Economic Development

Greater Rhode Island Economic Development Website Wins NEDA Best Website Award

The Greater Rhode Island Economic Development Website has been named as the best website in the Northeastern Economic Development Association’s 2014 Literature and Promotions Awards.

Greater RI economic development partnership

Greater RI economic development partnership (photo –

This new “Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger” website is a public-private partnership effort involving Commerce RI, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

NEDA Executive Director Jim Keib said that the Greater RI website stood out in the challenging process of selecting their 2014 award winners.

Keib said the site is a public-private collaboration that harnesses many of the best insights and tools in the industry for promoting an economic development plan and attracting business interest and positive attention for Rhode Island.

The site provides a one-stop shop for the critical information site selectors and business executives need as they consider locations in the Northeast for growing their business. The website highlights existing growth companies and industries that are taking advantage of Rhode Island’s unique competitive advantages.

“This comprehensive website provides the data and information to help businesses looking to expand in the Northeast make an informed decision and consider Rhode Island,” said Commerce RI Executive Director Marcel A. Valois.

The Greater RI Think Bigger website was also one of only two submittals across all award categories that earned the NEDA President’s Award for the most outstanding submission to be received and reviewed. The other one was the success stories ad campaign by the Greater Reading Economic Partnership.

The City of Warwick, RI won the NEDA social and mobile award, while the best economic development newsletter award went to Operation Oswego County, the economic development organization for Oswego County, NY. Oswego’s manufacturing ad also won the best single print ad award, and their Services and Program Brochure won the overall award in the medium/small community category.

The Bronx, NY Economic Resource Guide was named as the best community profile/annual report, and New Hampshire’s Granite Ridge Marketplace won the award for best literature.

CT State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) won the NEDA Program of the Year Award for their Advanced Manufacturing Centers Initiative.

The awards will be presented at the annual NEDA Build Northeast Conference (Sept 7-9, 2014) in Worcester, MA.

Georgia Film Industry Economic Impact – $5.1B and 23,500 Jobs

Governor Nathan Deal announced that the motion picture and television industry in Georgia generated an economic impact of $5.1 billion for fiscal year 2014.

Georgia film industry economic impact

Georgia film industry economic impact (photo –

The 158 feature film and television productions shot in the state during this period spent $1.4 billion.

The industry directly employs nearly 23,500 people in Georgia, which includes 8,188 jobs that are production-related. If you factor in the indirect jobs, the industry accounts for 77,900 jobs and a total of $3.8 billion in wages in Georgia.

“Not only has this industry created jobs and investment opportunities for Georgians, it also has revitalized communities, established new educational programs, tourism product and more,” said Gov. Deal.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr noted that since 2008, more than 90 companies have located in Georgia to support the motion picture and television industry, and these new businesses are creating jobs and ensuring the industry’s sustainability in Georgia well into the future.

The FY2014 lot of blockbuster productions filmed in Georgia includes the two sequels of The Hunger Games, Fast and Furious 7, and Taken 3, among others. As these popular blockbusters are released in theaters, locations in Georgia will be seen by millions of people all over the world and become tourist attractions.

The Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office is cashing in on this movie tourism potential with the help of the site. It provides detailed listings of film locations in the state, along with movie tours, destination information and other relevant information to support movie and television show induced tourism.

The Film Office even created and shared a video spotlighting individuals who are benefiting from the boom in Georgia’s film and television industry.

Last month, the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative focused on the needs of the film and digital entertainment industry, to provide them with the assistance needed for hiring a crew for film productions in the state. The meeting provided an opportunity to identify the specific workforce needs of businesses that are engaged in production of film, television and digital entertainment projects in Georgia.

As a result of this meeting, the State is preparing to offer training and skilled certification programs as a partnership effort involving the Georgia Economic Development Department, key entertainment industry leaders in Georgia, the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia.

USDA Grants For California Economic Development Organizations Supporting Rural Microentrepeneurs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded grants totaling $300,000 for supporting business development and job growth in rural communities.

USDA microloans

USDA microloans (photo –

The USDA is awarding $30,000 each to ten Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs).

Two of these are California economic development entities – the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation and the Jefferson Economic Development Institute.

The grants, awarded under the USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), will help the MDOs offer microloans, training and technical assistance to microentrepreneurs – very small businesses with ten or fewer employees.

MDOs are awarded this funding either to provide technical assistance or for establishing revolving loan funds that provide microloans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to support rural microentreprenuers.

Technical assistance grants provided to an MDO may be used for preparing rural microentreprenuers for self-employment, improve the state of their microenterprise and enhance capacity, and help them achieve the ability to obtain business loans independently.

Funding provided for making microloans may be provided to borrowers for working capital needs, and for purchase of equipment, furniture, inventory, etc. It may also be used for debt refinancing, business acquisitions and lease or purchase of property that does not require construction and is ready to be used for business operations.

Sec. Vilsack said that through RMAP, USDA partners with local organizations who in turn are able to invest in local small businesses that would otherwise be unable to obtain the credit they need to grow and thrive.

“Facilitating long-term economic development in this way empowers rural residents to invest locally, cultivating stronger communities,” said Sec. Vilsack.

In addition to the two California MDOs that were awarded $30,000 each, the USDA also awarded RMAP grants to the following organizations in Washington, D.C. and seven other states.

Washington, D.C. – Community Development Transportation Lending Service

Washington – GROW Washington

Pennsylvania – Bridgeway Capital, Inc.

Illinois – Two Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Area

Ohio – ACEnet

Kentucky – Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, Inc.

Oregon – Our Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network

Mississippi – Mississippi University for Women

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program was reauthorized through 2018 under the 2014 Farm Bill. The exact level of funding for each fiscal year is decided by Congress, as called for in the federal budget.

Contact your USDA Rural Development State Office to apply for RMAP funding.

Silicon Valley Bank Expansion in Tempe to Aid Arizona Economic Development

Silicon Valley Bank announced plans for an expansion at their Tempe, AZ location to support global operations and assist more technology and life sciences companies in Arizona.

Silicon Valley Bank

Silicon Valley Bank (photo –

SVB will create 250 new finance and IT jobs in Tempe, doubling the staff the company has hired or relocated to Tempe since opening the facility in 2012.

Apart from the job creation in Tempe, Silicon Valley Bank also provided a separate boost to Arizona economic development efforts with a commitment to lend or invest at least $100 million over the next five years to technology and life sciences companies in Arizona.

Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority, said that SVB’s commitment to lend $100 million provides needed access to capital, which will help spur continued growth for businesses in the state’s innovation ecosystem.

SVB offers a range of diversified and innovative financial services to companies in the innovation sector and to their investors. Their commercial clients range from startups to large multinational corporations.

Silicon Valley Bank’s mission is to “increase innovative companies’ probability of success worldwide.”

The way they have been going about it for the last 30 years by providing support and services to technology and life sciences companies to aid their rapid growth aligns closely with the high-growth innovation companies and entrepreneurs that Arizona economic development programs and initiatives target for creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

Dax Williamson, managing director for Silicon Valley Bank in Arizona, said he would use the word “momentum” to describe the local innovation economy, noting that they’re seeing a steady pace of new business formation locally and the mood is positive.

Williamson added that SVB’s own business is likewise expanding around the world, so they’re growing and expanding in Tempe, which he said was a great place for their employees.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell congratulated and thanked SVB for their success and commitment to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Mayor Mitchell added that Tempe offers an unmatched lifestyle and location, and they are delighted to have SVB as a part of the community.

The Santa Clara, CA-based Silicon Valley Bank operates as a subsidiary and commercial banking operation of SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ:SIVB). SVB has more than $29 billion in assets and 1,700 employees servicing clients through offices and branches all over the world.


US Economic Development Administration Awards $1.2M to Bay City, Texas for Tenaris Steel Project

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded $1.2 million to Bay City, TX to help them with the $1.3 billion Tenaris steel pipe manufacturing project.

Gov. Perry at Tenaris steel pipe project announcement

Gov. Perry at Tenaris steel pipe project announcement in Feb 2013 (photo –

The EDA investment will support roadway and sewer infrastructure improvements that are critical to the establishment of the Tenaris manufacturing plant.

The Luxembourg-based Tenaris is a global manufacturer of steel pipe products that are used by the energy industry in their drilling operations.

Tenaris announced the choice of Matagorda County for this project back in Feb 2013, with a plan to invest $1.3 billion and create 600 new jobs in Bay City and Matagorda County. The one million-square-foot foot facility will include a seamless pipe mill, along with heat treatment and premium threading operations.

Once the facility is operational in 2016, Tenaris expects the plant to be able to produce 600,000 tons of pipe annually.

Texas Governor Rick Perry pitched the state to the company’s leadership during an economic development trip to Italy, and then again at the Formula 1 race in Austin. Texas offered Tenaris $6 million as incentives through the Texas Enterprise Fund to close the deal.

Germán Curá, president of Tenaris North America, noted at that time that they chose Matagorda County and Texas because of the strong business climate, proximity to transportation hubs, skilled workforce and because Houston, the epicenter of the energy industry, is already home to the company’s North American headquarters.

Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald noted that the Matagorda County Economic Development team worked seamlessly with the State of Texas and Tenaris to bring the company to the area.

The EDA provided additional funding for infrastructure improvements that will facilitate the large inflow of foreign direct-investment and attract more investments. Bay City’s economy has traditionally relied on agribusiness, and the Tenaris project was the result of successful efforts undertaken recently to diversify the economy. The roadway and sewer improvements along TX Hwy 35 will accommodate access to the plant site.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said this EDA investment will support infrastructure improvements needed by the new manufacturing facility, which will strengthen the local economy and position the Texas Gulf Coast region to attract foreign investment.

BECO Plans Innovation Park at Former Motorola Mobility HQ in Libertyville, Illinois

BECO Management, Inc. has acquired the former Motorola Mobility headquarters in Libertyville, Illinois, and announced plans for a $50 million renovation of the complex to turn it into a multi-tenant business community to be known as the Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville.

BECO Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville

BECO Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville (photo –

BECO has paid $9.5 million to acquire the 84-acre site which already has 1.2 million square feet of space across five buildings that include everything from commercial offices to distribution and logistics space, laboratories, cafeteria, a gymnasium and a day care center.

The complex can accommodate 3,400 vehicles, and is already configured with full-fiber connectivity through an underground network spine.

Motorola recently relocated from this complex in Libertyville to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, in the process taking 2,000 jobs to Chicago.

Chicago’s gain may result in a bigger win for Libertyville economic development and the Chicagoland region, because BECO has a track record and model that suggests they will be able to make something big out of the Motorola complex.

Four years ago, the Rockville, MD-based BECO Management kicked off a similar project by acquiring IBM’s former 12-building campus in Charlotte, NC. The complex had 1.8 million square feet of space, and was nearly 70 percent vacant at that time.

BECO poured in $100 million into the project to transform the campus into a 21st century workplace, and renamed it as Innovation Park-Charlotte. Over the last three and a half years, more than 1.2 million square feet in the complex has been leased and the Innovation Park is now 95 percent leased.

More than 6,000 employees work at Innovation Park-Charlotte for companies such as Siemens, Wells Fargo, Areva, BB&T, AON Hewitt and Allstate.

BECO is planning something similar in Libertyville, with a $50 million program that will allow the Innovation Park’s tenants to focus on their core business. BECO handles everything else the employees need, from security and campus-wide WiFi to fitness centers, bicycle programs, extensive food options including mobile food trucks, on-site health providers and living spaces.

BECO has created a new Midwest division to manage this project, overseen by Chris Epstein who led the revitalization and subsequent leasing efforts for Innovation Park-Charlotte.

“We believe the former Motorola Mobility site and the Village of Libertyville are the perfect launch pad to expand this offering to the greater Chicago area,” said Epstein.

Following the renovation, Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville is scheduled to be ready for occupancy by late summer or early fall 2015.

New York Awards $55M For Projects Connecting Economic Development to Academic Programs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $55 million in funding for eight innovative projects that connect academic programs at 20 participating CUNY campuses with local economic development.

NY CUNY 2020

NY CUNY 2020 (photo –

The eight projects in NYC being funded are expected to create more than 3,800 jobs over six years.

“The CUNY 2020 program is designed to connect the innovative, academic programs offered by New York City’s public universities to local economic development,” said Governor Cuomo.

The CUNY 2020 program offers grants for colleges in the City University of New York system for projects connecting academic excellence and economic development.

This is the first round of NY CUNY 2020 funding awards, with projects chosen by Empire State Development and CUNY staff through a competitive process that takes into consideration the economic impact, innovation, collaboration and advancement of academic goals.

The eight projects that have been awarded $55 million are as follows:

The Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay – This project, which is expected to create more than 784 jobs, is getting $7.7 million. Their research will focus on urban sustainability, environmental resilience and climate change. The six colleges involved will be collaborating with other organizations such as the National Park Service and NASA’s Goddard Institute.

CUNY Automotive Technology Program – This project is getting $9 million to renovate an existing space and convert it into a hub for CUNY’s automotive technology program.

It will create career pathways for students straight out of high school and college, and allow for new studies on renewable fuels, hybrid vehicles and other issues related to the increasing usage of electric vehicles. The project will allow the program to double enrollment to 500 students, and is expected to create 2,073 jobs in six years.

Advanced Manufacturing for Economic Development – This center is getting $1.5 million for renovations and purchase of 3D printing equipment. Students will gain the skills required to design and develop sophisticated parts and components through a collaborative effort involving local high schools and the Computer Science Dept. at Queens College. New courses are being designed so that students can pick up the skills as part of their education.

Big Data Consortium – A consortium of CUNY institutions is getting $15 million for expanding CUNY’s capacity for data analytics and visualization that will serve both the public and private sectors. A better understanding and usage of data will enable graduates to be trained for jobs in different sectors that need data analytics skills.

Allied Health Training for Employment – This project in the Bronx is getting $2.2 million for new equipment and facilities that will be used to provide training aligned to the needs to regional healthcare employers.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Center – This project at LaGuardia Community College in Queens is getting $5 million to assist the growth of local small businesses, with a focus on minority-and-women-owned businesses.

Around 70 percent of graduates of this program have so far reported increased revenues and created more than 600 jobs. The program expects 1,000 businesses to graduate by 2017.

New Media Jobs Incubator and Innovation Lab – The New Media Program is getting $4.6 million and will help students learn and get familiar with 21st century digital content and technologies. The center will churn out 200 candidates every year and expects to launch 24 businesses.

Center for Allied Healthcare Education and Workforce Development – This project is getting $10 million to establish a healthcare clinic in Northern Queens that will teach students and provide healthcare service to underserved members of the public. This initiative is expected to create 791 jobs over three years, most of which will be filled by graduates joining the workforce in positions related to allied healthcare education.

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken said that CUNY has developed many public-private partnerships, and this vitally important initiative will continue growing the economy, creating jobs, and expanding research and development in all five boroughs.

Vermont Approves $17.8M in Economic Development Financing for Projects

The Vermont Economic Development Authority announced approval of $17.8 million in financing to support multiple projects and initiatives that are generating a total investment of nearly $35 million in the state.

Rice Memorial High School renovation

Rice Memorial High School renovation (photo –

Five of the projects are getting direct loans and bond financing worth nearly $12.6 million.

One of these projects is a school renovation by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. They’re getting $8.5 million in tax-exempt bonds for a substantial renovation of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, VT.

The $13 million renovation will reduce the school’s energy bill, and aid the growth of their teachers and staff from around 54 to 61.

Another project approved for assistance is an investment being made by Cabot Hosiery Mill of Northfield, VT. They are getting an $848,860 loan to help in the purchase of new equipment and addition of 14 jobs while retaining the existing 125 positions at the facility.

Smugglers Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, VT is getting a $1.1 million loan to help build a five-mile pipeline from the Lamoille River to the resort, so that the water can be used to enhance the ski resort’s snowmaking capabilities. The resort already has 529 employees, and plans to increase this number to 568 over the next three years.

VEDA approved another $1.2 million for the acquisition and renovation of Edson Hill Manor, a 24-room inn located in Stowe, VT. The inn currently has nine employees, and the new buyers plan to double this within three years.

The fifth project getting direct financial assistance is an expansion plan by CDL USA. The company is getting $180,000 as partial financing for purchasing land adjacent to their existing maple sugaring operations and corporate headquarters in St. Albans, VT, and plans to establish a warehouse and additional assembly space. CDL currently has 18 employees, and will increase it to 23 within three years.

Apart from these six projects, VEDA also approved $2.4 million and $292,000 in financing to support small businesses through the VT 504 Loan Program and the Small Business Loan Program respectively.

Another $1.3 million was approved for the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation to provide agricultural loans. Loans worth a total of $339,787 were approved through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for repairing or enhancing drinking water systems owned by private entities.

VEDA also approved $853,000 in financing for SolarSense, LLC under the state’s Commercial Energy Loan Program. The funding will be used to build a $2.1 million 500KW net-metered solar array in Bristol, VT. Once operational, the system will annually produce more than 900,000 kWh of renewable electricity and reduce CO2 emissions by 528 tons.

The power generated by the array will be used by the Wake Robin Continuing Care Facility in Shelburne, VT. The system will provide 28 percent of their annual power usage and help reduce electric bills.

VEDA CEO Jo Bradley said that these exciting investments in Vermont’s manufacturing, agricultural, renewable energy and other economic development initiatives will go forward with help from VEDA.

NYC Tech Talent Summit Focuses on 21st Century Workforce Development

More than 100 attendees gathered at The New School for the inaugural NYC Summit. The 75 community organizers, foundations, tech companies and elected officials present were there to discuss the future of the City’s workforce development and provide feedback for the Tech Talent Pipeline initiative.

NYC Tech Talent Summit

NYC Tech Talent Summit

The Tech Talent Pipeline initiative was announced by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio back in May as one of his administration’s key workforce development initiatives, along with the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force.

The Tech Talent Pipeline aims to help shape future investments in education and the growth of the City’s tech sector by engaging employers and designing curricula to meet their needs, and recruiting and training New Yorkers.

The Summit was sponsored by The New School and co-organized by the New York Tech Meetup, Coalition for Queens, Code to Work, StartUp Box: South Bronx, Per Scholas and Fedcap.

Katy Gaul-Stigge, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, gave the keynote address. “Our vision is to cultivate a 21st Century workforce with upward income mobility—therefore, technology is a critical sector to focus on with the Tech Talent Pipeline,” said Gaul-Stigge.

The tech sector is already the second largest in New York City, and the City’s tech ecosystem supports 291,000 jobs and generates $30 billion in annual wages. The average tech job wage in the City is $95,000, and tens of thousands of these tech jobs go unfilled.

Kyle Kimball, president of the NYC Economic Development Corp., said that as the momentum of the City’s tech ecosystem grows, so does economic opportunity across the boroughs.

Kimball added that they are committed to working with the City’s tech companies to ensure their success is powered by skilled New Yorkers and further cement New York City as a global capital of technological innovation and expertise.

The Tech Talent Summit agenda also included two panels, one of which focused on the definition of workforce development. The second one was about “What is Working in 21st Century Workforce Development,” and focused on gaps in tech education and the effectiveness of working one-to-one with hiring managers to understand the requirements.

NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer noted that the dialogue initiated through the Tech Talent Summit was just the beginning, and said they will continue to work together on finding innovative ways to develop NYC’s tech talent pipeline and ensure economic mobility for all.

Ready to Work Report – Job-Driven Checklist for Federal Training Grants and Programs

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which reauthorizes and reforms core federal workforce development programs, was signed into law by the President on July 22, 2014.

Bill signing - Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Bill signing – Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (photo –

The bill signing ceremony also provided an opportunity to release a new report that details the results of a review of federal job training programs.

The review, led by the Vice President, was conducted in order to identify and implement steps that would make these federal training programs more “job-driven” and responsive to the needs of employers.

The Ready to Work review brought together federal agencies providing employment and training programs to come up with a job-driven checklist to guide administrative reforms and maximize the effectiveness of more than 25 competitive federal grant programs, provide direction to state and local programs, and improve the ability of federal programs to track employment outcomes.

Starting Oct 1, all applicants seeking funding from these 25 grant programs must follow the job-driven checklist. This means that more than $1.4 billion in existing job training funds will be awarded to education and training institutions and community organizations that are working in partnership with employers.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requires states to develop unified plans across all programs authorized under the law, and DOL and the Education Dept. are piling on by requiring states to incorporate the job-driven checklist into their plans.

Commerce is likewise encouraging economic development agencies receiving planning funds to incorporate the job-driven checklist into their plans so that they can collaborate with training organizations and workforce boards for addressing the needs of new and existing companies.

The checklist also ensures that $15 billion in job training funds will be used to drive successful practices such as apprenticeship and employer engagement into all training programs.

One of the results of the review is that the Department of Education plans to announce four new experimental sites (X-sites) for combining Pell grants and student loans with competency-based education models and assessments of prior learning.

If it works out, this could upskill over 25 million low-wage workers and rapidly retool over 30 million Americans with no degree into technical or professional jobs that are in high demand.

Another problem the review identified is the difficulty state and local leaders and employers have in integrating funding from different federal agencies to achieve a unified set of goals for their workforce.

During the course of the review, federal agencies began working together to bust these silos and develop a job-driven workforce system across federal programs. For instance, Commerce and DOL began working together to better align job training with economic development, and make the business case for apprenticeships to employers.

Similarly HUD and DOL have teamed up to provide guidance for partnerships between employer-led Workforce Investment Boards and public housing authorities in order to generate more job opportunities for HUD-assisted residents.

The report also stresses on the outsize role of employers and the private sector in providing job-driven training. The FY 2014 federal budget included $17 billion for employment and training programs, while U.S. employers spent approximately $450 billion in 2013 on training, mostly for their own employees.

That’s why it’s vital, the report says, to actively engage employers and businesses, work with the industry and use competitive grant programs to make the entire system more job-driven, instead of focusing only on federal programs.

Read the full Ready to Work report – Download (pdf)

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