New Orleans Considering Economic Development District To Fund Public Safety in French Quarter

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a series of steps the City plans to take to improve public safety and the quality of life for residents, workers and tourists in the French Quarter.

Over the short term, the costs of the enhanced security will be paid for by a hotel self-assessment and by individual businesses.

Over the long term, the plan is to create a New Orleans Economic Development District for collecting a quarter cent sales tax that would be primarily paid by tourists in the 8th District. The additional tax revenue generated would pay for state troopers dedicated to the French Quarter.

Video – Keepthefrenchquartersafe

The Economic Development District still needs to be approved by voters in French Quarter. In any case, more Louisiana State Police troopers will be on patrols in the French Quarter and surrounding areas by the end of the year, to be paid as overtime by the New Orleans CVB.

More NOPD detail officers will be assigned nightly to the Bourbon promenade, and more NOPD detail officers on Polaris vehicle patrol will be assigned for areas of the French Quarter beyond Bourbon Street. A complement of 4-6 NOLA Patrol officers will be present throughout each day for non-emergency quality of life functions.

The French Quarter Task Force app is also now available for download and free use by people in the city. The app is designed to equip residents with an easy way to report crimes and give the police more eyes and ears on the street. The app’s availability is being advertised on television. Musician Lenny Kravitz has offered the use of one of his songs as a way to encourage people to download and use the app.

In a release announcing these and other safety proposals that are in the works, Mayor Landrieu said that the French Quarter is an important economic engine for the city, region, and state. The Mayor added that it will be critical for voters of the French Quarter to approve the Economic Development District this fall.

District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey said in the release that she is extremely pleased that they have been able to work out a self-sustaining plan for safety in the French Quarter. Ramsey added that the Economic Development District will generate the funds needed to provide additional security without taking much needed resources from other parts of New Orleans.

Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance Summit to Help Drive Economic Development

Toronto Mayor John Tory, Councilor Michael Thompson and other City officials announced that Toronto will host a summit with business and key music industry stakeholders from Toronto and Austin this fall.

Toronto

Toronto (photo – Wladyslaw/wikipedia)

The Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance Summit will be held later this fall. The announcement by Toronto officials comes on the heels of the conclusion of a successful business mission in Austin, TX during SXSW.

While in Austin, Toronto officials took part in the first-ever Music Cities Summit. Apart from the City of Austin Economic Development Department and the City of Toronto Economic Development and Culture Office, representatives from Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco participated in the Music Cities Summit roundtable discussions.

Mayor Tory said in a release announcing the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance Summit that the table stakes for economic development in cities like Toronto and Austin is the ability to compete successfully for talent.

“I have been to Austin and I have seen how creative sectors like music, film and technology drive economic growth, job creation, investment and tourism – and help attract and retain young talent,” said Mayor Tory.

The Mayor added that if Toronto likewise wants to bring more jobs and attract and keep world class talent, they need to focus on promoting and growing the city’s creative sectors and this summit will be critical to that process.

Apart from the Summit, Mayor Tory also announced a series of other steps, including exploring opportunities to innovate with the private sector to support the music industry. One of these ideas to be explored is whether Toronto can initiate or expand an interactive conference similar to the SXSW Interactive Festival.

While in Austin, the Toronto city officials and members of the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance met with music and technology sector companies including AMD, Google and IBM, and organizations such as the Austin Technology Incubator and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Councilor Michael Thompson, who chairs the City of Toronto Economic Development Committee and is co-chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, said in the release that there are many areas of mutual economic and cultural benefit available to both cities and their business mission in connection with SXSW has broadened the possibilities for them to explore.

Other steps the City plans to take to strengthen Toronto’s music industry includes a plan to promote Toronto as a music tourism destination, and expand the scope of the City’s Entertainment Industries Office to include support for music industry growth similar to the way the office is currently helping the growth of film.

Vermont Jobs For Independence Pilot Program Pairs SNAP Grant With Jobs Training

Vermont was one of the ten states awarded federal grants last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund and evaluate pilot programs aimed at helping Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-eligible participants transition from SNAP food assistance to jobs.

SNAP pilot program grants

SNAP pilot program grants

The Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) was awarded $9 million for a three-year pilot program called Jobs for Independence.

The JFI program will work with Vermonters on food assistance who face significant barriers to employment. This includes the homeless and those suffering from or recovering from substance abuse or mental health problems, and those who have prior criminal convictions.

Governor Peter Shumlin said in a release announcing the pilot program that they know that most Vermonters on food assistance would rather have a full-time job that will allow them to provide for themselves and their family, adding that this pilot program will help them help those Vermonters get the support and training they need to make that a reality.

“That’s good for struggling Vermonters, it’s good for our economy and workforce, and it’s good for taxpayers,” said Gov. Shumlin.

The pilot program will make use of the Progressive Employment approach. It provides job seekers a sequence of low-risk opportunities like company tours and short-term training placements which they can try out before a formal hire. These short-term experiences will provide real work experience, and also give the job seeker an opportunity to get used to the work environment and expectations.

The JFI pilot program will bring together a number of Vermont state agencies, including DCF and the Agency of Human Services (AHS), along with the VT Department of Labor, Department of Corrections, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. These state agencies will be collaborating with community partners such as Community College of Vermont and the Capstone Community Action.

Service providers will work to provide education and training, financial literacy and job placement services. Access to high-quality childcare, transportation, and transitional housing support will ease the way for participants as they transition from SNAP food assistance to gainful employment.

Deputy Commissioner of Economic Services Division of the Vermont DCF Sean Brown said in a release that by taking a holistic approach to assessing an individual’s unique barriers to employment, the State of Vermont and its community partners look forward to helping Vermont’s most vulnerable citizens obtain the skills and support they need for long-term employment, higher wages, and overall self-sufficiency.

There are currently some 87,000 Vermonters receiving SNAP benefits. As a start, the JFI pilot program is aiming to enroll at least 3,000 participants in the first 16 months.

The SNAP program is already an effective Vermont economic development tool, generating $1.80 in total economic activity for every dollar in new SNAP benefits.

U.S. Senator for Vermont Patrick Leahy issued a statement in which he said that by applying practical help to lift Vermonters out of poverty, the pilot program will change lives one by one, family by family and community by community.

Along with Vermont, the other states whose projects were awarded a total of $200 million in federal grants for the SNAP pilot programs include California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, and Washington.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a USDA release announcing the grants that helping people find and keep good jobs is the right way to transition recipients off of SNAP assistance and ultimately reduce program costs. Sec. Vilsack added that helping people find good jobs is a far better strategy for reducing food assistance spending than across the board cuts.

Massachusetts Approves Economic Development Incentives for Amazon Expansion

The Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council has approved a package of incentives for Amazon’s proposed fulfillment center spanning the City of Fall River and Town of Freetown, MA.

Amazon fulfillment

Amazon fulfillment (photo – BCRP/flickr)

Supported by $3.25 million in Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) tax credits, Amazon will invest $54 million to establish a one million-square-foot sortable fulfillment center in the SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park.

The project is expected to create 500 new full-time jobs in Massachusetts, along with additional seasonal jobs.

Governor Charlie Baker said in a release announcing the EACC approval of EDIP incentives that this project will not only create new jobs for the residents of Bristol County, but will also provide a much needed economic boost to one of the gateway cities.

The $3.2 million in EDIP incentives that have been approved for Amazon’s fulfillment center include $2.25 million in Enhanced Expansion Project Credits and another $1 million in Job Creation Projects Credits.

The South Coast Amazon fulfillment center project is additionally getting more than $11.6 million in estimated Freetown and Fall River economic development incentives. This includes a 15-year TIF and personal property tax exemption agreement with the City of Fall River valued at $7,808,850. A similar agreement with Freetown is valued at $3,830,425.

Sixty percent of the 91-acre site that Amazon has selected for the project is within Fall River, and the rest comes under Freetown.

Amazon considered other New England states for the project, but the availability of this infrastructure-ready site and state and local incentives helped Massachusetts close the deal. The SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park has 300 pad-ready acres with utilities already in place in shovel-ready sites that offer guaranteed 30-day local permitting.

Fall River Mayor Samuel Sutter said in the release that this is very exciting news for the City of Fall River, and added that the 500 jobs created by this project will be transformative for the city.

Mayor Sutter said that they look forward to Amazon completing the land purchase now that all the pieces are in place, and added that they believe the construction of this facility could begin as early as this summer. The Amazon fulfillment center is expected to be operational by late 2016.

This is Amazon’s second major project in the last two years that has received approval for Massachusetts economic development incentives. Last year, the company received $600,000 in state tax incentives for a warehouse project in Stoughton, MA.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said in the release that their administration is committed to supporting businesses and promoting regional economic development. Lt. Gov. Polito added that through the EDIP program, they are helping businesses grow and create jobs for residents in Massachusetts.

US Economic Development Administration Awards $3M For Business Growth Near Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a $3 million grant to Findlay Township, PA for upgrading critical water infrastructure that serves existing and planned business parks.

Pittsburgh International Airport, Findlay Township, PA

Pittsburgh International Airport, Findlay Township, PA (photo – MeRyan/flickr)

The EDA investment supports efforts by the Findlay Township Municipal Authority to add wastewater treatment capacity in the area near the Pittsburgh International Airport.

The project will propel growth of both publicly-owned and private business parks in the area and create regional employment opportunities. FTMA estimates that the project will generate $783 million in new construction investment and create 2,420 jobs in various sectors including manufacturing, hospitality, and research and development.

Many of these jobs will be filled by people residing in economically distressed communities of Allegheny and Beaver Counties. The private investments the project attracts will likewise support additional developments in the two counties.

In a release announcing the EDA investment, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said that the EDA grant will help Findlay Township industrial parks attract and retain businesses and investment in the community.

This $3 million builds on an earlier EDA grant of $1.8 million awarded last year to FTMA and the Allegheny County Airport Authority for the Findlay Township Waterline Project.

That project, which also received a $1.5 million PA State grant from the H2O Fund, is bringing potable water supply to the area around Pittsburgh International Airport, and supports ongoing development in the Clinton Industrial Park and new construction efforts within the PIT corridor.

The project includes installation of thousands of feet of 16-inch waterline mostly traversing Airport Authority property, in the process minimizing service outages, customer disturbances and utility conflicts. The Findlay Township Waterline Project is expected to create more than 5,800 jobs in the region and spur development of three business park sites located near Pittsburgh International Airport.

U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania Bob Casey, who helped Findlay Township and Allegheny County Airport Authority secure the EDA grant, said at the time in a release that the infrastructure projects stemming from these investments will have a lasting impact on the region’s economy and help modernize the airport corridor.

The pipeline project went ahead as planned with state and federal funding, but the existing wastewater treatment facility for the area still lacks sufficient capacity to handle the resultant growth. The new EDA investment of $3 million will enable the FTMA to expand the wastewater treatment plant.

Massachusetts Seeks Consultant to Study Boston 2024 Olympic Plan Impact

Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts is seeking an independent analysis of the potential impacts of Boston hosting the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Olympic Rings

Olympic Rings (photo – sludgegulper/flickr)

The Office of the Governor is soliciting the consultant, with support from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The Governor, along with MA Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, collaborated to publish a request for response (RFR) from consultants who would be required to come up with a report detailing the potential for costs, responsibilities, and potential risks of overruns for state and local governments.

Gov. Baker said in a release that an outside analysis will help them determine the potential impact of the games and ensure Boston 2024’s plan will not unfairly burden taxpayers.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh likewise issued a statement in which he says that “My top priority is to bring the highest level of transparency to the Olympic process and I commend the Governor, Senate President and Speaker for taking this step.”

Boston was picked by the United States Olympic Committee earlier this year to compete against cities from around the world. The International Olympic Committee will announce its decision in 2017.

The Boston 2024 Partnership, a privately-funded group formed to support Boston’s Olympic bid, projects a $4.7 billion operating budget for the Games. A study on the impact of Boston 2024, commissioned by the Boston Foundation and conducted by researchers from UMass Donahue Institute, was released (pdf) last week.

The study found that the Olympic Games held in Boston would create more than 24,000 job-years of construction employment and about $4 billion in economic impact in the six years leading up the Games. Not to mention 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in economic impact from the Olympic Games in 2024, along with around $514 million in additional tourism income and 4,300 jobs.

Dan Hodge of the Economic and Public Policy Research group, who led the study, said in a release that their analysis shows that a Boston Olympics has a net positive economic impact. Hodge added that this kind of a major international event in the region can clearly be a real driver of jobs and new investment.

Hodge also cautioned that how well the Olympics stimulate and catalyze investments in transportation and other infrastructure will play a deciding role in whether the bid lives up to its promise.

The new report sought by the Governor, Speaker and Senate President should provide a more conservative estimate of how effective the Olympic Games will be in providing a long-term boost for Massachusetts and Boston economic development. The report is due in July and may cost up to $250,000.

New London Economic Development Group Considers Project in Fort Trumbull

A decade after Fort Trumbull became the most controversial economic development project in the history of Connecticut and perhaps the United States, the City of New London, CT is looking for a fresh start in Fort Trumbull with an $18 million residential development project.

Bulldozed lot in Fort Trumbull with Pfizer facility in background

Bulldozed lot in Fort Trumbull with Pfizer facility in background (photo – Nard/wikipedia)

At its next meeting, the Renaissance City Development Association (RCDA) is about to consider a proposal for a 104-unit residential development in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood by Pennsylvania-based developer A.R. Building Co.

RCDA is a non-profit New London economic development group comprised of business owners, community leaders and citizens working to improve the economic health and quality of life in New London.

It is also more famously known as the organization that came up with the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan (MDP) that led to Kelo v. City of New London, an eminent domain case ultimately decided in favor of the City by the United States Supreme Court.

The landmark case set the precedent for allowing the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another one for furthering economic development.

New London took on the Fort Trumbull MDP after the closure of the 32-acre Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) at Fort Trumbull, and the subsequent announcement by Pfizer Inc. that they would establish a $350 million global R&D headquarters complex on a site adjacent to the Fort Trumbull area.

The project faced legal challenges from residents who were losing their homes, and the case eventually ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court which decided in favor of the City of New London in June 2005. But the project didn’t take off even after that, because the developer could not secure financing for it. The disputed land within the Fort Trumbull area stayed vacant until 2010, and was turned into a dump for storm debris in 2011 after Hurricane Irene.

Meanwhile, Pfizer closed down the New London research center and relocated more than 1,400 jobs in 2010 when its economic development agreement ended. The Pfizer research center now houses the Electric Boat submarine engineering offices.

The City and RCDA have continued working on improvements within the Fort Trumbull District, including construction of a public access riverwalk along the shoreline, construction of new roundabout intersections, and a storm water pump station.

If the new proposal for a residential complex in Fort Trumbull is approved and built, that will be another milestone and a turning point in this saga that could actually end on a happy note for the City and the people of New London.

New US Economic Development Initiatives Announced at SelectUSA Summit

The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit kicked off with more 2,600 people, including 1,300 companies from more than 70 countries and over 500 U.S. economic development officials.

President Obama speaks at 2015 SelectUSA Summit

President Obama speaks at 2015 SelectUSA Summit (photo – CommerceGov/flickr)

President Obama gave the keynote address on Day One of the Summit, and announced plans for new steps to attract foreign investors and create jobs through continued expansion of the SelectUSA Initiative.

One of the new initiatives announced is the planned creation of the first-ever federal advisory committee for soliciting input to develop and implement programs and strategies aimed at attracting and retaining foreign direct investment into the United States. This committee will be established by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

FDI inflow into the United States has already started surging, and has shown a marked improvement in the last year or so. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released data which showed that global investors pumped an average of $67 billion every quarter into the U.S. economy in the last three quarters of 2014. This is a big improvement over the $50 billion quarterly average that has been recorded in recent years.

According to data compiled by fDi Markets, SelectUSA Summit participants have created an estimated 32,500 new U.S. jobs last year through announced projects totaling at least $13 billion in investments.

A White House factsheet claims that the SelectUSA initiative established in 2011 has helped facilitate more than $20 billion of investments in the United States. SelectUSA doubled the number of investors and U.S. economic development organizations it served last year to over 1,000, and is on track to increase its client base by 50 percent this year.

The SelectUSA Summit also served as a platform for convening the first semi-annual gathering of federal and state economic development officials. The collaborative partnership will improve state-federal coordination, and feedback from state partners will be used to inform SelectUSA services and programs.

Another major new step that was announced was policy guidance for L-1B Visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will increase clarity around the adjudication of this visa which allows foreign companies to temporarily deploy workers with specialized knowledge when they are launching or conducting operations in the U.S.

This long-awaited policy guidance, which will now be released for a period seeking public comments, is of particular interest to many of the global companies that are participating in the SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Korean Light Manufacturer Selects Jenkins County, Georgia for North American HQ

Jeollabuk-do, Korea-based light manufacturer Wells Lighting is locating its North American headquarters in the City of Millen, GA.

Wells Communications LED displays

Wells Communications LED displays (photo – wellscom.co.kr)

The company will invest $30 million into the project and expects to create 200 new jobs in Millen and Jenkins County over the next two years.

Wells Lighting will locate its headquarters in an existing 92,000-square-foot building in Millen, which will also house their R&D operations and a manufacturing facility for a new line of LED lighting products.

Governor Nathan Deal said in a in a release announcing the project that Wells Lighting’s decision to establish its first North American headquarters in Georgia tells them that the state’s qualified workforce, diverse business network and pro-business environment continue to attract investment from leading companies around the world.

Dae Woo Kim, CEO and chairman of Wells Lighting, USA, said in the release that after much consideration, Georgia was the ideal place for them to locate their U.S. operations.

Mr. Kim has over three decades of experience in visual and display technologies, including nearly two decades in LED technology. The company makes general lighting and street lights, solar street lights, industrial lighting products and smart control system lights.

Their LED display designs have been installed on large screens at Chicago O’Hare Airport and Times Square in NYC, among other places. One of their major installations is in Fremont Street, Las Vegas, where Wells Communications workers built the world’s largest LED screen. It has since been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Wells Lighting was assisted in this project by the Georgia Economic Development Department and the Jenkins County Development Authority. The JCDA is the primary point of contact as far as Jenkins County and Millen economic development projects are concerned.

GDEcD Commissioner Chris Carr said in the release that Georgia has become a headquarter hub for thriving global companies such as Wells Lighting. Commissioner Carr added that with an existing network of Korea-based companies, an efficient transportation infrastructure and access to the best and brightest minds in the industry, Wells Lighting will find it easy to grow its global business in Georgia.

Jenkins County Development Authority Chairman Hiller Spann likewise welcomed Wells Lighting to the County and said that they look forward to working with the company as it completes its new facility.

Economic Development Milestone for Newberry County, SC as Mega Site Gets CSX Select Site Designation

The I-26 Mega Site in Newberry County, SC, a 2,055-acre industrial park located adjacent to both Interstate 26 and the CSX mainline, has been designated a CSX Select Site.

Newberry County, SC CSX Select Site

Newberry County, SC CSX Select Site (photo – csx.com)

CSX established the Select Sites program by partnering with site selection consulting firm The Austin Company to identify manufacturing facilities along the CSX rail network and assist communities with the application and certification process.

CSX Select Site certification criteria includes the size of the site, access to rail services and utilities, workforce availability and proximity to highways. Not to mention wastewater, environmental and geo-technical standards.

The process identifies and creates premium certified rail-served sites for new industrial facilities and expansions that can be developed quickly because standard land use issues have been sorted out and the required due diligence studies and reports are already ready.

The I-26 Mega Site is only the second site in South Carolina to receive CSX Select Site designation after the White Hawk Commerce Park located between Florence Regional Airport and I-95 in Florence County, SC.

Newberry County spent the last two years working through various due diligence studies to receive this designation. All utilities are adjacent to the site, and Newberry County has additionally arranged for larger utility lines to be extended to the property, in case a specific project needs it.

Jonathan Gemmen, senior location consultant with The Austin Company, said in a CSX release that regional and South Carolina economic development officials, along with each utility provider, came to the table to make this designation possible. Gemmen added that the unified support for seeing this site readied for development is unprecedented.

Clark Robertson, assistant vice president, regional development, CSX, added that they are thrilled to add the Newberry site to CSX’s Select Site program. Robertson noted that the site’s location between Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg allows new industry to attract its workforce from both local and regional population centers.

Robertson said they thank the Newberry County Economic Development team for their leadership in this endeavor, and added that their efforts will undoubtedly provide a strategic advantage to the area when competing for new industrial projects.

County Councilman Les Hipp, who is also the Newberry County Economic Development Committee Chairman, said in the release that the site provides an opportunity to attract a major industry that will benefit Newberry County, the region and the entire state of South Carolina.

Hipp added that they are very excited to offer the I-26 Mega Site with all the infrastructure and attributes that make it a prime location for a major industry.

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