Posts by: Economic Development

Britco Kicks Off $100M Workforce Housing Project in British Columbia

Langley, British Columbia-based Britco, a division of WesternOne Inc. (TSE: WEQ), is launching a major workforce housing project for Devon Energy Corporation, an oil and natural gas company.

Britco workforce housing project

Britco workforce housing project (photo –

Britco is one of Canada’s largest modular construction companies.

This project involves building accommodations that will make up more than 1,500 rooms.

The $100 million project will create 275 full-time equivalent jobs for a year.

Britco’s modular construction facilities in Agassiz and Penticton, BC will build the homes.

The project launch in Penticton will be attended by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, who said that Britco’s success shows that the plan to attract investments in the BC energy and resource sector will pay off in opportunities and jobs for citizens all over the province.

This is Britco’s second project of this kind for Devon. They recently finished an 880-room workforce accommodation project for Devon in the same region in Northern Alberta.

Chris Seasons, president of Devon Canada Corporation, said these housing projects were an important element of their business success. He said the superior accommodations help attract the brightest and best talent for working on the company’s oil sands projects in Alberta.

Seasons also added that the Britco contract was an excellent example of benefits from the oil sands flowing directly to the province of British Columbia and its people.

Rising demand for workforce housing in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors in Western Canada and the U.S. has helped Britco more than double its workforce in BC in recent years. Britco now has more than 500 employees in Western Canada, and around 1,000 overall.

Rob King, CEO of WesternOne, said that work on projects in the energy and resource sector in BC and Alberta has allowed them to create jobs not just in BC, but also given the company an opportunity for international expansions into the United States and Australia.

Britco’s U.S. modular construction facility is located in Waco, Texas. APB Britco has facilities in three locations in Australia.

Work on the new project for Devon Energy will begin next month, and is expected to be completed and commissioned by December 2015.


Google Breaks Ground on $600M Data Center Expansion in The Dalles, OR

Google executives accompanied by local and state officials broke ground on a data center expansion project in the City of The Dalles, Oregon.

Google data center in The Dalles, OR

Water vapor rising from the cooling towers of Google’s data center in The Dalles, OR (photo –

The $600 million expansion brings Google’s total investment since 2005 in The Dalles to $1.2 billion.

The original data center in The Dalles, which opened in 2006 after a $600 million investment, was the first data center to be owned and operated by Google.

When Google started looking around for a site and chose The Dalles, they worked through an intermediary firm called Design LLC. The project was codenamed “Project O2” in official documents.

At that time, Google, through Design LLC, entered into an enterprise zone agreement with the City of The Dalles and Wasco County under which they were required to invest at least $33 million and create 35 jobs. They ended up investing $600 million and already have 80 employees.

Design LLC has now entered into a second enterprise zone agreement that commits them to investing at least $200 million for the expansion, and creating at least 10 new jobs. Google also agreed to pay $1.2 million in fees right away, to be followed by an additional $800,000 per year for the duration of the agreement.

The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence said this was a win-win agreement for them – Google expands and creates jobs, and everyone benefits. Mayor Lawrence also said the annual payments agreed to by Google would allow the city to invest in progress and jobs for the community.

Dave Karlson, Google Operations Manager, said in a statement that they were excited about expanding the company’s presence in The Dalles. He said this represents Google’s ongoing commitment to Wasco County and the state of Oregon, and added that they were looking forward to continue working closely with the community.

In the past few years, Google has provided $180,000 for funding the infrastructure required for a free WiFi network in the City of The Dalles. They have also awarded grants worth over $777,000 to schools and non-profit organizations in Wasco County.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said that Google’s investment in the state confirms that Oregon is a great place for doing business and helping communities grow, and also noted that a new $600 million investment illustrates the depth of Google‚Äôs long-term commitment towards the state.

Duke Energy Announces Two Wind Power Projects in South Texas

Duke Energy Renewables announced that it is undertaking two new large-scale wind power projects – Los Vientos III and Los Vientos IV, in South Texas.

Vestas wind turbines

Vestas wind turbines (photo –

Each of these projects will be capable of producing 200 megawatts of clean electricity with no emissions. Together, they can provide power for around 120,000 homes.

The company is planning to build, own and operate these two projects, which are to be located near Rio Grande City, about 100 miles due west of Brownsville.

Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf said they were pleased to be bringing economic development, jobs and affordable clean electricity to Texas.

Austin Energy, the Texas capital’s municipally owned electric utility, will buy the output from both projects, and has entered into two 25-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Renewables.

The utility already gets renewable power from Duke Energy’s earlier Los Vientos II Windpower Project. Power from Los Vientos I goes to CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility.

Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said these new projects with Duke Energy will help Austin Energy meet its goal of 35 percent renewable energy a full four years ahead of schedule.

The turbines for these projects will be supplied by Vestas. The order for 200 2.0MW turbines that Duke Energy Renewables has placed with Vestas is the largest order for turbines the company has received since 2010.

The turbine blades, towers and nacelles for the Duke Energy turbines will be produced by Vestas manufacturing facilities in Colorado.

Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada, said they won this deal through a very competitive process. He said the order would keep their U.S. factories busy, and would create jobs for Vistas service technicians.

The V110-2.0 MW turbines that Duke Energy has ordered from Vestas are capable of producing 13 percent more energy as compared to the company’s previous V100-1.8 MW turbine.

Vestas will begin delivering the new turbines in mid-2014, with commissioning slated to begin in 2015 and continue through 2016.

Once both wind farms are fully operational, Duke Energy Renewable’s overall wind power capacity will be in excess of 2,000MW, which puts the company among the top 10 wind energy producers in the U.S.

Apart from the two existing and two planned Los Vientos projects, Duke Energy has five other renewable power projects in Texas. All put together, they have 15 wind farms and 15 solar farms already operational in 12 states.

Duke Energy Renewables is a commercial business unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy.


Power Construction Company Relocates Headquarters to Chicago

Power Construction Company, LLC, which is currently based in Schaumburg, Illinois, announced that it is relocating its corporate headquarters from the suburbs to the City of Chicago.

Power Construction Company, LLC

Photo –

The company will invest millions of dollars on the 35,000 square feet of space they are taking up on two floors of Triangle Plaza in Chicago.

The relocation project will bring the company’s 200 existing employees to Chicago, and will additionally create 30 new jobs.

Power Construction Company cited availability of new construction contracts in downtown Chicago as one of the reasons for the move, along with outdated office space in Schaumburg, anticipated employee growth and changing workforce demographics.

The company has recently broken ground on 10 major projects in Chicago, and has committed to expanding its workforce by 15 percent during the next few years to match their customers’ expansion plans.

Ken Gorman, vice president of Power, said these projects are creating opportunities for literally hundreds of union workers over the next few years.

However, the company wasn’t committed to Chicago for the relocation right from the beginning. They also considered relocating out of the state to Indiana.

Discussions about the project had been ongoing for the past 12 months. The Office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel were both involved in the project, along with World Business Chicago and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

In order to keep Power in the state, retain their existing 200 jobs and secure the planned addition of 30 new jobs, the company has been offered tax credits worth $2.4 million under the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program that is administered by DCEO.

These are performance-based tax credits based on the company fulfilling its job creation commitments, and available to Power over a 10-year period against their corporate income tax.

DCEO Director Adam Pollet said they were pleased to have worked with Power in finding a location that matches the company’s needs and allows them to continue expanding. He said they would work together to provide Power with workforce development resources as the company continues to create new jobs in Illinois.

Apart from the tax credits, Power is also getting a $15,000 grant to provide technical training for its workforce. This grant is being provided under the ETIP (Employer Training Investment Program) grant program.

Power Construction Company was founded in 1926 in Chicago, and is now one of the Midwest’s largest contractors with annual revenues of around $600 million.

Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Grants Announced

The consortium of federal agencies involved in the recently announced Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative has announced the first set of 44 grants and other investments totaling $7 million.

Made in the USA

Made in the USA (photo –

IMCP was launched earlier this year in April as a coordinated effort by federal government agencies to assist manufacturing communities make long-term investments in public goods and make their region more attractive for manufacturers and their supply chains.

The program to align and focus federal economic development resources begins with 25 grants awarded by the Dept. of Commerce in 2013, to be used for creating implementation strategies.

For example, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) is getting $100,000 for developing a strategy to establish the Rhode Island Design and Manufacturing Center.

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Disputanta, Virginia is getting $280,000 for developing a strategy to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Apprentice Academy, a training facility for providing hands-on training to prepare Virginia’s tobacco region workers for advanced manufacturing careers.

You can see the full descriptions of each grant awarded under IMCP on the web site.

Apart from the $4.4 million in grants announced by Commerce, additional grants under IMCP were announced by the EPA (seven grants totaling $1.7 million for); SBA (five grants totaling $766,000); and USDA (six grants totaling $528,000).

These grants will help the communities do the groundwork required for competing in the 2014 IMCP Challenge competition.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said these planning grants will provide communities with the opportunity to design plans for revitalizing American manufacturing, attract investments and strengthen the economy.

The IMCP Challenge winners will get $25 million grants, to be used as funding for setting up workforce training programs, establishing business parks or incubators, or for other infrastructure.

Projects undertaken will be supported by additional funds provided by other agencies involved in the IMCP initiative. The designated “manufacturing communities” will also get an advantage for securing investments and grants under various programs offered by 10 different federal agencies and departments.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this announcement was another example of how federal agencies are partnering successfully for creating jobs and expanding manufacturing output.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said this partnership would make a visible difference in communities all over the country, and the EPA’s focus on Brownfields Area-Wide Planning efforts will help communities create jobs and support manufacturing.

Acting U.S. Small Business Administrator Jeanne Hulit said IMCP was a vital resource for small manufacturers ready to expand, grow and create jobs in their community.

EDA Awards $21M in Grants to Projects Creating 2500 Jobs in 11 States

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced $21.1 million in grants being awarded to 16 economic development projects in 11 states.


Photo credit –

It is expected that the projects being funded will raise $505 million in additional investments, and will create a combined total of more than 2,500 jobs.

The list of 16 projects includes four recipients in California. The Cities of Mt. Shasta and Imperial are getting $3 million each, while Delano and Yuba are getting $1.8 million each.

The City of Imperial is getting $3 million to help it support the development of the Alliance and Innovative Regional Center, which is an EB-5 investment initiative. This center is expected to create more than 640 jobs by helping provide green cards to foreigners who invest in qualified projects and help create jobs.

Mt. Shasta is getting $3 million for making water infrastructure improvements that will allow the city to provide support for a new water bottling plant. This project is expected to generate $20 million in private investments and will create 60 new jobs.

Yuba is likewise getting $1.8 million for water system improvements that will enable an expansion of Yuba County Airport Industrial Park and support continued manufacturing growth. This project will help create 150 jobs.

Delano is also getting $1.8 million for building a rail spur connecting the city to an industrial park, which is expected to boost commercial activity at the park and provide more employment opportunities.

Dothan, Alabama is getting $1 million from the EDA to help build up aerospace sector activity at Dothan-Houston County Airport Authority. The grant will be used for roadway and water system improvements, which is expected to be helpful for an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) project at the airport that is expected to generate $7.5 million in private investment and create 300 new jobs.

In Miami, Florida, the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency is getting $600,000 for a historic rehabilitation project. The City of Miami Hospitality and Culinary Institute will be housed in the rehabilitated church. This project is expected to create 139 jobs while expanding training opportunities for hospitality workers.

The Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, is getting a $1.5 million grant that will help establish the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship in a renovated downtown property that housed a bank.

The city of Florence, South Carolina is getting $1 million to make water system improvements that will facilitate a $27 million expansion at the Honda plant. This project will help retain 600 jobs and create 65 new jobs.

The rest of the grants are as follows:-

Avoyelles Parish Port Commission of Simmesport, Louisiana – $1.2 million

LaSalle Parish Police Jury of Jena, Louisiana – $500,000

City of Jonesburg, Missouri – $1.9 million

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center of Choctaw, Oklahoma – $300,000

City of Moore, Oklahoma – $300,000

Redevelopment Authority of Easton Pennsylvania – $1.5 million

South Plains Community College of Levelland, Texas – $475,000

Cedar City, Corporation of Cedar City, Utah – $935,900

Feuer Powertrain Breaks Ground on Manufacturing Plant in Mississippi

Nordhausen, Germany-based Feuer Powertrain GmbH broke ground on a new manufacturing facility for producing crankshafts in Tunica, Mississippi.

MS Gov. Phil Bryant at Feuer Powertrain announcement

MS Gov. Phil Bryant at Feuer Powertrain announcement (photo – governor’s Office)

The $140 million project will be the first Feuer manufacturing facility in the U.S. and their first one outside Germany.

The project is expected to create 300 new jobs in Tunica County.

The company already has more than 400 employees in the five manufacturing facilities at their headquarters in Germany, where they produce a million crankshafts a year for the transportation and automotive industries.

A large part of their German production output is sent to export markets, including North America.

Bernd Gulden, CEO of Feuer Powertrain, said that after going through a long site selection process, they are now convinced that the decision to locate their first overseas manufacturing facility in Tunica is the right move.

Gulden said the business-friendly atmosphere, and support from the State and Tunica County, gave them the confidence that this would be an ideal location for expanding Feuer’s global manufacturing footprint.

Tunica and Mississippi had serious competition for the project from Louisa County, Virginia. One of the residents in Louisa introduced the county’s economic development team to Feuer’s leadership, and the negotiations were conducted under the code name of Project Ice Water.

However, earlier this year in June, Louisa County officials were informed that Feuer was no longer interested in Virginia because they had decided to locate the facility in Mississippi. According to a report published in The Central Virginian at that time, Virginia and Louisa County had offered Feuer a $16.7 million package of incentives, but Mississippi topped that by offering more than $27 million.

The exact amount of incentives Mississippi is offering has not been disclosed. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is offering support for infrastructure improvements, site preparation and workforce training through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund. Additional local incentives and support is being provided by Tunica County.

MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen said they were pleased to be able to assist in bringing this great company to Tunica, and appreciated their partners in Tunica County who worked together with them to make the project a reality.

Christensen added that Feuer’s decision to locate its manufacturing operations in Tunica was another sign of the position and growing strength of Mississippi in the southern automotive corridor.

Shell Considering Louisiana For $12.5B GTL Facility

Shell has entered into an incentive agreement with the State of Louisiana for a potential natural gas-to-liquids (GTL) project in Ascension Parish.

Shell GTL facility in Qatar

Shell GTL facility in Qatar (photo – Shell/flickr)

If the company goes ahead with the project, the agreement requires them to shell out at least $12.5 billion for the project.

Shell has also committed to creating a minimum of 740 new and direct jobs if the project is greenlighted. These would be high-paying jobs with average annual wages of around $100,000, plus benefits.

Louisiana State University (LSU) performed an economic impact analysis for the project, and found that the project would support the creation of another 3,900 indirect jobs. Not to mention 10,000 construction jobs at the peak building activity level.

Shell’s $12.5 billion GTL plant would have an overall economic impact of $77.6 billion in Louisiana, including over the construction phase and the first 15 years in which the facility will be operational.

Another noteworthy aspect of this GTL facility is that it will be the first of its kind to be commercially scaled in the U.S. The plant will use natural gas as the raw material to create clean fuels used for transportation, along with specialty waxes, and building blocks for plastics, detergents and lubricants.

Jorge Santos Silva, executive vice president, Royal Dutch Shell, who directs the Upstream Americas Integrated Gas Division, said that selecting the site was an important first step that would allow the company to go ahead with detailed planning and technical analysis, and get started with the permitting process.

He said that if Shell goes ahead with the project, they expect the project costs to be well above the minimum spending level agreed upon with Louisiana.

In return, Louisiana has agreed to provide a massive $112 million package of incentives for land acquisition, road expansions and other infrastructure improvements.

For starters, road improvements associated with the GTL project are expected to add up to around $32 million. Shell will provide funding for these road improvements, and will be reimbursed by the State through infrastructure grants based on performance.

Shell will be eligible for incentives under Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program. They will get a 12 percent payroll rebate per job created under the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program. LED FastStart will assist the company with workforce training.

Louisiana has become a hotbed of proposed GTL projects, with Shell following in the wake of earlier announcements made by Sasol ($16-$21 billion GTL and ethane cracker complex),  G2X Energy ($1.3 billion GTL), and Juniper ($100 million GTL).

Shaw Industries Planning $40M Expansion in Tennessee

Shaw Industries announced that is planning to expand its engineered hardwood manufacturing facility in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Shaw Hardwoods

Shaw Hardwoods (photo –

The $40 million expansion project will increase the Marion County plant’s capacity by 60 percent, and will create 25 new jobs.

The facility already has 200 associates, including 65 new hires added this year because Shaw increased the number of shifts at the plant.

The South Pittsburg facility, formerly a yarn plant, is now among the most technologically advanced hardwood facilities in Shaw’s portfolio, and is also the world’s largest engineered flooring facility of its kind.

Shaw entered the hardwood flooring business in 2006, and is now the second largest manufacturer in the market, and the fastest in terms of growth. They now have now nine hardwood manufacturing facilities.

This $40 million expansion is the latest in a series of expansions and new operations announced by the company. Shaw recently spent $26 million on automation and technology upgrades for improving efficiency and safety, lowering costs and reducing waste at their hardwood facilities in Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

In Georgia, which hosts the company’s headquarters, Shaw is planning to build a new carpet tile plant in Adairsville, in addition to an expansion of its extrusion and distribution operations. They’re also opening a new carpet tile plant in China, but that one will primarily serve the Asian market.

Shaw Chairman and CEO Vance Bell said that the South Pittsburg expansion was an important component in the company’s overall hardwood strategy.  He said all the investments made in the various hardwood facilities were enhancing their ability to offer the widest mix of products, innovative design and the best service and quality for customers.

Marion County Mayor John Graham said they were pleased to see the commitment of new jobs and additional investment being made by Shaw Industries. He said they appreciated the company’s confidence in the community and its citizens.

South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins likewise said the expansion provided confirmation of Shaw’s long-term commitment towards South Pittsburg, Marion County and Tennessee.

Dalton, Georgia-based Shaw Industries Group, Inc. is a vertically integrated manufacturer producing hardwood, stone and other types of flooring and synthetic turfs, in addition to carpets and rugs. Their annual sales exceed $4 billion.

Shaw is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., and has more than 23,000 employees across its facilities worldwide.

PPG Consolidation in Pennsylvania to Create 300 Jobs

PPG Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PPG) announced that they are establishing the North American headquarters of their architectural coatings business in Butler County, Pennsylvania, and will move their architectural coatings R&D to an existing technology center in Allegheny County.

PPG facility in Harmar Township, PA

PPG facility in Harmar Township, PA (photo –

The project will require PPG to invest more than $14 million for equipment, infrastructure and workforce training.

PPG expects to create 300 jobs in the two counties, and the projects are also credited with helping retain PPG’s existing 2,500 jobs in the state.

The 120,000-square-foot headquarters facility in Cranberry Township, Butler County will consolidate the company’s existing architectural coatings operations in Dover, Delaware; Strongsville, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.

PPG’s Technology Center in Harmar Township, Allegheny County already houses their glass and fiber glass R&D and business activities.

This technology center will now be expanded to include their North American architectural coatings R&D division, including all the personnel and laboratory equipment currently located in Strongsville, Ohio and Springdale, PA.

This whole consolidation in the two Pennsylvania counties is a result of PPG’s acquisition of Dutch multinational AkzoNobel’s North American decorative coatings business a few months ago in April.

PPG now wants to consolidate AkzoNobel’s headquarters and lab facilities in the U.S. with PPG’s own facilities in order to improve collaboration between the two sets of employees and reduce travel spending and time between multiple facilities engaged in the same activities.

In order to secure the company’s consolidation in Pennsylvania, PPG has been offered an incentives package from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that includes $618,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and another $1.25 million grant through the Pennsylvania First Program grant.

PPG is also getting $42,750 as a training grant to support training for its new workforce. They are also getting a $2 million loan for the consolidation projects from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.

The project was handled by the Governor’s Action Team (GAT) at the state level, working in coordination with local officials and the economic development teams of Allegheny County and Butler County, with support from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Charles E. Bunch,chairman and CEO of PPG Industries, said they appreciated the continued support of the county leadership and the Governor.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the announcement shows how successful the region can be by working together on economic development projects. He said that without the joint efforts made by Governor Corbett, Allegheny County, Butler County and their economic development teams, the outcome might have been very different.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PPG Industries, Inc. was founded in 1883 and is now a global company with 120 manufacturing facilities and 35,000 employees spread across operations in more than 70 countries. Last year, the company generated $15.2 billion in revenue.

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