Economic Development

Brookings Report – Geography of FDI Jobs in U.S. Metro Areas

A new report from the Brookings Institution presents an analysis of data on jobs created by foreign direct investments (FDI) in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Brookings report - Metropolitan Analysis of FDI in the United States

Brookings report – Metropolitan Analysis of FDI in the United States (source –

The report shows that metros get a larger share of the jobs in foreign-owned establishments (FOEs). The top 100 metros get 74 percent of all FOE jobs in the United States.

The average large U.S. metro area gets FDI from 77 city-regions spread across 33 countries around the globe. All put together, companies based in 445 city-regions spread across 115 countries have made direct investments in the U.S.

The U.S. affiliates of foreign-owned companies directly employ 5.6 million workers across all sectors of the economy.

FDI accounts for 5.5 percent of private employment in the average large metropolitan area, although there is a lot of regional variation. You can see the details for each of the 100 metros using this interactive map.

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT MSA has the highest (13.4) percentage of FDI jobs as a share of total employment, followed by Worcester, MA with 10.2 percent and the Greensboro-High Point, NC metro area with 9.6 percent.

The data also shows that increases in the number of FDI-supported jobs in the average year are less due to new FDI influxes and more a reflection of mergers and acquisitions where U.S. companies are acquired by foreign owners, resulting in existing jobs simply being moved into the FDI column.

There are 66,341 jobs that are supported by FDI in Washington State’s Puget Sound region, which includes the Seattle metropolitan area as well as the Bremerton metropolitan area.

Ed Stern, Poulsbo City Council member and president of the board of the Economic Development District of the Puget Sound Regional Council, said that the data from the Brookings report will help them make more informed decisions while crafting strategies for attracting more FDI to the region in ways that support their economic development goals and shared values.

The Puget Sound region has been part of the Brookings Global Cities pilot program that is helping metro areas develop and implement plans for securing and sustaining FDI.

The effort is being lead by the King County/Seattle Economic Development Council and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, in partnership with a coalition of government, business and education leaders from the region.

“Tens of thousands of salaries in the Central Puget Sound are paid by foreign-owned companies, and these new findings point the way to even greater economic opportunity and prosperity,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Step IT Up Chicago Workforce Development Program Recruiting Minority Women for IT Careers

A new workforce development program called Step IT Up Chicago has been launched with the intention of recruiting minority women into the Information Technology sector.

Step IT Up Chicago

Step IT Up Chicago (photo – UST Global)

As a start, the demand-driven program will provide training in various IT tracks to 100 women over the next year, and partner with local corporations to place the program’s graduates into the workforce with full-time jobs.

The inaugural Step IT Up Chicago class comprised of 33 women has already started receiving training.

The workforce development program is a partnership effort involving the City of Chicago, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, UST Global, and Skills For Chicagoland’s Future.

“Creating a deep and diverse talent pool is essential to successfully developing Chicago’s technology sector,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Mayor said that partnerships with Chicago’s business leaders and programs such as Step IT Up will ensure that the workforce has a direct pipeline to jobs, and also that Chicago’s youth are being trained for successful 21st century technology jobs in the city.

Step IT Up Chicago is an expansion of the Step IT Up America national program sponsored by UST Global. The nationwide workforce development program serves associate degree and community college-level students, equipping them with technology skills, industry knowledge and mentorship programs that prepare them for careers in the IT sector.

The Chicago program follows successful pilots conducted in Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia. They plan to continue the expansion to include ten cities nationwide, with a target of providing training for 1,000 minority women over the next year.

UST Global CEO Sajan Pillai said that the three pillars of a successful technology company are innovation, talent and diversity. He adds that without diversity, we are unable to gather the best and brightest minds that bring unique perspectives for creating meaningful solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Step IT Up is working with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a public-private partnership which is partially funded by the City. Together, they are identifying and recruiting qualified, unemployed jobseekers for the Step IT Up Chicago program and others like it.

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future President and CEO Marie Trzupek Lynch said they are thrilled to be partnering with Step IT Up America and UST Global for putting 35 unemployed Chicagoans into training and a job with a career ladder, and added that they are looking forward to putting even more unemployed women back to work in newly created jobs.

Louisiana Governor Signs Workforce Training Legislation Creating WISE Fund

With leaders of all the major Louisiana higher education systems present, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law HB 1033, a workforce training bill which creates a $40 million workforce incentive fund.

Louisiana WISE Fund bill signing

Louisiana WISE Fund bill signing (photo –

The WISE (Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy) Fund dedicates $40 million to be made available to state research institutions, colleges and universities, enabling them to link their coursework with industry needs and projected workforce demands.

WISE funding will be available to state research institutions that produce commercial research which is nationally recognized, and to state colleges and universities that partner with the private sector to produce graduates with degrees and certifications that are in high demand.

The allocation of funds will be made using a performance-based formula to reward and incentivize degrees which are the most employable and in demand. All applying institutions must be partners with private industry and be able to come up with at least a 20 percent private match in cash or in kind in the form of technology, equipment, etc.

Each applicant will have to submit a business plan which lays out how they plan to use the funds to increase the number of degrees needed to fill existing jobs and those that need to be filled in the next few years.

Data driven modeling using numbers from industry will be used to figure out how many and what kind of degrees are needed to meet workforce demands.

Gov. Jindal said that the collaboration between Louisiana Economic Development, higher education leaders and the Louisiana Workforce Commission has created a targeted investment strategy for spending dollars on the degrees needed to fill the jobs that are coming to Louisiana.

“I am honored to sign this bill, which allows us to invest further in higher education and prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Gov. Jindal.

The Governor noted that since 2008, Louisiana economic development wins resulting in more than $50 billion in private investment and 80,000 new jobs have been announced, because of which more people than ever before are now employed in the state.

Gov. Jindal added that tens of thousands of jobs are now in the pipeline, and the next challenge is to ensure that there is a skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future.

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said the WISE bill represents more than just historic cooperation between the state government, higher education and the industry. He said it represents opportunity – an opportunity for the state to keep talented young people, and for students to have a job waiting for them when they graduate.

Smart Growth America Report – Walkable Urbanism in Large Metros

A new report from Smart Growth America ranks the 30 top metropolitan areas in the United States based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs).

Smart Growth America Foot Traffic Ahead report

Smart Growth America Foot Traffic Ahead report

The report, titled, “Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros,” was released jointly by Smart Growth America’s LOCUS network and the George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.

In a WalkUP, everyday destinations such as home, work, stores, restaurants and schools are all within walking distance. The report focuses on identifying significant WalkUPs in each of the top 30 metros, and provides some interesting urban development data and trends they bumped into while doing so.

They found a total of 558 WalkUPs spread across all 30 of the top metros. The top five metro areas, based on their current levels of walkable urbanism, are Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago.

Walkable urbanism here is determined based on the share of office and retail space in each metro that is located in the WalkUPs.

The DC metro area topped the rankings with 43 percent (297,300,000 square feet out of a total of 696,441,000) of its office and retail space located in WalkUPs.

New York came in second with 38 percent of its retail and office space in WalkUPs, followed by Boston (36 percent), San Francisco (30 percent) and Chicago (29 percent).

The New York metro area with 66 WalkUPs tops the list in terms of the sheer number of WalkUPs, followed by San Francisco with 57 and Los Angeles with 54.

The report says while attempting to define the geographic boundaries of the WalkUPs, they found that the WalkUPs deliver outsized economic benefits relative to their small geographic size.

For instance, the 45 WalkUPs in metro DC occupy an average of 408 acres each, adding up to a total of 17,500 acres, or less than one percent of the acreage of the entire metro area. Yet these 45 WalkUPs account for 48 percent of all new office, hotel, and rental apartment square footage for the current real estate cycle which began in 2009.

Similarly, metro Atlanta’s 27 WalkUPs occupy an average of 374 acres each,adding up to around 10,000 acres. This is again less than one percent of the metro area’s total acreage, and yet the WalkUPs account for 50 percent of office, retail, hotel and apartment square footage developed in between 2009 to 2013.

Chris Leinberger, president of LOCUS and the author of the Foot Traffic Ahead report, said their survey reveals just how important Walkable Urban Places are. Leinberger said that as highly productive real estate, talent attractors and economic engines, these WalkUPs are a crucial component for building and sustaining thriving urban economies.

Read the full Foot Traffic Ahead report – Download (pdf)

Minnesota Economic Development Grant Secures maurices Corporate Headquarters project

With Governor Mark Dayton, Duluth Mayor Don Ness and other local officials and business leaders wielding shovels, international retail store chain maurices broke ground on a $70 million office tower in downtown Duluth that will serve as their new corporate headquarters.

maurices ground breaking

maurices ground breaking (photo –

The 11-story office tower project leverages $50 million in private investment, and is supported by a Minnesota economic development grant of $8.5 million.

This is the largest commercial development project in the history of downtown Duluth.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for maurices, and a monumental investment in downtown Duluth,” said Gov. Dayton.

The choice of Duluth for the company’s new corporate headquarters will result in the creation and retention of 900 jobs. Right now, the company has offices in three separate buildings in downtown Duluth which together account for 425 of their associates.

Once the new corporate headquarters is completed in Dec 2015, maurices will consolidate all these jobs into the new location, and have room for additional growth.

Between their headquarters operations and the 45 retail store locations across Minnesota, maurices employs a total of more than 1,200 Minnesotans with a total payroll of $30 million.

All this, and the investment and new jobs being created by the office tower project, were secured by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) with the help of an $8.5 million competitive economic development grant.

These grants are funded through a $500 million Jobs Bill that was signed into law by Gov. Dayton in May 2012. Grants are awarded for economic development projects through a competitive process based on criteria such as job creation, public benefit, regional impact, the project’s potential for leveraging additional public and private investment, and project readiness.

The maurices office tower project was ranked among the top three projects out of 37 finalists considered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

One more interesting benefit for downtown Duluth is that maurices is donating one of their three existing headquarters buildings, complete with workstations and office equipment, to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

UMD will be using the four-story, 75,000-square-foot building for teaching courses and activities suited for interaction with the downtown community, including classes for adult learners and academic conferences.

George Goldfarb, President of maurices, said they are proud to donate the building to UMD and assist with programming that fulfills a community need. Goldfarb said that they are committed to a vibrant and thriving downtown, and are working hard to fill their current headquarters buildings even as they plan to move into the new office tower two years from now.

UMD Chancellor Lendley Black said UMD will be able to use this highly functional downtown space to expand local partnerships and provide unprecedented community access to educational opportunities, while at the same time alleviating space constraints on the UMD campus.

maurices, which is now a subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASNA), was founded in Duluth in 1931 as a small retail store. Their retail chain now includes more than 900 stores in the United States and Canada.

Legislation to Create Northern New York Economic Development Fund

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an agreement with state legislative leaders on the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Act.

The New NY Works for the North Country

The New NY Works for the North Country (photo –

This legislation will create the Northern New York Economic Development Fund to support projects in the North Country region, along with a new entity – the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board.

This board will be responsible for making recommendations for awards from the fund based on criteria such as capital investments and job creation.

“This agreement adds another dimension to our efforts to spur economic development and growth in the North Country,” said Gov. Cuomo.

The Governor added that tapping into the region’s supply of unutilized hydropower would enable them to jumpstart the economy in the North Country, invest in local businesses and help create jobs and new opportunities for New Yorkers in St. Lawrence County.

The $2 million annual allocation for the fund will come from the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) market sale net earnings of a block of unutilized hydropower from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Plant.

The aim is for these funds to be applied to economic development projects in St. Lawrence County, which would fulfill payment commitments made to St. Lawrence County under the St. Regis land claim agreement between the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Saint Lawrence County and New York State. It resolved decades of tribal land disputes and the distribution of millions of dollars of gaming revenue to local governments.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has a critical role to play in the implementation of this agreement.

As per the legislation, up to 20MW of hydropower that is available under contract to the Massena Electric Department (MED) will now also be harnessed for economic development in the area by using the proceeds of the sale of power in the wholesale electricity marketplace.

Since 2102, MED has been sub-allocating this 20MW of cheap hydropower to eligible businesses based on recommendations from local and regional economic development organizations including the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA), and the Lawrence County IDA.

The monetized value of the power will now similarly be allocated towards economic development projects based on input from these organizations. Both the RVRDA and IDA will assist in the administration of the fund, and will provide input on grant applications being considered by the NYPA in coordination with Empire State Development.

The whole process is similar to legislation approved in 2012 which allowed for NYPA’s unutilized hydropower from the Niagara Power Project to be used for Western New York economic development.


New Jersey Economic Development Organization Offers Online Tool to Calculate State Incentives

If you’re looking for state tax incentives for creating jobs and investing in New Jersey, you can now use the online state incentives calculation tool hosted by Choose New Jersey Inc.

NJ state incentives calculator

NJ state incentives calculator

Choose New Jersey Inc. is a non-profit corporation established in 2010 to market New Jersey as a business location for both domestic and international businesses.

The online tool was launched to help interested businesses better understand the new structure of New Jersey economic development incentives available now as a result of the enactment of the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013.

The Choose NJ incentives calculator requires you to input basic data about your project’s required capital investment, job creation estimates and other details, and in return provides a preliminary estimate of tax incentives the project would be eligible for.

You start by selecting choices about the real estate (industrial/office, new construction/existing building, square feet required, green standards, etc.). Throw in the capital investment and jobs to be created and retained, and you’re all set to go.

You can additionally input data about factors that would provide your project bonus credits. This includes things such as the location (deep poverty packet, HUD Choice Neighborhood, etc.).

You may also input data that would provide credits for environmental aspects such as LEED certification and environmental remediation, and whether on-site solar provides more than 50 percent of the project’s power consumption needs.

You can specify whether it’s a transit oriented development, and if it’s located within ½ mile of light rail station.

“This tool is an easy first step for business leaders, site selection consultants and real estate professionals that are looking to better understand state incentives,” said Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey.

McDaniel added that the Economic Opportunity Act has boosted New Jersey as a strategic location for business, and they want to equip those who are considering locating or expanding in the state with a simple tool for estimating the potential benefits now available because of the legislation.

The Economic Opportunity Act consolidated New Jersey economic development incentives under two powerful programs with enhanced funding and lower thresholds for eligibility. One is the Grow NJ Assistance program and the other one is the Economic Redevelopment and Growth (ERG) Program.

Since the law was passed in Sept 2013, a total of 41 projects have received Grow NJ incentives totaling nearly $715.6 million as of June 2014. These projects spread across New Jersey are creating a combined total of 6,443 new full-time jobs and helping retain 7,720 at-risk jobs.

Massachusetts House Passes Economic Development Bill

The Massachusetts House has passed an economic development bill which began with around $60 million for new and expanded initiatives, but ended up being passed as a much larger bill after a bunch of amendments were tacked on to it.

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House (photo –

The Massachusetts economic development bill (H.4165 – An Act promoting economic growth across the Commonwealth) was shepherded through by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Rep. Joseph Wagner.

Wagner chairs the House Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

H.4165, which passed by a 125-to-23 vote, includes, among other things:-

- $15 million for middle skills jobs training through the Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology Training Trust Fund;

- $12 million for the Transformative Development Fund;

- $10 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment fund;

- $2 million for the Big Data Innovation and Workforce fund; and

- $1.5 million for MassVentures;

This bill, including its amendments such as a sales tax holiday for the weekend of Aug 16-17 this year, will have to be reconciled with the Senate’s version of its own economic development bill.

There’s also the pending issue of what happens to the similar $100 million economic development legislative package (H. 4045) proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick in April.

Specifically, the Governor’s package includes legislation to ban noncompete agreements in Massachusetts. The House bill that has been passed ignores the noncompetes issue.

However, it’s possible that the noncompete agreement legislation may now be taken up separately as a stand-alone bill. Rep. Wagner is leading the effort to find a middle ground in between the status quo preserved by the House Bill and a complete ban on noncompete agreements as proposed in the Governor’s economic development package.

Regardless of the outcome of these efforts and the fate of noncompete agreements in Massachusetts, the good thing is that it has speeded up passage of the overall economic development package.

It’s highly unlikely that the House leadership would have moved so fast to introduce, debate and pass its own package of initiatives without the motivation of being able to take a stand against the proposed ban on noncompetes. Their passage of H.4165 makes the Governor‚Äôs bill a moot issue and forces noncompete agreements to be tackled now as a standalone legislative issue.

Alabama Releases $6M For Robotic Technology Park’s Workforce Training Expansion

Governor Robert Bentley announced $6 million in state funding for the construction of a third building that will enhance workforce training activities at the Alabama Robotic Technology Park in Tanner, AL.

Alabama Robotic Technology Park

Alabama Robotic Technology Park (photo –

RTP, run by the state workforce training agency AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training), was established with the mission of providing advanced robotics training at no cost for Alabama companies.

The entire project has an estimated cost of around $73 million, including about $40 million worth of robotics equipment provided by companies.

RTP, located across U.S. 31 from Calhoun Community College, is being built in three phases. Phase I was the construction of the 60,000-square-foot Robotics Maintenance Training Center, which is now offering classes in robotics, PLCs (programmable logic controllers) and industrial safety.

Put simply, technicians learn how to maintain automated equipment and their control systems. The building has 40 robots and an automated welding lab.

Each month, RTP typically gets around 75 employees sent for training from companies such as Toyota, Honda, Navistar and other auto suppliers. A company must have a facility in Alabama in order to send its employees for free training at RTP.

Phase II was the construction of the 43,000-square-foot Advanced Technology Research and Development Center, used for research, development and testing of automation and robotics used by the industry, space exploration and military projects.

Companies can use this facility to test their new robots and other automated equipment. It even has a one-mile track for testing unmanned vehicles.

Alabama shelled out $17.3 million in state funds to build and equip the Phase I building, and another $8 million for Phase II. The $6 million now released for Phase III covers two-thirds of the $9 million cost of the third building, which is the Integration, Entrepreneurial and Paint/Dispense Training Center.

AIDT has already raised the remaining $3 million through a state bond issue. The 50,000-square-foot building will allow employees to train on new equipment and software before their company installs it in their plant. The building also has an area for training employees on using both robots and manual spray painting to paint vehicle parts and other products.

Business Facilities magazine, which recently gave the Alabama Robotic Technology Park an economic development award for achievement in workforce training, noted that RTP is considered as “one of the world’s most innovative and futuristic training centers.”

AIDT was established as a division of the Alabama Commerce Department. Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said that there really is no other facility in the nation that can offer advanced manufacturers the level of hands-on training this one can.

Canfield added that the Phase III expansion will make RTP’s capabilities even more valuable to companies while giving Alabama another advantage in industrial recruitment.

Washington State Approves Community Development Block Grants For 17 Rural Projects

The Washington State Department of Commerce announced nearly $400,000 in Community Development Block Grants funding for 17 projects in rural communities.


CDBG (photo –

The WA State CDBG program grants ranging from $18,000 to $24,000 will support plans and feasibility studies for everything from community centers and food banks to improved water and wastewater systems.

For instance, one of the projects is the redevelopment of a Food Bank site by the Town of Cusick, which is getting $24,000 to undertake a feasibility study.

The project will enable creation of a plan to guide the town in providing enhanced levels of social services related to food for those in need.

The bulk of the CDBG funding will be used by the Town of Cusick to pay a consultant with expertise in rural socioeconomic development, education and other skills required to perform the food bank feasibility study. The planning project includes identification of existing structures that would be suitable to be used as a food bank, or sites suitable for new construction.

The Town of Twisp is likewise getting $24,000 for a water system plan update. Water system plans have to be updated every six years, and Twisp’s existing plan dates back to 2008.

Twisp is working with Olympia, WA-based consulting firm Gray & Osborne, Inc. for an updated water system plan that will provide a detailed view of their water system’s future needs, thus providing utility data for implementing long range planning.

Cusick, Twisp and the other 15 recipients were chosen through a competitive process. The WA Commerce Dept received applications requesting a total of more than $615,000 in CDBG funding.

The Commerce Department’s Assistant Director for Local Government and Infrastructure Kendee Yamaguchi said these grants will help communities collect and evaluate the information they need to move forward with essential local improvements.

The state CDBG program receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for supporting activities benefiting low-income residents in small cities (population below 50,000) and counties (below 200,000). Bigger communities get their CDBG federal funding directly from HUD.

The WA State CDBG program has awarded more than $457 million since 1982 in support of more than 1,250 community development projects that are high-priority local issues.

The projects benefiting low-income residents in rural areas include local infrastructure improvement projects, affordable housing projects, community health and childcare centers, loans and technical assistance for local micro-enterprises, and the planning process and studies that enhance the success of these projects.

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