Posts by: Economic Development

San Francisco Launches LatinSF Economic Development Initiative

The City of San Francisco has launched a new economic development initiative called LatinSF which aims to serve as a conduit for business and trade between the City and Latin America by attracting Latin American companies to invest in San Francisco and by helping local firms in the City expand in the Latin American markets.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day event in Mexico City

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day event in Mexico City (photo –

The initiative was officially launched by San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day in Mexico City.

The Mayor is on an official trade mission to Latin America, and the visit has secured tangible results with the announcement of the first LatinSF partnership with Startup Mexico, a government-backed incubator and accelerator for tech firms in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

The partnership ensures a steady flow of Latin American tech startups coming out of the accelerator will land straight in San Francisco.

Startup Mexico Director Marcus Dantus said that LatinSF is an excellent partner for Startup Mexico and they are looking forward to working with them to assist Latin American technology companies in accessing the amazing opportunities that San Francisco offers to innovative entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, LatinSF has secured sponsors such as AeroMexico and the Mita Institute and Tech Accelerator. MITA is also a business accelerator, tech forum and venture fund which is helping build the innovation economy in Mexico.

MITA General Partner and Fund Manager Robin Reyes said that San Francisco offers a singular ecosystem of needed mentorship, capital and business development opportunities for Mexico’s growing number of tech companies.

Reyes added that they are excited to be partnering with LatinSF to build deeper synergies between the innovation economies of Mexico and San Francisco.

LatinSF is being launched as a public-private partnership between the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED) and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The initiative aims to replicate the success of the China-San Francisco economic development initiative ChinaSF.

SFCED Executive Director Dennis Conaghan said the demand for assistance for Latin American companies has been steadily growing, and they believe the timing is perfect to reach out to the region.

“We can never take our economic recovery and expansion for granted,” said Mayor Lee, adding that LatinSF was another way to diversify the economy, attract new companies and jobs to the City and create opportunities around the world for businesses based in San Francisco.

Dothan, Alabama Launches Aircraft Pre-Employment Training Program

The City of Dothan, as part of a public-private partnership, announced the launch of an aircraft pre-employment training program called CJET Academy.

Dothan, AL CJET Academy

Dothan, AL CJET Academy

Selected applicants who complete the program will gain skills in aircraft structure assembly training, and have a job as a structural assembler with a starting pay of $14 waiting for them at Commercial Jet Services, LLC when they complete the training program.

CJET Academy is being launched as a collaborative effort involving the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Dothan, Commercial Jet Services, LLC, and Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT).

The eight-week training program starting Oct 22, 2014 is free for participants, and all training materials will be provided. Interested applicants can submit applications though the AIDT website.

Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said that an important role of economic development is the connection of individuals with a business that wants to hire local people who need jobs.

The Mayor added that he’s proud of the work that has been done to connect these two groups and provide the necessary training so that both will succeed.

Commercial Jet Services, LLC announced a 400,000-square-foot MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility at Dothan Regional Airport in April 2013.

Recruiting Commercial Jet was a big win for the Dothan economic development team, since it made it feasible for the Dothan Houston County Airport Authority to continue operating the airport tower as a non-federal tower even after Dothan was included on a list of 149 FAA control towers being closed nationwide.

Apart from the company’s $12 million investment into the project and the support the facility provides to the airport authority, Commercial Jet also announced plans to create hundreds of jobs and hire trained and experienced aircraft technicians from the local area. The Commercial Jet project received extensive support from local, state and business leaders.

AIDT Training Manager Kevin Taylor said they have been providing recruitment, screening and training support for Commercial Jet since the company arrived in Dothan. Taylor added that they are always looking for new and innovative ways to support Alabama companies, and are very excited about the CJET Academy.

Commercial Jet Services, LLC President David M. Sandri likewise added that they are proud to team up with AIDT for establishing the CJET Academy, and look forward to enabling trainees to join the company.

Sandri added that with the Aircraft MRO business expanding, this is a great time to join the commercial aviation industry.

Dublin, Ohio Mulls Economic Development Incentives for $1.1B Vadata Data Center Project

The City Council of Dublin, OH considered a proposal from Dublin Economic Development staff for attracting a large data center project by Vadata Inc.

Dublin, OH Vadata data center project

Dublin, OH proposal for Vadata data center project

Ashburn, VA-based Vadata is an Amazon data center subsidiary conducting a multi-state site selection process for a $1.1 billion data center that involves the build-up of 750,000 square feet of data center, office space and related facilities.

Vadata is planning to create 120 jobs with an average annual salary of $80,000, adding up to a total payroll of $9.6 million.

State incentives for the Vadata project under the Job Creation Tax Credit program were approved by the Board of the Ohio Tax Credit Authority last month. The TCA also approved a 15-year sales tax exemption for the project that will save the company around $4 million.

Now the City of Dublin, in coordination with Columbus 2020, is pitching local incentives and a large parcel of City-owned land in the West Innovation District for the project.

This is a Job Ready site which has been rezoned for promoting fast development for research and high-tech industry projects. The proposed economic development and real estate purchase agreement with Vadata Inc. would transfer 68.7 acres of the City-owned land valued at approximately $6.75 million for the data center project.

The City will additionally offer up to $500,000 as a performance-based incentive for jobs created over the 10-year period of the agreement.

Furthermore, the City of Dublin will extend water and sewerage links to the site along a new entry road, also to be extended by the City. As recommended by Ohio economic development organization Jobs Ohio and approved by the Ohio TCA, Dublin will get $1.5 million in state funding for road and infrastructure improvements if Vadata selects the site for their data center project.

Public infrastructure improvements in the area will be funded through tax increment financing, with a TIF ordinance to be introduced at a later date.

The infrastructure improvements will also serve other development sites in future, and Vadata will serve as an additional anchor tenant for the West Innovation District. The company will be investing heavily in construction and will bring critical infrastructure for fiber optics and broadband expansion. It will help attract and create an IT supply chain, and solidify Dublin’s position as a leader in this sector.

Cullman Economic Development’s Sharkbite Project Brings 130 Jobs to Alabama

Reliance Worldwide Corp. announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to onshore production of their Sharkbite plumbing connection system from Australia to the U.S.

Gov. Robert Bentley at RWC Sharkbite project announcement in Cullman, AL

Gov. Robert Bentley at RWC Sharkbite project announcement in Cullman, AL (photo –

RWC plans to invest $50 million into the project to establish a high-tech facility with robotic automation used in plastic and brass manufacturing processes.

The new Cash Acme Sharkbite factory will add 130 new employees to the company’s existing 170 employees in Cullman.

Cash Acme’s original facility in the Cullman Industrial Park started off with 70,000 square feet and has twice been expanded since, adding up to a total of 250,000 square feet. Cash Acme was acquired by RWC in 2002.

RWC is a global company whose main manufacturing operations are located in Brisbane, Australia, with additional facilities in Sydney and Auckland, NZ.

RWC shifted its global headquarters to Atlanta in 2011, and this is the first time their Sharkbite line, which has until now been produced only in their facilities in Australia, is being produced in the U.S.

RWC CEO Michael Williams said that even as most companies are looking to cut costs by outsourcing labor and relocating operations to low labor cost countries, RWC is leading the way to prove that the U.S.A. can competitively manufacture onshore.

Governor Robert Bentley, who was present for the announcement ceremony at Cullman City Hall, said that Sharkbite plumbing products will be stamped “Made in Alabama” by hardworking Alabamians and sold around the world.

The new facility will be located in the building formerly occupied by AAR/Summa Technologies. The space available in the building is being expanded to offer 150,000 square feet of new space for Cash Acme.

Apart from the Sharkbite manufacturing line, the facility will additionally include a training academy where the company will teach plumbers about use of their products and best practices. The facility will also include an R&D center.

Furthermore, RWC is investing $5 million for expanding their existing distribution center in Cullman from 145,000 to 235,000 square feet.

The City and County of Cullman and the State of Alabama secured all this with a competitive package of state and local economic development incentives.

The State is providing $1.1 million in discretionary incentives for job creation, and the company may be eligible for a higher amount in incentives if they create more than 130 jobs.

AIDT, the state’s job training agency, is additionally providing RWC with pre-employment screening and training services valued at approximately $1.25 million.

Local incentives are being separately provided by the local governments, including tax abatements for purchase of new machinery and construction of the distribution center. The RWC sharkbite project caps a big year for Cullman economic development, which last year secured 56 projects that are creating 570 jobs and generating capital investments worth $92 million.

KY, NC Positioning for Jobs After Announcement of Electrolux Acquisition of GE Appliances

Even before the ink goes dry on the announcement of the $3.3 billion acquisition of GE’s Appliances business to Electrolux, local and state leaders in Kentucky and North Carolina have already started positioning to adjust for the inevitable economic and jobs impact on communities in both states where the companies have a heavy presence.

GE Appliance Park billboard in Louisville, KY

GE Appliance Park billboard in Louisville, KY (photo –

GE [NYSE:GE] announced a definitive agreement with Swedish home appliance giant AB Electrolux to sell its Appliances business to Electrolux for $3.3 billion. As part of the transaction, the two companies have signed a long-term agreement that ensures continued use of the GE Appliances brand.

Last year, Louisville, KY-based GE Appliances generated sales worth $5.7 billion. More than 90 percent of this revenue comes from North America. The company has its own distribution and logistics network that services their nine manufacturing facilities with 12,000 employees.

GE Appliances has 6,000 jobs at its Appliance Park in Louisville. In 2010, the company announced it would invest $1 billion to transform its appliances business in the U.S. Since then, GE Appliances has created more than 3,000 jobs in Louisville alone.

Electrolux Major Appliances North America, on the other hand, is headquartered in Charlotte, NC and will continue to maintain its headquarters in Charlotte after the GE Appliances deal is closed in 2015. In Dec 2013, the company announced a major $85 million expansion in Charlotte with 810 new jobs.

The long-term agreement for the use of the GE Appliances brand ensures that production jobs at Appliance Park don’t face an immediate threat, but Electrolux’s product design for all major and small appliances built in North America and R&D for laundry products and electronic systems is located in Charlotte. Another R&D division is located in Tennessee.

Apart from corporate jobs, the design and R&D teams at Appliance Park may also therefore start feeling the impact of the acquisition much faster. Kentucky and Louisville economic development organizations and state and local leaders have already begun positioning to secure the future of Appliance Park.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement that Electrolux is a fantastic global brand that they welcome to the city. Mayor Fischer noted that GE has made unprecedented investments in its people, innovation capabilities, and manufacturing plants in Louisville in the past few years, and added that along with their partners in state government, they will work to present the advantages and capabilities of the community to grow Electrolux even more.

Gov. Steve Beshear will be speaking to Electrolux officials to ensure that the investment and growth plans laid out by GE Appliances continue as before.

Congressman John Yarmuth, who represents Kentucky’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives, issued a statement noting that “our community presents tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation, and I am optimistic that Electrolux and the employees at Appliance Park will work together to keep us moving forward.”

Meanwhile, the acquisition is cause for celebration in North Carolina. Governor Pat McCrory spoke with Jack Truong, president and CEO of Electrolux Major Appliances North America and executive vice president of AB Electrolux.

Gov. McCrory said this is great news for Electrolux and North Carolina, and added that he had a very positive conversation with Jack Truong. The Governor added that he is excited to watch Electrolux’s continued growth and success, especially given the fact that the company’s headquarters will be located in Charlotte.

Orange County, Florida Considering Economic Development Incentives for Viewpost Expansion

Viewpost Management Services, LLC, which operates a business-to-business network that facilitates electronic invoicing and payments, is considering an expansion of its Orlando headquarters in Maitland, FL.

City of Maitland, FL

City of Maitland, FL (photo –

As part of the expansion project, Viewpost plans to create 262 high-wage programming and software development jobs.

These are jobs with an average annual salary of at least $80,828. This is double the prevailing average salary in the Orlando metropolitan area.

Apart from the headquarters in Orlando, Viewpost also has existing operations in Seattle and Minneapolis. In order to secure the project and ensure that the company doesn’t select one of its other existing offices for the expansion, Viewpost is getting $1,834,000 ($7,000 per job) in state and local incentives from the State of Florida, Orange County and the City of Maitland.

The incentives will be provided under the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund Program.

This includes $183,400 in Orange County economic development incentives which the Board of County Commissioners of Orange County are about to take up for approval in a meeting later today. This amount in tax refunds will serve as half of the 20 percent local match required under the QTI program.

Maitland economic development incentives will make up the remaining 10 percent of the local match. The Maitland City Council will be meeting later this month to approve their share of the QTI incentives.

The State of Florida will provide the remaining 80 percent of the total of $1,834,000 in QTI incentives that Viewpost will be getting.

A memo to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners from Eric Ushkowitz, Economic Development Administrator of the Orange County Office of Economic, Trade and Tourism Development, requests approval of the resolution offering Viewpost the incentives.

The county’s approval of the resolution also includes a recommendation that the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity should approve Viewpost as a qualified applicant for the QTI program.

The tax refunds provided under this incentive program are performance-based, meaning that Orange County is not required to make any incentive payments until the company fulfills its commitment to create and maintain jobs.

Viewpost plans to add 82 new jobs by the end of the year, and 90 jobs each in the next two years. The project will add approximately $1.9 million to the county’s tax roll.

New Castle Henry County Economic Development Corp Brings Boar’s Head Food Processing Facility to Indiana

Boar’s Head Brand, one of the largest providers of premium delicatessen meats and cheeses, announced plans to establish a new processing facility in New Castle, IN.

Boar's Head

Boar’s Head (photo –

The company is making an initial investment of $80 million into the project, and will create 200 new jobs over the next few years, and possibly as many as 345 jobs by 2019.

The investment will be used to build the 150,000-square-foot greenfield refrigerated production facility from the ground up on a 66-acre site in New Castle.

The facility is expected to be built and ready to produce chicken, turkey and ham deli products by early 2016.

Governor Mike Pence said in a statement that the announcement by Boar’s Head Brand to open a new facility in Indiana and put hundreds of Hoosiers to work demonstrates the confidence companies have in the state’s workforce.

Boar’s Head Brand President Michael Martella said they would like to thank the State of Indiana and Henry County for their support in making this project possible, and added that they are looking forward to the beginning of a long-term cooperative partnership with Indiana.

Martella also mentioned the low-tax climate and experienced workforce which he said create an ideal business environment for their company.

The company looked at more than 15 sites suring the site selection process before narrowing their options down to three locations, of which two were in Indiana.

In order to secure the project, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation approved up to $2,200,000 in tax credits for Boar’s Head Brand. These are performance-based tax credits tied to the company’s job creation plans.

The New Castle Henry County Economic Development Corporation has additionally requested Henry County to approve local incentives including up to $5.5 million in tax abatements for the project, and additional support through tax increment financing. The Henry County Redevelopment Commission is providing the land for the project.

New Castle Mayor Greg York said he is delighted to welcome Boar’s Head Brand to New Castle and join them in their proud tradition of making premium delicatessen products.

The Sarasota, FL-based Boar’s Head Brand was founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1905, and continues to be a family-owned business after almost 110 years. They now have more than 500 products including premium deli meats, cheeses and Italian delicacies and food items.

New DC Economic Development Partnership to Attract Chinese Investment to Washington DC, MD, VA

DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the launch of a new public-private economic development partnership that will help Chinese companies seeking to enter the U.S. market.

DC Mayor Gray with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun

DC Mayor Gray with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun (photo –

The announcement of the new partnership, called the Greater Washington China Investment Center (GWCIC), was made by the Mayor during the opening ceremony for the second DC China Center in Beijing.

DC opened its first international office for China in Shanghai in June 2012. Mayor Gray said that the Beijing and Shanghai offices will position the District to accomplish the ambitious goals outlined in DC’s Five-Year Economic Development Plan.

Mayor Gray, accompanied by DC Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development M. Jeffrey Miller and a whole delegation, is on a ten-day economic development trip to China. The DC delegation’s trade mission to China also marks the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between the District and Beijing.

The newly launched GWCIC will provide a whole range of business support services to facilitate Chinese investment in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland.

GWCIC, supported by the DC government, has already been engaged in negotiations for months with Z Park in Beijing, known as China’s Silicon Valley. GWCIC CEO Doug Guthrie, formerly the dean of the GWU School of Business and vice president of GWU China operations, was instrumental in these negotiations.

The result is that GWCIC is now able to announce that they have secured two charter members from Z Park who have agreed to join GWCIC and explore potential investment opportunities in the U.S.

Mr. Fan Zhi, General Manager, Taikong with GWCIC President Bill Black

Mr. Fan Zhi, General Manager, Taikong with GWCIC President Bill Black (photo –

One of them is Taikong Panel Industry Corporation, an innovative manufacturer of an integrated building system.

Their eco-friendly panels can be used to assemble a 1000-square-foot single family home in two and a half hours. The system can also be used to build structurally sound multi-story buildings.

GWCIC will work with Taikong to help the company identify partners and projects in the U.S. where use of their TK Panel-to-Panel building method can dramatically boost the speed and efficiency of construction projects.

The other GWCIC charter member is Sanzen Energy Technology Co. Ltd. This is also a green energy company that manufactures innovative technologies for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. They also offer HVAC consulting services designed to help residential and commercial projects reduce energy consumption.

GWCIC will work with Sanzen to identify potential partners and projects in the U.S.

Vermont Economic Development Authority Approves Financing For Food and Beverage Projects

The Vermont Economic Development Authority announced approval of $5 million in financing support for projects across the state involving a total of $11 million.

Zero Gravity Craft Beer

Zero Gravity Craft Beer (photo –

Nearly $1.5 million of the VEDA loans approved are going to food and beverage companies in the state undertaking expansions and improvements.

One of the loan recipients is Swan Valley Cheese of Vermont, LLC, which is located in Swanton, VT. The company is getting $469,262 to help make building improvements and purchase equipment. The loan will also help them fully own a filtration system which is currently leased.

The new equipment and building improvements will allow the company to increase production, add a second shift and double employment from 13 to 27 within the next three years.

The Edison, NJ-based Lotito Foods opened the Swan Valley Cheese facility in Swanton in 2010, taking over a vacant cheese plant that was formerly operated by Via Cheese in the Swanton Town Industrial Park. At that time, the company received incentives from VEDA and was approved for $384,133 in Vermont Employment Growth Incentives.

Burlington, VT-based craft brewer Zero Gravity is another one of the projects receiving a VEDA loan of $440,319. It is a brewpub that operates as a part of the American Flatbread restaurant in Burlington.

The loan will enable the brewery to lease almost 6,000 square feet of its own space, expand production of the Zero Gravity brand craft beers and set up a retail shop and beer garden as part of a full-fledged brewery operation.

The Koffee Kup Bakery, Inc., also located in Burlington, is getting a $330,000 loan to install new equipment at their facility in Burlington and at another location in Brattleboro. Apart from the installation of new communications and bakery equipment, the expansion will also enable Koffee Kup to add at least 19 jobs to their existing 200 jobs at the two locations in Vermont.

Vermont Economic Development Authority CEO Jo Bradley said in a statement that VEDA is pleased to provide loans and other forms of financing for helping businesses throughout the state grow and thrive.

Bradley added that this round of approvals includes a number of food and beverage producers in Vermont who will undertake expansion projects to meet increased demand for their products, creating jobs in the process.

Apart from these projects that are receiving direct commercial financing, VEDA additionally approved $948,460 through their Small Business Loan Program. This includes a loan of $165,000 awarded to the Rutland Veterinary Clinic.

The clinic is planning to buy the property it is currently leasing. They expect to add three more jobs to the existing 40 employees who work at the veterinary clinic, surgical center and boarding facility for pets in the complex.

US Economic Development Administration Launches $15M Regional Innovation Competition

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has launched the Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition for spurring regional innovation capacity-building across the nation.

i6 Challenge

i6 Challenge

The $15 million competition builds on the successful i6 Challenge program, and is divided into three distinct funding opportunities – the i6 Challenge, cluster grants for supporting development of seed capital funds, and research park development grants.

Here’s the FY 2014 Regional Innovation Grants federal funding opportunity notice put out by the Department of Commerce.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer, who made the announcement about the launch of the program, said in a statement that the EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program will help spur innovation through development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters.

Sec. Pritzker added that innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.

The new program was originally started as the Regional Innovation Program, reauthorized under the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

The $15 million in funding for the program includes $8 million for the i6 Challenge and another $5 million for the Science and Research Park Development grants program. The remaining $2 million is for establishing cluster-based seed capital funds.

The i6 Challenge was launched in 2010 as a part of the Startup America Initiative. It is a national competition that recognizes impactful national models for innovation, startup creation and commercialization.

The funding for this program has been widened this year to include later-stage commercialization centers and expansions of existing centers.

The research park development grants are to be used for feasibility studies and planning for the construction of new research parks, or for expansion or renovation of existing ones.

The cluster grants are supposed to provide funding for technical assistance supporting feasibility studies, planning, formation and launch of cluster-based seed capital funds.

The seed funding must be focused on seed capital to innovative growth-oriented startups, and the funds have to take into consideration the job creation potential of the applicant before issuing the capital. Preference will be given to programs focused on exports and innovative manufacturing.

The full $15 million in funding under all three of these programs is available to all communities, irrespective of the level of distress.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams noted that this new funding opportunity will provide more regions and communities the resources they need in order to help local businesses start and grow.

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