Job Creation

Montana Awards Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Grants for Bozeman Projects

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced economic development grants for multiple projects in Bozeman, MT, along with a planning grant for the City of Helena.


Montana (photo – m01229/flickr)

The grants will be made through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG) program.

The Bozeman projects awarded grants include expansions by Montana Instruments, Simms Fishing Products, and Elixiter, Inc.

Montana Instruments, which specializes in highly precise optical measurement solutions for commercial as well as research applications, is expanding in Bozeman. The company plans to create 17 new jobs and will be purchasing new equipment. The City of Bozeman is getting a $127,500 BSTF grant to assist Montana Instruments with the expansion.

Another $26,250 in BSTF funding was awarded to the Prospera Business Network to help Simms Fishing Products. The grant will be used to help the fishing gear manufacturer complete an engineering report for an expansion of their headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bozeman.

Elixiter, Inc., which specializes in marketing strategy technology and planning services, was awarded $30,000 through the WTG program to help the company train employees in new jobs.

Gov. Bullock said in a release announcing the grants that he is committed to ensuring that Montana stays ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative business development and job creation efforts.

Montana Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary added that the Department facilitates public-private collaborations that are proven to strengthen Montana’s economy through business growth and expansion.

Another $26,250 BSTF grant was awarded to the Montana Business Assistance Connection. This grant will assist the development of a comprehensive master plan for downtown Helena by the Helena Business Improvement District (HBID) and the City of Helena.

Last week, the City of Helena and the HBID announced the selection of a team of consultants lead by WGM Group to lead the process of developing the plan. The master plan will be a community-based planning effort, with the vision and content of the plan driven by the public.

HBID Executive Director Tracy Reich said in a release announcing the launch of the planning process that it’s important that the citizens of Helena have a say in what their downtown will look like in 5, 10, 20 years and understand the processes that will take place to achieve that vision.

Apart from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund grant, this effort to create a master plan for downtown Helena is being funded by the HBID’s own funding and through another grant from the Montana Main Street Program.

Arkansas General Assembly Special Session to Consider Economic Development Super Project

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced plans to call a special session of the Arkansas General Assembly for considering an Amendment 82 bond issue for a super project in south Arkansas.

Lockheed Martin JLTV

Lockheed Martin JLTV (photo –

Amendment 82, approved by voters in the state in 2004, is an Arkansas economic development tool that allows for a bond issue of up to five percent of the state’s general revenue budget.

The bond funding may be used to attract and support super projects involving an investment of more than $500 million and creation of more than 500 jobs. It has only been used once before since being enacted, to authorize $125 million in bond funds for the Big River Steel project.

Governor Hutchinson said in a release announcing his intention to call a special session that “Job creation and economic development is the No. 1 priority for my administration, and we have a great opportunity here to create hundreds of new, good-paying jobs in Arkansas – and retain hundreds more.”

The Governor added that if the legislature approves it, this project would not only create hundreds of jobs, but also put Arkansas on the map in terms of vehicle assembly and the potential for a major defense contract.

The Lockheed Martin project in Camden, AR for which the Governor is seeking approval of an Amendment 82 bond issue, is expected to create almost 600 jobs over time while securing more than 1,100 jobs over the life of the project.

Lockheed Martin is bidding for a defense contract to replace the Humvees currently used by the Army and Marine Corps. If it wins the contract, the company will build the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at its manufacturing complex in Camden, AR.

The company last year successfully completed the government’s Production Readiness Review (PRR) at the Camden facility by assembling a JLTV on its production line to demonstrate production readiness.

At that time, Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a release that their Camden operations is one of the most recognized and highly awarded military-equipment manufacturing operations in the United States. Greene added that it has a reputation for producing high quality systems on-schedule and at a very competitive cost.

If the company gets this contract, they will be producing thousands of JLTVs at the Camden facility. Apart from the billions of dollars in federal funding that will flow into Arkansas through this facility, the contract also ensures long-term work for thousands of workers in Arkansas going forward as foreign buyers line up to buy the JLTV from Lockheed Martin.

Approval of Amendment 82 bond funding by the Arkansas Legislature for this project is likely to enhance Lockheed Martin’s chances of winning the contract.

Detroit, Michigan Economic Development Partnership Turns Vacant School Into Manufacturing Campus

Sakthi Automotive, a global supplier of safety critical automotive components, announced plans to purchase and redevelop Southwestern High School in Detroit, MI. The vacant school will serve as the center of a new manufacturing campus and a training center for 650 employees.

Detroit Sakthi campus

Detroit Sakthi campus (photo

Supported by Detroit Public Schools, City of Detroit economic development tax incentives, and Michigan Strategic Fund approval of state incentives, the company is investing $31 million into the facility to ramp up its production of lightweight aluminum castings.

The expansion will enable the company to reshore jobs producing auto components made of lightweight metal to the Sakthi campus in Detroit. These components are currently being produced by the company in China.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a release announcing the project that Sakthi is making a major commitment to Detroit and is creating employment opportunities for residents that otherwise would have remained overseas.

Sakthi Group Chairman Dr. Manickam Mahalingam said in the release that they are very confident in the future of Detroit and that is why they are making a significant investment to provide opportunity for Detroit residents.

Sakthi’s expansion plans build on earlier efforts by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation that led to the Sakthi Group selecting Detroit in 2012 as the location to establish its North American presence with an $18.6 million investment and commit to creating up to 183 jobs.

Sakthi Automotive Chief Executive Officer Lalit Verma added that the Detroit expansion is a key strategic decision by Sakthi as Detroit remains the world’s largest automotive hub. Verma added that Detroit is their global technical headquarters to support all of their overseas business units in India, China, Europe and other locations.

Detroit and Michigan competed for this new expansion project with other sites that were also under consideration in South Carolina, Ohio and Georgia. Last month, the MEDC announced MSF approval of a $3.5 million performance-based grant through the Michigan Business Development Program for the Sakthi Automotive Group USA, Inc. expansion in Detroit.

The City of Detroit has offered the company a property tax abatement, and is recommending the project for approval of an MSF-designated Renaissance Zone.

The 70-acre Sakthi Manufacturing Campus will cover approximately 1.2 million square feet across four distinct facilities. Apart from the Southwestern High School property and its original existing facility on Fort Street, Sakthi has also entered into agreements to purchase the old GM Fisher Body plant and the former American Mailers on either side of its Fort Street facility.

All of this will add up into a campus with about 650 jobs. This includes the 170 existing jobs at the Fort Street facility, and 150 new jobs for an expansion already underway in the American Mailers facility.

The redevelopment of Southwestern High School and its addition to the company’s operations will enable the creation of another 220 new jobs. The former GM building, which is to be converted into an advanced manufacturing and distribution center, will create another 100 new jobs.

Mayor Duggan added that this project is a prime example of how cooperation between the State, the City, Detroit Public Schools and the private sector can help create jobs and preserve the city’s heritage.

The redevelopment plan will preserve the original historic structure of the Southwestern High School facing Fort Street, as well as the school’s gymnasium which produced NBA stars like Howard Eisley, Jalen Rose and Voshon Lenard.

Southwestern High School was first built in 1921, and closed its doors in 2012 due to budget cuts. DPS has since then been trying to find a buyer for the property that will preserve the heritage aspect of the site. DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley said the Sakthi project represents the kind of collaborative efforts between the public and the private sectors that will continue to steer Detroit towards a sustainable recovery.


Economic Development Administration Awards $2M Grant to Chester County, SC For Giti Tire Project

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a more than $2 million grant for the Chester Sewer District in Chester County, SC.

Giti Tire

Giti Tire (photo –

The EDA investment supports Chester County infrastructure improvements vital for facilitating the Giti Tire manufacturing plant project.

Last year in June, Singapore-based Giti Tire Group announced plans to invest $560 million to establish a tire manufacturing plant in Chester County. This will be their first manufacturing plant outside Asia.

Giti Tire Group is the world’s tenth largest tire manufacturer with eight manufacturing plants and 32,000 employees supporting a distributing network that reaches customers in 130 countries worldwide. Rancho Cucamonga, CA-based Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. is their North American sales, marketing, and distribution company.

The company expects to create 1,700 jobs at their new Chester County manufacturing plant over the next 10 years. In order to secure the project, Giti Tire was offered a package of Chester County and South Carolina economic development incentives adding up to around $40 million.

Most of it was provided through a $37.8 million grant approved by the South Carolina Coordinating Council on Economic Development for site acquisition and improvement. For its part, Chester County offered the project a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

The SC Rural Infrastructure Authority approved a $2 million grant to assist the county in extending water and sewer lines to the site. This latest $2 million grant awarded by the EDA will likewise help the county with sewer infrastructure upgrades serving the Giti Tire facility.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a release announcing the grant that the EDA investment will support critical infrastructure projects that will support foreign direct investment as well as create jobs in South Carolina.

Giti Tire chose the Carolinas I-77 Megasite located just outside Richburg for the project. The company’s decision to locate the facility at this site was attributed to a number of factors, including proximity to transportation infrastructure and the deep-water port facilities in Charleston. Not to mention the area’s technical college system for fulfilling the company’s workforce training requirements.

At that time, Chester Development Association Chairman Brian Singleton said in a release that they are elated that Giti Tire chose Chester, South Carolina and are anxious to work with the company building this new world class tire manufacturing operation.

Giti Tire has since broken ground on the project earlier this year in February, and the site is now being built to provide 1.8 million square feet of space for both manufacturing and distribution activities. The facility will produce both passenger and light truck tires for the OEM and replacement markets. In the first phase, the plant will have an annual capacity to produce five million tires.

Wichita Falls, Texas Approves Economic Development Incentives for Pratt & Whitney Expansion

The City Council of Wichita Falls, TX has approved an incentives package for a proposed expansion by Pratt & Whitney Canada at its component repairs facility in Wichita Falls.

Pratt & Whitney Canada

Pratt & Whitney Canada (photo –

Supported by the City of Wichita and the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation, P&WC plans to invest $3 million for purchasing state-of-the-art equipment that will enable it to increase capacity of product lines used for hot component repairs.

Longueuil, Quebec, Canada-based Pratt & Whitney Canada is a United Technologies Company, and a leading global presence in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines for business and general aviation aircraft and helicopters. They also make and repair industrial gas turbines and auxiliary power units.

The Wichita Falls facility, which first opened in 1983, has been under P&WC’s ownership since 1997. It provides restoration for super-alloy components, and also section replacements and coating for gas turbine components.

The new $3 million investment is supposed to bring game-changing technology to this facility that will allow for increased production while reducing the facility’s environmental footprint.

John Di Bert, vice president for Customer Service, P&WC, said in a release that this investment will make the facility a Center of Excellence for repair of hot-section, non-rotating aircraft engine components in North America.

The company is also working on a partnership with Midwestern State University’s McCoy School of Engineering to make use of senior design project students and offer internships.

As part of the agreement with the City and the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation, P&WC will receive a $1.8 million interest-free forgivable loan, subject to the company fulfilling its commitments for the expansion.

The agreement also positions the P&WC Wichita Falls facility for future growth with the possibility of more new product lines for after-market hot component repairs.

Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said in the release that the City of Wichita Falls is committed to supporting local companies like Pratt & Whitney. Mayor Barham noted that in order for companies to remain competitive, they must keep up with the latest technology. The Mayor added that this investment will ensure the P&WC facility maintains its value in a global economy.

Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Henry Florsheim said in the release that this project is a perfect example of the type of partnerships they hope to develop through their existing business retention and expansion program. Florsheim added that facilitating expansions of existing employers is one of the most important things they can do.

SoPakCo Creates More Jobs to Assist Marion County, SC Economic Development

SoPakCo, one of the world’s largest providers of ready to eat meals, is expanding its headquarters operations in Mullins, SC yet again.

Assisted by the South Carolina Dept. of Commerce and Marion County economic development officials, the company is investing $4.5 million for installing a new fitment pouch line at its Mullins facility.

Video – SoPakCo

The expansion is expected to create 56 new jobs. SoPakCo, a member of the Tennessee-based Unaka Corporation’s family of businesses, already has more than 600 employees across its Mullins and Bennettsville facilities in South Carolina.

This is the second major expansion by the company in less than a year. Last year in June, SoPakCo had announced a similar capital investment and expansion in Mullins that is creating 121 new jobs.

SoPakCo’s expertise in processed foods goes back to over 60 years ago, when they began providing meals ready to eat (MREs) for the U.S. military. The company was originally founded in 1943 under the name Burns & Associates to supply shelf-stable rations to the military. Originally located in Greenville, TN, they relocated to Mullins, SC in 1965 because of the Vietnam War, since the war supply effort required them to have access to coastal ports.

The company opened a new multi-million dollar food processing and packaging facility in Mullins in 2009 to provide ready to eat meals for the commercial market. SoPakCo provides its food industry customers everything from recipe formulation and food processing to packaging and distribution.

The company’s latest expansion is getting state and local support through a $200,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant for Marion County approved by the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development. The grant will assist the county with the costs of real property improvements needed for the SoPakCo expansion.

South Carolina’s readySC workforce development program is supporting recruitment and training needs associated with the new jobs being created.

Governor Nikki Haley said in a release announcing the project that the fact that SoPakCo has decided to expand in Marion County for the second time in just seven months proves that South Carolina is a perfect place to do business.

SoPakCo President Lonnie Thompson said they are pleased and excited to be able to expand their operational capabilities at the Mullins facility, and at the same time, create a number of much needed jobs in the county.

Marion County Council Chairman Buddy Collins thanked his County Delegation, the SC Department of Commerce and the Marion County Economic Development Director for all their hard work in providing the necessary support and resources required to complete this project.

GM to Invest $5.4B in US Plants

General Motors announced plans to invest a total of $5.4 billion for U.S. plant improvements over the next three years.

GM investments

GM investments (photo courtesy GM News)

GM outlined plans for investing $783.5 million at Michigan facilities in Warren, Pontiac and Lansing.

The company is still working on identifying plants for the remaining $4.6 billion investment over the next several months.

For example, GM is considering a $1.2 billion expansion of its Arlington, TX assembly plant, and also a nearly $420 million expansion of its Warren Tech Center campus in Warren, MI.

For the moment, GM announced a $139.5 million investment at its Pre-Production Operations in Warren for establishing a new body shop and upgrades for a stamping facility.

GM also announced plans to invest $520 million at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant for tooling and equipment for future new vehicle programs. This particular investment will help retain 1,900 jobs.

Another $124 million investment at the Pontiac Metal Center in Pontiac, MI will enable major body panel dies to be pre-tested in Pontiac in a normal production environment, which will in turn allow stamping plants to produce higher quality parts much faster.

GM North America Manufacturing Vice President Cathy Clegg said in a release announcing GM’s plans that the common thread among these investments is the focus on product improvements that benefit customers. Clegg added that together with their UAW partners, they’re working hard to exceed consumers’ ever-increasing quality expectations.

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who leads UAW’s GM Department, said in the release that by working together, the UAW and GM are making a difference in communities across the United States. Estrada added that these investments represent the power of their collaboration to create jobs and improve competitiveness, quality and the U.S. manufacturing base.

Governor Rick Snyder said in the release that Michigan’s automotive heritage and expertise is known around the globe, and GM and its workforce are a major part of that. The Governor added that they’re going to continue to ensure the best environment for GM, the auto industry and all other industries to grow and thrive, creating more and better jobs.

The $5.4 billion that GM is investing translates into $150 million every month for the next three years. GM’s investments in its U.S. operations adds up to approximately $16.8 billion since June 2009. Out of this, some $11.4 billion in investment announcements have been made after the UAW-GM national agreement was reached in 2011.

All told, these investments have helped GM create 3,650 new jobs and retain another 20,700 or so other jobs.

Detroit, Michigan Economic Development Incentives Support Historic Building Renovation and Reuse

Two business expansions and one community revitalization project in Michigan that will generate a combined total of nearly $39 million in private and create 151 jobs have received approval for state assistance.

Michigan communities

Michigan communities (photo – Michigan Municipal League/flickr)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a $413,000 performance-based community revitalization grant for the renovation of a historic vacant building in Downtown Detroit’s Paradise Valley.

After a $3.1 million investment and renovation, the structure will house the headquarters of Illinois-based Real Times, Inc., along with restaurant and office space. This project is expected to create 35 jobs.

In addition to the $413,000 community revitalization grant, the project is also getting a sizable package of Detroit economic development incentives. This includes a $900,000 CDBG forgivable loan from the City of Detroit, another $200,000 acquisition loan from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and a 12-year property tax abatement valued at $42,000 per year.

One of the business expansion projects approved to receive a state grant is Emhart Teknologies, LLC (now STANLEY Engineered Fastening), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker.

As part of this expansion, Emhart Teknologies will construct a 30,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing operations in Chesterfield Township, MI and convert the existing space it has into a manufacturing facility. The company is additionally leasing more space in Troy, MI to accommodate and grow its office operations.

All told, the company is investing more than $32.8 million and plans to create 83 jobs. Apart from the Chesterfield site, Emhart Teknologies also looked at sites outside the state for this project.

The company is getting a package of Michigan and Chesterfield Township economic development incentives. This includes a $350,000 Michigan Business Development (MBD) performance-based grant that has received MSF approval. Chesterfield Township is additionally supporting the project through a property tax abatement.

U.S. Representative Candice Miller, who represents Michigan’s 10th district, issued a statement applauding the approval of the state grant for the project. Miller said that this performance-based grant is “a worthwhile investment in Southeast Michigan’s continued economic resurgence and highlights the importance of supporting the manufacturing industry that is so critical to Michigan’s economic success.”

The other business expansion getting a $250,000 MBD grant is custom software design and development firm Atomic Object, LLC. The company is moving its headquarters into a functionally obsolete building in Grand Rapids that will be renovated to meet their requirements.

Atomic Object is additionally leasing more space in Detroit and will be doubling its Ann Arbor location. All told, the company is investing more than $2.9 million and creating 33 jobs.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Steve Arwood said in a release announcing the grant awards that these projects will help strengthen Michigan communities and help growing companies generate new job opportunities.

Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust Approves $7.2M Incentives for Boeing, Paycom

At its latest meeting, the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust approved resolutions authorizing the City to negotiate economic development agreements for two expansion projects by The Boeing Company and Paycom Software, Inc.


Boeing (photo – Prayitno/flickr)

Boeing plans to add 900 jobs to its Oklahoma City operations over the next three years. These will be relocated jobs that are a part of Boeing’s consolidation of its defense services and support work to Oklahoma City, OK and St. Louis, MO that was announced last year in September.

These are high-wage jobs with an average first-year wage that is estimated to begin at $90,000. Every year after that, the salaries will increase incrementally, ending up at approximately $99,000 by the time the project nears completion.

Boeing is investing approximately $80 million to build a new 290,000-square-foot facility near its current facility. The projected economic impact of the project over the first four-year period is estimated to be $637.7 million, with $4.7 million in tax revenue over the first four-year period and $1 million annually thereafter.

Approval of state and local economic development incentives was crucial to Boeing selecting this location for the expansion. The City is offering Boeing a local incentive package of $6,000,000.

The other project for which Oklahoma City is offering $1.2 million in incentives is an expansion plan by Paycom Software, Inc. (NYSE:PAYC) at its headquarters. Paycom is a leading provider of cloud-based software for human capital management.

The company is investing $16 million to build and equip a new building adjacent to its current headquarters in Oklahoma City. In March this year, Paycom notified the City that it is needs to decide where and how to accommodate 423 additional jobs that it needs to add. The average first year wage of these positions is $51,027.

Paycom already has two buildings totaling 170,000 square feet of space at its headquarters complex in Oklahoma City, and considered other alternative locations both in and outside the state before letting the City know that it was interested in adding a third building to its headquarters.

Paycom Oklahoma City expansion rendering

Paycom Oklahoma City expansion rendering (Press photo –

In order to secure this Paycom expansion project, the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust has approved a resolution authorizing the City to negotiate a local incentive package worth up to approximately $1.2 million.

Paycom Founder and CEO Chad Richison said in a release announcing the project that they are excited about expanding their corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, and added that it marks another milestone in the organization’s path and is a testament to the strength of their solution and people.

Missouri Pauses IBM Incentives Over Layoffs

The State of Missouri has suspended incentives for the IBM technology service delivery center project in Columbia, MO, apparently owing to layoffs at the center earlier this year in January.


IBM (photo – ChrisDag/flickr)

IBM had first announced the project back in May 2010, and said at that time that they expected to create 800 high-tech jobs at the facility.The center provides IT services to IBM’s U.S. and global clients.

IBM worked with a range of local and state officials, agencies and regional partners on the project, including the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Partnership and the Regional Economic Development, Inc.

In order to secure the project, IBM was offered a package of incentives totaling over $30 million. This included $8.6 million through the Missouri BUILD program and another $14.7 million in Quality Jobs program incentives. The latter is tied to job creation commitments.

The state also agreed to provide IBM up to $4.2 million in New Jobs Training funding, plus $412,500 under the Employee Recruitment and Referral Savings program, and another $300,000 under the Customized Training program.

Columbia economic development assistance for the project included the building at 2810 LeMone Industrial Blvd, which the city renovated and leased to IBM at $1 per year on a 10-year lease.

IBM seemed to be going in the right direction in terms of its job creation commitments, having created more than 500 jobs by the end of 2012. The number of jobs at the facility exceeded 600 in early 2014.

But the company then initiated nationwide job cuts. In Jan 2015, they let go an undisclosed number of employees at the Columbia center as a part of the plan. Following this round of layoffs, the state requested IBM to submit an updated status on the employee count to determine whether the project was still eligible to continue receiving incentives.

All told, IBM has already received more than $10 million in incentives across all the programs. After IBM submitted the report earlier this month, the BUILD incentives for the project were suspended. The other approved incentives for the project are not an issue because they’re tied to job creation.

Factoring in all of this, the IBM center is still a solid win for Columbia and Missouri. An IBM facility with nearly 500 high-tech jobs is a big deal in Boone County, where the average annual wage is a lot less .than what IBM is paying.

Besides, the layoffs had nothing to do with the caliber of the workforce in Columbia or other local or regional factors. It would be in Columbia and Missouri’s own interest to show support for Big Blue, and hope that the company is able to meet its job creation commitments soon.

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