Economic Development

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.

U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $1.2M Grant For Arkansas Steel Mill Project

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced a $1.2 million grant to the City of Osceola, Arkansas to help with infrastructure improvements that will support the Big River Steel Mill project.

Big River Steel

Big River Steel (photo –

Back in Jan 2013, Big River Steel, LLC had announced a plan to invest $1.1 billion for building a steel mill in Mississippi County, AR.

The steel mill will create more than 530 direct jobs with average annual wages of $75,000, in addition to more than 2,000 construction jobs.

Announcing the $1.2 million grant award for Osceola, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that this EDA investment will help Arkansas make needed upgrades and improvements that will help attract new business and investment to the Osceola region.

The EDA grant will be used by the city for making critical sewer and water infrastructure improvements that will support not only the steel mill and the Big River Steel corporate headquarters, but also a railroad tank car off-loading facility that will generate another $325 million in private investment.

Arkansas is supporting the Big River Steel project with package of state and local incentives that includes $125 million in financing and tax breaks. The financing was provided by the State through general obligation bonds after invoking Amendment 82 for the first time in the state’s history.

Amendment 82, approved by Arkansas voters in 2004, allows the State to use up to five percent of the general revenue budget for bond financing of super economic development projects.

While announcing the financing for Big River Steel, Gov. Mike Beebe said that “A project of this scope will be a catalyst for job creation, investment and economic development beyond this one facility.”

Gov. Beebe added that the Big River Steel project will help them recruit more supplier businesses and steel consumers to Northeast Arkansas.

The $125 million package includes a $50 million loan for the company, another $50 million for site preparation, and $20 million for piling-subsurface stabilization costs.

The City of Osceola has approved $2 million in local incentives for Big River Steel, and Mississippi County chipped in with $14.5 million.

Apart from the Governor’s Office and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, a host of other state and local organizations worked on securing this project.

The City of Osceola, Mississippi County Economic Development, BNSF Railway, Entergy Arkansas, Inc., Arkansas Development Finance Authority, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, and the Arkansas Capital Corporation and its affiliates were all instrumental in recruiting Big River Steel.

New York Kicks Off Round IV for Regional Economic Development Councils

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Round IV of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative.

Regional Economic Development Councils

Regional Economic Development Councils (photo –

The ten Regional Councils will once again be competing for $750 million in New York economic development resources.

The CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) begins on May 1, enabling the public, businesses, non-profits and municipalities to apply for financial assistance for their projects through a single application to dozens of state funding programs.

Gov. Cuomo created the ten REDCs in 2011 as a transformative approach to economic development. These councils are public-private partnerships comprised of local experts and stakeholders from the region, including members from local governments, businesses, academia and other organizations.

In the past three REDC funding rounds, the State has invested more than $2 billion in support of over 2,200 projects that have already created or retained in excess of 100,000 jobs all across New York.

“New York‚Äôs economy is on a come-back in large part because we have adopted a grassroots approach to economic development that is creating jobs and growing new industries across our state,‚Äù said Gov. Cuomo.

Round IV of the REDC process will likewise award up to $750 million in State funding and tax incentives. Up to $220 million will be up for grabs under the competitive part of the funding process. The REDCs will be competing for up to $150 million in capital funds, and also for $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects that the REDCs identify as priority projects for their region.

The remaining $350 million will be awards from state funding programs for projects in each region applied for through the CFA process.

The competitive part of the process will focus this year on how each region is implementing regional strategic economic development plans; their identification of global marketing and export strategies; and their performance in encouraging economic growth through job creation and investment.

The competition for $150 million in capital funds will be divided into two parts. The five regions named as “Top Performers” last year will be in a separate pool competing for two awards of $25 million each. The other five will be competing separately for three awards of $25 million each.

The remaining $25 million will be divided among the five regions which do not win any of these five $25 million awards in this year’s competition. All ten regions will also be eligible to compete for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits.

Apart from the focus on exports and global marketing, another aspect that’s new this year is that the REDCs are being asked to create a Veterans Work Group to promote direct participation of veterans in the CFA process, and encourage other CFA applicants to include workforce goals that will result in more veterans being hired.

Find out more about New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative at Applicants interested in applying through the CFA process can visit

Maryland Governor Negotiates Deal to Keep House of Cards Production In-State

The month-long saga of threats, incentives and legislative back-and-forth was worthy of an episode in the House of Cards. But at the end of the day, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Media Rights Capital, the production company behind the hit Netflix series House of Cards, were able to announce a deal that keeps production of the show’s third season in Maryland.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley speaking with Kevin Spacey on set of House of Cards production

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley speaking with Kevin Spacey on set of House of Cards production (photo Р

“Spoiler alert: we’re going to keep the 3700 jobs and more than 100 million dollars of economic activity and investment that House of Cards generates right here in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley.

The Governor added that Media Rights Capital has been a great supporter of the people and entertainment community in Maryland, and added that they couldn’t be happier to continue the partnership.

Maryland has provided $26 million in film tax credits against qualified production costs for the first two seasons of House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey in the lead role. According to the Maryland Economic Development Department, this $26 million is more than the state has provided for any other production, including “Veep” which has received $23 million.

According to the Maryland Film Office, the first season of House of Cards resulted in the hiring of 2,193 crew, cast and extras locally in Maryland. The production purchased goods and services from 1,814 Maryland vendors.

But the arrangement ran into trouble this year because the Maryland House of Delegates did not approve a bill funding an expanded film tax credit program. This meant that House of Cards would get only $4 million in tax credits for 2014, and they threatened to leave the state and continue production elsewhere.

Instead of giving in and hiking the available film tax credits, a bill was introduced in the House to use eminent domain to seize property and keep the production in-state.

Gov. O’Malley stepped in to negotiate a solution, and the deal agreed upon now gives House of Cards $11.5 million for 2014. This will be provided through a combination of tax credits under the 2014 Film Production Tax Credit program and another $7.5 million in grants in the State FY15 budget.

Asif Satchu, co-CEO of MRC, said that House of Cards is the gift that keeps on giving, having injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and providing thousands of jobs to communities in Maryland.

Empire State Development Touts NY Economic Benefits of The Other Woman

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton teamed up in The Other Woman to beat Captain America at the box office during the opening weekend, but they also delivered a powerful punch in terms of the economic impact of the film’s production that took place in New York State.

The Other Woman

The Other Woman (photo –

Empire State Development, as the chief New York economic development agency, highlighted the benefits of the 56 days the film crew spent filming last year on Long Island and New York City, as well as on location in Westchester County.

The production hired more than 3,000 people as local crew and extras during the filming, and spent more than $11.5 million on area businesses for services and supplies provided. This includes nearly $600,000 for hotel rooms alone.

All told, The Other Woman spent more than $37 million of their budget for production and post-production related activities in New York State. For instance, $700,000 was spent on camera, grip and electronic equipment with a New York-based company. Another half a million went to Mr. X Gotham LLC for post production.

Tom O’Donnell, president of the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, said that the release of The Other Woman is another illustration of the success of Gov. Cuomo’s Film Tax Credit, in the quality jobs it creates and the monetary residue it leaves behind in New York communities.

Since the Film Production Tax Credit Program was launched in 2004 in New York, it has been an enormous economic development engine, credited with generating a massive number of jobs and an estimated $14 billion in direct spending. The industry has shown explosive growth since 2011, and broke records for production and post-production in 2013.

The extraordinary success is attributed to the stability created by multi-year funding for the Film Tax Credit program. It encourages the development of television production work, and also spurs investments in permanent infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs related to the productions.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s efforts and initiatives such as the Film Tax Credit program, the film industry has created thousands of jobs by attracting productions such as The Other Woman to the Empire State, which he said boosts local businesses and generates important revenue for the local and state economies.

“From our small towns to our big cities, New York State offers the perfect environment for filming major motion pictures,” said Commissioner Adams.

Michigan Economic Development Corp is Shifting Gears Again

Michigan Shifting Gears, a career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will be kicking off this year’s three-month summer session in Lansing, MI on June 17.

Michigan Shifting Gears

Michigan Shifting Gears (photo –

The program is designed to assist everyone from returning vets to stay-at-home parents and experienced professionals facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to match the needs of small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurial startups.

Michigan Shifting Gears offers a unique opportunity for seasoned professionals and other transitioning jobseekers, helping them learn how to put their experience and talent to work in exciting careers in the “new economy.”

Participants in this program receive a professional career assessment and career coaching, along with eight days of workshops and networking events. Not to mention the chance to take part in a three-day small business simulation.

A volunteer mentor from the entrepreneurial community will be paired up with each participant, and will work one-on-one on things such as reviewing resumes, providing career advice, and help with the career transition.

Every participant in the Michigan Shifting Gears program has to complete an 80-hour internship (pro-bono) with a non-profit or small business. This is helpful for everyone involved, since the program participants gain valuable first-hand experience working in a small business environment, while the host business can make use of the valuable skills and business expertise of the interns.

Michigan Shifting Gears has an impressive track record, with 51 percent of graduates landing jobs within three months of completing the program. A full 65 percent are able to land jobs within six months, and 84 percent will find jobs within nine months.

East Lansing resident Kathy Hollister, who had been laid off, landed a job with the Capital Area Health Alliance shortly after participating in the tenth cohort of Michigan Shifting Gears (the one starting on June 17 is Cohort 22).

Kathy said she was discouraged and frustrated in her pursuit of meaningful work, and signed up for Shifting Gears as a challenge, to take a risk and grow. As a result of the program, Kathy says she now has a vision, and has learned to have confidence in her own talents, abilities and strengths, and is able to articulate clearly what it is that she has to give others.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael Finney said that Michigan Shifting Gears provides participants with strategies for a successful career transition, and growing companies get the skilled workers they need to succeed.

California Economic Development Initiative Begins With Hiring Credit Pilots

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced pilot programs in Fresno, Merced and Riverside under which employers in these communities will be offered tax credits for creating new jobs and hiring workers.

California Governor's Economic Development Initiative

California Governor’s Economic Development Initiative

The New Employment Credit (NEC) is one of the three main components of the California Governor’s Economic Development Initiative (AB 93 and SB 90) that was passed last year.

As approved under this legislation, NEC is meant to be used as a tax incentive to spur new jobs and help businesses grow in California communities that have the highest rates of unemployment and poverty.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), which is the lead entity handling California economic development efforts and initiatives, has been tasked with overseeing the hiring credit and designating five pilot areas.

In choosing Fresno, Merced and Riverside for the first round, GO-Biz evaluated poverty, wage and employment data to identify these three as areas of the state that would benefit the most from an expanded hiring credit.

These designations for the three communities are effective immediately and applicable for four years, with the possibility of GO-Biz subsequently extending the designations for another three years.

California’s unemployment rate has dropped from 12.1 to 8.1 percent since Gov. Brown took office, and the state has added more than one million jobs.

Gov. Brown said that California‚Äôs economy is steadily improving, with more than a million Californians now back to work after the massive mortgage meltdown. “These tax credits will spur new jobs and help communities hardest hit by the recession,” said Gov. Brown.

The NEC and other parts of the Governor’s Economic Development Initiative (GEDI) are being funded by diverting approximately $750 million annually from the state‚Äôs Enterprise Zone program.

Apart from the hiring credit, the legislation also includes a statewide sales tax exemption for biotech and manufacturing companies on qualifying manufacturing and R&D equipment purchases.

The legislation also approved a “California Competes Credit” as an economic development incentive to be negotiated by GO-Biz and businesses planning to relocate or expand in the state.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111  Scroll to top