Posts by: Economic Development

Lehigh Valley EDC Undertakes Study to Develop Regional Strategy

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), the economic development organization for Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, has launched a strategic planning process to help craft a regional strategy for Lehigh Valley’s economic development initiatives for the next decade.

Lehigh Valley economic development

Lehigh Valley economic development (photo –

LVEDC has contracted with site selection and economic development consultant Garner Economics, LLC to conduct a review of the region, identify Lehigh Valley’s strengths and weaknesses, and recommend economic development strategies.

The planning process, including the cost of the study by Garner Economics, is funded through a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.

Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC, said that we live in a period of tremendous economic change, and innovation and technology continue to affect all aspects of the economy. He said it was more critical than ever to take a hard look at the region’s strengths, weaknesses, assets and liabilities, and develop a strategic and smart approach on how to purse economic growth and market the region.

The study aims to develop a regional approach to growth and development that will help all Lehigh Valley entities engaged in development issues. It will help in aligning efforts around policy and funding issues between non-profits and government entities to better meet the entire Lehigh Valley’s long-term goals.

Jay Garner, who leads the Atlanta, Georgia-based Garner Economics, will hold focus groups next month with stakeholders from governments, businesses, organizations and academic institutions. He will also attend a meeting of government officials from all 62 municipalities and both counties.

The study will include an inventory of existing Lehigh Valley businesses, along with a cluster analysis of existing business types and a targeted analysis of the industry sectors that would be ideally suited for the area. The study will evaluate how the region’s assets can be used to attract these desired targeted industries.

It will also include statistical details about job classifications and the makeup of the workforce in the region. The study will identify, evaluate and prioritize development areas. It will examine current business retention efforts, focusing on preventive measures for assisting at-risk companies.

Holly Edinger, Envision Lehigh Valley study director, said the plan would be a roadmap not just for LVEDC, but also for all entities engaged in economic growth issues in Lehigh Valley.

Wisconsin Providing Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment Grants

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has launched a new program to assist communities looking to redevelop large industrial sites that have been abandoned or need extensive improvements.


Wisconsin (photo –

Wisconsin communities may apply for grants of up to $1 million under the Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment Program.

Villages, cities, town, redevelopment and community development agencies and other government entities can apply for this grant to help with redevelopment of sites that exceed 10 acres in size.

The grant is available for sites where the site conditions are impeding redevelopment, and it has been left idle, abandoned or underutilized for the past five years.

Recipients can use the grant for environmental remediation, demolition or site-specific improvements in accordance with community redevelopment plans.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said the revitalization of abandoned sites would create unique opportunities for economic development and growth.

This is a competitive program, and WEDC plans to distribute $3 million annually. Proposals have a better chance to be approved if there is an approved redevelopment plan which demonstrates the site’s potential for economic benefits such as creation of full-time permanent jobs and additional property taxes.

Reed Hall, CEO and secretary of WEDC, said the program was structured for furthering marketability of neglected sites, with preference for sites in central business districts or in high-density urban areas. He said that the redeveloped idle industrial sites would become generators of economic development and improved quality of life for the communities where these sites are located.

The program was approved last month as part of WEDC’s FY2014 plan. WEDC also approved another Community Development Investment Grant Program which provides incentives for shovel-ready programs.

Apart from the new Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment Program, Wisconsin communities also have access to other Brownfield programs such as the Site Assessment Grant (SAG) Program, which provides grants for environmental assessments and demolitions on eligible abandoned, idle or underutilized commercial and industrial sites.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) additionally offers “Ready for Reuse” grants and loans for environmental cleanups of brownfields. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Brownfields Program which provides direct funding for assessments and cleanups, environmental job training and revolving loans.

Sen. Tom Udall to Introduce Tech Transfer Bill

Tom Udall, U.S. Senator for New Mexico, announced that he is going to introduce a technology transfer bill in Congress to create high-tech jobs by streamlining the U.S. Department of Energy’s research commercialization process.

Public-private technology transfer

Public-private technology transfer (photo –

The bill, tentatively titled as the “The Technology Transfer Invention, Innovation, and Implementation Act,” will be introduced in the U.S. Senate in September.

The bill is designed to facilitate public-private partnerships at the regional, state and federal level.

Udall made the announcement during a workshop on technology transfer at Santa Fe Community College.

Paul Hommert, director of Sandia National Laboratory was one of the speakers at the event, along with Duncan McBranch, chief technology officer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Udall said his bill will address many of the key challenges the Department of Energy faces in its technology transfer process.

He said New Mexico was well-positioned to build on cutting-edge research at the national labs, military installations and universities, and turn it into high-tech jobs for communities across the state. But it required improved coordination between private enterprise and the government at the DOE in order to create successful high-tech industries.

The Tech Transfer will tackle these challenges in three ways:-

The Office of Advanced Research Tech Transfer and Innovation in Energy (ARTTIE) will be established at DOE headquarters, and will be connected to the network of existing tech transfer offices at all the national labs.

A new Entrepreneurs in Energy Corps (E2-Corps) will be established at the DOE, similar to the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps. E2-Corps will support investments in scientists, engineers, mentors and entrepreneurs.

The bill will enable DOE to realign incentives to make technology transfer a priority, using a public-private partnership model similar to the ones used by USAID and the Small Business Administration (SBA) for economic development.

John Freisinger, president and CEO of Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC) which was one of the sponsors of the tech transfer workshop, said the initiative represents a bold new vision of the possibilities in technology transfer when the laboratories work together for a common purpose with entrepreneurs, private industry, non-profits and the investment community.

Sturm, Ruger & Co Firearms Facility in NC to Create 473 Jobs

Southport, Connecticut-based firearms maker Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE: RGR) will be establishing a new manufacturing facility in the Town of Mayodan, North Carolina.

Sturm, Ruger & Co

Sturm, Ruger & Co (photo –

The proposed expansion and possible selection of the Rockingham County site for the project was announced by Ruger last month, but it has just been finalized and the State of North Carolina has now released more details about the project and their agreement with Ruger.

The company will invest $26 million into the project, which is expected to create 473 new jobs by 2017.

The average annual wages of the new jobs created will exceed $45,000, plus benefits. The prevailing average annual wage in the county is $33,007.

Ruger already has around 2,100 employees at its headquarters in Southport, Connecticut and two existing manufacturing facilities in Newport, Arizona and Prescott, New Hampshire. The Mayodan plant will be their first major expansion in the last 25 years.

Locations in Florida, Texas and South Carolina were also in consideration for the project. The focus was on the workforce, since employees in firearms facilities have to pass a federal background check. The company hired Greyhill Advisors as consultants, and asked them to look at local crime and drug usage rates, in addition to the usual site selection factors.

Ruger President and CEO Mike Fifer said they had created 900 jobs in the last five years, and hoped to continue this growth in Mayodan. He said they had held two job fairs in the area, and the response had been phenomenal. Fifer said the caliber of prospective employees was really impressive.

North Carolina secured the project by offering Ruger performance-based grants of up to $9.46 million under the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program.

Ruger is eligible for 12 annual grants, each totaling up to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings for new positions created at the facility after the date of the initial award.

The company will be moving into a vacant 220,000-square-foot building that was formerly a textile plant operated by Unifi Inc. The facility will be operational in the first quarter of 2014.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said that advanced manufacturing companies such as Ruger know that North Carolina is just the place for them to flourish and grow. He said the skilled manufacturing jobs being created would strengthen Rockingham County’s economy and demonstrates the attractive quality of life and strong talent pool that characterize this part of North Carolina.

Virginia Launches Going Global Defense Initiative

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) has launched a “Going Global” initiative for mitigating the impact of cuts in defense spending on Virginia’s economy.

VEDP export assistance program

VEDP export assistance program (photo –

The VEDP has received almost $2 million in state and federal funding to help defense contractors in Virginia who have been adversely affected by defense cutbacks.

The Going Global initiative and VEDP’s existing International Trade programs will focus on assisting defense contractors diversify and foray into new international markets.

Going Global will help contractors by providing them assistance through market research, export compliance, export training, training on international certification and standards, security market reports, and search engine optimization, digital marketing and website translation.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said this initiative was truly game-changing at a time when Virginia’s defense-related companies are facing revenue and job losses because of sequestration. He said this innovative program would help reduce dependency on the federal government by assisting defense companies find alternative markets in foreign countries.

The program is open to first-time exporters as well as existing exporters. Kickoff workshops are being held from August 13-15 in McLean, Norfolk and Roanoke to explain how a company can access the available funds for increasing international sales.

A series of export training seminars have been scheduled throughout Virginia on various export issues relevant to the defense industry.  The first of these one-day seminars is scheduled to be held in Williamsburg on Oct 23, 2013, and will focus on International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The next two seminars on Dec 4 and Dec 5 will be held in Arlington and Norfolk, focused on best practices for completing international proposals. Another four seminars scheduled for 2014 will focus on export compliance, contracts and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Martin Briley, president and CEO of VEDP, said they were excited about launching this timely opportunity for helping defense-related companies in Virginia grow in international markets. He said Going Global was the first initiative of its kind in the nation.

Briley also noted that the expertise of VEDP’s International Trade staff would benefit Virginia companies as they identify foreign markets and work through the strategies, considerations and processes required for making overseas sales.

Defense companies in Virginia can find out more about the Going Global program and apply for assistance on the website. 

Vikon Farms Project in Arkadelphia, AR to Create 172 Jobs

Poultry processing company Vikon Farms announced plans for establishing a new processing facility in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Gov. Mike Beebe at Vikon Farms event

Gov. Mike Beebe at Vikon Farms event (photo – Arkadelphia Alliance)

The company will invest $5.4 million for the project, which will be located in the former Petit Jean Poultry facility, which was shuttered in April 2011 and laid off 385 employees after it lost a Tyson Foods contract.

Vikon Farms will bring back some of these jobs,starting off with 172 new jobs over the next four years.

Apart from direct jobs at the facility, Vikon will support growth in the region by contracting with growers in El Dorado and Union County, in addition to a Vikon supported hatchery in Prescott. Vikon specializes in a breed of free-range chicken serving Asian markets. Their chickens are naturally grown with an all-grain diet, without any antibiotics or hormones.

Governor Mike Beebe said that Vikon was bringing more than just jobs for Arkadelphia, because they were building agricultural partnerships in the region with growers.

Quan Phu, president and CEO of Vikon Farms, said they appreciated the extensive support from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkadelphia Economic Development Alliance. He said the expansion would not have been possible without unwavering support from Arkadelphia, Prescott and El Dorado communities.

Shawnie Carrier, president and CEO of the Arkadelphia Alliance, said this was the type of announcement that shows how working together pays off.

Vikon is the first company to take advantage of the incentives offered under the ¬Ω cent economic development tax approved by voters in Arkadelphia and Clark County.

The tax helps provide incentives to companies creating at least 10 full-time jobs that offer more than 100 percent of the prevailing average county wage. The incentives provided per job for a project may vary from $1,250 to $10,000, depending on the exact average wages of the jobs created.

The tax may also be used for helping retain jobs in certain cases, and the incentive is typically paid out over a period of time as a reimbursement grant for expenses associated with the project, based on the company achieving its job creation targets.

Vikon expects their new Arkansas facility to be operational within six months, once the plant renovations and hatchery work are completed.

Halliburton Considering $125M Expansion in Brownfield, TX

Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services company, is considering an expansion in Brownfield, Texas.


Halliburton (photo – WhisperToMe/wikipedia)

If Halliburton finalizes the deal, they would be spending $125 million on real and personal property investments over the next three years.

The project will create 125 new jobs with average annual wages of $39,500.

The City Of Brownfield had commissioned economic development consultant Brian Kelsey to prepare a fiscal impact study of the proposed agreement between the City and Halliburton. Kelsey is a lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin, and his firm Civic Analytics provides economic and labor market research.

Kelsey presented his findings at a City Council meeting last week. As per his study, the return on investment for the City from the project would be about $2.7 million over the next 10 years, assuming Halliburton begins operations in 2014 and stays in Brownfield for the next ten years.

Due to insufficient data, the analysis did not take into consideration certain factors such as the impact of sales tax revenues, license fees, increased demand for utilities, construction jobs and material purchased from local suppliers. When all this is factored into the returns, the figure is likely to be higher than $2.7 million.

One of aims of the analysis, for which Kelsey used WebLOCI, a fiscal impact software program developed by Georgia Tech University, was to find out whether the total fiscal benefits from the project would outweigh incentives offered by the City.

The Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) and the City of Brownfield have offered to spend $450,000 for rail spur construction and $1.2 million for water and sewerage infrastructure to facilitate the Halliburton project. The company would also get partial tax abatement on property taxes generated by the project.

Kelsey said it was important for communities to know the return on investment if they are planning on offering incentives to a company. He said that in this case, even with a very conservative approach to the cost-benefit analysis, it looks to be a win-win for Halliburton and the City of Brownfield.

BIDCorp Director David Partlow said he anticipated Halliburton would be announcing their decision on the expansion within the next two to four weeks.

CUNY Consortium to Lead NYC Science and Resilience Institute

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced progress on an agreement between the federal government and the City of New York for cooperative management of 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parkland in and around Jamaica Bay.

Jamaica Bay

Jamaica Bay (photo – GK tramrunner229/wikimedia)

The original agreement was signed between the National Park Service (NPS) and NYC last year in July, along with the formation of a Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.

As an update on this agreement, it was announced that the City University of New York (CUNY)-led consortium has been chosen for setting up a new Science and Resilience Institute.

The Institute will be a research center focused on research for a restoration of Jamaica Bay with the intention of promoting an understanding of resilience in urban ecosystems and adjacent communities.

Secretary Jewell said that the federal government, the CUNY consortium and the City of New York will work together to develop and coordinate coastal resiliency approaches for Jamaica Bay that would serve as a model for communities all over the world that were being threatened by climate change.

CUNY Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly said that together with their partners in the consortium, CUNY would engage in a groundbreaking effort for revitalizing Jamaica Bay’s ecosystem.

The Institute will work with other academic institutions, public agencies and non-profits already engaged in research on and in Jamaica Bay. Apart from the City and NPS, the institute will develop programs in coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers, NYC Parks, and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.

The Institute, which is expected to be operational this fall at a temporary location within the campus of Brooklyn College, is planning to get started by hosting global and local experts for a symposium to examine the exact meaning of urban resilience and ways for achieving it.

The symposium, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and scheduled to be held Oct 17-18, 2013, is titled “Urban Resilience in an Era of Climate Change: Global Input for Local Solutions.”

Apart from the City University of New York, the following is the list of organizations and institutions that are a part of the consortium selected to lead the Science and Resilience Institute:-

Wildlife Conservation Society

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Cornell University

Earth Institute, Columbia University

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

Stony Brook University

Stevens Institute of Technology

Mayor Bloomberg said the consortium was an all-star team of non-profits and research institutions who will be doing important work for protecting and preserving urban ecosystems from development and the impact of climate change.

AAR Corp Facility at Chennault Airport to Create 500 Jobs

Wood Dale, Illinois-based AAR Corp. (NYSE: AIR) announced that it had signed an agreement with the Chennault International Airport Authority to set up an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at the airport in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

AAR Corp

AAR Corp (photo –

AAR is the largest independent MRO provider in the United States, and this will be the company’s sixth MRO facility in North America.

The 520,000-square-foot facility and an 118,000-square-foot hangar currently under construction which the company plans to use will be capable of providing MRO services for up to seven wide-body aircraft or 10 narrow-body aircraft.

AAR plans to retain 250 workers formerly employed by Aeroframe Services, LLC, which had been providing MRO services at Chennault since 2000.

AAR will additionally hire 500 new employees at the facility by 2017. These new jobs will have average annual wages of $46,600, plus benefits.

The project will support another estimated 526 indirect jobs, leading to the creation of a total of more than 1,000 new jobs.

The State of Louisiana has agreed to pay $17.5 million out of the $21.5 million construction cost of the hangar the company plans to use. The hangar was one of the factors that made Chennault a leading choice for the AAR expansion.

AAR’s incentives package includes a $2.0 million grant as reimbursement for capital investments on equipment and tooling. The company will be also be eligible for additional incentives under the Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.

AAR will be provided with workforce assistance through LED FastStart. The State of Louisiana is additionally teaming up with SOWELA Technical Community College to set up a national Aircraft MRO Center of Excellence that will provide a steady flow of trained workers to AAR and other aviation service providers in the area.

The announcement was made by AAR Chairman and CEO David P. Storch and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, accompanied by airport authority and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) officials.

Storch said he wanted to thank Gov. Jindal, LED and the airport authority for partnering with AAR and moving quickly to reach the agreement.

Randy Robb, executive director of the Chennault International Airport Authority, said AAR selected Chennault because the facilities fulfill their requirements, and because they saw the teamwork between Chennault, the City of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish and the State of Louisiana.

SSTI Annual Conference on Dynamic Innovation Ecosystems

Westerville, Ohio-based non-profit State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) will hold its 17th annual conference on Sept 16-17, 2013 in Portland, Oregon.

SSTI Annual Conference

SSTI Annual Conference (photo –

The conference theme is “Dynamic Innovation Ecosystems: Bringing It All Together.”

The two-day event, hosted by Business Oregon, will focus not just on the individual components essential for a dynamic innovation ecosystem such as innovation capital, commercializing research, manufacturing and higher education, but also on how to bring these components together.

The SSTI Conference annually attracts supporters of public-private innovation interested in creating a climate where science, technology and innovation generate organic economic growth.

The two-day event includes three plenary sessions, three workshops and 16 breakout sessions.

The first plenary session on Sept 16 will focus on the conference theme of “Bringing it Together,” with a panel discussion on local, state and federal efforts to catalyze creation of dynamic innovation ecosystems.

Phillip Singerman, associate director for Innovation and Industry Services at NIST, will be one of the panelists taking part in this session, along with Doug Rothwell, president and CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan; and Robert Wiltbank, Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University.

Breakout sessions on Sept 16 will cover topics such as regionally focused crowdfunding strategies, transformative technologies that are reshaping manufacturing, and the dynamics of university-industry relationships, among others.

Breakout sessions scheduled for Sept 17 include one on the role of research centers in an innovation ecosystem, along with others on connecting clients to customers, broadening ownership of innovation economies, and survival in today’s investment environment.

One of the optional workshops will cover messaging techniques and advanced marketing of technology based economic development (TBED) to successfully explain the impact of their efforts.

Another workshop will focus on expanding export sales of technology and manufacturing companies. The third workshop, presented by Tom Sheridan, president of The Sheridan Group, will talk about a federal agenda for dynamic innovation ecosystems.

The keynote will be given by Dan Wieden, co-founder of advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, famous as the ad agency which turned Nike from a regional sneaker company into one of the world’s biggest footwear producers.

The SSTI Excellence in TBED Awards for excellence in six categories at the state, local and regional level will be announced during the conference. Conference attendees will subsequently have an opportunity for on-on-one interaction with the award winners in an informal setting.

What: SSTI Annual Conference

When: Sept 15-17, 2013

Where: Portland, Oregon

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