Posts by: Economic Development

NYC Seeks Broadband Call for Innovations

As part of an effort to close the digital divide and drive down the cost of Internet in the five boroughs, New York City announced the formation of a Broadband Taskforce and put out an open “Call for Innovations” which the City hopes will generate new approaches for reaching underserved communities.

NYC Call for Innovations

NYC Call for Innovations (photo –

The Broadband Taskforce will be reviewing ideas emerging from the CFI and exploring how these ideas can be connected to larger broadband strategies.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release announcing these initiatives that the digital divide creates a fundamental difference between those who have access to economic and educational opportunities and those who do not.

The Mayor added that ensuring that all New Yorkers have affordable, high-speed Internet access is a top priority for his administration and a key strategy in their agenda to fight inequality.

New York City Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco likewise noted that eliminating the digital divide is one of the defining issues of our modern age, one that requires ideas as big and bold as the problem itself.

Tantoco added that the Call for Innovations presents an incredible opportunity to deliver free or affordable Internet to millions of New Yorkers who don’t have it at home.

The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation has released an open solicitation for new ideas and proposals for providing affordable broadband in underserved communities. You can get the details and submit your policy ideas and project proposals at

The CFI initiative targets technology companies and entrepreneurs, along with smaller ISPs who have insight into the entry barriers in the NYC telecommunications and Internet marketplace.

NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said they’re calling on the city’s tech ecosystem to contribute their most innovative ideas to fuel this process, which in the long term will be a major asset not just to individuals, but to the city’s businesses and the broader economy.

NYC Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball said that enlisting the tech sector and the city’s entrepreneurs to come up with creative solutions connecting more New Yorkers to educational resources, health care, and job opportunities online helps to both foster emerging businesses and create a more fair and equitable city.

The Broadband Taskforce will be led by Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley, who said in the release that they will build the bridge that crosses the digital divide and creates a 21st century road to opportunity by bringing together experts as advisors on the Broadband Task Force, building the City’s staffing, and engaging the public in sharing information and ideas.

Florien, Louisiana Economic Development Secure Vital Boise Cascade Expansion

Boise Cascade Company, one of the largest producers of plywood and engineered wood products in North America, announced plans for an expansion of its Florien plywood mill in Northwest Louisiana’s Sabine Parish.

Boise Cascade

Boise Cascade (photo – grant_loy/flickr)

Supported by the Village of Florien, Sabine Parish and Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the company is investing $43 million to upgrade and increase the production capacity of the mill.

The expansion will enable the company to retain 400 existing jobs at the Florien plywood mill. These are jobs paying an average of $42,500 per year, plus benefits. The project is also expected to create 103 construction jobs at peak while the building activity is in progress.

The Boise, ID-based Boise Cascade has a total of three mills in Louisiana, including another plywood mill in Oakdale, LA and an engineered wood products mill in Alexandria, LA. Together, these three mills employ 1,150 employees in Louisiana and generate a payroll of over $3.8 million per month.

Boise Cascade operations manager for Wood Products Mike Brown said in a release announcing the project that having spent the last seven years of his career working with employees at their three Louisiana locations, he is very pleased to have Boise Cascade invest in its future in the state and in the future of their Louisiana employees.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said that this reinvestment in a major facility in Northwest Louisiana demonstrates a huge vote of confidence by Boise Cascade in its Louisiana workforce.

Boise Cascade is expected to be eligible for Louisiana economic development incentives under the Industrial Tax Exemption program.

Florien Mayor Eddie Jones Jr. said that Boise’s operations are vital for Florien economic development and that of Sabine Parish as a whole. Mayor Jones noted that not only does Boise provide direct jobs at the mill itself, but also many indirect jobs in the timber industry that is vital to the western part of the state.

The Mayor added that the company is also involved in several community development initiatives in collaboration with the Village of Florien, including community beautification, police protection and as sponsors of the Sabine Free State Festival.

North Louisiana Economic Partnership President Scott Martinez said that Boise Cascade’s investment reaffirms its commitment to Sabine Parish and to the Village of Florien, and added that it is a testament to the great business climate and work ethic found in North Louisiana.

Minnesota Job Creation Fund Helped 31 Projects Invest $344.3M and Create 1800 Jobs

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has released a one-year report card on the performance of the Job Creation Fund, an incentive program that was launched last year.

MN Job Creation Fund

MN Job Creation Fund (photo –

According to data provided by DEED, Minnesota economic development incentives totaling $16.7 million have been provided through JCF to 31 expansion projects.

These 31 projects, of which 17 are in the Twin Cities and the rest in Greater Minnesota, are investing a combined total of $344.3 million and creating more than 1,800 jobs.

DEED Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon said in a release that the Job Creation Fund has been an important economic development tool that is encouraging growth in Minnesota. McKinnon added that the program has been a major success story in supporting companies throughout the state, from Cottonwood to Duluth, in their efforts to create jobs and invest in growth.

JCF has won awards from state and national economic development associations. Earlier this year in Jan, the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM) named DEED for its Economic Development Initiative Award for launching the Job Creation Fund.

The Council of Development Finance Agencies likewise recognized the program last year, calling it one of the most innovative finance programs in the country.

Businesses can apply for up to $1 million in JCF funding subject to their meeting certain criteria that includes minimum levels of job creation and investments. Applicants are required to create at least 10 full-time jobs and invest at least $500,000 in order to be eligible for financial assistance through JCF.

The biggest and most recent project that received JCF incentives is the expansion by window and door manufacturing company Anderson Corp. The company announced an investment of $56 million and creation of 300 jobs for expanding operations in Bayport, North Branch and Cottage Grove, MN.

Medical device maker Cardiovascular Systems was approved for JCF incentives for a new $30 million headquarters project in New Brighton, MN that is creating 200 jobs.

Another major project supported by JCF incentives was the $20 million Polaris Industries expansion in Plymouth, MN that included the creation of 100 new jobs. Clinical trial company Axis Clinicals is likewise getting JCF incentives for investing $12 million and creating 100 new jobs to establish its first U.S. research and analysis facility on the site of a former Wal-Mart store in Dilworth, MN.

Other companies that have been approved to receive JCF incentives in the last 12 months include Super Radiator Coils, TEAM Industries, Daikin Applied Americas, Harmony Enterprises, Capital Safety, Ikonics Corp., North Star Mutual Insurance Co., and DC Group.

State, Federal Officials Tour US EDA-Funded Rhode Island Economic Development Projects

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams and U.S. Senator for Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse were joined by Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, Governor Gina Raimondo, RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and other state and local officials on a tour of the state.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island (photo – taberandrew/flickr)

The group visited various Rhode Island economic development projects and facilities that have received EDA funding. Since 2009, the EDA has invested over $37 million into various projects in Rhode Island.

They also met with Rhode Island businesses and discussed how the EDA could continue supporting economic growth and job creation in the state.

In Newport, they visited the site of proposed business incubator Newport TechWorks. Last year, the EDA announced a grant of more than $1.6 million to help the City of Newport redevelop and reuse the 33,000-square-foot former Sheffield public school building and transform it into a collaborative work environment for small technology startups and entrepreneurs.

In Narragansett, they toured the Port of Galilee, which received $2.9 million from the EDA two years as part of a $5.8 million infrastructure repair project at the port. The Port of Galilee is home to 240 commercial fishing vessels, and accounts for a significant part of the $200 million RI fishing industry.

Sen. Whitehouse said in a release that EDA funding is giving Rhode Island employers the tools they need to grow and hire, and it’s helping to build infrastructure that makes the state a more attractive place to do business.

Sen. Whitehouse added that as the state’s economy continues to rebound, they’re going to need more investments like this, and added that he believes this visit helped Assistant Secretary Williams and his team at EDA see that sending federal dollars to the Ocean State will continue to pay off.

Assistant Secretary Williams said he was honored to see first-hand how Rhode Island is working collaboratively to build on its impressive history as a manufacturing and maritime engine.

They also attended a manufacturing forum at Hall Spars and Rigging in Bristol, RI to meet with leaders from Rhode Island composites manufacturing companies.

They toured EDA-funded projects around the Quonset Business Park and the Port of Davisville. The EDA has announced many investments in the area, including nearly $4 million for the Romano Vineyard Way Bridge and $6 million for the Zarbo Avenue Bulkhead.

The Quonset Business Park is a former military base and now a state-owned business and industrial park that has nearly 200 companies on-site and more than 10,000 people working there. The Port of Davisville at Quonset is one of the top ten auto importers in North America.

Quonset Development Corporation Managing Director Steven King said in the release that EDA funded projects play a critical role in their efforts to grow more jobs, increase economic development, and support the companies within the Park.

King said they are grateful for the opportunity to show Assistant Secretary Williams how these projects are helping to move Rhode Island forward, and added that they look forward to working with the EDA on more projects in the future.

Arlington, TX Considers Economic Development Incentives for $1.2B GM Expansion

The Arlington City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance designating a reinvestment zone to facilitate economic development tax incentives for a proposed expansion of the General Motors Arlington Assembly Plant in Arlington, TX.

GM Arlington Assembly Plant

GM Arlington Assembly Plant (photo credit – General Motors)

General Motors is planning a 1.2 million square feet expansion contiguous to the existing assembly plant. The new space will accommodate modern and efficient vehicle assembly processes.

The expansion and upgrades will enable the creation of 589 new permanent jobs at the General Motors Arlington Assembly Plant.

In order to secure the GM expansion project, the City Council will consider a proposal offering Arlington economic development incentives in the form of an 80 percent real and business personal property abatement for a period of ten years, including building permit and development fee waivers.

GM’s added real property expansion is expected to be valued at $307 million and the cost of new equipment is pegged at $986 million.

The General Motors Arlington Assembly Plant, which first opened in Jan 1954, was the company’s first air-conditioned automobile factory. It now covers 4.375 million square feet on 250 acres.

GM Arlington has also rehabilitated 20 acres of industrial property into a natural wildlife habitat.  GM Arlington has also received the EPA’s Energy Star Certification for Motor Vehicle Assembly Plants.

The Arlington Assembly Plant switched to truck production in 1997 and is now the only GM plant that builds full-size SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. SUV assembly operations at other GM plants in Janesville, WI and Silao, Mexico were consolidated to Arlington in 2009.

After a $331 million investment that was announced in May 2011 to expand the body shop and purchase tooling and equipment, GM added a $200 million stamping facility and 180 new jobs to its Arlington manufacturing complex in 2012.

A third production shift with 800 new jobs was announced in 2013. The GM Arlington Assembly Plant produces 1,140 vehicles daily in three shifts, and pays $1 million in wages every day. The 1.2 million square feet of additional space the company is considering adding would be established in a newly designated 205.699-acre reinvestment zone.

Following a public hearing for the reinvestment zone proposal and the first reading of the ordinance by the City Council, a second reading will be set for a subsequent meeting, along with a resolution to authorize the execution of a tax abatement and 380 economic development grant agreement between the City and General Motors LLC-Arlington Assembly.

Chester County, PA Economic Development Groups Secure Universal Pasteurization Facility

Universal Pasteurization Company, LLC, which provides high pressure processing and cold storage services to food manufacturers, announced the selection of East Whiteland Township in Chester County, PA as the location for a new facility.


CCEDC (photo –

Supported by Pennsylvania and Chester County economic development organizations, the company is investing $10.8 million to lease and establish a new 170,000-square-foot facility. Universal Pasteurization expects to create at least 51 jobs at this new facility.

In addition to their headquarters in Lincoln, NE, the company also has existing facilities in Villa Rica, GA and Coppell, TX.

Universal Pasteurization Company CEO Melanie Galloway said in a release announcing the project that the Chester County Economic Development Council made this a very smooth journey for them, for which they are very grateful.

Galloway added that they look forward to providing a solution for their customers in the northeast, as well as providing jobs and opportunities for the people in Chester County.

Governor Tom Wolf said in the release that he is pleased that Universal Pasteurization has chosen Pennsylvania as the place to grow its business. Pennsylvania economic development professionals in the Governor’s Action Team worked on this project in partnership with the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC).

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has offered the company a package of incentives that includes $102,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and another $22,950 in the form of workforce training grant funding.

The CCEDC likewise provided assistance to UPC by connecting the company to the resources offered through their Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n).

I2n, a CCEDC affiliate, was established through the consolidation of the Chester County and Delaware County Keystone Innovation Zones. The merged alliance supports emerging growth businesses in fields including IT, life sciences, and energy.

CCEDC is a regional economic development entity that has been providing what it calls smart growth business services to companies in Chester County and the surrounding region for 55 years.

It is a non-governmental not-for-profit corporation that employs over 40 economic development specialists and is the parent organization for several affiliated initiatives and industry partnerships including i2n, the Chester County IDA and the Southeastern Economic Development Company of Pennsylvania, among others.

CCEDC COO Michael Grigalonis said that they are delighted to have helped locate Universal Pasteurization in Chester County, and connected the company to the resources offered through i2n. Grigalonis added that the Chester County Economic Development Council looks forward to building their relationship with UPC as it grows its business in the county.

West Plains, Missouri OzSBI Incubator Gets U.S. Economic Development Administration Grant

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded Downtown West Plains, Inc. a $672,870 grant for an expansion of the Ozark Small Business Incubator (OzSBI).


OzSBI (photo –

The EDA investment will help the incubator expand its service offerings, and support regional economic development efforts aimed at revitalizing the seven-county area served by OzSBI and providing more job opportunities.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in a release announcing the grant that providing opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish in distressed communities is core to EDA’s mission and values.

Assistant Secretary Williams added that this EDA grant will expand critical assistance for local entrepreneurs as they work to launch new businesses and create jobs in the Ozark region.

Apart from the regional impact of enhanced OzSBI services, the EDA investment also supports West Plains economic development since the OzSBI is housed in the former Butler Furniture Building. This is a historic structure that is more than a century old and is located in the historical district in Downtown West Plains.

The EDA grant enables the building’s historic preservation by rehabilitating and renovating the existing space to accommodate the expansion of OzSBI’s programs and services.

EDA’s investment furthermore leverages available local funding, because the grantee already has other local partners committed to supporting this project. This includes financial support from banks, and a partnership from Missouri State University-West Plains.

The renovation includes 9,200 square feet on the building’s second floor and building upgrades that will combine to create more usable spaces for offices, break rooms and conference space. The project also includes fiber layout to provide more reliable IT services to the incubator’s clients.

The Ozark Small Business Incubator was launched in Jan 2012 after a long process that began in 2005. Back in April 2005, the SBA named the West Plains area as the top new business creator in Missouri. Downtown West Plains, Inc. immediately established a committee to look into the feasibility of an incubator that could help these new businesses and entrepreneurs be successful and grow their business.

OzSBI now provides startups and entrepreneurs not just mentorship and office space, but also assistance with business training and development, and with marketing and promotion counseling. Not to mention networking opportunities that can help start and grow a business, and access to capital up to $25,000. This is from a revolving loan fund, and the funding can be used as a secondary loan or gap financing to supplement start-up capital or a bank loan.

Minnesota Jobs Bill Seeks $842M For Economic Development and Infrastructure Projects

Governor Mark Dayton has introduced a Jobs Bill that seeks $842 million to invest in economic development and infrastructure projects across Minnesota.

Minnesota Jobs Bill

Minnesota Jobs Bill (data –

The Jobs Bill addresses critically important infrastructure needs that have been delayed for years, and provides funding for projects that are estimated to create a total of more than 23,900 jobs.

“I ask the Legislature to join me in working to pass a Jobs Bill this session to boost Minnesota’s economy and address our state’s most crucial infrastructure needs,” said Gov. Dayton in a release announcing the Jobs Bill.

The bill ensures a statewide impact with 38 percent of the funding for projects in the Twin Cities area, and 43 percent in Greater Minnesota. The remaining 19 percent is set aside for statewide programs.

State agencies will get $676 million of it, and $166 million will go to local governments. The $842 million in bond funding and additional federal funds, local government matches and other state funding will add up into a total of $1.2 billion in investments into these projects.

Economic development gets a $169 million allocation in the Jobs Bill, out of the total of $842 million. This includes $50 million for statewide housing needs and another $48 million is provided to complete the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Project in Minnesota.

The Jobs Bill includes $12 million for Minnesota economic development incentive programs specifically designed to help businesses expand in Minnesota. Another $27 million is provided for other local and regional economic development projects statewide.

Apart from the Lewis & Clark Water System that will deliver water to more than 20,000 Minnesotans, the bill also seeks $10 million for navigation and other port improvements at the ports of Duluth, Red Wing, St. Paul, and Winona.

The Governor recommends $2 million for grants to Greater Minnesota cities to assist with public infrastructure projects necessary to support economic development. The Jobs Bill seeks $10 million for the Minnesota Transportation Economic Development (TED) program.

TED grants can provide up to 70 percent of the transportation and public infrastructure costs associated with economic development projects. The program is a joint effort by the Minnesota Department of Economic Development (DEED) and the Department of Transportation.

The Jobs Bill also recommends that higher education programs should get $200 million and E-12 education another $11 million. Environmental protection is allocated $99 million. Parks and historical sites will get $124 million, while rail safety improvement projects are provided $79 million. The Corrections Dept gets $97 million, and Veterans Affairs $16 million.

Starbucks to Spend $250M to Help 25,000 Employees Graduate

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) announced that it is now offering 100 percent tuition coverage for every eligible part-time and full-time employee of the company.

Starbucks ASU

Starbucks ASU (photo –

The company says it will invest $250 million to help at least 25,000 Starbucks partners (employees) graduate by 2025.

The four-year college education, offered through Arizona State University’s online degree program, will be provided under the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Students have a choice of 49 online degree programs, with Starbucks paying 100 percent of their tuition fees.

This option was previously available only to a certain category of the company’s employees, but is now being offered to 140,000 full-time and part-time Starbucks employees.

ASU President Michael Crow said in a release announcing the initiative that the College Achievement Plan has been a powerful demonstration of what is possible when an enlightened and innovative corporation joins forces with a forward-thinking research university.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the release that partnerships like this show how innovative strategies can expand access to college for thousands of students.

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, said that by giving their partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, Starbucks is providing them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity.

A typical bachelor’s degree holder will earn 66 percent more than a high-school graduate over a 40-year career. Apart from helping themselves, educated and employed individuals also have a positive impact on the economy.

One unemployed 18-24-year-old costs more than $4,100 a year in tax revenue and benefits to the federal and state governments. A college education also promotes civic and community involvement, and individuals with bachelor’s degrees are twice as likely to volunteer as high school graduates.

Starbucks is also hoping that this opportunity to get a free college education will provide a push to the company’s Opportunity Youth hiring program. Over the next three years, Starbucks has committed to hiring 10,000 of the six million or so disconnected youth in the 16-24 age group who are neither in school nor working.

By providing both employment and access to higher education, Starbucks is hoping to bring this huge, untapped talent pool into the workforce and make it available for all businesses. Starbucks is not seeking any commitments from employees to continue working after they graduate.

Nearly 2,000 Starbucks partners have already been enrolled into ASU Online through the College Achievement Plan.

Historic Shoe Maker Reshores Manufacturing Operations Back to Batavia, New York

PW Minor, one of the few remaining shoe manufacturers in the United States, announced plans to bring overseas production work back to its historic manufacturing facility in Batavia, NY.

PW Minor shoes

PW Minor shoes (photo –

Supported by New York economic development incentives, the company is investing $7.35 million to automate processes that will enable production of leather footwear and orthopedic products at costs comparable to its operations in China.

This will in turn enable the company to shut down its overseas operations, reshore production to the Batavia facility, and create 100 new jobs.

PW Minor was founded in 1867 as Minor Brothers Boots and Shoes by Peter Wycoff Minor and his brother, Abrahm Vorhees. They came up with the idea of starting a business to make handcrafted shoes while trekking back home from the Civil War to their home in Interlaken, NY.

It is now the oldest company in Genesee County, but barely survived through last year. The company was scheduled for closure in July last year, and was saved at the last minute when it was acquired by Batavia Shoes LLC, headed by Andrew Young and Peter H. Zeliff.

The new owners paid $2.85 million for buying the historic company’s assets. At that time, New York economic development agency Empire State Development supported the new owners’ job creation and retention plans by providing up to $449,505 in performance-based Excelsior Job Program tax credits for the project.

In return, Batavia Shoes LLC committed to keeping PW Minor open, retaining 50 existing jobs and creating 17 additional jobs. With the company now undertaking another expansion and adding 100 more jobs, ESD is once again providing up to $1.75 million in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, also performance-based.

Without these ESD incentives, PW Minor would not have been able to survive, add and retain jobs, close its production operations in China and initiate another expansion in Batavia.

Peter Zeliff said in a release announcing the project that bringing their production back to New York is a priority, and added that there will come a day when they will be able to proudly stamp “Made in America” on each and every pair of shoes with the PW Minor brand name. Zeliff added that they are excited to be a part of the resurrection of this American icon.

Governor Cuomo said in the release that “Our priority is not only to attract new businesses to New York, but also to ensure that the ones already here continue to grow.” The Governor added that he is pleased that these jobs are being brought back to New York State, where they belong.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said that PW Minor’s decision to bring jobs back from overseas is a testament to the quality of the region’s workforce and New York State’s welcoming environment for growing a business.

Genesee County Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini thanked Peter Zeliff and Andrew Young for saving the historic business when it was on the brink of closure and now bringing additional jobs back from overseas with New York State’s assistance.

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