Economic Development

Kentucky, Germany Team Up For Workforce Development Skills Initiative

A German model for closing the skills gap may soon be helping Kentucky build the skilled future workforce it needs to support the state’s manufacturers.

KY Skills Initiative

KY Skills Initiative

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, accompanied by Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Fischer and other state and education officials launched a program called the Skills Initiative.

Kentucky’s Skills Initiative is based on Germany’s dual system of vocational education under which students pursue high school diplomas while doing apprenticeships in their chosen occupations.

Gov. Beshear said that businesses are consistently telling them that the need for highly-skilled workers has never been greater, so they set out to develop the best training programs possible for meeting the present and future needs of Kentucky business.

Gov. Beshear said they found an extremely effective German program, and contacted the German embassy to find out more about it. The Governor added that the Germans had been extremely helpful, and their assistance helped create the Skills Initiative.

The initiative is open to all manufacturers in Kentucky, but the partnership between the State and the German Embassy is primarily driven by the large number of German companies in Kentucky. Currently, there are 62 German-owned businesses in the state, which together employ more than 9,000 people.

Through the Skills Initiative, the German Embassy brings together local education and training providers with manufacturers. Participation for students is entirely voluntary.

Fischer said the Skills Initiative is a win-win idea and everyone benefits. He added that German-American cooperation on workforce skills development will provide communities across Kentucky with opportunities for quality training, good jobs and businesses capable of succeeding in the U.S. and global markets.

The primary aim of the Skills Initiative is to align Kentucky’s existing education and workforce development resources into a system of dual-track training that provides education and jobs at the same time. There are already more than 150 Kentucky companies employing hundreds of students through formalized dual-track training programs.

Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said their aim with the Skills Initiative is for it to be industry-driven and based on market demands of Kentucky’s workforce needs.

The Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency administering Kentucky economic development programs and initiatives.

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards

Trade & Industry Development magazine has announced their 9th annual Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards.

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards (photo –

The 2014 CiCi Awards recognize 15 economic development projects announced in 2013 that were notable for the extraordinary investment involved, and 15 other projects for their community impact (as in job creation).

This year, four of the top 15 in the CiCi corporate investment list are projects involving capital investments of $1 billion or more.

The biggest of the lot is the $1.6 billion Eastman Chemical Co. expansion in Kingsport, Tennessee. The second largest one is the $1.5 billion Tenaris steel pipe manufacturing plant in Bay City, Texas. The third largest one is the $1.1 billion Boeing expansion in North Charleston, South Carolina.

There are three data center projects in the top 15 CiCi corporate investment list, including two Microsoft projects ($677.6 million in West Des Moines, Iowa and $348 million in Mecklenburg County, Virginia).

The third data center project on the list is the $600 million investment by Google at its data center site in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

Most of the rest are automotive and tire company projects, with the exception of Big River Steel in Arkansas; Monsanto in Missouri; and MSC Aerospace in Utah.

The community impact list is topped by Cerner Corp.’s $2 billion redevelopment of the Bannister Mall site in Chesterfield, Missouri as part of its global headquarters expansion. This project will create 15,000 new full-time jobs.

The second largest project on the CiCi community impact list is the Motorola Mobility and Flextronics manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas, which is expected to create 2,000 jobs.

The third largest project is the 800-job IBM technology center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is part of a collaborative higher education initiative between IBM, the State of Louisiana and academic institutions. This project is expected to create 1,342 permanent jobs in the region.

Looking at both lists together, Tennessee tops the CiCi Awards in terms of the number of projects mentioned. The corporate investment list includes the Eastman Chemical and Hankook Tire projects in Tennessee, and the community impact list includes Calsonic Kansei North America and ProNova Solutions projects.

Scott Swoger, publisher of Trade & Industry Development, praised Tennessee economic development efforts and the state’s business climate. Swoger said that having two companies each in the corporate investment and community impact categories is an economic development achievement that should receive the full attention of corporate site selectors.

Manufacturing Communities Investment Act Seeks to Renew NMTC Program

U.S. Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown announced legislation that would renew the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program.

New Markets Tax Credits

New Markets Tax Credits (photo –

NMTC offers tax credits to investors to spur new and increased investments into business and real-estate projects in low-income communities.

Investors get 39 percent of their investment back as tax credits over a period of seven years. Community Development Entities (CDEs) apply to the CDFI Fund for NMTC allocations.

The CDEs that receive allocations can then support projects and raise additional funding by providing the tax credits to investors. As of 2012, the CDFI Fund had allocated a total of $36.5 billion in tax credit authority to CDEs since its inception.

From 2003 to 2012, the program has helped fund projects that have leveraged $60 billion in private investment, and helped create more than 550,000 jobs.

However, the NMTC program expired along with several other tax breaks on Dec 31, 2013. The legislation (S.1896) introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown seeks to extend the NMTC for another three years, and increase its annual allocation from $3.5 billion to $5 billion.

Sen. Brown’s bill also adds a new element to the NMTC by providing an additional $1 billion in annual funding for spurring manufacturing investments in communities suffering from manufacturing jobs losses.

The bill would be particularly helpful for Ohio, which has nearly 650,000 manufacturing jobs. Sen. Brown said that one of the reasons the manufacturing sector is growing is because of the success of the NMTC program, but despite this progress, there are still too many manufacturing communities struggling since the Great Recession.

He added that the Manufacturing Communities Investment Act would spur manufacturing investment, helping create jobs and replace those that communities have lost.

Also present at the announcement was Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, a public-private partnership for coordinating and furthering Dayton region economic development activities and goals. The region spans across 14 counties in Southwest Ohio.

Dayton’s Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center (EPISCenter) was built with the help of NMTC funds. This aviation development center has since created more than 800 local jobs.

Midwest Cabinet Co Gets KS Training Funds for ERP Implementation

Ottawa, KS-based Midwest Cabinet Co., Inc. has received state funding for its training needs related to the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Midwest Cabinet Company

Midwest Cabinet Company (photo –

The Kansas Department of Commerce approved $36,720 for Midwest Cabinet Co. under the Kansas Industrial Retraining program.

The funding will help the company train and retrain their 136 existing employees to use the Epicor E9 ERP system being implemented to drive increased efficiency and profitability.

Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said that software update and training program by Midwest Cabinets will help the company continue to thrive in a highly competitive market, and noted that this was great news for the company and its employees, and for the state’s economy.

The funding proposal was initiated as a result of a joint initiative undertaken by the KS Dept. of Commerce and the Franklin County Development Council to educate local employers about the availability of Kansas economic development incentives and other existing state assistance programs for employers.

Jeff Seymour, executive director of the Franklin County Development Council, contacted Midwest Cabinet Co. President and CEO Bob Howell about a meeting between the two of them and the Commerce Dept’s Craig VanWey to discuss state incentives and programs.

Howell mentioned that the meeting time would have to be flexible because they were launching the new ERP software, and was immediately told that the state could help with the implementation by providing Kansas Industrial Retraining program funds.

The paperwork was filled out and returned and the funding was instantly approved. Howell said this was the fastest and smoothest process they have ever encountered.

The Kansas Industrial Retraining grant program is meant to help Kansas companies retain their skilled workforce, and to help businesses implement new technologies that help them be globally competitive.

Midwest Cabinets has two 70,000-square-foot state of the art manufacturing facilities in Kansas located in Ottawa and Chanute where they produce high quality cabinets, booths and interior components for national companies such as Chuck E. Cheese and Applebee’s.

Seymour said Midwest Cabinets was a long-standing member of the Franklin County and Neosho County economies, and they were excited to see such a quality company receiving funding for upgrading their operations and investing in their employees.

He added that such projects are a great showcase of public-private partnerships, and they were happy to have been involved in the conversation that progressed to the company’s receipt of these funds.

AA, Sycamore Economic Development Agreement Focus of Chicago RTA Lawsuit

The Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines and the City of Sycamore to force them to break off a tax incentive agreement signed in 2004 when an AA subsidiary opened a new office in Sycamore.

Chicago RTA lawsuit against American Airlines and Sycamore, IL

Chicago RTA lawsuit against American Airlines and Sycamore, IL (photo –

Instead of paying sales tax on its fuel purchase in the Chicago area, what AA did back in 2004 was to work out a favorable deal with the City of Sycamore under which it gets back most of the sales tax it pays.

As per the agreement signed between American Aviation Supply LLC and the City of Sycamore in Oct 2004, the AA subsidiary opened a small office in Sycamore to purchase jet fuel.

The location in DeKalb County is more than 50 miles west of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The office that AA opened in Sycamore is actually inside the City Hall, and it has never seen the millions of gallons of fuel used by AA planes and its partner airlines at O’Hare.

The location doesn’t even have an airport, but the advantage is that it is five miles outside of the Chicago RTA’s service region. Under the terms of the agreement, Sycamore gets to keep as much as half a million dollars each year and refunds back the rest of the sales tax to AA.

This agreement is valid until 2030, and the workaround cost the City of Chicago $11.5 million in 2013 alone. Cook County would have got another $3.8 million, and the RTA system another $8.3 million.

The RTA lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, is not likely to be able to recover back taxes since AA has just emerged out of a bankruptcy. They may, however, be able to terminate the agreement and ensure that all sales taxes in future are paid to the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the RTA which funds the mass transit agencies in the city.

This isn’t the first lawsuit of its kind filed by the RTA, accusing local governments outside of the Chicago area of supporting sham economic development deals. Last year, the RTA filed suit against United Airlines and Sycamore for entering into a similar deal as the one the city has with AA.

Before that, they filed suit in Aug 2011 against the municipalities of Channahon and Kankakee, seeking to recover over $100 million for entering into tax incentive agreements with companies that opened sham offices solely to avoid paying sales tax in Chicago. Many of the businesses involved have since announced that they are terminating the agreements.

There’s no denying the validity of Chicago and RTA’s claims, but it does seem to be a no-win situation for Illinois economic development. With these kinds of lawsuits hanging round their necks, places like Sycamore, Channahon and Kankakee will find it hard to credibly pitch themselves to new businesses and offer incentives.

DeKalb County, GA Delegates Economic Development Through Intergovernmental Agreement

The Development Authority of DeKalb County (DADC) announced that it was been designated as the official DeKalb economic development agency by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners (BOC).

DeKalb County, GA

DeKalb County, GA (photo –

DeKalb County outsourced its economic development functions to DADC through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that was approved last month and will be made official at a document signing ceremony in Decatur, GA on March 13, 2014.

As per the terms of the agreement, the DADC will have an annual budget of $1.27 million and a staff of 12. The county is providing half the budget, and some of the new staff at the DADC will be county employees.

Apart from its existing responsibilities, DADC will now also implement economic development programs such as NMTC, small business loans and the Brownfield Revolving Loan program.

DADC will also handle the county’s tax allocation districts, and will be developing a marketing and branding plan for the county. They will be creating a new business alliance to foster better engagement with the business community.

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners will receive quarterly reports in a public forum about DADC’s economic development activities and implementation progress.

This county is taking this step in response to a market assessment report produced by AngelouEconomics. The county commissioned this report, which is one of the first steps in a multi-stage process to develop a strategic five-year economic development plan for DeKalb County.

As per the report, the county’s recovery is being impeded by a severe drop in tax revenues, mostly because of incorporation of wealthier communities into cities, and annexation of successful areas by existing cities.

The report also says the county staff is demoralized because of staffing cuts and lack of funding for raises, and because of mistrust caused by scandals such as the indictment of the County CEO and conviction of a former school superintendent.

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May said this was a new way of undertaking economic development, adding that they have seen other jurisdictions in Georgia enjoying widespread success and realize exciting results with this model.

DeKalb BOC Presiding Officer Larry Johnson said the DADC will now have the funding and staff for taking the lead in stimulating new investments and expansions, and will be able to develop sustained economic strategies for balanced growth.

DADC Chairman Vaughn Irons said that government doesn’t really create jobs by itself, even though the government and business community have a synergy mutual success. But government does have a responsibility for creating a business friendly-environment, and that, says Vaughn, is what is happening in DeKalb now.

Cincinnati USA Morphs Into Regional Economic Development Initiative

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced the formation of REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative) Cincinnati.

Cincinnati USA

Photo – Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

REDI Cincinnati, evolving out of the Cincinnati USA economic development partnership, will now be the first point of contact for businesses looking to expand or relocate to Cincinnati USA – a three-state 15-county region at the intersection of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

This 15-county region is home to 2.2 million residents and 120,000 businesses, including 10 Fortune 500 companies and more than 400 foreign-owned firms.

REDI Cincinnati will be governed by an executive committee comprised of key stakeholders, including leaders from the Northern Kentucky Economic Development Corporation and JobsOhio, the private non-profit corporation tasked to lead Ohio economic development efforts and programs.

John Minor, president and chief investment officer of JobsOhio, said they are incredibly supportive of REDI Cincinnati, which he said strengthens the alignment between economic development efforts and the business community.

Minor said such an alignment is also reflective of JobsOhio’s philosophy and will position the Greater Cincinnati area to attract and retain more jobs and investments.

Multi-state regional role notwithstanding, REDI Cincinnati will continue to be a network partner for JobsOhio. Serving as the JobsOhio network partner in southwest Ohio, REDI Cincinnati helped attract projects that brought in $571 million in capital investment in 2013, in the process helping create and retain 16,000 jobs.

REDI Cincinnati aims to seek more involvement from top-level CEOs, and more collaboration with both public and private investors.

Scott Robertson, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, said that having top-level leaders from the region’s 10 Fortune 500 companies at the table is not a luxury but a necessity in the ultra-competitive world of economic development.

The success of REDI Cincinnati will depend heavily on continued support from a dozen top investors including Duke Energy, P&G and PNC Bank, among others.

Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy’s utility operations in Ohio and Kentucky, said that Duke Energy remains steadfast in its commitment to economic development, and they are looking forward to working with other leaders in the region through this initiative to help attract investments and jobs from new and existing businesses.

Santa Clarita Valley EDC Offers Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive

The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC) announced that they are now offering an Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive (ICAI).

Santa Clarita Valley EDC

Santa Clarita Valley EDC (photo –

ICAI is aimed at attracting new businesses in targeted industry clusters to the Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California.

SCVEDC, in partnership with Los Angeles County, has made $200,000 available for the ICAI program. Qualifying businesses would be eligible to receive up to $40,000 for relocation or new projects.

In order to qualify, the project must create at least 40 jobs. The company would also need to buy property or sign a five-year lease for the project.

The incentive will be available for companies in targeted sectors including entertainment, manufacturing, aerospace, IT and medical devices.

SCVEDC President and CEO Holly Schroeder said the new incentive demonstrates their commitment to being pro-active in recruiting these sectors to the Santa Clarita Valley.

The incentive will be applicable towards reimbursement of permitting costs paid by the company to the City of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County.

Schroeder added that the Santa Clarita Valley with two million square feet of new construction and an overall 30 million square feet of office and industrial space offers tremendous opportunities for businesses, but establishing new operational locations is a big decision for any company.

The ICAI program, said Schroeder, helps defray permitting costs so that companies can find the location right for them.

The SCVEDC was established in 2010 to help create high-paying jobs for the area’s skilled workforce, grow the regional tax base, and strategically position the Santa Clarita Valley as a globally competitive business location.

The Santa Clarita Valley is located along the I-5 corridor in northern Los Angeles County, less than 25 miles from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. It already has industry clusters such as film production, biomedical, high tech, and aerospace manufacturing.

The thriving businesses, institutions of higher learning and the educated and skilled workforce combine with the serene surroundings to give Santa Clarita a mix of small-town charm and urban sophistication.

Santa Clarita Valley is consistently rated as one of the safest communities in the nation. A few years back, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation chose the City of Santa Clarita as the most business-friendly city in Los Angeles County among cities with a population of more than 50,000.

SXSW 2014 Attracts Economic Development Teams to Austin

Economic development teams from all over the U.S. and the world are in Austin, TX for SXSW 2014, hoping to network and connect with the crush of startups and technology entrepreneurs who will there.

Team Raleigh to SXSW 2014

Team Raleigh to SXSW 2014 (photo

A group of Raleigh, NC economic development officials and entrepreneurs led by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is officially representing Raleigh at SXSW.

The effort to showcase the Raleigh brand at South by Southwest is a team effort by the City of Raleigh, Work in the Triangle and HQ Raleigh.

Apart from the exhibit at SXSW’s Interactive Trade Show, Team Raleigh is also making the most of the trip with stopovers to meet startup leaders in Atlanta and tech companies in New Orleans. In Austin, they’re scheduled to meet with staffers from Gov. Rick Perry’s Economic Development Office, officials from the Austin Chamber, and investment banking firm Duff + Phelps.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority is likewise making an official effort to promote Iowa and its startups at SXSW Interactive. IEDA and other partners such as the Greater Des Moines Partnership, City of West Des Moines and John Deere ISG will be hosting a networking event (#IowaHour).

Chicago is leading its first-ever organized team effort to SXSW. The Chicago Made team will be led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and is a collaboration between the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Choose Chicago, World Business Chicago, and

StartupMO went even further and has literally sent a busload full of startups from St. Louis to Austin after holding a video contest to choose who would get to be sponsored to attend SXSW for free.

Economic and business development agencies from as far away as France, Greece and New Zealand are attending as part of official delegations. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Grow Wellington are among the organizations coordinating New Zealand’s public and private sector presence at SXSW.

France’s SXSW contingent under Bonjour SXSW¬†includes, among others, the Invest in France Agency, BETC Startup Lab and Ubifrance ‚Äì the French agency for international business development.

Startups from Greece at the Greek Exhibit at SXSW Interactive are being sponsored by The Hellenic Initiative, Libra Group and Austin-based economic development consultancy AngelouEconomics.

Angelos Angelou, founder of AngelouEconomics, will also be one of the presenters at an SXSW event which addresses the challenges and issues foreign startups face when transitioning to the U.S.

Of course, the biggest bump from the Music, Film, Interactive and other SXSW conferences and festivals goes to Austin, which is now hosting the 28th annual SXSW in 2014. As per an economic impact report prepared by Greyhill Advisors, SXSW 2013 injected $218.2 million into the Austin economy.

Last year, SXSW and Austin garnered 458 million broadcast, print, and online impressions, providing coverage value totaling more than 37.5 million at little cost to the city.

Goldman Sachs, Google and More For Women Entrepreneurs

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and there’s a flood of initiatives and dollars being announced in support of women entrepreneurs.

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day (photo –

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE: GS), announced the creation of the $600 million Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility.

This fund will be a partnership between the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program.

Goldman is kicking in a $32 million investment and an $18 million donation, and the IFC will pitch in with $100 million. The IFC managed facility is expecting to mobilize another $468 million from other public and private investors.

This new fund will be exclusively dedicated to providing finance for women-owned small and medium businesses in developing countries.

Another new initiative in support of women entrepreneurs was announced by Google, through its Google for Entrepreneurs program. The program, called #40Forward, will provide a total of $1 million to 40 startup-focused organizations that are working to increase the representation of women entrepreneurs in their startup communities.

The 40 organizations are spread all over the United States and many other parts of the world. Chicago’s 1871 is one of the partners Google will be working with. Others include NYC’s General Assembly, CoCo in Minneapolis, Galvanize in Denver, Blackbox in Palo Alto, and the Manos Accelerator in San Jose, among others.

In Utah, the State Legislature is hoping to get a bill (HB 90) passed close to International Women’s Day that would create a “Women in the Economy Commission.” This commission will work with both public and private sector organizations that provide services to women in the economy, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies and programs.

The bill made its way through the House last month, and HB 90 is now in the Utah Senate, where the Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee has just given it a favorable recommendation. If established, one of the responsibilities the Women in the Economy Commission will be charged with is to identify the barriers to women’s economic success in the state.

Texas Governor Rick Perry also chose the right time to announce the appointment of Nelda Luce Blair to the Texas Economic Development Corp. The Woodlands, TX-based Blair is the owner of a law firm, and she is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership and The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, among other things.

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  Scroll to top