Economic Development

FedDev Ontario Economic Development Agency Provides Innovation Funding in Waterloo Region

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced CAD $2.03 million (USD $1.79 million) in funding for high-growth companies and one angel funding network in the Waterloo region.

FedDev Ontario

FedDev Ontario (photo –

FedDev Ontario was created by the Government of Canada in 2009 to further Southern Ontario economic development and play a role in supporting a diversified and competitive economy.

The Honorable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario, announced an investment of CAD $1.53 million through the Investing in Business Innovation initiative to help three innovative companies with product development and commercialization.

The Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN) was separately awarded another $500,000 to help them increase the support the network provides to the angel investor community in southern Ontario.

GTAN has already invested more than $20 million in 45 companies, helping leverage $23 million in additional funding. The new federal funding will help the network double its membership from 100 to 200, which means another 100 companies will be able to raise a total of more than $40 million in funding over a five-year period.

Minister Goodyear said in a statement that innovative startups need access to capital today to grow into the flagship businesses of tomorrow, and added that “we are creating that environment, right here, in the Waterloo region.”

Golden Triangle Angel Network President Robert Douglas thanked FedDev Ontario for the financial support it provides to the angel network, and committed to providing expanded services and funding to the early-stage ecosystem over the next five years.

One of the three companies getting funding from FedDev Ontario is Kitchener, ON-based Clearpath Robotics Inc. The company is getting CAD $950,000 to accelerate the development and commercialization of a remote management system for mobile robots. This investment will enable the company to leverage more funding from a syndicate of angel investors that includes GTAN members.

Clearpath Robotics CFO, COO and Co-Founder Bryan Webb said they’re really proud to be growing the company in Ontario, and added that they can double their staff and continue growing their product offering because of the support received from the government.

Waterloo, ON-based Enterprise SMS customer service provider In the Chat Communications Inc. is getting CAD $400,000 from FedDev Ontario that will enable it to leverage another CAD $800,000 from angel investors who are members of GTAN and the Angel One Network. The funding will help the company expand its product offerings in international markets.

FedDev Ontario is investing another CAD $179,950 in Kitchener, ON-based WestonExpressions Inc. that will leverage another CAD $433,103 to enable completion of development of their LINKETT digital display advertising system. The funding will also help the company protect its intellectual property and then go ahead with a global sales and marketing plan.

Northwest Florida Innovation Awards Spur Technology Development

Northwest Florida’s inaugural Innovation Awards winners have received cash prizes totaling more than $215,000 after being picked by a judging panel that heard pitches from the ten finalists.

Innovation Awards

Innovation Awards (photo –

The first prize of $100,000 went to Pensacola, FL-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems. IRIS has developed a retinal screening technology that helps physicians directly screen patients for retinal conditions.

Second place winner Accountingfly, also based in Pensacola, was awarded $50,000. The Innovation Awards to IRIS and Accountingfly were presented by Florida aerospace economic development organization Space Florida.

Third place winner Robotics Unlimited got a business services package valued at $5,000, courtesy of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce.

Robotics Unlimited, along with Paracosm and Cognitive Big Data Systems, was also selected to receive Microsoft Bizspark Plus subscriptions valued at a total of $60,000 in software and cloud services.

The competition drew a range of entries from across the country, and 20 companies were picked by a panel of experts. These 20 semifinalists were able to showcase their products and services before a large audience of potential investors, strategic partners, entrepreneurs and industry leaders at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front.

Ten finalists were chosen to present their business plans to investors and a panel of judges from Space Florida. The judges picked IRIS and Accountingfly as the top two presenting companies.

IRIS CEO Jason Crawford said in a statement that they are creating jobs and bringing healthcare dollars to the area, and this award will help them to scale faster and fulfill their mission of ending preventable blindness for patients around the world.

IRIS currently has 12 employees and works with customers like Providence Hospital and Florida Blue. Accountingfly has seven employees and has raised more than $1 million in funding as an accounting-specific job board and network.

Space Florida President Frank DiBello said they were impressed with the caliber of startup companies and professionals they heard from, and expressed confidence that both IRIS and Accountingfly will be successful.

Two previous business plan competitions similarly sponsored by Space Florida have resulted in the participating companies raising a combined total of more than $40 million in capital investment.

The Innovation Awards have been established by Space Florida in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Innovation Coast, a group that is helping grow and sustain the community of technology and knowledge-based companies and professionals along the Northern Gulf Coast.

Innovation Coast Vice-Chair Julie Sheppard said they couldn’t be more pleased about the top two presenters being from the Pensacola area.

New NY.Gov Website Launched With Focus on Economic Development

New York State’s official website at NY.Gov has been given a complete makeover, and now has an enhanced focus on economic development. This is the first major redesign for the website in the last 15 years.

New NY.Gov website

New NY.Gov website

The State offers thousands of services online, but the newly redesigned website highlights ‘featured services’ that are most-accessed, and the first one on the list is “how to start a business in New York State.”

The full list of New York economic development and business programs and services such as MWBE certification, company formation, startup assistance, job search, obtaining licenses, LGE grants, training courses, the Buffalo Billion program, etc. can be found under the business and economic development sections.

Again, both these sections are listed at the top, as the first and second categories of services. Another user-friendly aspect that has been introduced is the My Services feature.

When you access any service on the website, a quick click on the bookmark icon allows you to save the service to the My Services page, which will then have a list of all your saved services that can be directly accessed the next time you need any one of them.

You can also filter each category down further by choosing either services or programs, and then further refining the search within the category with a keyword.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s website likewise lists economic development as one of the top three priorities, along with technology and health.

The new NY.Gov website has also been given a technological upgrade, and it is now mobile-friendly and automatically adapts to the device used to access the site.

The website’s search is also more powerful now, and provides suggestions and lists most-requested services, all without ever leaving the page you are on.

The new site also incorporates social and local features, showing you everything from job fairs and farmers’ markets to emergency alerts near you.

In terms of diversity and accessibility, the website goes well above and beyond ADA requirements with translations in 70 languages and an improved design with a bigger font size and higher contrast.

The launch of the new NY.Gov website was preceded by the launch of a new online portal on Veterans Day to connect veterans with employment opportunities offered by the State under the Veterans Temporary Hiring Program.

Veterans seeking jobs can upload resumes and specify their location preferences. State agencies will be using the information uploaded to the portal to fill open positions for temporary jobs throughout New York.

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition Winners Get $1M In Cash and Prizes

After two days of pitches by 51 semifinalists at the 5th annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, Sky Specs LLC was named as this year’s grand prize winner.

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (photo –

Sky Specs, which develops drone safety software and products that help drones avoid collisions, was awarded $500,000 as the grand prize winner.

Cribspot, the second-place winner, was awarded $100,000. Cribspot is working on an innovative system to help students find and manage off-campus accommodations.

Nine other teams won $25,000 each as the winners in specific sectors such as information technology, manufacturing, life sciences, advanced materials, alternative energy, etc.

Apart from the cash awards, the winners will also be getting access to services, software and staffing. In addition to the main competition, Accelerate Michigan also included a venture idea contest for student teams vying for $15,000 in prizes to help them launch their ideas into real ventures.

The first prize in this venture idea contest went to EV Airway Technologies, which has come up with a product that improves comfort and reduces risks for patients using air tubes.

The schedule of events also included an appearance by ten-year old Michigan entrepreneur “Super Business Girl” Asia Newson – Detroit’s youngest entrepreneur who started her business making and selling candles when she was five and is the CEO of the company which she runs with her dad.

Martin Dober, vice president of Detroit community and economic development organization Invest Detroit, said in a release that this year’s competition was truly encouraging as the competitors displayed utmost dedication in continuing to contribute to Michigan’s innovation economy and culture.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition was established with grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the New Economy Initiative. The MEDC grant was provided through the 21st Century Jobs Fund.

The competition was launched with the intention of connecting later-stage entrepreneurial companies with national and international investors. It recognizes and supports innovative projects that are considered to be the most promising companies to watch.

Varsity News Network, which was named as last year’s grand prize winner, has since raised $4.6 million more through three separate funding rounds from ten investors. All Accelerate Michigan companies have together raised more $120 million in funding to-date, and created 600 jobs in Michigan.

Accelerate Michigan Executive Director Lauren Bigelow said that they’re excited to see the impact of this year’s winners, even as an increasing number of entrepreneurs and businesses continue investing in the state’s economic development.

Bigelow added that they are looking forward to seeing the participating companies continue to grow and do wonderful things for the state.

Study Highlights Cal Poly Impact on San Luis Obispo Economic Development

A new study on the economic impact of California Polytechnic State University says that the university adds $1.4 billion to the economy of San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara counties.

Cal Poly economic impact study

Cal Poly economic impact study (photo –

The study was prepared for Cal Poly by San Luis Obispo, CA-based Productive Impact LLC. Highlights from the analysis and survey data (for fiscal year 2012-2013):-

– Economic impact on San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties – $1.414 billion;

– Second largest employer in San Luis Obispo County – 2,741 employees and $254 million payroll; and

– Off-campus spending by 19,703 students – $160.8 million, resulting in $11.7 million in local taxes.

The $1.414 billion economic impact includes $1.1 billion in direct impacts and $313.9 million in indirect and induced spending.

Tourism-type spending caused by the existence of Cal Poly includes over $53.9 million spent in local restaurants, another $27 million in retail stores and $17.7 million in hotels and motels, along with $2.82 million in local taxes.

The total amount of local tax revenue generated adds up to nearly $30 million. Apart from local taxes generated by student spending and tourism, this also includes $8 million in taxes on the university payroll and another $5 million from spending by retired staff. The rest is the tax generated by the university’s own direct capital expenditures and purchasing.

The report also highlights the various ways in which Cal Poly is playing key roles in San Luis Obispo economic development programs and efforts. For instance, many Cal Poly alumni have started companies in the local area that require knowledge workers, and these companies continue to seek out and hire Cal Poly graduates.

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) helps not just students but also local entrepreneurs. For the study period in question, the Small Business Development Center counseled 69 clients and helped start 10 new businesses, creating 46 jobs and helping startups secure $16.2 million in funds.

The university also plays a key role in community development and the work being done by not-for-profits in the region, providing more than $2 million in volunteer labor to a host of organizations.

The study provides a forecast for Cal Poly’s future impact, predicting that the impact on the local area will increase by 40 percent to nearly $2 billion by 2022.

The report authors write that “sustaining partnerships with local economic development groups and businesses and developing new collaborations will only enhance the future impacts of the university on the local area.”

Read the full Cal Poly economic impact study at (pdf).

Tennessee Valley Authority Economic Development FY 2014 Record – 60,300 jobs and $8.5 Billion Investment

The Tennessee Valley Authority released an update for economic development efforts for fiscal year 2014.


TVA (photo –

The update highlights TVA’s success in spurring record regional growth with more than 190 projects generating an investment of $8.5 billion, resulting in the attraction and retention of more than 60,300 jobs.

Here’s the breakup of the projects in the seven-state TVA service area:-

Middle Tennessee – 18,800 jobs and $2.3 billion

Northeast Tennessee and Virginia – 11,800 jobs and $1.1 billion

West Tennessee – 7,600 jobs and $1.2 billion

Southeast Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina – 7,000 jobs and $1.4 billion

Alabama – 5,800 jobs and $428 million

Mississippi – 4,700 jobs and $1.2 billion

Kentucky – 4,600 jobs and $909 million

The record FY 2014 growth in economic development projects supported by TVA is far higher than last year’s $5 billion and 52,000 jobs. TVA works with local, state and regional economic development agencies to support efforts at attracting new companies and retaining existing businesses, and helps communities prepare for economic growth opportunities.

Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Bill Johnson said in a statement that economic development is a core component of TVA’s mission of serving the nine million residents in the Valley and improving the quality of life.

TVA was once again recognized this year by Site Selection magazine as one of the top 10 North American utilities for leadership in economic development. This is the ninth consecutive year that TVA has been on this list.

A significant part of the stellar growth in the TVA region this year is attributed to several large Tennessee economic development projects. The list includes, among others, Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Hankook Tire in Clarksville, Beretta USA in Gallatin, Unilever in Covington, and Mohawk Industries in Dickson.

Some announced projects even resulted in additional investments and expansions by related companies. For example, the GM expansion in Spring Hill, TN led to suppliers Comprehensive Logistics Co. and Magna International following suit and announcing projects that are creating another 500 jobs.

Johnson added that these success stories are a result of strong partnerships and the competiveness of the region, including the benefit of reliable and affordable TVA electricity.

Apart from reliable power and competitive rates, TVA also attributed the improvement in its economic development record in 2014 to the overall increase in the number of new projects in the past couple of years.

TVA was created as a federally owned corporation when Congress passed the TVA Act in 1933. The corporation does not receive any taxpayer funding. They did get $1 billion as an initial appropriation to build dams and coal plants. In Sept 2014, TVA made the final payment on that original investment, and has now paid back the U.S. Treasury in full, plus interest.

Prologis Commerce Park Positions Tracy, CA for Economic Development and Job Growth

Industrial real estate developer Prologis, Inc. (NYSE:PLD) broke ground on the Prologis International Park of Commerce in Tracy, CA.


Prologis (photo –

At full build-out of 19 million square feet, the park will be the largest master-planned development in Northern California.

The location makes it exceedingly desirable, with three international airports within a 60-mile radius, along with BNSF intermodal and UP intermodal, and the Ports of Oakland and Stockton. Not to mention direct access to the Bay Area’s 7.4 million population with adjacency to I-5, I-205 and I-580.

The reason it hasn’t been developed until now was because a big part of it (over 1,000 acres) was the Cordes Ranch fronting I-205. It’s an ideal location for logistics projects serving the Bay Area, but the mix of different property types made it virtually impossible for developers to push it through the entitlement process.

San Francisco-based Prologis, the world’s largest developer of industrial real estate, was able to do it because of their long history of developments and projects favoring Tracy, including the announcement last year that they would build a massive fulfillment center for Amazon in the Prologis Park Tracy Phase II development.

Amazon’s decision to locate the 1.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Tracy brought more than 1,000 jobs and a flood of interest from other businesses expressing interest in Tracy.

Now Prologis is moving ahead with the International Park of Commerce as a logistics hub for the region. The company managed to get the City of Tracy to annex 1,780 acres fronting I-205 for the project (including the Cordes Ranch), and create entitlements for 30 million square feet of development.

Prologis has been granted a 25-year development agreement for 1,200 acres out of the total land annexed. The company agreed to pay the City $5 million within three years of annexation for funding community benefit projects of the City Council’s choice.

Tracy City Manager Troy Brown said in a statement that the Prologis International Park of Commerce puts Tracy economic development and job creation in an unprecedented position. Brown added that they anticipate 36,000 new jobs at the park as it reaches build-out.

Tracy Mayor Brent Ives likewise noted that the desirable location of the park will allow Bay Area companies to leverage San Joaquin County’s resources, and it will allow many residents to improve their quality of life by ending daily commutes and securing a job in Tracy itself.

The first building in the Prologis International Park of Commerce will be built to LEED specifications, and designed to be one of the advanced of its kind in the United States.

Orlando Approves Local Match For StarterCorps US Economic Development Administration Grant

The Orlando City Council has approved support for the creation of StarterCorps, a proposed seed fund and second-stage business accelerator to help technology startups grow into sustainable companies.


StarterCorps (photo – Starter Studio)

StarterCorps, established as a non-profit partnership involving the University of Central Florida, Starter Studio and Canvs, has been trying to raise the local match required for a federal grant they are applying to.

The Orlando City Council’s approval of $100,000 in matching funds for a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration provides a huge boost to the effort.

Starter Studio is Orlando’s first technical accelerator and runs classes on how to build and scale successful businesses, and informs participants about funding sources that are available to them.

But the problem is that startups in Orlando don’t have access to that many funding sources, as compared to opportunities available in more established startup hubs around the country. Florida is ranked 18th in terms of state rankings for seed capital invested in startups.

StarterCorps is supposed to fill this seed funding gap that has hindered the region’s innovation-based economic growth. The funded companies will also have access to a 3-month intensive mentoring program from Starter Studio, and will be provided co-working space at Canvs at the Church Street Exchange in downtown Orlando.

The Exchange has been revitalized as a center for technology in the heart of Orlando’s entertainment district. It is already home to the Orlando Tech Association and dozens of technology startups and related businesses.

The startups receiving seed funding from StarterCorps will therefore get co-working space and be able to tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem to help them grow.

It could be a big help for Orlando economic development if they can launch the StarterCorps evergreen seed fund and provide startups with all these other support services. But it only happens if and after the StarterCorps project secures enough launch funding commitments.

The U.S. EDA recently announced a $250,000 grant funding opportunity that is specifically meant to help the launch of community-based seed funds in regions that lack seed-funding capital for financing tech startups with high growth potential.

The EDA grant will be used to incorporate the fund and launch it, and raise at least $1 million in the first year and $3 million in five years. But in order to be eligible for the EDA funds, StarterCorps needs to come up with a 1:1 local funding match in the form of written commitments for $250,000 from public and private community partners.

A crowdfunding campaign they launched to raise $15,000 has secured just over $6,900 in 20 days. The City’s $100,000 commitment through its Community Redevelopment Agency not only fills a big part of the requirement, but will also generate more interest in the project, making it easier to raise the rest of the local match.

University of Southern California Opens Blackstone LaunchPad to Support Student Entrepreneurs

The University of Southern California held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Blackstone LaunchPad, USC’s first cross-campus entrepreneurship program.

Blackstone LaunchPad USC

Blackstone LaunchPad USC (photo –

The official opening of LaunchPad marks a new opportunity for all USC students to pursue entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

The program has been operational at USC since early this year, and has already supported around 70 startup teams and has more than 200 registered students.

The organization, based at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, provides individualized coaching and support for venture creation, helping students develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. USC has put together a recurring workshop curriculum for the program, and made seven trained coaches available for venture consulting.

The Blackstone LaunchPad program is modeled based on a 2008 program at the University of Miami, which has drawn more than 3,600 participants, generated over 1,700 business proposals and created around 600 jobs.

The LaunchPad model pioneered at the University of Miami was subsequently developed and expanded to other educational institutions by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. It is currently available to more than 350,000 undergraduate and graduate students, alumni and faculty at 15 universities and colleges around the nation.

Blackstone brought the program to Southern California in Feb 2014, with Los Angeles economic development organization LAEDC as the regional partner. The partnership currently includes USC, UCLA and UC-Irvine.  The Blackstone Foundation helped establish the program by providing a $3.5 million, three-year grant to make LaunchPad available to over 110,000 university students in Southern California.

UC-Irvine’s program is already underway, and LaunchPad at UCLA is about to start in a few days. Based on the program’s physical presence in each university campus and the resources being allocated, it is estimated that Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate some 1,400 new ventures in California over the next five years.

It also creates an interconnected innovation ecosystem in Southern California, and connects to universities in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Montana that are already sharing resources and enabling students to meet each other across universities and regions.

In fact, four USC student venture teams supported by LaunchPad were in New York City on Oct 28 to pitch their ventures on Blackstone Demo Day, along with 16 other teams from LaunchPads across the country.

The four USC student ventures that were picked to participate in the national pitch competition are as follows:-

Bread & Butter – This venture aims to connect underserved communities to food retailers with a daily food surplus;

Desert Farms – Billed as the first retail camel’s milk company in America;

Piggy – This tech startup aims to help users save money by depositing loose change from cash transactions back into their bank accounts; and

Q-Cigarettes – An affordable low-tech tool to help quitting smokers by improving the delivery of nicotine polacrilex gum.

Visit Blackstone for more information about the LaunchPad program.

Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina’s First-Month Scorecard

In its first month of operations after the official opening on Oct 6, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina chalked up a total of eight announced projects that together represent a combined total of $439 million in capital investment and 1,560 jobs being created.

EDPNC announced projects in Oct 2014

EDPNC announced projects in Oct 2014 (data from

The continued flow of announced projects marks the successful and smooth transition of North Carolina economic development functions from the NC Dept of Commerce to the new public-private partnership.

Under a contract with the state, the EDPNC is overseeing not just North Carolina’s efforts in economic development and international trade, but also tourism, film and sports business development.

Apart from the eight announced projects, the Partnership’s NC Film Office also managed to secure the third season of “Under the Dome.” The CBS television series production is expected to match or exceed last season’s in-state spending worth more than $33 million and employment of 1,500 people.

The EDPNC also arranged for several companies in the state to showcase their products and services at the Green Expo in Mexico City.

The Partnership also managed to secure another $440,000 in October through private sector contributions from five companies. According to information published by the EDPNC, this includes $200,000 from Duke Energy and another $100,000 from Red Hat Inc. The other three contributors were Piedmont Natural Gas, Lenovo Group Ltd and the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst is the EDPNC vice chair. Thomas Looney, vice president and general manager of Lenovo North America, is one of the other members of the five-member interim EDPNC board.

EDPNC Chair John Lassiter, who is president of Carolina Legal Staffing, said in a release that they’re delighted with the confidence companies have shown in joining them, and with the quality of new and expanding business prospects.

EDPNC interim CEO Richard Lindenmuth noted in the release that in less than a month, the Partnership has gone from start-up to successful business operations in an open and accountable manner.

In this spirit of openness and accountability, the EDPNC published the salaries of its 20 management level employees. Overall, the Partnership now has interim CEO Lindenmuth leading a team of 38 employees. Many of them were already working in economic development at the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and have taken on new and expanded roles at the EDPNC.

Lindenmuth added that they have a duty to the people of North Carolina to quickly show a positive return on efforts in economic development, international trade, film, tourism and sports development.

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