Posts by: Economic Development

FAA Announces Selection of Six UAS Test Sites

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced the six test sites that will be used for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and testing, with the aim of integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

 FAA UAS test sites

FAA UAS test sites (photo –

After receiving 50 or so proposals from 37 states, the FAA shortlisted 25 proposals and undertook a comprehensive 10-month site selection process to choose six of them.

The six UAS test site operators located in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Alaska who were selected by the FAA are:-

State of Nevada – Nevada’s project will concentrate on UAS standards and operations, as well as the standards for the operator and their certification requirements.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement that this was a historic moment for Nevada. He said the state has been preparing for this selection and added that they were ready to enter a new era of aviation history.

Senator Harry Reid likewise said this was wonderful news for Nevada and creates a huge opportunity for the economy.

Steve Hill, director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), said that the state’s selection as one of the six test sites allows them to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry. Hill added that the job creation and economic impact will be significant.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport – Their proposal includes a plan for working on developing processes for testing and evaluation as well as verification and validation.

According to the FAA, Griffiss International also plans to focus its research on UAS sense and avoid capabilities, and their sites will aid in research conducted into the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested airspace in the northeast.

North Dakota Department of Commerce РNorth Dakota’s plans include developing UAS airworthiness essential data and validating high reliability link technology.

Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi – This operator plans to develop system safety requirements for the UAS and the operations they are used in, with a goal of coming up with protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) – This operator plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site ranges in Virginia and New Jersey.

University of Alaska – This operator’s proposal offers seven different climatic zones for testing, with test site ranges located in Hawaii and Oregon.

The test site operations are currently scheduled to continue until at least Feb 2017. Visit for more information on the test sites and the FAA’s plans for UAS integration.

Dominion Kicks Off Commercial Operations at CT Renewable Energy Facilities

Dominion (NYSE: D) has begun commercial operations at two new renewable energy facilities in Connecticut that will together produce power for about 20,000 homes.

Dominion Fuel Cell facility in Bridgeport, CT

Dominion Fuel Cell facility in Bridgeport, CT (photo –

The Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility located in Bridgeport, CT cleanly converts natural gas into electricity.

The Dominion Somers Solar Center located in Somers, CT generates power from 23,150 solar panels.

Dominion Generation CEO David A. Christian said these two facilities add 20 MW of renewable energy to Dominion’s existing 2,100 MW of carbon-free power in Connecticut that flows from the Millstone Power Station. He said these stations are generating clean and reliable electricity for Connecticut.

The Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility will produce 14.9 MW of clean energy, which will be sold to Connecticut Light & Power under a long-term PPA (power purchase agreement).

The facility will be operated and maintained by FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE) under a services contract with Dominion. Apart from the five stationary fuel cell power plants, FCE is also using an organic rankine turbine at the facility to convert waste heat given off by the fuel cells into additional electricity.

The Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility was established under the state’s Project 150 program, with support provided by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA).

Project 150 aims to increase the installed renewable energy capacity in Connecticut by at least 150 MW. CEFIA is the first full-scale clean energy finance authority in the nation that leverages public and private funds to drive investment into clean energy projects and scale up clean energy capacity in Connecticut.

The Somers Solar Center was built by Kyocera (NYSE: KYO) and San Francisco-based clean energy company CleanPath. Dominion acquired the project in Oct 2013.

At that time, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that continued support of one of the largest solar installations in the state by Dominion will ensure an overall commitment to closing the gap between the cost of renewable energy and power generated from fossil fuels.

The Somers Solar Center project with 23,150 solar panels created around 80 construction jobs at the peak of the installation period. It will produce about 5 MW of power, also to be sold under a PPA to Connecticut Light & Power.

Innovation Policy Summit at International CES

The Innovation Policy Summit at 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada is scheduled to be held from Jan 07-09, 2014.

Innovation Policy Summit at CES

Innovation Policy Summit at CES (photo –

Organized by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CES is the world’s largest innovation event.

Last year, CES drew 152,759 attendees from 150 countries, many of whom came as a part of the official delegations sent by 102 countries.

Attendees participating in the Innovation Policy Summit will be able to hear top Washington policymakers, technology leaders and entrepreneurs talk about how to maintain innovation leadership.

The Jan 7 panels include one on the obstacles and opportunities that public policy can create for startups. Six panelists including top innovators and DC policymakers will discuss what the government should and should not do to promote entrepreneurs and generate new innovative businesses.

The other two panels on Jan 7 include one about making music licensing work for innovators, artists and consumers, and another one about the opportunities and challenges for policymakers due to the increasing trend towards connected cars.

Among the Jan 8 panels, the most high-profile one is the one about the “Home of the Future.” Consumers are fast adopting remotely connected lights, heating systems, security cameras and other home appliances that are helping improve energy efficiency and lower energy costs.

The panel will discuss how policymakers and manufacturers can educate consumers to take steps that will help them benefit from such connected homes.

This panel is presented by U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, and moderated by Larry Downes, consultant and author of “Big Band Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation.”

The panelists for this connected home panel include:-

Robert M. McDowell, Visiting Fellow, Center for Economics of the Internet, Hudson Institute;

Jeff Hagins, Co-Founder and CTO, Smart Things;

Robert Pepper, VP of Global Technology Policy, Cisco Systems; and

Marc Rogers, Principal Security Researcher, Lookout

The three panels on Jan 9 includes one on how the E-Waste recycling industry is changing given the trend towards lighter consumer electronics that are more valuable even as waste, and less expensive to recycle.

Another panel on Jan 9 focuses on energy efficiency initiatives impacting consumer electronics. This panel will discuss what’s working and what should be the priority for the industry, advocates and government in 2014.

What: Innovation Policy Summit at International CES

When: Jan 07-09, 2013

Where: North Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Success Stories

Wisconsin‘s annual Land and Water Conservation Report was presented to the state‚Äôs Land and Water Conservation Board at the group‚Äôs December meeting.

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

The report details the work done last year by state and federal agencies in partnership with local governments and landowners to keep Wisconsin’s soil in place and the water clean.

For the first time, this report includes success stories aka individual projects undertaken that not only helped protect the state’s land and water, but also fostered economic development.

These are projects funded through $26 million provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); $11 million from the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and $9.1 million in grants awarded by the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also provided reimbursements worth $4.6 million.

These state and federal funds added to the funding provided to the projects locally by counties, towns and municipalities.

The Egan Dairy Farm in the Town of Lebanon, WI is one of the projects highlighted in the report. With 600 milking cows and 600 replacement heifers, the farm has a huge impact on the surrounding environment and the nearby Wolf River.

The Egan brothers have been working with the Waupaca County Land Water Conservation Department (LWCD) since the early 1990s to conserve resources and minimize their impact.

When they decided to expand, the farm was awarded a cost-sharing grant for setting up a clean water diversion, manure storage system, and a storm water sediment basin, followed by more upgrades over the years.

The Egans invested more than $1 million on the projects, with the county spending $47,000 on cost-sharing and county employees putting in hundreds of hours of service on the Egan projects. The farm added four new employees, in addition to hiring professional consultants.

The environmental stewardship protected the Wolf River, which draws a lot of tourists to Waupaca County for fishing, tubing and other recreational activities.

In the report, County conservationist Brian Haase who worked on the Egan projects says that over the years, they’ve realized the impact a farm the size of the Egan Dairy Farm can have. He says that when time is invested helping dairies grow properly, there is a tremendous benefit to the local economy.

Haase says that it’s not about the cost-sharing, but more about building a relationship with the farm, which he says is the best way to make conservation happen. He adds that if they don’t trust you, nothing is going to get done.

Read the full Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Report – Download (pdf)

IEDC Federal Economic Development Forum

The International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) Federal Economic Development Forum is scheduled to be held in Alexandria, Virginia from March 23-25, 2014.

IEDC Federal Economic Development Forum

IEDC Federal Economic Development Forum (photo –

The Federal Forum held annually in the Washington, D.C. metro area is the only gathering of its kind that brings together economic development professionals from all over the United States with the top federal economic development policymakers.

Two days of workshops, roundtables and interactive sessions provide the latest information and updates on federal initiatives and programs.

Not to mention the fact that it’s an opportunity to provide feedback to federal agencies and officials about how their programs are working (or not).

Before the event begins, there will be a two-day professional development course on workforce development scheduled for March 20-21, followed by Certified Economic Developers (CEcD) exams on March 22 and 23.

The two afternoon sessions on March 23 will be devoted to workforce development. The first one is sort of a speed dating program where small groups of policy makers and practitioners, including economic and workforce developers, will exchange ideas and discuss a topic until the bell rings and the group rotates to the next topic.

The second session on Day 1 will focus on how economic developers can leverage existing workforce development programs and learn about the latest policy developments.

On Monday, March 24, IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle will provide an update on the latest in federal economic development trends, followed by the plenary session on “Foreign is the New Domestic.”

After the plenary session, there will be two sets of successive breakout sessions. The first set includes an ED interactive session on exports and another one on the federal role in infrastructure development and how much money should be put into infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

The second set of breakout sessions includes one on how to make best use of disaster funding for rebuilding better, stronger and bigger, and another session on modern bank lending and federal capital access programs for small businesses.

A plenary session on helping entrepreneurs succeed ends the sessions for Day 2, and another one opens Day 3 with a current listing of federal legislative and programmatic economic development priorities. Another set of breakout sessions offers attendees a choice between sessions on energy and rural economic development.

The final plenary session focuses on federal investments in research and innovation, with panelists discussing the role of their agency or organization in promoting innovation and connecting the dots between themselves and economic developers.

What: IEDC Federal Economic Development Forum

When: March 23-25, 2014

Where: The Westin Alexandria, Alexandria, Virginia

ESD Approves $14.5M in New York State Broadband Grants

Empire State Development (ESD) has approved broadband grants worth a total of more than $14.5 million for nine projects in New York State.

Broadband expansion - Closing the Digital Divide

Broadband expansion – Closing the Digital Divide (photo –

The nine projects will expand broadband services to include 29,117 households and 2,052 businesses in Upstate New York, in addition to 236 community anchor institutions.

The funding comes from the Governor’s $25 million Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, along with awards made under the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.

The recently announced Round III REDC awards include $11 million for projects that advance broadband technologies and services.

With more than 500,000 New Yorkers lacking broadband access and another six million facing connectivity issues, the REDCs identified expansion of high-speed internet as a key priority for stimulating local business growth.

The nine projects receiving grants will lay out a combined 614 miles of new fiber, most of it for “last-mile” broadband service, which means the projects will be directly providing businesses and residents with high-speed internet connections.

The last-mile is the most expensive part of a broadband network, and is often the reason that prevents rural residents from access to broadband even when nearby homes have access.

Government funding for broadband projects spurs investment by the service providers in communities and helps boost economic development by expanding the ability of local businesses to reach global markets.

Gov. Cuomo said in a statement that access to high speed internet is a critical resource for businesses and residents in today’s global economy. He added that as the state works to grow the Upstate economy, these nine projects will provide the support necessary for attracting and retaining businesses and helping create jobs in the region.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said high-speed internet is a powerful tool for economic development, enabling businesses to access and connect markets across the state and the world.

The $15 million in broadband grants announced are being provided to internet service companies by the state government working in partnership with local governments and economic development organizations.

ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival in Greater Phoenix

A series of events are scheduled to be held in the Greater Phoenix region in Arizona from Feb. 17-22, 2014 as a part of the inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival.

ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival

ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival (photo –

The Festival is one of eight Sustainability Solutions Initiatives undertaken by Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

Funded by the Walton Family Foundation’s Rob and Melani Walton Fund, the ASU Sustainability Solutions Initiatives aim to utilize the brightest minds for advancing sustainability solutions and accelerating their global impact.

The theme for the inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival is “It‚Äôs time to find a better way.”

The Festival is bringing together some of the most popular events organized by the topmost organizations in the green business and sustainability sectors.

The Sustainability Consortium meetings at the Tempe Mission Palms (Feb 17-18) will be included under the Festival’s scheduled events. The Sustainability Consortium consists of a group of global corporations. Its founding members include Coca Cola, Disney and BestBuy, among others.

The GreenBiz Group likewise announced that their sixth annual GreenBiz Forum (Feb 18-20) will be held at the Montelucia Resort in Phoenix as a part of the Festival.

Another major event will be the fourth annual Arizona Solar Summit, to be held Feb 20 at the ASU SkySong Innovation Center. The summit will focus on introducing innovative technologies, programs and policies that are critical for reshaping energy markets.

Other events that are a part of the Festival lineup include the Sedona Green Film Festival and a screening of the film “Carbon Nation” with director Peter Byck.

The Ignite@ASU event will be held at the Arizona Science Center on Feb 18, and will share sustainability ideas and solutions through rapid-fire five minute presentations.

To motivate and tap into ASU’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Festival is awarding $5,000 in prizes ($2,500 for first prize, $1,500 for second prize, and $1,000 for the People’s Choice Award) under the Sustainability Solutions Showcase. Participants are required to come up with solution ideas that address a multi-faceted sustainability problem.

ASU President Michael M. Crow said the Sustainability Solutions Festival exemplifies ASU’s endeavor to address the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century through transdisciplinary, collaborative and solutions-oriented thinking and training.

Patricia Reiter, director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, said the Festival will celebrate and promote innovations that ensure economic prosperity, cultural vitality and environmental resilience for many generations.

What: ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival

When: Feb. 17-22, 2014

Where: Greater Phoenix, Arizona

Cape Wind Signs Contract For First Offshore Utility Wind Farm in US

With a few days left to go before available tax incentives for wind energy producers expire, Cape Wind has signed a contract with Siemens to deliver and install offshore wind turbines for the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts.

Cape Wind eco tour

Cape Wind eco tour (photo –

The $2.6 billion project calls for 130 turbines, each with a capacity of 3.6 MW and 400 feet tall, to be installed on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, located 15.8 miles offshore from Nantucket.

The wind farm will produce up to 420 MW of clean, renewable energy – enough power to fulfill three quarters of the electricity needs of the Cape and Islands. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 734,000 tons per year.

The Cape Wind project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. The application was first approved by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (MEFSB) in 2005. After plenty of legal challenges, the project finally secured state and local approvals in 2009, followed by federal approval in 2010.

An economic impact study for the project shows it will create between 600 to 1,000 jobs in the region, along with significant new tax revenues. Cape Wind has also teamed up with Hy-Line Cruises on a plan to offer eco tours of the turbines for visitors.

The contract Cape Wind just signed with Siemens includes the 3.6-megawatt offshore wind turbines, along with an offshore Electric Service Platform (ESP) and a long-term service agreement.

The turbines will be made in Denmark, but the ESP will be constructed in Brewer, Maine by Cianbro Corp., which has received a $100 million contract from Siemens for this project.

Michael S√º√ü, CEO of Siemens’ Energy Sector, said that after the biggest onshore wind order ever followed by a flexible gas-fired combined cycle power plant in Pennsylvania, they have now signed to provide wind turbines and service for the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S.

Süß said this shows that natural gas and wind power do not stand opposed, and are the perfect fit for a sustainable energy system.

Installation and commissioning of the 3.6 MW turbines for Cape Wind is expected to be done in 2016.

However, getting the project started before the end of this year means that Cape Wind will qualify for the production tax credit (PTC) that expires on Dec 31, 2013. Projects that begin construction before Jan 1, 2014 will still qualify for the tax credit.

Holiday Season Good Cheer, By the Numbers

NORAD is busy tracking Santa and his bag of goodies across the globe. But exactly how full is that bag and who filled it? Here’s a look at the Christmas economy, by the numbers.

USAF helps Santa Claus

USAF helps Santa Claus (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch, U.S. Air Force)

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts, based on retail sales data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, that 2013 holiday sales will rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.

NRF also estimates that retailers hired in between 720,000 to 780,000 seasonal employees for the holiday season.

Also, Santa seems to have shifted a lot of his workload online this year. As of Dec 9, a survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics on behalf of the NRF found there were 32 million holiday shoppers who hadn’t even started shopping, and half (49.9 percent) of those who still had some or all their shopping left planned to do it entirely online.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 70 establishments in the U.S. manufacturing dolls and stuffed toys, of which 10 are in California. Another 524 facilities produce toys, children’s vehicles and games, of which 88 are in California. These 524 businesses employ 7,187 workers.

For the record, the U.S. domestic toy market is pegged at $22 billion, as per annual sales data collected from members of the Toy Industry Association. But revenue from domestic production is expected to account for just $2.69 billion in 2013, with almost all of the remainder coming from China.

The Christmas tree economy is also rather heavily dependent on imported goods from China. Between Jan-Sept 2013, the U.S. imported $1 billion worth of Christmas tree ornaments from China, along with another $93 million worth of artificial Christmas trees.

But Santa’s bag isn’t just filled by new toys that are made in factories in the U.S., China and elsewhere. There’s a huge part of the market that operates below the radar through donated toys.

For example, Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams was busy yesterday handing out donated toys, coats and school supplies in Corona, NY. He was one of several New York State cabinet members and staff ordered to report for volunteer duty by Gov. Cuomo.

Then there’s the impact of companies such as Build-a-Bear Workshop and initiatives such as the U.S Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Program. In fact, the two team up every year. This year, Build-A-Bear Workshop is donating 20,000 stuffed animals to Toys for Tots under an interactive social media campaign called “The Great Bear Share.”

In the last six years, Build-a-Bear Workshop has contributed 518,000 toys to Toys for Tots valued at more than $7.8 million, in addition to raising $1.5 million for the program.

Disney was even more generous, and forked over 36,000 toys to Toys for Tots and other organizations in Central Florida, in addition to a $200,000 donation to Toys for Tots. Plus, Disney’s VoluntEARS put in more than 6,000 hours helping Toys for Tots.

Pennsylvania Announces $133M RACP Grants for 58 Projects

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced $133 million in Economic Growth Initiative grants for 58 redevelopment projects across 24 counties that are expected to create or sustain nearly 45,000 jobs.

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA (photo –

The grants are being made under the newly reformed Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

Projects were selected based on their potential for job creation, economic impact, and their viability and construction readiness.

Gov. Corbett said in a statement that local economies around the state are being energized by the Economic Growth Initiatives. He said they are transforming oft-neglected parts of towns into thriving centers of commerce and recreation, and brownfields were becoming brownstones.

The 58 grants totaling $133,155,000 vary in size from $500,000 to $5 million.

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh was awarded $1.5 million in support of a $23 million development surrounding their Center for Sustainable Landscapes. The LEED Platinum certified Center is an innovative sustainability model for architects and planners interested in green designs. It generates onsite all of the energy the building requires, and also treats and reuses all the water captured on site.

Greene County Industrial Developments Inc. got $1.5 million for the Phase III development of the EverGreene Technology Park, which sits right on top of the Marcellus Shale in Waynesburg, PA. The technology park is being designed to facilitate energy industry technology projects involving R&D and testing. The RACP grant will be used to lay the groundwork for two 10-acre pad-ready sites.

One of the $5 million grants went to the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Catalytic Cracker project. PES took over the Cracker Unit in the historic South Philadelphia refinery from Sunoco, in the process saving almost 1,000 jobs.

Braskem America is likewise getting $5 million to support their acquisition of Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery. When Sunoco announced it was shutting down the Marcus Hook refinery, there was a real danger of Braskem’s entire Pennsylvania operations and their Philadelphia headquarters relocating to another state or being merged into existing operations in other states such as Texas.

The total of $15 million ($5 million this year) awarded to Braskem therefore secured $56 million in new investments at the Marcus Hook refinery that saved 119 existing jobs and helped create 28 new jobs. It also helped retain 90 jobs at the Braskem America Philadelphia headquarters, and another ten more at Braskem’s Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh.

Here’s the full list of all 58 RACP grants awarded – Download (pdf)

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