Economic Development

Google Pitches Fiber to 34 Cities as Economic Development Tool

Google has invited 34 cities across nine metropolitan areas to work with them on finding out whether it would be possible to bring them Google Fiber.

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas (photo –

Offering speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, a Google Fiber connection is up to 100 times faster than currently available average broadband Internet speeds.

Google Fiber projects are already being implemented in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Ramping up availability to 34 of the biggest cities on both coasts takes it to a whole new level.

Google is pitching the expansion and high-speed Internet access as a necessary economic development tool that mayors from all over the map have said will spark innovation and drive economic growth while improving education.

Milo S. Medin, VP, Google Access Services, said in a blog post announcing the proposed Google Fiber expansion that Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee [both on the list of invited cities] and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans.

Medin also singled out San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has declared that every school should have gigaspeed Internet access by 2020.

The nine metro areas that Google is targeting for an expansion of Google Fiber are Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; Phoenix, AZ; San Antonio, TX; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh-Dunham, NC.

Google has asked all the invited cities to put together a checklist that will make it easier for a Fiber project to go ahead in their city. For example, cities have been requested to streamline permitting processes and provide maps of existing conduits and utility lines.

This information can be used by Google to follow the plan and use existing infrastructure such as utility poles instead of digging up streets to put a new pole up next to an existing one. Google will be doing its own detailed study of each city including the topography, housing density, and the condition of infrastructure.

This process will be completed by the end of the year, at which time Google will be able to announce which of these 34 cities will be getting Google Fiber.

Medin noted in his blog post that cities which go through this process will end up more prepared for any provider who wants to lay out a fiber network.

Furthermore, as a means of helping other communities everywhere who want to bring fiber to their residents, Google plans to share what they learn from their studies involving the 34 invited cities.

Kentucky to Launch Hemp Pilot Projects

Kentucky is planning on setting up pilot industrial hemp projects across the state as partnership programs undertaken jointly with institutions of higher learning.

Industrial hemp products

Industrial hemp products (photo –

Industrial hemp is the same type of plant species as marijuana, and its production and sale has until now been banned.

The pilot projects being undertaken now were made possible by amendments included in the United States Farm Bill that became law on Feb 7, 2014.

The Kentucky General Assembly has already approved its own legislation (Senate Bill 50) that legalizes industrial hemp production in the state. The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission has also been revived.

The KY Dept. of Agriculture has also set up an industrial hemp facts page on their website. It states that the global market for hemp includes more than 25,000 products, including textiles and fabrics, yarns, paper, carpets and home furnishings, construction materials, auto parts, animal bedding, industrial oils, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and body care products, etc.

Current industry estimates show that the annual U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products exceeds $300 million.

However, federal law still doesn’t approve commercial production of hemp, so any crop grown in the pilot projects will be within the confines of a research project that must be related to growth, cultivation and/or marketing of hemp.

There are five hemp pilots being planned by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. One will be a test project in Louisville at an as yet undermined Brownfield site. This project, which may involve the University of Louisville, will test whether a hemp crop can help clean up the soil on contaminated industrial plots.

Another pilot project in Eastern Kentucky will study the use of hemp as a renewable fuel source for producing alternative energy. Kentucky was one of the largest producers of industrial hemp during WWII, but there has no hemp planted for the last 50 years.

Commissioner Comer said that he and KY Attorney General Jack Conway have been communicating directly for the last couple of months about hemp production in Kentucky, and added that cooperation between law enforcement and agriculture was a critical element in moving this industry forward.

Commissioner Comer said he appreciates the AG’s help in overcoming the legal obstacles to this new market for Kentucky farmers.

The AG has furthermore pledged to work with Commissioner Comer in the state’s bid to obtain a federal waiver from the U.S. DEA to allow Kentucky to expand industrial hemp production for commercial purposes.

Arizona Teams Up With Sonora For Economic Development Partnership

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés announced a new cross-border partnership to jointly recruit technology companies from around the world to the Arizona-Sonora region.

Governors Brewer and Padrés at Arizona-Mexico Commission Plenary Session in Hermosillo, Sonora

Governors Brewer and Padrés at Arizona-Mexico Commission Plenary Session in Hermosillo, Sonora (photo –

The partnership, to be known as “Global Advantage,” will be a collaboration between the University of Arizona Tech Parks and the Offshore Group.

The Tucson, AZ-based Offshore Group is the largest private sector employer in Sonora, Mexico. The company offers services to firms looking to reduce their costs by manufacturing in Mexico.

Global Advantage will allow companies to conduct advanced R&D at Tech Parks Arizona, while the Offshore Group’s facilities in Sonora will provide them access to a skilled workforce, and help them with high-tech manufacturing capabilities, administrative and support services.

By combining the respective expertise and core competencies of both organizations, Global Advantage will bring long-term economic opportunity and prosperity for both Arizona and Sonora.

One of their first coordinated efforts was aimed at attracting technology companies from Israel. The Global Advantage team visited Israel and met with Israeli government officials, high-tech companies, and business and trade organizations.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with several companies in Israel interested in making use of the partnership’s resources to help them expand into the U.S. market.

Governors Brewer and Padrés, who were both present at the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s Plenary Session last week in Hermosillo, Sonora, have announced plans to capitalize on this interest and intend to lead a joint business and trade mission to Israel later this year.

Both Governors and the Global Advantage team will meet in Israel with companies interested in becoming Global Advantage clients.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement that if Arizona is to remain competitive in a global economy, it is crucial that the state continue to seek and support productive international partnerships.

Gov. Brewer added that this venture will foster economic development and create jobs for Arizona and Sonora while attracting business investment.

Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés said this partnership enables Arizona and Sonora to become a single region, working together not as two separate states or countries, but as a single, unified economic region.

If you want to know more the Global Advantage partnership, contact globaladvantage @

Google Subsidiary Taking Over Moffett Field From NASA

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA announced the selection of Planetary Ventures LLC, which is an affiliate of Google Inc., as the preferred lessee to rehabilitate historic Hangar One at Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California.

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA (photo –

The historic 8-acre Hangar One at Moffett Field, located in between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous landmarks.

It is part of a National Historic District that also includes Hangars Two and Three and Shenandoah Plaza.

Planetary Ventures taking over the space puts Hangar One to good use. The agreement also eliminates substantial management costs for NASA since Planetary Ventures will be taking over management of Moffett Field from NASA’s Ames Research Center.

GSA issued requests for proposals (RFPs) on behalf of NASA in May 2013, asking for proposals from the private sector to collaborate with the government on rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of Hangar One, and management of the airfield through a long-term lease.

Moffett Field will remain a federal airfield and the government will continue to use it, since NASA’s Ames Research Center is located there and so is the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing.

The RFP requires Planetary Ventures to maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District. They are also required to reposition Moffett Field as a viable asset to support government and other public/private flight operations.

Planetary Ventures will also be rehabilitating Hangars Two and Three, upgrading the airfield’s golf course, and creating an educational and public use facility.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement that NASA is not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure that they’re spending tax dollars wisely. He said this agreement will benefit American taxpayers and the community around Moffett.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said Hangar One was a Silicon Valley landmark well before the rise of today’s high tech titans. He said NASA’s partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use.

Col Steven J. Butow, commander of the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, said this is a model for the nation, employing federal interagency partnerships with private entities, which he said allows them to continue their commitment as citizen-airmen to the community and the county.

NASA’s previous partnership experiment with the private sector to make good use of Moffett Field involved Airship Ventures, which was offering ‘’flightseeing” trips onboard a 246-foot-long Zeppelin NT based out of Hangar Two at Moffett Field.

NASA and Airship Ventures were additionally planning more collaborative projects including use of the airship as a platform for conducting scientific research and disaster response studies.

In fact, they actually did participate in one joint research project in collaboration with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. However, the blimp operations couldn’t stay afloat during the recession and Airship Ventures had to shut down in Nov 2012.

The competitive process through which Planetary Ventures LLC has been selected, the review conducted by the GSA and NASA, and the much wider scope of the RFP and pending lease agreement will hopefully mean this partnership lasts a lot longer.

Tax Credits, Grants Bring Housing and Jobs to Illinois WWII Site

East Alton, Illinois is getting 46 new single-family homes through a redevelopment project called Emerald Ridge in a former World War II-era development known as the “Defense Area.”

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL (photo –

The Emerald Ridge project, formerly the East Alton Defense Area Redevelopment, kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by representatives from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the non-profit Rise and other partners involved in the project.

The project garnered more than $11 million in private equity facilitated through allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits, in addition to another $2.4 million through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit resources.

IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said in a statement that IHDA is proud to help the Village of East Alton achieve its redevelopment goals and stimulate economic activity.

Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) awarded an $184,000 grant to enable the Emerald Ridge housing units to add energy-saving features and reduce maintenance and utility costs.

DCEO Director Adam Pollet said that Governor’s Quinn’s administration is dedicated to working with developers in providing affordable living options in every corner of the state. Pollet added that the construction of Emerald Ridge will not only help working families in East Alton find housing, but also add more than 80 good-paying jobs in Illinois.

The Village of East Alton and Madison County provided additional financing.

The St. Louis, MO-based Rise is developing the project in partnership with the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA), Madison County and the Village of East Alton.

Stephen Acree, president of Rise, said they were committed to revitalizing neighborhoods and communities in the Greater St. Louis area. Acree added that the Defense Area redevelopment in East Alton is being built on strong partnerships that will reinforce a healthy and resilient community.

The project will replace 91 obsolete housing units in the area with 34 single-story and 12 two-story single-family detached homes.

Ten of the new housing units are set aside for extremely low-income people with special needs or disabilities earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income in Madison County. The remaining units require residents to be earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

SalesWarp Gets $500K Investment from Maryland Venture Fund

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that Baltimore-based e-commerce management software provider SalesWarp has received $500,000 in funding from InvestMaryland via the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).


InvestMaryland (photo –

InvestMaryland is a public-private partnership between the State of Maryland and venture capital firms.

It was established in 2011 to invest in early-stage technologies in sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences.

InvestMaryland has raised $84 million through an online auction of tax credits to insurance companies, and is currently the largest venture capital investment initiative in the history of Maryland.

Two-thirds of that amount ($56 million) is being managed by private VC firms that are a part of the partnership, while the remaining is being managed by the Maryland Venture Fund.

If the investments are successful, the private fund managers will return 100 percent of $56 million principal and 80 percent of the profits to the State’s general fund.

The $500,000 that SalesWarp received was awarded through MVF, and was part of a funding round that will help the company grow its innovative line of products and create new jobs.

SalesWarp is located in the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, and currently has 12 employees. They expect the staff count to grow to 25 by the end of 2015.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said in a statement that entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses play a critical role in the growth of Maryland’s economy, and they are the engine that drives innovation and discovery while creating the family-supporting jobs of today and tomorrow.

Gov. O’Malley added that they are proud to make this investment in SalesWarp and look forward to the company’s success in Maryland’s growing community of exciting high-tech startups.

David Potts, Founder and CEO of SalesWarp, said they are thrilled to have this commitment from MVF. Potts added that beyond the funding, MVF also brings many skills and connections that will help the company achieve its goals and grow in Maryland.

The Maryland Venture Fund was created in 1994 as a state-funded seed and early-stage equity fund, and has since invested in hundreds of startups and early-stage companies, in the process helping retain and create more than 5,000 jobs.

NE, AK Universities Get NIST MEP Funding to Support Manufacturing

The NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Alaska Anchorage funding to shore up manufacturing support in both states.

NIST MEP impact

NIST MEP impact

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been awarded $600,000 and authorized to establish an MEP center.

The $600,000 represents half of the MEP center’s annual operating funding needs. The University is required to come up with matching funds from non-federal sources for the remaining half.

The second grant announced by MEP was a $150,000 funding award to the University of Alaska Anchorage, provided as a State Technology Extension Assistance Project.

This funding will assist the University assess the technical needs of small and mid-sized manufacturers in the state, as Alaska looks towards diversifying its manufacturing base.

This effort is being undertaken by the University on behalf of MEP, and may lead to the establishment of an MEP center in Alaska.

MEP is a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, housed under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

MEP works with small and medium-sized manufacturers, helping them with innovation strategies, improvements, implementation of green practices, etc. that help the manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase sales, and save time and money.

In FY 2013 alone, MEP served 30,131 manufacturers. Manufacturers receiving MEP services reported 62,703 increased and retained jobs, cost savings of $1.2 billion and new client investments worth $2.6 billion. Not to mention $6.2 billion in retailed sales and another $2.2 billion in new sales.

MEP has worked with more than 76,000 manufacturers in the past 25 years, helping them rack up sales worth $79 billion and savings worth $12.8 billion.

MEP was first established in 1988, and has since helped create 636,000 jobs and more than $20 billion in investments in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Every dollar invested by the federal government through MEP generates $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investments. MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job for every $1,978 of federal investment.

The new MEP center in Nebraska and another one possibly in the pipeline in Alaska will join a national network of 400 centers and field offices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, with a staff that includes more than 1,200 technical experts.

NYC Awards Grants Under Fashion Manufacturing Initiative

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off Fashion Week by announcing that seven fashion manufacturers had been chosen as the inaugural winners of the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI).

NYC Fashion Manufacturing Initiative

NYC Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (photo –

The FMI is a $3 million public-private program that aims to support and promote the growth of small businesses engaged in fashion manufacturing in the City of New York.

Mayor de Blasio announced the winners at an event held at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Incubator in Manhattan’s Garment District.

The FMI is being jointly administered by CDFA and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

NYCEDC has pledged $1 million in funding for the FMI, and another $1.3 million has been raised from other sources, including $500,000 each from Ralph Lauren and Andrew Rosen’s Theory.

All the winning businesses that receive grants will have to put up matching funds dollar for dollar, which means the total investment into FMI funded projects will reach at least $6 million.

The seven inaugural winners, who together employ more than 300 people, were chosen from a pool of nearly 40 applicants. The seven winners are – New York Embroidery Studio; Martin Greenfield Clothiers; Werkstatt; In Style USA; Create-A-Marker; High Production; and Vogue Too.

They will each receive grants ranging from $46,000 to $150,000, to be used for infrastructure and equipment upgrades, workforce training, increasing business capacity and creating new jobs.

Mayor de Blasio said this initiative will help increase business capacity and will generate economic growth while creating and preserving jobs in the fashion manufacturing industry, which he said will in turn support local designers who rely on the manufacturers.

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said the program will boost the city’s fashion manufacturing capacity while supporting small businesses that drive the industry, both of which he said are vital to maintaining NYC’s status as a global fashion capital.

New York City’s $98 billion fashion industry employs more than 180,000 people, accounting for $10.9 billion in wages, and generating nearly $2 billion in annual tax revenues. Out of the $98 billion, a full $8 billion is from annual manufacturing sales.

The City also gets 500,000 annual visitors who come to attend fashion industry events including trade shows and fashion shows. The semi-annual Fashion Weeks by themselves attract some 232,000 attendees each year, generating a total economic impact of $865 million.

Illinois Announces MATTER – Startup Hub For Healthcare Technology

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a new startup BioHub called MATTER to drive entrepreneurship in the medical and biotechnology fields.

Gov. Pat Quinn announcing startup biohub MATTER

Gov. Pat Quinn announcing startup biohub MATTER (photo –

MATTER will be housed in a 25,000-square-foot facility in Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart. It will be a supportive space where startups and entrepreneurs will find shared resources, networking and mentorship.

The downtown location also offers immediate access to premier medical institutions and a wealth of cutting-edge technology. Digital startup hub 1871 will be MATTER’s neighbor in the Merchandise Mart.

Gov. Quinn said in a statement that MATTER will serve as a central location for empowering entrepreneurs and spurring economic growth while advancing the role of Illinois as a leader in life sciences and health innovation.

The non-profit MATTER is getting started with $4 million in state funding. This includes a $2.5 million grant and a $1.5 million loan provided through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) as seed funding support for MATTER.

Business leaders, including the MATTER Governing Board Co-chairs Jeff Aronin and Tim Walbert, are raising more funds from the private sector to support the hub.

Aronin, who is chairman and CEO of Paragon Pharmaceuticals and the chair of World Business Chicago’s ChicagoNEXT Bioscience Committee, said that over the past year, hundreds of industry and university leaders and entrepreneurs had volunteered their time to help build the plan for MATTER.

Walbert, who is president, CEO and chairman of Horizon Pharma Inc. and a member of the Illinois Innovation Council, said MATTER will enable a community of life-science entrepreneurs to come together and realize their dream of starting a company.

Walbert added that MATTER will be an economic boon to Chicago and Illinois, leveraging innovation from world-leading teaching hospitals.

The healthcare community in Illinois is the third-largest in the U.S., and the life science industry in Illinois has a $98 billion economic footprint. Entrepreneurs in the med-tech business have one of the world’s highest concentrations of potential resources in the Chicago area, but it hasn’t had an incubator-type central focal point until now.

MATTER will offer both private and shared office space, along with open areas for demonstrations and meet-ups, technical resources and even a kitchen. Members will be able to learn through collaboration and guidance from fellow members, and also through regular classes, workshops and events that MATTER will host.

They’re hoping to attract industry leaders and entrepreneurs in a range of fields including healthcare IT, medical devices, diagnostics and biopharma.

Otis Report on California’s Creative Economy – 1.4M Jobs

The Otis College of Art and Design has published its seventh annual report on the Creative Economy, and this year the scope of the report encompasses the entire state of California.

Otis report on California and LA creative economy

Otis report on California and LA creative economy (photo –

Otis commissioned the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to prepare the report.

Previous editions of this report have been limited to the Los Angeles region. However, they have now expanded it to cover the entire state with the help of a grant from the California Arts Council.

Key findings from the 2013 Otis report (based on economic data for 2012):-

The creative economy accounts for 1,416,800 jobs in California, including 681,400 direct jobs and 735,400 indirect and induced jobs. That’s roughly one in ten jobs, or 9.7 percent of all wage and salary employment in California.

The creative economy in the Los Angeles region alone accounts for 726,300 workers (including 404,000 direct jobs) who earn a combined $50.6 billion. That’s one out of seven sage and salary jobs in the region.

For California, the creative industry’s direct, indirect and induced economic impact works out to $273.5 billion, leading to tax revenues of $13 billion.

Note that that the tax revenue figures cited are based on property, state and local income and sales tax revenues attributed directly and indirectly to the creative sector. They do not take into account other taxes such as corporate taxes and federal income taxes.

The creative industry in the Los Angeles region alone is responsible for a net economic contribution of $80 billion, and has a total direct, indirect and induced impact of $140 billion, leading to tax revenues of $6.9 billion.

In the report’s foreword, Otis President Samuel Hoi said the next Otis report will also include a set of regional snapshots, with a goal of portraying the different faces of the creative economy in specific local contexts in California.

He says the expanded Otis report assesses the premise that creativity is essential to successful workforce investment and economic development strategies.

This year’s report also includes a special addendum called “L.A. Creates” by Keith McNutt, director of the Western Region of the Actors Fund, in which he details how collaborative and regional efforts can support and develop the region’s creative industries.

Read the full Otis report on the Creative Economy – Download (pdf)

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