Economic Development

Minnesota Economic Development Department Launches Pilot Programs to Assist Small Businesses

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that it is launching multiple pilot programs to assist small businesses in Minnesota expand and improve their operations.

Minnesota small business infographic

Minnesota small business infographic (photo – mn.gov)

The new programs announced include the Job Training Incentive Pilot Program, Innovation Voucher Pilot Program, and the Greater Minnesota Job Expansion Program.

Governor Mark Dayton said in a release that these pilot programs will give small businesses the support they need for growing and continue creating jobs in communities across Minnesota.

The Greater Minnesota Job Expansion Program offers small businesses outside the Twin Cities area sales tax refunds on all purchases made for a seven-year period.

In order to be eligible, small businesses must have been operating in Greater Minnesota  for at least a year, and must commit to increasing their workforce at a single facility by two new employees or 10 percent of the existing workforce (whichever is greater) within three years.

The exact size of the sales tax refund (maximum of $2 million per year or $10 million over seven years) will be determined by the Minnesota Economic Development Department based on the investment and job creation associated with the project. This will be a performance-based incentive where DEED certifies businesses to participate, and then monitors their hiring and wage commitments.

The Innovation Voucher Pilot Program will offer small businesses up to $25,000 to help small businesses secure technical assistance and services from non-profits and higher educational institutions.

Voucher recipients, who need to put up a cash match of 50 percent of the voucher award, can redeem the vouchers for everything from research to product development, technical development, commercialization, technology exploration, market development and improved business practices.

The new Job Training Incentive Pilot Program is an extension of an existing program called the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. The new program will offer grants of up to $50,000 for training workers being hired for new facilities or expansion projects.

Priority will be given under this program for projects in the IT, manufacturing and skilled production industries and for firms located in Greater Minnesota. Recipients need to have less than 150 existing workers, and should be increasing their workforce by at least 10 percent, with a minimum of five new jobs to be created.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said that these programs will help companies throughout Minnesota continue doing what they do best – creating jobs and driving innovation.

New York Announces Global NY Economic Development Initiative to Boost Exports and International Trade

New York State is launching an economic development initiative called Global NY aimed at making the state’s businesses more competitive internationally and attracting companies from around the globe to New York.

Gov. Cuomo at Global NY Summit

Gov. Cuomo at Global NY Summit (photo – ny.gov)

The announcement was made by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during his address to the first Global NY Summit on World Trade and Investment held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

As part of the initiative, the Empire State will create a $35 million global development fund and work in partnership with the federal Ex-Im Bank to help New York’s small- and medium-sized companies grow their exports.

Gov. Cuomo said in his speech that New York is going to be the first state in the nation that forms its own Ex-Im bank. The Governor said he worked with the Export-Import Bank as a federal official, and they finance both loans and grants for companies that want to develop the capacity to market overseas, as well as foreign companies that want to come to the United States.

Gov. Cuomo added that the initial $35 million capitalization for the global development fund will provide a real vehicle that can facilitate companies that want to make exactly this transaction.

The $35 million Fund will be used for three separate initiatives. Empire State Development Corporation, the official New York economic development agency, will dedicate $25 million for a lending program to help companies develop capacity to enter new markets.

ESDC will work together on this lending program with more than 20 private lenders in the state to leverage $50 million of additional overall small business lending.

The second initiative under the development fund will be a $10 million grant fund that will provide up to $25,000 to small- and medium-sized businesses to help them develop export capacity including for export marketing plans, market certification, website translation and product adaptation.

The third part of the development fund is an actual partnership with the federal Ex-Im Bank in order to connect creditworthy small businesses to export financing in the form of short-term loans of up to $500,000.

The Governor also noted that ESDC has a tremendous capacity for internationally global marketing, and they are very excited about the websites and online approaches.

The website for the initiative can be found at global.ny.gov, which will function as a one-stop shop offering resources and information for both local and foreign businesses looking for business opportunities that can help grow jobs in New York.

The site explains how businesses can connect to programs such as START-UP NY and other New York economic development incentive programs. It offers information and links for the ten regional economic development councils, and contact information for NY State trade offices all over the world.

As part of the Global NY initiative, Gov. Cuomo also announced a series of overseas trade missions over the next couple of years. The first five trade missions will be to Mexico, Canada, China, Israel and Italy.

 

Los Angeles Economic Development Corp Report – High Tech in LA Supports 368,500 Jobs

A new report that reviews the high tech sector in Los Angeles finds that the sector employed more than 368,500 people in 2013, more than any other metro region in the nation.

Mayor Garcetti releases LAEDC High Tech in LA report

Mayor Garcetti releases LAEDC High Tech in LA report (photo – laedc.org)

The report was prepared by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) Institute for Applied Economics, and funded with support from JPMorgan Chase.

Highlights from the High Tech in LA report:-

- The high tech sector in Los Angeles employs 368,500 people, accounting for nine percent of all employment and almost 17 percent of all payroll wages. If you factor in the indirect and induced jobs, the sector supports a total of 763,600 jobs;

- High tech jobs outside the high tech sector add up to 104,680;

- All these high tech jobs pay wages that are on average 70 percent higher than wages in other industries;

- The economic impact of high tech in LA is just as impressive, with $58.7 billion in labor income and a total of $108.3 billion contribution to the regional GDP;

- As for the tax impact, the report estimates that the high tech sector generated $21.8 billion in tax revenues last year, including local, state and federal taxes.

This is the first such report quantifying the high tech economy in Los Angeles prepared by the LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics. It spotlights the fact that Los Angeles County’s 368,600 high tech sector jobs exceeds the 313,300 high tech jobs in Santa Clara County aka Silicon Valley.

Not to mention the fact that it also tops Boston-Cambridge (361,400) and New York City (234,400).

The report was released as part of the kick-off of the inaugural Los Angeles Innovation Week to showcase LA’s high tech leadership.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a release that the Los Angeles tech industry is now as critical to the economy as the entertainment and manufacturing sectors, and Los Angeles is outperforming New York, Boston and Santa Clara County.

The Mayor added that in order to keep it this way, they will have to ensure that the workforce and students are prepared.

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Bill Allen said that this watershed study puts the exclamation point on what they already knew anecdotally, but hadn’t yet quantified about Los Angeles’ high tech and innovation revolution.

The week-long schedule of events celebrating Los Angeles Innovation Week are being organized by the LAEDC, the City and County of Los Angeles, and other public and private sector partners across the region.

Read the full High Tech in LA report – Download (pdf)

North Carolina Economic Development Partnership Officially Open For Business

As of Oct 6, 2014, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina has officially taken over economic development functions from the NC Department of Commerce.

EDPNC

EDPNC (photo – thrivenc.com)

The EDPNC was created as a non-profit corporation for consolidating and enhancing the state’s marketing and business recruitment functions.

Operating under a contract with the state, the new Partnership will oversee North Carolina efforts and programs ranging from economic development and international trade to film, tourism and sports development.

The NC Commerce Department retains control over state funding and decisions regarding awards of job creation incentive packages.

The EDPNC will use the state’s 10-year jobs plan as a roadmap. This jobs plan was created by the North Carolina Economic Development Board on behalf of Governor Pat McCrory.

The Governor said in a release announcing the partnership’s official launch that North Carolina is open for business, with a new office, new structure and a bold new approach on how they sell the state.

Gov. McCrory added that they will aggressively recruit businesses worldwide and help existing companies grow, creating jobs and opportunities across the state and competing more effectively for business growth.

EDPNC Chairman John Lassiter said this new structure gives them a competitive advantage because they’re enlisting public and private resources to help promote North Carolina’s assets.

Under the terms of the contract with the state as authorized through legislation (House Bill 1031), the EDPNC gets state funding subject to the new Partnership being able to raise a specific amount ($6 million in five years, including $750,000 in the first year and $1.25 million annually for the subsequent four years) of funding through private contributions.

Employees who worked at the NC Commerce Department on economic development functions are being transferred to the EDPNC. Already, the new organization has 34 employees who were previously working at the NC Commerce Department.

A five-member interim board is currently leading the Partnership until official board appointments are made. Thomas Looney, vice president and general manager of Lenovo North America, is one of the interim board members.

Looney said that the new Partnership enables North Carolina to aggressively compete with any state in the country by proactively communicating the tremendous value the state delivers.

North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker said they are delighted to work with the Partnership as they continue to reenergize North Carolina’s economic development efforts.

 

 

Rhode Island Gets Its First Culinary Business Incubator

Rhode Island’s first culinary business incubator is now open in the Town of Warren, RI. Hope & Main officially opened the 17,500-square-foot incubator with a ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

Hope & Main Culinary Incubator opening in Warren, RI

Hope & Main Culinary Incubator opening in Warren, RI (photo – makefoodyourbusiness.org)

Both U.S. senators for Rhode Island Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse spoke at the opening ceremony, as did USDA Director of Community Programs Daniel R. Beaudette.

The Hope & Main incubator project has been largely funded by the USDA, which provided a $2.9 million loan under the Rural Development Community Facilities Loan program.

The incubator is housed in a historic 100-year old building on Main Street in Warren. The space has been converted into a state-of-the-art cooking workspace for food entrepreneurs in the region.

It includes three shared-use code complaint kitchens for commercial use, a gluten-free kitchen, an artisanal bakery, cold and dry storage facilities, more than 6,000 square feet of production space, and all kinds of equipment for supporting baking, catering and food processing businesses.

It also has a demonstration kitchen, meeting spaces and event space for community events. A weekly food market is going to be held on the premises to give the incubator’s food startups and other local producers a chance to introduce themselves and their culinary creations to the local community.

The non-profit incubator program offers Rhode Island’s food startups a chance to grow in their first two to three years without having to bear the cost of equipping their own commercial facilities. Apart from the fully-equipped workspace, members also benefit from extensive mentoring and an entrepreneurial environment where they can collaborate with food industry experts and peers.

This promising project has been in the works for a few years, and spent the last three years trying to secure funding. Hope & Main was finally able to buy the building from the Town of Warren in June 2013 and complete the $3.2 million renovation after raising $250,000 in private investment and securing the USDA loan.

The good news is that they now have their initial cohort of more than 30 culinary entrepreneurs who are growing their food businesses and early-stage startups from the incubator.

Members of the cohort such as catering companies, specialty food makers, food trucks (Acacia Cafe Food Truck & Kitchen), farmers (Agraria Farm; New Urban Farmers) and even a nutritionist (Nutritionally Sound, LLC) have already opened their businesses, all housed in the incubator at 691 Main Street.

Lisa J. Raiola, founder and president of Hope & Main, said that five years ago they had an idea for a building, but could only imagine who would use it. Now Hope & Main has evolved into the Rhode Island food economy’s center of gravity.

Raiola noted that not only have they created access to business opportunities for food entrepreneurs, but also built an integrated space dedicated to the food value chain from growing to production to sales.

Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet, KSBDC Team Up to Offer Procurement Assistance

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is lending a helping hand to the University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center program.

Kentucky SBDC

Kentucky SBDC (photo – ksbdc.org)

The new Kentucky PTAC will provide procurement assistance services to businesses interested in applying for government contracts and selling their goods and services to local, state and federal governments.

At present, the center is operated entirely by the Kentucky SBDC (KSBDC) and provides free counseling and training, along with bid-match services, to small businesses exploring opportunities for government contracts.

The involvement of the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet allows the KSBDC to expand and enhance this service, according to KSBDC State Director Dr. Becky Naugle.

Dr. Naugle said in a release that they appreciate the Cabinet’s recognition of the vital role that small businesses play in the Commonwealth, and added that they believe this program can have a significant impact.

KSBDC has been assisting small businesses in Kentucky for three decades, and now has more than 15 service centers statewide. Their operations are co-sponsored through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and administered by the University of Kentucky in partnership with regional universities, community colleges and the private sector.

The services offered by KSBDC to the small business community include everything from one-on-one consultations to training workshops, loan packaging assistance, and market research.

In addition to the usual assistance for starting and growing small businesses, the KSBDC also offers specialty programs ranging from economic gardening to exports, tech startups, minority and women-owned businesses, and a veteran assistance program, among other things.

Apart from the state resources that will become available through the partnership with the Cabinet to expand the services offered through PTAC, the KSBDC also recently received $250,000 in federal funding, matched dollar-to-dollar in state and local funding.

All of this funding is being used by KSBDC to hire staff for offering counseling and training services to small businesses. These are functions previously offered to businesses by the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet.

Many small businesses are interested in pursuing government contracts, but find the process to be confusing and intimidating, noted Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes.

Sec. Hayes said that PTAC will help businesses solve the puzzle of government contracting, and added that the Cabinet is eager to partner with the KSBDC for providing even greater support to small businesses.

California Governor’s Office of Economic Development Launches Web Tool for EB5 Foreign Investors

GO-Biz, the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, has launched a new web tool to assist foreign investors under the federal EB5 foreign investor visa program.

CA GO-Biz TEA Finder tool

CA GO-Biz TEA Finder tool

The web portal expedites the process of applying for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) certification, which in turn enables EB5 investors to qualify for the EB5 visa program.

Under this program, foreign investors who have invested or are in the process of investing at least $1 million into a new commercial enterprise that is creating at least 10 new jobs may apply for the EB5 visa.

Those investing at least $500,000 may also be eligible, as long as the location of the enterprise into which the investment is being made is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).

A TEA in this case could either be a rural area, or an urban area with high unemployment (150 percent of the national average) that is part of a metropolitan statistical area.

Before, applicants had to look up spreadsheets and various sites to find out whether a prospective site for establishing a job-creating project was located in a qualified TEA.

With the help of the new GO-Biz Tea Finder map-based GIS tool, all an EB5 applicant considering making a foreign investment in California has to do now is type in the address to find out if it falls within a census tract that is already a qualified TEA or can be qualified as one under state guidelines.

If the tool identifies your project as being located in a designated high unemployment census tract, then you can use it to directly request a certification letter for the same from the State. Use of the TEA Finder for this process will improve the response time from GO-Biz and creates more certainty for applicants.

GO-Biz Deputy Director for International Affairs and Business Development Brian Peck said in a release that California is the nation’s leader in attracting FDI, and the EB5 Visa program is an important component for increasing growth in jobs through FDI.

Peck added that GO-Biz is once again leading the nation by making it easier for new EB5 investment to enter the state by streamlining the state-related application process for new investors.

California Department of Technology Director Carlos Ramos said that providing innovative, efficient and reliable services in government is critical to California economic development and workforce solutions, and added that the TEA Finder portal brings real-time solutions to keep California moving forward.

Digital.NYC Unveiled as Online Hub for NYC Tech Ecosystem

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled Digital.NYC, an online platform and centralized hub for the City’s tech ecosystem.

Mayor de Blasio unveils Digital.NYC

Mayor de Blasio unveils Digital.NYC

Digital.NYC was created by a public-private partnership effort led by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and supported by more than a dozen tech and civic organizations.

The idea is to use Digital.NYC to deliver valuable tools needed by digital startups, connect New Yorkers to opportunities in the tech ecosystem, and provide all the resources and information entrepreneurs and startup founders need to convert ideas into businesses.

To this end, the platform offers a constantly updated list of available tech and digital job openings in the City, an event calendar that shows the schedule of tech events citywide, and a database that includes profiles of almost all tech companies and investors in New York City.

You can use map-based resources including an interactive map of tech companies, and look for startup resources by borough.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release that they are proud to launch Digital.NYC, which the Mayor said is a ground-breaking resource that will seamlessly connect members of the City’s tech hub to training, jobs and funding and make the city’s digital economy accessible to all New Yorkers.

NYC Economic Development Corp President Kyle Kimball said that Digital.NYC will have a tangible impact on the City’s economic growth, connecting companies to resources and introducing more New Yorkers than ever to opportunity in the tech ecosystem.

Kimball added that they’re proud that engagement between the public and private sectors has resulted in this remarkable innovation.

Digital.NYC was designed and built by NYC-based early-stage startup funding platform Gust using IBM cloud development technology. It is also one of the first .nyc top-level domains (TLDs) that are now exclusively available for residents and businesses located in New York City.

Gust CEO David S. Rose noted that Digital.NYC is a remarkable example of the power of public-private partnerships. Rose said it was inspired and directed by the City, sponsored and hosted by IBM, and designed and built by Gust utilizing data and technologies from a dozen innovative NYC companies.

New York Venture Capital Association President Bob Greene, who is co-managing partner of Contour Venture Partners, said that Digital.NYC will be a valuable resource for venture capital and other early-stage investors to learn about innovative startups in New York’s vibrant startup community.

GE Foundation’s $1.5M Grant to Support New Orleans Economic Development

The GE Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant to support New Orleans economic development efforts aimed at filling the skills gap in water management and advanced manufacturing.

GE Foundation grant to Delgado Community College

GE Foundation grant to Delgado Community College (photo – dcc.edu)

The announcement was made at the Water Environment Federation’s annual conference, where New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined representatives from the GE Foundation, Sewerage and Water Board and Delgado Community College to discuss the importance of filling the skills gap in the City.

The GE Foundation grant will be used by Delgado Community College to boost their ongoing efforts to train skilled and certified water infrastructure personnel and get them ready to work at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.

Over the next three years, the GE Foundation will partner with the City, the Sewerage and Water Board and Delgado Community College to create career pathways for hundreds of residents trough the Water Infrastructure Personnel Training Program at Delgado.

The Sewerage and Water Board is facing an acute labor problem with 40 percent of its workforce nearing retirement eligibility, and the situation is made all that much more critical because they are about to embark on a $3.3 billion infrastructure improvement push.

Delgado Community College Chancellor Joan Davis said in a release that they look forward to a day when New Orleans has a water and sewerage infrastructure that is a model for the nation, and added that they are proud to provide the educational component for this great transformation.

Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans Executive Director Cedric Grant said this is an amazing opportunity for recruiting and training their next generation of employees. Grant said that with Delgado’s technical training and generous support from the GE Foundation, they can begin building their workforce of tomorrow, today.

The GE Foundation’s grant builds on its long-standing commitment to New Orleans going back a hundred years when GE and the GE Foundation helped build the city’s modern water infrastructure. The foundation has contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief, and New Orleans is also home to the GE Capital Technology Center.

Mayor Landrieu said they are thrilled that the GE Foundation has chosen to continue its commitment to the City of New Orleans, and New Orleans will be able to train the next generation of water infrastructure personnel with the GE Foundation’s support while ensuring that the people of New Orleans benefit from the city’s growth.

The Mayor added that this aligns with their focus on job training based on employer needs, as a part of the recently announced Economic Opportunity Strategy.

This New Orleans economic development strategy for connecting disadvantaged job seekers and businesses to new opportunities was unveiled last month. The Economic Opportunity Strategy creates partnerships with the City’s training providers, and calls for collaboration with the largest employers and anchor institutions in the region, including the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans.

Businesses at Large NYC Economic Development Projects to be Covered Under Living Wage Provisions

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that raises the Living Wage to $13.13 per hour and expands its scope to include commercial tenants at NYC economic development projects receiving over $1 million in City subsidies.

Mayor de Blasio signs NYC living wage  executive order

Mayor de Blasio signs NYC living wage executive order (photo – nyc.gov)

The executive order, made through New York City’s Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, will expand living wage provisions to an estimated 70 percent of all jobs at firms receiving support from City agencies.

With the executive order in effect, the new living wage of $13.13 will be applicable for roughly 18,000 jobs over the next five years, as compared to the previous living wage of $11.90 that would have reached only 1,200 jobs.

The City’s analysis indicates that roughly 4,100 of the impacted jobs will be those who earn the state’s minimum wage of $8 at fast-food and retail outlets. For these workers, being covered under the new living wage provisions will mean a hike in gross annual income from $16,640 to $27,310.

The Living Wage will furthermore be adjusted each year to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Mayor de Blasio said in a release that with this order, thousands of breadwinners working at projects supported by taxpayers will earn higher wages and be more likely to receive the kind of benefits critical to supporting a family.

The executive order does not apply to small businesses with gross income below $3 million or certain city-backed affordable housing projects. It will also not apply to manufacturers, who will instead be encouraged by city agencies to assist employees with skill-building and upward mobility on the career ladder.

South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation President Phillip Morrow said that individuals and families who work hard to support the local economy and local businesses will directly benefit from this executive order.

Community Service Society President and CEO David R. Jones said that these policies ensure that when NYC invests in large economic development projects, workers, businesses and local communities will all benefit.

Center for Urban Research Director John Mollenkopf said this measure was long overdue, with the City spending almost $700 million annually on property tax exemptions for developers, in addition to other forms of assistance. Mollenkopf added that this executive order balances the scale by ensuring that the people who hold jobs in these developments will also benefit in a real way from that effort.

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