Economic Development

Maryland Publishes Guide to Incorporate Economic Development Into Local Planning

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has published a new online resource for local jurisdictions on how to incorporate economic development into the local comprehensive plan process.

Placing Jobs

Placing Jobs (photo – maryland.gov)

The resource, titled Placing Jobs, is a step-by-step guide for writing local economic development plans and elements.

It includes guidance for everything from crafting a strong introduction to identifying an economic profile and analyzing fiscal impacts, growth strategies for major economic sectors and targeting areas for economic growth.

The guide offers a framework for local leaders on integrating land use with economic development strategies that preserve resource-based industries, promote tourism, and direct investment toward infill, revitalization and redevelopment in local comprehensive plans.

Planners can refer to the guide’s listing of an inventory of incentives and programs that can be considered while crafting or evaluating economic development strategies.It provides links to best practices, and has an economic data section to help jurisdictions refer to the right data sources and use the best available data.

It also has a map-based interactive tool that makes it easy to access location-specific data in layers such as municipalities and counties, empowerment zones, enterprise zones, BRAC enterprise areas, priority funding areas, transit stations and lines, main street areas, sustainable communities, heritage areas, preservation areas, arts and entertainment districts, etc.

The map tool also shows ‘PlanMaryland” local planning areas – targeted growth and preservation areas aligned with local goals and plans. These designated areas get priority in terms of access to capital resources provided through the plans and programs of state agencies.

The Placing Jobs guide is the 31st publication in MDP’s Models & Guidelines series that aim to help local governments implement policies and achieve community development goals.

The whole series is a part of the PlanMaryland implementation. This is a statewide policy that sets a course for growth, establishing how and where the state should develop, what resources have to be protected, and what role the state and local governments need to play to make it possible.

PlanMaryland aims to create sustainable growth by directing state agencies to align their programs and regulations in support of PlanMaryland objectives, and focus their resources on helping local governments achieve smart growth.

Apart from the Dept. of Planning’s own resources, the Placing Jobs guide also incorporates Maryland economic development resources and incentive programs from other departments including the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of Labor and Licensing and Regulation.

Southwest Virginia Angling for World’s Largest Indoor Fish Farming Project

A delegation of officials from Tazewell County, VA is in Israel on a trade mission, trying to push forward a proposed aquaculture project that could create 426 jobs in Southwest Virginia.

Jonah

Project Jonah (photo – Rebecca Kennison/wikimedia)

The delegation includes members of the County Board of Supervisors and other county officials, a representative from the Town of Richlands IDA, and Delegate Will Morefield.

The proposed fish farming facility will be the largest indoor aquaculture project in the world, and will make use of a technology that has never been implemented in the United States.

According to a statement posted by Morefield on his Facebook page, the facility will create 426 jobs that could potentially grow to 2,000. “It is our hope that we can finally start to diversify the economy in Southwest Virginia and create sustainable jobs,” said Morefield.

The project, aptly identified in county documents as Project Jonah, has been in the works for more than two years. The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors has already approved a resolution indicating their willingness to support the project.

This includes a grant from the Tazewell County IDA equal to three years of real property and machinery tools tax payments from the project, or $1 million – whichever is greater. They also authorized a letter of support seeking Virginia economic development funding for Project Jonah.

The letter enables the project to seek funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority. The VCEDA earmarked $10 million as a loan for the project in its 2013 budget.

Discussions about the project began after Morefield visited Israel in 2013 as part of a business development delegation. That visit led to the creation of the Virginia Israel Agrotech Commercialization (VIAC) Center located at Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center (CRC).

VIAC is a joint program between Virginia Tech and the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, established to bring Israeli high-tech agribusinesses in support of the agriculture industry and farmers in southwest Virginia. The program is also designed to serve as a soft landing pad in Virginia for Israeli companies entering or expanding in the U.S. with innovative agro-technology that is commercialization ready.

Project Jonah, if it goes ahead, will be implemented under this same framework as a joint project between Virginia Tech CRC and a company that operates similar aquaculture facilities in Israel and elsewhere.

VenCap Kentucky Established by KY Cabinet for Economic Development

Governor Steve Beshear unveiled a new venture capital funding program called VenCap Kentucky that will support entrepreneurs who already have a lead investor but need additional funding.

VenCap Kentucky

VenCap Kentucky (photo – kyvencap.com)

VenCap Kentucky was established by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development as part of the Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative, and it is being administered through the University of Louisville Foundation.

The statewide fund is meant to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs that have attracted a lead investor, but need additional support to allow the venture to proceed.

This generally means someone who has developed a prototype, registered a patent or otherwise protected the concept’s copyrights, and secured a lead investor, but now needs more funding to proceed with the next stage.

Using U.S. Treasury funds, VenCap Kentucky will match private investments up to a maximum limit of $500,000 per funding round. The idea is that the government investment will make the company more appealing to other potential investors.

Gov. Beshear said in a release announcing the program that private investment is a critical component of Kentucky’s strong small business ecosystem. The Governor added that VenCap Kentucky gives incentive for investors to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across the Commonwealth and invest in Kentucky’s future.

VenCap Kentucky will consider applications recommended by one of the approved sourcing partners, which includes the Kentucky Innovation Network, Nucleus and MetaCyte.

In order to be eligible, the applicant has to be a Kentucky-based small business with less than 500 employees, at least half of whom need to be Kentucky residents. The company also needs to have identified a lead investor. Startups and early- or mid-stage businesses with high growth potential that are not ready for bank loans are ideally suited to seek funding through this program.

University of Louisville President Dr. James R. Ramsey said in the release that the UofL Foundation is pleased to be a partner in this innovative new program. Dr. Ramsey added that they can help Kentucky businessmen and women cut through the red tape while pursuing the funding they need to grow their companies and Kentucky’s economy.

The VenCap Kentucky program will complement existing Kentucky economic development efforts and programs to support entrepreneurism and encourage investment in small businesses.

The Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative (KSBCI) leverages U.S. Treasury funds to encourage investments into small businesses by reducing the risk that lenders assume when making loans to creditworthy small business borrowers that fall just short of normal underwriting standards.

Other programs that similarly assist small businesses in Kentucky gain access to the capital they need include the Kentucky Angel Tax Credit, the Kentucky Angel Investors Network, the Kentucky SBIR-STTR program, and the Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit Program (KSBTC).

Massachusetts GLX Project Gets $996M Federal Grant Funding Agreement

Massachusetts’ plan to extend the MBTA Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford got a major boost with the announcement of a $996 million federal grant agreement.

MA Green Line Extension

MA Green Line Extension (photo – Pi.1415926535/wikimedia)

Governor Deval Patrick and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were joined by state, local and federal officials for the ceremony to commit the funds for the Green Line Extension (GLX) project.

GLX is a $2.3 billion project, with the Commonwealth covering the rest of the funding. The $996 million federal grant for the project will be provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts).

Work on the 4.7-mile light rail extension project began after the groundbreaking in 2012, and it is being built in four overlapping phases through 2020. It includes construction of six new stations, and purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles. They’ll also be building a new vehicle maintenance facility and a community bicycle and pedestrian path.

Once completed, trains will run every five to six minutes in the peak period, providing fast and efficient service between Boston and densely populated communities which currently lack rail transit even though 26 percent of residents in these areas do not own or have access to cars.

Gov. Patrick said in a release announcing the federal funding commitment that residents of Somerville, Cambridge and Medford will have more options for how they get to work, school and play. This, said the Governor, would lead to sustainable, smart growth in the local economies.

MassDOT Acting Secretary and CEO Frank DePaola said in the release that not only will GLX increase access to affordable, sustainable rapid transit but will also reduce traffic congestion and emissions as well.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott said that the investment in GLX will pay dividends down the line not just in expanding access to transit, but also through increased opportunities for Medford, Somerville and Cambridge economic development through the GLX MassWIN program.

MassDOT and the MBTA launched the Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now (MassWIN) GLX Program as a pilot project focused on job creation and workforce development in the communities along the GLX route.

It is designed to help build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects.

Specifically, the program is designed to identify, assess, and train residents so that they can meet the hiring requirements for local transportation and construction job opportunities created through GLX. Placing community members into career paths in these fields will help build sustainable communities by expanding the local workforce, businesses and neighborhoods.

Celator Pharmaceuticals Gets $1.94M in New Jersey Economic Development Tax Benefits

Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:CPXX) announced that it has received approximately $1,937,000 from the sale of its net operating losses for the year 2014.

Celator Pharmaceuticals

Celator Pharmaceuticals (photo – celatorpharma.com)

The company was able to do this for the sixth year in a row, having been approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to participate in the NJ Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program.

Under this program, technology and biotech companies in the state are able to sell their unused operating losses and R&D tax credits instead of carrying them forward. A company approved by the NJEDA to do this can sell their tax losses and credits to unaffiliated profitable companies for a minimum of 80 percent of the value of the tax benefits.

The NJEDA determines whether a company is eligible to do this, and the value of the tax benefits is decided by the NJ Division of Taxation. The nearly $1.94 million that Celator has received for 2014 is its largest award under this program to-date.

The company was approved to sell $2,083,000 of net operating losses for 2014, and netted approximately $1.94 million from the sale. Last year, Celator received approximately $1.4 million from the sale of its net operating losses for 2013, and used it to continue their research and development efforts.

Celator Pharmaceuticals CEO Scott Jackson said in a statement issued by the company that they are delighted the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved Celator to participate in this program.

“We are thankful for New Jersey’s strong support of the biotechnology industry,” said Jackson.

An unprofitable NJ-based company in the technology and biotechnology sectors with fewer than 225 employees (including parent company and subsidiaries) may apply to participate in the New Jersey Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program.

Approved companies may sell their losses and R&D tax credits up to a maximum lifetime benefit of $15 million per business. The proceeds must be used for growth and operations, including as working capital or to fund research.

The program thus allows promising startups and companies that are not currently in the black to turn net operating losses and R&D tax credits into working capital and research funding.

Ewing, NJ-based Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biotechnology company looking to transform combination therapy in oncology and develop products to improve outcomes for both patients and providers. Formulation and preclinical data packages for three novel drug combinations that make use of Celator’s proprietary platform technology are expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter this year.

Ipsos Survey From Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Shows Creativity Gap in US Workplace

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently commissioned a follow-up survey on the creativity gap in the U.S. workplace.

Creativity

Creativity (photo – Sean MacEntee/flickr)

The creativity gap, in this reference, is the disparity between the creative resources available and those being employed.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, offers an interesting comparison against a similar earlier survey conducted in 2007 and shows how the creativity gap in the U.S. workplace seems to be growing.

The latest survey shows that while 73 percent of American workers believe they are instinctively creative, only 42 percent actually claim their positions as being creative. A comparable 43 percent said the same about the company they work for.

This creativity gap is much wider now than in the 2007 survey in which 88 percent of respondents considered themselves creative, while 61 percent said they worked for a creative company or held a creative position (63 percent).

The first survey was conducted by telephone, while the new one collected responses online. But both were conducted during the same period of the year by Ipsos Public Affairs.

In a statement announcing the survey results, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., said that it is evident that the general sense of creativity seems to have suffered a bit in recent years as the economic landscape of the country has become less certain.

Gordon added that there was also a positive in the survey data in that young motivated workers still value creativity and are willing to move for jobs and employers that can provide it.

Among all survey respondents, only 32 percent said they would be willing to change to live in a creative community and 27 percent said they would be open to changing jobs to be more creative.

The percentage of younger workers who say they’d change jobs for a more creative environment is much higher at 39 percent. As age increases, the likelihood of wanting to make this move decreases. The other most likely set of respondents (33 percent) willing to switch jobs for a more creative economy are those making less than $50,000 a year.

Matthew Cronin, associate professor of management at George Mason University, said in the FCEDA release that the data shows that people are unhappy with the decrease in their ability to be creative in the workplace. Cronin added that the takeaway for employers here is that letting people be creative is an incentive.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County, VA as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, along with connections to state and county government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County.

Gov. Snyder Signs Bills Encouraging Detroit Economic Development and Job Creation

Governor Rick Snyder signed a slew of bills that includes legislation that will encourage Detroit economic development and job creation.

NMDC

NMDC (photo – michigan.gov)

The bills (SB 398 and HB 4783) allow the Michigan Strategic Fund Board to establish another Next Michigan Development Corporation zone for the City of Detroit.

Michigan already has five such NMDCs, and a sixth one for the Upper Peninsula has been approved through legislation passed in 2013. The creation of these NMDCs was originally authorized under the Next Michigan Development Act in 2010 to foster economic opportunities in the state.

Each NMDC that is created is authorized to grant economic development incentives to both new businesses as well as expanding businesses already located within the region it covers.

The NMDCs are strategically located industrial zones that support the development of businesses engaged in, relying on or supporting multimodal commerce. The NMDCs are able to deploy various tax-break statutes to promote logistics-related businesses around transportation centers. Businesses located in an NMDC may be eligible for property tax abatements and possibly also renaissance zone reductions of state and local taxes.

The five original NMDCs include:-

- Northern Nexus NMDC located within the Northwest Region of Michigan;

- I-69 International Trade Corridor NMDC located in the East Central Region of Michigan;

- Port Lansing NMDC located within the Central Region of Michigan;

- VantagePort NMDC located within Southeast Michigan; and

- West Michigan Economic Partnership NMDC located within the West Central Region of Michigan.

Both the Detroit and Upper Peninsula NMDC bills were sponsored by State Sen. Tom Casperson and State Rep. John Kivela.

In a statement issued after the bill signing, Gov. Snyder said that creating opportunities for additional economic development and investment helps continue Michigan’s growth and comeback.

“Adding a Next Michigan Development Corp. in Detroit will help create jobs and opportunities in the city as it moves forward,” said Gov. Snyder.

Apart from the bills that will allow the MSF to create the City of Detroit NMDC, the Governor also signed nine other bills, including House Bills 4481 and 4482. These bills, sponsored by State Representatives Harvey Santana and Frank Foster, respectively, are part of the legislation for updating the requirements for using of the 21st Century Jobs Fund.

The overall legislative package these bills are a part of is aimed at ensuring continued funding for Michigan economic development efforts including Pure Michigan ad campaigns, business development, job training and community revitalization programs.

SD Governor’s Office of Economic Development Partners With EPSCoR on IT Academy

The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Board of Regents are partnering with the state’s EPSCoR program to sponsor an IT Academy in the spring and summer to develop high-demand computer programming and IT skills.

SD EPSCoR IT Academy

SD EPSCoR IT Academy (photo – sdepscor.org)

EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is a program established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to assist states in establishing a self-sustaining academic research enterprise capable of contributing to the state’s economic development.

Including South Dakota, there are now 31 states and territories (Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) which have their own EPSCoR programs.

SD EPSCoR is focused on strengthening STEM education and research to increase science literacy and promote science-based South Dakota economic development.

Their partnership with GOED and the South Dakota Board of Regents public universities has enabled the creation of the Information Technology Consultant Academy offering four undergraduate courses and an internship to provide participants with a unique credential while entering an IT profession.

The spring term will include a course on introductory computer programming, followed by four computer science courses during the summer through which students will gain in-depth knowledge and skills in professional areas including software engineering and database management.

The courses will be offered online and taught by partnering institutions’ faculty. Students who successfully complete the undergraduate certificate program will be eligible to apply for a paid internship. The SD EPSCoR program provides South Dakota companies $2,000 in matching funds for providing the internship opportunities to students.

All credits earned by participants during the summer training courses count towards their degree program, putting students on track towards graduation and ready to join the workforce.

In a statement announcing the State’s partnership with the EPSCoR program to sponsor the IT Academy, Governor Dennis Daugaard said that it’s no secret that the state has been experiencing workforce shortages in a number of fields, including IT.

Gov. Daugaard added that the Academy will help them address the shortage of IT professionals by giving South Dakotans new opportunities for attaining IT skills at a substantially reduced rate. The Governor added that the IT Academy training program will save students almost $4,000 in tuition and fees.

South Dakota has received tens of millions of dollars for STEM education, research and economic development through competitive capacity building grants from the EPSCoR programs of the NSF, NASA, NIH, DOE, and USDA.

New NC Film and Entertainment Grant Keeps Focus on Economic Development

North Carolina’s 25 percent tax credit program for film and television productions has now expired. Its replacement is an annual grant program capped at $10 million.

NC Film Grant guidelines

NC Film Grant guidelines (photo – ncfilm.com)

The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund was created through legislation (S 744), with an allocation of $10 million under the state’s FY 2014-15 budget. The law allows for the grant program to be similarly funded for the next few years. It will be administered by the NC Department of Commerce.

Financial assistance to film and television productions in North Carolina will now be in the form of grant awards of up to 25 percent for qualifying expenses incurred by a production in the state.

The North Carolina Film Office, which is now a part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, will serve as a liaison between potential applicants and the NC Department of Commerce.

Apart from the usual application process, location and investment eligibility criteria for feature-length films, television or video series and commercials, the new Grant Fund also gives the NC Dept of Commerce considerable latitude in determining which productions should be awarded grants.

The proposed guidelines (goes into effect starting Jan 26, 2015) make it clear that the reduced amount now available for film and television production incentives will be awarded based on economic impact, same as other North Carolina economic development grants and incentive programs.

The criteria that will be taken into account when the NC Dept of Commerce reviews applications includes:-

-  The percentage of individuals estimated to work on the production who may be North Carolina residents;

- Whether the production features identifiable attractions or State locales that could induce tourism by out-of-state visitors to said attractions and locales;

- Whether the production invests in permanent improvements to public spaces, traditional downtown areas, public landmarks, residential areas and commercial districts, etc;

- Whether the production takes place in an economically distressed county or area of the State;

- The total qualifying in-state expenses, duration of the production, and whether the production company has an existing presence in North Carolina.

Focus on economic development aside, the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant Fund is actually going to be a bit of a let-down for the state’s entertainment industry. In 2013, the state handed out $61.2 million in film and television tax credits under the uncapped 25 percent rebate program. In 2012, it was $83 million.

Cutting that down to $10 million a year is going to make it harder for North Carolina to attract productions, especially since other states including California and New York have recently strengthened their incentive programs through legislation.

DC Mayor – Streetcar Will be a Welcomed Economic Engine

Vincent C. Gray, outgoing Mayor of the District of Columbia, issued a statement about the impending launch of the DC Streetcar system.

DC Streetcar

DC Streetcar (photo – DearEdward/flickr)

The initial phase of the DC Streetcar system is comprised of 2.4 miles of track to carry passengers on H Street and Benning Road. It was supposed to open before the end of the year, but has been pushed forward to later this month.

In the statement, Mayor Gray said that “We know that DC Streetcar will be a welcomed economic engine that will result in new services and amenities for the community and I am confident the benefits of DC Streetcars will be realized in the very near future.”

Streetcars first began rolling in Washington, D.C. back in 1862 and were common for a century until the system was dismantled in 1962. In 2002, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) undertook studies to consider the feasibility of constructing a modern Streetcar network covering all eight wards.

It was at first a part of a $12 billion Metro project covering the whole D.C. metropolitan area, but has since been scaled down to a DC project with 37 miles of track across eight lines to serve all eight wards. The first phase, meant to be a demonstration and testing project, is almost ready to open and covers 2.4 miles of track located specifically to help revitalize blighted commercial corridors.

If the DC government and DDOT manage to expand the transit project to provide Streetcar service to all eight wards, the economic development benefits could be huge. This according to a land use study commissioned by the DC Office of Planning, which considered the impact of the 37-mile network on development and tax revenue.

Once the Streetcar system is fully operational citywide, the impact study says that the number of DC residents within a quarter mile of a rail stop would increase from 16 to 50 percent, leading to a property value appreciation along the tracks of up to $7 billion. New developments would additionally add up to $8 billion, adding up to a total property value rise of up to $15 billion.

The City would directly benefit through up to $291 million in new annual tax revenue. The Streetcar system would attract some 1.3 million square feet of new retail development over a 10-year period, along with up to 7,700 new jobs.

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