Economic Development

California Economic Development Groups Support Telecommunications Modernization Bill

Four rural California economic development and business groups have issued a letter publicly announcing their support for legislation that has been introduced to enable a telecommunications policy that will promote broader access to internet-based telecommunications services while helping the state meet its carbon reduction goals.

AB 2395 CA telecom modernization bill

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The bill in question is AB 2395 (Telecommunications: replacement of public switched telephone network), introduced earlier this year by Assemblymember Evan Low, co-chairman of the California Technology and Innovation Caucus.

Since 1999, there has been an 85 percent decline in the number of California homes using traditional landlines. Less than one in ten residential voice lines are now on the traditional plain-old-telephone service (POTS) network.

What’s more, maintaining the state’s existing POTS network creates an estimated greenhouse gas equivalent of burning 100 million pounds of coal each year. The network uses three billion gallons of water annually and consumes power equivalent to running nearly 90,000 90-sera refrigerators 24 hours a day, all year round.

In a statement issued after introducing the legislation that provides a roadmap for the transition from the POTS network to advanced IP-based communications services no sooner than 2020, Low said that “California telecommunications law established in the 1950’s needs to be modernized so our state can continue to be the world’s innovation leader as well as the pioneer in addressing climate change.”

The four groups that have just announced their support for this bill are the Economic Development Corporations of Fresno and Kern Counties, the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, and the Monterey County Business Council, which collectively represent nearly 2.5 million residents.

The group has sent a letter to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who chairs the CA Assembly Appropriations Committee.

They say in the letter that “The counties we represent use different strategies and programs to create success. However, we all agree that our rural communities need investment in broadband technologies. Today, access to technology is a necessary tool for communicating with each other and interacting with current and potential customers. That is why we are all supporting AB 2395: to increase access to modern technologies in rural areas in California.”

The letter ends with the note that “Rural business and economic development groups are proud to support AB 2395 because it will support economic growth and prosperity in rural communities.”

AB 2395 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 25.

Pennsylvania Economic Development Dept. Awards $3.3M For 15 Community Revitalization Projects

Fifteen community revitalization projects across Pennsylvania have been approved to receive more than $3.3 million in funding through the Keystone Communities program.

PA DCED Keystone Communities

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The Keystone Communities program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), is designed to encourage the creation of public-private partnerships that support local initiatives.

Governor Tom Wolf’s latest fiscal year budget supports an increase of $8.65 million for this program to encourage further revitalization throughout Pennsylvania. Partnership initiatives supported by the Keystone Communities program are expected to create more attractive places to live and encourage Pennsylvania economic development.

For example, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is getting two funding awards – one of $80,000 for planning in the business district; and another one of $77,200 to administer development activities in business districts.

The City of Philadelphia is likewise getting two funding awards – one $241,000 to support accessible housing modifications within the county as part of Philadelphia’s Adaptive Modification Program; and the other of $150,000 to revitalize at least 20 commercial facades within several Philadelphia neighborhood commercial corridors.

The City of Hazleton is getting $500,000 to support Phase I of its City Arts Center renovations and facade improvements. It is anticipated that ten buildings will be renovated with the facade component of the funding.

The Butler County Redevelopment Authority is likewise getting $500,000 for renovation of the historic Kaufman House, which will be revitalized into a boutique hotel and restaurant. Butler County Community College intends to use this new restaurant for internship/externship opportunities for its hospitality management program.

The Greater Easton Development Partnership in Northampton County is also getting $300,000 to complete multi-phase construction of its year-round indoor public market at the former Weller Center site. The market will house 25 independent food and retail businesses.

The Ardmore Business District Authority in Montgomery County is getting $18,363 to conduct a market study and strategic plan to assist with the development of new business recruitment efforts. The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program in Westmoreland County is likewise $50,000 to complete approximately 10 facade rehabilitation projects in the downtown district.

Governor Wolf said in a statement announcing these latest Keystone Communities funding awards that supporting initiatives that encourage revitalization and business development in communities is critically important to the economic prosperity of Pennsylvania. “Sometimes all it takes is one project to be the catalyst for change within an entire community and we believe the public-private commitments announced today will spark statewide transformation,” said Gov. Wolf.

NYC Economic Development Corp Launches Global Business Exchange With Milan, Italy

Building on the success of the first NYC-Paris Global Business Exchange, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has now announced the opening of applications for a second Global Business Exchange, this time with Milan, Italy.

NYCEDC Global Business Exchange Milan

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The NYCEDC Global Business Exchange with Milan will provide New York City companies with access to business opportunities in Milan, and help Milan-based companies expand their footprints in New York City.

The program will help tech, social entrepreneurship, design, manufacturing, fashion and food companies overcome barriers that inhibit entry to foreign markets, and will build upon both cities’ shared commitment to global entrepreneurship and innovation.

NYC Economic Development Corp. President Maria Torres-Springer, who announced the program during the awards breakfast for World Trade Week, said in a statement that “The Global Business Exchange is already providing an extraordinary link between New York City businesses and the rest of the world, with companies currently expanding into Paris, and this exchange with Milan is the next step toward tapping into international talent and consumers.”

Deputy Mayor Responsible for Labor Policies, Economic Development, University and Research, Cristina Tajani of Milan, likewise noted that “Initiatives like these pursue and broaden the direction already taken by the City Administration in fostering the birth and development of new enterprise ideas capable, in different fields, of representing the best of Made in Italy.”

Up to 10 companies from each city will be awarded travel credits from Delta Air Lines, the program’s official airline. Each participant will also get up to six months of free office space in the partner city, as well as access to networking, potential investors, and mentors.

Chuck Imhof, Delta Air Lines Vice President-New York Sales, said in the release that “Delta is proud to support the next generation of global entrepreneurship through this partnership with NYCEDC Global Business Exchange.”

NYCEDC is partnering with the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., the Consulate General of Italy in New York City, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, and the European American Chamber of Commerce to provide support for the companies during their time in New York City.

Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Secretary General Federico Tozzi added that “We are honored to partner with the City of New York Economic Development Corporation on this project and we will offer to the companies selected all our expertise and access to our contacts.”

Yvonne Bendinger-Rothschild, Executive Director, European American Chamber of Commerce, likewise noted that “We have already cooperated on the NYC-Paris Business Exchange and are looking forward to continue our relationship.”

For more information on NYCEDC Global Business Exchange programs, visit

Tampa Hillsborough EDC Among 28 Presidential “E” Award for Export Service Honorees

For the first time in the 54-year history of the President’s “E” Awards, the winners this year represented all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

E Awards

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Out of the 123 honorees (the largest group ever) this year who received the award from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, a full 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

Secretary Pritzker said in a statement that “Congratulations to the 123 companies in all 50 states being honored today for their achievements in exporting.”

The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. The program was initiated, or rather re-initiated, in 1961 when President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters.

U.S. exports totaled $2.23 trillion last year, accounting for nearly 13 percent of GDP and supporting an estimated 11.5 million jobs.

This year, 73 companies and organizations were honored with the “E” Award for Exports for demonstrating a sustained increase in export sales over a four-year period. The “E” Star Award for Exports, which recognizes previous “E” Awardees who have reported four years of additional export growth, was awarded to 17 firms.

Furthermore, another 28 companies and organizations that assisted and facilitated export activities and received the “E” Award for Export Service. These 28 honorees included, among others, the Florida Small Business Development Center, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Indy Chamber, the Ohio Development Services Agency, and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

In a congratulatory letter to the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Secretary Pritzker noted that “The ‘E’ Awards Committee was very impressed with the organization’s work to help exporters understand the export process and enter new international markets.” Sec. Pritzker added that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation’s dedication to promoting exports through management of trade mission programs was also particularly notable.

J.P. DuBuque, interim president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, added that “Local companies that export help to raise Tampa and Hillsborough County’s profile as a center for global commerce and enhance our competitiveness.”

The EDC serves Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The organization’s International Business Development program, created and led by Lorrie Belovich, provides export services for local businesses, including export counseling, strategic planning, trade missions and more.

Chicago Moves Forward With Transformative Riverfront Development Creating Thousands of Jobs

Related Midwest, the Chicago office of Related Companies, is moving forward with the development of the largest undeveloped parcel of land in downtown Chicago.

Related Midwest

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Located at the southwest corner of Clark Street and Roosevelt Road and extending a half-mile south along the Chicago River to 16th Street, this transformative project is going to provide a wide array of Chicago economic development benefits.

The development on a 62-acre site that has been lying vacant for years is expected to create thousands of jobs, jumpstart neighborhood development, improve public access to the riverfront, and improve connectivity between neighborhoods by linking the South Loop to Chinatown. It will provide new walkable, transit-oriented options for the community, and also a beautiful new open space and parkland for Chicago residents.

Related Companies has a track record of taking on such large-scale transformative projects. The New York-based company is currently developing Hudson Yards, a 28-acre, 17 million-square-foot neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side. Related Midwest has also been responsible for the preservation of thousands of units of affordable housing in the city of Chicago.

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, said in a statement that “As Chicagoans, we are not in the habit of making small plans and that is certainly the case with this one-of-a-kind site.” Bailey added that they are thrilled to create a much-needed connection between the Loop and Chinatown and transform what was once a roadblock into a diverse community that will bring thousands of jobs and opportunity to the area.

The announcement of Related Midwest’s latest proposed development was made by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ward 25 Alderman Daniel Solis, and follows action taken by the City back in 2014 when the Community Development Commission approved Mayor Emanuel’s request for authority to acquire the site.

The city was moving forward to take over the site, but postponed the plan after Related Midwest expressed interest in joining the team. The company has now acquired a stake in the site and will serve as its master developer.

Mayor Emanuel said in the release that “This will be one of the largest development projects in Chicago’s history, and I look forward to working with our private partners to transform this site and create economic opportunities for residents in every part of Chicago.”

Alderman Solis added that “This development will transform the area and I look forward to continuing to work with Related and the team as it moves forward.”

Rhode Island Approves Seven Industry Cluster Economic Development Grant Awards

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board of Directors has approved seven grants awards totaling nearly $750,000 in funding under the Industry Cluster Grant program.

RI Industry Cluster Grants

RI Industry Cluster Grants (photo –

This Rhode Island economic development grant program encourages companies in an industry sector to work together to solve problems, exchange ideas and develop talent in key clusters in the areas of R&D, tech transfer, workforce development, and marketing.

The Industry Cluster Grant Program is a new tool created with an initial allocation of $750,000 in this year’s fiscal budget. Grants of $75,000 to $250,000 are available to fund planning and organization building for the cluster, and grants of $100,000 to $500,000 are available to implement programs that strengthen their cluster.

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation received 26 applications seeking over $5.7 million in funding under the first round of grant awards. Out of these, the board has approved seven grant awards totaling $748,640 in funding.

Governor Gina Raimondo said in a statement that “These grants will make it easier for industries with some of the highest potential for growth to come together to collaborate, innovate, and overcome barriers to success.”

For example, the Highlander Institute was awarded a technical assistance grant of $149,750 to leverage compact size and existing education networks as a unique platform for education technology product developers to test new products. The project is expected to enhance Rhode Island as an Edtech Hub that can retain and recruit talent and businesses.

The other six projects that are receiving funding under the Industry Cluster Grant Program are:

DesignXRI – Technical assistance grant of $100,000 to make Rhode Island design expertise visible through marketing materials and promote design as an important investment for Rhode Island businesses.

International Yacht Restoration School, Inc. – Technical assistance grant of $75,290 to develop plans for a “Mobile Maker Lab.”

Polaris & RI Composites – Technical assistance grant of $99,600 to promote the adoption of composites as a new material for manufactured products.

Partnership for a Greater Future Providence & Southside Community Land Trust – Technical assistance grant of $115,000 to grow urban food cluster businesses.

Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance – Implementation grant of $109,000 to provide small firms with information on Department of Defense and Homeland Security budgets, programs and points of contact.

Rhode Island Manufacturers Association – Implementation grant of $100,000 to increase access to advanced manufacturing facilities and expand local supply chains.

Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor noted that “These grants, in concert with our other innovation-focused programs, are making our business ecosystem ever stronger.”

1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing Initiative Hits Halfway Milestone

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and non-profit Chicago economic development group World Business Chicago announced the 1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing program has successfully placed 500 people in manufacturing jobs since its inception in January last year.

1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing

1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing (photo –

To be specific, the program has helped provide 165 people manufacturing-focused training, and 500 qualified candidates have been hired by 94 manufacturers, including more than 180 people who were formerly incarcerated.

All of the jobs are full-time, non-temporary and offer benefits, with pay above the median wage for the skill and sector. The national median wage for manufacturing jobs is $70,000 annually.

Mayor Emanuel said in a release that “This unique partnership between job seekers, manufacturers and workforce development organizations is a win-win for Chicago. I am proud of the milestone of placing 500 Chicagoans in these positions so far and I look forward to celebrating even more progress in the months ahead.”

Economic growth, combined with an aging workforce, has contributed to an estimated 30,000 open manufacturing jobs in Chicagoland. World Business Chicago and the Advisory Council for Chicagoland Manufacturing are working together to address the skills gap required to fill these jobs.

Using a collaborative model, the program matches job seekers to open advanced manufacturing jobs and link residents who need additional skills with training and apprenticeship programs that can result in full-time employment.

The program has raised more than $1.05 million in public and private contributions, including $400,000 from the city of Chicago. The campaign works with seven community based organizations to add capacity and match residents with open jobs and training programs.

By bringing together a network of training and existing workforce development resources, 1000 Jobs serves manufacturers through a single point of contact. So employers have access to a larger pool of candidates more efficiently, and at no cost.

Since there are over 14,000 small and medium manufacturers operating in the Chicagoland area, the potential for economic development is huge. The 1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing program has the ability to grow the economy by $400 million. At present, the 1000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing program’s partner manufacturers have more than 125 open jobs.

World Business Chicago President and CEO Jeff Malehorn noted that “We are proud of this milestone, placing 500 people in manufacturing jobs, and look forward to continuing to work with our partners to build Chicagoland’s advanced manufacturing workforce.”

NYC Digital Playbook Outlines Strategy to Use Digital Tools to Improve City Services, Strengthen Communities

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the New York City Digital Playbook, a new strategy and set of principles that outline how the City plans to make it easier for residents to access City services, and how digital tools will be used to strengthen communities.

NYC Digital Playbook

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In his post on Medium, Mayor de Blasio said that “Today, we’re presenting an overarching plan for City government to use digital technology to increase equity and help all New Yorkers participate in the political, civic, and cultural life of the city.”

The Mayor noted that the New York City Digital Playbook outlines “how we want residents to experience City services and how we will use digital tools to strengthen communities, online and off.”

Mayor de Blasio also added that “The guidance within the Playbook will challenge all of our agencies and service providers to rethink the way they reach New Yorkers.” To this end, a printed “strategy deck” or set of cards is being distributed to staff across the city. Each card has a different principle or strategy printed on the front, and key explanations and tips on the back.

City leaders will use these cards to plan together and inspire each other when they’re designing new services, or thinking about how to make existing services better. For example, one of the strategies calls for engaging New Yorkers in the creation and testing of services. Human-centered research, design, and evaluation are powerful tools for creating services that satisfy both residents and front-line service providers.

In fact, the Playbook itself was developed using human-centered research and design methods, including meetings with residents from all five boroughs, and dozens of civic and technology leaders, elected officials, and City government officials and service providers. The City looked beyond New York City to learn from other governments and the private sector.

Another strategy calls for integrating digital services within neighborhoods and communities. Integrated services will empower diverse New Yorkers with access to information and resources and strengthen bonds between residents – online and in real life.

There are similar strategies for prioritizing design for mobile, and creating citywide technical, data, and design standards.

In his post on Medium, Mayor de Blasio says they are serious about improving how the City develops and delivers digital services, and we hold ourselves accountable. “We’ll track our progress and report publicly on how well we’re doing,” added the Mayor.

You can see the full set of NYC Digital Playbook principles and strategies at

USDA, EPA Select Five Communities For Cool & Connected Economic Development Pilot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have announced the selection of communities in five states that will participate in the Cool & Connected planning assistance program.


Broadband (photo – Sean MacEntee/flickr)

The Cool & Connected pilot program is an innovative initiative that will help these five communities use broadband service for downtown revitalization and economic development.

The five selected communities are – Georgetown, DE; Leon, IA; Montrose, CO; Toledo, WA; and Tullahoma, TN. These Partner communities will receive direct technical assistance from a team of federal experts working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions.

The selected communities will be developing strategies and an action plan for using planned or existing broadband service to create connected, economically vibrant main streets and small-town neighborhoods.

USDA support for this pilot is being provided by the Rural Utilities Service. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $6.7 billion for almost 550 projects to improve telecommunications infrastructure in rural communities. EPA support for Cool & Connected communities will be provided through the EPA Office of Sustainable Communities, which helps communities develop in ways that protect public health and the natural environment.

Georgetown, DE will make use of the federal assistance and resources bring provided to explore strategies to leverage new broadband infrastructure serving county facilities to provide public internet access, and as a Georgetown economic development tool to attract and retain businesses downtown.

Leon, IA will likewise develop a strategy for implementing a free Wi-Fi zone in its downtown square to draw more economic activity and provide low-income residents with internet access. Tullahoma, TN will also receive technical assistance to market its downtown as a free Wi-Fi zone and develop a physical work-share space to complement new infrastructure investments, and add to the growth of downtown businesses.

Montrose, CO will combine its new broadband service with other downtown assets such as a farmers’ market to promote local food access, accelerate main street development, and attract visitors. Toledo, WA will utilize their new broadband network to support business and tourism downtown.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that “The new Cool & Connected program will help these small-towns use broadband to provide new opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy added that “By supporting economic growth through broadband investments, rural communities are creating vibrant, thriving places that improve human health and the environment.”

New Stapleton Waterfront Park Opening Activates Staten Island Historic Waterfront, Connects Communities

The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Parks and Recreation, accompanied by state and local authorities, announced the opening of New Stapleton Waterfront Park on Staten Island.

New Stapleton Waterfront Park, Staten Island

New Stapleton Waterfront Park, Staten Island (photo –

The six-acre park includes grass and landscaped areas, benches, water fountains, a fish cleaning station, and lit walkways.

The City had to complete major road reconstruction in order to create the waterfront park, facilitate community connections and bring more open space to Staten Island’s North Shore.

NYC Economic Development Corp. President Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement that “This dynamic public space activates a historic waterfront that will connect communities and build on other development efforts along the North Shore such as The New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point and more.”

Borough President James Oddo noted that “Creating this green space is an important step in the major redevelopment that is going to transform the North Shore and increase activity along the waterfront.”

Through this project and others along the North Shore, NYCEDC has worked to transform the area into a dynamic hub that will create economic growth and thousands of jobs, support existing waterfront amenities and provide new waterfront uses.

New Stapleton Waterfront is a development located on the Homeport, a 35-acre decommissioned U.S. Naval Base on the north shore of Staten Island. It is now poised to become a revitalized, mixed-use residential community.

Apart from the New Stapleton Waterfront Park, the redevelopment effort along the waterfront includes 900 new rental apartments and over 35,000 square feet of commercial space as part of Ironstate Development’s URBY Staten Island project.

Urby Staten Island is a sustainable development that includes 900 LEED-certified residential units, along with 35,000 square feet of ground floor retail, a public plaza and 600 parking spaces. The project is creating more than 1,100 construction jobs and 250 permanent jobs.

The City, along with an Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant from the NY Department of State, is investing approximately $130 million for public infrastructure improvements that include roadway upgrades, bicycle lanes, the new park, and the creation of a tidal wetlands cove for the benefit of the local community.

New York’s Acting Secretary of State Rossana Rosado added that the New York Department of State is happy to support the revitalization of the New Stapleton Waterfront. “These improvements provide vital access to the waterfront and will spur economic and recreational opportunities for Staten Island communities,” said Sec. Rosado.

Council Member Debi Rose pointed out that “Parks like these are an important reminder that we live on an island and that our waterfront presents boundless opportunities for recreation and for commerce.”

Rose went on to thank everyone whose work and vision made this park a reality, including the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the Parks Department and Ironstate.

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