Economic Development

Chicago Launches Up the Block Economic Development Program to Promote Small Business

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the launch of an innovative partnership project called Up the Block to promote Chicago economic development and support small businesses in the city.

#FLATSProject Chicago

#FLATSProject Chicago (photo –

Under this program, the City will work with private developers to bring vacant sites back into use in a way that supports small businesses and helps revitalize communities.

As a start, the City is teaming up with FLATS Chicago. Up the Block’s inaugural partner will be the #FLATSProject – a small business and community accelerator project.

By connecting developers to local small businesses, Up the Block aims to spur economic development in the Edgewater and Uptown communities while putting vacant spaces back in use.

Mayor Emanuel said that small businesses are the backbone of Chicago’s economy, and by pairing property developers and small businesses in these neighborhoods, the City is encouraging their growth while investing in the community and its residents.

Through the Up the Block program, the City will assist developers in identifying funding sources such as TIF and SBIF, and will help developers apply for the funding.

The small business owners will get huge benefits, including rent reductions and technical support for getting started. Entrepreneurs will get business plan assistance from university students and Chicago SBDCs.

They will be provided assistance with business license and permit applications, and will be provided access to microloans. The program will help small businesses market their new storefront business, including marketing videos produced for them through the City’s Small Business Center (SBC).

Initially, the #FLATSProject plans to bring four unique small businesses to vacant storefronts in existing developments. FLATS Chicago will support these businesses with up to $50,000 in tenant improvement and other services that will help accelerate their growth and success.

If the small business signs on for at least five years, FLATS Chicago will provide the store free of rent for the first year. They will handle all the legal work associated with registering the business, and provide mentorship and strategic alliances through nationally known brand partners.

FLATS Chicago and Cedar Street Co CMO Jay Michael said they believe that small businesses are the lifeblood of a community as local producers of meaningful goods and services, and as creators of jobs and opportunities. Michael added that each business owner helps in creating the foundations that neighborhoods are built on.

San Francisco Office of Economic Development Launches NightlifeSF Initiative

San Francisco has launched an initiative called NightlifeSF to support the city’s 3,200 nightlife and entertainment industry businesses that create more than 52,000 jobs citywide.



NightlifeSF is a project housed within the San Francisco Economic Development Office, established with the intention of making the City’s government more responsive and effective in interacting with and taking care of the needs of the nightlife and entertainment business community.

The initiative provides dedicated staff and a separate website with resources and tools to help existing and prospective new nightlife business owners with city rules and how to start and operate a nightlife business in San Francisco.

The announcement was made by San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Supervisor Scott Wiener. Mayor Lee said the range of tools deployed provides nightlife and entertainment businesses with valuable guidance and resources so they can start, stay and thrive, in the process keeping San Francisco a premier nightlife destination.

Supervisor Wiener said that entertainment and nightlife businesses generate tourism, create jobs and enrich neighborhoods, and added that he applauds the launch of the NightlifeSF initiative to help nightlife businesses continue to support San Francisco’s economic and cultural vitality.

According to an economic impact study published in 2012, San Francisco’s nightlife and entertainment sector accounts for roughly $4 billion in annual spending by 80 million customers. More than half of this spending comes from out-of-town visitors.

The NightlifeSF team is being led by Benjamin Van Houten, Project Manager, Nightlife and Entertainment Sector, San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The tools being offered include a “nightlife handbook” that provides information on everything from identifying locations for a nightlife business to applying for City loans and grant programs.

NightlifeSF will assist entrepreneurs in navigating City rules and regulations; assess and identify growth opportunities for nightlife and entertainment businesses; and connect businesses to financing, tax incentives, workforce services, technical assistance providers and other business assistance programs.

The website likewise provides resources and tools for both nightlife businesses as well as visitors and residents who want to experience the San Francisco nightlife.

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development will also work on policy issues. They plan to actively monitor and support legislation that impacts and advances the nightlife and entertainment sector.

The OEWD will advocate for the development of new nightlife and entertainment venues and spaces, including on underused City and Port property. They plan to work with the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and the Municipal Transportation Agency to improve late-night transportation, and will be looking for ways to enhance collaboration between the technology and nightlife/entertainment sectors.

Cambridge, Boston, Quincy Launching Life Sciences Corridor as Regional Economic Development Initiative

The Cities of Boston, Cambridge and Quincy are getting ready to launch a Life Sciences Corridor as a regional economic development initiative that will help the entire region better promote the life sciences sector.

Cambridge, Boston, Quincy launching Life Sciences Corridor

Cambridge, Boston, Quincy launching Life Sciences Corridor (photo –

On May 13, 2014, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Cambridge Mayor David Maher and Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch will be coming together for an event at the Museum of Science in Boston to officially launch the Life Sciences Corridor.

This Corridor is already naturally linked as a direct transit route on the Massachusetts Bay Authority Transit Authority (MBTA) Red Line subway, with 15 stops including Boston on the way from Cambridge to Quincy.

Each of these three cities has considerable individual strengths in the life sciences sector and the ability to attract biotech companies on their own, thanks to the presence of leading universities, proximity to major research hospitals, availability of skilled labor, access to venture capital funding resources, and the existence of innovative R&D districts.

The aim of teaming up to create a Life Sciences Corridor is that the collaborative venture will amplify economic development in the life sciences sector. The three cities plan to coordinate their efforts and activities around life sciences, and will pool resources for the same.

Apart from the mayors of all three cities, other state and local officials scheduled to speak at the launch event include Massachusetts Life Sciences Center CEO Susan Windham Bannister; Massachusetts Biotechnology Organization CEO Robert Coughlin; and Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi.

Massachusetts is already a leading destination for the life sciences sector as home to facilities of all of the top 10 biopharmaceutical firms in the world, along with more than 500 other biopharma companies and over 400 medical device makers.

Not to mention the ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative enacted in 2008 which enabled the establishment of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. The aim of the MLSC is to develop and provide programs for funding economic development initiatives driven by innovation in the Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem.

The Life Sciences Corridor launch event is scheduled to take place on May 13, 2014, from 10:15 to 11:30 p.m. at the Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston, MA.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Awards $500K Tech Loan to Lucigen

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced that it has awarded a $500,000 state technology loan to help biotech company Lucigen develop a groundbreaking new method for testing infectious diseases.

Lucigen Corp.

Lucigen Corp. (photo –

The WEDC loan will be used by the company to buy equipment for its facility in Middleton, WI. If the test is commercialized as planned, it could lead to the creation of as many as 60 new jobs at this Lucigen facility.

The company already has 55 employees, so the development and commercialization of the test would more than double their existing workforce.

Lucigen is developing a test for infectious diseases that can be performed directly by doctors and nurses in the clinic, physician’s office or the emergency room. The new test can be completed and the results obtained within 15 to 30 minutes, as opposed to the hours or days currently required when specimens are sent to a lab for testing.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said they’re happy to offer support for this testing platform, the first of its kind, which could significantly improve patient outcomes while decreasing overall health care costs.

The WEDC is providing the $500,000 loan through its Technology Development Loan Program. This program is designed to assist innovative companies that show great promise, and is meant to help these companies clear the hurdles associated with bringing their new technologies to market.

Lucigen’s test is scheduled for an FDA clinical trial in the first half of 2015, and the company is seeking investors and commercialization partners who can support the company’s bid to get FDA approval for the test and subsequent commercialization process.

The company has separately received a $2.8 million federal grant for this project from the National Institutes of Health in 2012 under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

David Mead, founder and CEO of Lucigen, said they are developing a simple testing platform that will be able to provide lab-quality molecular diagnostic accuracy within minutes instead of hours. Mead added that this high-quality point-of-care testing has the potential to improve quality of care while reducing costs.

Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said that Lucigen has been a leading life-sciences company for the last 15 years and has developed more than 100 biomedical research products and services that are in use worldwide.

Hall added that Lucigen’s new testing platform has the potential to significantly change how patients are tested and ultimately treated.

Illinois Kicks Off First Pay for Success Project

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced the state’s first Pay for Success (PFS) contract to One Hope United for supporting at-risk youth involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in Illinois.

Illinois Pay for Success program

Illinois Pay for Success program

Plans to go ahead with a Pay for Success program, also known as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), were initiated a year ago in Illinois with funding from the Dunham Fund and support from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The concept is that private investors and philanthropic organizations can work with the government and service providers to put money into projects that tackle pressing social issues, and get their money back if the program works.

If the project produces results that save money for the government, then the investors will get back their investment. The government, for its part, is able to find effective solutions without having to risk taxpayer funds.

The first SIB project in Illinois seeks funding for programs that work with at-risk youth, putting them on the right path and in the process reducing the burden on the state’s criminal justice and welfare systems. Illinois is expecting to generate up to $30 million for these programs as SIB investments by private investors and organizations.

Since the State is expected to repay the investments only if the funded programs generate sufficient savings in government spending, these and other SIB projects to come will always be cost-neutral for taxpayers.

One Hope United and the Conscience Community Network were selected out of the six applications the Governor’s Office received from organizations seeking to partner with the State on SIB projects targeting at-risk youth.

The Illinois Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will now be working with One Hope United to come up a project that improves placement outcomes and reduces re-arrests through community alternatives to institutional care.

This SIB program will tackle the cases of approximately 800 youth that are in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and have a history of being involved with the state’s criminal justice system.

Illinois is one of ten state and local governments being assisted on such projects by the Harvard SIB Lab, and the first U.S. state to use SIB for improving the outcomes of child welfare programs, and also the first to partner on such a project with a network of community providers.

Greater Cleveland Economic Development Organization Kicks off Talent Attraction Campaign

Global Cleveland, the regional non-profit organization for Greater Cleveland economic development, has launched a talent attraction campaign aimed at increasing inward migration into the region to 60,000 per year by 2020.

Global Cleveland

Photo – Global Cleveland

The initiative kicked off at the Cleveland Convention Center last week, with dignitaries in attendance including Ohio Governor John Kasich, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and JobsOhio President John Minor.

Over 2,000 people attended the event where more than 20 ethnic groups from Greater Cleveland performed, and a soundtrack produced by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum featuring regional artists played in the hall.

At the event, John Minor announced that JobsOhio, the public-private agency handling Ohio economic development efforts and initiatives, is providing Global Cleveland $750,000 in support of the talent attraction campaign.

Minor said it wasn’t just about population gain, because new talent is entrepreneurial and leads to greater economic activity.

Global Cleveland Chairman of the Board Baiju Shah, himself the son of immigrants, said the talent attraction campaign would seek to increase inward migration into the Greater Cleveland region from 30,000 now to 60,000 per year by 2020.

As part of this talent attraction campaign, Cleveland is providing prospective talent with resources such as a website in 50 languages and guides that offer all the information required by immigrants and newcomers relocating to Cleveland.

Global Cleveland will also be holding outreach events including road shows. This national campaign will kick off on June 26 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Here’s what the event invitation for the fun, free, multi-media worldwide kickoff of Global Cleveland’s talent attraction campaign says – “Want a great job and live in a city where you can afford an amazing home in a wonderful neighborhood? Find out how on June 26th!”

Attendees at this event in D.C. stand to win a three-day, two-night luxury vacation package in Cleveland, along with additional prizes such as free dinners, Rock Hall tickets, Cleveland Whiskey, and many more things including books containing guides about all the fun things to do in the city.

Top 10 U.S. Economic Development Groups for 2013

The May issue of Site Selection magazine has their annual listing of the top 10 U.S. economic development groups for the previous year.

Southwest Louisiana

Photo –

Louisiana swept the list with three of its organizations named in the top ten, including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Greater New Orleans Inc., and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

Texas had two of its organizations/areas on the list, including the Dallas Regional Chamber and Fort Worth Chamber representing the DFW area, and the Greater Houston Partnership.

The other five organizations named in the top ten list are as follows:-

- Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, Omaha, NE;

- Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Phoenix, AZ;

- Metro Atlanta Chamber, Atlanta, GA;

- Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Pittsburgh, PA; and

- World Business Chicago, Chicago, IL.

The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, which covers the region surrounding Lake Charles, topped the list in terms of capital investment by attracting $10.65 billion for announced projects in 2013, along with 817 permanent jobs and thousands of construction jobs.

Greater Houston was close behind, attracting $10 billion in capital investment and creating 10,683 jobs.

Greater Phoenix topped the charts among all U.S. metro areas in terms of job creation by adding 18,266 jobs in 2013, along with $2.67 billion in capital investment. Metro Atlanta wasn’t far behind, adding 15,203 jobs and attracting $3.1 billion in capital investment.

Chicago racked up the highest number of corporate facility projects (373) for the year, in the process creating 11,085 jobs and attracting $2.8 billion in capital investment.

Headquarters relocations to downtown Chicago announced in 2013 include Gogo Inflight and ADM. Last month, Motorola Mobility completed a relocation to the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. United Airlines likewise moved their corporate headquarters to the Willis Tower alongside their operations center, and signed one of the largest office leases in Chicago’s history.

The Motorola and United Airlines projects were announced in Aug 2012, so they don’t figure into Chicago’s 2013 successes. They are, however, part of an ongoing trend of corporate headquarters relocating to Chicago from all over Illinois and beyond.

Jeff Malehorn, president and CEO of World Business Chicago, is quoted in the Site Selection report as saying that more relocations are on the way.

Gov. Butch Launches Accelerate Idaho Economic Development Initiative

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the launch of an economic development initiative called “Accelerate Idaho.”

Accelerate Idaho

Accelerate Idaho

Accelerate Idaho calls for a three-point strategy and includes several new tools to help support Idaho economic development projects and efforts.

The three-point strategy will focus on advancing individuals, elevating industries and strengthening communities. That’s the tag line of the initiative – “Advance. Elevate. Strengthen.”

This includes things such as enhancing engineering talent pipelines and expanding quality jobs; empowering business opportunities and invigorating research and innovation; and galvanizing regional collaboration and developing infrastructure solutions.

The set of tools being offered under Accelerate Idaho includes the Governor’s Rapid Response Team as a one-stop shop representing nine Idaho State agencies that are directly involved in business expansion and relocation projects. The Rapid Response Team will remove red tape, accelerate customer service and “move at the speed of business.”

Another tool in the Accelerate Idaho toolbox is called bluebird. This is a site selection application designed to assist site selectors, realtors and economic development professionals. Bluebird provides a web platform that streamlines information from a library of economic development materials (incentives, grant programs, business cost comparisons, etc.) that will aid in making site selection decisions.

Accelerate Idaho is being launched as a next step to follow up on the success of the Project 60 initiative that was established in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, to help grow Idaho’s GDP from $51.5 billion a year to at least $60 billion. This target was reached in 2013, and the state’s GDP is forecasted to hit $62 billion this year.

Gov. Otter said that almost five years ago, they established a benchmark for growing the state’s economy and creating jobs, and he was thrilled that they have achieved that goal despite having to weather some of the toughest economic times in memory.

The Governor added that people across the nation are looking at Idaho as a state focused on meeting the needs of business, and Accelerate Idaho is a strategy for ensuring that Idaho continues to be the right place for employers looking to expand or relocate.

To find out more about the Accelerate Idaho Initiative, visit

New Mexico Economic Development Dept Helping Reopen Commercial Kitchen

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is teaming up with the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation (RGCDC) and other partners in a bid to reopen the Sostenga Commercial Kitchen at Northern New Mexico College.

Sostenga Commercial Kitchen at Northern New Mexico College

Sostenga Commercial Kitchen at Northern New Mexico College (photo –

The project will support food startups in Española, and the new Sostenga Commercial Kitchen will serve as a statewide model for rural kitchen incubators.

The RGCDC has some experience with this kind of project, having successfully established the Mixing Bowl kitchen incubator in Albuquerque in 2005.

Mixing Bowl works with 250 potential entrepreneurs every year. It currently has 120 businesses that are in the development phase, and another 60 that are already selling products.

Mixing Bowl, with an annualized cost per job of $3,200, has proven to be one of New Mexico’s most effective job creation programs.

In 2012, the RGCDC established Delicious New Mexico to bring together farmers with value-added producers and connect them to food markets including restaurants, grocery stores, festivals and directly to consumers.

They have been looking at the kind of support businesses growing out of small incubator-type kitchens will need, and plan to start with a co-packing facility in the Sostenga Kitchen.

Delicious New Mexico Director Vicki Pozzebon said the co-packing facility will help growing businesses in developing more efficient processing and packaging methods so that they can gain access to larger markets.

The Sostenga Commercial Kitchen was first opened at Northern New Mexico College in 1998 following an assessment conducted by the Regional Development Corporation and an industry consortium that undertook a survey.

The survey showed food initiatives to be one of the top priorities for the northern New Mexico region, and so the Sostenga Commercial Kitchen was opened to help support regional growers and entrepreneurs.

The Sostenga Kitchen was closed last year by Northern New Mexico College due to budget constraints. The State is now providing funding to the RGCDC to reopen it.

Apart from the New Mexico Economic Development Dept, RGCDC and County of Rio Arriba, other partners involved in the plan to reopen the Sostenga Kitchen and keep it operational include the Los de Mora Local Growers Farmer’s Cooperative, Regional Development Corporation, and the Siete del Norte Community Development Corporation.

Todd Lopez, executive director of the Siette del Norte CDC, said their partners are eager to be associated with Sostenga Kitchen and its benefit to local farmers and to the well-being of local community and economy.

New Mexico Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela said the Sostenga Commercial Kitchen project will assist farmers, artisan bakers and the like in creating jobs and bringing about a sense of community and pride, in addition to creating a model that can be replicated throughout the state.

Louisville Forward Created as New Louisville, KY Economic Development Agency

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, saying that the city needs a unified approach towards job creation, announced the creation of a new economic development agency called Louisville Forward.

Louisville, KY strategic-plan

Louisville, KY strategic-plan

Mayor Fischer said Louisville Forward recognizes the shifting job creation dynamic, and will orient them towards the future of economic development.

Leading the Louisville Forward team will be Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, who is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Strategic Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office.

It won’t be a big change for Wiederwohl, who is already overseeing many of the agencies and initiatives such as Advanced Planning, Vision Louisville and the city’s green and sustainability programs that are being moved into Louisville Forward.

Jeff Mosley, who is currently Louisville Economic Development Director, will be joining the team as the chief administrative officer.

Wiederwohl said she is excited about Louisville Forward’s transformational possibilities, and said her team would use an intentional and comprehensive strategy for making Louisville the best place in America to live, work, create and innovate.

The creation of the new agency requires no additional appropriations. Greater Louisville, Inc. provides economic development services for the Louisville, KY metro area under a contract with the city, and their contractual obligations will now undergo some radical changes as most of the funding gets diverted to Louisville Forward.

For starters, GLI is eliminating six positions and the associated expenses. The city will continue to contract with GLI on certain things such as client development services, and market and industry research.

GLI will be working together with Louisville Metro in the coming months on specific economic development initiatives that will bring together the public and private sectors.

Kerry Stemler, chair of Greater Louisville Inc., said the Mayor’s announcement was not unexpected. Stemler said it may actually help GLI focus on priorities that were identified in the recently created economic development strategy called the Advantage Louisville plan.

GLI will shift its focus from attracting new companies and job creation to other plan components such as retaining and growing existing businesses, advocacy for creating a more business-friendly environment, workforce readiness, support of the start-up and the entrepreneurial community, etc.

Norton Healthcare CEO Steve Williams, who co-chairs the Advantage Louisville Steering Committee, said they believe these are the right strategies for meeting the region’s economic development needs now and in the future.

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