Economic Development

Tennessee Economic Development Launches IDEA to Help Main Street Programs

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced the launch of “IDEA” as a state-federal partnership initiative with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

TN Main Street communities

TN Main Street communities (photo – tennesseemainstreet.org)

IDEA is an acronym for “Ignite Downtown Economic Action.” IDEA will help designated Main Street economic development programs in Tennessee set effective and sustainable objectives.

There are 27 Main Street communities in Tennessee, and IDEA will provide each participating community with an assessment and a set of recommendations based on the Four Point model (design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion) that the National Main Street Center offers.

To be specific, the National Main Street Center has asked Barman Development Strategies, LLC to help each Main Street community identify its downtown strengths, market position and existing development needs or opportunities.

To this end, there will be public workshops held in each community throughout the rest of the year.

TNECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said they were pleased to partner with the USDA and the Appalachian Regional Commission on this innovative and exciting new program, which he said was a welcome addition to the efforts that the Main Street communities are already making on a daily basis for furthering economic development.

Tennessee Main Street Director Todd Morgan likewise noted that Main Street programs work with entrepreneurs and small businesses every day, and IDEA will help these programs create downtown environments conducive for successful businesses and job creation.

The TNECD, USDA and ARC are together putting up $121,500 for the IDEA Initiative.

USDA Rural development State Director Bobby Goode said the amount of money invested for each town may seem pretty small, but they will be leveraging each other’s strengths by working together at the local, state and federal levels to take this next step and future steps that grow out of plans each community makes as a result of the IDEA Initiative.

In 2012, designated Main Street communities in Tennessee created 604 new jobs and generated more than $82 million in public/private investments.

During the last four years, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3.7 billion into Tennessee’s local economies through grants, loan guarantees and loans that have helped 1.5 million families and businesses in 158 communities.

The ARC is a regional economic development agency formed as a federal, state and local government partnership, and is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair.

TNECD is the main Tennessee economic development agency tasked with developing strategies to make Tennessee the top location in the Southeast for quality jobs.

Advanced Manufacturing Institutes Awarded to Chicago, IL and Canton, MI

The U.S. has awarded $70 million each in federal funding for establishing advanced manufacturing institutes to Chicago, Illinois and Canton, Michigan.

Digital Lab, Chicago, IL

Digital Lab, Chicago, IL (photo – uilabs.org)

The funding, awarded through a competitive process, will add two more manufacturing institutes to the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

The Chicago-based institute, awarded to a public-private partnership initiative called UI Labs, is officially known as Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI), but it’s already better known as the Digital Lab.

The Canton-based institute will be led by EWI and will be known as the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I).

DMDI and LM3I join the Youngstown, OH-based America Makes (NAMII) and the recently announced Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing Innovation Institute at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

The Department of Defense is putting up $50 million each for DMDI and LM3I, with the remaining $20 million coming from other federal agencies.

The private sector companies, organizations and universities that are a part of each consortium are expected to raise at least $70 million in matching funds.

UI Labs, which was launched as a public-private partnership in Illinois, has already received commitments for more than $250 million from over 570 members of the consortium.

The consortium includes the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and also World Business Chicago.

Apart from the Chicago and Illinois economic development organizations, the UI Labs consortium also includes agencies from other states, including the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade; Kentucky Cabinet of Economic Development; Nebraska Department of Economic Development; and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said this announcement is part of his vision to make Illinois the capital of high-tech manufacturing, and provides more proof that Illinois is making a comeback.

DMDI is expected to spur the creation of thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs, generate billions of dollars of economic impact, and accelerate new product development and commercialization, helping U.S. companies become globally competitive.

U.S. Representative Bill Enyart said the consortium assembled by UI Labs will ensure that Illinois will be on the cutting edge of the next generation of manufacturing.

Sen. Dick Durbin said the new Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the U.S. approaches manufacturing, and a major effort will be centered in Illinois.

The Canton-based LM3I in Metro Detroit will be led by the Ohio-based EWI, and will bring together a consortium of 60 members from the private sector and academia who are working on lightweight metals and technology with applications in aviation, automobiles and other industries.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will provide $10 million as part of the matching funds required under the federal funding award. The State of Ohio and other consortium members will add to the funding to raise a total of $78 million, making this a $148 million institute.

The University of Michigan, which is a part of the consortium, expects LM3I to help create more than 10,000 jobs in the region over the next five years.

Read more about the DoD-led manufacturing institutes at manufacturing.gov.

Gov. Cuomo Announces $5.9M For New York Economic Development Projects

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $5.9 million in Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding for seven projects in four regions.

The New NY Works for Business

The New NY Works for Business (photo – regionalcouncils.ny.gov)

The $5.9 million in state funding will help these projects leverage another $87 million in investments, in the process helping retain nearly 1,000 existing jobs and creating 260 new jobs.

Gov. Cuomo said that working with the business community, the State is leveraging significant private investments to help grow regional economies.

Gov. Cuomo added that these seven projects show how public-private partnerships are creating new economic opportunities in industries ranging from medicine and agriculture to hospitality and tourism, and together strengthening New York’s economy and making it more competitive.

The $5.9 million in funding includes two projects each in Central New York, the Southern Tier and Mid-Hudson regions, and one more in Western New York.

One of the Central NY projects is Central NY Raceway Park, Inc., which is getting a grant of $1 million to develop a 145-acre site in Oswego County into the CNY Raceway Park. The other Central NY project is a hotel development project in Syracuse called The Inns at Armory Square, which is getting a loan of up to $2 million.

In the Southern Tier, the MARK Project is getting $250,000 to replenish a revolving loan and grant fund called the Small Business Development Fund. The MARK Project focuses on economic development efforts to build a sustainable economy on rural main streets by providing grants and loans to small businesses.

The other Southern Tier project is a natural gas distribution line in Delaware County, with $750,000 being awarded as a grant to the Delaware County IDA so that they can in turn provide assistance to private entities in the form of tax incentives.

In the Mid-Hudson region, a manufacturing company named Ertel Alsop is getting a grant of up to $200,000 to help them purchase machinery and equipment for an expansion. The other Mid-Hudson project is a $750,000 convertible loan to Continental Organics, a sustainable agriculture company that is planning to build a 900,000-square-foot aquaponics and fertilizer production facility.

In Western New York, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) is getting a $1 million grant to assist them with the construction of an 80-foot-long underground tunnel that will link two sections of the campus.

The tunnel will help them leverage shared utilities and services, thus reducing construction costs, ongoing management and operational costs, and lower the health care costs for the region.

These funds for the seven projects were approved by the board of Empire State Development, which is the chief New York economic development agency.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said the funding approved by the board is helping move important economic development projects forward to bolster regional economies and create new employment opportunities for New Yorkers.

Wichita, Kansas Economic Development Plan and Report Card

More than 125 investors in the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition got a look at the economic development plan for Wichita, KS, and were given their annual update.

Wichita, Kansas economic development

Wichita, Kansas economic development (photo – gwedc.org)

In 2013, GWEDC successfully brought home five projects that together represent $45.13 million in capital investment in Wichita and Sedgwick County, along with a projected creation of 1,117 new jobs with an annual payroll of $31.86 million.

The 800-pound gorilla in the lot which accounts for an overwhelming majority of the new jobs is the customer contact center established by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) in Wichita.

The other four projects were expansions undertaken by and JR Custom Metal Products, Lee Aerospace, Wesley Medical Center, and High Touch Technologies.

GWEDC Chairman Steve Sharp, who is a vice president at Spirit AeroSystems, said that Wichita’s skilled workforce was an important factor that helped attract these new jobs.

Sharp said GWEDC made the business case for Starwood to locate in Wichita and for the other four companies to expand, adding that securing business expansions and recruitment was a complicated process with moving parts. Sharp said the competition for these projects was tough and they were glad to have won them.

Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research provided figures on the return on public investment into the GWEDC-facilitated projects. For 2013, the ROI was pegged at 42 percent.

This means that for every dollar in local government funds spent on economic development projects and the GWEDC’s operational costs, the public is expected to receive $1.42 back in terms of new public benefits for the City and County.

To increase competitiveness, GWEDC identified four critical areas in 2013, including incentives, diversification, real estate solutions and “telling our story.” They have developed an economic development plan based on three of the four factors, and have already started implementing tactics suggested in the plan.

As far as real estate solutions are concerned, GWEDC plans to focus on adding mega sites. To this end, they have already purchased an option for a large site on more than 400 acres near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The site could be ideal for large industrial projects that need access to a commercial runway and railroad track.

GWEDC is also working on a diversification strategy that focuses in part on reshoring and exports. To this end, GWEDC is participating in a Brookings Institute and JP Morgan Chase project that is helping them create an aggressive export strategy.

GWEDC is a public-private partnership which leads the South Central Kansas economic development activities to market the region as a business location. They are therefore also planning to undertake joint efforts with other partners to explore the potential of a community-wide brand statement.

Tim Chase, President of GWEDC, says he’s often said that economic development is a team sport. Chase said they’ll be advancing Wichita in 2014 with the help of all their investors, which includes 175 private companies and organizations, in addition to the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

Google Pitches Fiber to 34 Cities as Economic Development Tool

Google has invited 34 cities across nine metropolitan areas to work with them on finding out whether it would be possible to bring them Google Fiber.

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas (photo – fiber.google.com)

Offering speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, a Google Fiber connection is up to 100 times faster than currently available average broadband Internet speeds.

Google Fiber projects are already being implemented in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Ramping up availability to 34 of the biggest cities on both coasts takes it to a whole new level.

Google is pitching the expansion and high-speed Internet access as a necessary economic development tool that mayors from all over the map have said will spark innovation and drive economic growth while improving education.

Milo S. Medin, VP, Google Access Services, said in a blog post announcing the proposed Google Fiber expansion that Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee [both on the list of invited cities] and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans.

Medin also singled out San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has declared that every school should have gigaspeed Internet access by 2020.

The nine metro areas that Google is targeting for an expansion of Google Fiber are Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; Phoenix, AZ; San Antonio, TX; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh-Dunham, NC.

Google has asked all the invited cities to put together a checklist that will make it easier for a Fiber project to go ahead in their city. For example, cities have been requested to streamline permitting processes and provide maps of existing conduits and utility lines.

This information can be used by Google to follow the plan and use existing infrastructure such as utility poles instead of digging up streets to put a new pole up next to an existing one. Google will be doing its own detailed study of each city including the topography, housing density, and the condition of infrastructure.

This process will be completed by the end of the year, at which time Google will be able to announce which of these 34 cities will be getting Google Fiber.

Medin noted in his blog post that cities which go through this process will end up more prepared for any provider who wants to lay out a fiber network.

Furthermore, as a means of helping other communities everywhere who want to bring fiber to their residents, Google plans to share what they learn from their studies involving the 34 invited cities.

Kentucky to Launch Hemp Pilot Projects

Kentucky is planning on setting up pilot industrial hemp projects across the state as partnership programs undertaken jointly with institutions of higher learning.

Industrial hemp products

Industrial hemp products (photo – kyagr.com)

Industrial hemp is the same type of plant species as marijuana, and its production and sale has until now been banned.

The pilot projects being undertaken now were made possible by amendments included in the United States Farm Bill that became law on Feb 7, 2014.

The Kentucky General Assembly has already approved its own legislation (Senate Bill 50) that legalizes industrial hemp production in the state. The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission has also been revived.

The KY Dept. of Agriculture has also set up an industrial hemp facts page on their website. It states that the global market for hemp includes more than 25,000 products, including textiles and fabrics, yarns, paper, carpets and home furnishings, construction materials, auto parts, animal bedding, industrial oils, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and body care products, etc.

Current industry estimates show that the annual U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products exceeds $300 million.

However, federal law still doesn’t approve commercial production of hemp, so any crop grown in the pilot projects will be within the confines of a research project that must be related to growth, cultivation and/or marketing of hemp.

There are five hemp pilots being planned by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. One will be a test project in Louisville at an as yet undermined Brownfield site. This project, which may involve the University of Louisville, will test whether a hemp crop can help clean up the soil on contaminated industrial plots.

Another pilot project in Eastern Kentucky will study the use of hemp as a renewable fuel source for producing alternative energy. Kentucky was one of the largest producers of industrial hemp during WWII, but there has no hemp planted for the last 50 years.

Commissioner Comer said that he and KY Attorney General Jack Conway have been communicating directly for the last couple of months about hemp production in Kentucky, and added that cooperation between law enforcement and agriculture was a critical element in moving this industry forward.

Commissioner Comer said he appreciates the AG’s help in overcoming the legal obstacles to this new market for Kentucky farmers.

The AG has furthermore pledged to work with Commissioner Comer in the state’s bid to obtain a federal waiver from the U.S. DEA to allow Kentucky to expand industrial hemp production for commercial purposes.

Arizona Teams Up With Sonora For Economic Development Partnership

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés announced a new cross-border partnership to jointly recruit technology companies from around the world to the Arizona-Sonora region.

Governors Brewer and Padrés at Arizona-Mexico Commission Plenary Session in Hermosillo, Sonora

Governors Brewer and Padrés at Arizona-Mexico Commission Plenary Session in Hermosillo, Sonora (photo Рazgovernor.gov)

The partnership, to be known as “Global Advantage,” will be a collaboration between the University of Arizona Tech Parks and the Offshore Group.

The Tucson, AZ-based Offshore Group is the largest private sector employer in Sonora, Mexico. The company offers services to firms looking to reduce their costs by manufacturing in Mexico.

Global Advantage will allow companies to conduct advanced R&D at Tech Parks Arizona, while the Offshore Group’s facilities in Sonora will provide them access to a skilled workforce, and help them with high-tech manufacturing capabilities, administrative and support services.

By combining the respective expertise and core competencies of both organizations, Global Advantage will bring long-term economic opportunity and prosperity for both Arizona and Sonora.

One of their first coordinated efforts was aimed at attracting technology companies from Israel. The Global Advantage team visited Israel and met with Israeli government officials, high-tech companies, and business and trade organizations.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with several companies in Israel interested in making use of the partnership’s resources to help them expand into the U.S. market.

Governors Brewer and Padrés, who were both present at the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s Plenary Session last week in Hermosillo, Sonora, have announced plans to capitalize on this interest and intend to lead a joint business and trade mission to Israel later this year.

Both Governors and the Global Advantage team will meet in Israel with companies interested in becoming Global Advantage clients.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement that if Arizona is to remain competitive in a global economy, it is crucial that the state continue to seek and support productive international partnerships.

Gov. Brewer added that this venture will foster economic development and create jobs for Arizona and Sonora while attracting business investment.

Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés said this partnership enables Arizona and Sonora to become a single region, working together not as two separate states or countries, but as a single, unified economic region.

If you want to know more the Global Advantage partnership, contact globaladvantage @ uatechpark.org.

Google Subsidiary Taking Over Moffett Field From NASA

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA announced the selection of Planetary Ventures LLC, which is an affiliate of Google Inc., as the preferred lessee to rehabilitate historic Hangar One at Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California.

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA (photo – nasa.gov)

The historic 8-acre Hangar One at Moffett Field, located in between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous landmarks.

It is part of a National Historic District that also includes Hangars Two and Three and Shenandoah Plaza.

Planetary Ventures taking over the space puts Hangar One to good use. The agreement also eliminates substantial management costs for NASA since Planetary Ventures will¬†be taking over management of Moffett Field from NASA’s Ames Research Center.

GSA issued requests for proposals (RFPs) on behalf of NASA in May 2013, asking for proposals from the private sector to collaborate with the government on rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of Hangar One, and management of the airfield through a long-term lease.

Moffett Field will remain a federal airfield and the government will continue to use it, since NASA’s Ames Research Center is located there and so is the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing.

The RFP requires Planetary Ventures to maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District. They are also required to reposition Moffett Field as a viable asset to support government and other public/private flight operations.

Planetary Ventures will also be rehabilitating Hangars Two and Three, upgrading the airfield’s golf course, and creating an educational and public use facility.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement that NASA is not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure that they’re spending tax dollars wisely. He said this agreement will benefit American taxpayers and the community around Moffett.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said Hangar One was a Silicon Valley landmark well before the rise of today’s high tech titans. He said NASA’s partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use.

Col Steven J. Butow, commander of the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, said this is a model for the nation, employing federal interagency partnerships with private entities, which he said allows them to continue their commitment as citizen-airmen to the community and the county.

NASA’s previous partnership experiment with the private sector to make good use of Moffett Field involved Airship Ventures, which was offering ‘’flightseeing” trips onboard a 246-foot-long Zeppelin NT based out of Hangar Two at Moffett Field.

NASA and Airship Ventures were additionally planning more collaborative projects including use of the airship as a platform for conducting scientific research and disaster response studies.

In fact, they actually did participate in one joint research project in collaboration with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. However, the blimp operations couldn’t stay afloat during the recession and Airship Ventures had to shut down in Nov 2012.

The competitive process through which Planetary Ventures LLC has been selected, the review conducted by the GSA and NASA, and the much wider scope of the RFP and pending lease agreement will hopefully mean this partnership lasts a lot longer.

Tax Credits, Grants Bring Housing and Jobs to Illinois WWII Site

East Alton, Illinois is getting 46 new single-family homes through a redevelopment project called Emerald Ridge in a former World War II-era development known as the “Defense Area.”

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL (photo – ihda.org)

The Emerald Ridge project, formerly the East Alton Defense Area Redevelopment, kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by representatives from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the non-profit Rise and other partners involved in the project.

The project garnered more than $11 million in private equity facilitated through allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits, in addition to another $2.4 million through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit resources.

IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said in a statement that IHDA is proud to help the Village of East Alton achieve its redevelopment goals and stimulate economic activity.

Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) awarded an $184,000 grant to enable the Emerald Ridge housing units to add energy-saving features and reduce maintenance and utility costs.

DCEO Director Adam Pollet said that Governor’s Quinn’s administration is dedicated to working with developers in providing affordable living options in every corner of the state. Pollet added that the construction of Emerald Ridge will not only help working families in East Alton find housing, but also add more than 80 good-paying jobs in Illinois.

The Village of East Alton and Madison County provided additional financing.

The St. Louis, MO-based Rise is developing the project in partnership with the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA), Madison County and the Village of East Alton.

Stephen Acree, president of Rise, said they were committed to revitalizing neighborhoods and communities in the Greater St. Louis area. Acree added that the Defense Area redevelopment in East Alton is being built on strong partnerships that will reinforce a healthy and resilient community.

The project will replace 91 obsolete housing units in the area with 34 single-story and 12 two-story single-family detached homes.

Ten of the new housing units are set aside for extremely low-income people with special needs or disabilities earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income in Madison County. The remaining units require residents to be earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

SalesWarp Gets $500K Investment from Maryland Venture Fund

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that Baltimore-based e-commerce management software provider SalesWarp has received $500,000 in funding from InvestMaryland via the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).

InvestMaryland

InvestMaryland (photo – choosemaryland.org)

InvestMaryland is a public-private partnership between the State of Maryland and venture capital firms.

It was established in 2011 to invest in early-stage technologies in sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences.

InvestMaryland has raised $84 million through an online auction of tax credits to insurance companies, and is currently the largest venture capital investment initiative in the history of Maryland.

Two-thirds of that amount ($56 million) is being managed by private VC firms that are a part of the partnership, while the remaining is being managed by the Maryland Venture Fund.

If the investments are successful, the private fund managers will return 100 percent of $56 million principal and 80 percent of the profits to the State’s general fund.

The $500,000 that SalesWarp received was awarded through MVF, and was part of a funding round that will help the company grow its innovative line of products and create new jobs.

SalesWarp is located in the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, and currently has 12 employees. They expect the staff count to grow to 25 by the end of 2015.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said in a statement that entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses play a critical role in the growth of Maryland’s economy, and they are the engine that drives innovation and discovery while creating the family-supporting jobs of today and tomorrow.

Gov. O’Malley added that they are proud to make this investment in SalesWarp and look forward to the company’s success in Maryland’s growing community of exciting high-tech startups.

David Potts, Founder and CEO of SalesWarp, said they are thrilled to have this commitment from MVF. Potts added that beyond the funding, MVF also brings many skills and connections that will help the company achieve its goals and grow in Maryland.

The Maryland Venture Fund was created in 1994 as a state-funded seed and early-stage equity fund, and has since invested in hundreds of startups and early-stage companies, in the process helping retain and create more than 5,000 jobs.

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