Economic Development

St. Louis, MO Economic Development Funding Expanded For Ferguson Affected Businesses

St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay and leaders of the St. Louis Development Corporation met with members of the South Grand Business Association to discuss how to help small business owners affected by the latest protests in the South Grand Business District.

Ferguson, MO

Photo – jbouie/flickr

The business association was informed that impacted businesses were eligible to seek funding for repairs under the Recovery St. Louis program.

The Small Business Relief Fund was created back in August to assist small businesses impacted in Ferguson.

An extension to this program called Recovery St. Louis has now been added to expand the program’s boundaries to include the South Grand businesses between I-44 and Gravois.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership has been managing the Small Business Relief Fund. They are now training the staff at the St. Louis Development Corporation on how to administer the loan program and provide small businesses in the expanded area with access to services available under the program.

The staff is already out on the ground, reaching out to businesses in the South Grand Corridor and providing them applications to the program.

A total of $1 million in initial funding for the program has been raised through a mix of public and private contributions. This includes $250,000 each from the State of Missouri, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, and another $250,000 put up by a coalition of major banks in the region.

The program is basically offering zero-interest loans with the option of a modest forgivable advance for urgent needs such as payroll, utilities, rent and inventory. Each eligible business can seek a customized relief package to meet their specific needs.

The Mayor and St. Louis Development Corporation Executive Director Otis Williams who met with the business owners told them that impacted businesses will be eligible for small grants and low-interest loans under the program to help with expenses such as lost merchandise, board-ups and other damages.

The Small Business Relief Program is a first step to address the immediate needs of the most-impacted businesses. The Recovery St. Louis Coalition plans to put together a broader range of resources to assist businesses located inside as well as outside the impacted corridors.

Small Business Saturday Proclamations by States Support Local Economic Development

Small Business Saturday is now a well known day, with seven in ten Americans aware that the day after Black Friday is a time to shop local and support small businesses in your own community.

DineSmall on Small Business Saturday

DineSmall on Small Business Saturday (photo –

Just in case anyone is still wondering if it’s an official thing, the federal government as well as states all over the map from coast to coast are promoting Small Business Saturday through different channels, events and proclamations.

The U.S. Small Business Administration wants to extend the fifth Small Business Saturday into the evening by asking people to support entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

The SBA has teamed up with the National Restaurant Association, and they’re encouraging “families who shop small to #DineSmall at local restaurants and watering holes in the evening.”

They’re also urging small businesses to use the power of social media to spread the word about their Small Business Saturday promos and specials (#SmallBizSat, #DineSmall and #ShowUsYourMenu on Twitter).

States are doing their bit through proclamations officially declaring Nov 29 as Small Business Saturday this year.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued this proclamation for New York State. “Small businesses are not only an important part of New York’s economy, they are the lifeblood of our communities,” said Gov. Cuomo in a release announcing the proclamation. “Their success is our success and with the holiday shopping season upon us, I encourage all New Yorkers to buy local and support their neighborhood small businesses.”

New York State has more than 516,000 small businesses that employ over three million people. Lead New York economic development agency Empire State Development’s President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that small businesses are truly the backbone of the state’s economy and deserve to be supported year-round and celebrated on Small Business Saturday.

On the west coast, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. similarly issued a letter in support of Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses embody the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the economy of our Golden State,” said Governor Brown in his letter. “Over half of our private sector workforce is employed by small business. On Saturday, November 29th, I urge all Californians to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”

California has 3.4 million small businesses which employ 52 percent of the state’s workforce.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has likewise asked residents to shop local and support the small businesses that drive Washington State’s economy.

“Shopping locally helps create local jobs,” said Gov. Inslee in a statement. “These local businesses create jobs in our communities and the trickle-up effect helps fuel our state’s economy.”

It’s also being used as a tool for promoting Washington economic development by the state’s Commerce Department, which has created a “Shop Small” webpage where it allows small business owners throughout the state to post why they “Choose Washington” to run their business.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has also signed a proclamation formally declaring November 29 as Small Business Saturday in Alabama.

“Small Business Saturday is an important opportunity for Alabamians to support local retailers on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving,” said Gov. Bentley in a release announcing the proclamation. “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and an integral part of the equation that makes up a successful economy.”

Maryland Economic Development Grant Helps Establish Garrett County Cheese Facility

State and local assistance is helping High Country Creamery and Market open a cheese manufacturing facility in the Western Maryland town of Grantsville.

Grantsville, MD

Grantsville, MD (photo –

A $400,000 conditional grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) will support the company’s plans to open a local goods and produce market, deli and cafe for residents of Garrett County.

DBED Secretary Dominick Murray said in a release announcing the grant that the State is pleased to provide this project with the support it needs to become operational, ultimately making it a significant employer in Grantsville.

Sec. Murray added that that they applaud the Town of Grantsville for their efforts to promote community revitalization, business attraction and job creation, and look forward to assisting with future economic development efforts in Garrett County.

The site in question was formerly a production facility for Yoder’s Country Meats. The building has been vacant and abandoned since 2005. This Town of Grantsville economic development project is therefore not only generating new investments and creating jobs, but is also getting rid of a blighted property and helping transform the site into a vibrant part of Garrett County’s rural economy.

This is the second CDBG grant for this project. DBED previously provided another CDBG grant to help the Town of Grantsville acquire and demolish the abandoned building.

The new $400,000 Maryland economic development grant is likewise being provided through CDBG funding administered by DBED and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Coupled with additional private funding, it will cover general redevelopment costs such as site preparation and excavation, building construction, storm water basins and interiors. Grantsville Mayor Paul Edwards said that with assistance from several state agencies, they were able to clean up the site and help develop the town.

The Mayor noted that the market will be a tourist destination that will fit in with their other cultural assets such as the Penn Alps, Spruce Forest and the Casselman Restaurant.

Michael Koch, executive director for Garrett County’s Department of Community Planning and Development, added that High Country Market is the kind of specialty manufacturing that makes them unique.

“We’re really reinventing rural agriculture,” said Koch, explaining that through economic development, they are fully committed to supporting budding businesses that bring a special charm to Garrett County.

European Commission Launches $392B Investment Plan to Create 1.3M Jobs

The European Commission today announced a major new €315 billion (over $392.5 billion) investment plan that seeks to fuel economic development and create 1.3 million jobs.

European Commission

European Commission (photo – Amio Cajander/flickr)

The core of the investment plan is the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), guaranteed with public money.

To start with, the EU is creating a €21 billion ($26.17 billion) Fund that includes €5 billion from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and another €16 billion guarantee from the EU.

The €21 billion reserve will enable the EIB to provide €63 billion in loans. But that’s only part of the leverage. The EIB will be funding riskier parts of projects, and aims to generate steep 15x leverage through €252 billion in additional private investments in these projects. All told, the total investment plan will aim to mobilize at least €315 billion over the next three years from 2015-2017.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in his speech announcing the plan that “What we are going to do is to set up the right system that will use available public money to leverage additional capital that would have never otherwise been mobilised. Every public euro mobilised can generate additional investment that would not have happened otherwise. And it can create jobs.”

According to the Commission’s estimates, the plan “has the potential to add €330 to €410 billion to the EU’s GDP and create 1 to 1.3 million new jobs in the coming three years.”

The type of investments the plan targets includes strategic Infrastructure (broadband and energy networks); transport infrastructure in industrial centers; education, research and innovation; investments to boost employment through SME funding and youth employment measures; and renewable energy, energy efficiency and other environmentally sustainable projects.

A key part of the plan is that the Fund takes the burden away from the cash-strapped economies of individual member states. The joint Commission-EIB Task Force identified the type of typical projects that could benefit from financing from the new Fund:-

- Construction and rehabilitation programs for public buildings aimed at improving their energy efficiency, where such projects are currently held up by a lack of funding;

- Transport links between EU countries delayed because of the high upfront projects costs;

- Programs to upgrade school facilities in countries facing lack of funding and implementation challenges;

- Investment in waste water treatment plants and other water infrastructure, where such projects are hampered by a lack of funding;

Another part of the investment plan is to boost EU economic development projects by improving the business environment and financing conditions, with a focus on removing significant barriers in important infrastructure sectors such as energy, transport, telecommunications and digital.

A priority list of these initiatives for removing regulatory and non-regulatory barriers will be proposed by the European Commission in its ‘2015 Work Programme.’

Read more about the EU investment plan at

Sylacauga Marble Quarry Plans to Resurrect Alabama White Marble Industry

The belt of white marble that runs beneath the City of Sylacauga has been historically used in iconic structures including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Lincoln Memorial and other famous monuments and buildings.

Translucent Sylacauga marble ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial

Translucent Sylacauga marble ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial (photo – Florian Hirzinger/Wikipedia)

But the industry has faced a steady decline over the last few decades, and the creamy Alabama marble’s supply for major architectural market projects has been erratic.

Bessemer, AL-based businessman Roy Swindal plans to change this and establish the new Sylacauga Marble Quarry with the help of international backers.

The venture has already acquired a 50-acre tract in Talladega County, and spent another $500,000 to purchase specialized quarrying equipment. They plan to invest another $2 million in the coming months for purchasing additional equipment.

They also plan to hire a dozen workers by the end of the year, and will be bringing in an Italian quarry master to train the new employees. The crew will be lifting large marble blocks from the quarry, with each block being sliced and processed into 50 odd slabs of white marble.

With the help of the international connections of the Swindal family and their Chinese partner TBGS Holdings, the venture plans to ship marble blocks all over the world, including to China, the Middle East and Europe.

Swindal said in a release that there is no telling how many hundreds of people the marble industry in Sylacauga employed back in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Then the operations began to change hands to companies, and the white marble industry in Sylacauga just basically died.

There are quarries still extracting white marble in Sylacauga, but it mostly ends up as powered calcium carbonate used in cosmetics, diapers and other products.

Swindal said they that Italian marble is sold worldwide, and they are going to sell Alabama marble from Sylacauga worldwide.

The Swindal family and their partners held a launch ceremony for the venture to honor the state and local support for the project. Sylacauga Mayor Doug Murphree was presented with an exquisite Chinese vase mounted on an Alabama white marble stand that will be put on display at City Hall.

A small square of marble with the Alabama economic development logo ‘Made in Alabama’ was another one of the gifts that was presented at the launch ceremony.

Others have tried in the past to revive interest in Sylacauga Marble and failed, but Roy Swindal believes his venture has the capabilities, funding and international partnerships that will be required to make this work. Swindal’s family owns a business called Masonry Arts in Bessemer, and Roy Swindal has been a part of the stone industry for three decades.

USAN Approves Niagara Falls Economic Development Projects

The Board of Directors of the USA Niagara Development Corporation announced approval of the $150 million redevelopment of the former Rainbow Centre Mall by the Uniland Development Company.

USA Niagara Development Corp

Photo –

In a separate move, the Board also approved Niagara Falls economic development incentives to fund the construction of a new hotel by Plati Niagara Inc.

Uniland plans to redevelop the former mall into the Wonder Falls Resort, including a hotel tower, restaurants, entertainment venues, a water park and more space for retail and food and beverage outlets.

This project is designed to boost economic development by encouraging visitors to extend their stay and turn Niagara Falls into a year-round destination. Around eight million tourists visit Niagara Falls each year.

The Wonder Falls Resort project will also create 300 direct permanent jobs, in addition to more than 1,500 construction jobs while the resort is being built. The amount of public investment in the project is yet to be determined, and will be included in the approval for the development agreement.

In another move, the USAN’s investment in the $10.16 million development of a mixed-use Wingate by Wyndham Hotel has been made public. The USAN Board approved $980,000 in financial assistance to the project’s developer Plati Niagara Inc.

This new hotel is to be located on a currently vacant lot on Rainbow Blvd in downtown Niagara Falls, and includes a 110-room hotel atop retail and restaurant space. This project, first announced by Gov. Cuomo earlier this year in February, will create 15 new full-time jobs at the hotel and another 20 jobs in the retail and restaurant operations below.

The hotel project has already received approved from the Niagara County IDA for a PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement for a period of ten years.

The USA Niagara Development Corporation is a subsidiary of New York State’s lead economic development agency Empire State Development.

USAN Chairwoman Francine DelMonte said in a release that their efforts to expand the quality lodging, restaurant, entertainment and meeting facilities downtown are coming together to support the tourism industry and make Niagara Falls stronger than it’s ever been.

DelMonte said she’s pleased to see investors like Uniland and Plati recognize the great potential for growth in the iconic city, and pledged that USAN will continue to enhance the quality of the visitor experience.

US Economic Development Administration Grant Enables Cleveland 100 Gigabit Fiber Network

The City of Cleveland, in partnership with Health-Tech Corridor and OneCommunity, is installing the first commercial metropolitan 100 gigabit fiber network in the United States.

Cleveland 100 gigabit fiber network

Cleveland 100 gigabit fiber network (photo –

The $1.02 million project is being funded by a $700,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, along with local funding from the City of Cleveland and OneCommunity.

The three-mile 1,600-acre HTC connects nine Cleveland neighborhoods and is a prime location for healthcare, biomedical and technology companies. OneCommunity is a non-profit-organization with a mission to expand high-speed broadband access and adoption to strengthen Northeast Ohio.

OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick said in a release that consistent with their mission, they embrace the 100 gigabit network as a job creation engine for the City. Gonick added that offering the first 100 gigabit capability, specifically in the Health-Tech Corridor, incentivizes both local as well as national fast-growing companies to locate and remain in Cleveland.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson noted that the city is established as a center for innovation with the announcement of this 100 gigabit network, which also provides area businesses with a competitive advantage that will allow the creation of more job opportunities for residents.

The 100 gigabit network is being designed to help drive Cleveland economic development. It will connect from the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland, extending through buildings and land parcels in the Health-Tech Corridor to Case Western Reserve University and the University Circle area.

Work on the network is expected to kick off early next year and be completed by early summer.

ideastream President and CEO Jerry Wareham said that the Idea Center as a node on the new network will allow for the transmission of data and rich media including audio and video such as the education content and health information developed by ideastream. Wareham added that the network also provides the potential for advanced R&D and front-line opportunities.

Case Western Reserve University CIO and Vice President for IT Services Sue Workman said the federal grant illustrates the achievements possible when Cleveland organizations come together to serve the community’s best interests.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in the release that the EDA is pleased to invest in the strong regional collaboration led by the City of Cleveland and OneCommunity to establish a network that will connect the Health-Tech Corridor.

Assistant Secretary Williams added that this public-private partnership will drive innovation and job creation for the City and regional businesses to support entrepreneurs and advance the region’s reputation as a destination for innovation.

Craig J. Richard to Lead Atlanta Economic Development

Craig J. Richard has been named as the new president and chief executive officer of the City of Atlanta economic development authority Invest Atlanta.

Craig J. Richard

Craig J. Richard

Richard was picked to lead Invest Atlanta through a competitive process. He was one of the three finalists selected by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed following a national search conducted on behalf of the City by Jorgensen Consulting.

Mayor Reed said in a release announcing the pick that Richard is uniquely qualified to lead Invest Atlanta as they continue to grow the economy, create jobs and retain the businesses who already call Atlanta home.

Richard likewise noted that he looks forward to working with Mayor Reed and the Board to bring jobs and investment to Atlanta. Richard added that this was a competitive process, so he is honored to have been selected out of a group of extremely qualified candidates.

Richard succeeds Brian P. McGowan as the president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. McGowan left the post earlier this year to join the leadership team of the Metro Atlanta Chamber as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Craig J. Richard, CEcD, comes to Invest Atlanta from his previous position as CEO and president of Greater Louisville Inc. Richard led GLI from Jan 2013 to Feb 2014. During this period, he helped develop their strategic plan and coordinated a total of 32 projects that generated $571 million in capital investment and created 3,854 jobs.

Before that, Richard served as the Greater Houston Partnership’s Chief Economic Development Officer from 2008-2012. During this period, the GHP racked up 88 projects that generated $4.2 billion in capital investment and created 75,380 jobs.

He was named as the chief operating officer for Hawes Hill Calderon in 2007. This is a consulting firm specializing in the establishment and administration of special purpose economic development districts.

Richard has also served in leadership positions at the Dallas Regional Chamber as well as the Arlington, TX Chamber of Commerce.

After getting his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Houston, Richard went on to get a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

That led to the start of his career in economic development in 1996 with the City of Richmond, VA, and then as a marketing analyst with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Delta Regional Authority Invests $3.7M for Arkansas Economic Development Projects

The Delta Regional Authority, along with its state and local partners, announced an investment of more than $3.7 million to support eight Arkansas economic development projects.

DRA map

DRA map (photo –

The $1.393 million in federal DRA funding is being leveraged to secure another $2.345 million in other public and private investments, adding up into a total of $3.739 million in financial support for the eight projects.

It is estimated that the federal, state and local investment in these eight projects will help create and retain 1,050 jobs in Arkansas.

The federal portion of the funding is being made through the DRA States’ Economic Development Assistance Program.

This program invests federal funds in the 252 counties and parishes in the eight-state Delta region to support projects related to basic public infrastructure, business development, workforce development, transportation infrastructure, and entrepreneurship projects.

The funding includes $200,000 in DRA investment for airport hangar reconstruction in Stuttgart, AR. The $3 million Stuttgart project is creating 20 new jobs and helping retain 20 existing jobs. Another project getting $265,000 in DRA funding is an $865,076 extension of water and sewer utilities at the Big River Steel Plant site. The Big River Steel project is helping create 600 jobs.

The rest of the projects include a $196,250 sewer rehabilitation project in Rison, AR; a $97,125 roof replacement project in Mountain View, AR;  a $118,402 parking lot reconstruction in Eudora, AR; a $630,720 expansion at the Addison Shoe Company in Wynne, AR; a $1.25 million county road upgrade to support the PECO Foods expansion in Corning, AR; and a $225,000 construction of a rail spur in Marmaduke to provide direct rail access to two industrial sites.

DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher A. Masingill said in a statement that in this time of extreme competition for business attraction and jobs, these strategic federal investments into the physical infrastructure of Delta communities are necessary to create economic opportunity for the hard-working people of Arkansas and the greater Delta region.

Apart from this $1.4 million investment in Arkansas economic development, the DRA also announced a slew of other investments in the rest of the Delta region.

Alabama – Six projects receiving $1.113 million in DRA funding, along with another $2.471 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $3.585 million.

Missouri – Seven projects receiving $1.088 million in DRA funding, along with another $10.241 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $11.33 million.

Kentucky – Nine projects receiving $867,003 in DRA funding, along with another $187,143 in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $1.054 million.

Illinois – Nine projects receiving $744,740 in DRA funding, along with another $1.929 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $2.674 million.

US EDA and MBDA Launch Tribal Economic Development Webinar Series

The U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency have teamed up to launch a webinar series on tribal economic development.

MBDA Tribal Economic Development Webinar

MBDA Tribal Economic Development Webinar (photo –

The EDA and MBDA are hosting five webinars in this series over the course of a year.  The first tribal economic development webinar was held on Nov 19.

The webinar was designed to help tribal leaders and administrators, tribal advocacy organizations and Native American-owned businesses understand the federal resources available for tribal economic development.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) shared information at the webinar on capital, counseling, contracting and trade resources available to Native American entrepreneurs.

The MBDA explained how their Business Center Program works with Native-owned enterprises on access to capital, contracts and other market opportunities.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo said in a release that the MBDA is committed to honoring the Native American legacy, and added that their mission is to help the growth and global competitiveness of Native American-owned businesses.

Castillo said the Tribal Economic Development Webinar Series affirms their commitment and helps strengthen their partnerships.

MBDA has opened six tribal-focused business centers that have specific expertise in helping businesses owned by Native Americans. These centers are located in Anchorage, AK; Tulsa, OK; Bismarck, ND; Santa Fe, NM; Fresno, CA; and Bridgeport, CT.

Participants in the webinar also learnt how the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s grant programs help in eliminating economic barriers, and how the EDA helps attract capital to Indian country.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in the release that during the past five years, the EDA has awarded nearly $54 million in assistance to Indian tribes to create businesses, build roads and other infrastructure, and develop economic development strategies.

ASC Williams added that while EDA grants are removing economic barriers and attracting capital to Indian country, they know there is more work to be done and look forward to a strong and continued partnership with the nation’s tribal communities to strengthen tribal economies.

The Department of Commerce and its agencies including the EDA have been meeting with tribal leaders to explore opportunities for working together.

Earlier this year in August, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with the 12 CEOs of the Alaska Native Corporations during her visit to Alaska. Assistant Secretary Williams likewise met with tribal leaders from across the country when he visited Alaska in June for attending the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) conference. The trip resulted in closer relationships with tribal leaders and a better understanding of how EDA programs and services can serve Native communities.

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