Economic Development

New US EDA Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Funding Round Awards $10M in Innovation Grants

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has announced another $10 million in grants for 25 awardees under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

US EDA RIS program

US EDA RIS program (photo – eda.gov)

RIS, managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), is designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grants competition.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in a release that “The Regional Innovation Strategies program is critical to ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to the tools they need to move their ideas and inventions from idea to market.”

The total amount of funding for the i6 Challenge under this RIS round is $8 million. The i6 Challenge, launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, is now in its fifth iteration. It is a national competition that makes small, targeted, high-impact investments to support startup creation, innovation, and help turn technology into jobs.

For example, the University of Alabama in Huntsville is getting $500,000 for a $12 million business incubator. The EDA investment funds the university’s Virtual Proof of Concept Center (POCC): The Growth & Acceleration of Products (GAP) Project. It will allow UAH to jump-start many of the functions of its planned Innovation to Invention Center (I2C) as it gathers funding for that center’s building.

Dr. Ray Vaughn, UAH vice president for research and economic development, said in a statement that “We are extremely pleased about the news that EDA awarded this i6 Challenge grant to UAH in support of our Innovation to Invention Center.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams was in Maine to announce $640,000 in federal funding. The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) in Portland will receive $390,000 to expand its Top Gun Program into the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network, and Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) in Wiscasset will receive $250,000 to launch a Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund to support rural business development.

Assistant Secretary Williams noted in a blog post on the eda.gov website that “Although two very separate organizations, their efforts are great examples of a holistic approach to developing a comprehensive community of resources – an “ecosystem” – for innovators and entrepreneurs within a specific region.”

The full list of grantees under this round of RIS i6 Challenge funding is as follows:

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico:  $368,760 for Next Gen Entrepreneurship (Next Gen);

Telluride Foundation, Telluride, Colorado:   $499,720 for Southwest Innovation Corridor;

University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama:  $500,000 for UAH Virtual Proof of Concept Center (POCC): The Growth & Acceleration of Products (GAP) Project

University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut:  $500,000 for Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster (QCIC);

Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Portland, Maine:  $390,000 for Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network Expansion;

Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, Ohio:  $498,282 for Accelerating Pharmaceutical Commercialization: A Rural Proof of Concept Center for Economic Development;

University of Wisconsin System, Stevens Point, Wisconsin:  $499,965 for a new Proof of Concept Center;

Arkansas State University, State University, Arkansas:  $500,000 for East Arkansas Regional Innovation System;

CareerSource Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Florida:  $499,999 for SUN i6 Challenge;

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia:  $499,751 for CatalyzeVT: Expanding the Innovation Ecosystem in the Roanoke-Blacksburg Region of Virginia;

Innovation Alliance, Seattle, Washington:   $500,000 for Clean Water Innovation Initiative (CWII);

University of Hawaii System, Honolulu, Hawaii:  $500,000 for XLR8UH Hawaii Innovation Ecosystem Development Project;

Quatere, Salt Lake City, Utah:  $500,000 for Quatere Cohorts Innovation Center Expansion;

Oklahoma Innovation Institute, Tulsa, Oklahoma:  $351,400 for Tulsa Research Partners Technology Commercialization Concentrator for Tulsa;

BioHealth Innovation, Inc., Rockville, Maryland:  $495,000 for expansion of the Venture Commercialization Model (V-COMM);

Innovation Works, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:  $500,000 for a rural hardware entrepreneurship program in southwest Pennsylvania; and

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon:   $447,231 for Oregon State Engineered Wood Building Products Commercialization Project.

Another $2 million in RIS funding is being awarded through the Seed Fund Support competition. Here’s the full list of this year’s eight Seed Fund Support grants:

Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation, Youngstown, Ohio: $250,000 for Valley Growth Ventures, LLC;

Enterprize Events Inc., Guaynabo, Puerto Rico:  $250,000 for the Puerto Rico IDE Seed Fund;

Coastal Enterprises Inc., Wiscasset, Maine:   $250,000 for the CEI Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund;

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina: $250,000 for the Triangle Venture Alliance;

BioAccel, Phoenix, Arizona:   $250,000 for the Southwest Integrated Investment Ecosystem Development Project;

Global Center for Medical Innovation, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia:  $249,981 for the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) MedTech Seed Fund & Accelerator Program;

Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Fund, Chicago, Illinois:  $248,200 for the Energy Foundry Seed Investor Education and Strategic Partner Development Project; and

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:   $250,000 for Greater Philadelphia Impact Partners.

Arizona to Establish Governor’s Economic Opportunity Office as Analytical Hub

Governor Doug Ducey announced that new legislation has been introduced in the Arizona House of Representatives to boost economic development by creating a new analytical hub under the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).

AZ GEOO

AZ GEOO (photo – azgovernor.gov)

The new legislation, sponsored by Representative Karen Fann, will establish a one-stop economic development shop called the Governor’s Economic Opportunity Office (GEOO).

The creation of GEOO will cut down on government overlap and create a more unified and effective approach to job attraction and Arizona economic development by consolidating several state government offices.

GEOO will serve as an analytics and strategy team under the Arizona Commerce Authority that will continually analyze how Arizona stacks up against other states. The organization will focus on identifying ways to drive down regulatory and tax burdens, and provide real-time data so policy makers and government can move at the speed of business to bring new business to Arizona.

Establishing GEOO as the analytical hub for Arizona’s economic development strategy will enable the ACA to focus exclusively on business attraction and growth.

Specifically, GEOO’s work will cover three main drivers of economic development. One is an evaluation of the effectiveness of Arizona’s tax incentives, and generation of economic impact evaluations of proposed regulation reforms.

The second focus area will be workforce, which includes a consolidation of existing staff focused on workforce analytics and strategy at ACA, ADOA and DES. GEOO will also develop a statewide workforce plan that aligns with Arizona economic development priorities.

The third focus area is finance, including the creation of GEOO to absorb many of Arizona’s tax-exempt finance authorities (WIFA,GADA, AzHFA, AHFA and AIDA) under one board, providing relocating and expanding businesses a one-stop financing shop at the state level. The legislation also requires the establishment of a statewide Industrial Development Authority (IDA) that facilitates businesses’ access to tax-exempt financing in an effort to attract relocating and expanding businesses to Arizona.

Gov. Ducey said in a release that “This new approach is focused on growing our economy by attracting new business to Arizona and ensuring job creators who are already here, stay and thrive. I thank Rep. Fann for her leadership in these crucial efforts.”

Rep. Karen Fann likewise noted that “GEOO will give us the analytics that we’re currently missing, while enhancing our success on the marketing side. I’m proud of this legislation and I thank Gov. Ducey for his commitment to economic competitiveness.”

Over $1B in State, Federal Funding to Aid Flint Water Crisis Recovery

The Flint water crisis is transitioning into the disaster recovery stage, and over $1 billion in state and federal funding is about to pour into the city and Genesee County to aid economic recovery and provide finance for water infrastructure and long-term development projects.

Flint Water Bill

Flint Water Bill (photo – house.gov)

For starters, the Small Business Administration has approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for low-interest disaster loans for businesses in Genesee County and the city of Flint.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are working capital loans, that will now be made available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, non-profit organizations that meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.

The Michigan Senate has additionally approved a $30 million dollar funding request for a proposal announced by Governor Rick Snyder to aid the city of Flint with credits (Consumption and Consumer Use Credit). If this $30 million is approved by the MI House, state funding for Flint’s water crisis for this Fiscal Year will total $67.3 million.

The Governor has also appointed Mike Finney, former executive director of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, to the City of Flint Receivership Transition Advisory board. Gov. Snyder said in a release that “I am confident that Mike, a Flint native, will work diligently with local leaders to ensure continued financial stability, which is especially imperative as we work to transition executive authority back to Mayor Weaver.”

But even this would be relatively small compared to proposed state and federal funding for Flint economic development projects, with most of it to be earmarked for fixing and replacing the city’s water infrastructure.

Legislation that has been introduced in the United States Congress by Congressman Dan Kildee and U.S. Senators for Michigan Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters provides up to $400 million in new federal emergency funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help replace or fix the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure.

In a letter to President Obama requesting federal assistance, Governor Snyder had stated that the estimated cost of replacing the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure is $767,419,500. The federal amendment therefore requires the State of Michigan to match dollar-for-dollar the $400 million in federal infrastructure funding that will be authorized through the bill.

Apart from this $800 million in state and federal funding, the new legislation establishes and funds a $200 million Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure in Flint to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of children and adults exposed to lead. It also gives the State of Michigan new flexibility to use funding to help forgive water infrastructure loans. The legislation is being pushed through Congress as an amendment to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act.

The federal legislation also includes $90 million in state and federal funding to support Flint economic development assistance programs and expanded youth employment opportunities.

This includes $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce for economic development assistance programs, and another $12.5 million for minority business development programs, to be matched with $25 million in state funding. The U.S. Department of Labor will provide another $20 million, to be matched by the state, for youth employment opportunities, workforce training, literacy and apprenticeship grants.

The bill also seeks to make critical investments in Flint schools, including establishing school-based health centers and infrastructure repairs to school buildings.

Arkansas Inc. Brand Seeks to Entice Site Location Consultants In “Good Company”

During his remarks at the Arkansas Economic Developers’ winter conference in Little Rock, AR, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the launch of Arkansas Inc., a new brand campaign to recruit new companies and encourage expansions by existing companies in the state.

Arkansas Inc.

Arkansas Inc. (photo – arkansasedc.com)

The “Arkansas Inc.” brand, aimed at executive decision makers and site-location consultants, makes known the thriving Fortune 500 companies doing business in the state, and will also highlight the state’s success stories in recruiting relocating and expanding businesses.

The brand is accompanied by the tag line that “When you do business in Arkansas, you’re in very Good Company.”

Governor Hutchinson said in a release that in order to continue growing our economy, it is imperative that they tell their story effectively to business leaders and site location consultants around the world.

“‘Arkansas Inc.’ is a very succinct way for us to communicate that we are in the business of growing business and that our state stands ready and able to compete in a rapidly evolving, high-tech worldwide economy,” added Gov. Hutchinson.

One of the focus areas of the accompanying ad campaign for this new brand will be to get this message in front of key decision makers in the firearms manufacturing industry and some other key sectors. The brand and “Good Company” tagline ad campaign will seek to build on the state’s recent successes in attracting projects by firearms companies. Last month, SIG Sauer announced plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, AR, and the Remington Outdoor Company at the same time announced an expansion of its manufacturing operations in Lonoke.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston noted that when it comes down to it, the State of Arkansas operates like a business, and ‘Arkansas Inc.’ better reflects that. “If we want to grow business in Arkansas, we need to tell businesses we understand their needs and can address those needs quickly and decisively,” said Preston.

Preston also pointed out that this is what AEDC is aiming to communicate as they revise executive job titles from government agency descriptions like Deputy Director to more business-minded roles like Executive Vice President. “And these are precisely the key messages we will be striving to convey through ‘Arkansas Inc.,’” added Preston.

The advertising campaign featuring “Arkansas Inc.” begins immediately with an initial $300,000 budget, and includes a strong digital marketing presence along with targeted ads in print economic development publications. Little Rock, AR-based Stone Ward is the ad agency for the campaign, whose overall goals and key performance indicators revolve around a tandem strategy of brand awareness and lead generation.

US Senate Urged to Increase Economic Development Administration Funding

After years of delayed and reduced budget appropriations, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) may finally find its budget increasing significantly for the first time in a decade.

Letter urging increase in US EDA funding

Letter urging increase in US EDA funding (photo – senate.gov)

The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget is scheduled to be released in a few days, and federal appropriators are being urged to authorize a significant increase in Commerce’s EDA funding this year beyond the roughly $200 million it has received in recent years.

The new push for increasing the EDA’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget was launched by U.S. Senator for New York Charles E. Schumer, including through a conference call with the media and a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby and Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski.

Sen. Schumer noted in a release that the stagnant EDA budget, which has even been reduced in some years, leaves nearly 800 applications for federal funding unfunded each year. For example, the EDA was able to fund roughly 670 applications in FY 2013, even though it gets an average of 1,476 grant applications. For 2013, the agency received applications seeking a total of $2.5 billion, but had only $183.4 million to spend.

In New York, there were 144 applications funded between 2007 and 2014, for a total of $52,493,629. However, from 2011 to 2014 alone, there were 83 applications still left unfunded, for a total of $100,370,168.

The Senator said that EDA grant programs provide a real shot in the arm for local communities in New York, but each year, more and more projects are left unfunded, and job creation opportunities are missed because the agency has been shortchanged for more than a decade.

“A worst case scenario is when a community has done the hard work of attracting a new company to their backyard, but the business decides to move elsewhere because the EDA application for a modest infrastructure improvement was stalled,” added Sen. Schumer. “I am urging federal appropriators to make a significant increase in EDA funding this year so New York can use those funds to create new jobs, attract new businesses to the region and make key infrastructure upgrades.”

The Senator also highlighted several EDA-funded projects in New York State which had made projects possible and have helped improve communities. For example, the Launch NY incubator headquartered in Buffalo received $637,000 from the EDA in 2012 and another $500,000 in 2015.

Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY, said in a release that due to this EDA funding, they have assisted nearly 500 high-growth potential businesses, comprising over 1,200 jobs. “In order to compete in a global economy, increasing EDA funding is critical to communities like Western New York to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities,” added LaVigne.

Similarly, EDA funding has been essential to a number of important projects including in Binghamton, NY, where a $2 million dollar award helped to launch the Southern Tier Technology Incubator which has helped inject nearly $21 million into the local economy.

This $2 million EDA funding for the Southern Tier Start-up Alliance brought together collaborators from Binghamton University, Cornell University, and Corning, Inc. to support manufacture-ready businesses.

Tom Schryver, executive director of the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University, said in the release that “Funding from the Economic Development Administration can be the difference maker when it comes to creating jobs and growing our innovation economy. The limited resources we have received have helped to support some transformative projects throughout New York State.”

Tennessee Approves $4.3M Grant to Bring CMT’s Million Dollar Quartet to Memphis

The new CMT series “Million Dollar Quartet” is coming to Memphis, to bring alive a seminal moment in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the lives of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Million Dollar Quartet

Million Dollar Quartet (photo – ell brown/flickr)

Supported by a $4.3 million Tennessee economic development grant, Million Dollar Quartet will kick off production in Memphis this spring.

The series, an adaptation of the Broadway Musical about Sun Records, will tell the true story of record producer Sam Phillips and his ground breaking studio, Sun Records. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins collaborated in a 1956 recording session at Sun Records later called the Million Dollar Quartet. Those sessions are widely regarded as a seminal moment in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today that the department has approved a reimbursable grant of up to $4.3 million that will support a projected 160 film crew positions.

Commissioner Boyd said in a release that “Memphis is the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll music, and we are ecstatic to be able to support a television series that tells the story of the city’s role in one of the most influential cultural phenomenon of the last century. This is truly a Tennessee story.”

CMT President Brian Philips likewise noted that telling this story in Memphis was important to making such an important historical period come alive for the screen. “The characters are all larger-than-life, so casting is a daunting challenge, but we’re counting on the magic of Memphis to come alive again!” added Philips.

State Sen. Mark Norris, who helped to recruit the project to the state, said the production is an important win for the Memphis film community. “This series brings history to life and breathes new life into the Memphis film and television market. I appreciate the hard work of TNECD, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, the Memphis Film Commission, Thinkfactory Media and CMT in making it possible,” added Sen. Norris.

Tennessee Entertainment Commission Executive Director Bob Raines highlighted the state and Memphis economic development benefits of the project. “In addition to producing new jobs for our local crew base and providing revenue for the state’s production vendors, the series will introduce iconic Memphis legends and music to a new generation of fans,” said Raines.

Later this month, show producer Thinkfactory Media will hold a casting call seeking actors for the series at Presley’s alma mater, the historic Humes Preparatory Academy in Memphis.

Alberta Launches $500M Incentives Program to Compete With Gulf Coast for Petrochemicals Investments

The Province of Alberta, Canada has launched a new incentives program to attract large-scale billion dollar petrochemical facilities.

Alberta petrochemicals diversification program

Alberta petrochemicals diversification program (photo – alberta.ca)

This new Alberta economic development program, called the Petrochemicals Diversification Program, will provide up to $500 million in incentives through royalty credits to companies considering the province for locating petrochemicals facility investments.

The expected benefits are just as large – between $3 billion and $5 billion worth of investment attracted to Alberta through several facilities, each of which will be valued in excess of $1 billion, which would yield significant benefits to the province and Albertans.

Together, these projects are expected to create up to 3,000 new jobs during construction of the new petrochemical facilities, and more than 1,000 permanent jobs once operation begins.

Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said in a release that this new commitment to diversification in the petrochemical sector is part of the government’s economic action plan – a plan to create jobs, diversify the economy and add more value to the province’s resources.

“This innovative program builds on the strengths of our energy industry and will attract new investment to our province,” added Minister Bilous.

Through this program, the Government of Alberta will award royalty credits to select petrochemical facilities through a competitive application process. While petrochemical facilities do not directly benefit from royalty credits, the credits awarded can be traded or sold to an oil or natural gas producer, who can use these credits to reduce their royalty payments to government. Credits will only be awarded once approved projects are completed and feedstock consumption begins.

Alberta intends to compete with Louisiana, Texas and other Gulf Coast states that attract similar large petrochemicals facility investments by offering incentives to companies that are considering new projects in their jurisdictions.

By providing similar incentives on such a large scale, the Petrochemicals Diversification Program will encourage investment in new processing facilities by helping to offset Alberta’s high construction and transportation costs. It will help make Alberta’s petrochemical industry more competitive with the Gulf Coast and other petrochemical centers around the world

Warren Fraleigh, Executive Director of the Building Trades of Alberta, noted that the government’s decision to promote investment in the petrochemical industry is the right decision at the right time, not only for Alberta’s petrochemical industry, but also for skilled labor in the province. “This program will create jobs for workers, but will also diversify our economy—which the province needs now,” added Fraleigh.

Paris, NYC Economic Development Agencies Announce Winners of Business Exchange Program

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Paris & Co, the economic development agency of Paris, have jointly announced the first lot of winners of the NYC-Paris Business Exchange program.

NYC-Paris Business Exchange

NYC-Paris Business Exchange (photo – nycparisstartups.com)

The NYC-Paris Business Exchange program was originally conceived during discussions between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mayor Anne Hidalgo to further support job creation and economic opportunity, and builds upon the international standing, shared economic development priorities and bilateral partnership between both cities.

The program, launched last year in October, will help tech, arts, fashion, design, tourism, food and beverage, and sustainability companies overcome barriers that inhibit entry to foreign markets. Paris, with access to over 500 million customers in the European market, the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters in Europe, and 10,000 startups in a booming innovation ecosystem, is a central hub from which emerging New York City-based businesses can grow and diversify.

Here’s the first lot of winning companies from both cities:

NYC to Paris – Adam Frank Incorporated; Authorea; AXS Lab; Mogul; Mota Word; RecycledBrooklyn; Tucker; and Tyga-Box.

Paris to NYC – Adotmob; Algama; Glory4Gamers; Interactive Mobility; Leka Inc.; Natural Grass; Sequencity; SlimCut Media; smArtapps; and Tech’4’Team.

NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer said in a release that “We’re very excited to welcome some of the top French companies to the fastest growing innovation ecosystem in the world. And we’re sure that our homegrown New York companies will show the city of lights what tech in the City that Never Sleeps is all about.”

Karine Bidart, Co-CEO, Paris&Co, noted that “The NYC-Paris Business Exchange revealed the attraction that both cities have on startups. The program will be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to test a new market and to get connected to targeted business and innovation networks, in the best practical conditions.”

The NYC Economic Development Corp. is partnering with the Made in NY Media Center by IFP to host the chosen companies from Paris, and has partnered with La French Tech NYC to provide mentorship and support during the companies’ tenure.

La French Tech NYC is an umbrella group launched in June 2015 that French economic development agency Business France, the French American Chamber of Commerce, the French Embassy to the United States, and the Consulate General of France in New York City, as well as French Founders. The group aims to give more visibility to New York City-based French start-ups and help other French tech companies grow in New York.

For its part, Paris&Co and Ateliers de Paris will host the winning companies from New York City. Air France is providing round-trip airfare for the winning companies from both cities.

Enterprise Florida Launches The Future is Here Global Branding Campaign

Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), the principal economic development organization for the State of Florida, has launched a new global branding initiative targeting national and international business decision makers, site consultants and existing Florida business leaders and residents.

Florida - The Future Is Here Brand Campaign

Florida – The Future Is Here Brand Campaign (photo – enterpriseflorida.com)

The new branding campaign, “Florida – The Future is Here,” reflects Florida’s strength as a home for business, and encourages people to see the Sunshine State in a new and more realistic way through stories and imagery that debunk preconceived views.

The brand’s first creative campaign – “Boundless” – sets the overarching theme that Florida is home to the resources and attitudes that businesses need to flourish. Through imagery of Florida’s key assets, the campaign brings a few of these infinite opportunities to the forefront.

A new website for the campaign has also been unveiled as a microsite on the enterpriseflorida.com website. This campaign website likewise hammers home the “Boundless” theme, focusing on the boundless freedom Florida offers to do business your own way, the boundless potential of the state’s talented and diverse workforce (see the Boundless Potential ad), the boundless markets accessible through Florida’s airports and seaports, and so on.

Through such creatives and other components of the campaign, the new brand aims to serve as a call to action to business leaders interested in starting, growing or relocating their businesses in Florida, and instills a sense of pride in what the state offers to existing business owners and residents.

Bill Johnson, Florida Secretary of Commerce and president and CEO of EFI, said in a release that “The state has a great business story and this campaign will allow us to tell that story in a way Florida never has.”

The branding effort, developed by Jacksonville-based St. John & Partners, will be introduced to audiences in the state, nationally and internationally, including through a $10 million advertising campaign that is set to run in national and international print, online, television and radio outlets.

Jeff McCurry, president and chief operating officer of St. John & Partners, noted that “Our team has worked closely with the staff and partners of Enterprise Florida to lay the groundwork for this branding effort – a platform that reflects the rational and emotional aspects of site selection.”

The first campaign ads have already started running in key Florida markets, and the campaign will expand beyond the state in the spring.

Massachusetts Governor Files Economic Development Legislation Seeking $918M Investment

Legislation filed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker seeks funding for implementing several aspects of his Administration’s comprehensive economic development plan, including investments of up to $918 million in capital funding.

Massachusetts Statehouse

Massachusetts Statehouse (photo – Fcb981/wikimedia)

The legislation (An Act to Provide Opportunities for All) allocates funding for everything from local infrastructure to Brownfields site cleanup, Gateway Cities development, development site assembly and site readiness, smart growth housing, workforce development, emerging technologies, and community-based innovation.

It also makes several reforms relative to smart growth housing, streamlines the Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program, and refocuses the work of regional economic development nonprofits.

Governor Baker said in a release that “We are committed to creating a platform for growth and prosperity across the Commonwealth, and this legislation will make key investments in the economic potential of our communities and residents.”

The proposed capital authorization sought in the bill is as follows:

MassWorks ($500 million): Reauthorizes MassWorks funding in order to provide municipalities and other public entities with public infrastructure grants to support economic development and job creation.

Transformative Development Initiative ($50 million): Supports Gateway Cities revitalization programs by enabling MassDevelopment to make long-term patient equity investments in key properties in Transformative Development Initiative districts, with the goal of accelerating the maturation of private real estate markets.

Brownfields Redevelopment Fund ($75 million): Moves funding for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to the capital program.

Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund ($25 million): Moves funding for the state’s Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund to the capital program.

Site Readiness Fund ($25 million): Advances regional job creation by creating a new fund for site assembly and pre-development activities that support regionally significant commercial or industrial development opportunities.

Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative ($118 million): Provides matching grants to establish public-private applied research institutes around emerging manufacturing technologies.

Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund ($25 million): Reauthorizes a capital grant program that funds nonprofit, university-led research collaboratives working to commercialize emerging technologies.

Innovation Infrastructure Fund ($25 million): Creates a new fund for making capital grants that support community-based innovation efforts, including co-working spaces, venture centers, maker spaces and artist spaces.

Workforce Skills Capital Grants ($75 million): Establishes a new grant program for workforce development training equipment, to strengthen workforce skills, and create strong employment pipelines.

The bill also seeks reforms in the Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) and Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) program, along with liquor law reforms, a Blue Laws clarification, and doubling of the limit on loan guarantees from the Massachusetts Export Development Fund, to $1,000,000.

Reforms are sought in the I-Cubed infrastructure program, along with alignment of local parking policies with broader economic development priorities, and reforms of a housing-related TIF program and the Housing Development Incentive Program.

The bill furthermore broadens the statutory charge of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) to include digital health cluster development.

Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash noted that “By supporting public-private partnerships in applied research, and community-based innovation spaces, this economic development bill will deepen our innovation ecosystem, cement Massachusetts’ position as the nation’s most innovative state, and harness emerging technologies to create long-term job growth in every region of the Commonwealth.”

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