Economic Development

U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $1.2M Grant For Arkansas Steel Mill Project

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced a $1.2 million grant to the City of Osceola, Arkansas to help with infrastructure improvements that will support the Big River Steel Mill project.

Big River Steel

Big River Steel (photo – bigriversteel.com)

Back in Jan 2013, Big River Steel, LLC had announced a plan to invest $1.1 billion for building a steel mill in Mississippi County, AR.

The steel mill will create more than 530 direct jobs with average annual wages of $75,000, in addition to more than 2,000 construction jobs.

Announcing the $1.2 million grant award for Osceola, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that this EDA investment will help Arkansas make needed upgrades and improvements that will help attract new business and investment to the Osceola region.

The EDA grant will be used by the city for making critical sewer and water infrastructure improvements that will support not only the steel mill and the Big River Steel corporate headquarters, but also a railroad tank car off-loading facility that will generate another $325 million in private investment.

Arkansas is supporting the Big River Steel project with package of state and local incentives that includes $125 million in financing and tax breaks. The financing was provided by the State through general obligation bonds after invoking Amendment 82 for the first time in the state’s history.

Amendment 82, approved by Arkansas voters in 2004, allows the State to use up to five percent of the general revenue budget for bond financing of super economic development projects.

While announcing the financing for Big River Steel, Gov. Mike Beebe said that “A project of this scope will be a catalyst for job creation, investment and economic development beyond this one facility.”

Gov. Beebe added that the Big River Steel project will help them recruit more supplier businesses and steel consumers to Northeast Arkansas.

The $125 million package includes a $50 million loan for the company, another $50 million for site preparation, and $20 million for piling-subsurface stabilization costs.

The City of Osceola has approved $2 million in local incentives for Big River Steel, and Mississippi County chipped in with $14.5 million.

Apart from the Governor’s Office and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, a host of other state and local organizations worked on securing this project.

The City of Osceola, Mississippi County Economic Development, BNSF Railway, Entergy Arkansas, Inc., Arkansas Development Finance Authority, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, and the Arkansas Capital Corporation and its affiliates were all instrumental in recruiting Big River Steel.

New York Kicks Off Round IV for Regional Economic Development Councils

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Round IV of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative.

Regional Economic Development Councils

Regional Economic Development Councils (photo – ny.gov)

The ten Regional Councils will once again be competing for $750 million in New York economic development resources.

The CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) begins on May 1, enabling the public, businesses, non-profits and municipalities to apply for financial assistance for their projects through a single application to dozens of state funding programs.

Gov. Cuomo created the ten REDCs in 2011 as a transformative approach to economic development. These councils are public-private partnerships comprised of local experts and stakeholders from the region, including members from local governments, businesses, academia and other organizations.

In the past three REDC funding rounds, the State has invested more than $2 billion in support of over 2,200 projects that have already created or retained in excess of 100,000 jobs all across New York.

“New York‚Äôs economy is on a come-back in large part because we have adopted a grassroots approach to economic development that is creating jobs and growing new industries across our state,‚Äù said Gov. Cuomo.

Round IV of the REDC process will likewise award up to $750 million in State funding and tax incentives. Up to $220 million will be up for grabs under the competitive part of the funding process. The REDCs will be competing for up to $150 million in capital funds, and also for $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects that the REDCs identify as priority projects for their region.

The remaining $350 million will be awards from state funding programs for projects in each region applied for through the CFA process.

The competitive part of the process will focus this year on how each region is implementing regional strategic economic development plans; their identification of global marketing and export strategies; and their performance in encouraging economic growth through job creation and investment.

The competition for $150 million in capital funds will be divided into two parts. The five regions named as “Top Performers” last year will be in a separate pool competing for two awards of $25 million each. The other five will be competing separately for three awards of $25 million each.

The remaining $25 million will be divided among the five regions which do not win any of these five $25 million awards in this year’s competition. All ten regions will also be eligible to compete for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits.

Apart from the focus on exports and global marketing, another aspect that’s new this year is that the REDCs are being asked to create a Veterans Work Group to promote direct participation of veterans in the CFA process, and encourage other CFA applicants to include workforce goals that will result in more veterans being hired.

Find out more about New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative at regionalcouncils.ny.gov. Applicants interested in applying through the CFA process can visit apps.cio.ny.gov.

Maryland Governor Negotiates Deal to Keep House of Cards Production In-State

The month-long saga of threats, incentives and legislative back-and-forth was worthy of an episode in the House of Cards. But at the end of the day, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Media Rights Capital, the production company behind the hit Netflix series House of Cards, were able to announce a deal that keeps production of the show’s third season in Maryland.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley speaking with Kevin Spacey on set of House of Cards production

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley speaking with Kevin Spacey on set of House of Cards production (photo Рmaryland.gov)

“Spoiler alert: we’re going to keep the 3700 jobs and more than 100 million dollars of economic activity and investment that House of Cards generates right here in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley.

The Governor added that Media Rights Capital has been a great supporter of the people and entertainment community in Maryland, and added that they couldn’t be happier to continue the partnership.

Maryland has provided $26 million in film tax credits against qualified production costs for the first two seasons of House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey in the lead role. According to the Maryland Economic Development Department, this $26 million is more than the state has provided for any other production, including “Veep” which has received $23 million.

According to the Maryland Film Office, the first season of House of Cards resulted in the hiring of 2,193 crew, cast and extras locally in Maryland. The production purchased goods and services from 1,814 Maryland vendors.

But the arrangement ran into trouble this year because the Maryland House of Delegates did not approve a bill funding an expanded film tax credit program. This meant that House of Cards would get only $4 million in tax credits for 2014, and they threatened to leave the state and continue production elsewhere.

Instead of giving in and hiking the available film tax credits, a bill was introduced in the House to use eminent domain to seize property and keep the production in-state.

Gov. O’Malley stepped in to negotiate a solution, and the deal agreed upon now gives House of Cards $11.5 million for 2014. This will be provided through a combination of tax credits under the 2014 Film Production Tax Credit program and another $7.5 million in grants in the State FY15 budget.

Asif Satchu, co-CEO of MRC, said that House of Cards is the gift that keeps on giving, having injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and providing thousands of jobs to communities in Maryland.

Empire State Development Touts NY Economic Benefits of The Other Woman

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton teamed up in The Other Woman to beat Captain America at the box office during the opening weekend, but they also delivered a powerful punch in terms of the economic impact of the film’s production that took place in New York State.

The Other Woman

The Other Woman (photo – theotherwomanmovie.com)

Empire State Development, as the chief New York economic development agency, highlighted the benefits of the 56 days the film crew spent filming last year on Long Island and New York City, as well as on location in Westchester County.

The production hired more than 3,000 people as local crew and extras during the filming, and spent more than $11.5 million on area businesses for services and supplies provided. This includes nearly $600,000 for hotel rooms alone.

All told, The Other Woman spent more than $37 million of their budget for production and post-production related activities in New York State. For instance, $700,000 was spent on camera, grip and electronic equipment with a New York-based company. Another half a million went to Mr. X Gotham LLC for post production.

Tom O’Donnell, president of the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, said that the release of The Other Woman is another illustration of the success of Gov. Cuomo’s Film Tax Credit, in the quality jobs it creates and the monetary residue it leaves behind in New York communities.

Since the Film Production Tax Credit Program was launched in 2004 in New York, it has been an enormous economic development engine, credited with generating a massive number of jobs and an estimated $14 billion in direct spending. The industry has shown explosive growth since 2011, and broke records for production and post-production in 2013.

The extraordinary success is attributed to the stability created by multi-year funding for the Film Tax Credit program. It encourages the development of television production work, and also spurs investments in permanent infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs related to the productions.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s efforts and initiatives such as the Film Tax Credit program, the film industry has created thousands of jobs by attracting productions such as The Other Woman to the Empire State, which he said boosts local businesses and generates important revenue for the local and state economies.

“From our small towns to our big cities, New York State offers the perfect environment for filming major motion pictures,” said Commissioner Adams.

Michigan Economic Development Corp is Shifting Gears Again

Michigan Shifting Gears, a career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will be kicking off this year’s three-month summer session in Lansing, MI on June 17.

Michigan Shifting Gears

Michigan Shifting Gears (photo – mitalent.org)

The program is designed to assist everyone from returning vets to stay-at-home parents and experienced professionals facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to match the needs of small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurial startups.

Michigan Shifting Gears offers a unique opportunity for seasoned professionals and other transitioning jobseekers, helping them learn how to put their experience and talent to work in exciting careers in the “new economy.”

Participants in this program receive a professional career assessment and career coaching, along with eight days of workshops and networking events. Not to mention the chance to take part in a three-day small business simulation.

A volunteer mentor from the entrepreneurial community will be paired up with each participant, and will work one-on-one on things such as reviewing resumes, providing career advice, and help with the career transition.

Every participant in the Michigan Shifting Gears program has to complete an 80-hour internship (pro-bono) with a non-profit or small business. This is helpful for everyone involved, since the program participants gain valuable first-hand experience working in a small business environment, while the host business can make use of the valuable skills and business expertise of the interns.

Michigan Shifting Gears has an impressive track record, with 51 percent of graduates landing jobs within three months of completing the program. A full 65 percent are able to land jobs within six months, and 84 percent will find jobs within nine months.

East Lansing resident Kathy Hollister, who had been laid off, landed a job with the Capital Area Health Alliance shortly after participating in the tenth cohort of Michigan Shifting Gears (the one starting on June 17 is Cohort 22).

Kathy said she was discouraged and frustrated in her pursuit of meaningful work, and signed up for Shifting Gears as a challenge, to take a risk and grow. As a result of the program, Kathy says she now has a vision, and has learned to have confidence in her own talents, abilities and strengths, and is able to articulate clearly what it is that she has to give others.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael Finney said that Michigan Shifting Gears provides participants with strategies for a successful career transition, and growing companies get the skilled workers they need to succeed.

California Economic Development Initiative Begins With Hiring Credit Pilots

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced pilot programs in Fresno, Merced and Riverside under which employers in these communities will be offered tax credits for creating new jobs and hiring workers.

California Governor's Economic Development Initiative

California Governor’s Economic Development Initiative

The New Employment Credit (NEC) is one of the three main components of the California Governor’s Economic Development Initiative (AB 93 and SB 90) that was passed last year.

As approved under this legislation, NEC is meant to be used as a tax incentive to spur new jobs and help businesses grow in California communities that have the highest rates of unemployment and poverty.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), which is the lead entity handling California economic development efforts and initiatives, has been tasked with overseeing the hiring credit and designating five pilot areas.

In choosing Fresno, Merced and Riverside for the first round, GO-Biz evaluated poverty, wage and employment data to identify these three as areas of the state that would benefit the most from an expanded hiring credit.

These designations for the three communities are effective immediately and applicable for four years, with the possibility of GO-Biz subsequently extending the designations for another three years.

California’s unemployment rate has dropped from 12.1 to 8.1 percent since Gov. Brown took office, and the state has added more than one million jobs.

Gov. Brown said that California‚Äôs economy is steadily improving, with more than a million Californians now back to work after the massive mortgage meltdown. “These tax credits will spur new jobs and help communities hardest hit by the recession,” said Gov. Brown.

The NEC and other parts of the Governor’s Economic Development Initiative (GEDI) are being funded by diverting approximately $750 million annually from the state‚Äôs Enterprise Zone program.

Apart from the hiring credit, the legislation also includes a statewide sales tax exemption for biotech and manufacturing companies on qualifying manufacturing and R&D equipment purchases.

The legislation also approved a “California Competes Credit” as an economic development incentive to be negotiated by GO-Biz and businesses planning to relocate or expand in the state.

North Carolina to Support Economic Development Through Historic Building Rehabilitation

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced that his budget will include grant funding for economic development programs designed to rehabilitate buildings across the state.

NC Historic Preservation Office

NC Historic Preservation Office (photo – hpo.ncdcr.gov)

The budget will have $500,000 in funding for the Main Street Solutions Fund, which supports rehabilitation efforts in smaller towns in North Carolina by providing matching grants.

Gov. McCrory also said he would support legislation to replace the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit which is scheduled to sunset at the end of this year.

The Governor made his announcement in front of the former Pickett Cotton Mill site. This site is slated to be occupied by Belgian green office furniture maker BuzziSpace.

Gov. McCrory said that old and abandoned factories and mills are becoming housing and business spaces, sparking economic revitalization in cities and towns across North Carolina. ‚ÄúHistoric revitalization means jobs, economic development and a rebirth of many downtowns. Companies are relocating to these spaces from across this great nation and from around the world,” said Gov. McCrory.

Historic preservation incentives provided by the federal and state governments since 1976 have helped generate more than $1.7 billion in private investments in North Carolina while helping preserve the state’s priceless historic character.

The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program, which would be administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, supports the reuse of historic industrial-age infrastructure to be in line with the demands of a new economy. The program is designed under a demand-driven model that aligns with the North Carolina Economic Development Board’s NC Jobs Plan.

The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program, along with the Main Street Solutions Fund, will strive to help bring about a renaissance in towns and cities that are reinventing themselves after the loss of industries such as manufacturing and tobacco.

Secretary Susan Kluttz of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, which houses the State Historic Preservation Office, said she was proud of Governor McCrory’s decision to promote the rehabilitation of historic buildings in North Carolina for proven economic development and job creation.

Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina, likewise noted that there are few activities that are as job intensive and return more money to local communities than historic rehabilitation. Howard added that they have high hopes for this new program.

NJIT to Facilitate Economic Development Through New Jersey Innovation Institute

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has officially launched the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) as an NJIT corporation.

Senator Cory Booker speaking at NJIT's New Jersey Innovation Institute  launch

Senator Cory Booker speaking at NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute launch (photo – njit.edu)

Government and industry leaders attending the event highlighted the venture’s potential to facilitate New Jersey economic development by marrying industry-driven agendas with NJIT’s technological and intellectual assets.

NJIT President Joel S. Bloom was joined at the opening by U.S. Senator Cory Booker, NJ Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Panasonic Corp. of North America Chairman and CEO Joe Taylor, State Senator Raymond Lesniak, and NJ Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks.

Bloom said that economic development is in NJIT’s blood and is expressly stated as part of their mission to serve New Jersey industries by providing a skilled workforce.

The new Innovation Institute will house five sector-focused innovation labs specializing in developing technological solutions for challenges identified by industry partners, and will provide a broad range of related services.

The five sectors are defense and homeland security, financial services, civil infrastructure, healthcare delivery systems, and bio-pharmaceutical production.

Don Sebastian, president of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, said that they will not be repackaging what NJIT is already producing. NJII will instead be asking the industry what the Innovation Institute can do for them.

Sebastian added that by following industry-led agendas designed to spur economic development and business growth in New Jersey, the Innovation Institute will facilitate product creation and enhancement and develop technological solutions for sector-wide and company-focused challenges.

Senator Cory Booker said that NJIT is poised to help industries at every stage, from the birth of an idea in a lab to refining how that idea is produced. “The New Jersey Innovation Institute is going to help our state remain one of America’s most important engines for economic growth and global competitiveness,” added Sen. Booker.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said that the announcement shows that there is power in partnerships. “New Jersey is perfectly positioned to leverage the state’s academic assets with industry to develop and nurture economic development opportunities that will generate jobs,” added Lt. Governor Guadagno.

NJIT is New Jersey’s science and technology university, and consists of six colleges, including the Newark College of Engineering, College of Science and Liberal Arts, College of Architecture and Design, and the College of Computing Sciences.

These four, along with the School of Management and Albert Dorman Honors College, together enroll about 10,000 students in 120 programs providing bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $3M in Grants For Massachusetts Projects

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced $3 million in grants to support projects in Massachusetts that are expected to generate more than $300 million in private investment and help create 560 jobs.

DAS Matt Erskine and Congressman Jim McGovern announce grant awards in Worcester, MA

DAS Matt Erskine and Congressman Jim McGovern announce grant awards in Worcester, MA (photo – U.S. EDA)

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine was in Massachusetts for the announcements, and joined Congressman Jim McGovern at the former Worcester Telegram & Gazette (T&G) building in Worcester, MA.

EDA has awarded a $1 million grant to New Garden Park, Inc., to help establish the Worcester Technology and Idea Development Exchange Center in the T&G building. This technology incubator and accelerator will help create 100 jobs by offering a central location in downtown Worcester for entrepreneurs to start a business.

The building on 20 Franklin Street is in the heart of Worcester’s downtown, with City Hall and the Worcester Common across the street. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette was produced, printed and distributed from this 135,000-square-foot facility from the early 20th century through to 2008.

Placing this key building back into active use to reenergize the area around City Hall and the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts was one of the priority projects undertaken by City of Worcester and the Worcester Business Development Corporation under their 2008-2010 Strategic Plan.

Congressman McGovern said that the T&G Building project is a key component of Worcester’s downtown revitalization, and said the Exchange being established in the building will be an investment in the future of the economy, one with enormous potential.

Erskine also visited Devens, MA where he announced that the EDA had awarded a $1.85 million grant for the final phase of the Jackson Road reconstruction project at the Devens Industrial Park.

This grant, which will be awarded to the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency of Boston, will help two companies in the automotive and film/video production sectors to expand their operations, in the process generating $307 million in private investment and creating 460 jobs.

Erskine said these grants will provide Worcester’s startups and entrepreneurs with the space and technical assistance they need to grow and thrive, and make infrastructure improvements in Devens that will grow the region’s manufacturing and business base.

Marty Jones, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, said this announcement by the U.S. Economic Development Administration represents a vote of confidence from Washington for everything MassDevelopment has done in Devens to work with businesses for providing thousands of good jobs.

Michigan Economic Development Corp Lays Out the MAT for Tech Training

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with participating companies and community colleges, is inviting students interested in pursuing education in a technical field while earning a paycheck at the same time.

MAT² tech training program

MAT² tech training program (photo РMichigan Economic Development Corp.)

The Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT²) program helps students earn an associate degree while getting on-the-job training and experience with a salary in high tech fields such as Product Design, Information technology and Mechatronics.

MAT² is benchmarked on the German Dual Education System, and the education model for the program was developed with input from global technology leaders.

It combines theory, practice and work into a single training program that is helping build Michigan’s globally competitive workforce.

The key to the program’s success is the direct involvement companies have in the education and training process of potential future employees. It allows employers to “grow” their own employees and make sure they live up to the employer’s professional competency standards.

MAT² participants will have their tuition fees for the three-year program paid by a sponsoring employer. Students will also receive an hourly wage for on-the-job training during the program, in addition to a weekly stipend while they are in school.

The best part, of course, is that participants are guaranteed employment with participating companies in Michigan after they successfully complete the program. The student has to commit to working with the sponsoring employer for at least two years after the program’s completion.

Participating community colleges include Macomb Community College, Henry Ford Community College, Oakland Community College, and Mott Community College.

The list of participating employers includes, among others, Volkswagen Group of America, Cadillac Products Automotive Company, Detroit Diesel, BorgWarner, Brose, Dürr, Eberspaecher, INERGY, KESSLER, Pontiac Coil, and ZF.

Kelsey Erne, a student who is studying Mechatronics at Oakland Community College under the MAT² program with Brose as her sponsoring employer, says in a blog post on the MEDC website that the program has given her everything she needs to succeed.

Kelsey adds that without it, she would probably be studying something she had no interest in at a different college, and would have no clear goal in mind. Instead, she is now getting paid experience while studying topics that she is excited about, and looks forward to a career in a field that is exciting and new.

Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said that the MAT² program is focused on meeting the needs of employers and “will equip students with experience and skills they need to succeed in today’s high-tech world.”

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