Colorado Awards $3M in Innovation Grants

Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced the first round of grants totaling $2,908,883 under the newly established Advanced Industries (AI) Accelerator Grant Program.

Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program, Colorado

Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program, Colorado (photo – advancecolorado.com)

This program offers four types of grants for AI startups and existing companies. The grants may be provided for proof of concept, early-stage capital and retention, infrastructure funding and for exports.

The first round of funding awarded under this program includes $385,000 for three proof of concept grants.

One of them is for National Jewish Health in Denver, which is getting $85,000 for KneeTap, a tool developed by researchers which facilitates injection or extraction of fluid from joint space. They plan to develop additional tools for various joints. There are more than five million joint tap procedures performed annually, costing more than a billion dollars.

The other two proof of concept grants of $150,000 each were awarded to the Colorado School of Mines.

The State also awarded another eight early stage and retention grants. The biggest grants of $500,000 each under this category were awarded to Loveland, CO-based Lightning Hybrids and Golden, CO-based Steelhead Composites.

Lightning Hybrids, which came in second at the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) Glorious Failure Innovation Challenge earlier this year, produces a hydraulic drive system that simply needs to be bolted on to a vehicle’s drivetrain to convert it into a hybrid that provides fuel efficiency savings and reduces emissions.

Vehicles fleets that install the Lightning Hybrids system benefit from an immediate 40 percent improvement in fuel economy, with a full return on investment for fleets within one to three years.

Steelhead Composites has an advanced manufacturing facility in Golden that does metal forming, filament winding and high-pressure vessel design work for the automotive industry. They plan to use the grant to expand their product offerings to include light-weight vessels for alternative fuels.

The remaining six grant recipients in this category are as follows:-

dbMEDx – $249,000; Membrane Protective Technologies Inc. – $125,000; Solid Power LLC. – $250,000; Prieto Battery Inc. – $150,000; Sundolier Inc. – $499,883; and VetDC Inc. – $250,000

Gov. Hickenlooper said in a statement that the growth in advanced industries in Colorado is adding jobs and having a statewide impact on the economy, and these grant announcements demonstrate the state’s continued support for innovation and growth in these sectors.

Bloomberg Visual Data Rankings For Most Innovative States

Bloomberg has published an analysis of all 50 states and D.C. that ranks each state based on its focus on innovation. Washington tops the chart as the most innovative state in the U.S., followed by California and Massachusetts.

 

Bloomberg Visual Data Rankings - Most Innovative States

Bloomberg Visual Data Rankings – Most Innovative States

Here’s the top ten most innovative states, listed in the order of their ranking in the Bloomberg analysis – Washington, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Maryland and Minnesota.

These rankings are part of the “Best and Worst” listings created by Bloomberg Visual Data. The innovation rankings are based on the following factors:-

- Number of STEM professionals as a percentage of state population;

- Number of science and technology degree holders as a percentage of state population;

- Utility (invention) patents as a percentage of the U.S. total;

- Government R&D spending as a percentage of the U.S. total;

- Gross state product per employed person, and three-year change in productivity; and

- Public tech companies as a percentage of all public companies.

Washington ended up as the most innovative state with the highest score of 83.25 by staying close to the top for all these factors, powered by Microsoft and Amazon and the strong resultant position of the state as the leader in cloud computing services, data analysis and storage.

The individual rankings for each of the aforementioned six factors are even more fascinating. The District of Columbia is listed 20th in the overall rankings, but tops half the individual categories – STEM professionals (9.23 percent); Science and tech degree holders (20.30 percent); and gross state product per employed person ($273,618).

Despite the huge amount of talent and productivity largely fostered by federal spending, D.C. is so far down in the rankings because the D.C. government ranks dead last for R&D spending. D.C.has also experienced the second-worst drop in productivity over the last three years.

California is light years ahead of everyone else with 26.54 percent of utility patents granted as a percentage of the U.S. total. New York tops the charts for government R&D spending, accounting for 13.02 percent of the U.S. total.

North Dakota recorded the biggest bump (23.3 percent) of productivity in the last three years, fueled by the booming energy sector. New Mexico has the highest percentage (32.14 percent) of public tech companies as a percentage of all public companies.

ATS To Set Up Aircraft MRO Operations in Kansas City

Everett, Washington-based Aviation Technical Services (ATS) announced plans to open a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Kansas City International Airport.

ATS MRO Kansas City

ATS MRO Kansas City (photo – atsmro.com)

ATS will invest $7 million for tooling and equipment, and is leasing 607,000-square-feet of operating space at the KCI Overhaul Base.

The facility will be able to house up to 11 narrow-body aircraft, or several wide-body and narrow-body aircraft simultaneously.

ATS expects that it will need to make a bigger investment over the next three years as activity ramps up and the company goes through with plans to create upwards of 500 jobs. The company may eventually hire up to 1,000 employees at the facility.

This is the first ATS facility outside Washington, where the company already has hangars in two existing facilities in Everett and Moses Lake.

ATS President and CEO Matt Yerbic said this step secures the company’s future and ensures long-term stability for ATS as well as their customers and employees. He added that they plan to follow this expansion model and continue to grow in new locations.

The location in Kansas City puts ATS in close proximity to some of their largest customers, allowing the company to improve customer service and expand its client base.

During the six-month site selection process, ATS evaluated sites in several states.To secure the project, the Kansas City Area Development Council partnered with a full slate of state, regional and local organizations and institutions.

At the state level, the State of Missouri was involved along with the Missouri Department of Economic Development; The Missouri Partnership; Missouri Aviation Department; Missouri Division of Workforce Development; and the Kansas Department of Workforce Development.

At the local and regional level, the City of Kansas City was involved along with the Platte County Economic Development Council; Kansas City Power & Light; Kansas City’s Partnership for Regional Education Preparation (PREP-KC); Metropolitan Community College; and the University of Central Missouri.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said in a statement that ATS had many options for its expansion, and the fact that they chose Kansas City shows that the city continues to set itself apart from its peers. Mayor James said Kansas City has a long history with the airline industry, and ATS’ expansion plan shows that the industry’s future in Kansas City is just as bright as its past.

ATS first began operations in 1970, and is currently the largest MRO services provider on the West Coast with more than 1,000 employees and customers from all over the world.

New Mexico Governor Proposes $9.5M For High-Tech R&D Initiatives

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced two high-tech research and development initiatives for attracting top faculty and funding innovative projects by researchers in the state’s universities and labs.

NM Gov. Martinez outlines endowment plan at UNM

NM Gov. Martinez outlines endowment plan at UNM (photo credit: Steve Carr/unm.edu)

The first proposal, announced during an event at the University of New Mexico, calls for appropriating $7.5 million to be added to the state’s Higher Education Endowment Fund and used for making targeted endowment grants.

The legislature would have to approve a measure to reform the Fund in order to enable distribution of endowment grants on a competitive project-by-project basis. The Fund is currently authorized only to distribute endowments based on a set formula.

Gov. Martinez said this formula is not based on which projects are the most promising or most innovative or most likely to attract the best and brightest to the state, and that’s not right. The Governor said every state dollar from the Fund should go to targeting endowed chairs that will improve the quality of students and have the most impact on the economy.

If the Fund is reformed, the grants would be awarded to projects in critical areas such as science, engineering, mathematics, and health through a competitive process targeted towards key economic sectors and priorities. All the endowment grants made would require the university or college to come up with a 50 percent private funding match.

This initiative will help New Mexico’s colleges and universities create endowed chairs and attract the nation’s best professors, researchers and scientists, who would in turn attract and train highly-motivated students to become a part of the state’s high-tech workforce.

The researchers would also become innovators looking to launch companies for commercializing new research, ideas and products. Gov. Martinez said that building a stronger pipeline of innovation in the state is key to growing the economy and establishing New Mexico as a high-tech leader.

UNM President Robert G. Frank, who joined the Governor for the announcement, said that if they are able to attract and retain the best faculty, then the best and brightest students will flock to New Mexico’s universities and become the future of the state.

A second proposal announced by Gov. Martinez at New Mexico Tech in Socorro calls for $2 million in funding for the Technology Research Collaborative.

The TRC was reestablished last year to promote collaboration between New Mexico’s national laboratories and research universities on projects to commercialize innovative ideas. Research teams working on a collaborative project undertaken by a national laboratory and a university in New Mexico will be able to compete for funding awards from the TRC.

New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel Lopez said universities have a very important role in economic development, and the TRC is an extremely important tool to drive economic advances in New Mexico.

NY Green Bank Gets $210M in Initial Funding

The NY Green Bank, a billion dollar initiative launched by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year in September, has received approval for $210 million in initial funding.

NY Green Bank

NY Green Bank (photo – .ny.gov)

The Public Service Commission (PSC) approved $165 million to be diverted from other programs, and another $45 million is coming from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Governor Cuomo said in a statement that working hand-in-hand with the private sector, the NY Green Bank will promote job growth, improve air quality and provide New Yorkers greater choice and value for their money.

The NY Green Bank, which is a part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will be ready to offer its first financial products early next year.

They are not going to be investing directly into operating businesses. Instead, the Green bank will partner with private institutions and provide products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling for supporting securitization and building secondary markets.

These products will support projects involving clean energy that are economically viable but are unable to access financing due to market barriers such as insufficient performance data, federal policy uncertainty, and the lack of publicly traded capital markets.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said that given these obstacles in financing, merely setting up a competitive market that offers the promise of choice offers just that – a promise unrealized if projects are unable to obtain financing.

Kauffman said the Green bank was one of the components of the state’s new chapter on energy policy focused on self-sustaining private markets and reducing dependence on subsidies.

The ultimate goal of the Green Bank is to enable a private sector financing market that functions without government support.

For the near term, initial models suggest that the Green Bank will be able to double the amount of private capital available to grow clean energy markets over the next five years. Over a 20-year period, the Green Bank has the potential to drive nearly 10 times more private capital into the system.

For its part, the Green Bank itself will be able to sustain funding by preserving, recycling and growing its capital base. When fully capitalized, the bank is expected to have a $1 billion balance sheet.

Xerox To Relocate High-Tech Manufacturing to NY Nanocollege Facility

Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is planning to relocate high-tech manufacturing operations from China to the CNSE Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center (STC) near Rochester in Canandaigua, New York.

Xerox Square, Rochester, NY

Xerox Square, Rochester, NY (photo – xerox.com)

CNSE is the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Their partnership with Xerox will allow the company to relocate capital equipment that is currently in China and being used for manufacturing advanced document scanning technologies.

The equipment will be housed in a 3,300-square-foot cleanroom at STC. Xerox is also negotiating a contract with STC to purchase optical scanners after the company completes moving the production line to Canandaigua.

The collaboration between STC and Xerox was facilitated by a $750,000 investment from New York State to help with the equipment installation and cleanroom modification costs.

Over the next five years, the partnership between Xerox and STC is expected to create and retain up to 100 high-tech jobs including technicians, engineers and researchers employed by both STC and Xerox.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement that Xerox’s decision to partner with CNSE and the state government by moving overseas operations to New York is another vote of confidence in the quality of the region’s workforce and the promise of the growing high-tech economy.

Xerox Technology Procurement Manager Lee Nunziato said that as a global company, Xerox manufactures around the world and made the decision to bring the optics assembly project to New York where they can invest locally for key scanning technology requirements.

CNSE STC Director Paul Tolley said the addition of a world-class technology company like Xerox further strengthens STC’s high-tech capabilities and public-private ecosystem.

CNSE Senior Vice President and CEO Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros said they were delighted to welcome Xerox as the newest corporate partner at the fast-growing STC, and looked forward to the continuing attraction of high-quality jobs, companies and investment to Western New York.

This relocation by Xerox follows an earlier announcement in August to invest $35 million for expanding a Xerox toner manufacturing facility in Webster, NY. Xerox looked at many other sites around the world for the toner project before deciding on New York.

Xerox already has more than 10,000 employees in New York, and a total of around 140,000 employees worldwide.

HP To Add 200 Jobs in Conway, AR

Palo Alto, CA-based Hewlett-Packard Co (NYSE:HPQ) announced plans to establish a regional Industry Development Center at an existing facility in Conway, Arkansas.

Gov. Mike Beebe at HP Conway announcement in June 2008

Gov. Mike Beebe at HP Conway announcement in June 2008 (photo – Arkansas Governor’s Office)

The 200 new software engineering, business analysis and management jobs being created as a part of this project will provide support for HP’s growing government and commercial healthcare business.

HP “Industry Development Centers” are comprised of a core group of skilled HP staff who build, enhance and implement healthcare solutions for the company’s government and commercial clients.

HP cited the quality workforce and presence of hundreds of existing HP employees in Conway as factors that helped them make the decision, along with the presence of three colleges and universities.

The new jobs offer a fresh start for Conway, Arkansas and HP after the original agreement in 2008 that led to the creation of a customer service and technical support center in Conway fell apart last year.

Back in June 2008, HP announced plans to establish the center in Conway and employ as many as 1,200 employees for highly skilled technical positions.

Arkansas secured the project by offering HP $10 million under the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, in addition to tax credits on the new payroll, plus sales and use tax refunds. The City of Conway provided a property tax abatement, and the Conway Development Corporation built a 150,000-square-foot facility and leased it to HP, which opened the center in 2010.

In 2012, HP announced they were downsizing globally and would be reducing their global workforce by 29,000. HP laid off 500 employees at the Conway facility in July 2013 as a part of this downsizing.

HP and the Arkansas Department of Economic Development (AEDC) are still in the process of sorting out the clawback provisions in the original agreement.

As per the terms of the 2008 agreement, HP was supposed to fulfill its job creation commitments at the Conway facility in four years. That didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen even with the addition of the 200 new jobs. However, the new higher-paying jobs will help HP negotiate to hold on to most of the incentives that have already been provided.

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said the fundamental reasons they were excited about this project five years ago have not changed – Conway has a quality workforce, and HP has the wherewithal to withstand the ebbs and flows of the global economy. Mayor Townsell added that this was a great example of Conway and HP succeeding together.

ADM Selects Chicago For Global Headquarters

Decatur, Illinois-based agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) announced that it has chosen Chicago as the location for its new global headquarters and customer center.

Archer Daniels Midland

Archer Daniels Midland (photo – adm.com)

This represents a partial victory for Chicago, with ADM planning to move around 50-75 corporate employees into the new center.

ADM chose Chicago based on its own merits, despite the delay in legislation approving a package of state incentives for the project.

ADM Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz said in a statement that while they considered other global hubs, Chicago emerged as the best location to provide efficient access to global markets while maintaining the company’s close connections with their customers, operations and U.S. farmers.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke several times to Woertz over the past week. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was directly involved in the recruiting process, in addition to the support provided to ADM by World Business Chicago and the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED).

Woertz noted that Decatur will be designated as ADM’s North American headquarters, and the company is not planning any layoffs in connection with the relocation of the global headquarters.

ADM had undertaken a site selection process to find a location that would house both the global headquarters as well as a new IT and support center involving another 100 new jobs.

The company said it is now evaluating alternate sites in several states for the IT center, and expects to make its decision by mid-2014.

ADM’s decision to split their expansion and relocation into separate projects can be attributed not only to the delay in approval of state incentives, but also to the lack of a simple incentives package without any strings.

The legislation passed by the Illinois State Senate but still stuck in the House requires the company to locate the global headquarters in Chicago, relocate 100 new jobs into Decatur from out-of-state locations, and subsequently add 100 new jobs in Decatur annually for the next five years.

Having chosen Chicago for the global headquarters, ADM is now free to negotiate state and local incentives for the IT center without having to wait for legislative approval and comply with the requirements of the incentives bill.

EDA Ranks Last in List of Best Places to Work in Federal Government

The Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte have released their 2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings.

EDA - Best Places to Work in Federal Government

EDA – Best Places to Work in Federal Government

The rankings are based on data from the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (EVS) that was conducted earlier this year by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Survey feedback was provided by 376,577 government employees spread across agencies and their sub-components that together account for around 97 percent of the executive branch workforce.

The rankings, first launched a decade ago in 2003, are dubbed the Oscars of government service. By this definition, the Department of Commerce scored Oscars as well as a Razzie.

The good news is that Commerce is the second best federal agency on the list after NASA.

Also, when agency subcomponents across the federal government are thrown into the same pool for comparison, Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) tops the list as the best place to work in the federal government.

Commissioner for Patents Margaret A. (Peggy) Focarino said in a statement that the top ranking was a tremendous tribute to the tireless dedication of USPTO’s hardworking employees, agency leaders and unions.

PPS attributes a large component of USPTO’s success to the highly successful telework program. It provides employees with flexibility in their work location, enhances examiner productivity and reduces turnover level to a historic low. It also saves the agency millions of dollars in annual overheads.

The bad news for Commerce is that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) got itself a Razzie by ranking dead last at #300.

The EDA got an index Score of 24.8. By comparison, the USPTO at the top of the list had an index score of 84.4. Also, the EDA’s 2013 score showed a huge drop over the 2012 score of 44.5.

The EDA came in at the bottom on a large number of categories (leadership, employee skills, performance-based rewards, teamwork, work-life balance, support for diversity, etc.) and virtually across all the demographics.

The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) says it was a difficult year for many federal agencies and employees, with the three-year pay freeze, furloughs, cutbacks and ad-hoc hiring freezes taking their toll. The survey was conducted before the 16-day government shutdown in Oct 2013, so the feedback does not reflect the shutdown’s impact.

Even so, PPS says the new rankings show a continued decline not only in employee satisfaction, but also in all 10 workplace categories, including leadership, teamwork, pay, training and development.

Chicago Gets $15M Under JPMorgan Chase New Skills at Work Initiative

JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that it is making a $15 million commitment for workforce readiness and demand-driven training in Chicago, Illinois.

New Skills at Work  JPMorgan Chase

New Skills at Work (photo – JPMorgan Chase)

This is one of the first investments being made by JPMorgan Chase under the newly launched $250 million global New Skills at Work (newskillsatwork.com) initiative.

This five-year initiative is a public-private effort aimed at addressing the “skills gap” in sectors such as healthcare and advanced manufacturing which are lacking enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.

As per an IMF analysis, the skills gap accounts for one-third of the unemployment rate in the United States, which means as many as four million jobs are unfilled because of it. Working with local leaders and organizations, New Skills at Work will support training programs that have the greatest impact.

Glenn Tilton, chairman of the Midwest, JPMorgan Chase, said they were pleased to make Chicago one of the inaugural cities of New Skills at Work. He said their data-driven approach will better equip organizations to serve the community and help people get the skills they need to succeed.

New Skills at Work is expected to provide data about employer demand. Specifically, the initiative will produce Workforce Readiness Gap Reports to highlight workforce deficiencies and challenges in the Chicago area, and will seek to identify holes in local job markets and the skills needed to fill these gaps.

New Skills at Work will complement the efforts of Chicago’s existing skills gap program called College to Careers (C2C), launched in 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges of Chicago. This program partners more than 100 industry leaders with staff and faculty at City Colleges to design coursework, curriculum and training programs, and offer internships and jobs.

The New Skills at Work Initiative is being led by Chauncy Lennon, PhD, JPMorgan Chase’s senior program director for Workforce Development. Before coming to JPMorgan Chase, Lennon was at the Ford Foundation, working on economic advancement for low-income workers by providing them with improved access to work support and workforce development programs.

Apart from Chicago, the initial focus of New Skills at Work also includes Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area and London. Grants and partnerships with these cities will be announced early next year.

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