Economic Development

US Economic Development Administration $1.9M Grant For USC-Columbia Technology Incubator

The University of South Carolina (USC)/Columbia Technology Incubator has been awarded a $1.9 million grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

EDA's Jay Williams at USC/Columbia Technology Incubator announcement

EDA’s Jay Williams at USC/Columbia Technology Incubator announcement (photo – usccolainc.org)

The EDA’s $1,974,000 investment will support the construction of the $4 million, 50,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the new home of the technology and incubation facility.

The project is expected to help the incubator create 698 jobs in the Midlands area and generate $11.9 million in private investment in the first five years.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams joined local and state officials for the grant announcement and unveiling of the facility’s new site.

This will be the first development in USC’s Innovista Innovation District, and will help integrate USC and the Columbia Metro region’s entrepreneurial activities. It will provide a range of resources to support early stage business ventures, and serve as a regional hub for USC’s incubation, entrepreneurship and acceleration programs.

The project is expected to launch and accelerate a whole new generation of technology ventures in South Carolina. The incubator’s new location will help its startups and entrepreneurs take advantage of proximity to USC’s research infrastructure, student and faculty talent, and emerging technologies in the region.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement that this EDA investment will support an important infrastructure project that supports public-private partnerships with the University of South Carolina to help local businesses and entrepreneurs grow.

William Kirkland, executive director of the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and USC’s Office of Economic Engagement, said they are extremely appreciative of the EDA’s $1.9 million investment. USC already owns the site on which the facility is going to be built, and the rest of the funding will come from the USC Research Foundation.

Kirkland added that he is certain this new partnership will lead to more entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs in the Midlands while creating an exciting technology corridor in the Innovista District.

South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn said he is thrilled that USC will receive this investment from the EDA for developing a new entrepreneurship and technology center in Columbia.

Congressman Clyburn added that it also gives the opportunity for hundreds of new jobs to be created, thus assisting the Capital City in their economic development strategy.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Bring Thousands of Jobs, Economic Development in VA, W.VA and NC

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) and Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) announced that Dominion (NYSE: D) has been selected to build and operate a 550-mile natural gas pipeline across three states.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will start from Harrison County in West Virginia, run southeast through four more W.Va counties and 13 Virginia counties, and then south through central North Carolina to end in Robeson County.

The $4.5 billion to $5 billion pipeline project is expected to create thousands of construction jobs.

With a capacity of 1.5 billion cubic feet per day, it will also serve as a key infrastructure engine that will drive economic development and create jobs in counties along its route through three states, attracting energy-dependent industries and businesses.

The main purpose of the pipeline is to move Marcellus Shale gas from origination points in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio all the way to North Carolina.

At present, North Carolina is primarily served by one major interstate natural gas pipeline that transports natural gas mainly from the Gulf Coast to North Carolina’s western and central regions.

The bulk of the new pipeline’s capacity will be purchased under 20-year contracts by six utilities, including Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, Piedmont Natural Gas, Virginia Power Services Energy, PSNC Energy and Virginia Natural Gas.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will support the utilities’ transition from coal-fired power plants which are being shut down in favor of natural gas plants that release far less emissions and reduce electricity costs for ratepayers.

The project is a joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources. The four companies’ CEOs issued a joint statement in which they say the project represents a step forward in ensuring the region’s economic future, carbon reduction and energy security.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a transformational project for our region. It will create thousands of construction jobs during development and significant new revenue for state and local governments throughout North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The expanded source of gas will also help fuel economic development across the region as businesses and homes rely more on natural gas.” – Joint statement issued by Dominion’s Thomas Farrell, Duke Energy’s Lynn Good, Piedmont’s Thomas Skains and AGL’s John Somerhalder.

Construction of the $5 billion pipeline will create 8,800 jobs and generate $1.42 billion in economic activity in Virginia. In North Carolina, it will create 738 jobs and generate $680 million in economic activity annually during the construction phase.

Once the project is complete and starts supplying natural gas to customers by late 2018, it will support 118 permanent jobs in Virginia and 52 in North Carolina.

Economic Development News – Labor Day Edition

Labor Day weekend travel and events are by themselves a contributor to economic development, but there’s a lot of other news too.

Labor Day

Labor Day (photo – commerce.gov)

For starters, the Department of Commerce published its usual Labor Day update with interesting facts and figures about America’s workforce and industry sectors.

Did you know that there were 2,661,890 registered nurses as of May 2013, and their ranks are expected to swell by 526,800 from 2012 to 2022? That’s more than the job growth projected for any other occupation.

Meanwhile, the AAA’s projections show that 34.7 million Americans are traveling 50 miles or more for the Labor Day holiday weekend. This is the highest volume for Labor Day weekend travel since 2008, helped along by lower gas prices.

Labor Day events are another bright spot helping fuel more economic development. For instance, Atlanta alone had some 25 events lined up which will draw some 800,000 people to the city over the extended weekend, including 300,000 visitors.

Labor Day is also a chance for economic development and industry organizations to provide workforce updates and the latest data. The Texas Workforce Commission issued a Labor Day message that highlights the fact that the Lone Star State is still the No.1 job creator where nearly 485,000 employers added approximately 396,200 jobs in the past year.

Texas Workforce Solutions, comprised of the state’s 28 local workforce development boards, worked closely with other economic development entities in the state to help nearly 1.5 million job seekers with reemployment and other rapid response service during fiscal year 2013.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association also took the opportunity to recognize the contributions of the beer distribution industry’s workforce. Craig Purser, president and chief executive officer of the NBWA, said that Labor Day is the perfect time to recognize the hard work that America’s beer distribution employees do day in and day out.

According to the NBWA, the 3,300 independent beer distribution facilities in the U.S. directly employ more than 130,000 people who collectively earn $10.2 billion in annual pay and benefits.

Finally, Call of Duty is asking all its Xbox users to donate from $1 to $20 straight from their Xbox dashboard on Labor Day to help the Call of Duty Endowment create jobs for veterans.

The Endowment has funded the placement of more than 5,400 veterans into the workplace, and is asking people to show their gratitude on Labor Day by supporting a cause that helps veterans returning home from military service transition into a civilian life by finding a job. It’s possible to make a donation even if you’re not an Xbox user. More details here.

 

North Carolina Starts Losing Productions After Defunding Film Tax Credit Program

When the North Carolina State Legislature adjourned without approving a raft of economic development measures, Gov. Pat McCrory was forced to sign a budget which puts a $10 million cap for film incentives.

Film=Jobs

Film=Jobs (photo – Rep. Susi Hamilton)

The current refundable film tax credit program, which allows film and television productions in the state to claim a credit against 25 percent of eligible expenses, expires on Jan 1, 2015.

Lawmakers including State Representatives Ted Davis Jr. and Susi Hamilton wrote to the Governor to request that the Legislature be reconvened for a special session to deal with the film tax credit and other economic development measures that were left unapproved.

The Wilmington City Council and New Hanover County Commissioners have also sent a joint letter to the Governor and legislative leaders asking for a special session to reconsider the film incentives.

The special session hasn’t been called yet, but it’s possible that the tax credit could still be renewed at a level slightly lower than last year’s $61 million. However, productions in danger of losing their incentives aren’t waiting to find out.

Banshee, a television show that’s being filmed in the Charlotte area, is moving production to New Orleans. The estimated loss to the Charlotte economy would be around $40 million. According to WCNC, at least four other shows that were looking at Charlotte as a location for shooting have changed their minds after the film tax incentives were nixed by the Legislature.

The Washington Post likewise reports that Wilmington, NC is losing at least two or three productions. A pilot episode shooting has moved to Virginia, another $14 million feature film is considering relocating to Georgia or Louisiana, and one other project is trying to figure out if they can wrap up shooting before the end of the year. If not, they plan to move to Toronto or New Orleans.

Apart from the film tax credit program, the Legislature also failed to fund other critical North Carolina economic development programs such as the NC Department of Commerce’s Job Catalyst Fund – a $20 million closing fund that gives the Department flexibility to provide cash incentives to companies considering large economic development projects.

Also left unapproved were the historic preservation and renewable energy tax credit programs, a crowdfunding bill, and reauthorization for the state’s popular and oft-used Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program.

The North Carolina Economic Developers Association has sent a letter to NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in which they express concern that site selectors will remove North Carolina from consideration for projects if the JDIG funding runs out.

California Hikes Film Tax Credit Program From $100M to $330M

California Governor Jerry Brown, accompanied by legislative leaders, announced an agreement to expand, improve and extend the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reach agreement on film tax credit expansion

California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reach agreement on film tax credit expansion (photo – gov.ca.gov)

The agreement hikes the annual limit for film and television tax credits from $100 million to $330 million starting from fiscal year 2015-16, and extends the program with the increased funding level for another five years.

The bill (AB 1839 – California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act) also replaces the lottery system currently used by the California Film Commission to allocate these credits with a more accountable and competitive system that takes into account the economic impact and jobs created by each project in the state.

Gov. Brown, in a statement issued by the Governor’s Office, said that “this law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work.”

The bill was authored by Assemblymembers Raul J. Bocanegra and Mike Gatto, with more than 60 other legislators providing input to the bill as co-authors.

Assemblymember Gatto said this legislation is the product of years of work to preserve middle class jobs for a key California industry, and added that he is pleased that they have been able to come together for working Californians.

Assemblymember Bocanegra this is a home run for the film and television industry in California, and added that the expanded and improved program will go a long way towards making the state more competitive and protect and create tens of thousands of jobs for hard working Californians.

AB 1839 is now expected to be quickly passed by both the California Assembly and Senate and signed into law by the Governor.

The California Film and Television Production Alliance, a coalition of industry unions, associations, guilds, studios, producers, small businesses and other stakeholders, issued a statement on behalf of their members saying that they are elated at the agreement announced by the Governor and legislative leaders.

“This is a win both for the State of California and the working men and women across this state who will no longer have only one choice— to leave their families to feed their families.” – CA Film and Television Production Alliance.

Former U.S. Senator for Connecticut Chris Dodd, who is now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, also released a statement applauding the agreement. “The MPAA and our member studios thank Governor Brown, Senator DeLeon, Assembly Speaker Atkins, Assembly Members Gatto and Bocanegra and their colleagues for their leadership on this crucial legislation and for their commitment to the hardworking people who power an industry that has helped define California for more than a century.” 

DJI Partners With Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development to Promote UAS Industry

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development is collaborating with unmanned aerial systems manufacturer DJI to donate drones to educational institutions in order to help students get first-hand training and develop an education pipeline for the UAS industry in the state.

DJI unmanned aerial systems

DJI unmanned aerial systems (photo – dji.com)

Specifically, DJI is collaborating with GOED to provide different types of unmanned aerial vehicle platforms to the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems.

NIAS is the state sanctioned non-profit organization which led Nevada’s effort to secure an FAA UAS test site designation.

Apart from GOED, NIAS partners include the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation; the City of Las Vegas; University of Nevada, Reno; College of Southern Nevada; the Desert Research Institute; Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; airport authorities of Boulder City and Reno-Tahoe; and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Leaders from the industry, academia, government and the military are working together under the umbrella of NIAS to promote the unmanned systems industry in Nevada.

One of the key aspects of their initial work has been to secure partnerships and build education and training programs with universities and school systems across Nevada.

As a part of this process, NIAS will make the four different types of drones being donated by DJI available to institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education in both northern and southern Nevada. The donation of drones by DJI will help provide testing opportunities for the NIAS Program Management Office, and allow interested secondary school students to get first-hand experience.

GOED Director Steve Hill said in a statement that as a state, it is exciting when there is an opportunity to partner industry with education to pave the way for an emerging field.

Hill noted that it is even more exciting when a world-leading company decides to invest in the future of the state, and added that he looks forward to the initiatives that will result from this partnership with DJI.

DJI Product Marketing Manager Jonathan Young said he hopes their joint project with NIAS and the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development will be the start of many blossoming partnerships between the company and many other professional industries in the state.

Los Angeles, CA-based DJI North America is part of a global company with more than 500 employees and operations spanning Europe, Asia and North America.

US EDA Grants Help Colorado Communities Recover from Floods and Fire

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded $545,000 in disaster recovery and economic resiliency grants to two communities in Colorado.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams announcing EDA grants for Colorado

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams announcing EDA grants for Colorado (photo – Town of Estes Park, Co)

The two grants awarded include a $300,000 grant to the Town of Estes Park, CO and another $245,000 grant to the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning of Montrose.

The announcement of the grant awards was made by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, who was in Colorado for the NADO Annual Training Conference in Denver.

ASC Williams said the EDA grants for Colorado will help develop strategies for making the Town of Estes Park and Colorado’s Central Western region more resilient to save jobs and businesses in the event of future economic challenges.

The grant for Estes Park is meant to be used for a regional economic diversification, industry cluster job retention and recovery strategy for dealing with the impact of floods and natural disasters on the area’s economy. The economy in Estes Park was badly hurt by a devastating flood nearly a year ago in Sept 2013.

Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham said the EDA grant would help them develop a plan for regional broadband expansion using the existing fiber optic ring.

This $300,000 grant to Estes Park follows another $126,683 grant approved by the EDA a couple of months ago to help Estes Park develop a strategy for boosting tourism and economic growth.

The other $245,000 grant to Region 10 LEAP will be used for creating a strategy to help improve economic resiliency and sustainability of Delta and Gunnison counties to deal with the impact of the closure of the Oxbow coal mine in Somerset, CO.

The mine’s closure due to an underground fire has caused an economic emergency with dire consequences for both counties.

Michelle Haynes, executive director of Region 10 LEAP, said they are appreciative of this opportunity being provided by the EDA, and grateful to Senator [Mark] Udall’s office for identifying the need to the EDA. Haynes also thanked the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Delta and Gunnison counties for providing the matching local funds that made this EDA grant possible.

Sen. Udall said in a statement that he is proud the U.S. Economic Development Administration heeded his call and issued this $245,000 competitive grant to help create a strategy to put folks back to work and improve the economy in Delta and Gunnison counties.

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp Names Finalists for Most Business-Friendly City

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation released the names of the finalists in contention for this year’s Most Business-Friendly City in Los Angeles County award.

LAEDC Eddy Awards

LAEDC Eddy Awards (photo – laedc.org)

The award recognizes business-friendly cities within Los Angeles County based on factors such as demonstrated priority commitment to economic development; competitive business tax rates and fee structures; economic incentives available; communication with and about clients; and programs and services that facilitate business entry, retention and expansions.

One winner in each of the two population categories under and over 65,000 will be announced at the 19th Annual Eddy Awards gala.

The finalists in the category of cities with populations under 65,000 are Artesia, El Segundo, Glendora, and Pico Rivera. The finalists in the category of larger cities with populations over 65,000 include Bellflower, Glendale, Lakewood, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita.

The LAEDC lists all the exceptional qualities that each of these cities has going for it in terms of being business-friendly. For example, El Segundo has a one-day goal for turn-around on business licenses, and they expedite permits and offer after-hours approvals too.

The City’s taxes are among the lowest in the County, and the City staff work with businesses from initial inquiry through to the certificate of occupancy. El Segundo has already won this most business-friendly city award in 2006, and has been named a finalist for 2012, 2013 and now 2014.

The City of Bellflower is a new entrant in the category of larger cities, and shows how a focus on economic development makes a community business-friendly. Bellflower has a newly established economic development department, and they have streamlined the entitlement process and created incentive-based zoning.

The City shows its commitment to identifying problems and supporting the business community through regular outreach, satisfaction surveys and open staff channels. Bellflower maintains low taxes and offers a variety of incentives programs such as forgivable sales tax loans and marketing and promotional agreements.

The Eddy Awards gala is scheduled to be held on Nov 13, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton. The awards program has been a regular annual feature since 1996, when the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation first introduced it to celebrate organizations and individuals for demonstrating exceptional contributions to economic development in the region.

NYC Economic Development Corp Contract Details to be Posted on Checkbook NYC Transparency Website

In a bid to foster greater transparency, NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced an agreement with the NYC Economic Development Corporation to post information about NYCEDC’s contracts on the Checkbook NYC website.

Checkbook NYC

Checkbook NYC (photo – checkbooknyc.com)

The Comptroller’s Office launched Checkbook NYC as an online transparency tool to put the City’s day-to-day spending and the $75 billion annual budget in the public domain.

The NYCEDC agency view on the Checkbook NYC website includes detailed information including vendor names, total contract amounts and payments made for 260 separate NYCEDC contracts worth $1.5 billion.

These are tax-payer funded projects involving $1.015 billion in spending for fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

As per the agreement, NYCEDC will from now on be providing updated vendor information for all projects contracted with New York City.

The portal also allows users to set up alerts under which they will be sent emails if specific vendors receive any additional payments, or if payments are made for a specific contract.

It’s an easy to use and understand system that provides categorized visual data in charts showing the NYCEDC’s total spending, top contracts and vendors listed by disbursement amount.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said this is a landmark moment for transparency in City government that will benefit all stakeholders. The Comptroller added that using this data, NYC taxpayers and policymakers alike will be better equipped to assess the role of economic development spending to ensure that it is being used to create new jobs and strengthen the workforce.

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said they are proud to continue their work with the Comptroller’s Office to highlight critical economic development efforts underway.

Kimball added that via the Checkbook NYC measures and as part of the de Blasio administration’s commitment to transparency, New Yorkers can take a deeper look at how tax monies are being used to their benefit for programs and projects that strengthen the economy and create new economic opportunities across the City.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has named Checkbook NYC, launched in beta in July 2010, as the top transparency tool in the nation for tracking government spending. NYC Economic Development Corporation is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation under mayoral control that operates under an annual contract with the City.

VEDP Gets Grant Funding to Continue Helping Virginia Defense Companies Grow Through Exports

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Virginia Economic Development Partnership has received a second round of funding for its Going Global Defense Initiative to continue efforts to help defense companies in Virginia adversely impacted by sequestration and federal defense spending cuts.

Virginia Going Global Defense Initiative

Virginia Going Global Defense Initiative

There are more than 5,000 defense companies and contractors in Virginia who have been awarded $509 billion in federal contracts from 2000-2012.

These companies are facing loss of contracts, revenue streams and jobs because of spending reductions worth more than $300 billion initiated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative (GGDI) was launched last year with $2 million in state and federal funding to help these Virginia defense companies replace the lost DOD revenue streams through exports by pursuing new business in international markets.

In the first 10 months of the program, VEDP managed to enroll 160 defense companies which together employ 25,148 employees in Virginia. The seven export training seminars held under the program drew 450 attendees, and the five defense workshops had 500 attendees.

A 100 of these companies then traveled to international markets to secure new business. A full 73 of them are now projecting an average 130 percent increase in international sales.

Limited resources were the only thing that prevented VEDP from enrolling more companies into GGDI and assisting them with everything from market research data to export compliance and training, translation, contracts, and events with U.S. Combatant Commands.

Gov. McAuliffe said that as Virginia’s economy continues to face sequestration and federal budget cuts, an aggressive economic development program like the VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative is a critical solution for offsetting losses.

“VEDP’s work with defense companies to identify new markets is the first program of its kind in the U.S. and is vital to growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy,” said Gov. McAuliffe.

VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley said they are delighted to continue this program for helping defense-related companies in Virginia grow in international markets.

Briley added that the health of Virginia’s defense sector is critical to a strong Virginia economy, and finding new business from international markets is a proven economic development model.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones added that this is the kind of state, federal and private-sector partnership needed to grow the economy of the Commonwealth.

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