Economic Development

Three Buffalo Billion Economic Development Projects to Get $200M in NY State Funding

The Empire State Development Board of Directors has approved nearly $200 million for three Buffalo economic development projects under the Buffalo Billion initiative.

Buffalo Billion

Buffalo Billion (photo – ny.gov)

The announcement was made by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “These projects are another example of how our Buffalo Billion strategy is invigorating the economy of Western New York – by building on the region’s strengths, attracting private investment and creating sustainable, good paying jobs,” said Gov. Cuomo.

One of the projects approved for funding is the Buffalo High-Tech Innovation and Commercialization Hub at RiverBend – a $1.7 billion project being undertaken by a public-private partnership that will convert the formerly vacant brownfield manufacturing site into a campus for high-tech and green energy manufacturing businesses.

The ESD Board approved a $107 million grant for this project, to be used as reimbursement for real estate acquisition, site and infrastructure development, and construction costs. This $107 million brings the State’s commitment for the Riverbend project to $225 million, including the $118 million that was approved by ESD in March 2014.

The project’s anchor tenants are Soraa and Silevo, and the initial phase is expected to create 850 jobs. Over time, the project will include six new structures that will accommodate 1,200 new jobs in green energy, high-tech and biotech. The Riverbend project aims to establish Buffalo as an advanced research and manufacturing hub for clean energy technologies.

The ESD Board also approved another $35.3 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Institute that will be operated by EWI. This institute is being established to help local manufacturers in Western New York develop, commercialize and implement the latest manufacturing technologies and to help them solve production issues that lead to greater operational efficiencies.

The third Buffalo economic development project getting a $55 million grant is the Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub, which is expected to create 500 jobs in Buffalo. This is again a public-private partnership that is establishing a high-end software development center in downtown Buffalo with IBM as the anchor tenant.

The Fort Schuyler Management Corporation will own the real estate and specialized IT equipment including high-speed servers and supercomputers that will be used by IBM and other companies to develop cutting-edge software for industries such as health, defense and the energy sector.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that Western New York is energizing economic growth by focusing on advanced manufacturing and the life sciences.

US Labor Dept Awards $154.8M for Job Training Programs for the Unemployed in 32 States

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $154,757,547 in grants for 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation under the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant (NEG) program.

National Emergency Grant (NEG) program

National Emergency Grant (NEG) program

Funding for these grants is coming from the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker National Reserve fund.

The funds will be used by grantees for creating or expanding job-driven training programs that train unemployed workers with the skills and training required for jobs in high-demand industries.

Grantees may use the funding for creating or expanding employer partnerships providing opportunities for on-the-job training, registered apprenticeships and other occupational training that result in industry-recognized credentials.

The funding can also be used to provide services such as career counseling and coaching, and job placement assistance that connects laid-off workers and the long-term unemployed to available jobs.

For instance, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the $6,105,117 DOL grant for Virginia will be used by the Virginia Community College System.

VCCS will be able to bundle three existing community college programs (On Ramp, Adult Career Coaching, and On-the-Job Training) that have been found successful at accelerated credentialing and job placement.

The new model will bring together the community colleges with local Workforce Investment Boards and businesses in targeted sectors to serve individuals who have already been laid off, or are likely to be laid off soon.

“Increasingly, this is our sweet spot: helping people who’ve been without a job for some time get back to work,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

DuBois added that the DOL grant was exciting for them and for the employers and individuals they would be able to connect through this work.

In Oregon, which is getting a $4,522,863 grant, the seven Workforce Investment Boards will be administering the federal funding and will target investments based on regionally specific, high-demand industries.

“We‚Äôll use this money to invest in training that gives workers the tools and credentials they need for high-demand fields, and leads to a greater chance of longevity in their careers,‚Äù said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.

Grantees are also expected to develop partnerships between workforce and industry organizations, and align the services they provide with economic development agencies and other local, state and federal programs and agencies.

All of them have also committed to documenting their experiences under the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program and sharing best practices and the lessons learned about workforce training and development.

“Providing workers with access to the skills training they need to pursue in-demand jobs is critical to expanding opportunity and to helping businesses grow and thrive,‚Äù said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

Pathways Tennessee Recognized for Forging Ties Between Economic Development and Education

Leaders of the nine-state Pathways to Prosperity Network met in Nashville, TN for discussing how to build academic pathways that establish clear connections between education and the workforce.

Pathways to Prosperity Network

Pathways to Prosperity Network

Tennessee was lauded for its Pathways Tennessee program, an initiative that forges critical relationships between economic development and education.

Bob Schwartz, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-leader of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, said that network states are eager to learn how Tennessee’s bold strategy was developed and put in place.

Schwartz said that with programs such as Pathways Tennessee, Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55, state leaders have set out a vision and the critical supports needed for implementing and providing a 21st century education and training for young people.

The Pathways to Prosperity Network is a collaboration between nine states that have joined forces with Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project.

Apart from Tennessee, other states that are a part of the network include California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Ohio.

Pathways Tennessee is a multi-agency initiative established in 2012 with the goal of helping provide rigorous education that leads to relevant careers. The initiative is currently running two pilot programs, one in southeast Tennessee and the other one in the Upper Cumberland region.

The latter program has middle school students in four counties working through 10-day modules specific to careers such as health sciences and advanced manufacturing that regional industries have identified as emerging.

In the Southeast, middle and high school students in four other counties are being trained and provided skills in IT and advanced manufacturing that will prepare them as attractive candidates for jobs and careers with regional employers.

Over the next two years, the initiative will expand to include all corners of the state. Support for these programs comes from multiple state agencies and organizations. The Tennessee Economic Development Department is involved, and so are the Labor and Workforce Development, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

“Making education more relevant to today’s marketplace is critical to our state attracting the jobs of the future,” said Governor Bill Haslam.

The Governor added that initiatives like Pathways are helping provide the workforce the job market demands by matching the skills employers need to the training and education students are receiving.

Maryland Economic Development Agency Signs Up For OPIC Partners Program

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has joined the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s Partners Program.

OPIC

OPIC

The Washington, D.C.-based OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution.

At no cost to taxpayers, OPIC mobilizes private capital and works with the private sector to help U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, in the process creating jobs and growth opportunities in the U.S. as well.

OPIC Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Dr. Lawrence Spinelli said that the agency’s support produces development impact abroad, but their work also has the positive effect of benefiting American small and medium-sized businesses.

Since it was established in as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC’s assistance and support has resulted in investments worth more than $200 billion in over 4,000 projects, which in turn have supported more than 278,000 American jobs and generated exports by U.S. companies worth an estimated $76 billion.

Their Partners Program aims to expand the agency’s role by working through key organizations that help spread understanding and awareness of OPIC programs and activities among businesses in their region. Maryland is the 19th member to become a part of the program.

As a participant in the OPIC Partners Program, the Maryland economic development agency will be able to connect businesses in the state with the resources and support OPIC can provide. This includes everything from loans and guarantees to support for investing funds and political risk insurance.

The offerings are uniquely tailored to assist private sector companies who are interested in trade and investment in challenging locations around the world, and need support such as long-term financing and protection against political instability.

“Making the move to expand internationally can be that much easier with the expert advice that OPIC offers,” said DBED Secretary Dominick Murray.

Secretary Murray added that they are pleased to be able to bring this important resource to Maryland businesses even as DBED continues to help businesses explore new global markets for trade and investment.

The support and assistance OPIC will provide to Maryland businesses complements the Maryland Export Initiative established in 2010 by Governor Martin O’Malley. OPIC’s mission is also compatible with the efforts and activities of the Maryland Economic Development Dept’s Office of International Investment and Trade.

Baltimore Mayor Unveils Strategic Economic Development Partnership with Anchor Institutions

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was joined by leaders of eight of the city’s leading higher education and medical institutions for the announcement of the Baltimore City Anchor Plan.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveils Baltimore City Anchor Plan

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveils Baltimore City Anchor Plan (photo – baltimorecity.gov)

BCAP is a strategic economic development action plan that will drive growth and development in Baltimore neighborhoods with the help of these anchor institutions.

The eight institutions that are a part of BCAP are divided into three sectors. Sector One includes the Bon Secours Baltimore Health System and Coppin State University.

Sector Two includes Johns Hopkins University, University of Baltimore, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Sector Three has Notre Dame of Maryland University, Morgan State University, and Loyola University Maryland.

These anchor institutions have an outsize role to play in Baltimore’s economic vitality. They are the city’s largest employers, and serve as catalysts to attract and retain residents, create jobs and drive economic growth.

Their hiring and purchasing power and real estate development activities support local businesses and help revitalize communities.

Since fall 2012, the City has been working on a plan to build on the strengths of existing partnerships with these anchor institutions in order to increase collaboration and communication between the local government, hospitals and universities.

Separate working groups were created for the three aforementioned sectors, and this led to the development of the Baltimore City Anchor Plan.

Under BCAP, the City and the anchor partners will work together to address priority areas such as local hiring and purchasing, quality of life and public safety.

BCAP will directly support existing Baltimore economic development strategies, and will assist in efforts to achieve Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s target of growing Baltimore by 10,000 families.

The City will work through BCAP to coordinate with the anchor institutions on City services and urban development activities including neighborhood revitalization, public works and transportation investments, business and employment services, homeownership incentives, etc.

The coordination on priority areas will be conducted through quarterly inter-agency meetings and bi-annual roundtable meetings between the anchor institution presidents and the mayor.

Read the full Baltimore City Anchor Plan – Download (pdf)

Indiana Undertakes Study to Help Cities Come Up With Economic Development Strategies

Indiana is undertaking a study of regional cities that have experienced positive economic transformation. The study is supposed to help provide information and resources that can be used by cities across Indiana that are looking to initiate transformative economic development strategies.

HEA 1035 Indiana law

HEA 1035 Indiana law

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has hired consulting firm Fourth Economy Consulting to conduct the study.

IEDC President Eric Doden said Indiana has become a national role model for economic development with other states replicating the IEDC’s structure, enacting similar business-friendly policies, and practicing the same fiscal discipline.

“We need to know what our Indiana cities can do to energize growth and witness a tomorrow even more prosperous than today,” said Doden.

The study is required under a law (HEA 1035) passed by the General Assembly after Governor Mike Pence called for a study of regional cities to help identify tools and best practices that could be implemented across the state.

HEA 1035, signed into law by Gov. Pence on March 25, 2014, calls for the IEDC to conduct an assessment of regional metropolitan areas and provide said assessment results before October 1, 2014.

The law requires that the final report prepared after the study include recommendations for initiatives, quality of life and other such improvements that may lead to economic growth.

HEA 1035 also asks that the report include recommendations on financing options for the recommended initiatives and improvements using a combination of public and private investment involving participation by the state and local governments, financial institutions and private enterprise.

State Representative Steve Braun, who authored HEA 1035, said that the legislation ensures that Indiana is taking the necessary steps to build a strong economic future. Braun added that each corner of the state is very diverse, and a one-size-fits-all economic development policy will not work.

Along with the study, the IEDC will also be encouraging community leaders to think differently about economic development and come up with an economic vision for their future.

The report containing the study results can be used by communities to start identifying their strengths, natural resources and industry assets that can be included in a strategic plan that will help achieve their vision for growth.

Michigan Economic Development Corp Launches Placemaking Initiative Backed by Crowdfunding

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with several other organizations, has launched an innovative placemaking initiative funded through a combination of crowdfunding and matching grants.

Crowdfunding MI

Crowdfunding MI (photo – crowdfundingmi.com)

The Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort involving the MEDC, crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Michigan Municipal League.

Local residents will be able to be a part of transformational projects in their communities, supported with a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Innovative placemaking efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” said Governor Rick Snyder.

A platform has been created (www.crowdfundingmi.com) where projects submitted by communities, non-profits and businesses will seek online crowdfunding pledges from the project’s supporters, residents and community members.

Projects must focus on things such as outdoor plaza or park enhancements that activate public spaces and capture public awareness and momentum.

Any project which meets its fundraising goals on the platform will then be eligible to receive a matching grant of up to $100,000 from the MEDC.

This is the first program of its kind in the nation involving a state agency. Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC, said that Public Spaces Community Places is a new tool that communities can use for creating vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity.

Finney added that this was a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.

The website for the platform was designed by the Michigan Municipal League as a one-stop resource for the crowdfunding needs of Michigan communities, businesses and investors. Projects may be submitted starting July 9, 2014 through Patronicity.

Michigan Municipal League Executive Director and CEO Daniel Gilmartin said they believe this program will inspire and assist communities of all shapes and sizes take on and complete projects they could previously only dream about.

Patronicity Founder and CEO Chris Blauvelt said that through crowdfunding, MEDC is empowering everyday citizens to have a dramatic impact on their communities.

The MEDC has chosen Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Green Alley Project as a pilot project for the program. This is a $200,000 project which has already secured a $100,000 grant. Midtown Detroit will seek to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding to transform the 415-foot alley with enhancements such as a new design to promote walkability and community connectivity, and green infrastructure upgrades that reduce the burden of storm water on the city’s sewer system.

If they are successful at raising the $50,000 target through crowdfunding, then the remaining $50,000 will be provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Midtown Detroit Inc. President Susan T. Mosey thinks it’s doable, noting that the idea of creating something sustainable and impactful for the community out of something so blighted has really resonated in the Midtown community.

North Carolina Governor Signs Bill Creating Economic Development Partnership

Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 1031 into law to create a nonprofit corporation that will take over major North Carolina economic development functions from the Department of Commerce.

NC economic development partnerhip bill signing

NC economic development partnerhip bill signing (photo – state.nc.us)

The Governor was joined at the bill signing in the State Capitol‚Äôs Old House Chamber by Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker and members of the Governor’s Economic Development Board, along with the bill‚Äôs sponsors and legislators.

“This legislation allows us to put a new economic development approach in place that helps to create jobs by putting a greater emphasis on customer service, all while saving taxpayer money,” said Gov. McCrory.

House Bill 1031 authorizes the NC Department of Commerce to contract with a North Carolina nonprofit corporation that will be assisting the Department in fostering and retaining jobs and other functions including business development, international trade, marketing, and travel and tourism.

The initiative to establish what is now known as the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina was first announced last year in April. A lot of the preparatory work to get the non-profit corporation operational and ready for the transition of functions has already been done.

The non-profit corporation will not be awarding incentives under programs such as the One North Carolina Fund and the Job Development Investment Grant Program. The State will also retain administration of grants and funds received from the federal government.

The law establishes the Economic Development Accountability and Standards Committee chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. This committee’s duties include oversight and monitoring of the contract entered into with the non-profit partnership.

The committee will also be coordinating North Carolina economic development grant programs between the Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Transportation and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources.

The activities of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina will be funded through a mix of state funding and private contributions from the industry. Resources from the Dept. of Commerce, including part of the department’s funding and employees, will be made available to the non-profit corporation.

The law also requires the non-profit corporation to raise $250,000 before entering into the contract, and then $5.75 million in private contributions over the next five years, including $750,000 in the first year of the agreement and $1.25 million per year after that.

Georgia Tops CNBC Top States For Business Rankings

CNBC has published their annual rankings of America’s top states for business, and the list is topped this year by Georgia.

Georgia - Top state for business

Georgia – Top state for business (photo – nathandeal.org)

“Last year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia No. 1 for business, and today CNBC followed suit,” said Governor Nathan Deal.

The Governor added that these rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia economic development partners, communities, businesses and the people of Georgia.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr likewise noted that being named as America’s top state for business by CNBC is another win for everyone involved in economic development in Georgia.

This CNBC ranking system where all 50 states are scored on 56 metrics across ten broad categories was engineered with input from the Council on Competitiveness and the National Association of Manufacturers.

States get points based on rankings in each metric, with the frequency of citations in state economic development marketing materials used for weighting the categories.

The Peach State topped the list by scoring 1,659 out of 2,500 points, powered by first place rankings in the workforce and infrastructure categories, and a third place ranking for the state’s booming economy.

Georgia, which has invariably been in the top ten states on CNBC’s rankings for the last ten years, jumped from eighth place in the list last year to top billing this year, while also managing to retain its first place ranking for the workforce category for the third year running.

Georgia was followed in the CNBC rankings by Texas in second place. Texas was also named as the state with the best economy, and was tied in first place with Georgia as the states with the best infrastructure.

Oklahoma topped the list in the cost of doing business category, while Kentucky was ranked first for its low cost of living. Hawaii was named as the state offering the best quality of life, while Delaware topped the list for business-friendliness.

New York ranked first in the education category, while California was named as the best state in the Technology and Innovation category. California was also tied in first place along with Utah and Colorado in the Access to Capital category.

Vermont Governor Signs Economic Development Bill To Boost Tech Industry

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law new legislation that supports startup, expansion and retention of high tech companies in the state.

Vermont tech sector

Vermont tech sector (photo – vermont.gov)

S.220 adds $500,000 in the state funding to the $1 million in federal funding available to the Vermont Economic Development Authority’s Entrepreneurial Lending Program.

Gov. Shumlin said that smaller states such as Vermont can’t go head-to-head with California, New York and other states in offering economic development incentives to build the tech sector.

“The new law provides additional economic tools to give companies the edge they need to start here, grow here and stay here,” said Gov. Shumlin.

The Vermont Entrepreneurial Lending Program creates a loan loss reserve for reducing the risk of lending to tech startups and other companies in the state that are creating high value jobs.

S.220 also amends the Downtown Tax Credit program to make technology improvement projects in qualified buildings eligible for funding. Downtown tax credits are now available for things such as improvements of data or network wiring, and heating, cooling and other systems reasonably related to data or network installations or improvements.

This economic development legislation builds on another recently signed bill which created the Vermont Enterprise Incentive Fund. The fund can be used by the Governor to offer up to $4.5 million in incentives to businesses under extraordinary circumstances that affect the state’s ability to attract or retain a project which has a statewide or regional employment impact.

S.220 also gives Vermont another valuable talent retention tool in the form of the Vermont Strong Scholars Program, a postsecondary loan forgiveness program.

Students studying in colleges in Vermont who agree to work in the state after graduation won’t have to repay the portion of their Vermont Student Assistance Corporation loan which pays for their final year of college.

The aim of the Strong Scholars Program is to encourage Vermonters to select majors that prepare them for jobs which are critical for Vermont’s economy.

Gov. Shumlin said the tech industry was ideal for these incentives, and noted that Vermont has become a leader in this area.

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