Economic Development

USAN Approves Niagara Falls Economic Development Projects

The Board of Directors of the USA Niagara Development Corporation announced approval of the $150 million redevelopment of the former Rainbow Centre Mall by the Uniland Development Company.

USA Niagara Development Corp

Photo –

In a separate move, the Board also approved Niagara Falls economic development incentives to fund the construction of a new hotel by Plati Niagara Inc.

Uniland plans to redevelop the former mall into the Wonder Falls Resort, including a hotel tower, restaurants, entertainment venues, a water park and more space for retail and food and beverage outlets.

This project is designed to boost economic development by encouraging visitors to extend their stay and turn Niagara Falls into a year-round destination. Around eight million tourists visit Niagara Falls each year.

The Wonder Falls Resort project will also create 300 direct permanent jobs, in addition to more than 1,500 construction jobs while the resort is being built. The amount of public investment in the project is yet to be determined, and will be included in the approval for the development agreement.

In another move, the USAN’s investment in the $10.16 million development of a mixed-use Wingate by Wyndham Hotel has been made public. The USAN Board approved $980,000 in financial assistance to the project’s developer Plati Niagara Inc.

This new hotel is to be located on a currently vacant lot on Rainbow Blvd in downtown Niagara Falls, and includes a 110-room hotel atop retail and restaurant space. This project, first announced by Gov. Cuomo earlier this year in February, will create 15 new full-time jobs at the hotel and another 20 jobs in the retail and restaurant operations below.

The hotel project has already received approved from the Niagara County IDA for a PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement for a period of ten years.

The USA Niagara Development Corporation is a subsidiary of New York State’s lead economic development agency Empire State Development.

USAN Chairwoman Francine DelMonte said in a release that their efforts to expand the quality lodging, restaurant, entertainment and meeting facilities downtown are coming together to support the tourism industry and make Niagara Falls stronger than it’s ever been.

DelMonte said she’s pleased to see investors like Uniland and Plati recognize the great potential for growth in the iconic city, and pledged that USAN will continue to enhance the quality of the visitor experience.

US Economic Development Administration Grant Enables Cleveland 100 Gigabit Fiber Network

The City of Cleveland, in partnership with Health-Tech Corridor and OneCommunity, is installing the first commercial metropolitan 100 gigabit fiber network in the United States.

Cleveland 100 gigabit fiber network

Cleveland 100 gigabit fiber network (photo –

The $1.02 million project is being funded by a $700,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, along with local funding from the City of Cleveland and OneCommunity.

The three-mile 1,600-acre HTC connects nine Cleveland neighborhoods and is a prime location for healthcare, biomedical and technology companies. OneCommunity is a non-profit-organization with a mission to expand high-speed broadband access and adoption to strengthen Northeast Ohio.

OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick said in a release that consistent with their mission, they embrace the 100 gigabit network as a job creation engine for the City. Gonick added that offering the first 100 gigabit capability, specifically in the Health-Tech Corridor, incentivizes both local as well as national fast-growing companies to locate and remain in Cleveland.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson noted that the city is established as a center for innovation with the announcement of this 100 gigabit network, which also provides area businesses with a competitive advantage that will allow the creation of more job opportunities for residents.

The 100 gigabit network is being designed to help drive Cleveland economic development. It will connect from the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland, extending through buildings and land parcels in the Health-Tech Corridor to Case Western Reserve University and the University Circle area.

Work on the network is expected to kick off early next year and be completed by early summer.

ideastream President and CEO Jerry Wareham said that the Idea Center as a node on the new network will allow for the transmission of data and rich media including audio and video such as the education content and health information developed by ideastream. Wareham added that the network also provides the potential for advanced R&D and front-line opportunities.

Case Western Reserve University CIO and Vice President for IT Services Sue Workman said the federal grant illustrates the achievements possible when Cleveland organizations come together to serve the community’s best interests.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in the release that the EDA is pleased to invest in the strong regional collaboration led by the City of Cleveland and OneCommunity to establish a network that will connect the Health-Tech Corridor.

Assistant Secretary Williams added that this public-private partnership will drive innovation and job creation for the City and regional businesses to support entrepreneurs and advance the region’s reputation as a destination for innovation.

Craig J. Richard to Lead Atlanta Economic Development

Craig J. Richard has been named as the new president and chief executive officer of the City of Atlanta economic development authority Invest Atlanta.

Craig J. Richard

Craig J. Richard

Richard was picked to lead Invest Atlanta through a competitive process. He was one of the three finalists selected by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed following a national search conducted on behalf of the City by Jorgensen Consulting.

Mayor Reed said in a release announcing the pick that Richard is uniquely qualified to lead Invest Atlanta as they continue to grow the economy, create jobs and retain the businesses who already call Atlanta home.

Richard likewise noted that he looks forward to working with Mayor Reed and the Board to bring jobs and investment to Atlanta. Richard added that this was a competitive process, so he is honored to have been selected out of a group of extremely qualified candidates.

Richard succeeds Brian P. McGowan as the president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. McGowan left the post earlier this year to join the leadership team of the Metro Atlanta Chamber as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Craig J. Richard, CEcD, comes to Invest Atlanta from his previous position as CEO and president of Greater Louisville Inc. Richard led GLI from Jan 2013 to Feb 2014. During this period, he helped develop their strategic plan and coordinated a total of 32 projects that generated $571 million in capital investment and created 3,854 jobs.

Before that, Richard served as the Greater Houston Partnership’s Chief Economic Development Officer from 2008-2012. During this period, the GHP racked up 88 projects that generated $4.2 billion in capital investment and created 75,380 jobs.

He was named as the chief operating officer for Hawes Hill Calderon in 2007. This is a consulting firm specializing in the establishment and administration of special purpose economic development districts.

Richard has also served in leadership positions at the Dallas Regional Chamber as well as the Arlington, TX Chamber of Commerce.

After getting his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Houston, Richard went on to get a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

That led to the start of his career in economic development in 1996 with the City of Richmond, VA, and then as a marketing analyst with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Delta Regional Authority Invests $3.7M for Arkansas Economic Development Projects

The Delta Regional Authority, along with its state and local partners, announced an investment of more than $3.7 million to support eight Arkansas economic development projects.

DRA map

DRA map (photo –

The $1.393 million in federal DRA funding is being leveraged to secure another $2.345 million in other public and private investments, adding up into a total of $3.739 million in financial support for the eight projects.

It is estimated that the federal, state and local investment in these eight projects will help create and retain 1,050 jobs in Arkansas.

The federal portion of the funding is being made through the DRA States’ Economic Development Assistance Program.

This program invests federal funds in the 252 counties and parishes in the eight-state Delta region to support projects related to basic public infrastructure, business development, workforce development, transportation infrastructure, and entrepreneurship projects.

The funding includes $200,000 in DRA investment for airport hangar reconstruction in Stuttgart, AR. The $3 million Stuttgart project is creating 20 new jobs and helping retain 20 existing jobs. Another project getting $265,000 in DRA funding is an $865,076 extension of water and sewer utilities at the Big River Steel Plant site. The Big River Steel project is helping create 600 jobs.

The rest of the projects include a $196,250 sewer rehabilitation project in Rison, AR; a $97,125 roof replacement project in Mountain View, AR;  a $118,402 parking lot reconstruction in Eudora, AR; a $630,720 expansion at the Addison Shoe Company in Wynne, AR; a $1.25 million county road upgrade to support the PECO Foods expansion in Corning, AR; and a $225,000 construction of a rail spur in Marmaduke to provide direct rail access to two industrial sites.

DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher A. Masingill said in a statement that in this time of extreme competition for business attraction and jobs, these strategic federal investments into the physical infrastructure of Delta communities are necessary to create economic opportunity for the hard-working people of Arkansas and the greater Delta region.

Apart from this $1.4 million investment in Arkansas economic development, the DRA also announced a slew of other investments in the rest of the Delta region.

Alabama – Six projects receiving $1.113 million in DRA funding, along with another $2.471 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $3.585 million.

Missouri – Seven projects receiving $1.088 million in DRA funding, along with another $10.241 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $11.33 million.

Kentucky – Nine projects receiving $867,003 in DRA funding, along with another $187,143 in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $1.054 million.

Illinois – Nine projects receiving $744,740 in DRA funding, along with another $1.929 million in leveraged funding, adding up to a total of $2.674 million.

US EDA and MBDA Launch Tribal Economic Development Webinar Series

The U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency have teamed up to launch a webinar series on tribal economic development.

MBDA Tribal Economic Development Webinar

MBDA Tribal Economic Development Webinar (photo –

The EDA and MBDA are hosting five webinars in this series over the course of a year.  The first tribal economic development webinar was held on Nov 19.

The webinar was designed to help tribal leaders and administrators, tribal advocacy organizations and Native American-owned businesses understand the federal resources available for tribal economic development.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) shared information at the webinar on capital, counseling, contracting and trade resources available to Native American entrepreneurs.

The MBDA explained how their Business Center Program works with Native-owned enterprises on access to capital, contracts and other market opportunities.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo said in a release that the MBDA is committed to honoring the Native American legacy, and added that their mission is to help the growth and global competitiveness of Native American-owned businesses.

Castillo said the Tribal Economic Development Webinar Series affirms their commitment and helps strengthen their partnerships.

MBDA has opened six tribal-focused business centers that have specific expertise in helping businesses owned by Native Americans. These centers are located in Anchorage, AK; Tulsa, OK; Bismarck, ND; Santa Fe, NM; Fresno, CA; and Bridgeport, CT.

Participants in the webinar also learnt how the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s grant programs help in eliminating economic barriers, and how the EDA helps attract capital to Indian country.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams said in the release that during the past five years, the EDA has awarded nearly $54 million in assistance to Indian tribes to create businesses, build roads and other infrastructure, and develop economic development strategies.

ASC Williams added that while EDA grants are removing economic barriers and attracting capital to Indian country, they know there is more work to be done and look forward to a strong and continued partnership with the nation’s tribal communities to strengthen tribal economies.

The Department of Commerce and its agencies including the EDA have been meeting with tribal leaders to explore opportunities for working together.

Earlier this year in August, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with the 12 CEOs of the Alaska Native Corporations during her visit to Alaska. Assistant Secretary Williams likewise met with tribal leaders from across the country when he visited Alaska in June for attending the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) conference. The trip resulted in closer relationships with tribal leaders and a better understanding of how EDA programs and services can serve Native communities.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Launches $1.6M Targeted Ad Campaign

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is airing radio and print ads in the Chicago and Minneapolis markets that promote the state’s workforce and business climate.

Wisconsin WEDC ad

Wisconsin WEDC ad (photo –

The $1.58 million targeted marketing campaign also has online elements targeting corporate site selectors and another set of ads promoting Wisconsin’s innovation strengths to investors and entrepreneurs.

WEDC Secretary and CEO Reed Hall said in a statement that the campaign has been strategically designed for reaching different audiences in different ways with the same theme – “Wisconsin is a great place for companies to do business.”

Hall added that whether it is online, in print or on the air, they are getting the word out about Wisconsin’s skilled workforce, strong business climate and the dependable business infrastructure.

The three 30-second radio spots, running on leading radio stations in Chicago and Minneapolis through May 2015, focus on Wisconsin as an ideal place for businesses to grow and succeed, offering a healthy economy and business assets for companies that are looking for the perfect location.

The three print and corresponding online ads focus on critical site selection factors including the state’s talented workforce, investment in infrastructure, and the lower taxes.

These ads will run through June 2015 in targeted national publications and websites such as Site Selection, Chief Executive and Industry Week.

Other online ads targeting entrepreneurs and investors will appear on websites like Kickstarter, FastCompany, Kiplinger and

A lot of it includes use of ‘In Wisconsin,’ which helps get the message across about how being in Wisconsin can help your business, while at the same time promoting the In Wisconsin brand.

For example, one of the ads focuses on the fact that Wisconsin has dedicated $150 million for workforce training, and highlights the message that “In Wisconsin, Our Workforce Is Ready To Work As Hard As You Do.”

Similarly, the ad targeting entrepreneurs is a GIF image that begins with “Funding Your High-Tech Startup.” The next frame in the image adds “In Wisconsin” and the logo, and the third frame then offers a “Start Here” call to action.

Furthermore, a Google ad campaign will deliver the state’s message to a targeted audience based on location, demographics and content interests. These ads will drive engagement through videos, downloadable documents and lead forms.

The campaign will run through the end of fiscal year 2015, and WEDC will be actively monitoring and measuring engagement and campaign response messaging.

Kelly Lietz, WEDC’s vice president of marketing, said that with this campaign, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is helping to build the case for doing business in Wisconsin. Lietz added that their marketing strategy reinforces the In Wisconsin brand as a bold platform promoting the state’s positive business climate for companies of all sizes, in Wisconsin as well as out of state.

Vermont Economic Development Dept Helps Businesses Earn $103M in Govt Contracts

Vermont-based businesses secured 519 government contracts worth $103 million in fiscal year 2014, a 25 percent increase over FY 2013.

Vermont PTAC

Vermont PTAC

This growth was achieved thanks to the work done by the Vermont Technical Procurement Center (PTAC) in matching businesses with government needs and helping them navigate the complicated contracting process.

The PTAC program is housed in the Vermont Department of Economic Development. VT PTAC is part of a network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers all over the United States that share a goal of helping businesses understand government contracting requirements and providing them with the know-how to obtain and complete local, state and federal contracts.

Vermont PTAC has been doing this work since 1992, and many of the companies they help are small businesses. For instance, one of the contracts they helped with recently was a $46,000 order from the Coast Guard for lacrosse sticks, which went to Morrisville-based Power Play Sports.

Another $95,000 sewing and alterations contract from the Vermont National Guard was awarded to Bennington-based Evergreen Alterations and Lyndonville-based Anthony Fabric. All three of the aforementioned are Vermont-based small businesses with less than 10 employees.

Robin Miller, director of Vermont PTAC, Dept. of Economic Development, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said in a statement that many businesses think they have to be a large business in order to do business with the government, but that is just not true.

Miller added that they work with a wide range of companies that make everything from handmade flutes to clothing and spare parts for military aircraft and ships.

As a matter of fact, the federal government has a goal of awarding 23 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) announced approval of $6.3 million in loans to support projects creating 100 new jobs in Vermont within three years of project completion.

VEDA CEO Jo Bradley said in a statement that they are especially excited to offer financing assistance to businesses under VEDA’s new Entrepreneurial Loan Program. The $6.3 million awarded includes $700,000 under this program, which is meant to meet the working capital needs of Vermont-based startups and growth-stage businesses that may not have access to capital through traditional sources.

South Burlington, VT-based Microsoft-certified learning partner KnowledgeWave Training is getting $200,000 under the Entrepreneurial Loan Program to help the company further develop its e-learning and training platform. The company now has nine jobs, and plans to create 16 new jobs.

Burlington, VT-based cloud-based software company Piematrix, Inc. has likewise been awarded $200,000 and expects to double its workforce from 10 to 20 employees. Vergennes, VT-based Nathaniel Electronics is getting $200,000 to move their new products to market, and plans to increase the number of employees from 15 to 21.

South Burlington-based Patient Engagement Systems is getting $100,000 to help enhance their clinical and mobile solutions, build customer service infrastructure, and expand business development activities. The company, which now has four employees, will be tripling the number of jobs.

Brooklyn Economic Development Gets a Boost With $140M Navy Yard Investment

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major $140 million investment to renovate an industrial building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a modern manufacturing facility.

 Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn Navy Yard (photo – David Berkowitz/Flickr)

The Building 77 project will provide a huge boost to Brooklyn economic development by upgrading the one million-square-foot industrial building into modern manufacturing space, in the process creating 3,000 jobs.

Among other things, the modernization will include installation of windows to convert underutilized windowless warehouses into manufacturing space for technology businesses. When completed, the project will increase the number of jobs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard by 40 percent.

The former shipyard, now an industrial park that has more than 330 businesses employing over 7,000 people, is owned by the City and managed by the non-profit Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

There is already a waiting list of more than 100 prospective tenants eager to locate or expand in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The BNYDC plans to lease 240,000 square feet in Building 77 to Jack Basch, CEO of Shiel Medical Laboratories. Shiel is the Navy Yard’s fastest growing business and job creator.

The remaining space will be leased to job-intensive 21st century manufacturing businesses.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that they are jump-starting a new wave of manufacturing and job creating at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “We believe in the kind of economic investments that will spur good jobs and spark the type of growth that can lift up whole neighborhoods,” added Mayor de Blasio.

This is the second major Brooklyn economic development project undertaken this year New York City in partnership with the BNYDC to bring neglected space back into productive use for modern manufacturing.

Earlier this year, the City announced a $100 million investment for transforming a neglected building in Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal into a manufacturing and technology hub.

The $140 million investment for the Navy Yard project is being financed with a mix of $73.1 million in Mayoral City Capital, BNYDC funding, and $3.7 million from the City Council and Brooklyn Borough President.

BNYDC’s investment in the project is being financed through a $42 million loan and $4 million in New Markets Tax Credits from Goldman Sachs and Dudley Ventures. Goldman Sachs is also the NMTC investor in the project.

Apart from opening up valuable manufacturing space in Building 77, the project will also fund the expansion of training and placement services at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Employment Center in BLDG 92.

The employment center helps screen and place job seekers into available jobs at the Navy Yard, with a strong focus on helping local residents find jobs. On average, a full 70 percent of those helped by the employment center are now Brooklyn residents, and 10 percent are veterans, while 11 percent are formerly incarcerated and 21 percent are public housing residents.

Seattle-King County Economic Development Council Study on WA Interactive Media Industry Impact

A study that looks at the impact of the interactive media industry in Washington State says that the cluster of 330 companies and additional self-employed individuals generated $36.3 billion in revenue last year and supports 76,200 jobs.

Seattle-King County EDC IM Study

Seattle-King County EDC IM Study (photo –

The study was commissioned by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, and conducted by Seattle-based research firm Community Attributes.

It builds on a previous Interactive Media Cluster Study commissioned in 2007 by then Seattle economic development organization enterpriseSeattle (now the EDC of Seattle and King County). In 2012, Community Attributes updated the study to assess changes in the intervening five years.

Last year, the EDC received a $1.2 million federal grant to help grow and accelerate the region’s Interactive Media industry. As a result, the EDC commissioned this new study to assess the cluster’s growth in businesses and jobs, and get an update on new and existing challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed.

The IM industry is increasingly typified by companies that develop and distribute video games, applications for mobile devices and tablets, and provide online services. Software development, animation, and web development and design are key occupations.

Highlights from the EDC’s Interactive Media Industry Assessment (2013 data for WA State):

- $19.2 billion is direct interactive media revenue, and slightly more than half of this direct revenue was attributed to Microsoft. The total revenue impact grows to $36.3 billion with multiplier effects;

- 76,200 direct, indirect and induced jobs with statewide labor income of $6.1 billion. The IM cluster directly employed 17,400 workers, including 5,500 within Microsoft working on Xbox and other interactive media activities. The average annual wage in the industry was pegged at $91,000, significantly higher than the state median wage of $56,444.

The study notes that while the interactive media industry is more established in Washington State than other parts of the country, tax incentives continue to play a key role. The study highlights the recent passage of a crowdfunding bill, and points out Washington’s lack of personal income tax and state capital gains tax as key tax benefits.

Washington also offers a strong support network for IM companies across all stages. The entire City of Redmond has been designated as an Interactive Media and Digital Arts Innovation Partnership Zone that provides state resources for creating internship opportunities, developing training programs and incubating startups.

The Washington Interactive Network (WIN), founded as a WA State program to help support and grow the IM industry, has received significant support from the Seattle-King County EDC. WIN is now housed under the umbrella of Redmond economic development organization OneRedmond.

The Seattle Office of Economic Development has likewise fostered a strategy of supporting early-stage technology companies, expanding the number of startups, and “establishing Seattle as an internationally recognized home for emerging technology companies.”

Suzanne Dale Estey, president and CEO of the EDC of Seattle and King County, said in a statement that the EDC has always been supportive of the Interactive Media industry in the region while working to attract and grow these companies in King County, and added that it is exciting to see how impactful the industry has become, including the significant job growth in the last seven years.

Read the full WA State Interactive Media Industry Assessment – Download (pdf) 

Kentucky Governor on Economic Development Trip to Japan

Governor Steve Beshear is on a five-day economic development trip to Japan in an effort to strengthen and encourage international investment.


Kentucky (photo – CGP Grey/Flickr)

The Governor is accompanied by Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and other members of the KCED executive team.

In a statement issued before leaving for Japan, Gov. Beshear said they are very determined in their efforts to engage and attract Japanese companies seeking to locate or expand in the U.S.

The Governor added that it is his goal to continue to aggressively market Kentucky’s many business advantages to the international business community and to bring more investment and jobs to the Commonwealth.

Japanese companies in Kentucky already have more than 160 facilities that employ a combined total of over 40,000 people. In the past two years alone, a total of $1.3 billion in statewide investments have been announced by 52 Japanese companies.

This includes Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., whose Georgetown production plant has added a new assembly line that will make it the first U.S. plant to roll out a Lexus that is made in America.  Also, Tokyo-based UACJ Corporation announced a joint venture project with a European company to build a $150 million aluminum facility in Bowling Green.

Other Japanese companies that have recently announced projects with job creation and investments in Kentucky include Toyo Automotive, Green Tokai and Kowa.

All these and other FDI projects play an important part in Kentucky’s economy, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all capital investments and a third of all the jobs created last year in the technology, service and manufacturing industries.

Kentucky actively seeks out these projects through economic development trips and local assets such as international offices in Germany and Japan. The office in Tokyo was established as the KCED’s Asia Representative Office to boost economic development leads from Asian companies.

Gov. Beshear’s latest visit to the country makes it the sixth Kentucky economic development trip to Japan since 2008. During this trip, the Governor is following up on several opportunities created by the on-the-ground, in-country support designed to aid the development of relationships with Japanese business leaders.

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said they are seeing more and more Japanese companies making the decision to locate or grow in Kentucky. Hayes added that this trip allows them to personalize these relationships and build a strong case for Kentucky as the ideal location for their business needs.

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