Economic Development

US Economic Development Administration Grant Supports Invest in Maine Program

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a $812,823 grant to the Maine International Trade Center and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to help the state attract more foreign direct investments.

Invest in Maine

Invest in Maine (photo –

The EDA grant is meant to support the MITC’s plans to establish a statewide Invest in Maine Program.

MITC recently conducted a two-year pilot focused on the composites and advanced materials sector wherein they attempted to engage international companies.

The Invest in Maine Program was established with support and funding from the Maine Technology Institute. Through this program, MITC coordinates overseas meetings with potential foreign investors across Europe, Asia and Latin America, and hosts investor and company visits in Maine.

MITC also has a “Study Maine” initiative, and this Visit-Study-Invest promotional video created as part of the Invest in Maine Program combines Maine’s pitch to attract foreign investors, students and tourists.

The promotional video has been shown at events all over the world, including in the United Kingdom, China and Mexico.

All told, the pilot program engaged 112 international companies, which resulted in visits by 12 of them to Maine and generated 12 proposals including joint ventures in the composites and advanced materials sectors.

MITC expects to double this conversion rate in the added sectors of renewable energy, aerospace, life sciences and food production as a result of the Invest in Maine Program. They believe that the new investment will help them build on the momentum and interest sparked by the pilot.

Specifically, EDA’s investment will enable them to do workforce assessment and research, along with marketing, lead generation and other promotional activities for enticing foreign companies to select locations in Maine for investments.

According to the MITC, the EDA investment will provide companies in Maine with access to capital, encourage job growth and business expansion in advanced and general manufacturing, and help develop supply chains and promote innovation in healthcare and science.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in a statement that attracting FDI to the United States, increasing exports and promoting trade is a major focus for the EDA and the Department of Commerce.

ASC Williams added that this EDA investment will help infuse Maine’s economy with new jobs and industries to create a stronger, more sustainable economy.

NYC BigApps 2014 Winners

Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball announced the winners of NYC BigApps 2014.

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball at NYC BigApps 2014 event

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball at NYC BigApps 2014 event

NYC BigApps is the nation’s largest municipally supported civic-innovation competition where participants make use of public and private data sets to create tech solutions for addressing the City’s pressing challenges.

This year, BigApps 2014 directed competitors to come up with tech products to make New York City a better place to live, work, learn and play and respond to specific challenges in areas such as health, education, environment and economic mobility.

The 2014 competition attracted over 2,000 registrants and 3,000 event attendees, and more than 100 private sector and non-profit partners. A shortlist of 20 finalists was announced last month, and the finalists were given six weeks to refine their product for the final judging on Sept 16, 2014.

The best live, work, learn, and play products won $20,000 as cash prizes, while the best mobile app, web app, data tool, connected device and game won $5,000 as cash prizes. The winners in each category are listed below.

Best Live Product – Heat Seek NYC – This product created using open-source hardware and web software detects heating violations in real-time and provides reliable data to tackle heating complaints and disputes made every winter.

Best Work Product – NYCHired – allows low-income New Yorkers to find jobs easily and quickly by making use of partnerships with workforce nonprofits that allow for real-time job openings and search options that cannot be found on traditional job search websites.

Best Learn Product – CourseKicker – This is an online learning network that makes use of crowdsourcing and social networking to help teachers build professional networks and connect, share and discover best practices with educators anywhere in the world.

Best Play Product – Explore NYC Parks – This tool combines NYC park data with the Google Maps API to make it easier to discover and explore the City’s parks and public spaces.

Best Mobile App – Mind My Business – This app provides shopkeepers with alerts and information relevant to their business and location such as changes in city regulations, upcoming construction, rodent sightings, etc.

Best Web App – Dream See Doo – This app enables students and adults to explore career possibilities and connect with NYC-based mentors offering experiential challenges related to their preferred career choice.

Heat Seek NYC was also named as the best connected device category winner, and Explore NYC Parks as the winner in the best data tool category.

PIPs was named as the Best Game winner for coming up with a game that rewards beneficial civic engagement such as recycling, carpooling and bike sharing and helps New Yorkers solve health, livability and environmental challenges.

Portland Development Commission Gets $300K MDCP Award to Increase Green Building Exports

The Portland Development Commission in Portland, OR is getting $299,420 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration under the Market Development Cooperator Program for increasing exports in the green building industry.

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown (photo –

The MDCP award to the PDC was announced last week as part of a batch of eight awards for 2014, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown met personally with PDC officials on Monday in relation to the award.

The funding will allow the PDC, as a Portland economic development and urban renewal agency, to expand U.S. exports from the region.

It will help the PDC lead foreign trade missions; develop international partnerships; provide local businesses with access to customized market research; and create a business leads database.

Specifically, PDC will be helping the green building industry in the Portland region generate exports to China, Mexico and Qatar.

The MDCP award requires a 2:1 local match, which means the PDC has to put up $600,000 of their own resources for the same purpose. They are planning to invest this $600,000 through the We Build Green Cities initiative to fulfill the terms of the MDCP award.

MDCP award winners also have to commit to sustain the project after the initial award period ends.

Portland Development Commission and the other seven winners of the 2014 MDCP awards are getting a total of $2.2 million, and are in return expected to generate a combined total of more than $3.3 billion in U.S. exports over the next three years.

They won these awards through a competitive process under which applications were evaluated based on factors such as creativity, the applicant’s capacity to attain project objectives, and the likelihood that the applicant will be able to get private companies to take actions that will lead to exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs.

Since the program was launched in 1993, a total of 136 awards have been issued to 106 organizations spread across 32 states, which have together helped generate more than $9 billion in exports. On average, the MDCP program generates $572 million in annual U.S. exports.

The 2015 MDCP awards competition will open in early Jan 2015, and applications will need to be submitted by the end of February. Find out how to apply here, and this is the 2014 FFO.

Georgia Economic Development Dept Makes Communities Camera Ready

The Georgia Economic Development Department’s Film Office announced that all 159 counties in the state have been designated as “Camera Ready.”

Georgia Camera Ready Community Program

Georgia Camera Ready Community Program

Georgia’s Camera Ready Community Program connects film and television productions with county liaisons who can help production companies with local expertise and support.

The Camera Ready program, the first of its kind in the nation, was established in 2010 to help develop and sustain Georgia’s film and television industry.

The designation is provided to counties after training and certification on how to work effectively with production companies and provide one-on-one assistance at the local level for everything from location scouting to permits, catering, lodging and traffic control during the filming.

When the program began, only 16 of the state’s 159 counties were certified as Camera Ready. With the final 20 counties now certified, Governor Nathan Deal congratulated every community in Georgia for taking part in the program and making Georgia a more attractive place for film and television production.

Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office Deputy Commissioner Lee Thomas noted that with every county now prepared to assist the film industry, Georgia is better equipped to welcome and serve more productions statewide.

The program’s home page on the site shows you a location scout map and a full clickable map view of all the Camera Ready counties in the state. You can click-through to see detailed information about each county including contact information for the local liaison.

Apart from the top filming locations and photos of said locations in the county, the information provided also includes the topography, nearest airports, lodging, shopping, restaurants, hospitals, etc.

You can also download the full set of county liaison contacts across the state.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr said the Camera Ready liaisons play an essential role in attracting movie and television projects to Georgia, and added that the industry is already having a significant impact in communities across the state creating new jobs, investment opportunities, new tourism products and beyond.

When the Camera Ready program was launched in 2010, the industry’s economic impact in the state for fiscal year 2010 was pegged at $1.33 billion.

In fiscal year 2014, more than 158 feature film and television productions were shot in Georgia, leading to $1.4 billion direct spending by the productions and a total industry economic impact of $5.1 billion. The industry now employs more than 77,900 Georgians.

San Francisco Mission Economic Development Agency Tool Wins National Smart Money Hackathon

A tool developed in partnership with San Francisco’s Mission Economic Development Agency has won a national competition of financial inclusion software apps created at hackathons held in several cities.

National Smart Money Hackathon winners

National Smart Money Hackathon winners (photo – SF Office of Financial Empowerment)

New York City, San Francisco and Chicago hosted regional hackathons with technical assistance and funding from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) and Capital One.

All told, some 110 participants working in teams created a large number of apps at the hackathons.

The participating teams created everything from budget trackers to goal-setting apps, financial action plans and financial achievement badges.

The winners from each city presented their ideas through a teleconference to the National Smart Money Hackathon judging panel, which ultimately chose MEDAPulse as the national winner.

MEDAPulse was created by a team at the SF Smart Money Hackathon in partnership with the Mission Economic Development Agency, a community economic development corporation located in the Mission District in San Francisco.

MEDA works to improve economic and social conditions for San Francisco’s moderate- and low-income residents by helping them reduce debt, build credit and savings, buy homes and prevent foreclosures, and open and grow small businesses.

This app will help MEDA’s financial counselors go well beyond simply creating action plans on paper for their clients. MEDAPulse will allow client and counselor to build an action plan together, and then allow counselors to follow up by sending customized text messages through the app to the client as per the plan.

Clients can then respond with return text messages to indicate completion of a stage of the action plan or seek additional help.

The team members who created MEDAPulse are Brittany Martin, Melanie Gin, Chris Yancey and Jamie McKenzie. The entire project is available on GitHub.

Brittany Martin, a Rails support engineer, said the SF Smart Money Hackathon was the best one she has ever attended where she found an amazing team of Rails developers and MEDA – a perfect partner to work with on a real solution for client engagement.

CFE Fund President and CEO Jonathan Mintz said that they are excited by MEDAPulse’s use of technology to facilitate client follow up on goals they’ve set with financial advisors.

Leigh Phillips, director of the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, said they were impressed by the quality of the projects developed at the hackathon, with actionable tech-based solutions to help non-profits and their clients.

Phillips added that the hackathon also offered a valuable opportunity for the tech and non-profit sectors to work together.

As the winner of this year’s CFE Fund hackathon, MEDAPulse will now get the opportunity to attend the upcoming CFE Coalition meeting of 14 city governments which are working together for integrating financial empowerment services into municipal social services.

The MEDAPulse team will pitch their idea to the city leaders and seek funding for developing their application.

Nevada Legislature’s Special Session for Tesla Incentives Attracts Special Interests

The Nevada Legislature was convened by Gov. Brian Sandoval for a special session to work on approving a package of incentives and bills which the State has agreed to provide Tesla.

Nevada Legislature Building, Carson City

Nevada Legislature Building, Carson City (photo – Dave Parker/Wikimedia)

The Nevada Senate and Assembly didn’t actually vote on anything by late evening on Sept 10, 2014, but they did make significant progress in drafting the bills and clearing the obstacles to ensure that the Legislature will now approve the whole package of four separate bills.

The Senate worked on the large bill of incentives (SB1) including transferable tax credits and tax abatements, while the Assembly started with the other three bills (AB1, AB2 and AB3).

AB1 revises the provisions in the Nevada Economic Development Electric Rate Rider Program in order to authorize cheap electricity for the Tesla Gigafactory project for eight years.

AB2 exempts Tesla from the statutory requirement of having to sell their vehicles only through dealers, thus allowing the company to establish its own showrooms and sell their vehicles directly to consumers.

AB3 moves tax credits available to insurers against the general tax on insurance premiums and directs it to Tesla.

All four bills will need to be approved by both the Assembly and the Senate before they can be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Nevada car dealers and insurance companies are not trying to stop the bills. But with $1.3 billion on the line, a host of special interest groups and lobbyists for other companies landed up in Carson City to sneak some state largesse for themselves into the Tesla incentive bills.

One of the companies was Switch, a Las Vegas-based data center firm which is lobbying for the language in the bills to be changed to include additional tax breaks for companies such as itself.

Film and television industry workers who are members of IATSE Local 720 staged a protest in front of the State Capitol. The State plans to cut film tax credits from $80 million to $10 million, and direct the rest to Tesla.

Nevada’s labor leaders are also lobbying to get the Tesla Gigafactory’s construction and equipment installation designated as a public project, which would ensure that construction workers on the project would be paid the higher prevailing wage.

Iowa State Research Park Breaks Ground on Economic Development Core Facility

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa State President Steven Leath, accompanied by other Iowa State University and State of Iowa officials, broke ground on a new economic development core facility at the Iowa State Research Park.

Groundbreaking of Iowa State economic development core facility in Ames, IA

Groundbreaking of Iowa State economic development core facility in Ames, IA (photo –

The 49,210-square-foot core facility, located south of the existing research park, will serve as a one-stop shop housing all Iowa State economic development service units.

The construction of the facility is being funded through a $12 million state appropriation. It is expected to have a capacity to house around 100 employees, and will have meeting and conferencing space for several hundred more.

Leath noted that the building, scheduled to open in mid-2016, will be transformational for the University’s economic development efforts, adding that all Iowa State economic development service units being together will enable them to provide services in a much more comprehensive and integrated manner.

The building will bring the research park’s administrative offices and the Iowa State Research Foundation with the Iowa State Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations, Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, and the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.

The building will also house the Iowa SBDC and a regional economic development project called the Cultivation Corridor.

The core facility will also serve as the signature building of the research park’s phase-three expansion plans. The park, located south of the Iowa State University campus in Ames, IA, already has around 60 tenants and a total of more than 1,300 employees with an average annual salary of $65,000, adding up to a total annual payroll of $70 million.

The phase-three expansion aims to develop another 200 acres and grow the number of employees to more than 6,000.

Steve Carter, the director of the research park, said that this facility is a huge step forward and provides them with the opportunity for a much more effective way to communicate and work together.

Michael Crum, Iowa State vice president for economic development and business engagement, likewise noted that the core facility will be the gateway to campus for business and industry seeking technology or business expertise, and it’s going to be a catalyst for a lot off greater things to come.

As a matter of fact, it’s already happening. Vermeer Corporation took the opportunity of the groundbreaking to announce plans for an Applied Technology Hub in the research park’s third-phase expansion.

The new Vermeer hub with a high-bay facility will allow Iowa State faculty and students to work collaboratively with Vermeer team members on technology advancements for the company’s agricultural and industrial equipment.

Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa said in a statement that they are excited to continue their relationship with Iowa State to demonstrate how partnership between private industry and Iowa’s education system can best be applied.

Andringa added that when the State, education system and the state’s private industry come together, strong economic development potential can follow.

San Francisco Launches LatinSF Economic Development Initiative

The City of San Francisco has launched a new economic development initiative called LatinSF which aims to serve as a conduit for business and trade between the City and Latin America by attracting Latin American companies to invest in San Francisco and by helping local firms in the City expand in the Latin American markets.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day event in Mexico City

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day event in Mexico City (photo –

The initiative was officially launched by San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at Silicon Valley Day in Mexico City.

The Mayor is on an official trade mission to Latin America, and the visit has secured tangible results with the announcement of the first LatinSF partnership with Startup Mexico, a government-backed incubator and accelerator for tech firms in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

The partnership ensures a steady flow of Latin American tech startups coming out of the accelerator will land straight in San Francisco.

Startup Mexico Director Marcus Dantus said that LatinSF is an excellent partner for Startup Mexico and they are looking forward to working with them to assist Latin American technology companies in accessing the amazing opportunities that San Francisco offers to innovative entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, LatinSF has secured sponsors such as AeroMexico and the Mita Institute and Tech Accelerator. MITA is also a business accelerator, tech forum and venture fund which is helping build the innovation economy in Mexico.

MITA General Partner and Fund Manager Robin Reyes said that San Francisco offers a singular ecosystem of needed mentorship, capital and business development opportunities for Mexico’s growing number of tech companies.

Reyes added that they are excited to be partnering with LatinSF to build deeper synergies between the innovation economies of Mexico and San Francisco.

LatinSF is being launched as a public-private partnership between the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED) and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The initiative aims to replicate the success of the China-San Francisco economic development initiative ChinaSF.

SFCED Executive Director Dennis Conaghan said the demand for assistance for Latin American companies has been steadily growing, and they believe the timing is perfect to reach out to the region.

“We can never take our economic recovery and expansion for granted,” said Mayor Lee, adding that LatinSF was another way to diversify the economy, attract new companies and jobs to the City and create opportunities around the world for businesses based in San Francisco.

Dothan, Alabama Launches Aircraft Pre-Employment Training Program

The City of Dothan, as part of a public-private partnership, announced the launch of an aircraft pre-employment training program called CJET Academy.

Dothan, AL CJET Academy

Dothan, AL CJET Academy

Selected applicants who complete the program will gain skills in aircraft structure assembly training, and have a job as a structural assembler with a starting pay of $14 waiting for them at Commercial Jet Services, LLC when they complete the training program.

CJET Academy is being launched as a collaborative effort involving the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Dothan, Commercial Jet Services, LLC, and Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT).

The eight-week training program starting Oct 22, 2014 is free for participants, and all training materials will be provided. Interested applicants can submit applications though the AIDT website.

Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said that an important role of economic development is the connection of individuals with a business that wants to hire local people who need jobs.

The Mayor added that he’s proud of the work that has been done to connect these two groups and provide the necessary training so that both will succeed.

Commercial Jet Services, LLC announced a 400,000-square-foot MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility at Dothan Regional Airport in April 2013.

Recruiting Commercial Jet was a big win for the Dothan economic development team, since it made it feasible for the Dothan Houston County Airport Authority to continue operating the airport tower as a non-federal tower even after Dothan was included on a list of 149 FAA control towers being closed nationwide.

Apart from the company’s $12 million investment into the project and the support the facility provides to the airport authority, Commercial Jet also announced plans to create hundreds of jobs and hire trained and experienced aircraft technicians from the local area. The Commercial Jet project received extensive support from local, state and business leaders.

AIDT Training Manager Kevin Taylor said they have been providing recruitment, screening and training support for Commercial Jet since the company arrived in Dothan. Taylor added that they are always looking for new and innovative ways to support Alabama companies, and are very excited about the CJET Academy.

Commercial Jet Services, LLC President David M. Sandri likewise added that they are proud to team up with AIDT for establishing the CJET Academy, and look forward to enabling trainees to join the company.

Sandri added that with the Aircraft MRO business expanding, this is a great time to join the commercial aviation industry.

New DC Economic Development Partnership to Attract Chinese Investment to Washington DC, MD, VA

DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the launch of a new public-private economic development partnership that will help Chinese companies seeking to enter the U.S. market.

DC Mayor Gray with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun

DC Mayor Gray with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun (photo –

The announcement of the new partnership, called the Greater Washington China Investment Center (GWCIC), was made by the Mayor during the opening ceremony for the second DC China Center in Beijing.

DC opened its first international office for China in Shanghai in June 2012. Mayor Gray said that the Beijing and Shanghai offices will position the District to accomplish the ambitious goals outlined in DC’s Five-Year Economic Development Plan.

Mayor Gray, accompanied by DC Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development M. Jeffrey Miller and a whole delegation, is on a ten-day economic development trip to China. The DC delegation’s trade mission to China also marks the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between the District and Beijing.

The newly launched GWCIC will provide a whole range of business support services to facilitate Chinese investment in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland.

GWCIC, supported by the DC government, has already been engaged in negotiations for months with Z Park in Beijing, known as China’s Silicon Valley. GWCIC CEO Doug Guthrie, formerly the dean of the GWU School of Business and vice president of GWU China operations, was instrumental in these negotiations.

The result is that GWCIC is now able to announce that they have secured two charter members from Z Park who have agreed to join GWCIC and explore potential investment opportunities in the U.S.

Mr. Fan Zhi, General Manager, Taikong with GWCIC President Bill Black

Mr. Fan Zhi, General Manager, Taikong with GWCIC President Bill Black (photo –

One of them is Taikong Panel Industry Corporation, an innovative manufacturer of an integrated building system.

Their eco-friendly panels can be used to assemble a 1000-square-foot single family home in two and a half hours. The system can also be used to build structurally sound multi-story buildings.

GWCIC will work with Taikong to help the company identify partners and projects in the U.S. where use of their TK Panel-to-Panel building method can dramatically boost the speed and efficiency of construction projects.

The other GWCIC charter member is Sanzen Energy Technology Co. Ltd. This is also a green energy company that manufactures innovative technologies for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. They also offer HVAC consulting services designed to help residential and commercial projects reduce energy consumption.

GWCIC will work with Sanzen to identify potential partners and projects in the U.S.

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