Posts by: Economic Development

New York Launches $19M Truck Voucher Incentive Program

New York State has launched a $19 million program to promote sales of commercial electric-powered and alternative-fuel vehicles.

New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program

NY Truck Voucher Incentive Program (photo –

The New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYT-VIP) will provide vendors with vouchers to reduce customer purchase costs of electric and alternative-fuel trucks and diesel emission control devices (DECDs).

NYT-VIP is a “first-come, first-served” program that includes three separate funds administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

One fund is the New York State Electric Vehicle – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYSEV-VIF), vouchers for which are available now. This is a $9 million fund which provides voucher incentives for battery powered all-electric vehicles (EVs) that can be classified under Class 3 to Class 8 private and public fleet vehicles.

Vehicles must be registered, garaged and operated at least 70 percent of the time in one of the 30 NYS counties that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards. NYSEV-VIF will provide vouchers to vendors covering 80 percent of the incremental cost, up to a maximum of $60,000 per EV.

The second fund is the New York City Alternative Fuel Vehicle – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYCAFV- VIF). This is a $6 million fund for purchase of alternative fuel vehicles in NYC, including EVs, hybrids, CNG vehicles and CNG engine conversions.  The rest of the criteria are about the same, except that the vehicle is limited to NYC’s five boroughs, and the voucher covers a maximum of $40,000 per vehicle.

The third fund is the New York City Diesel Emission Reduction – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYCDER-VIF). This is a $4 million fund that provides vouchers for DECDs. The criteria are the same as NYCAFV- VIF, except that this fund covers the full cost of the DECD purchase and installation.

The alternative fuels voucher programs for NYC will become available later this month, and the DECD voucher program is set to begin next month.

Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, NYSERDA, said that New York State is lessening its dependence on foreign petroleum by promoting energy-efficient transportation and electric trucks, and by incentivizing businesses and municipalities to embrace eco-friendly transportation technologies.

Pasadena, California-based CALSTART, a non-profit that promotes growth of clean transportation technology, is helping NYSERDA manage NYT-VIP.

John Boesel, President and CEO of CALSTART, said they were excited about the opportunity for partnering with NYSERDA, the City of New York and NYS DOT to make this program a success.

NYT-VIP is inviting OEMs, vehicle technology vendors, leased vehicle operators and fleet owners to participate in the program. Find out more at

Vistakon Looking at Jacksonville, FL for $218M Expansion

Disposable contact lens manufacturer Vistakon, a division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., is considering an expansion of its operations in Jacksonville, Florida.

Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, FL (photo –

If finalized, the Vistakon project would require a $218 million investment for construction of a new building and addition of production lines for manufacturing the company’s Acuvue brand contact lenses.

Johnson and Johnson would be investing $20 million for construction and the rest for purchase and installation of equipment and machinery.

The project will create up to 100 new jobs with average annual wages of $65,000.

It’s not a done deal yet, because Johnson and Johnson is considering both Jacksonville and another Vistakon plant in Limerick, Ireland for the expansion.

The company has applied for local incentives in the form of property tax abatements worth $6.9 million from the City. State incentives being offered to secure the project for Jacksonville include $1.5 million through the Quick Action Closing Fund, along with tax credits for capital investments and a $225,000 training grant.

The Jacksonville Office of Economic Development is working on this project along with JAXUSA Partnership, a division of the JAX Chamber.

The Jacksonville City Council is considering the Vistakon proposal along with another expansion project by ETC Logistics USA and its subsidiary that would create another 75-100 jobs over the next three years with average annual wages of more than $47,000.

ETC Logistics USA would be relocating its headquarters from Fort Mill, South Carolina to Jacksonville.

They would also be setting up a palm oil facility in Jacksonville. ETC Logistics is considering Jacksonville and two other sites in West Palm Beach, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland.

Daniel Davis, president and CEO of JAX Chamber, said they were excited about the opportunity to win such competitive economic development projects. He said these expansion projects were evidence of the growing local economy, and that Jacksonville was an attractive location for creating jobs and making investments.

JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot said that the City Council’s approval of these projects has the potential for contributing to three targeted industries in the region, including manufacturing, logistics and life sciences. He said the projects were indicative of the region’s leadership in these industries.

Cardon Outreach Expansion in Utah to Create 308 Jobs

The Woodlands, Texas-based medical billing company Cardon Outreach is expanding its operations in Utah to add more back-office work.

Cardon Outreach

Photo –

The company already has an operations hub in Sandy, UT, and plans to add 308 new jobs for the expansion.

The new positions being created will pay at least 125 percent of the average annual wage in the county.

Cardon Outreach has entered into a 15-year agreement with the State of Utah in order to secure incentives for this expansion. The company will add a total of $215 million to their payroll in Utah over the period of the agreement.

Cardon has also committed to making $5.3 million in capital investments, and will pay around $9.15 million in additional state taxes.

In order to secure the expansion project, the board of directors of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) approved EDTIF (Economic Development Tax Increment Finance) refundable tax credits worth $1.83 million for Cardon.

Cardon has not yet chosen an exact location for the expansion, and the company is looking at sites in Salt Lake County.

GOED Executive Director Spencer P. Eccles said that Cardon serves as an important bridge between providers and patients, and the company’s growth in Utah would provide quality jobs for residents along with support for important patient services.

Cardon Outreach CEO Mark Robinson said that a positive experience at the Sandy operations hub encouraged them to consolidate back office operations from other locations to Utah. He said they would focus on Utah as their centralized service hub, but the company’s headquarters would continue to remain in The Woodlands, Texas.

Jeff Edwards, president and CEO the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, noted that this happens with companies all the time. They test the waters with a small office, and then find Utah’s unparalleled quality of life and skilled workforce as the best choice for a major expansion.

Cardon Outreach has more than 20 years of expertise in working with federal agencies, states and counties to recover hospital revenues related to unfunded and underinsured patients. Their technology solutions and services aid healthcare facilities avoid costs and reduce capital and operating expenses.

Des Moines Tops Forbes List of Best Places for Business

Forbes has published its 15th annual list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers,” and the 2013 list is topped by Des Moines, Iowa.

Des Moines, IA

Des Moines, IA (photo –

Forbes compiles this list by grading the 200 largest metros based on 12 metrics including business cost, jobs growth, quality of life, cost of living, income growth and education.

Des Moines was the only place that ranked in the top quartile for at least nine of the factors.

Forbes mentions that business costs in the Des Moines metro area are 17 percent below the national average. A full 92 percent of the population has a high school diploma, and 36 percent have a college degree.

The writeup for Des Moines also mentions that the energy costs are 22 percent below the national average, which is one of the factors credited for the huge data center gains made recently by central Iowa, including projects announced by Facebook and Microsoft.

Facebook announced a $300 million data center project in Altoona, which is a part of the Des Moines MSA. Microsoft announced a $678 million data center expansion in West Moines.

Des Moines is followed on the Forbes list by Provo, Utah in second place and Raleigh, North Carolina in third place.

Forbes credits Provo’s second place showing to the booming economy that enabled a five percent growth in employment. Raleigh’s third place ranking is credited to the presence of top universities such as Duke, NC State and UNC located in and near the Raleigh metro area. Raleigh has a 41 percent rate of college attainment, and has the second highest net migration rate among metros over the last five years.

Lincoln, Nebraska and Nashville, Tennessee round out the top five list in the fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Texas has five metros in the top 25, including San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth-Arlington, Austin and Houston. Texas completely dominates the jobs growth rankings, taking eight of the top 10 spots.

You can see the full list of all places graded on the Forbes website, including individual rankings for cost of business, education, and jobs growth.

New Mexico Offers Technical Assistance for Frontier Communities

Seven rural communities in New Mexico have been selected as recipients of technical assistance under the state’s new Frontier Communities Initiative approved earlier this year in April.

NM Frontier Communities Initiative

NM Frontier Communities Initiative (photo –

The initiative is a community development partnership being implemented under the NM Economic Development Department’s MainStreet Program.

The Frontier Communities Initiative aims to provide technical support for communities developing catalytic economic development projects within historic or traditional commercial centers such as a village plaza, town center or courthouse square.

Only communities with less than 7,500 people which are not currently a part of the state’s MainStreet or Arts and Cultural District programs are eligible. There is no funding element involved, and the only support communities get is direct technical assistance through the NM MainStreet program.

A total of 16 communities applied for assistance in a competitive process that required each community to identify at least one catalytic economic development project they would engage in for enhancing the commercial district.

The proposals were required to be able to demonstrate the positive impact the project would have in terms of job creation and business development, or its role in enhancing the community’s economic environment.

Rich Williams, director of New Mexico MainStreet, said they had taken the Main Street Four Point Approach and scaled it down for single economic development projects rather than for entire districts.

He said that professional technical consultants from NM MainStreet would be out in the field in the coming months, working on each project with the local community partners.

For example, one of the winning communities was Santa Clara, which wants assistance with a project for wayfinding and image development for its historic village center. Madrid wants to do entrepreneur and business development for its historic village core. Carrizozo, another one of the winning communities, is looking at a branding and image development project.

New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said that rural economic development was very important to his department and for Gov. Susana Martinez, and they were pleased to see the interest in an expanded program under MainStreet.

He said the Frontier Communities Initiative would help in strengthening local economies, and especially so in rural villages and towns where sustaining and creating new jobs was critical.

Honda To Invest $215M for Technology Upgrades and Training Center in Ohio

Honda announced that it was investing $215 million into its operations in Anna and Marysville, Ohio.

Honda Anna engine plant in Ohio

Honda Anna engine plant in Ohio (photo – Honda News/flickr)

The Honda of America Mfg., Inc. engine plant in Anna, Ohio will get $180 million for upgrades of powertrain technologies and establishment of a new technical training center.

Honda is expanding production capabilities related to its ‚ÄúEarth Dreams Technology” engines.

Honda North America Services, LLC in Marysville, Ohio is building a 160,000-square-foot building close to its existing facility. This $35 million investment includes establishment of a technical training center, in addition to a heritage center and office space.

The technical training facilities in both locations will provide Honda employees with unique workforce training opportunities to pick up skills in a hands-on environment to enhance their technical know-how.

Rick Schostek, senior vice president of Honda North America, Inc., said that they believed the company’s success in 21st century manufacturing will be defined by successful interaction between technology and the company’s associates.

He said that even as Honda introduces sophisticated technologies in plants and products, they were working to make sure the company’s associates were equipped with skills needed for future manufacturing requirements. Schostek added that this investment in the company’s people was critical for the company’s success in future.

The planned heritage center in Marysville will be open to the public and will highlight Honda’s history in North America, the products the company has launched and the milestones achieved. It will showcase the 36 years of the company’s operations in Ohio since the first announcement of a Honda production center coming to the state in 1977.

Schostek said the Marysville facility was an important link between Honda’s past achievements in North America and their growing responsibilities in the future requiring advanced production technologies and skills.

The latest $180 million investment announcement brings Honda’s total investment in the Anna engine plant in the last three years to $500 million. Their overall investment in North America during the last three years totals up to almost $2.7 billion, of which more than $1 billion is in Ohio alone.

All put together, Honda employs some 33,000 associates in North America that are involved in its manufacturing operations, along with sales and R&D facilities. The company’s total capital outlay since Honda first came to North America in 1959 now exceeds $22 billion.

Chrysler Announces $52M Expansion in Michigan With 298 New Jobs

Chrysler Group LLC announced an investment of $52 million at its Dundee and Trenton North engine plants in Michigan.

Chrysler Tigershark engine

Chrysler Tigershark engine (photo – Chrysler Communications)

The investment will help the company add production capacity for its four-cylinder Tigershark engine, and will require the creation of 298 new jobs at the Trenton plant.

The Trenton North plant will be getting an $11.5 million investment to add another assembly line for the Tigershark engine.

The Dundee plant, which already manufactures Tigershark engines, will get the remaining $40.5 million which will be used to convert an engine assembly line into a production unit that will make the machine cranks, blocks and heads for the Tigershark engines being produced in Trenton.

The Dundee plant will continue producing the Tigershark and two other engines. Chrysler is building capacity for the engine’s production at both plants to support increased demand for the popular and fuel-efficient Tigershark engine.

Brian Harlow, vice president and head of Powertrain Manufacturing for Chrysler, said they were fortunate to have an existing facility capable of accommodating additional capacity for the Tigershark, and with the know-how for supporting the production.

Chrysler had halted all production at the Trenton North plant in May 2011, but did an about-face a month later with a $114 million investment announcement that was used to repurpose 400,000-square-feet of space in the plant for producing engine components for Pentastar engines being produced at the Trenton South plant.

In January 2012, Trenton North started assembling Pentastar engines. In November 2012, the company announced another $40 million expansion to add a flexible production line at Trenton North to handle assembly for both Pentastar and Tigershark engines.

The Dundee plant has likewise received $329 million in investments since Dec 2009, not including today’s $40.5 million investment announcement.

UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who heads the union’s Chrysler Department, said UAW was pleased that Chrysler is continuing with investments and adding new jobs with good wages.

All put together, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler Group LLC, established in 2009 after federal intervention saved the company, has poured in more than $5.2 billion into its U.S. facilities since June 2009, which has resulted in the creation of more than 10,800 hourly jobs at these facilities.

Ardagh Selects Roanoke County, VA For Metal Can Manufacturing Plant

Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group, which provides metal and glass packaging for the food and beverage industries, announced that it has chosen Roanoke County, Virginia as the site for a new metal can manufacturing plant.

Ardagh CEO James Willich in Roanoke County, VA

Ardagh CEO James Willich in Roanoke County, VA (photo –

The plant is being set up to fulfill orders for a contract Ardagh signed earlier this year with ConAgra, which requires Ardagh to add capacity on the east coast.

Ardagh plans to invest $93.5 million and create 96 new jobs. The plant will be operational 24/7 to produce 4.5 million cans per day, which accounts for five percent of the total food can market in the U.S.

The investment the company is making includes $80 million for equipment purchase. They have already spent the rest acquiring the property for the plant. The 525,000-square-foot facility being renovated for use by Ardagh is the former Hanover Direct distribution center that was shuttered last year.

Virginia was competing for this project with six other states. Carnegie, Pennsylvania is Ardagh’s U.S. metal packaging operations base, and the other five states which had locations in contention for the project were North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia.

James Willich, CEO of Ardagh’s metal packaging business in the U.S., said that they looked at many sites for the expansion. He said their decision to locate in Roanoke County was driven by factors including the infrastructure and logistic advantages, cost of living, business tax structure, skilled labor availability, and the proposed plant’s proximity to Ardagh’s major customer.

The project was secured by Roanoke County working together with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

State level incentives for Ardagh include a $750,000 grant from the Governors Opportunity Fund. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance is providing support and funding for recruitment and training. Ardagh will also be eligible for rail access funds from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

At the local level, Roanoke County is providing a performance-based grant of up to $2,450,000 that is linked to the company fulfilling its investment commitments.

The Ardagh Group has more than 18,000 employees spread across 100 facilities in 25 countries that together produce 26.6 billion containers every year.

HSM Expansion to Create 162 Jobs in Catawba County, NC

HSM Solutions, formerly known as the Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, is expanding its manufacturing operations in Catawba County, North Carolina.

NC Secretary Sharon Decker at HSM announcement

NC Secretary Sharon Decker at HSM announcement (photo –

The company plans to invest $3.3 million over the next three years at facilities in Conover and Hickory.

The project will create 162 new jobs with average annual wages of $43,179, plus benefits. The county’s average annual wage is $36,223.

Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright said that creation of 162 jobs amounts to making a difference for around 700 lives, considering the number of people in local families that have a family member who is an employee at HSM.

HSM’s manufacturing plant in Hickory will be adding 137 of the new jobs, with the remainder in Conover at the company’s new Foam Technical Center and their Corporate Innovation and Research Center.

They broke ground on the $1.5 million foam technical center back in April. The facility will enhance the company’s ability to formulate foams and add new testing capabilities.

The 30,000-square-foot corporate innovation and technology center allows for HSM’s vendors and customers to collaborate on developing new products, services and programs.

Dave Colburn, HSM president and CEO, explained that the center supports the company’s transition from being a components supplier to becoming a global manufacturer of integrated solutions and components.

HSM has separate business units focusing on furniture, bedding, transportation and integrated solutions. The company markets beachTuff products as beach chairs and carts that are “proudly made in the USA.”

The company has more than 50 manufacturing plants across 17 states, in addition to a facility in China. North Carolina secured the expansion project for Catawba County with the help of a $200,000 grant offered through the One North Carolina Fund.

This is a performance-based grant that will be paid out based on the company fulfilling its job creation and investment commitments. The grant is also contingent upon approval of local incentives for the project, which could potentially double the total amount in incentives the company receives for the expansion.

NC Governor Pat McCrory said HSM’s commitment to job creation and innovative manufacturing will contribute towards strong economic growth in Catawba County and the rest of the state.

NC Secretary Sharon Decker said that companies such as HSM know that North Carolina has the highly skilled workforce that is required to compete in a global economy.

HSM Solutions, headquartered in Hickory, NC, has maintained its presence in the state for the last seven decades. HSM currently has around 2,500 employees, including 1,494 in North Carolina.

GM Announces $167M Investment in Spring Hill, TN

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) announced that it was increasing its investment for producing new vehicles at its Spring Hill assembly plant in Tennessee to $350 million.

GM Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tenn.

GM Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tenn. (photo –

GM had already committed to a $183 million investment for restarting vehicle production at this plant which used to produce Saturn cars until 2007.

The plant was still being used for stamping and production of engine and other vehicle component parts.

However, vehicle assembly at the Spring Hill plant had been shut down until GM brought the plant back to life last year by adding production of the Chevrolet Equinox.

Today’s announcement increases investment in this plant by another $167 million, and adds production capacity for more midsize vehicles at Spring Hill. All put together, the total investment of $350 million at the plant will help GM create and retain 1,800 jobs.

Specifically, GM is adding $40 million to the previously announced $183 million for addition of a new midsize vehicle to the plant’s assembly line. With a total investment of $223 million, this program will create and retain a total of 1,000 jobs.

The remaining $127 million is for setting up assembly capacity for another midsize vehicle. This project will help create and retain another 800 jobs at the plant.

The vehicle models that will be brought to Spring Hill were not disclosed, but they are likely to be midsize crossover models similar to the Chevrolet Equinox.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said the additional investment announcement was recognition of the commitment of the Spring Hill leadership and employees.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who heads the union’s GM Department, said he wanted to thank GM for its confidence that UAW Local 1853’s highly skilled members at Spring Hill will be successful in building midsize vehicles with high quality.

Ashton added that the dedication and hard work of their members proves once again that vehicles for the future can be competitively manufactured in Tennessee.

GM will be sourcing most of the hires required for the Spring Hill expansion locally, instead of relocating union employees from other plants. The new hires will be given full-time jobs as GM employees, and will get existing wages and benefits as per their union agreement.

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