Economic Development

North Carolina Kicks Off 1000 in 100 Workforce Development Initiative

Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker kicked off the statewide 1000 in 100 workforce development initiative with a listening tour in which they visited employers in different cities.

1000 in 100 NCWorks tour - Gov. Pat McCrory and NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at Epes Transportation in Greensboro, NC

Gov. Pat McCrory and NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at Epes Transportation in Greensboro for 1000 in 100 NCWorks tour

The initiative, announced as a part of the new NCWorks program, called for local workforce development teams across the state to visit 1,000 businesses throughout the state’s 100 counties during the last 100 days of this year to seek input from employers about their workforce needs.

NCWorks itself was launched earlier this year as a program that consolidates all of North Carolina’s workforce development efforts under one roof.

The 1000 in 100 initiative started off in Cary, NC with Gov. McCrory and Secretary Decker visiting DB Global Technology Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. DB Global Technology expanded its software development center in Wake County last year and announced plans to add 431 new jobs.

Company officials talked to the Governor and Sec. Decker and outlined their concerns about finding, hiring and retaining skilled workers.

State officials, accompanied by North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls, continued the listening tour to Charlotte to speak with company executives from Cummins/Atlantic, Novant Healthcare and HAWEUSA.

After that, the tour continued to Greensboro, where they spoke with executives from Epes Transportation, the state’s largest privately-owned transportation firm. Epes already works closely with Guilford Technical Community College for finding and hiring employees.

Epes also has an apprenticeship program for veterans taking truck driving training through a special arrangement with Fayetteville Technical Community College that conveniently allows the training to be completed at Fort Bragg.

Individual counties and local governments across North Carolina are arranging their own listening tours as part of the 1000 in 100 initiative. For example, teams of workforce development partners from Brunswick County will be visiting local businesses starting Oct 1.

The Brunswick County effort is being co-chaired by Cape Fear Workforce Development Director Margie Parker and by Velva Jenkins, vice president of Continuing Education, Economic and Workforce Development at Brunswick Community College.

The team undertaking the effort includes representatives from the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, three local chambers, and the Small Business Center, among others.

Similarly, Town of Harrisburg Economic Development Director Anna Lu Wilson is coordinating the 1000 in 100 outreach efforts to contact businesses in Harrisburg.

The information gathered from all such efforts across the state will be combined with other research to develop recommendations for changes to improve North Carolina’s workforce development system.

Texas Community Economic Development Award Goes to Round Rock Chamber

The Texas Economic Development Council has named the Round Rock Chamber as a winner of the Community Economic Development Award (CEDA) in the category of cities with populations above 100,000.

This award from the TEDC is meant to recognize exceptional economic development contributions by Texas communities.

The Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Partnership was named as the CEDA winner in the category of cities with populations between 100,001 and 250,000.

Round Rock won the award for recruiting Thermasol, which develops and manufactures steam showers and saunas used in homes, hotels, spas and resorts. The company is relocating its headquarters from Simi Valley, CA to the City of Round Rock.

Thermasol has acquired 27 acres of land in the city in a business park that will house their new global headquarters. The company is about to break ground on the first of six planned buildings, each between 30,000 to 50,000 square feet, to be constructed in the business park.

Thermasol will be investing $3.5 million into the project, and plans to bring 45 new jobs to Round Rock as a start, and possibly increase the number of jobs to 60. The company is receiving $400,000 in Round Rock economic development incentives.

Ben White, the Round Rock Chamber’s vice president for economic development, said in a release that the community will really benefit from having a world-class business such as Thermasol. White added that having true shovel-ready sites to offer to other companies is an amazing bonus that will really open the door to further development and announcements.

The Texas Economic Development Council received submissions from 23 member communities across five population categories, all seeking to be named as the CEDA winners.

The submitted projects are judged based on five criteria including community commitment and leverage, innovativeness, measured objectives, transferability, and ancillary benefits to the community.

The CEDA winners for all five population categories will receive their awards at an awards luncheon on Oct 2 during the TEDC Annual Conference in Houston (Oct 1-3, 2014).

Apart from the luncheon, the conference at the Omni Houston Hotel also includes general and breakout sessions on numerous economic development trends and topic of interest, in addition to two peer group roundtables and two networking receptions. The conference theme this year is “Attracting, Retaining and Training Talent: Workforce Development for Economic Success.”

The TEDC Annual Conference is recognized by the International Economic Development Council and counts as professional development training for Certified Economic Developers (CEcD) recertification.

Los Angeles Economic Development Corp Layoff Aversion Program Helped Retain 5054 Jobs

Layoff Aversion work performed by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation for the LA City Workforce Investment Board in fiscal year 2014 resulted in the retention of 5,054 jobs, of which 96 percent were manufacturing jobs.

LAEDC Layoff Aversion Program impact analysis

LAEDC Layoff Aversion Program impact analysis (photo –

This according to a report released by the LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics, which looked at the performance of the LAEDC and the Valley Economic Alliance which undertook this work over two separate contract periods for the past year.

The report states that a wide range of services under the program, including layoff aversion workshops and in-person consultations, helped retain 4,915 jobs for at-risk businesses in the City of Los Angeles. Another 139 were saved due to ancillary activities, adding up to a total of 5,054 jobs saved.

The total contract amount for both contract periods provided by the LA City WIB added up to $609,160. This pegs the cost per job saved at $124 purely due to the layoff aversion program efforts, or $121 per job if you factor in the total jobs saved including through the LAEDC Business Assistance Program.

Either way, the program performance is much higher than the federal minimum of public benefit required for economic development funding as defined by HUD. Specifically, the retention rate is 290 times the HUD minimum of creation or retention of at least one full-time equivalent permanent job for every $35,000 of funds provided.

The indirect and induced jobs saved as a result, along with the labor income, output produced and the tax revenues of these jobs and businesses that were saved is considerable. The 5,054 jobs saved resulted in the retention of another 6,832 indirect and induced jobs.

The total labor income saved adds up to $690.5 million, including $296.7 million for the 5,054 jobs saved by the program, and another $393.8 million in labor income for the indirect and induced jobs.

The total output of the at-risk businesses saved plus the indirect and induced output was pegged at over $2.34 billion. The total tax revenues saved added up to $209.2 million, including $70.3 million in local and state taxes, and another $139 million in federal taxes.

Read the full Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp Layoff Aversion Program impact report – Download (pdf)

Rhode Island gets Federal Grants Supporting Tech Incubator and Defense Manufacturers

Rhode Island is getting two federal grants totaling nearly $3.3 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Department of Defense.

Newport TechWorks Innovation Center in Newport, RI

Newport TechWorks Innovation Center in Newport, RI (photo –

The EDA awarded nearly $1.7 million as a grant to the Newport County Development Council in Newport, RI in support of the establishment of a technology business incubator and accelerator.

The Newport TechWorks Innovation Center will foster startups, and is expected to create 108 jobs.

The EDA investment will be matched by an equal amount provided for the project from the City of Newport Urban Development Action Grant.

The incubator will be housed in the building that formerly housed the Sheffield public school. The 33,600-square-foot space is being redeveloped and repurposed to accommodate the incubator.

The facility is being redeveloped as a green building that will meet LEED certification standards. The incubator will also serve defense, environmental, climate change, marine and digital industry clusters and entrepreneurs.

The City of Newport is developing this incubator project with assistance from the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and the Newport County Chamber of Commerce.

The second federal grant announcement for Rhode Island is a $1.575 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment for developing a model to expand the state’s defense manufacturing base.

Rhode Island economic development organization Commerce RI prepared and submitted the proposal to the OEA, and Commerce RI will administer the grant and provide nearly $179,000 in in-kind contributions as part of its proposal.

The OEA grant, meant to support diversification by defense manufacturers impacted by federal spending cutbacks, is being looked at as an initial step in the creation of a center for industrial design and manufacturing called STEAMengine.

STEAM here refers to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The STEAMengine plan was originally developed by the state as part of its bid to be designated as a manufacturing community under the Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership (IMCP) initiative.

The effort looks like it might bear fruit now with the help of the DoD grant. The program will start as a pilot focused on Rhode Island’s defense industry. The plan now is to use the DoD grant to develop a prototype of how the STEAMengine model could work for supporting manufacturers across industries in Rhode Island develop and commercialize new products.

The implementation of the pilot program using the DoD grant will be done as a public-private partnership involving various partners including colleges, universities and trade associations.

Initial partners the State has identified to take part in the project include the Rhode Island Manufacturer’s Association, Tech Collective, Southern New England Defense Industry Alliance, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Colorado Gets $6.6M DOD Grant to Grow Advanced Manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Defense has approved a $6.6 million grant application from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade seeking “Economic Adjustment Assistance.”

Colorado advanced manufacturing

Colorado advanced manufacturing

The announcement was made by Governor John Hickenlooper during his address to attendees at Denver Startup Week.

The DoD program was created to offset the impact of lower federal spending on local economies.

The $6.6 million in the form of a two-year grant, issued through a competitive grant process by the DoD Office of Economic Adjustment, will be used to promote public-private partnerships for sustaining Colorado’s economy to offset the impact of federal budget cuts that affect contractors.

The Colorado Economic Development Office’s application for this grant cited the need to create a public-private partnership to strengthen advanced manufacturing by supporting acceleration of technology and research.

This public-private partnership, called SMART Colorado, includes OEDIT, military installations and federal labs, community colleges, research institutions and the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance.

SMART Colorado was created as part of Colorado’s bid to be designated as a manufacturing community under the federal Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative.

As a start, four centers of innovation will be established in the first phase of SMART Colorado. These centers will be located along the corridor from Fort Collins through the Front Range to Pueblo.

The centers will provide technical assistance, mentoring and the equipment required by early stage startups and proof of concept businesses in the advanced manufacturing sector.

OEDIT Executive Director Ken Lund said in a release that they are grateful to local, state and federal partners for their support of this application and continued support of the state’s advanced industries strategies for economic growth.

U.S. Senators for Colorado Michael Bennet and Mark Udall issued a joint statement heralding the $6.6 million competitive grant.

Sen. Bennet said that in light of the sequester and defense spending reductions, this funding will help create opportunities for businesses to continue expanding into other markets and keep jobs in Colorado.

The two senators and other members of the Colorado congressional delegation had written to the DoD last month expressing their support of the OEDIT’s application for the grant.

They write in the letter that the assistance provided through this grant will provide an opportunity for strengthening Colorado’s code defense industry while driving opportunities to expand supply chain access to advanced manufacturing, aerospace and related industries.

New Jersey Economic Development Authority Brings Together Startup Founders and Funders

In an effort to spur the growth of early stage technology and life sciences companies, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority held an event at which 30 startups were introduced to 15 prospective funders.

NJ Founders & Funders event

NJ Founders & Funders event (photo –

The Founders & Funders event at the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) in North Brunswick, NJ was the second in a series of such events which the NJEDA plans to continue holding every quarter to support TLS startups.

The events offer participating startup founders a chance to connect with angel investors and venture capitalists, with the pairing based on the company profile and investment thesis. Startups are given one-on-one face time with investors to discuss funding and collect feedback on the business model, technology and commercialization plan.

The first event held in June resulted in 190 or so meetings between investors and startups who were introduced to each other at the event.

The participating investors at the second event in North Brunswick included NextStage Capital, Osage Venture Partners, ff Venture Capital, NewSpring Capital, and Milestone Ventures, among others.

The startups who attended included Hulafrog, which has launched a website for connecting parents to events and deals related to their kids that are available in their own community.

Another one of the participating startups was East Windsor-based Bridge-x Technologies, which helps companies in the digital transformation of their B2B commerce operations.

Life sciences companies that attended included VESAG Health and Epi-Gen Pharmaceuticals. High-tech startups at the event included Montclair-based Pendo Systems and Warren-based Chromis Fiberoptics.

These are all startups working on innovative technologies and doing cutting-edge research. VESAG Health combines technology and life sciences by developing technology-based tools that allow people to live healthier and safer. Epi-Gen is doing R&D on innovative drugs for as-yet unmet medical needs.

Pendo Systems is a provider of the infrastructure needed by global financial services companies, and Chromis Fiberoptics makes innovative polymer optical fibers that cost less and perform more efficiently.

The next Founders & Funders event is scheduled to be held on Dec 09, 2014, also at the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technology in North Brunswick, NJ. More details here.

New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Michele Brown said in a release that as part of the EDA’s commitment to growing the state’s technology industry, the Founders & Funders event connected early-stage startups with established investors, providing access to funding and expertise needed for helping these businesses flourish.

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.

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