Posts by: Economic Development

California Pulls Out All The Stops to Land Drone Test Sites

The FAA’s site selection process for choosing six pilot sites for testing integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with the National Air Space (NAS) officially began in February when they put out a Screening Information Request (SIR) asking for proposals from interested sites.

FAA talks UAVs at CA symposium

FAA talks UAVs at CA symposium (photo – AIAA)

The FAA announced that it has now received applications from 50 sites spread across 37 states (see map).

The six chosen sites are likely to be announced by the year-end. Meanwhile, some of the more likely contenders such as California want to leave nothing to chance. The Golden State has two separate teams vying to be selected as one of the test sites.

One of the teams is the Southern California Unmanned Systems Alliance, led by Ventura County and the Ventura County Economic Development Association (VCEDA).

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) is leading the push, with a three-day symposium on the “Future Civilian Applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” in progress March 26-28 in Thousand Oaks, CA.

The symposium, co-hosted by Assemblyman Gorell and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), has panels on the possible use of drones for everything from the movie business to agriculture and disaster response.

More importantly, there are discussions highlighting the economic development opportunities for the UAV industry in California. Ventura County has several speakers in the line-up at the symposium, and VCEDA hopes they can showcase their effort for gaining a UAS-NAS test site.

In a statement for a select committee hearing which heard from both of California’s dueling teams, VCEDA President/CEO Bill Buratto said a UAS test site would be a perfect fit for the county. “We have a high-tech educated workforce, a great relationship with our Navy bases, and an established local connection to the aerospace industry,” added Buratto.

Assemblyman Gorell has taken matters one step ahead of the site selection process by introducing legislation (Assembly Bill 1326) to provide state incentives for drone manufacturers.

AB 1326 seeks to provide sales tax exemptions for purchasing machinery that is used by UAV manufacturers, and a $20,000 tax credit for each new worker hired for a UAV manufacturing facility.

California’s second team is the Cal UAS Portal Consortium led by Kern County and the Indian Wells Valley Airport District, which seeks to establish a “UAS Center of Excellence” with Inyokern Airport as its central core. Their Cal UAS Portal provides detailed information regarding their infrastructure and advantages for UAS testing.

Irish Food Company Greencore Selects Stafford, VA for Expansion

Dublin, Ireland-based Greencore Group plc announced that it has chosen its food processing facility in Stafford County, Virginia for an expansion that will create 350 new jobs.


Greencore (photo –

Greencore plans to invest $5. 75 million for the Fredericksburg area expansion, which will boost its existing workforce of 250 at the Stafford plant to 600.

The new positions are mostly line jobs expected to have average annual wages of about $29,000.

Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, said that Greencore’s expansion was not just about creating jobs at the facility, but would also help boost local agricultural production.

“Greencore will be served well by expanding in Virginia and sourcing more high-quality Virginia grown products, such as cabbage, peppers, and other commodities from our outstanding family farmers,” added Haymore.

Liam McClennon, CEO for Greencore USA, also cited the availability of quality ingredients and agricultural products used in their manufacturing process.  McClennon said they also took into consideration the existing skilled workforce at the Stafford plant and a suitable talent pool for further recruitment.

State officials held meetings last year with Greencore executives at their U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts. Gov. Bob McDonnell additionally met with the parent company officials in Dublin, Ireland in July 2012 when he was there on a marketing trip.

Virginia successfully competed with several other Greencore plants on the east coast for the expansion, which Greencore is investing on to fulfill a major new foodservice company contract.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and officials from Stafford County worked to secure the project. Greencore has been approved for a $75,000 grant from the state’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Greencore has also been approved for $154,000 in training grants under the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

The Stafford Opportunity Fund matched it with $75,000 in local incentives. Bob Thomas, vice chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors, said they were proud of efforts undertaken to diversify their tax base. Thomas said Greencore adds to that diversity and has helped put Stafford on the global map to compete for opportunities in the international market.

Greencore has 22 manufacturing plants in the U.K. and the U.S. All put together, they have 11,000 employees in Ireland, the U.S. and the U.K. Danvers, MA-based Greencore USA has more than 1,000 employees in six facilities.

U.S. Approves $91M Flu Vaccine Manufacturing Facility in Texas

The Texas A&M University System and GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approved a $91 million influenza manufacturing facility in Bryan-College Station, Texas.

Dr. Brett Giroir, TX Gov. Rick Perry at Texas A&M announcement

Dr. Brett Giroir and TX Gov. Rick Perry at Texas A&M announcement (photo – Governor’s Office)

The new facility will be the anchor for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM).

The announcement was made by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the State Capitol, flanked by executives and officials from Texas A&M, GSK and HHS.

Governor Perry said the announcement was a big win for the Lone Star State and for the nation.

As per an economic impact study, CIADM is expected to attract $41 billion in spending over a 25-year period, and will lead to the creation of 6,873 jobs. Local governments will earn $339.93 million in revenue, while the state will get $849.12 million.

SK Vaccines already makes 30 vaccines around the world, including facilities in Germany and Quebec, Canada which manufacture the influenza vaccine. In 2012, the company was required to provide 20 million flu shots in the U.S.

Once the TAMUS-GSK facility is fully operational, CIADM will be capable of manufacturing and supplying 50 million influenza vaccine doses within four months of a pandemic outbreak. A GSK operational hub in Marietta, Pennsylvania will be getting a lot more work too, since they will be packaging and distributing the flu shots.

Dr. Brett Giroir, head of CIADM and also the vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at TAMUS, said that GSK’s selection of Texas for vaccine manufacturing was “a testament to the investments that the A&M System and the State of Texas have made in the people, infrastructure and technologies, much of which came from critical state programs such as the Emerging Technology Fund.”

CIADM was established in 2012 as a public-private partnership to enhance emergency preparedness against pandemic influenza and other threats. The initial funding level for CIADM was set at $285.6 million, with the U.S. government providing $176.6 million.

New Standard Register Facility to Create 360 Jobs in Indiana

Standard Register (NYSE: SR) announced that it would be opening a new facility for digital printing, kitting and distribution in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Standard Register

Photo – Standard Register

The project calls for a $10 million investment by the company, and will create 360 new jobs by 2016.

The state-of-the-art 335,000 square foot Center of Excellence will make use of the latest technology in advanced color management and order fulfillment.

“Standard Register’s $10 million investment in this new Center of Excellence allows us to operate more efficiently, advance our digital printing capabilities and leverage the deep capability of the local workforce to better serve our customers,” said Joseph P. Morgan, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Standard Register.

The location in the Greater Louisville Kentucky-Southern Indiana metropolitan area offers quite a few advantages for the company, including easy access to the UPS Worldport package handling facility.

The River Ridge Commerce Center site they have chosen is a certified shovel ready site. The company expects to improve on speed-to-market for its communications products.

In order to secure the project, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has approved the company for up to $2.3 million in performance-based EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) tax credits.

Standard Register will also get up to $175,000 in the form of a training grant. The River Ridge Development Authority is additionally offering property tax abatements as a local incentive.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said they were very happy about the company’s choice of the River Ridge Commerce Center.

“The opportunities these 360 positions provide for our citizens are remarkable. And turning a vacant facility into an enhanced asset for both the company and the community is a definite win-win,” said Mayor Moore.

The Dayton, Ohio-based Standard Register said it is planning to move some operations from its other existing facilities to this new center in Indiana. The Company has more than 2,200 employees spread across 30 facilities, including one in Shelbyville, Indiana which has 85-full time employees.

The new facility in Indiana is expected to open later this year.

NYC Launches Tech “LINK” for Low-Income New Yorkers

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the official launch of LINK (Leveraging Innovations and our Neighborhoods in the Knowledge Economy) – an effort to get low-income New Yorkers more involved in the booming knowledge economy.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg at LINK announcement

NYC Mayor Bloomberg at LINK announcement (photo – Spencer T Tucker/ Mayor’s Office)

LINK currently has eight programs that will together impart skills to make low-income New Yorkers more employable, while supporting entrepreneurial activities in distressed communities to create more jobs that require little formal training.

“The goal here is to make stronger ties for low income New Yorkers to our growing tech economy – ties that would not otherwise emerge naturally but may flourish with the right attention and incentives,” said NYC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs.

Gibbs added that LINK reflected the commitment of the economic development and employment sectors to make sure that the “fruits of our economic resurgence” benefited all New Yorkers.

Agencies partnering on this initiative with NYCEDC include the Center for Economic Opportunity, Small Business Services, and the Human Resources Administration.

These agencies will be helping NYCEDC implement pilots of each of the eight LINK programs described below.

LEAP (Learn as you Earn Advancement Program) – This program offers soft-skills classroom training and connects certificate and Associate’s Degree holders to paid internships in five sectors.

LEAP Classes will be conducted by partners, including NADAP for healthcare IT in Manhattan, Year Up and EDSI in Brooklyn for entry-level IT and web-based work/business support respectively, and by the YMCA in Queens for early childhood education teaching assistant positions.

Immigrant Bridge Program – This one aims to help immigrants that have advanced degrees to pursue a higher-paying tech job. The program will support them with soft-skills training and provide personal loans for education and expenses during the job search process.

DigitalWork NYC – This program targets unemployed youth by showing them online entry-level opportunities for digital work such as transcription and image tagging. The program will focus on getting some work history into resumes with the aim of opening up a pathway for a career in the knowledge economy.

Jobs and Economic Mobility Track in NYC BigApps – This program is focused on creating mobile apps that can aid in finding jobs and supporting workers. The apps mentioned include one which helps locate hospitality jobs within a 30-minute subway ride, and another which locates daycare facilities.

The other four programs are a business innovation challenge, a vacant lot activation program, business incubators for low-income entrepreneurs, and Progress Networks – a program that will help small to medium-sized businesses in New York City form consortiums that can leverage scale to reduce costs and channel these savings into creating more jobs, training employees and providing better benefits.

You can read more about these LINK programs at

Google Launches Global Impact Awards Competition in UK

Last year, Google launched its inaugural Global Impact Awards to support non-profits engaged in tackling global problems with technology and innovation.

Google Global Impact Awards

Google Global Impact Awards (photo –

They awarded $23 million to seven non-profits for projects as varied as DNA barcoding to stop poachers and real-time monitoring of clean water.

This year, they seem to be breaking it up into regions, with the first Global Impact Challenge announced for the United Kingdom.

No plans to hold similar competitions in other countries have been announced, but the blog post announcement by Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google Giving, did say this – “Today we’re starting the hunt in the U.K., but we also know that nonprofits all over the world are using techy approaches to develop new solutions in their sector. Who knows, the Global Impact Challenge might head your way next.”

Google has invited non-profits in the U.K. to send in their applications explaining how they are using technology to change lives. Ten finalists will be announced on May 22, 2013. People can then vote for these finalists to select the fan favorite.

Three other winners will be chosen by a judging panel on June 3 after they listen to presentations by all the finalists. Each of the four winners will get £500,000 (more than $760,000), along with tech help from Google staff and equipment such as Chromebooks.

Registered non-profits can apply here. On its Global Impact Challenge page, Google says applicants must have a “technology-based project that has the potential to change society on a large scale.”

The projects will be reviewed and the finalists chosen based on three criteria:-

1. How is the innovation and technology improving lives?

2. If the non-profit wins the award, how will they implement it?

3. Track record, collaborations, and a plan to successfully execute the project immediately.

Last year’s seven winners included the World Wildlife Fund, which got $5 million for innovations in wildlife tagging technology. The Consortium for the Barcode of Life, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution, got $3 million to create and implement DNA barcoding to stop wildlife trafficking. got $5 million to help public schools in the U.S. create more AP science and math courses. Equal Opportunity Schools got $1.8 million to use data analytics for identifying 6,000 talented but underrepresented students and moving them to advanced classes.

All told, Google’s giving to organizations changing the world last year added up to $100 million in grants, a billion dollars worth of technology, and 50,000 hours volunteered by Googlers.

ConAgra Sustainable Development Projects Saved $22M

Last week, Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods, Inc., (NYSE: CAG) honored employee teams from their various plants with awards for sustainable development.

ConAgra Foods

ConAgra Foods (photo –

The company apparently received 90 entries for their annual sustainability awards competition.

While only six of them went on to win an award, none of them lost per se, because the projects are collectively responsible for:-

- Creating savings worth $22 million;

- Reducing use of packaging material by three million pounds;

- Conserving 646 million gallons of water;

- Reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 26,700 metric tons; and

- Cutting down on 23,000 tons of landfill waste.

Listed below are the six winning teams and their sustainability projects.

Rensselaer, Indiana – This ConAgra popcorn facility won the award for improved energy efficiency achieved through grassroots engagement by employees. They managed to cut back on electricity consumption by 920,647 kilowatt hours.

Memphis, Tennessee – This ConAgra Wesson Oil facility motivated employees to do their part for water conservation, resulting in employee projects that reduced water consumption by 169 million gallons.

Helm, California – This ConAgra tomato paste facility came up with new technology that separated vines and seeds from the rest of the tomato. Their efforts ended up increasing the fiber obtained from the same amount of produce, while reducing the plant’s waste by 20 percent.

Oakland, California – This ConAgra flour mill successfully introduced a pilot program for new flour bags that reduced packaging material use b 417,000 pounds.

Omaha, Nebraska – This ConAgra Research, Quality and Innovation team simplified the ingredients required for sauces, which reduced inbound transportation and handling needs, and also produced a 23 percent drop in customer complaints.

Kennewick, Washington – This ConAgra Lamb Weston team for agricultural services is working with its potato suppliers to introduce sustainable farming methods. These collaborations between farmers and Lamb Weston accounted for 150,000 acres of sustainable agriculture land use last year.

The six winning teams each gets $5,000 which can be used for a sustainable community development project. ConAgra has been holding this annual internal sustainability competition since 1992.

Gail Tavill, vice president, Sustainable Development, ConAgra Foods, said that these projects reflect an “ongoing evolution of ownership and commitment at every level in the company, further integrating sustainability into how we do business every day.”

Magpul Looking at TX, WY, NE for Relocation from Colorado

Erie, Colorado-based Magpul Industries, a manufacturer of firearms accessories, had last month threatened to relocate out of the state if Colorado passed House Bill 1224, a law banning standard capacity magazines which Magpul makes in Colorado.

Magpul relocation from Colorado

Magpul relocation from Colorado (photo – Magpul Industries)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper made good on his commitment to gun control by signing three new gun laws last week, including one that bans magazines holding more than 15 rounds.

For its part, Magpul has now announced that it too will make good on its threat to relocate, and said in a Facebook posting that it will manufacture its first PMAGs (holding 30 rounds) outside Colorado within a month.

The company added that they are looking at setting up operations in multiple locations.

“We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation.”

The company’s COO Doug Smith is reportedly planning on meeting with economic development officials from Texas, Wyoming and Nebraska.

Magpul has 200 employees in Colorado, and claims that it contributes $85 million to the state economy. They also claim to support another 400 jobs in their supply chain.

“We could choose to stay in a state that wants our jobs and revenue, but not our products, and lose half the jobs we are fighting to save, or potentially the entire business, when our customers stop buying,” said COO Smith. “Or, we can take the company and those 600 jobs out of Colorado to continue our growth and the growth of American manufacturing in a state that shares our values. This is not really a choice.”

Some of these suppliers have indeed confirmed that they too will follow Magpul to its new location. One of them is Denver-based Lawrence Tool & Molding, which gets more than half of its business from Magpul, and has confirmed that it will also move out of Colorado if Magpul does. Lawrence Tool & Molding has 82 employees in the state.

“It is heartbreaking to me, my employees, and their families, to think that we will be forced to leave,” said Richard Fitzpatrick, founder, president, and CEO of Magpul Industries.

Former GM Plant in Kansas City to Become Industrial Park With 2000 Jobs

The Unified Government Board of Commissioners of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has approved a development agreement with NorthPoint Development to create the Central Industrial Park on the site of a former General Motors plant.

Central Industrial Park, Kansas City

Central Industrial Park, Kansas City (photo –

The conversion of the 80-acre auto assembly plant site in the Faixfax Industrial District will require a capital investment of $40 million, and the project will create 2,000 new jobs.

The property is currently owned by the RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust, which was set up expressly after the GM bankruptcy to get 89 former GM sites in 14 states cleaned up and sold for redevelopment in a way that would benefit the communities the sites were in.

RACER had recently finalized a purchase agreement for the Fairfax site with NorthPoint, subject to Northpoint getting approval for development by the board of commissioners.

RACER Trustee Elliott P. Laws said that the plan for an industrial park was a strong commitment to the community by Northpoint

“I congratulate NorthPoint, the Unified Government and the people of the Kansas City metropolitan area who ultimately will benefit from the jobs and other economic opportunities created by this investment,” added Laws.

Kansas City Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon said the huge number of jobs created by the RACER project, which is close to GM’s current plant in the city, is a testament to “what can be achieved through private and public partnerships that help grow our local economy.”

The proximity to GM’s current plant makes the industrial park ideal for GM’s automotive suppliers.

The complete development will take between six years to a decade, and the park will support at least three and at most eight manufacturing facilities. The projected 2,000 jobs at full capacity stand true regardless of how many tenants take up space.

Northpoint COO Chad Meyer said they were thrilled to be part of a project where a brownfield site was being redeveloped into an industrial park. Meyer said Northpoint will get started with the construction on the site later this year, and expects the first tenants to move in and begin operations next year in the fall.

They will be eligible for local tax incentives including industrial revenue bonds only after making the necessary infrastructure improvement investments for roads, water supply and utility lines to service the industrial park, in addition to reaching a threshold on above-ground construction.

Fort Collins, CO Secures Woodward HQ With $23.5M Incentives

The City Council of Fort Collins, Colorado has preliminarily approved a $23.5 million incentives package to prevent Woodward Inc. (NASDAQ: WWD) from moving out.


Photo –

Woodward will be relocating 600 jobs from its other facilities to Fort Collins, and creating another 400 new jobs with average annual wages of $76,000.

This is on top of the 700 existing Woodward jobs that were retained and would have otherwise been moved elsewhere.

Not to mention more than 1,650 construction jobs to build the planned four-phase construction of 944,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities along with office space and retail outlets.

Woodward plans to invest $169 million for the construction and another $50.5 million for equipment.

The company had just moved out of Rockford, Illinois and relocated to Fort Collins in 2007, and made it known last year that it was looking for a new headquarters again. They also claimed to be looking at some 20 sites across the map for the relocation.

One of these 20 sites was in Fort Collins – the Link-N-Greens golf course.  Woodward showed its interest in the 101 acre site in Jan 2013 by providing the city with extensive documentation on its proposed new headquarter plans for the site.

The city moved quickly on it, with the zoning board approving Woodward’s proposal in February. They asked for and got an economic impact study that was prepared by an Austin-based company. The study showed Fort Collins would lose $28.8 million in a decade if Woodward moved out.

The incentives package includes an 80 percent rebate on the expected $4.7 use tax for equipment and construction material, another $2.7 million rebate for capital expansion, and waiver of $300,000 out of the development fee.

The city has also agreed to bear the millions of dollars it will take to move power lines running through the golf course, and also the cost of relocating the Poudre River Trail. Woodward, for its part, will purchase the site next month and give back the city 29 acres for use as open space.

Woodward Inc. manufactures control systems used in the energy and aerospace sectors. It has plants and facilities in 14 countries, including 11 locations in the United States.

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