $464,000 contribution from the Town of Jupiter.

Dolly Parton Unveils $300M Dollywood Investment Plan

Country music legend Dolly Parton announced capital investments worth $300 million over the next ten years in The Dollywood Company in Tennessee.

Dolly Parton - $300M investment for Dollywood resort

Dolly Parton’s $300M announcement (photo –

The projects to be undertaken include a 300-room DreamMore Resort adjacent to the Dollywood theme park and Splash Country Waterpark in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Parton, who is a Sevier County native, said the resort was the realization of a dream she’d had for more than three decades.

Parton said her plans for expanding the Dollywood properties would offer families more opportunities for playing together and growing closer while creating their best memories.

The Dollywood Company commissioned an economic impact study, which showed that that the company and its hospitality investments would add $150 million annually to the region’s economy. Their 10-year investment plan will generate $7 million in additional state and local tax revenues.

The investments and addition of a new resort to the area will create a total of 2,500 new jobs in Sevier County and other East Tennessee counties during the same period, primarily in the construction and hospitality sectors.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, spread over 100 acres in the foothills of the Smokies, is scheduled to open in time for the company’s 30th anniversary in the summer of 2015.

The resort will offer 8,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and a conference center, an indoor-outdoor pool complex, a full-service farmhouse-themed restaurant, amphitheater, spa and salon and other amenities just minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, TN.

This $300 million, 300-room resort on 100 acres of land will be a major addition to the existing properties of The Dollywood Company, which include the 150-acre theme park, 35-acre water park, and the luxurious Dollywood Cabins located a couple of miles from the parks.

Another part of the investment is for the construction of the new FireChaser Express rollercoaster, scheduled to open March 2014 at Dollywood.

Craig Ross, president of The Dollywood Company, said that with Dolly Parton’s vision and their world-class properties as the foundation, the company was poised to become a family vacation destination like no other.

The Dollywood theme park began operations on May 3, 1986, and is now Tennessee’s most popular ticketed attraction, hosting almost 2.5 million visitors annually. The company is already the largest employer in Sevier County.

NVTC, Launch Veterans Employment Initiative in Virginia

The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) has launched an employment initiative that connects veterans to job opportunities within Virginia’s technology community.

NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative

NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative (photo –

The NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative was announced during an event at ICF International in Fairfax, attended by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as well as U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

NVTC Chair Sudhakar Kesavan noted that the initiative was unique because it was driven by the business community working in conjunction with policymakers and the region’s academic institutions.

NVTC is Northern Virginia’s trade association, and it is the largest technology council in the nation, serving around 1,000 organizations and companies. Through its member companies, NVTC represents 300,000 employees in Virginia.

For this new employment initiative, NVTC teamed up with to build an online community and resource for facilitating hiring and training of military veterans in the tech sector.

The website offers a searchable database of available jobs at NVTC member companies in Virginia, along with a military skills translator to assist veterans in matching their skills to jobs in a civilian environment.

NVTC members can post their jobs for free on this site, and they will have access to the 800,000 veteran resumes that Monster has in its database.

The job listings are also being promoted to’s membership of 10 million veterans and their spouses, in addition to other partner organizations that will help put the available jobs in front of veterans all over the nation.

NVTC will organize events and provide resources to promote best practices for hiring, training and retaining veterans, and will encourage member companies to expand their own veteran employment programs.

NVTC is planning on advocating for policies at the state and federal level by working with policymakers and legislators for identifying solutions to promote education and training for veterans, and their access to employment. Their focus will be on eliminating barriers that prevent government contractors from hiring and training veterans.

NVTC is partnering with its community college and university members to develop training programs that will address the skills gap veterans face when they enter civilian life.

Apart from NVTC and, other charter members of the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative include Acentia, the American Veterans Center, Center for Innovative technology (CIT), DCL Associates, Dominion, ICF International, The MITRE Corp., Northern Virginia Community College, Salient Federal Solutions, and Serco.

Steve Cooker, executive vice president of Global Government Solutions for Monster Worldwide, explained why Monster was taking an active role in this initiative.

He said the program was a natural for Monster, where connecting people to job opportunities was a part of their DNA. Also,, a Monster subsidiary, provides a deep and rich legacy working with veterans and the military.

Cooker said that as a member of Northern Virginia’s business community, they saw the NVTC initiative as bringing all these elements together right in their own back yard.

Report – Top Trends in State Economic Development

A new report released by the National Governors Association (NGA) highlights how states are focusing on important trends such as boosting startups, advanced manufacturing and exports in their economic development initiatives and strategies.

State economic development trends

State economic development trends (photo –

Six trends in state economic development that have emerged in the past two years:-

– Focusing on the Relationship Between the State and its Regions;

– Emphasizing Job Creation Within the State;

– Strengthening Support for Advanced Manufacturing;

– Creating Partnerships to Meet Industry Demands for Talent;

– Raising Expectations for Universities to Bridge the Gap between Research and Commercialization; and

– Stepping Up Business Export Initiatives.

NGA Executive Director Dan Crippen said that job creation remains a top priority for governors, and they are looking for ways to emphasize programs and policies that support businesses and have strong buy-in from the industry.

The report says that one of the challenges most state economic development systems face is coordination of functions that are managed by dozens of local, regional and state agencies. Lack of coordination among these agencies diminishes the effectiveness of the state’s overall efforts.

In the last few years, at least six states have made alignment of state and regional economic development strategies and operations one of their top priorities. The report cites the Colorado Blueprint; Tennessee’s Jobs4TN Regional Accelerators program; and New York’s establishment of ten regional development councils and the new Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.

Even though only two percent of annual job gains across states are attributed to business relocations, most state economic development agencies have traditionally focused on competing with each other to attract investments by large firms.

But now, states are shifting their job-creation focus inwards towards boosting startups and growth of existing companies already within their borders. At least 20 states have introduced legislation or launched programs in the past two years for boosting the number of startups in their state, and seven states have developed strategies to assist companies with high growth potential.

The report cites Pure Michigan Business Connect and the Hawaii Growth Initiative as examples of how states are assisting business growth, along with Nebraska’s use of Gallup’s Entrepreneur Acceleration System (EAS) for identifying small to medium-sized businesses with high growth potential.

Read the full NGA report on trends in state economic development – Download (pdf)

Detroit Gets $52 million in Federal Funding to Fight Blight

Back in June, the U.S. Department of the Treasury had announced that five Michigan cities had been approved for a total of $100 million in federal assistance for blight elimination under a pilot program called the Hardest Hit Fund.

Step Forward Michigan Program

Step Forward Michigan Program (photo –

Gov. Rick Snyder has now announced that Detroit alone will get $52.3 million under this program for funding large-scale demolition of abandoned properties that will help stabilize neighborhoods, fight crime and preserve property values.

The remaining four cities will get $37.4 million, with $10.2 million being held in reserve for additional demolition projects and unforeseen costs.

Out of the $37.4 million, the City of Flint will get $20.1 million. Grand Rapids will get $2.5 million, while Pontiac gets $3.7 million and Saginaw $11.2 million.

The $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) was created in 2010 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). HHF provides assistance to the 18 states (and the District of Columbia) that were hardest hit by the 2007-08 housing crisis.

The funds are provided to each state’s housing finance agency, which then designs and administers programs using these funds to help improve the housing market and assist homeowners who may have lost their employment and are struggling to hang on to homes whose values have dropped below what they owe on the mortgage.

In this case, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is routing the federal funding through their Step Forward Michigan Program, which has already established several programs to stabilize the state’s housing market and reduce foreclosures.

The $100 million in federal funding to eliminate blight will be part of this effort to further enhance neighborhood recovery in areas already being targeted under Step Forward Michigan.

MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley said their experience in responding to the housing crisis had taught them that there was a direct link between blight and foreclosure. He said they had sought to modify the program and include blight elimination because it made for a more holistic approach to helping communities that were hardest hit recover.

Officials from Detroit and the other four cities worked with MSHDA’s team to pick neighborhoods and properties that aligned with the HHF program’s goals. The award amounts were calculated using a formula that took into consideration vacancy and blight elimination data.

Treasury Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary J. Miller said this program seeks to prevent foreclosures by tackling blight in a way that has never been done before. She said they were proud to work with Michigan’s leadership for the program’s rollout, and hoped it would contribute in a broader way for revitalizing the communities where it is being implemented.

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