Economic Development

West Plains, Missouri OzSBI Incubator Gets U.S. Economic Development Administration Grant

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded Downtown West Plains, Inc. a $672,870 grant for an expansion of the Ozark Small Business Incubator (OzSBI).


OzSBI (photo –

The EDA investment will help the incubator expand its service offerings, and support regional economic development efforts aimed at revitalizing the seven-county area served by OzSBI and providing more job opportunities.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in a release announcing the grant that providing opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish in distressed communities is core to EDA’s mission and values.

Assistant Secretary Williams added that this EDA grant will expand critical assistance for local entrepreneurs as they work to launch new businesses and create jobs in the Ozark region.

Apart from the regional impact of enhanced OzSBI services, the EDA investment also supports West Plains economic development since the OzSBI is housed in the former Butler Furniture Building. This is a historic structure that is more than a century old and is located in the historical district in Downtown West Plains.

The EDA grant enables the building’s historic preservation by rehabilitating and renovating the existing space to accommodate the expansion of OzSBI’s programs and services.

EDA’s investment furthermore leverages available local funding, because the grantee already has other local partners committed to supporting this project. This includes financial support from banks, and a partnership from Missouri State University-West Plains.

The renovation includes 9,200 square feet on the building’s second floor and building upgrades that will combine to create more usable spaces for offices, break rooms and conference space. The project also includes fiber layout to provide more reliable IT services to the incubator’s clients.

The Ozark Small Business Incubator was launched in Jan 2012 after a long process that began in 2005. Back in April 2005, the SBA named the West Plains area as the top new business creator in Missouri. Downtown West Plains, Inc. immediately established a committee to look into the feasibility of an incubator that could help these new businesses and entrepreneurs be successful and grow their business.

OzSBI now provides startups and entrepreneurs not just mentorship and office space, but also assistance with business training and development, and with marketing and promotion counseling. Not to mention networking opportunities that can help start and grow a business, and access to capital up to $25,000. This is from a revolving loan fund, and the funding can be used as a secondary loan or gap financing to supplement start-up capital or a bank loan.

Minnesota Jobs Bill Seeks $842M For Economic Development and Infrastructure Projects

Governor Mark Dayton has introduced a Jobs Bill that seeks $842 million to invest in economic development and infrastructure projects across Minnesota.

Minnesota Jobs Bill

Minnesota Jobs Bill (data –

The Jobs Bill addresses critically important infrastructure needs that have been delayed for years, and provides funding for projects that are estimated to create a total of more than 23,900 jobs.

“I ask the Legislature to join me in working to pass a Jobs Bill this session to boost Minnesota’s economy and address our state’s most crucial infrastructure needs,” said Gov. Dayton in a release announcing the Jobs Bill.

The bill ensures a statewide impact with 38 percent of the funding for projects in the Twin Cities area, and 43 percent in Greater Minnesota. The remaining 19 percent is set aside for statewide programs.

State agencies will get $676 million of it, and $166 million will go to local governments. The $842 million in bond funding and additional federal funds, local government matches and other state funding will add up into a total of $1.2 billion in investments into these projects.

Economic development gets a $169 million allocation in the Jobs Bill, out of the total of $842 million. This includes $50 million for statewide housing needs and another $48 million is provided to complete the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Project in Minnesota.

The Jobs Bill includes $12 million for Minnesota economic development incentive programs specifically designed to help businesses expand in Minnesota. Another $27 million is provided for other local and regional economic development projects statewide.

Apart from the Lewis & Clark Water System that will deliver water to more than 20,000 Minnesotans, the bill also seeks $10 million for navigation and other port improvements at the ports of Duluth, Red Wing, St. Paul, and Winona.

The Governor recommends $2 million for grants to Greater Minnesota cities to assist with public infrastructure projects necessary to support economic development. The Jobs Bill seeks $10 million for the Minnesota Transportation Economic Development (TED) program.

TED grants can provide up to 70 percent of the transportation and public infrastructure costs associated with economic development projects. The program is a joint effort by the Minnesota Department of Economic Development (DEED) and the Department of Transportation.

The Jobs Bill also recommends that higher education programs should get $200 million and E-12 education another $11 million. Environmental protection is allocated $99 million. Parks and historical sites will get $124 million, while rail safety improvement projects are provided $79 million. The Corrections Dept gets $97 million, and Veterans Affairs $16 million.

Starbucks to Spend $250M to Help 25,000 Employees Graduate

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) announced that it is now offering 100 percent tuition coverage for every eligible part-time and full-time employee of the company.

Starbucks ASU

Starbucks ASU (photo –

The company says it will invest $250 million to help at least 25,000 Starbucks partners (employees) graduate by 2025.

The four-year college education, offered through Arizona State University’s online degree program, will be provided under the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Students have a choice of 49 online degree programs, with Starbucks paying 100 percent of their tuition fees.

This option was previously available only to a certain category of the company’s employees, but is now being offered to 140,000 full-time and part-time Starbucks employees.

ASU President Michael Crow said in a release announcing the initiative that the College Achievement Plan has been a powerful demonstration of what is possible when an enlightened and innovative corporation joins forces with a forward-thinking research university.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the release that partnerships like this show how innovative strategies can expand access to college for thousands of students.

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, said that by giving their partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, Starbucks is providing them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity.

A typical bachelor’s degree holder will earn 66 percent more than a high-school graduate over a 40-year career. Apart from helping themselves, educated and employed individuals also have a positive impact on the economy.

One unemployed 18-24-year-old costs more than $4,100 a year in tax revenue and benefits to the federal and state governments. A college education also promotes civic and community involvement, and individuals with bachelor’s degrees are twice as likely to volunteer as high school graduates.

Starbucks is also hoping that this opportunity to get a free college education will provide a push to the company’s Opportunity Youth hiring program. Over the next three years, Starbucks has committed to hiring 10,000 of the six million or so disconnected youth in the 16-24 age group who are neither in school nor working.

By providing both employment and access to higher education, Starbucks is hoping to bring this huge, untapped talent pool into the workforce and make it available for all businesses. Starbucks is not seeking any commitments from employees to continue working after they graduate.

Nearly 2,000 Starbucks partners have already been enrolled into ASU Online through the College Achievement Plan.

Former GM Assembly Plant in Metro Atlanta to Become Third Rail Studios

The Integral Group and Capstone South Properties announced that they are redeveloping the former General Motors Plant in Doraville, GA into a state of the art film and studio complex.

Third Rail Studios

Third Rail Studios (photo –

Georgia’s newest production studio will be named Third Rail Studios, paying homage to the three rail lines that served the GM automotive assembly plant at the site.

The development plans will preserve and integrate the rail lines into the project, similar to NYC’s Highline Park project.

The 270,000-square-foot media complex looks certain to provide a big boost for Metro Atlanta economic development and Georgia’s film industry as the first studio of its magnitude north of Atlanta inside the I-285 Perimeter.

The site is located just two miles from Peachtree-DeKalb Airport and 25 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Midtown Atlanta is 12 miles away, and the Doraville MARTA station is across the street.

Christopher Martorella, Integral’s president of Commercial Real Estate, said in a release announcing the project that the studios are just the beginning, and added that they expect this initial phase to be a catalyst for the formation of a broader community of innovation.

The studios will be located in the Yards District part of the GM site, and is being designed as a unique destination that combines dining, entertainment, parks, art, retail, makers and other businesses.

They’re naming the entire GM site as ASSEMBLY, Doraville, USA. With a full buildout of over 10 million square feet of mixed-use development and an economic impact exceeding $3 billion, they expect ASSEMBLY to be a game changer for Atlanta.

Michael Hahn, president of Capstone South Properties, said that this is a story of remarkable transformation as the Yards District establishes itself as a true creative community for artists, film and television production companies, musicians, chefs and others.

Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Division, noted that as a result of the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, production companies last year spent close to $1.4 billion in Georgia, in the process generating a total state economic impact of $5.1 billion.

Commissioner Thomas said in the release that Georgia’s film industry is at an all-time high, so they are thrilled at The Integral Group’s plans for Third Rail Studios, adding that dedicated soundstages and the film tax credit are essential elements for Georgia’s continued success in the film business.

The former GM Assembly site is a designated Opportunity Zone, which means that businesses located on the site will receive an annual $3,500 tax credit for five years for each new job created.

Third Rail Studios is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter this year after the first phase of construction that includes an adaptive reuse of an existing 130,000-square-foot building to accommodate 60,000 square feet of sound stages and 20,000 square feet of production support , in addition to mill shops, related vendor spaces and administrative offices.

Nevada Senate Approves Economic Development Bill Imposing Performance Requirements on Tax Abatements

The Nevada Senate has approved legislation that seeks to impose additional performance requirements on tax abatements provided by the State for economic development purposes.

Nevada State Capitol

Nevada State Capitol (photo – Amadscientist/wikimedia)

The bill (SB 74) is one of a slew of Nevada economic development incentive changes currently under consideration in the Legislature.

The Senate is due to vote on multiple pieces of legislation enhancing incentives for specific industries such as data centers and the aviation and drone industries.

The NV Senate did approve SB 74 on a 20-0 vote. The bill requires that applicants seeking tax abatements from the state should create ‘primary jobs’ and provide an estimate of the total number of new employees the applicant anticipates hiring in Nevada over a two-year period.

The economic development agreement will likewise require that the applicant meet job creation targets over a two-year period, instead of the current one-year period.

The bill also takes a stricter view of the wage level required, with only the wages paid to new employees to be considered when determining whether an applicant meets the requirement that the average hourly wage exceeds the required amount.

This particular provision will make it harder for projects to qualify for tax abatements, since the law currently allows the State to factor in the applicant’s existing jobs in Nevada while calculating the average hourly wage paid to employees.

The bill limits the amount of partial abatement available if the average hourly wage paid to employees is lower than a designated percentage of the state or county average hourly wage, and prohibits the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) from approving certain partial abatements if the wages paid by the applicant to new employees are lower than the designated percentage.

SB 74 now goes to the Nevada Assembly and will then need to be signed by the Governor in order to become law.

The Nevada Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development has also approved other bills such as SB 93 and SB 170 which are yet to be approved by the full Senate.

SB 93 authorizes those who own, operate, manufacture, service, maintain, test, repair, overhaul or assemble an aircraft or any component of an aircraft to apply for tax abatements. This bill is aimed at promoting Nevada’s aircraft and drone industries.

SB 170, a bill which the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development has asked the State Legislature to pass, provides the framework for incentives for new and expanding data center projects. The bill not only approves abatement of property taxes and local sales and use taxes, but also a partial abatement of taxes for certain qualified businesses that colocate with a data center.

The bill makes it easier for data center projects to qualify for tax incentives, with a 75 percent tax abatement for 20 years available for projects investing $100 million and creating 50 jobs, or $50 million and 25 jobs for a 10-year abatement. Current law requires projects to invest $250 million and create 100 jobs to qualify for a 20-year tax abatement.

Both these bills, if approved and passed into law, are expected to have a huge impact and lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in Nevada.

Wayne County, MI Approves Brownfield Cleanup Plan for Gibraltar Steel Plant

Ferragon Corp’s proposed $53 million steel plant project in the City of Gibraltar, MI passed a major hurdle with the Wayne County Commission approving a Brownfield cleanup plan for the site.

Wayne County, MI brownfield plan

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Ferrous CAL Co., a subsidiary of Cleveland, OH-based Ferragon Corp, has already purchased the 42.34 acre former McLouth Steel plant site in Gibraltar, and intends to produce steel for automotive companies.

The company is planning to invest more than $53 million on the project, and expects to create at least 100 jobs at the facility. There are already 15 existing employees who still take care of the site, and Ferrous CAL Co intends to hire them too.

The investment includes a significant amount that will be spent on environmental activities, asbestos and hazardous materials removal and interior demolition.

The plant location close to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the Detroit River, marshes and other wetlands makes environmental issues especially sensitive. The Frank and Poet Drain flows onto the property.

There have already been major cleanups in the area, including at the federally owned refuge, that have been undertaken jointly by the government and industry.

The site in question was operated as a steel plant by McLouth Steel from 1954-75. In 1995, the mill occupants went into bankruptcy and operations were entirely terminated. The mill remained vacant until 2000 when Detroit Cold Rolling began operations.They operated the mill for three years until 2003, at which time the mill operations were once again halted.

The site has been unused and mostly vacant since then, and a subsurface investigation in May 2006 found the soil and groundwater to be contaminated.

The Wayne County Economic Development Department has been working with Ferrous CAL on the project and cleanup plan. The brownfield plan has already been approved by the Gibraltar City Council, Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and the Wayne County Commission’s Committee on Economic Development.

Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Palamar said in a release announcing their approval of the Brownfield plan that this is a terrific reuse of an inactive steel plant, and the jobs are most certainly welcome.

Brownfield plans provide economic development incentives specifically targeting projects that require cleanup of contaminated properties and subsequent reuse to promote economic growth.

In this case, full approval by the Wayne County Commission enables Ferrous CAL to be eligible for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reimbursement of $9,902,502 in environmental cleanup costs on the site, the 600,000-square-foot industrial building and other structures on the site. This figure includes $509,165 for site preparation and infrastructure improvement activities.

Racine Gets $1M Wisconsin Economic Development Grant For Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has awarded a $1 million grant to the City of Racine, WI under the Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment Program.

Racine, WI gets grant for Machinery Row project

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This particular grant will assist in the redevelopment of two large and historic industrial buildings in Racine’s Machinery Row district on Water Street, along the Root River.

The transformational $65 million Racine economic development project will convert 720,000 square feet of idle industrial property on 20 acres of what was the former J.I. Case property into a mixed-used development that includes commercial, retail and residential space.

Apart from revitalizing the city’s lakefront, the project is also expected to create 100 jobs in the first phase and a total of more than 500 jobs by the time the redevelopment is complete.

WEDC Secretary and CEO Reed Hall said in a release announcing the grant that this redevelopment has the potential to transform what is now a neglected area into a place where people can live, work, shop and dine along the scenic riverfront.

Hall added that this is one of the most significant economic development projects in Racine’s history, and WEDC is pleased to be able to provide support for this ambitious initiative.

Jennifer Kakert, CFO of Financial District Properties Machinery Row, the developers who is working with the City on the redevelopment project, said they are grateful to WEDC and Governor Walker for awarding the City of Racine with these funds.

Kakert added that the state funding is yet another step forward in their goal to create a catalytic project that will provide the people of Racine a lasting economic impact.

Jim Bowman, the company’s development director, noted in the release that without this state assistance, the costs to address existing environmental issues would prohibit their ability to attract the necessary capital to complete this very complex redevelopment project.

Apart from the $1 million grant under the Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment Program, WEDC is additionally supporting the Machinery Row project through $9 million in Historic Preservation Tax Credits. The two buildings being redeveloped are more than 100 years old.

The plans call for one 440,000-square-foot building to be redeveloped into 165 market-rate apartments, along with supportive commercial enterprises. The other building will offer 280,000 square feet of mixed use development, including an urban grocery store with a farmers market and a recreation facility.

The City of Racine, for its part, is supporting the project by spending another $7 million for the project’s infrastructure needs.

Delaware Launches International Economic Development Website and Export Plan

Delaware is launching a new export initiative and a new website for international economic development that will support export efforts and promote foreign direct investment in Delaware.

Global Delaware

Global Delaware (photo –

Governor Jack Markell announced details about the export initiative and website during a keynote address at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Spring Legislative Brunch and Manufacturing Conference.

The initiative, named the Strategic Export Plan for the State, is based on a study conducted by the DE Division of Corporate and International Development (DCID) to determine global locations where Delaware companies can have the most success overseas.

The study identified Canada, Mexico, Germany and South Korea as the key countries with the most buying potential for the products and services that Delaware has to offer. The State has planned trade missions to each of these countries over the next 18 months to give Delaware businesses a chance to see the market. Participants will gain access to foreign buyers and distributors, including through one-on-one matchmaking business meetings.

As part of the initiative, the State is providing a comprehensive suite of services including export counseling, market studies, and financial assistance through grants for eligible export expenses.

During the keynote address, Gov. Markell also unveiled the Global Delaware economic development website, an online platform for promoting Delaware as a business destination in international markets.

The website is organized into three DCID focus areas – invest, expand and incorporate. The invest section pitches Delaware as an ideal location for foreign companies looking to invest and establish new facilities in the United States.

The expand section provides Delaware businesses with information, links and resources to get started with export activities. The incorporate section takes you straight to the State of Delaware’s corporate law website.

In a release announcing the launch of the Global Delaware online platform, Gov. Markell said that companies involved in global trade are 20 percent more efficient, and do 25 percent more business than those who don’t.

“We should do all we can to ensure that Delaware companies get their fair share – or more – of the business opportunities available to them around the world,” said Gov. Markell.

The Global Delaware website also highlights success stories that show how local companies such as Acorn Energy, ANP Technologies, and Elcriton are benefitting from exports and working with the State.

Elcriton, for example, is a Delaware biotech start-up which engineers microorganisms for applications ranging from biofuels production to consumption of waste gas emissions. The renewable chemicals company is getting work from leading chemical companies from all over the world looking for designer microbes.

The startup was founded by Terry Papoutsakis, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Delaware and his grad student Bryan Tracy, who is now CEO of Elcriton. Their profile on the Global Delaware website explains all the ways in which being in Delaware helped the startup tap chemical industry resources and navigate the commercial aspects of the business.


NYC Economic Development Corp’s Life Sciences VC Fund Exceeds Goal by $50M

New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball joined Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen at Rockefeller University to announce the launch of the Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative.

NYC Life Sciences Fund

NYC Life Sciences Fund (photo –

The public-private funding initiative to support early-stage life sciences growth was first announced by the NYC Economic Development Corp in Dec 2013.

At that time, they had a goal of deploying a total of at least $100 million and investing it into the most promising research generated by the city’s academic medical institutions and leading entrepreneurs.

This included $10 million from the NYCEDC, and additional investments from strategic partners Celgene, GE Ventures and Eli Lilly. The City was at that time seeking institutional venture capital partners to make up the $100 million goal.

It seems that the co-investment partnership has exceeded its initial funding goal by $50 million, and will now be launching with a total of $150 million.

The VC funding initiative is expected to make catalytic investments that will help launch new businesses that are collectively expected to create 2,000 direct jobs by 2020. The funding support is also expected to broadly accelerate the growth of New York City’s life sciences ecosystem.

Venture capital firms Flagship Ventures and ARCH Venture Partners will manage separate investment activities for the Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative. Flagship Ventures will focus on investments in therapeutics, while ARCH Venture Partners will direct its investments activities towards non-therapeutics including diagnostics, medical devices, R&D instrumentation and digital life sciences.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release announcing the launch of the initiative that “These investments are going to spur a new generation of companies in this vital sector, which means good jobs and career pathways for New Yorkers, and a stronger and more diverse economy for the whole city.”

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said that the return on the City’s investment here isn’t purely financial, noting that it’s also the thousands of 21st century quality jobs, economic diversification, and increased tax revenue these efforts will bring.

NYC Economic Development Corp President Kyle Kimball said in the release that the Life Sciences Funding Initiative and other infrastructure investments respond directly to the challenges facing the life sciences community – the need for increased capital and affordable real estate.

Mark McDonnell, managing director and CFO for ARCH, said that ARCH Venture Partners is excited to partner with the NYCEDC alongside New York’s industry leading companies and world-class research institutions to help identify life science technology concepts and bring them to fruition.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University, likewise said that this announcement by the NYC Economic Development Corporation is a tremendously exciting advancement in the expansion of New York City’s life sciences sector.

The NYC life sciences sector, which currently employs approximately 13,700 people, is part of a large and growing healthcare sector which is the leading employer in New York City supporting approximately 481,400 jobs. The sector grew by 23,400 jobs (5.1 percent) last year.

New Orleans Seeks Public Support For City Accelerator Competition

New Orleans is one of seven cities that have been selected as a finalist in the second round of the City Accelerator initiative.

Video – Governing

City Accelerator was launched by Living Cities and the Citi Foundation as a program to assist cities in adopting innovative plans to help low-income populations and improve the quality of life for residents.

The idea is to promote a lasting culture of innovation in local government. Cities selected to participate in the first cohort include Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia.

The City Accelerator provides support for an 18-month project to implement an innovation guidebook. City officials implementing the project will get invitations to learn from other cities and access to coaching, technical assistance and other resources needed to develop a strategy and overcome barriers.

As part of their proposals, participating cities are asked to develop pitch videos which are posted on, and public feedback (ratings and comments) on the videos is taken into consideration during the selection process.

Proposals for the second cohort are focused on civic engagement, with an emphasis on creating an inclusive process that harnesses the ideas and ingenuity of city residents to solve complex urban problems.

The seven cities that are competing as finalists in this process are New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Baltimore and Minneapolis. Up to five of them may be picked to be a part of the second cohort.

New Orleans is proposing to expand the reach of healthcare services by engaging residents. The engagement will help answer questions about why more people do not use the healthcare services under a Medicaid waiver program, and the knowledge gained through the engagement can then be used to overcome the points of resistance.

Nearly 57,000 individuals are currently enrolled in the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection (GNOCHC), a Medicaid waiver that provides coverage to working-class residents. If selected, the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) will engage individuals in utilizing preventative care services, thus improving the overall health outcomes for the region.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a release that “As a city, we want to use innovative techniques that help ensure all residents are taking part in our community’s revival.”

NOHD Director Charlotte Parent said that with the City Accelerator’s support, they hope to improve health outcomes in New Orleans by helping residents better understand ways to access life-saving health services. This, in turn, said Parent, will help reduce the overall health care costs for everyone in the New Orleans community.

New Orleans’ pitch video already has the second-highest ratings in the lot behind Minneapolis. Mayor Landrieu said they need the public’s help for this and asked people to help support the city’s online pitch video at

If nothing else, New Orleans should get some goodwill for the civic engagement strategy deployed in reaching out to the public to help the city get selected into the cohort.

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