Economic Development

Denver Economic Development Launches Retail Recruitment Incentive Program and Website

The Denver Office of Economic Development has launched two new initiatives aimed at strengthening the city’s retail sector and encouraging retailers to open new outlets, expand their offerings and create jobs.

Denver Retail Scene website

Denver Retail Scene website to promote retail recruitment

One of the initiatives is a new incentive program for retail projects, and the other one is a retail recruitment and marketing website that includes a GIS-based site selection mapping tool.

The Retail Attraction incentive program is being launched with an initial funding level of $200,000 aimed at attracting prospective retailers to Denver.

The program targets small to mid-sized retailers that are new to Denver, and new store openings by retailers who already have a presence.

The focus is on locally unique stores and first-in-market retailers fulfilling consumer needs that are not currently being met.

The new website ( showcases shopping districts and areas in Denver, along with industry news, retail trends and success stories of individuals that highlight the potential for success in Denver’s retail scene.

The portal also offers retail real estate professionals and site selectors a GIS-based mapping and data tool to help them find suitable locations for expansions and new retail outlets. The site will be updated regularly to include new retail areas throughout Denver.

Denver Economic Development Office Director Paul Washington said the combination of the website and new incentive strategy is a significant milestone of the city’s JumpStart 2014 strategic economic development plan.

“We now have a comprehensive, robust retail recruitment strategy and toolkit that should result in increased retail sales tax activity,” said Washington.

The new initiatives and funding reinforce Denver’s existing overall business recruitment package which includes Denver Enterprise Zone tax credits and strategic lending options, site selection assistance, and workforce development support through custom training and job fairs.

The new measures adding to these existing resources were developed after a study commissioned by the City and County of Denver last year highlighted the potential for retail sector growth, but also identified challenges such as the lack of large-site general merchandise stores and the need to reduce sales tax revenue leakage caused by city residents shopping elsewhere.

The Retail Conditions and Opportunities Study advocated for a more comprehensive retail recruitment strategy on the part of the local government, and the government is now responding with these new measures.

“We are delivering on the first steps under the city’s strategic retail plan to grow Denver’s retail markets by strengthening the city’s retail hubs and by bringing more opportunity to business districts throughout the city,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Milwaukee to Unveil Action Agenda for Economic Development

The City of Milwaukee has developed an Action Agenda for economic development that highlights actions the city government and others need to take to capitalize on regional strategies for growth that have recently been put in place.

Growing Prosperity - Milwaukee Action Agenda for Economic Development

Growing Prosperity – Milwaukee Action Agenda for Economic Development

The document is titled “Growing Prosperity: An Action Agenda for Economic Development in the City of Milwaukee.”

In a letter accompanying the report, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says “Growing Prosperity” is not just a title but a goal, and the Agenda provides a clear path to reach that goal.

The report provides guidelines for aligning the city’s growth plans with the recently developed Milwaukee 7 “Framework for Economic Growth.” This is a regional economic development platform (pdf) for the 7-county region in southeastern Wisconsin (Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties).

The City’s Action Agenda focuses on four main areas Рlocation-based opportunities; human capital development; entrepreneurship and innovation; and quality of life and place.

For instance, one of the action items under the location-based opportunities category is to implement a data-driven, location-specific approach to large site development. The goals specified include developing, maintaining and publishing a comprehensive list of available sites in Milwaukee.

They also call for an inventory of 100 acres of “shovel ready” industrial sites for development, and the return of 500 acres of brownfields to active industrial use within ten years.

Specific actions that need to be taken by various City departments make up around half of the action items in the report. The rest require partnerships with businesses, non-profits and other stakeholders in the City of Milwaukee. More than 130 community leaders and stakeholders were called for a meeting where these principles and action items were agreed upon and developed.

Growing Prosperity also stresses on the importance of City strategies that support and fulfill the needs of key industry clusters identified by the Milwaukee 7 that will drive economic growth and job creation in the region.

These clusters include food and beverage processing; power, energy, controls and automation; water technology; headquarters and business services; and finance and insurance.

The Milwaukee economic development Action Agenda also contains a set of guiding principles such as fostering public-private partnerships, and attracting and nurturing ecologically friendly businesses with the aim of greening the city and generating support for Milwaukee’s evolving culture of sustainability.

Mayor Barrett notes in the letter that the development of this Action Agenda affirmed their belief that effective economic development requires partnerships.

“We need private sector businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and strong citizen input if we are to realize our potential…We worked in tandem with the Milwaukee 7 so that our efforts complement the region’s economic development efforts,” said Mayor Barrett.

Kentucky’s SOAR Economic Development Initiative Gets US EDA Grant

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced a $312,000 grant to assist with the formation and implementation of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative in Kentucky.


SOAR (photo –

SOAR was launched in late 2013 as an eastern Kentucky economic development initiative by Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Representative Hal Rogers after a downturn in the coal market led to historically high levels of poverty and unemployment in the region.

The initiative seeks a collaborative and integrated approach for diversifying eastern Kentucky’s economy. The aim is to help the region develop and put locally-oriented strategies in place to promote private sector growth and job creation in the region.

Specifically, the EDA investment will support implementation and technical assistance by a consortium comprised of nine Area Development Districts.

“This vital EDA assistance will help SOAR in its mission to help eastern Kentucky capitalize on its strengths to diversify, innovate and implement job-creating diversification strategies,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams.

The EDA grant was matched by an announcement of a $1 million investment by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This investment by CNCS will enable the organization to add 52 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members.

This will in turn translate into more than 100,000 volunteer hours in service of eastern Kentucky families and individuals in areas including health and human services, education, youth engagement, raising funds and job creation. It will also help 16 educational organizations and local non-profits build capacity and do more to expand opportunity and tackle poverty in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer said that AmeriCorps members are passionate and dedicated citizens who give a year of their lives to service, and added that this will make a big difference for eastern Kentucky.

Gov. Beshear, who is attending USDA’s upcoming Rural Opportunity Investment Conference in Washington D.C., said he will take it as an opportunity to talk about SOAR and how they are using public-private partnerships to change the course of this rural region.

The Governor said the audience at the conference will include up to 500 movers and shakers, including government officials, economic development experts, rural business leaders and major investors.

“This is a great opportunity to not only spread the word about SOAR but also to plant seeds that, hopefully, lead to future investments,” said Gov. Beshear.

Seed Chicago Promotes Economic Development Through Crowdfunding

The third round of Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns supported by Seed Chicago is almost complete, and they’re once again looking at a success rate that’s much higher than the usual percentage of successfully funded projects on Kickstarter.

Seed Chicago

Seed Chicago (photo –

Seed Chicago is an initiative that is a part of the Chicago economic development plan (Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs).

The curated Seed Chicago page on Kickstarter was developed by World Business Chicago, the City’s main non-profit economic development organization.

The inaugural round of Seed Chicago projects was completed in May 2013, having raised more than $50,000 from over 900 backers.

The second round of projects in August 2013 managed to raise more than $104,000, and MillerCoors pitched in with additional matching funds to the tune of $50,000, adding up to a total of $154,000.

The Seed Chicago page on Kickstarter now includes tips and tools developed from the experiences learnt and feedback provided from the 25 crowdfunding campaigns (13 successfully funded) on Kickstarter supported and highlighted by Seed Chicago.

The kind of projects they agree to highlight include small businesses and community development projects that revitalize neighborhoods, create new jobs, facilitate economic activity, and promote education and training.

The crowdfunding campaigns for the third round of Seed Chicago projects is now underway and about to end. Six of the projects have already been successfully funded from April through June this year, including Good Glass Chicago – a startup business born out of a job-training program for at-risk adolescent mothers run by non-profit social enterprise Bright Endeavors.

The biggest project in the lot is Breakwater Chicago – a floating luxury entertainment venue on Lake Michigan, offshore from the Chicago shoreline.

With six projects already funded this year and five more to go, it looks like Seed Chicago will be maintaining it’s better than average funding record on Kickstarter.

One of the projects which is close to reaching its crowdfunding target is Level – they need $10,000 to purchase computers and equipment to establish internet cafes in underserved communities in Chicago.

Level has already received around $7,500, which is 74 percent of their $10,000 target, with three more days to go.

NOVACES Helping US Economic Development Administration With Disaster Recovery Services in Arkansas

New Orleans-based NOVACES announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded it a task order to provide disaster recovery services.

Tornado impact in Arkansas

Tornado impact in Arkansas (photo –

NOVACES, a consulting firm that provides disaster recovery and response services, will be working with federal, state, regional and local officials in Arkansas where tornadoes caused severe damage in April 2014.

The firm will help identify recovery challenges, develop strategies for economic recovery, and will outline technical assistance options and recovery actions that can be taken by officials.

The task order was awarded by the EDA through a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) it has with NOVACES. The firm has previously provided similar services under the BPA in New Jersey in the aftermath of Sandy, and in Oklahoma after the May 2013 tornadoes.

The disaster recovery services they provide build on the key role the firm played in the official response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. As a result of these efforts, NOVACES was able to develop a disaster and emergency response framework they call “Agile Emergency Management.”

This technique improves disaster response logistics and delivers far better cost-control, and also makes management easier by providing Command leaders with dashboard situational awareness. Agile Emergency Management accelerates the recovery process and helps provide executive stakeholders a big picture perspective of the recovery efforts.

The new task order to provide disaster recovery services in Faulkner County, AR was necessitated by tornadoes that ripped through a four-county area in central and northeast Arkansas on April 27, 2014. It caused 15 fatalities, including 11 in Faulkner County where the cities of Mayflower and Vilonia took the brunt of the damage. More than 328 homes were completely flattened, and hundreds more suffered major damage.

NOVACES will be working on this project with DADCO Consulting, one of the leading disaster recovery firms that works with economic development agencies and organizations.

DADCO Consulting has helped boost economic development in southeast Louisiana by helping the seafood sector recover after the BP oil spill. DADCO first began providing disaster recovery services in the Gulf through the Gulf Reinvestment Forum after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have been involved in the response to major incidents around the world such as the recovery of Japan’s devastated northeast coast.

Economic Development News – Fourth of July Edition

Here’s some nice economic development news timed perfectly to coincide with the start of the Fourth of July weekend.

Star fields for U.S. Flag made at Allied facility in Bogalusa, La.

Star fields for U.S. Flag made at Allied facility in Bogalusa, La. (photo –

First up, Allied Materials and Equipment Company, Inc., which produces U.S. flags for federal agencies, announced an expansion of its facility in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

The company is investing $340,000 and creating 21 new jobs in Washington Parish. The investment is supposed to be for purchasing new embroidery equipment used for applying stars onto the blue canton of the American flag.

“On the eve of our nation’s Independence Day celebration, it is truly fitting that we celebrate this expansion by Allied Materials & Equipment Company today in Washington Parish,” said Governor Bobby Jindal.

As per estimates from Louisiana Economic Development, the project will support the creation of another 12 indirect jobs, adding up to a total of more than 30 new jobs in Bogalusa and Washington Parish.

Ryan Seal, executive director of the Washington Economic Development Foundation, said they have maintained a great working relationship with Allied Materials & Equipment Company since 2001, and congratulated them on their continued investment in Bogalusa.

Greater New Orleans Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht said this announcement is symbolic not only of opportunity in America, but moreover of opportunity in Greater New Orleans.

Let’s go over from Washington Parish to Washington, D.C., where President Obama kicked off the Fourth of July weekend by visiting tech start-up hub 1776. Founded in Jan 2013, the hub is named 1776 for the year in which the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

President Obama toured the 1776 campus and heard business pitches from the incubator’s member startups in education, energy, transportation, health and other fields.

Meanwhile, Kansas wants employers to celebrate Independence Day by taking the KanVet “Hire a Veteran Pledge” to indicate that they will consider qualified veterans for job openings, and work with KANSASWORKS staff for identifying qualified veterans as candidates. So far, 29 companies in Kansas have signed this pledge.

Connecticut Economic Development Wins Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Disney-ABC Domestic Television has relocated one of its longest-running shows to the Connecticut Film Center in Stamford, CT.

CT film tax credit

CT film tax credit (photo –

“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” now in its 13th year of syndication and hosted this time by former NFL player and Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews, has begun shooting in Stamford for the 2014-2015 season.

Valleycrest Productions, a Disney entity which is the show’s producer, will be eligible to claim a tax credit offered by Connecticut under the Digital Media and Motion Picture Tax Credit Program.

This tax credit program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Film, Television and Digital Media.

Eligible productions can claim a tax credit on a sliding scale of up to 30 percent for qualified digital media and motion-picture pre-production, production and post-production expenses incurred within Connecticut.

The first U.S. version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire aired on Aug 16, 1999 and was the first network game show offering a million dollar top prize for the winner. The show made history as one of the highest-rated television game shows, and eventually ended up with seven Daytime Emmy Awards.

It¬†has been taped in New York City since 1999, and was located at ABC’s Television Center East studio in the Upper West Side until 2012, after which it was¬†moved to NEP Broadcasting’s Metropolis Studios in East Harlem.

The show’s relocation to Connecticut brings 150 new jobs to Stamford. “This relocation Рand the 150 jobs that come with it Рis just the latest example of how our efforts to build Connecticut’s television and digital media industry have paid off tremendously over the last three years,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

Gov. Malloy added that with successful economic development tools like the motion picture tax credit program, Connecticut will be able to attract the kinds of digital media and productions that not only bring new investments to the state, but also good-paying jobs with good benefits.

The Connecticut General Assembly approved legislation establishing the Digital Media and Motion Picture Tax Credit Program in 2006 to encourage the production of motion pictures and digital media in the state.

Since then, the Connecticut Economic Development Dept. has issued $365 million in tax credits that have leveraged $1.2 billion worth of spending in the state by digital media, film and television productions.

Illinois Unveils Five-Year Economic Development Plan

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has released a five-year economic development plan for the state which sets out priorities for encouraging private-sector job growth and business vitality.

Illinois Economic Development Plan

Illinois Economic Development Plan

The plan, developed and administered by the DCEO, requires close cooperation with Illinois economic development officials at the local level, and specifies growth targets to be achieved by 2019 in terms of job growth and business launches.

“This plan will serve as our guide as we continue to make the smart decisions and investments necessary to drive more job growth statewide,” said Governor Pat Quinn.

As per the 80-page plan, Illinois will be looking at attracting 75,000 jobs from outside the state. Furthermore, the new jobs the plan wants to create should have an average wage of $57,200, which is 10 percent higher than the state average.

They are targeting 360,000 business launches through 2019, which represents an increase of 10 percent in business starts in each region of the state. The plan wants to enable Illinois universities to launch 1,500 new startups over the next five years.

They are setting a target of creating 10,000 new jobs in areas of the state with the highest unemployment, and aiming for a 25 percent growth in the number of people participating in workforce training programs.

The report calls for incorporating a cluster-based strategy into economic development practices, citing New York’s successful efforts to support its dairy industry by attracting yogurt makers.

The plan highlights seven high-potential clusters in Illinois singled out for their growth potential, above-average salaries, and prominence in different parts of the state.

The seven targeted sectors include advanced materials; agribusiness, food processing and technology; biomedical; clean technology; IT and telecom; machinery and fabricated metal products manufacturing; and transportation and logistics.

The report also identifies seven initiatives for spurring economic development in Illinois.

- Strengthen the state’s ongoing business attraction, retention, and support initiatives;

- Promote economic development on a regional level;

- Develop an increasingly competitive workforce;

- Increase fairness and opportunity;

- Make Illinois a top destination for entrepreneurs;

- Implement a comprehensive, statewide strategy to drive innovation; and

- Modernize and revitalize infrastructure.

The report outlines strategies for each of these initiatives. For example, the fairness and opportunity initiative can be implemented through strategies such as focusing resources on distressed communities, doubling the state EITC, increasing the minimum wage, and expanding veteran job training and placement programs.

Read the full Illinois economic development plan – Download (pdf)

U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Annual Report

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has submitted its annual report for fiscal year 2013 to Congress.

US EDA annual report

US EDA annual report

The report shows that in FY 2013, the EDA invested more than $360 million in 670 economic development projects nationwide.

Grantees expect that the EDA’s investments are helping generate nearly $3.3 billion in private investment and help create or retain approximately 67,000 jobs.

Highlights from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Annual Report:-

- In FY 2013, the EDA provided $158 million in disaster recovery funding to support the recovery plans and projects of 78 communities affected by floods, tornadoes and hurricanes;

- Out of the total of $360 million invested by the EDA, a full $263 million was for construction projects;

- EDA announced the Make it in America Challenge in 2013, and awarded $20.5 million to ten winners of the challenge; and

- Also in 2013, the EDA took a leadership role in the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program. The EDA and other agencies awarded $7 million to 44 communities to help them create strategies that would enable them to compete for the IMCP designation.

The EDA also partnered with several organizations to create new economic development tools and data that will assist communities in achieving their economic goals.

One of these is a study undertaken by Georgia Tech Research Corporation with EDA’s support to examine best practices in promoting exports and attracting FDI. The study is available on the website’s tools section.

Another new tool is the recently unveiled U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry web site, developed by the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, again with EDA’s support.

EDA also supported an expansion of the National Excess Manufacturing Capacity Catalog in partnership with the University of Michigan and the Center for Automotive Research.

This last project takes site selection tool look-ups to a whole new level.The pilot project identified vacant and underutilized manufacturing facilities in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, and established a portal linked to the searchable database of facilities.

This portal ( highlights both the physical assets and the workforce-based assets of the host communities it covers.

In a statement, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said that “After nearly 50 years, EDA remains the only federal agency solely focused on economic development, which makes it uniquely positioned to address needs that are not met by other public- and private-sector resources.”

Williams adds that as the global economy continues to change and communities across the country face new challenges, EDA will “continue to help communities meet those challenges head on and prosper and grow for years to come.”

Read the full U.S. EDA FY 2013 annual report (pdf), or see a state-by-state breakup using this map. 

Three Buffalo Billion Economic Development Projects to Get $200M in NY State Funding

The Empire State Development Board of Directors has approved nearly $200 million for three Buffalo economic development projects under the Buffalo Billion initiative.

Buffalo Billion

Buffalo Billion (photo –

The announcement was made by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “These projects are another example of how our Buffalo Billion strategy is invigorating the economy of Western New York – by building on the region’s strengths, attracting private investment and creating sustainable, good paying jobs,” said Gov. Cuomo.

One of the projects approved for funding is the Buffalo High-Tech Innovation and Commercialization Hub at RiverBend – a $1.7 billion project being undertaken by a public-private partnership that will convert the formerly vacant brownfield manufacturing site into a campus for high-tech and green energy manufacturing businesses.

The ESD Board approved a $107 million grant for this project, to be used as reimbursement for real estate acquisition, site and infrastructure development, and construction costs. This $107 million brings the State’s commitment for the Riverbend project to $225 million, including the $118 million that was approved by ESD in March 2014.

The project’s anchor tenants are Soraa and Silevo, and the initial phase is expected to create 850 jobs. Over time, the project will include six new structures that will accommodate 1,200 new jobs in green energy, high-tech and biotech. The Riverbend project aims to establish Buffalo as an advanced research and manufacturing hub for clean energy technologies.

The ESD Board also approved another $35.3 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Institute that will be operated by EWI. This institute is being established to help local manufacturers in Western New York develop, commercialize and implement the latest manufacturing technologies and to help them solve production issues that lead to greater operational efficiencies.

The third Buffalo economic development project getting a $55 million grant is the Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub, which is expected to create 500 jobs in Buffalo. This is again a public-private partnership that is establishing a high-end software development center in downtown Buffalo with IBM as the anchor tenant.

The Fort Schuyler Management Corporation will own the real estate and specialized IT equipment including high-speed servers and supercomputers that will be used by IBM and other companies to develop cutting-edge software for industries such as health, defense and the energy sector.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that Western New York is energizing economic growth by focusing on advanced manufacturing and the life sciences.

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