Economic Development

Massachusetts GLX Project Gets $996M Federal Grant Funding Agreement

Massachusetts’ plan to extend the MBTA Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford got a major boost with the announcement of a $996 million federal grant agreement.

MA Green Line Extension

MA Green Line Extension (photo – Pi.1415926535/wikimedia)

Governor Deval Patrick and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were joined by state, local and federal officials for the ceremony to commit the funds for the Green Line Extension (GLX) project.

GLX is a $2.3 billion project, with the Commonwealth covering the rest of the funding. The $996 million federal grant for the project will be provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts).

Work on the 4.7-mile light rail extension project began after the groundbreaking in 2012, and it is being built in four overlapping phases through 2020. It includes construction of six new stations, and purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles. They’ll also be building a new vehicle maintenance facility and a community bicycle and pedestrian path.

Once completed, trains will run every five to six minutes in the peak period, providing fast and efficient service between Boston and densely populated communities which currently lack rail transit even though 26 percent of residents in these areas do not own or have access to cars.

Gov. Patrick said in a release announcing the federal funding commitment that residents of Somerville, Cambridge and Medford will have more options for how they get to work, school and play. This, said the Governor, would lead to sustainable, smart growth in the local economies.

MassDOT Acting Secretary and CEO Frank DePaola said in the release that not only will GLX increase access to affordable, sustainable rapid transit but will also reduce traffic congestion and emissions as well.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott said that the investment in GLX will pay dividends down the line not just in expanding access to transit, but also through increased opportunities for Medford, Somerville and Cambridge economic development through the GLX MassWIN program.

MassDOT and the MBTA launched the Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now (MassWIN) GLX Program as a pilot project focused on job creation and workforce development in the communities along the GLX route.

It is designed to help build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects.

Specifically, the program is designed to identify, assess, and train residents so that they can meet the hiring requirements for local transportation and construction job opportunities created through GLX. Placing community members into career paths in these fields will help build sustainable communities by expanding the local workforce, businesses and neighborhoods.

Celator Pharmaceuticals Gets $1.94M in New Jersey Economic Development Tax Benefits

Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:CPXX) announced that it has received approximately $1,937,000 from the sale of its net operating losses for the year 2014.

Celator Pharmaceuticals

Celator Pharmaceuticals (photo – celatorpharma.com)

The company was able to do this for the sixth year in a row, having been approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to participate in the NJ Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program.

Under this program, technology and biotech companies in the state are able to sell their unused operating losses and R&D tax credits instead of carrying them forward. A company approved by the NJEDA to do this can sell their tax losses and credits to unaffiliated profitable companies for a minimum of 80 percent of the value of the tax benefits.

The NJEDA determines whether a company is eligible to do this, and the value of the tax benefits is decided by the NJ Division of Taxation. The nearly $1.94 million that Celator has received for 2014 is its largest award under this program to-date.

The company was approved to sell $2,083,000 of net operating losses for 2014, and netted approximately $1.94 million from the sale. Last year, Celator received approximately $1.4 million from the sale of its net operating losses for 2013, and used it to continue their research and development efforts.

Celator Pharmaceuticals CEO Scott Jackson said in a statement issued by the company that they are delighted the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved Celator to participate in this program.

“We are thankful for New Jersey’s strong support of the biotechnology industry,” said Jackson.

An unprofitable NJ-based company in the technology and biotechnology sectors with fewer than 225 employees (including parent company and subsidiaries) may apply to participate in the New Jersey Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program.

Approved companies may sell their losses and R&D tax credits up to a maximum lifetime benefit of $15 million per business. The proceeds must be used for growth and operations, including as working capital or to fund research.

The program thus allows promising startups and companies that are not currently in the black to turn net operating losses and R&D tax credits into working capital and research funding.

Ewing, NJ-based Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biotechnology company looking to transform combination therapy in oncology and develop products to improve outcomes for both patients and providers. Formulation and preclinical data packages for three novel drug combinations that make use of Celator’s proprietary platform technology are expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter this year.

Ipsos Survey From Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Shows Creativity Gap in US Workplace

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently commissioned a follow-up survey on the creativity gap in the U.S. workplace.

Creativity

Creativity (photo – Sean MacEntee/flickr)

The creativity gap, in this reference, is the disparity between the creative resources available and those being employed.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, offers an interesting comparison against a similar earlier survey conducted in 2007 and shows how the creativity gap in the U.S. workplace seems to be growing.

The latest survey shows that while 73 percent of American workers believe they are instinctively creative, only 42 percent actually claim their positions as being creative. A comparable 43 percent said the same about the company they work for.

This creativity gap is much wider now than in the 2007 survey in which 88 percent of respondents considered themselves creative, while 61 percent said they worked for a creative company or held a creative position (63 percent).

The first survey was conducted by telephone, while the new one collected responses online. But both were conducted during the same period of the year by Ipsos Public Affairs.

In a statement announcing the survey results, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., said that it is evident that the general sense of creativity seems to have suffered a bit in recent years as the economic landscape of the country has become less certain.

Gordon added that there was also a positive in the survey data in that young motivated workers still value creativity and are willing to move for jobs and employers that can provide it.

Among all survey respondents, only 32 percent said they would be willing to change to live in a creative community and 27 percent said they would be open to changing jobs to be more creative.

The percentage of younger workers who say they’d change jobs for a more creative environment is much higher at 39 percent. As age increases, the likelihood of wanting to make this move decreases. The other most likely set of respondents (33 percent) willing to switch jobs for a more creative economy are those making less than $50,000 a year.

Matthew Cronin, associate professor of management at George Mason University, said in the FCEDA release that the data shows that people are unhappy with the decrease in their ability to be creative in the workplace. Cronin added that the takeaway for employers here is that letting people be creative is an incentive.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County, VA as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, along with connections to state and county government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County.

Gov. Snyder Signs Bills Encouraging Detroit Economic Development and Job Creation

Governor Rick Snyder signed a slew of bills that includes legislation that will encourage Detroit economic development and job creation.

NMDC

NMDC (photo – michigan.gov)

The bills (SB 398 and HB 4783) allow the Michigan Strategic Fund Board to establish another Next Michigan Development Corporation zone for the City of Detroit.

Michigan already has five such NMDCs, and a sixth one for the Upper Peninsula has been approved through legislation passed in 2013. The creation of these NMDCs was originally authorized under the Next Michigan Development Act in 2010 to foster economic opportunities in the state.

Each NMDC that is created is authorized to grant economic development incentives to both new businesses as well as expanding businesses already located within the region it covers.

The NMDCs are strategically located industrial zones that support the development of businesses engaged in, relying on or supporting multimodal commerce. The NMDCs are able to deploy various tax-break statutes to promote logistics-related businesses around transportation centers. Businesses located in an NMDC may be eligible for property tax abatements and possibly also renaissance zone reductions of state and local taxes.

The five original NMDCs include:-

- Northern Nexus NMDC located within the Northwest Region of Michigan;

- I-69 International Trade Corridor NMDC located in the East Central Region of Michigan;

- Port Lansing NMDC located within the Central Region of Michigan;

- VantagePort NMDC located within Southeast Michigan; and

- West Michigan Economic Partnership NMDC located within the West Central Region of Michigan.

Both the Detroit and Upper Peninsula NMDC bills were sponsored by State Sen. Tom Casperson and State Rep. John Kivela.

In a statement issued after the bill signing, Gov. Snyder said that creating opportunities for additional economic development and investment helps continue Michigan’s growth and comeback.

“Adding a Next Michigan Development Corp. in Detroit will help create jobs and opportunities in the city as it moves forward,” said Gov. Snyder.

Apart from the bills that will allow the MSF to create the City of Detroit NMDC, the Governor also signed nine other bills, including House Bills 4481 and 4482. These bills, sponsored by State Representatives Harvey Santana and Frank Foster, respectively, are part of the legislation for updating the requirements for using of the 21st Century Jobs Fund.

The overall legislative package these bills are a part of is aimed at ensuring continued funding for Michigan economic development efforts including Pure Michigan ad campaigns, business development, job training and community revitalization programs.

SD Governor’s Office of Economic Development Partners With EPSCoR on IT Academy

The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Board of Regents are partnering with the state’s EPSCoR program to sponsor an IT Academy in the spring and summer to develop high-demand computer programming and IT skills.

SD EPSCoR IT Academy

SD EPSCoR IT Academy (photo – sdepscor.org)

EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is a program established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to assist states in establishing a self-sustaining academic research enterprise capable of contributing to the state’s economic development.

Including South Dakota, there are now 31 states and territories (Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) which have their own EPSCoR programs.

SD EPSCoR is focused on strengthening STEM education and research to increase science literacy and promote science-based South Dakota economic development.

Their partnership with GOED and the South Dakota Board of Regents public universities has enabled the creation of the Information Technology Consultant Academy offering four undergraduate courses and an internship to provide participants with a unique credential while entering an IT profession.

The spring term will include a course on introductory computer programming, followed by four computer science courses during the summer through which students will gain in-depth knowledge and skills in professional areas including software engineering and database management.

The courses will be offered online and taught by partnering institutions’ faculty. Students who successfully complete the undergraduate certificate program will be eligible to apply for a paid internship. The SD EPSCoR program provides South Dakota companies $2,000 in matching funds for providing the internship opportunities to students.

All credits earned by participants during the summer training courses count towards their degree program, putting students on track towards graduation and ready to join the workforce.

In a statement announcing the State’s partnership with the EPSCoR program to sponsor the IT Academy, Governor Dennis Daugaard said that it’s no secret that the state has been experiencing workforce shortages in a number of fields, including IT.

Gov. Daugaard added that the Academy will help them address the shortage of IT professionals by giving South Dakotans new opportunities for attaining IT skills at a substantially reduced rate. The Governor added that the IT Academy training program will save students almost $4,000 in tuition and fees.

South Dakota has received tens of millions of dollars for STEM education, research and economic development through competitive capacity building grants from the EPSCoR programs of the NSF, NASA, NIH, DOE, and USDA.

New NC Film and Entertainment Grant Keeps Focus on Economic Development

North Carolina’s 25 percent tax credit program for film and television productions has now expired. Its replacement is an annual grant program capped at $10 million.

NC Film Grant guidelines

NC Film Grant guidelines (photo – ncfilm.com)

The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund was created through legislation (S 744), with an allocation of $10 million under the state’s FY 2014-15 budget. The law allows for the grant program to be similarly funded for the next few years. It will be administered by the NC Department of Commerce.

Financial assistance to film and television productions in North Carolina will now be in the form of grant awards of up to 25 percent for qualifying expenses incurred by a production in the state.

The North Carolina Film Office, which is now a part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, will serve as a liaison between potential applicants and the NC Department of Commerce.

Apart from the usual application process, location and investment eligibility criteria for feature-length films, television or video series and commercials, the new Grant Fund also gives the NC Dept of Commerce considerable latitude in determining which productions should be awarded grants.

The proposed guidelines (goes into effect starting Jan 26, 2015) make it clear that the reduced amount now available for film and television production incentives will be awarded based on economic impact, same as other North Carolina economic development grants and incentive programs.

The criteria that will be taken into account when the NC Dept of Commerce reviews applications includes:-

-  The percentage of individuals estimated to work on the production who may be North Carolina residents;

- Whether the production features identifiable attractions or State locales that could induce tourism by out-of-state visitors to said attractions and locales;

- Whether the production invests in permanent improvements to public spaces, traditional downtown areas, public landmarks, residential areas and commercial districts, etc;

- Whether the production takes place in an economically distressed county or area of the State;

- The total qualifying in-state expenses, duration of the production, and whether the production company has an existing presence in North Carolina.

Focus on economic development aside, the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant Fund is actually going to be a bit of a let-down for the state’s entertainment industry. In 2013, the state handed out $61.2 million in film and television tax credits under the uncapped 25 percent rebate program. In 2012, it was $83 million.

Cutting that down to $10 million a year is going to make it harder for North Carolina to attract productions, especially since other states including California and New York have recently strengthened their incentive programs through legislation.

DC Mayor – Streetcar Will be a Welcomed Economic Engine

Vincent C. Gray, outgoing Mayor of the District of Columbia, issued a statement about the impending launch of the DC Streetcar system.

DC Streetcar

DC Streetcar (photo – DearEdward/flickr)

The initial phase of the DC Streetcar system is comprised of 2.4 miles of track to carry passengers on H Street and Benning Road. It was supposed to open before the end of the year, but has been pushed forward to later this month.

In the statement, Mayor Gray said that “We know that DC Streetcar will be a welcomed economic engine that will result in new services and amenities for the community and I am confident the benefits of DC Streetcars will be realized in the very near future.”

Streetcars first began rolling in Washington, D.C. back in 1862 and were common for a century until the system was dismantled in 1962. In 2002, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) undertook studies to consider the feasibility of constructing a modern Streetcar network covering all eight wards.

It was at first a part of a $12 billion Metro project covering the whole D.C. metropolitan area, but has since been scaled down to a DC project with 37 miles of track across eight lines to serve all eight wards. The first phase, meant to be a demonstration and testing project, is almost ready to open and covers 2.4 miles of track located specifically to help revitalize blighted commercial corridors.

If the DC government and DDOT manage to expand the transit project to provide Streetcar service to all eight wards, the economic development benefits could be huge. This according to a land use study commissioned by the DC Office of Planning, which considered the impact of the 37-mile network on development and tax revenue.

Once the Streetcar system is fully operational citywide, the impact study says that the number of DC residents within a quarter mile of a rail stop would increase from 16 to 50 percent, leading to a property value appreciation along the tracks of up to $7 billion. New developments would additionally add up to $8 billion, adding up to a total property value rise of up to $15 billion.

The City would directly benefit through up to $291 million in new annual tax revenue. The Streetcar system would attract some 1.3 million square feet of new retail development over a 10-year period, along with up to 7,700 new jobs.

Atlanta Streetcar Opening Caps Incredible Year of Economic Development

After a hiatus of 65 years, the Atlanta Streetcar is back and has resumed service as a modern mode of transit and a component of the Connect Atlanta Plan to increase urban mobility, sustainable development and livability in the City of Atlanta.

Atlanta Streetcar

Atlanta Streetcar (photo – theatlantastreetcar.com)

In a statement announcing the start of passenger service on the Streetcar, Mayor Kasim Reed said that “Opening the Atlanta Streetcar is the final highlight in an incredible year of economic development for the City of Atlanta.”

Mayor Reed added that the Streetcar links neighborhoods that have been divided for more than a generation, and the project has brought the largest infusion of federal funding into Atlanta’s transportation system in more than a decade.

The Mayor also noted that the Streetcar brings more energy, excitement and investment to the neighborhoods near some of the most important historic and tourist sites in Atlanta.

Phase One of the Breeze Card compatible Atlanta Streetcar provides last mile connectivity to MARTA and its affiliated rail and bus systems into the city center, and includes 12 stops linking the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site and Centennial Olympic Park.

For the first three months, residents and tourists alike will be able to ride free on the Streetcar as they visit attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Afterwards, a one-way trip adult ticket is $1, and up to two children can ride free with each paying adult. A one-day pass will cost $3, and a five-day visitor pass will be $10.

Future expansion plans call for linking the Streetcar to the Atlanta Beltline and the proposed downtown intermodal transit station, and also to future light rail services. Federal funding for the $92 million project cost of the Atlanta Streetcar project includes $47.6 million in TIGER II Federal Transit Administration grant funds, matched with investments by the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management came up $8 million, and the Atlanta Regional Commission Livable Centers Initiative Program provided another $6.45 million.

The Streetcar may have just resumed service, but it is already hugely successful as a transit-based Atlanta economic development project that has attracted $561 million in investment in the last four years within a five-minute walk of the track alignment.

By 2030, the presence of the Streetcar is projected to enable Downtown Atlanta to experience 5.1 million square feet of retail absorption and an addition of 4.4 million square feet of new office space.

A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, said in the release that since it’s now officially launched, the Streetcar will continue to provide significant economic benefits for many years to come.

Robinson added that the launch of the Streetcar caps an incredible year for the City and Downtown, and they are excited to build on these milestones in the years ahead.

Louisiana Economic Development Releases Report on 2014 Economic Highlights

A year-end report released by Louisiana Economic Development details the state’s economic performance over the past seven years and selected highlights for calendar year 2014.

LED Economic Highlights report

LED Economic Highlights report (photo – opportunitylouisiana.com)

The report states that Louisiana’s job growth since Jan 2008 has been significantly greater than the overall rate for the South and the United States as a whole.

According to BLS data, Louisiana has added 82,100 private-sector jobs since Jan 2008, which puts the state second in the South and fifth nationally in terms of job growth during this period.

During the last 12 months (Nov 2013 to Nov 2014) for which data is available, Louisiana added 28,500 private-sector jobs. This 5.2 percent job growth rate is far higher than the South’s 2.9 percent and the national rate of 1.8 percent.

The state has shown improvements in all major indicators including population growth, export growth, per capita income and real GDP.

This performance was reflected in a slew of national rankings published in 2014. Louisiana is now in the top 10 states for doing business in five national business climate rankings including Site Selection, Business Facilities, Area Development, DCI, and Chief Executive.

Site Selection magazine ranked Louisiana’s business climate as second in the nation in 2014 – the highest that Louisiana has ever reached in the magazine’s annual rankings.

Business Facilities magazine did one better and named Louisiana the No. 1 business climate in the U.S. – making it the first time that Louisiana has topped a national ranking of state business climates.

LED managed to tie for second place in DCI’s rankings for the best-performing state economic development agency.

As for actual performance, LED, working with local and regional partners, secured 71 major project wins in 2014. This includes 27 new projects and 44 expansion or retention projects.

Together, these projects are projected to generate more than $16 billion in new capital investment and create more than 25,000 new jobs (8,200 direct and nearly 17,000 indirect) and retain more than 11,500 jobs.

Once executed, these projects will provide $61 million in new state tax revenue and hundreds of millions more in new sales for small businesses in Louisiana.

These figures do not include the impact of direct LED support provided to Louisiana small businesses through LED’s Small Business Services team and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center network.

These efforts are credited with helping create approximately 745 new jobs and retention of 234 jobs, and the launch of 102 new businesses with $36.7 million in debt and equity investment.

Announcing the release of the year-end report, LED Secretary Stephen Moret said in a statement that 2014 was a very encouraging year for the Louisiana economy, with a diverse array of new project announcements and significant forward progress on previously announced projects.

Louisiana Economic Development’s Selected Economic Highlights for 2014 report (pdf).

Minnesota Economic Development Dept Awards $6.5M Grants for Pollution Cleanup

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has awarded grants to support pollution cleanup or investigation projects at 17 redevelopment sites.

Pollution

Pollution (photo – hindustanilanguage/wikimedia)

The $6.5 million in Minnesota economic development funding is expected to help the 17 projects create 498 new jobs and retain another 898 jobs.

Not to mention that the projects will generate a total of more than $4.8 million in local property tax revenue for 152 acres of formerly polluted land.

The grants are being provided through DEED’s Contamination Cleanup and Investigation Grant Program, and will support planned projects that include everything from a children’s museum to a daycare center and senior housing complex, a mixed-use development, a light-industrial building, hotel and dock facility.

One of the biggest projects in the lot is the redevelopment of the Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP) site in Fridley, MN into a 561,000-square-foot industrial project. The 40.17-acre site is located 700 feet from the Minnesota River, and was used by the U.S. Navy and defense contractors for producing advanced weapons systems from 1940 to 2012. It is now polluted with petroleum and other contaminants.

The NIROP redevelopment project is receiving $903,500 as a cleanup grant from DEED, with matching costs to be covered by the developer, tax increment financing and other grants. The project will create 70 new jobs, while helping retain 560 jobs and increasing the tax base by $816,860.

Another light-industrial building project approved to receive a $1.25 million grant for cleanup costs is the Midway Stadium site in St. Paul, MN. The 12.89-acre ballpark was used as an unpermitted dumpsite after being demolished, and the cleanup will remove various pollutants from the site. This project will create 63 new jobs while helping retain 126 jobs and increasing the tax base by $814,331.

A 3.84-acre site in Hastings, MN, formerly occupied by agricultural sprayer maker Hudson Manufacturing, is being redeveloped into a mixed-use project that includes apartments, a restaurant, hotel, an events center and art space. This project has been awarded $256,142 for clean-up costs, and is expected to create 74 jobs and increase the tax base by $200,000.

The City of Mankato was awarded $98,497 as additional cleanup costs to remove pollutants from the site of a former bus maintenance facility that had become an unpermitted dump. This latest funding award supplements a $209,412 grant awarded to the same project earlier this year. The City plans to open the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in a renovated building on the site.

The museum and the Mankato Economic Development Authority are providing the matching local costs required for the DEED grant.

DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a release announcing the grant awards that the Contamination Cleanup Grant Program has shown solid performance in stimulating economic development and helping generate thousands of jobs in Minnesota.

Since its inception more than 21 years ago, the program has awarded more than $148 million to over 400 projects statewide. These projects have created more than 20,000 jobs and reclaimed 3,248 acres of blighted property.

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