Economic Development

U.S. Economic Development Administration Turns 50

On Aug 26, 2015, the U.S. Economic Development Administration will turn 50. Commerce and EDA officials are celebrating the agency’s 50th anniversary with shared messages and stories about EDA’s work and the impact it has had.

US EDA 50th anniversary

US EDA 50th anniversary (photo – eda.gov)

The Economic Development Administration was established under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, signed into law on August 26, 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. After 50 years, the EDA still remains the sole federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development.

EDA has a critical role to play in fostering regional economic development efforts, and supports development in economically distressed areas of the United States through strategic investments that foster job creation and attract private investment.

Through six regional offices located in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and Seattle, the EDA works directly with local economic development officials to make grant investments for projects that align with local and sustainable, long-term economic development strategies.

EDA’s investment programs include Public Works, Economic Adjustment, Partnership Planning, Trade Adjustment Assistance, University Centers, Research and National Technical Assistance, and Local Technical Assistance.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in a message that “I am honored and privileged to serve as Assistant Secretary for this incredible agency and to shepherd EDA into its 50th year.”

“EDA has an incredible and storied history, but it’s got an even more promising future…With your continued support and partnership, I can say with certainty that there will be even more to celebrate over the next 50 years,” said Williams.

Assistant Secretary Williams and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker have both issued video messages congratulating EDA on 50 great years. You can see the videos here and here.

“For the past 50 years, EDA has opened the gates of opportunity by designing programs tailored to the unique needs and resources of individual communities…and 50 years later, EDA’s vital and essential work continues,” said Sec. Pritzker in the message.

“To everyone who works at EDA, thank you all for your commitment, your leadership, and your service. Congratulations on your 50th anniversary,” added Sec. Pritzker.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, EDA is seeking stories, pictures, videos, and quotes from communities that have received EDA funding. You can likewise share the impact that the EDA’s investment has had or is having on your community by sending your stories to edanews@eda.gov.

California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Awards $2M in Grants to 41 SBDCs

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced that 41 Small Business Development Centers in the state have been awarded $2 million in matching grants to support their efforts at providing one-on-one, no-cost consulting to small businesses.

California SBDC

California SBDC (photo – californiasbdc.org)

The grant funding is being provided under the Capital Infusion Program, established as a one-time grant for the California SBDC Network last year, and subsequently renewed this year in the state budget signed by Governor Brown.

Local SBDCs provide comprehensive and expert guidance on small business issues ranging from start-up basics to financing, business and marketing plan development, procurement and government contracting. The One-on-one advising component is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and local partners, and is offered at no cost to SBDC clients.

GO-Biz Small Business Advocate Jesse Torres said in a release announcing this new round of SBDC grant funding that “The funding provided by GO-Biz significantly expands the number of advisors and consulting hours that SBDCs are able to provide to small businesses and, in turn, enables those companies to secure the capital and one-on-one coaching they need to grow and add jobs.”

Go-Biz grant awards to the SBDCs are matched on a one-to-one basis by federal funds. The program will now be able to operate for another year, with metrics reported on a quarterly basis.

The metrics from last year show that California small businesses experienced substantial growth opportunities due to increased financing, which in turn is at least partially credited to the $2 million in grant funding that was provided to the California SBDC Network.

California SBDC State Chair Kristin Johnson said in the release that the California Small Business Development Centers provided assistance to more than 60,000 small businesses last year and helped their clients access an unprecedented $535.5 million in capital to start and grow.

This $535 million in loans and equity investments last year amounts to a massive 56 percent increase in capital infusion over the prior year.

Through its 42 centers and more than 100 outreach locations, the California SBDC provided free on-on-one consulting and low-cost workshops to 60,000 small businesses last year, including over 78,000 hours of free consulting and 2,515 workshops across the state.

The California economic development impact attributed to the SBDC Network is significant, and includes the creation and retention of 8,624 jobs last year, along with the launch of 920 new businesses and sales increases of nearly $344 million by existing businesses.

SBA Region 9 Regional Administrator Donna Davis said in a release that the SBA’s ongoing commitment to small business and entrepreneurial development not only provides enhanced technical assistance service to the 3.6 million small businesses in California, but also promotes economic development and job growth.

Global Opportunities Center Proposal Wins Greensboro SC2 Challenge

A team led by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Office of Research and Economic Development has won the first place $500,000 award in the City of Greensboro’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Challenge prize competition.

SC2 Challenge

SC2 Challenge (photo – commerce.gov)

The SC2 Challenge is a part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative that was launched in 2011. Three cities, including Greensboro, NC; Hartford, CT; and Las Vegas, NV were awarded $1 million SC2 Visioning Challenge Grants by the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2012.

The idea is to seek submissions of actionable economic development proposals and plans. A website set up at sc2prize.com serves as a platform for the selected communities to administer their prize competitions, and as a resource that collects the best and brightest ideas for economic growth and success from development experts across the nation and around the world.

Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge prize competition drew interest from 65 cities across 49 states and 43 countries. The next stage of the competition saw Greensboro economic development proposals submitted by 20 multidisciplinary teams across a range of themes including workforce development, transportation, alternative energy, technology, place making, and small business development.

Six finalists were selected to move on to phase two of the competition, which required the finalists to expand their proposals by developing a more comprehensive economic development plan detailing attainable goals and objectives for implementation.

The UNCG team’s proposal that won the first prize was for a Global Opportunities Center to be housed in downtown Greensboro. The proposal called for the Global Opportunities Center to be designed to leverage resources of local colleges and universities, corporations, and community partners by connecting and educating students and businesses in innovative ways that result in new global business and career opportunities.

Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland said in a release that the City is honored to have received six economic development strategies to accelerate job growth and business expansion, and added that they congratulate the winning team for its Global Opportunities Center concept.

Thomas Guevara, EDA’s deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs, said in the release that the innovative solutions to strategic economic transition planning will enhance Greensboro’s capacity to develop and execute its own economic vision and strategies.

Here’s the list of the six proposals and the awards they have won under the Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge prize competition.

Global Opportunities Center: (First Place – $500,000) Submitted by the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development;

Gig G: (Second Place – $150,000) – Proposal for a public-owned gigabit speed Fiber Optic network for community use. Submitted by Joel Bennett, Larry Cecchini, and Michael Hentschel;

Gateway University Research Park Testing Center: (Third Place – $100,000) – Proposal for a testing center to support primary technological companies and industries in the community. Submitted by Gateway University Research Park representatives;

Cityfi: (Fourth Place – $75,000) – Proposal for a city-wide Wi-Fi network submitted by Andrew Brod and Roch Smith Jr.;

Global Greensboro: (Fifth Place – $50,000) – Proposal to build on local and regional assets by creating distinct local economic specializations that are valued and traded nationally and globally. Submitted by Mass Economics; and

Lifelong Learning City: (Sixth Place – $25,000) – Proposal to build on Greensboro’s educational assets and the downtown university campus to create the Greensboro Union of Institutions for Learning and Development (GUILD). Submitted by Merrick.

US EDA Seeks Grant Repayment From Ford City, PA For Heritage Industrial and Technology Park Project

The Borough of Ford City, PA will have to repay back the entire sum of $581,000 it was awarded 15 years ago as a federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

PPG in Ford City, PA

PPG in Ford City, PA (photo – Dougtone/flickr)

The grant was awarded to the borough for the redevelopment of a former PPG Foundry site into the Ford City Heritage Industrial and Technology Park.

It was an important part of Ford City economic development plans to diversify the economy and attract new businesses and jobs to replace PPG’s exit in 1993. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company was one of the most important employers in the region, and also the founder of Ford City. The borough’s origins go back to its formation in 1887 as a PPG company town and the site for the world’s largest glass factory that once employed 5,000 people.

The eight-acre site in question in the Ford City Heritage Industrial and Technology Park once housed buildings for a PPG foundry. It had been abandoned after PPG shut down its operations, and has since been successfully cleaned up and put to productive use.

It now houses multiple private facilities that have created jobs in Ford City, including Belleflex Technologies which acquired 90,000 square feet of space. Out of this, 30,000 square feet of space continues to be leased by OEM Shades.

However, the EDA considers the borough to be in default due to a technicality. As part of the terms and conditions of the grant award, Ford City was supposed to maintain ownership of the property until 2017. This clause was violated when the Greater Ford City CDC went into bankruptcy in 2008 and the PPG Foundry site was sold off in a sheriff’s sale in 2010.

The EDA notified Ford City that same year that it reserved the right to establish debt in the amount of the award, which was $581,000, and refer the debt to the Department of Justice for litigation. The borough submitted evidence to make the EDA reconsider its position, but the appeal was denied.

EDA did offer Ford City a partial write-off and agreed last year to accept a three-year payment plan of $116,000 to clear the debt. However, local officials did not take any action on the issue and EDA finally gave Ford City 60 days earlier this year in April to pay the debt or come up with a payment plan of its own. Ford City once again appealed EDA’s decision, and it has once again been denied.

Now EDA has sent the matter forward, and federal authorities will seek to collect repayment of the debt for the full amount plus interest, penalties and administrative charges.

GM to Convert Durant-Dort Carriage Factory in Flint, MI Into Automotive Archive

General Motors is once again investing millions of dollars in Flint, MI. But this particular investment is more about historic preservation and the city’s carriage and automotive industry legacy rather than about Flint economic development.

Durant Dort Factory One in Flint, MI

Durant Dort Factory One in Flint, MI (press photo – ©General Motors)

GM, which owns the historic Durant-Dort Factory One near downtown Flint, will invest several million dollars to convert it into an automotive archive and research center.

The automotive archive to be housed in the historic building is currently located at nearby Kettering University. The building’s high-bay area in the west wing of the facility will be renovated to house classic vehicles and other artifacts from Flint’s carriage-building era.

The second floor of the east wing will be converted into a flexible meeting area that will be used not just by GM, but also for community and educational groups to conduct STEM-related classes, seminars and, perhaps research too.

Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said in a release that “Factory One truly is the epicenter of the automotive industry and, as such, it makes sense to create a world-class archive where anybody can learn how carriage builders in Flint launched the global auto industry.”

Kettering University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan added that housing these collections at Factory One provides greater accessibility to the public, history enthusiasts and educational institutions, making the amazing shared history of GM, Kettering and the automotive industry in Flint available to new generations.

Factory One’s history dates back to 1880 when it was one of the facilities of the Flint Cotton & Woolen Mills company. In 1886, William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort, founders of the Flint Road Cart Company, leased the vacant facility.

GM is also financially supporting the historic Durant-Dort Carriage Company office building across the street. The history of the office building across the street goes back to 1895-96, when it was built to provide office space and a carriage showroom for the Durant-Dort Carriage Factory. It was here that William Durant kicked off plans for many of America’s iconic automotive legacies including the formation of GM and Chevrolet.

The Durant-Dort Carriage office building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and subsequently restored to preserve its early 1900s architectural heritage by the Genesee County Historical Society.

The Durant-Dort Carriage Factory building was purchased by GM in 2013, and the company has since spent $3 million for repair and restoration work on the building, and will now spend millions more on the next phase of the project.

This investment follows a series of major economic development projects in Flint involving GM, including an $877 million investment announced earlier this month for a new body shop at Flint Assembly.

GM has also recently donated $2 million to Kettering for a powertrain laboratory, and the GM Foundation is providing $2 million for the establishment of an automotive proving ground for Kettering students.

MercyRockford $400M Investment Plan Supports Rockford Economic Development

MercyRockford Health System, the new entity created by the merger of Mercy Health System and Rockford Health System earlier this year, announced plans to create a single hospital spanning across two campuses in Rockford, IL.

MercyRockford Health System campus plan in Rockford, IL

MercyRockford Health System campus plan in Rockford, IL (rendering – mercyrockford.org)

MercyRockford will invest $400 million into this two-campus project, enabling them to continue to operate many of the newly renovated parts of their existing N. Rockton Avenue campus in Rockford, while at the same time constructing a whole new destination campus on I-90 at E. Riverside Blvd.

As part of this plan, MercyRockford will make the former 200,000 square foot Rockford Clinic building on their original campus available to organizations that serve the community. They already have a few large private and public sector prospects that are interested in taking up space at this location.

MercyRockford Health System President and CEO Javon R. Bea said in a release that “This is another way we will transform the campus while strengthening partnership and creating job opportunities in the neighborhood.”

Bea added that their plans will provide tremendous economic development for the Rockford area. Bea noted that the plan represents the best of all worlds, including a continued commitment to the existing campus and surrounding neighborhood, as well as investment in a second campus that will generate significant economic activity relating to employment, construction jobs, income, and retail sales in the community.

The company said in the release that they reviewed the option of utilizing only the current N. Rockton Avenue campus to meet all the identified needs, but this option was found to be not feasible.

The new plan for one hospital spanning across two campuses was designed keeping in mind community and regional health care needs, clinical program growth, and opportunities for Rockford economic development.

The plan centralizes intensive care services. The new destination campus on I-90 at E. Riverside Blvd is furthermore a convenient location for patients from within the greater Rockford area and for those traveling from a large regional area. This will result in increased patient volume from a wider part of the region. The wider array of services also means more jobs for physicians, caregivers and support staff. All this will result in significant patient care and economic value for Rockford.

MercyRockford Health System is a not-for-profit, multi-regional health system. It includes five hospitals and more than 867 physicians, with 80 outpatient clinics and other service sites that together provide care to residents in more 60 communities in 15 northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin counties. Rockford Memorial Hospital is additionally a state-designated referral center, and receives patients from more than 40 hospitals and clinics in the region.

Bucks Arena Bill Signing Kicks Off $1B in Milwaukee Economic Development Projects

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed Senate Bill 209, which allocates $80 million dollars in state funding over the next 20 years to support the construction of the new Bucks Arena in downtown Milwaukee.

The bill provides a key part of the funding needed to get the $500 million Bucks Arena project underway. The arena is in turn the core component of a $1 billion plan for downtown Milwaukee economic development projects that will create or preserve roughly 15,000 permanent and temporary construction jobs.

Video – bucksdotcom

In addition to the $80 million in state funding and $250 million committed by the Bucks’ current and former ownership, local governments will fund the remainder of the $500 million investment for the arena project through infrastructure investment, direct funding, and financing through the Wisconsin Center District.

In a release issued after the bill signing, Gov. Walker said that this is a great day for the city of Milwaukee and taxpayers across the state. “For every dollar the state is investing in this project, state taxpayers will get a $3 return through income tax revenue,” said Gov. Walker.

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin likewise issued a statement in which he says that the bill signing is the culmination of an extraordinary effort from a broad coalition to not only keep the Bucks in Wisconsin, but revitalize Milwaukee.

Apart from the increased state and local tax revenue and the revitalization of downtown Milwaukee, the arena project and state investment also played an important role in keeping the Bucks in Wisconsin.

In April 2014, new owners bought the Milwaukee Bucks from Herb Kohl. The deal was approved by the NBA, but contingent upon the construction of a new arena in Milwaukee by 2017. If it doesn’t happen, the NBA gets to buy back the Bucks from the current owners and move the team out of state.

Had the NBA relocated the Milwaukee Bucks, state taxpayers would have had to face a loss of approximately $419 million over the next 20 years due to the drop in revenue, future growth, and the ongoing costs of maintaining the Bradley Center without the Bucks.

Governor Walker added that they have protected hard-working taxpayers against the major loss in tax revenue that was inevitable had they failed to reach an agreement.

Senate Bill 209 passed the Wisconsin Senate by a vote of 21-10 and the Assembly by a vote of 52-34. It is now Act 60.

Bucks President Feigin added that they will continue to work with the city and county to move this public-private partnership forward as swiftly as possible and make this world-class sports and entertainment district a reality.

Virginia Launches Go Global with Coal & Energy Technology Program

Virginia has launched a program to assist coal and energy technology companies in the Virginia coalfield region expand their international business.

VA GGCET program

VA GGCET program

The Go Global with Coal & Energy Technology (GGCET) program is a collaboration of the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

GGCET, which is modeled after and linked to VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program, will offer a combination of resources provided by VCEDA and VEDP, along with expert professional services from private-sector partners.

Specifically, up to 10 qualifying companies in each of the next two years will receive the following through this two-year international business acceleration program:

– Up to $15,000 toward export-related expenses;

– Strategic international business planning;

– Professional resources through VEDP’s International Trade program partners;

– Mining-related export seminars; and

– Participation in a Virginia booth at two international mining trade shows.

As a start, the GGCET Program has accepted six companies – Ceramic Technology, Inc.; Consolidated Steel, Inc.; MineQuest, Inc.; PBE USA; Pemco Corporation; and Simmons Equipment Company.

In a release about the announcement that was made at the Pemco Corporation facility in Bluefield, VA, Gov. McAuliffe said that “As part of my Energy Plan, I laid out a vision for developing a robust outreach program that facilitated access to international markets for coal supply chain companies based in Southwest Virginia.”

The Governor added that GGCET gives these businesses in the Coalfield region an opportunity to export their expertise and products, helping them prosper and create jobs.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones congratulated VCEDA and VEDP’s VALET program for partnering to help grow Virginia companies, especially in a region that is in the midst of transforming itself for growth in the 21st century.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority is a regional economic development organization that represents southwestern Virginia’s e-Region, and has a mission of diversifying the economy and helping to bring jobs to the seven-county, one-city coalfield region.

Ron McCall, chairman of the VCEDA Board, said in the release that VCEDA is very excited about the Go Global with Coal and Energy Technology program, which he said will assist their region’s coal and energy technology companies with support and access to resources to help expand their international sales and markets.

VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley added that VEDP is eager to work with companies in the GGCET program to find new customers around the globe.

Michigan Economic Development Corp Launches We Run on Brainpower Campaign

Governor Rick Snyder announced the launch of a new initiative called “We Run on Brainpower” designed to showcase the cutting edge high technology jobs in today’s automotive industry and the opportunities they offer to Michigan students and residents.

Video – MEDC

In a release announcing the campaign, Gov. Snyder said that “The vehicles of tomorrow are being developed in Michigan today because our state is home to the nation’s highest concentration of engineers, designers, innovators and IT specialists.”

We Run on Brainpower, directed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, shines a spotlight on the advanced skillset of Michigan’s automotive talent with stories of the men and women who are developing the vehicles of tomorrow.

MEDC, along with other industry partners such as Ford, Visteon and Toyota, collaborated to develop a series of “A Day in the Life” videos about the work being done by some of these engineers leading the charge.

One of those featured is Rana Mohtadi, principal scientist at the Toyota Research Institute of North America in Ann Arbor, MI. Mohtadi has a passion for the environment and developing sustainable technologies that aren’t harmful to the world around her.

“I’m working specifically on materials that will allow us to store larger amount of energy than what is currently available in lithium ion batteries,” says Mohtadi. She adds that Toyota is leading its research and development operation in Michigan because the state is an innovation hub for research and development.

We Run on Brainpower builds on Gov. Snyder’s creation last year of a new department to address the growing need for tech and high skill personnel in Michigan. The Department of Talent and Economic Development, led by Steve Arwood who leads the MEDC, formally began operations in March 2015.

TED includes the MEDC, Pure Michigan, and the new Talent Investment Agency directed by Stephanie Comai. The restructuring and consolidation of these agencies into TED aligns Michigan’s workforce and economic development capabilities to offer coordinated programs for the state’s businesses and individuals.

Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the MEDC’s Automotive Office, said in the release that Michigan continues to be the epicenter of the automotive industry as the home of top-tier suppliers, automakers and startups. Kerrigan added that they need the talent that’s out there to realize that Michigan is a place where you can seriously grow your career and that it’s a pretty great place to live, too.

You can find the We Run on Brainpower videos, feature stories and other content showcasing the talent, opportunities and innovations in Michigan’s automotive industry on the www.werunonbrainpower.org website.

The Dalles and Wasco County, OR Approve Economic Development Agreement For Google Data Center Expansion

The Dalles City Council and Wasco County Board of Commissioners have both approved an Enterprise Zone Agreement that will provide Google with a tax exemption, should the company decide to go ahead with an expansion of its data center operations in The Dalles, OR.

Google data center in The Dalles, OR

Google data center in The Dalles, OR (photo – Tony Webster/flickr)

Wasco County and the City of The Dalles are co-sponsors of an Oregon Enterprise Zone in The Dalles. Companies that locate here, invest in the community and create jobs can enter into long-term, 15-year tax exemption agreements.

Wasco County and The Dalles economic development benefits from such agreements include enterprise zone fees paid to them by the businesses that receive tax exemptions.

Google, doing business in The Dalles as Design, LLC, has already invested $1.2 billion in The Dalles and signed two such 15-year agreements in 2005 and 2013 with Wasco County and the City of The Dalles.

The first data center facility that opened in 2007 in The Dalles now has 80 Google employees and a total of over 150 employees including contractors. The average annual salary of these 80 employees exceeds the requirement of at least 150 percent of the average salary in Wasco County.

The company has now requested a third enterprise zone agreement for constructing a new development on a 23-acre site in the Port of The Dalles’ new Columbia Gorge Industrial Center.

The agreement provides Google with a 15-year tax exemption for the new development on this site, in return for which the company must make an investment of at least $200 million and create at least 10 new jobs. Google’s expansion plan is expected to surpass both these requirements, and will likely result in the creation of up to 50 new jobs.

If Google decides to go ahead with the project, the company will immediately have to pay an initial fee of $1.45 million to the City and County, along with another $250,000 to the Port of The Dalles for the development of additional industrial land. Going forward, the City and County will receive an annual fee of at least $1 million, starting from the tax year that follows the new facility going online.

Google already pays $250,000 as an annual fee for the 2005 agreement, and another $800,000 under the 2013 agreement, adding up to a total of $1,050,000 per year. The proposed expansion will therefore at least double the annual enterprise zone fees the City and County get from Google.

Since the City and County are able to decide how to use this revenue generated by the enterprise zone agreements, it provides them with flexible funding to address significant community issues.

Past revenues from enterprise zone agreements have been used to further The Dalles and Wasco County’s economic development activities, enhance public broadband utility, provide programs at Columbia Gorge Community College, and provide assistance to Northern Wasco School District 21 and the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

Google’s presence in the area also provides other benefits such as grants the company has awarded to Wasco County schools and non-profits totaling $ 1.2 million, and $350,000 for The Dalles public Wi-Fi. Google employees also volunteer their time, energy and talents to many non-profits in the Gorge Area.

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