Economic Development

MA Legislature Hearing on Feasibility Study of Boston-Springfield High-Speed Rail Project

A hearing of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation took up a long-awaited petition, and an accompanying bill, that would kick off the feasibility study of high-speed rail access between Springfield and Boston.

Boston Springfield high speed rail bill

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The bill in question (S.1849), was sponsored by State Senator Eric P. Lesser. If passed into law, it would require the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study relative to high-speed rail access between the city of Springfield and the city of Boston.

The scope of the study includes, among other things, the projected capital costs; projected operating costs and revenue estimates; availability of federal, state, local and private sector funding sources; projected ridership levels; the prospect of operating high-speed rail service on existing rights of way and other operational issues; and the environmental and community impact estimates.

The study would also consider the resulting Greater Springfield economic development benefits. At the moment, the lion’s share of economic development in Massachusetts is occurring in Greater Boston. Easing travel between eastern and western Massachusetts would bring some of that economic and wage growth west to Greater Springfield.

State Senator Eric P. Lesser, who testified at the Joint Committee on Transportation hearing on this bill, said in his testimony that high-speed rail is an idea whose time has come, and added that it would transform Western Massachusetts.

But the fastest existing passenger rail link from Springfield to Boston is Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, which only runs once a day and takes 135 minutes. So fast travel between Springfield and Boston now relies on roads and cars. High-speed rail would reduce travel time from the current 135 down to 90 minutes or less, make it safer, and would enable multiple departures per day.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has already created a capital investment plan to fund high-speed rail to Springfield, and also examines the possibility of extending high-speed rail service north to Montreal and south to New York.

This would be in line with what was envisaged by the United States Congress in 2004 when the Northern New England Corridor, one of ten federally designated high-speed rail corridors, was extended from Boston to Springfield, MA and Albany, NY, and from Springfield to New Haven, CT. If the 489-mile corridor were to be completed, high-speed trains could travel from Boston to Montreal in about four and a half hours.

UHERO Report Highlights Success of Hawaii Economic Development Growth Initiative

A new report from the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii (UHERO) claims that the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) has successfully jumpstarted Hawaii’s startup ecosystem.

UHERO report on HI Growth Initiative

UHERO report on HI Growth Initiative (photo –

Specifically, the UHERO report says that a Hawaii economic development program called the HI Growth Initiative has been successful at creating jobs and leveraging state dollars to encourage private investment.

The HI Growth Initiative was established by the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC), an agency attached to DBEDT. The initiative was launched to promote Hawaii’s innovation sector and mobilize private capital for local entrepreneurs running high growth businesses.

UHERO talked to nearly 50 businesses and accelerators supported by the HI Growth Initiative as part of their survey for the report, and found that the initiative is generating close to $12 in private investment for each dollar invested by the state.

The HI Growth Initiative was launched by HSDC in 2011 with federal, state and local support, including a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The HI State Legislature provided $8 million over two years to pursue a venture accelerator initiative and support HSDC’s ‘fund of funds’ investment program, and the County of Hawaii partnered with HSDC to support an accelerator program on Hawaii Island.

The initiative now provides $20 million in investment capital focusing on three primary areas – entrepreneur development, research commercialization, and the mobilization of startup investment capital.

HSDC leverages public funds with private capital by requiring a minimum one-to-one match from private funding. This approach has led to an allocation of private capital in excess of 150 percent of HSDC’s funding, and the initiative has now generated more than $60 million in additional funding.

The startup infrastructure in Hawaii has also improved considerably in the last four years since the HI Growth Initiative was launched, and now includes six startup accelerators, of which three have been nationally recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and one is listed among the top 20 accelerators in the United States.

There are now six Hawaii-based venture capital funds, along with gigabit-enabled co-working spaces, business incubators, research commercialization programs and events year-round aimed at developing entrepreneurs. According to a recent report from the Hawaii Business Roundtable, the innovation sector makes up about seven percent of total jobs in Hawaii.

In a statement announcing the report release, UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham said that “By investing in a broad array of accelerator programs, the HI Growth Initiative is facilitating the development of an innovation ecosystem in Hawaii and may finally provide the necessary impetus to draw attention to entrepreneurship in the state, leading to further growth in venture capital, one of the necessary ingredients in a vibrant innovation ecosystem.”

HSDC President Karl Fooks noted that today’s entrepreneurs work with technology and use digital platforms to compete globally, and these knowledge-based businesses need access to equity investment capital. “The HI Growth Initiative helps motivate private investors to bring those capital resources to Hawaii for local companies,” said Fooks.

Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Luis Salaveria likewise said that the state needs to continue to support innovation to create an environment for entrepreneurs to grow and succeed. “The state’s overall growth strategy focuses on investing in infrastructure, attracting capital and developing talent, which will position Hawaii to become an innovation and knowledge-based economy,” added Salaveria.

Read the full UHERO report on “The Evolution of the HI Growth Initiative” – Download (pdf)

Florida TaxWatch Report Analyzes State’s Economic Development Programs

A report published by Florida TaxWatch, an independent nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog, takes an in-depth look at the effectiveness of the state’s incentive programs.

Florid econdev incentives report

Photo – Florida TaxWatch

The report reviews each of the major Florida economic development incentive programs, examines the return-on-investment figures published by the state, and compares Florida’s programs to those of competitor states.

In the report’s foreword, Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro says that “Florida’s business-friendly tax climate has its advantages, but this review finds that there are areas within which the state can improve relative to its competitors.”

The report warns that while Florida offers numerous economic development incentives for various economic sectors, support amongst policymakers may be waning. For FY 2015-16, the total amount of money available in the state’s economic development incentives toolkit is $43 million, which is $28 million less than the previous fiscal year.

One of the key incentive programs reviewed in the report is the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Business Tax Refund program, which has performed far above required returns on investment. QTI recipients are required to create a specified number of jobs that pay annual wages that are at least 115 percent of the average private sector wage. For fiscal years 2009-10 through 2011-12, QTI recipients created 37,103 jobs, which is 26.8 percent more than the required number. The ROI for QTI recipients is 6.9 for bundled projects and 6.8 for single projects.

In short, every $1 invested in the QTI tax refund incentive generates almost $7 in state revenue. QTI recipients have created 26 percent more jobs than they are contractually obligated to create, making QTI one of Florida’s most successful economic development incentives.

Another “deal-closer” for Florida is the Quick Action Closing Fund. QACF recipients are required to create a specific number of new jobs and make a specified minimum capital investment in order to receive the grant funds. Projects receiving QACF incentives in fiscal years 2009-10 through 2011-12 have created 5,829 jobs and made more than $555 million in capital investments so far. This represents 62 percent of the required jobs and 57 percent of the required capital investment. However, 37 of the 41 projects are still active, so the recipients have time before their negotiated due dates to create the balance of the new jobs and make the required capital investment. Every$1 invested in this incentive generates $1.10 (bundled projects) to $6.10 (single projects) in state revenue.

The report similarly outlines the performance of the Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Refund program, Innovation Incentive Fund (IIF), and the Capital Investment Tax Credit (CITC). It also reviews the state’s sales tax exemption, the Entertainment Industry Tax Credit Incentive, and several other programs.

The report goes on to highlight instances where the availability of incentives helped secure job creation projects for Florida, such as CVS Pharmacy being enticed by the QTI program to establish a distribution and logistics facility in Orange County, FL. Similarly, IMS ExpertServices narrowed down the search for their relocation to three cities, and ultimately chose Pensacola. When asked why it chose Pensacola, IMS ExpertServices’ CEO Mike Wein stated that the QTI incentive program offered by the state of Florida was a key factor in the decision.

Another example cited is space exploration firm Blue Origin’s decision to build a new manufacturing and rocket launch facility in the Space Coast region. Blue Origin’s expansion into Florida supports the claim that Florida’s tax incentive program in the field of Science and Aerospace technology are competitive with the rest of the nation.

The TaxWatch report then goes on to look at the incentive programs in other states, and shows how incentive warchests can make a difference. They cite Tennessee offering, separately, $166 million to Volkswagen and $35 million to Nissan. South Carolina offered Boeing $120 million in incentives for expansion costs and site preparation. Louisiana provided a performance-based grant of $34 million to American Specialty Alloys. Georgia likewise provided an incentives package worth $23.3 million to Mercedes-Benz to move its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey.

The report concludes that “Even with a good business and tax environment, a great climate, and a world-class workforce, for Florida to compete with states that can offer these sizeable incentive packages, it must be willing to increase the amount available for economic development efforts.”

Note that Governor Rick Scott has proposed creating a new $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund that will be more effective for winning competitive jobs projects.

Read the full Florida TaxWatch report on economic development incentives – Download (pdf)

CUNY and NYC Economic Development Corp Launch International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC)

At the Inaugural Civic Hall Civic Innovation Breakfast Series, NYC Economic Development Corp President Maria Torres-Springer announced a CUNY-campus based program called IN2NYC (International Innovators Initiative).


IN2NYC (photo –

IN2NYC is being launched as a partnership project between NYCEDC and the City University of New York (CUNY).

It will the first City-run program in the United States designed to help up to 80 selected international entrepreneurs access the visas they need to grow their businesses in New York City, in the process creating more than 700 jobs for New Yorkers in the first three years alone.

Furthermore, IN2NYC entrepreneurs will be based in co-working spaces on CUNY campuses alongside other innovators, thus providing educational programs, mentorship, and internship opportunities to CUNY students.

The program is open to international entrepreneurs who have started businesses abroad and would like to relocate or expand to NYC. International students graduating from U.S. universities or Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs who have founded their own businesses while on student visas will also be eligible to participate.

Every year, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services receives about 200,000 applications for H-1B visas, but only one out of four applicants actually receives a visa. NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer noted in the speech that “That’s why the Canadian government has been placing advertisements right outside immigration offices in Silicon Valley — they’re just waiting for us to turn the world’s most talented people away.”

Referring to the IN2NYC entrepreneurs, Torres-Springer added that “because they’ll be rooted in the local communities where CUNY schools are located, they’ll be bringing new jobs, services, and revenue streams into neighborhoods across the five boroughs…This is a model that, while pioneered by the City of New York, can be replicated by any university in the city, state and nation. And we hope it will be!”

As a start, seven schools will begin accepting applications for the inaugural IN2NYC program starting later this fall. The schools are City College of New York (Zahn Innovation Center); LaGuardia Community College (NYDesigns); Queens College (Tech Incubator Center); Medgar Evers College (Entrepreneurship & Experiential Leaning Training Lab); College of Staten Island (Entrepreneurial Incubator & Educational Center); Lehman College (Information Technology Innovation Lab); and Baruch College (Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship).

Find out more about the International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC) at

DC, MD, VA Regional Economic Development Mission to Cuba

The Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) announced a historic regional exploratory mission to Cuba that will include top state and regional government and economic development leaders from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

DC, MD, VA econdev trip to Cuba

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The 41-member delegation will be in Cuba February 20-25, and includes DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner; Montgomery County, MD Executive Ike Leggett; and Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones.

Secretary Jones said in a statement that this mission is a great opportunity to build relationships that will be the foundation for economic development, tourism and trade opportunities for the region and the Commonwealth of Virginia. “I look forward to collaborating with my partners from Maryland and the District of Columbia to highlight the world-class assets we have,” added Sec. Jones.

In Havana, the delegation is scheduled to meet with Havana Mayor Marta Hernandez Romero, Cuba Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, and Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz. Members of the delegation will also meet with U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis to discuss diplomacy and economic opportunities for regional businesses in Havana.

Mayor Bowser noted that “From China to Cuba – and everywhere in between – these missions are important because they can create jobs for our residents and improve our local economies. I look forward to joining my fellow regional leaders to Cuba as we explore investment opportunities and position ourselves for greater economic success.”

Delegates will tour research hospitals and local clinics to learn about strategies that achieve high health standards with scarce resources. The delegation will also visit primary and secondary schools and the University of Havana to learn about Cuba’s consistently high educational successes.

Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Ike Leggett added that “I look forward to exploring ways that Montgomery County residents and businesses can connect with Cuba and with our regional partners to advance our mutual interests.”

GWHCC CEO Angela Franco added that “We are hopeful this mission will be a start to securing future economic and community benefits for the region, its residents, and its businesses.”

This joint mission from the DC region was preceded by a Virginia economic development trip to Cuba that was led by Governor Terry McAuliffe. During this trip, Gov. McAuliffe had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, who has accepted an invitation to visit Virginia.

Diaz’s ministry MINCEX is the Cuban agency responsible for promoting foreign trade and commercial transactions between Cuban enterprises and business entities in other countries.  The agency develops and proposes policies, conducts trade negotiations with other countries and signs agreements to further economic development.

Other states are likewise making a beeline for Cuba. An exploratory mission from Iowa led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is currently in Cuba. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has just returned from an economic development trip to Cuba during which he met with officials to discuss opportunities for increasing investment and building trade relationships between Texas and Cuba.

NYC Economic Development Corp Launches UrbanTech NYC

New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced the launch of UrbanTech NYC, a comprehensive program to support companies building smart and sustainable cities that will bring to bear 100,000 square feet of space, prototyping equipment and shared resources at two locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

UrbanTech NYC

UrbanTech NYC

In partnership with New Lab and Grand Central Tech, NYCEDC has committed up to $7.2 million to create these two Urban Technology Growth Hubs that will open later this summer.

The hubs in Brooklyn and Manhattan will provide flexible and affordable space, as well as provide dedicated resources, for fast-growing cleantech and smart cities companies that have outgrown business incubators, accelerators and other early-stage programs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release that “Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges to our city, which is why we’ve committed to an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To move us toward our goals, we’ll need the City’s brightest minds and ideas, which is why UrbanTech NYC is so important.”

NYC Economic Development Corp President Maria Torres-Springer added that the program will provide the resources that entrepreneurs need to build resiliency into the DNA of the City’s economy, and noted that “The rapid growth of our urban innovation sector demonstrates that building a sustainable, resilient city isn’t just smart planning –  it’s smart economics.”

The New Lab and Grand Central Tech hubs will offer companies access to prototyping and testing equipment, local training programs, sector specific business workshops, mentorship and support. Additionally, UrbanTech NYC will partner with the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation to provide opportunities for companies to pilot and demonstrate their innovative technologies across the city.

Located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New Lab will foster innovation in design, prototyping, and new manufacturing. New Lab will operate the hub with support from the New York Regional Economic Development Council, New York City Council, and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, partnerships with Autodesk and CUNY City Tech, and in collaboration with Arup.

David Belt, co-founder of New Lab, said that “By building a home for innovators in the built environment, green tech, and sustainability, we will allow companies to work together to rethink, redesign, and implement products that enrich our urban lives.”

Located adjacent to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, Grand Central Tech is a leading technology accelerator. The GCT hub will provide 50,000 square feet of office space, including a multi-purpose innovation center for businesses creating software-enabled technologies, products and solutions to urban challenges. Grand Central Tech will operate the hub with the support of key partners including Microsoft, Cornell Tech, and Milstein Properties, which also runs the tech investment firm Circle Ventures.

Matthew Harrigan, co-founder and managing director of Grand Central Tech, said that “We are thrilled to partner with NYCEDC to welcome the next generation of entrepreneurs tackling the problems facing cities.”

John Paul Farmer, Microsoft Director of Tech and Civic Innovation, added that “As we continue to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft is proud to support the NYCEDC’s partnership with Grand Central Tech and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to build out the innovation infrastructure of New York City.”

Find out more about  UrbanTech NYC at

Indianapolis, Indiana Reviewing Carrier and UTEC Economic Development Incentive Contracts

Following the sudden relocation to Mexico of manufacturing operations and more than 2,100 Indiana jobs by Carrier Corp. and United Technologies, Governor Mike Pence has issued instructions to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to review all incentive contracts offered by the state to the two companies.

Indy Task Force Carrier Corp Relocation

Indy Task Force Carrier Corp Relocation (photo –

A taskforce established by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is doing the same for all of Carrier’s current and previous federal, state and city of Indianapolis economic development incentive contracts.

United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC), a global manufacturer of microprocessor-based HVAC controls, announced last week that it will be relocating its Huntington, IN manufacturing operations over an estimated two-year period to Monterey, Mexico. This relocation will result in the layoff of approximately 700 UTEC jobs in Huntington.

Alex Housten, managing director, UTEC, said in a statement that “We are aware of the effect on our employees and the community, making this a difficult decision. But after a thorough evaluation of our manufacturing operations, we determined the relocation is the best way for us to remain competitive, meet the needs of our customers and protect the business for the long-term.”

UTEC’s headquarters, engineering and product marketing organizations will remain in the Huntington area.

Carrier Corp. likewise said it will relocate its manufacturing operations in Indianapolis to Mexico, resulting in the loss of 1,400 existing Carrier jobs for Indiana. U.S. Senator for Indiana Joe Donnelly said in a release that he spoke with Chris Nelson, president of HVAC systems and services for North America at Carrier Corporation.

Sen. Donnelly asked Nelson to identify specific federal regulations that prompted Carrier’s announcement. Unable to cite a single federal regulation, Nelson identified the efficiency of lower production and labor costs in Mexico as the primary benefit from the move.

Both Carrier Corp. and UTEC are a part of Hartford, CT-based United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), which generated more than $6 billion in earnings last year, and is ranked by Forbes as the 45th-largest corporation in the United States.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has issued an executive order directing Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Angela Smith-Jones and Deputy Mayor of Community Development Jeffrey Bennett to establish and co-chair the “Carrier Task Force” to explore, evaluate and provide recommendations that will address and ameliorate the harmful impacts of the Carrier relocation.

Among other things, this task force will also identify and investigate any and all previous or current federal, state or Indianapolis economic development incentives provided to Carrier.

Carrier Corp’s 2013 contract with IEDC was for up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. A majority ($197,815.76) of that contract has been awarded.

UTEC has two contracts with IEDC. In 2010, the IEDC offered the company up to $182,500 in training grants and has since awarded the full amount to the company. The IEDC will now seek to recapture this grant amount if the layoffs affect the job commitments that were a part of the 2010 contract.

In 2015, the IEDC entered into another contract offering up to $300,000 in training grants based on the company’s plans to create new jobs. Following the news of the relocation of UTEC’s Huntington manufacturing operations to Mexico, the IEDC has now de-obligated United Technologies from this $300,000 contract.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has also started offering Rapid Response services to impacted workers.

Governor Pence said in a statement that “From the moment our administration learned of this announcement, our Department of Workforce Development reached out to employees of both companies to offer job-seeking, training and education resources.”

DWD Commissioner Steve Braun added that “In tandem with job creators and local communities, the state is working to ensure quality employment for those affected as quickly as possible.”

U.S. Approves First Cuba Economic Development Project in Manufacturing Sector

After a hiatus of over 50 years, a company owned by a U.S. firm will directly own and operate a factory in Cuba. Alabama-based Cleber, LLC’s tractor manufacturing facility is now officially the first post-sanctions Cuba economic development project in the manufacturing sector to be funded by FDI from the United States.

Cleber, LLC Cuba

Cleber, LLC Cuba (photo –

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have approved Cleber’s application to allow their investment in Cuba to open a tractor warehouse/assembly facility to be located in the Mariel Special Development Zone.

The company’s application for OFAC/BIS authorization made use of a loophole in the trade embargo that allows an exemption for agricultural products. Cleber, LLC will be able to make and sell tractors in Cuba, as long as they sell to non-government cooperative farms and not to the state.

Following the OFAC/BIS authorization, the company can now go ahead with its planned $5 million investment over five years, starting with $1.4 million in the first year. CleBer is a joint venture established in 2015 by Alabama-based businessman Horace Clemmons and Cuban native Saul Berenthal.

The company’s first tractor to be “Made in Cuba” will be known as the Oggun, so named after a deity revered as the spirit of metal and a warrior against injustice. The small tractor, which will sell for less than $10,000, will for now be assembled in Cuba using imported parts, with plans to subsequently manufacture some parts in Cuba later on.

The company says on its website that they plan “to provide simple, cost effective tractors to Cuban farmers. Greater efficiency in farming the land will allow today’s field workers to become part of tomorrow’s supply chain in distributing Cuban-grown agriculture to a wider geographic area.”

Cleber decided to locate the factory to produce their Oggun tractor in the Mariel Special Development Zone due to the availability of economic development incentives for businesses locating in this zone. Mariel also has a one-stop shop for such project applications, and Cleber’s application was forwarded by this office to the Cuban Council of Ministers.

The billion-dollar Port of Mariel and its special development zone has been established by Cuba to attract exactly this kind of investment projects. The Cleber, LLC project was given preliminary approval in 65 days on the Cuban side, with final approval work to be completed now following U.S. approval.

Denver Economic Development Report – 4,164 Jobs Created and 3,076 Retained

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) has released its annual report outlining strong gains that include the creation of 4,164 new jobs, the successful retention of 3,076 jobs, and the creation of 628 affordable housing units.

Denver economic developemnt annual report

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As per the OED report, Denver economic development incentive programs, tax credits, loans, and training assistance programs helped 89 firms expand in the city, resulting in more than $304 million of capital investments.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement that Denver’s hard-working employers, employees and entrepreneurs enjoyed a year of recording-breaking progress on many economic fronts. “Their tenacity, coupled with the city’s efforts to sustain and grow a next-generation economy built on Denver’s traditional strengths, has simultaneously attracted new ventures, new industries, and thousands of new residents,” said Mayor Hancock.

One of the two key themes the report highlights in local economic development this year involves new ways to apply technology to maximize the impact of OED’s efforts and initiatives. For example, OED began using an interactive online tool ( that blends both mapping and promotional data to showcase sites with developers, businesses, and retailers all over the country.

Similarly, OED launched the Denver Manufacturing Map Tool, an online GIS mapping system that details all manufacturing operations and related support systems within the city. Among its many uses, the tool helps manufacturers identify suppliers, transportation providers, warehousing opportunities, and potential expansion sites.

The second theme the report highlights is OED’s success in building Denver’s presence as a trade partner internationally, such as assistance provided to the Denver Beer Company, which is now selling beer in Japan.

Working in partnership with Denver International Airport and state and regional partners, OED focused on increasing Denver’s profile in key world markets. These efforts included trade missions to businesses in global opportunity markets (Asia), hosting an investment forum/exchange in Japan, and the launch of the Mayor’s International Advisory Council, with the goal to make Denver a more internationally competitive and welcoming city.

The annual report also highlights key JumpStart 2015 accomplishments, as well as other signature wins gained by the OED last year. JumpStart 2015 was the OED’s Denver economic development plan built on seven pillars – business recruitment, business retention, small business advocacy, housing development, neighborhood development, strategic lending, and workforce development.

Major firms assisted by OED in 2015 include United Airlines, Gusto, Comcast, FiveStars, KPMG, DaVita, Costco, Sunrun, Optiv and Transamerica.

One of OED’s biggest successes last year was United Airlines’ selection of Denver as the location for its consolidated flight training center. The expansion will bring approximately 250 additional high-paying jobs, plus more than $40 million in upgrades to the Stapleton facilities, which in turn will catapult development of the nearby Central Park Station transit-oriented development. OED supported the expansion through the Business Incentive Fund.

OED Executive Director Paul Washington noted that “We’ve had an exciting run of new jobs from both startups and corporate locations, and at the same time posted major gains in the Mayor’s ambitious 3×5 plan for affordable housing.”

Read the full Denver Office of Economic Development Annual Report – Download (pdf)

Texas Launches Governor’s University Research Initiative

Governor Greg Abbott announced the official launch of the Texas Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI) that will provide matching state funds to help Texas institutions of higher education recruit Nobel Laureates and other distinguished researchers to their faculty.

Texas GURI

Texas GURI (photo –

The Governor’s University Research Initiative grant program was enacted last year by the 84th Texas Legislature. The GURI grant program is operated within the Office of the Governor (OOG) in the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Division.

The GURI fund is a dedicated account in the state’s general revenue fund. The source of funds for the grant program is a biennial appropriation by the Texas Legislature in addition to other authorized deposits in the fund.

One of Gov. Abbott’s first actions after taking office was to announce a proposal to eliminate the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) and use the ETF’s unexpended balances to establish the Governor’s University Research Initiative.

Gov. Abbott said in a statement that with the launch of the University Research Initiative, Texas is taking an important step toward elevating the state’s higher education institutions to become the best in the nation. “The Initiative will attract the brightest minds from around the globe and enhance our Universities’ capacity to conduct world-class research,” said Gov. Abbot.

In this reference, a “distinguished researcher” is a Nobel Laureate or the recipient of an equivalent honor, or a member of a national honorific society such as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine or an equivalent honorific organization.

“Our investment into GURI will help our universities recruit even more Nobel Laureates and National Academy members to the Lone Star State, and will serve as a catalyst for further economic development,” added Gov. Abbot.

Applications for funding through GURI will be accepted on a rolling basis from eligible institutions with a proposed grant match commitment amount of $5 million or less per distinguished researcher.

The Governor’s University Research Initiative Advisory Board has been established to assist the OOG with the review and evaluation of eligible applicant institutions. Governor Abbott has appointed Jacquie Baly, Cindy Conroy, Antonio Falcon, John Goodman, Wendy Gramm, James Huffines, J. Michael Lewis, Michael Plank, and Sam Susser to the Governor’s University Research Initiative Advisory Board for terms to expire at the pleasure of the Governor.

The advisory board will make recommendations for approval or disapproval of grant applications. Decision-making authority lies with the OOG.

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