Job Creation

Thomasville, NC Lures $25M Project Bart With Incentives

The City of Thomasville, North Carolina will be holding a public hearing on Jan 21, 2014 to consider approving incentives for a manufacturing company that wants to relocate to Thomasville in Davidson County.

Davidson County, NC

Davidson County, NC (photo – thomasville-nc.gov)

The company, identified in official documents only as Project Bart, is planning to invest $25 million for the facility, equipment and machinery.

The agreement does mention that Project Bart is a North Carolina corporation which has applied for economic assistance in connection with the costs of relocating and/or constructing a manufacturing facility in Davidson County.

As per the proposed five-year agreements with the City of Thomasville and Davidson County, the company needs to fulfill its capital investment commitments, and also needs to create and maintain at least 50 new full-time jobs that provide wages that are equal to or more than the prevailing county wage.

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners has already approved an incentives package for Project Bart that equals .0027 times the company’s proposed investment. The incentives will be paid out as five annual cash payments of up to $67,500 each, adding up to a total of no more than $337,500 over the five-year agreement period.

The county plans to source these payments through available funds in the County’s General Fund or Economic Development Fund.

The City of Thomasville is now considering a nearly identical package of its own that works out to .0028 times the company’s investment. That’s about no more than $70,000 annually for five years, adding up to a maximum total of $350,000.

No mention of state incentives for Project Bart is made in the city and county documents.

In their public hearing notices for Project Bart, the Thomasville City Council and the Davidson County Board of Commissioners both say they believe this grant will stimulate the local economy, increase the City’s tax base and revenues, result in the creation of new employment opportunities in the City, and promote the welfare of citizens of the City and County.

Grantham University Relocating to Lenexa, KS

Grantham University, an accredited online university that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students worldwide, is relocating its main physical campus to Lenexa, Kansas.

Southlake Technology Park in Lenexa, KS

Southlake Technology Park in Lenexa, KS (photo – lenexa.org)

The University has more than 350 employees on-site at its current location in Kansas City in the Zona Rosa complex.

These jobs will also move 20 minutes across the state line along with the University to the Southlake Technology Park in Lenexa.

Joseph McGrath, president of Grantham University, said in a statement that they had been searching diligently for a space to accommodate their growing employee base in the Kansas City metropolitan area. He said Lenexa offers exactly what they need.

Grantham University was founded in 1951 as the Grantham Radio License School in Los Angeles. In 1993, they relocated what was then the Grantham College of Engineering to Slidell, Louisiana. Around 80 percent of the campus just outside New Orleans was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after that, the University was operational again in temporary space in Kansas City, MO. At that time, they had some 140 employees and served around 8,000 students.

They decided to make Kansas City their permanent home, and now Grantham University has more than 350 employees and more than 17,000 students from all over the world.

The building that Grantham is now moving into in the Southlake Technology Park in Lenexa was occupied by Freightquote until last year. Freightquote relocated the other way, moving across the state line from Lenexa to Kansas City.

Freightquote moved into a new $44 million corporate headquarters and created 1,100 jobs in Kansas City, of which 980 were jobs lost by Lenexa. Missouri reportedly offered Freightquote a strategic package of incentives valued at $33.2 million in order to facilitate the relocation.

The statement released by the Kansas Department of Commerce does not specify the incentives that are now being offered to Grantham University to relocate from Kansas City to Lenexa. The University should be eligible for incentives under the state’s PEAK program.

Last year in November, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for an end to the border war of incentives in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Subsequently, a bill was introduced in the Missouri Senate which, if it becomes law, will prohibit such incentives for companies that jump across the state line without leaving the Greater Kansas City area. It requires the State of Kansas to follow suit, but there’s been no such legislative activity as yet.

Austin Gets athenahealth R&D Center With 607 New Jobs

Watertown, MA-based athenahealth, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATHN), which provides cloud-based IT services for the health care sector, is planning to establish an R&D center in Austin, Texas.

Austin, TX

Austin, TX (photo – austintexas.gov)

The company will invest $7.75 million into the $13 million project, with the State of Texas chipping in another $5 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).

athenahealth will take up 115,000 square feet of office space and invest $5.25 million in leasehold improvements, along with $7.75 million in business personal property.

The company is expected to create 607 new jobs with average annual wages of $132,085 over the next ten years. They already have 2,850 employees across five locations in the U.S. and one more overseas, including 36 existing employees in Austin.

athenahealth chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush said athenahealth was growing all across the country as they work to fulfill the vision of becoming a national information backbone that makes health care work as it should.

Bush said Austin has a strong talent pool that would aid in athenahealth’s important work advancing connectivity in health care.

The R&D center will be located in the Seaholm Power Plant Development District, where redevelopment projects are being actively assisted by the City’s Economic Development Department.

Kevin Johns, director of Austin’s Economic Development Department, said they were pleased that athenahealth is considering an expansion in the Seaholm District. He said they would serve as a great return on investment to this multi-modal, mixed-use hub.

During the 10-year agreement period between the City of Austin and athenahealth, the City will provide $679,500 in local incentives based on the company’s performance with regards to job creation and capital investment.

Apart from the jobs being created, Austin will get an estimated $1.67 million in net benefits through new revenues, in addition to $199,826 in new property tax revenues that will go to the Seaholm TIF.

The Austin City Council is expected to sign off on the local incentives by the end of the month after a comment period and public hearing. The $5 million in state incentives is contingent upon approval of local incentives for the athenahealth project.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said the state’s model of low taxes, smart regulations and fair courts continues to attract world-class companies such as athenahealth looking to expand their operations.

Gov. Perry added that this TEF investment will create hundreds of high-paying tech jobs in Austin, building on the city’s thriving technology sector and strengthening the local and state economies.

Comcast to Build $1.2B Innovation & Technology Center in Philadelphia

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY) announced a joint project to build the “Comcast Innovation and Technology Center” tower in Center City, Philadelphia.

Comcast Innovation & Technology Center in Center City, Philadelphia

Comcast Innovation & Technology Center in Center City, Philadelphia (rendering – comcast.com)

The $1.2 billion project is a 1,121-foot tall 59-story tower adjacent to Comcast’s global headquarters at Comcast Center.

It will create 20,000 temporary jobs during the construction phase, and nearly 4,000 new permanent jobs in Pennsylvania, including 2,800 permanent jobs in Philadelphia alone.

The 4,000 permanent new jobs include 1,500 new Comcast positions that will be located in the tower.

The project is expected to generate $2.75 billion in economic activity in Pennsylvania, with additional annual tax revenues worth $30.7 million for the Commonwealth, and $21.5 million in local tax revenue for the City.

The tower will become a media industry hub as the new home of broadcast television stations NBC 10/WCAU and Telemundo 62/WWSI, in addition to offering space for technology startups.

The tower, designed by famed architect Lord Norman Foster, will incorporate green building practices and seek LEED platinum certification.

The tower will have 1.517 million rentable square feet of space, including a block-long lobby with a glass encased plaza, restaurant and a new concourse to connect the building directly with SEPTA’s Suburban Station.

It will also house a new Four Seasons Hotel with more than 200 rooms, meeting facilities, event space and a spa. Not to mention a rooftop restaurant with 360-degree city views.

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation, said they continue to be proud to call Philadelphia their home, and are thrilled to build a media, technology and innovation center in the heart of the city, creating thousands of jobs and further driving economic activity in the region.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said the entertainment and innovation complex elevates Philadelphia’s strong reputation as a world-class destination for culture and connection.

Gov. Corbett added that this project was not just about building a new tower on Philadelphia’s skyline or creating new and beautiful spaces in Center City. The Governor said the project shows that Philadelphia is taking a bite out of the ‘Big Apple’ and is ready to compete with anyone in the world to bring jobs to Pennsylvania.

Liberty Property Trust Chairman and CEO William P. Hankowsky said they were thrilled at the opportunity to develop a transformative project for the City of Philadelphia, a project which he said would contribute significantly to the continuing renaissance of Center City as a forward-looking yet uniquely livable urban environment.

Magic Johnson Brings EquiTrust Life Insurance Co to Illinois

West Des Moines, IA-based EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. is coming to Illinois, and will be opening their first office in Chicago.

Magic Johnson EquiTrust announcement in Chicago

Magic Johnson EquiTrust announcement in Chicago (photo – magicjohnson.com)

The company will create around 200 new jobs in the Chicago office over the next year, and may expand further after that, creating hundreds more jobs in the years to come.

EquiTrust also announced that Earvin Johnson, the chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, will become a controlling shareholder in EquiTrust, which was acquired by Guggenheim Partners, LLC from the FBL Financial Group, Inc., for $471 million in 2011.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he welcomes EquiTrust to Chicago. He said Chicago is a thriving center for the insurance industry and EquiTrust will only add to this leadership in future.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said they are thrilled that EquiTrust has chosen to create jobs in Illinois, and excited to have former NBA star and entrepreneur Johnson become a corporate citizen of the state.

Gov. Quinn added that Earvin Johnson’s work in redeveloping urban communities has been widely recognized across the country, and this is a win-win for Illinois.

The North/South Lawndale Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy offers one of the only two blended-learning programs in Chicago. They provide a free and flexible path to a high school diploma for students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school.

The Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies spread across six states have a combined enrollment of 1,675 students.

Johnson also recently launched the “Friends of Magic” organization in a joint announcement with Gov. Quinn at the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Chicago in Sept 2013. Friends of Magic aims to provide at-risk students with the tools required to graduate from high school and aim for a successful future.

Johnson said that EquiTrust’s decision to come to Illinois was based on the state’s large and dynamic economy, and its pool of talented workers.

EquiTrust CEO Jeff Lange likewise noted that the city and state contain a vibrant business community with an outstanding work force pool. He said the Governor and Illinois Department of Insurance had been extraordinarily welcoming and helpful in assisting the company with their efforts.

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Andrew Boron said EquiTrust is a welcome addition to the life insurance and annuities market in the state.

Minnesota Launches Job Creation Fund To Help Create 5000 Jobs

Minnesota has launched a $24 million Job Creation Fund as a pay-for-performance business development initiative.

Minnesota Job Creation Fund

Minnesota Job Creation Fund (photo – mn.gov)

The fund will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

It is estimated that it will help create 5,000 jobs across the state. Funding provided to projects under this initiative will help them attract $450 million in additional private investment.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said the strength of the economy and the security of middle class Minnesota families depend on the investments made today for accelerating job growth and getting every Minnesotan back to work.

Gov. Dayton added that every job matters, and that is why initiatives such as the Minnesota Job Creation Fund are so important.

The Job Creation Fund (JCF) approved by the Minnesota Legislature last year will replace the JOBZ program which is due to expire in 2015.

The new fund will provide up to $1 million to projects that fulfill the eligibility criteria, one of which is that the project wouldn’t take place at all without assistance from the Job Creation fund.

Businesses that get a JCF designation must sign a business subsidy agreement under which they agree to meet job creation and retention requirements at specific wage levels, in addition to fulfilling the capital investment requirement.

Designated businesses must maintain existing employment levels and also create at least 10 new full-time jobs within two years of being designated. The business must also agree to invest at least $500,000 in real property improvements within a year of being designated as a JCF business.

DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said the Job Creation Fund will not only provide access to capital for businesses that need assistance for expanding or moving operations to Minnesota, but will also add high-quality jobs to the state’s economy.

DEED is now accepting applications from businesses in the manufacturing, technology, distribution and warehousing sectors that are seeking JCF funds to expand or locate in Minnesota.

DEED requires the local government unit where the project is located to approve of it. Applicants should therefore contact their local government to seek their approval and assistance in submitting the JCF application form and supporting documents.

Israeli Biotech Startup BioHarvest Moving to University at Albany, NY

Israeli biotechnology company BioHarvest Ltd. will be moving its R&D start-up operations from Tel Aviv, Israel to the University at Albany in Albany, New York.

Vinia - BioHarvest’s red grape cell powder

Vinia – BioHarvest’s red grape cell powder (photo – albany.edu)

The relocation project will create 60 new jobs at the company’s new location in the University at Albany’s East Campus.

The announcement was made by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who said that companies in growing fields from around the globe are coming to New York and creating new economic opportunity in all parts of the state.

Gov. Cuomo said the partnership with BioHarvest will create new jobs and establish the Capital Region as a leader in the research and development field.

BioHarvest is a woman co-owned business founded in 2007 as Fruitura BioScience Ltd. The company has developed a patented system for growing and bio-harvesting fruit cell cultures using 3D bioreactors.

The result is the capability to produce, on an industrial scale, super-foods rich in phytonutrients for the wellness, supplements and nutrition markets.

Last year, BioHarvest’s first large-scale commercial product called red grape cell powder (RGC) was authorized by Israeli regulatory agencies. It’s now known as Vinia, and studies have demonstrated that it has beneficial effects for metabolic conditions, Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

BioHarvest’s collaboration with University at Albany will unfold in three stages. To start with, four to five staff members are expected to be hired for clinical and scientific collaborations with the University’s Cancer Research Center (CRC) for research related to health and intervention strategies.

The second phase will create 50 jobs as the company sets up four bio-reactors and their production and sales facilities in a building within the campus by the end of this year.

In the third stage that is expected to create around 10 jobs, they will establish a Center for Innovative Functional Foods Research.

University at Albany President Robert J. Jones said that with innovative science and technologies of CRC complemented with New York State resources through Empire State Development, the BioHarvest collaboration is a model public-private partnership that illustrates how the innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship equation creates jobs and positive economic outcomes for the community.

BioHarvest’s relocation and collaborative projects with the University at Albany will be assisted by a $1.2 million ESD award that will be made through the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC).

Thompson Speedway Gets CT State Support for Upgrade

Thompson International Speedway, LLC is getting an $800,000 loan from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to help the company upgrade the speedway in Thompson, CT into a state-of-the-art motorsports entertainment facility.

Thompson Speedway

Thompson Speedway (photo – thompsonspeedway.com)

The state funding will be used to repave the historic 1.7 mile road course, and for building a 15,000-square-foot garage building with 30 stalls, new offices, classrooms for driver education, a pro-shop, concession stands and restrooms.

The company also plans to add a new entrance and registrations building, upgrade the safety and fencing systems, storm water drainage, and the bridge structure. A timing and control building with first-aid facilities will also be upgraded.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that this was a terrific story of a new generation bringing their talent, skills and entrepreneurship home to the family business and Connecticut.

Gov. Malloy said the facility capitalizes on one of Connecticut’s strengths – its location, and serves a growing regional market for sports entertainment and tourism, brings out-of-state spending into the local economy, and employs and creates jobs for residents.

The Thompson Speedway is located 2.5 hours from New York City, 50 minutes from Boston, and 40 minutes from Providence and Hartford.

Thompson’s oval track has been hosting stock car races for nearly 75 years, and started holding NASCAR events in 1951.

Jonathan Hoenig, CEO of Thompson International Speedway, said they have been a part of the community for over 74 years, and this project shows their continued commitment to the local and regional economy as well as towards helping sustain and create jobs in northeastern Connecticut.

DECD is providing the loan to Thompson International Speedway at an interest rate of two percent for a ten year term.

DECD will forgive a $200,000 portion of the loan principal if the company abides by its commitment to retain 48 existing jobs and create another 23 new jobs by 2015.

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said this track has been attracting some of racing’s great names since it began operating, and completion of this project ensures that the first closed-circuit road racing track in the United States will continue to be the economic draw it has been.

Utah Approves EDTIF Tax Credits For Projects Creating 1250 Jobs

The board of directors of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has approved incentives for two companies undertaking projects that will result in the creation of 1,250 new jobs.

Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems (photo – varian.com)

Varian Medical Systems (NYSE:VAR) is expanding its Salt Lake City operations. The company expects the expansion will result in the creation of 1,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.

Varian is a leading supplier of X-ray tubes and digital image detectors used for X-ray imaging in medical applications as well as industrial inspections and cargo screening.

The expansion includes a $40 million investment to add 120,000 square feet in space to the existing 341,000 square-foot building that is the headquarters of Varian’s X-Ray products manufacturing division.

As a result of this expansion, a panel production process that is currently outsourced will be brought back in-house by Varian.

Varian CEO Dow Wilson said that some 70 percent of their X-ray product sales are to customers outside the U.S., making the company one of Utah’s largest exporters. He said Utah has been an excellent place for operating their business, where they are able to find the technical and engineering talent required to make world-class products that are used for saving lives around the world.

Varian’s expansion project has been approved for $7.1 million in Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) tax credits that are linked to the company’s performance as per the terms of the agreement.

Over the 15-year agreement period, Utah is expected to gain more than $35 million in additional revenues, and the company will pay out more than $400 million in additional wages related to the new jobs created.

The other project approved for incentives is a sophisticated distribution center project being undertaken by Cabela’s, the world’s largest direct marketing company for camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor gear.

Cabela’s has entered into a 10-year agreement with Utah for this project. As per the terms, Cabela’s will create at least 250 new jobs and expects to add around $30 million in payroll over the agreement period. GOED estimates that Utah will get around $3.4 million in additional taxes from this project over the same period.

To facilitate the project, Cabela’s has been approved for up to $693,198 in post-performance EDTIF tax credit incentives, which is 20 percent of the estimated net taxes Cabela’s will pay over the 10-year agreement period.

Apple App Store Sales of $10B Fuels App Economy Growth

Apple announced that its customers spent more than $10 billion on the App Store in 2013, with December alone accounting for $1 billion generated through three billion app downloads.

U.S. jobs created or supported by Apple

U.S. jobs created or supported by Apple (photo – apple.com)

Apple also announced that this historic growth has led to a jump in developer earnings through sales on the App Store, which now adds up to $15 billion.

App Store offers more than one million iOS apps across 24 categories for users of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in 155 countries around the world.

The App Store’s success, along with the growth in development of Android apps available on Google Play, has created a huge “app economy” which did not exist until the iPhone was launched in 2007.

Apple alone accounts for around 600,000 jobs in the United States. This includes more than 50,000 direct jobs at Apple and 257,000 jobs in industries that support Apple’s operations. The company also claims they support 291,250 jobs in the iOS app economy.

These 291,250 jobs represent just a part of the app economy. The actual size of the app economy and its fast growth can be judged from a series of studies undertaken by Dr. Michael Mandel, president of economic consulting firm South Mountain Economics LLC.

In Feb 2012, TechNet published a study (pdf) by Dr. Mandel which showed that the app economy was responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs, up from zero in 2007.

In Sept 2012, Dr. Mandel and Judith Scherer jointly published another report (pdf) for CTIA-The Wireless Association and the Application Developers Alliance. In this study, the number of app economy jobs was pegged at 519,000.

In July 2013, Dr. Mandel published an updated estimate based on the same methodology used for the CTIA study. By this time, the number of app economy jobs had risen to 752,000. Dr. Mandel says the app economy is growing at a rate of 40 percent, and the jobs are spread all over the country.

According to the methodology used in these studies, an app economy job may be one of the following:-

- An IT-related job that requires the ability to develop, maintain or support mobile applications in iOS, Android or any other mobile operating system;

- A non-IT job which supports app developers in the same company; and

- Indirect jobs created in the local economy by app developers.

And all this is just for the U.S. The European app economy is a whole other thing. A report (pdf) sponsored by ACT 4 APPS and prepared by VisionMobile and Plum Consulting was released in Sept 2013.

This report shows that in the EU, the app economy accounts for 529,000 direct jobs. Factor in the indirect jobs, and the number rises to a total of 794,000 jobs across the whole EU economy, with annual revenues worth more than €10 billion ($13.6 billion).

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