Mount Airy, NC Considering Incentives for Two Economic Development Projects

The City of Mount Airy, NC has scheduled a public hearing to consider economic development incentives for two projects that could bring a total of 90 new jobs to the city.

Mount Airy, NC

Mount Airy, NC (photo – jmd41280/flickr)

One of the projects is an expansion of an existing manufacturing facility in Mount Airy by a company identified only under the name of Project INK.

Project INK plans to invest $2.65 million and create 14 new jobs over the next two years. The Mount Airy economic development package of incentives for this project adds up to nearly $50,000, tied to the company’s job creation and investment plans.

The Surry County Board of County Commissioners has already approved similar incentives for Project INK at their last meeting.

Another rather more interesting project that will be brought up at the Mt. Airy public hearing is called Project Boston. This company, whose identity is also being kept a secret, is planning a fast expansion of its workforce at an existing facility in Mount Airy. The company is planning on creating 75 new jobs in three months.

Earlier this month, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved the City’s share of incentives for the project – $900 for each qualified job created, up to a total of $67,500. Furthermore, the resolution authorized the City to apply for North Carolina economic development incentives for the project under the One NC grant program.

Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, said at the Mt Airy public hearing that the incentives would help the company create jobs, and the average salary for the new jobs being created is roughly close to the average salary in Surry County.

Surry County was supposed to approve incentives for Project Boston, but the County Board of Commissioners then failed to approve the resolution to offer $750 per job created over concerns about the lack of investment.

So the City is now bringing the proposal back up at the next hearing. They plan to seek comments at the public hearing on offering Project Boston additional incentives, on top of the $67,500 already approved, to make up for the lack of county support. If Mount Airy approves this additional amount, the City would be paying the company up to $1,650 per job created.

Magpul To Complete Relocation in First Quarter 2015

Magpul Industries, which earlier this year decided to relocate its operations in Colorado to Texas and Wyoming, has now announced that it will be closing all existing Colorado facilities during the first quarter of 2015.

Magpul

Magpul (photo – magpul.com)

Magpul’s new corporate headquarters is now located in Austin, TX, and their manufacturing and distribution center in Cheyenne, WY is set to open in Jan 2015.

The company had around 200 employees in Erie, CO when they decided to relocate after the state passed legislation banning the sale of firearms magazines with more than 15 rounds.

Most of the jobs are being moved to Cheyenne, WY. The headquarters operations have been functioning for most of this year at a temporary facility in Lakeway, TX. Their top leadership has since moved into the permanent new headquarters at 8226 Bee Caves Road in Austin.

This corporate relocation to Texas was accomplished with support from Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

The manufacturing and distribution operations relocation to Wyoming was likewise achieved with support from Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS. The latter is a non-profit economic development organization that provides assistance to businesses in other states relocating to Wyoming.

Laramie County, WY was initially awarded a $13 million grant to help the county support the Magpul relocation. This award has since been reduced to $8.3 million because they no longer need to construct a build-to-suit facility for Magpul’s operations.

Instead, the company has moved into an existing 135,000-square-foot building in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. This building fulfills the company’s short-term as well as long-term needs, so they don’t have to move twice – first to a temporary facility and then to the permanent one that was to be constructed.

The availability of the former JELD-WEN facility has also enabled Magpul to move up its timeline by more than a year, occupy the building right away and undertake an expansion with a 50,000-square-foot addition that will be completed next month.

Magpul Industries Director of Product Management and Marketing Duane Liptak said in a release that these new facilities in Texas and Wyoming immediately enhance and expand the company’s business operations.

As far as Colorado is concerned, Magpul will open a single administrative location that will support the relocation process for now and later on be converted into a regional support office.

Qualified New Business Venture Certification Enables Wisconsin Food Startup to Attract Investments

Wisconsin food startup Omega Foods LLC has been certified by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as a Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV).

Omega Foods

Omega Foods (photo – omegafoods.com)

Using innovative technologies, this Two Rivers, WI-based startup is creating its own brand of healthy functional foods enriched with high levels of Omega-3 (fish oil).

Their first product – a pasta sauce, is already on grocery shelves.

Omega Foods is also developing Omega-3 enriched peanut butter, cooking and salad oils, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, among other things. They are also about to launch their own line of pure Omega-3 liquid fish oil.

The QNBV designation makes it far easier for this innovative food startup to attract investors. This designation allows investors in the company to claim a 25 percent tax credit on the amount they invest.

Investments in Omega Foods are eligible to receive a total of $300,000 in tax credits. Fueled by these investments, the company’s plans to expand its product line are expected to create as many as 34 new jobs.

Omega Foods CEO Andy Konopacki said in a release that they have developed unique technology which enables them to load up mainstream, center-aisle food products typically found in any supermarket with 100-300 milligram per serving of EPA/DHA Omega-3 and still produce great-tasting premium foods without any fishy taste whatsoever.

The company has also been able to reduce the amount of Omega-6 in the oils used in processed foods. Too much Omega-6 is one of the things responsible for causing obesity and poor health.

The Qualified New Business Venture program helps Wisconsin startups and early-stage companies like Omega Foods secure new investment and accelerates their potential for job creation and growth in the state.

Early stage businesses that are developing innovative products, services or processes may seek QNBV certification from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Once certified, investments in these QNBVs by qualified venture capital funds, angel investors and angel investment networks are eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25 percent of the amount of their equity investment.

QNBVs must be headquartered in Wisconsin and have fewer than 100 employees, of whom at least 51 percent are required to be based in the state.  The company must have been in operation for 10 consecutive years or less, and must not have already received aggregate private equity investments in cash of more than $10 million.

Furthermore, the company must offer significant potential for increasing jobs or capital investment in Wisconsin.

QNBVs may be approved to receive up to $8 million in cash equity investment that is eligible for receiving tax credits (of up to $2 million for investors). There is no limit on the amount of tax credits investors can claim through investments in separate and multiple businesses.

St. Louis, MO Economic Development Funding Expanded For Ferguson Affected Businesses

St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay and leaders of the St. Louis Development Corporation met with members of the South Grand Business Association to discuss how to help small business owners affected by the latest protests in the South Grand Business District.

Ferguson, MO

Photo – jbouie/flickr

The business association was informed that impacted businesses were eligible to seek funding for repairs under the Recovery St. Louis program.

The Small Business Relief Fund was created back in August to assist small businesses impacted in Ferguson.

An extension to this program called Recovery St. Louis has now been added to expand the program’s boundaries to include the South Grand businesses between I-44 and Gravois.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership has been managing the Small Business Relief Fund. They are now training the staff at the St. Louis Development Corporation on how to administer the loan program and provide small businesses in the expanded area with access to services available under the program.

The staff is already out on the ground, reaching out to businesses in the South Grand Corridor and providing them applications to the program.

A total of $1 million in initial funding for the program has been raised through a mix of public and private contributions. This includes $250,000 each from the State of Missouri, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, and another $250,000 put up by a coalition of major banks in the region.

The program is basically offering zero-interest loans with the option of a modest forgivable advance for urgent needs such as payroll, utilities, rent and inventory. Each eligible business can seek a customized relief package to meet their specific needs.

The Mayor and St. Louis Development Corporation Executive Director Otis Williams who met with the business owners told them that impacted businesses will be eligible for small grants and low-interest loans under the program to help with expenses such as lost merchandise, board-ups and other damages.

The Small Business Relief Program is a first step to address the immediate needs of the most-impacted businesses. The Recovery St. Louis Coalition plans to put together a broader range of resources to assist businesses located inside as well as outside the impacted corridors.

Small Business Saturday Proclamations by States Support Local Economic Development

Small Business Saturday is now a well known day, with seven in ten Americans aware that the day after Black Friday is a time to shop local and support small businesses in your own community.

DineSmall on Small Business Saturday

DineSmall on Small Business Saturday (photo – sba.gov)

Just in case anyone is still wondering if it’s an official thing, the federal government as well as states all over the map from coast to coast are promoting Small Business Saturday through different channels, events and proclamations.

The U.S. Small Business Administration wants to extend the fifth Small Business Saturday into the evening by asking people to support entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

The SBA has teamed up with the National Restaurant Association, and they’re encouraging “families who shop small to #DineSmall at local restaurants and watering holes in the evening.”

They’re also urging small businesses to use the power of social media to spread the word about their Small Business Saturday promos and specials (#SmallBizSat, #DineSmall and #ShowUsYourMenu on Twitter).

States are doing their bit through proclamations officially declaring Nov 29 as Small Business Saturday this year.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued this proclamation for New York State. “Small businesses are not only an important part of New York’s economy, they are the lifeblood of our communities,” said Gov. Cuomo in a release announcing the proclamation. “Their success is our success and with the holiday shopping season upon us, I encourage all New Yorkers to buy local and support their neighborhood small businesses.”

New York State has more than 516,000 small businesses that employ over three million people. Lead New York economic development agency Empire State Development’s President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that small businesses are truly the backbone of the state’s economy and deserve to be supported year-round and celebrated on Small Business Saturday.

On the west coast, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. similarly issued a letter in support of Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses embody the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the economy of our Golden State,” said Governor Brown in his letter. “Over half of our private sector workforce is employed by small business. On Saturday, November 29th, I urge all Californians to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”

California has 3.4 million small businesses which employ 52 percent of the state’s workforce.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has likewise asked residents to shop local and support the small businesses that drive Washington State’s economy.

“Shopping locally helps create local jobs,” said Gov. Inslee in a statement. “These local businesses create jobs in our communities and the trickle-up effect helps fuel our state’s economy.”

It’s also being used as a tool for promoting Washington economic development by the state’s Commerce Department, which has created a “Shop Small” webpage where it allows small business owners throughout the state to post why they “Choose Washington” to run their business.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has also signed a proclamation formally declaring November 29 as Small Business Saturday in Alabama.

“Small Business Saturday is an important opportunity for Alabamians to support local retailers on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving,” said Gov. Bentley in a release announcing the proclamation. “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and an integral part of the equation that makes up a successful economy.”

Maryland Economic Development Grant Helps Establish Garrett County Cheese Facility

State and local assistance is helping High Country Creamery and Market open a cheese manufacturing facility in the Western Maryland town of Grantsville.

Grantsville, MD

Grantsville, MD (photo – visitgrantsville.com)

A $400,000 conditional grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) will support the company’s plans to open a local goods and produce market, deli and cafe for residents of Garrett County.

DBED Secretary Dominick Murray said in a release announcing the grant that the State is pleased to provide this project with the support it needs to become operational, ultimately making it a significant employer in Grantsville.

Sec. Murray added that that they applaud the Town of Grantsville for their efforts to promote community revitalization, business attraction and job creation, and look forward to assisting with future economic development efforts in Garrett County.

The site in question was formerly a production facility for Yoder’s Country Meats. The building has been vacant and abandoned since 2005. This Town of Grantsville economic development project is therefore not only generating new investments and creating jobs, but is also getting rid of a blighted property and helping transform the site into a vibrant part of Garrett County’s rural economy.

This is the second CDBG grant for this project. DBED previously provided another CDBG grant to help the Town of Grantsville acquire and demolish the abandoned building.

The new $400,000 Maryland economic development grant is likewise being provided through CDBG funding administered by DBED and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Coupled with additional private funding, it will cover general redevelopment costs such as site preparation and excavation, building construction, storm water basins and interiors. Grantsville Mayor Paul Edwards said that with assistance from several state agencies, they were able to clean up the site and help develop the town.

The Mayor noted that the market will be a tourist destination that will fit in with their other cultural assets such as the Penn Alps, Spruce Forest and the Casselman Restaurant.

Michael Koch, executive director for Garrett County’s Department of Community Planning and Development, added that High Country Market is the kind of specialty manufacturing that makes them unique.

“We’re really reinventing rural agriculture,” said Koch, explaining that through economic development, they are fully committed to supporting budding businesses that bring a special charm to Garrett County.

European Commission Launches $392B Investment Plan to Create 1.3M Jobs

The European Commission today announced a major new €315 billion (over $392.5 billion) investment plan that seeks to fuel economic development and create 1.3 million jobs.

European Commission

European Commission (photo – Amio Cajander/flickr)

The core of the investment plan is the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), guaranteed with public money.

To start with, the EU is creating a €21 billion ($26.17 billion) Fund that includes €5 billion from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and another €16 billion guarantee from the EU.

The €21 billion reserve will enable the EIB to provide €63 billion in loans. But that’s only part of the leverage. The EIB will be funding riskier parts of projects, and aims to generate steep 15x leverage through €252 billion in additional private investments in these projects. All told, the total investment plan will aim to mobilize at least €315 billion over the next three years from 2015-2017.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in his speech announcing the plan that “What we are going to do is to set up the right system that will use available public money to leverage additional capital that would have never otherwise been mobilised. Every public euro mobilised can generate additional investment that would not have happened otherwise. And it can create jobs.”

According to the Commission’s estimates, the plan “has the potential to add €330 to €410 billion to the EU’s GDP and create 1 to 1.3 million new jobs in the coming three years.”

The type of investments the plan targets includes strategic Infrastructure (broadband and energy networks); transport infrastructure in industrial centers; education, research and innovation; investments to boost employment through SME funding and youth employment measures; and renewable energy, energy efficiency and other environmentally sustainable projects.

A key part of the plan is that the Fund takes the burden away from the cash-strapped economies of individual member states. The joint Commission-EIB Task Force identified the type of typical projects that could benefit from financing from the new Fund:-

- Construction and rehabilitation programs for public buildings aimed at improving their energy efficiency, where such projects are currently held up by a lack of funding;

- Transport links between EU countries delayed because of the high upfront projects costs;

- Programs to upgrade school facilities in countries facing lack of funding and implementation challenges;

- Investment in waste water treatment plants and other water infrastructure, where such projects are hampered by a lack of funding;

Another part of the investment plan is to boost EU economic development projects by improving the business environment and financing conditions, with a focus on removing significant barriers in important infrastructure sectors such as energy, transport, telecommunications and digital.

A priority list of these initiatives for removing regulatory and non-regulatory barriers will be proposed by the European Commission in its ‘2015 Work Programme.’

Read more about the EU investment plan at ec.europa.eu.

ESD Approves $12M Funding for New York Economic Development Projects

The Board of Directors of Empire State Development has approved $12 million in New York economic development incentives for nine projects across the state.

ESD

ESD (photo – empire.state.ny.us)

This $12 million in state funding will leverage more than $144 million in private and additional public funding. The nine projects being funded are directly creating at least 706 new jobs and helping retain more than 1,640 existing jobs.

One of these projects is a previously announced expansion undertaken by Bombardier Mass Transit Corporation, a division of Canadian public corporation Bombardier Inc. The ESD approved a grant of up to $2.5 million for Bombardier to support the company’s expansion of its train manufacturing and testing facilities in Clinton County, NY.

Among other things, Bombardier manufactures rail cars and public transportation equipment for the MTA. The company has 36,000 employees in the U.S. alone, spread across 37 facilities in 15 states. Worldwide, Bombardier has more than 70,000 employees.

This is one of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s priority projects, and the grant funding application was made through the Regional Council CFA process. As a result of the expansion, Bombardier was able to retain 288 jobs and has already fulfilled its commitment to create 100 new jobs.

Another previously announced project for which the ESD Board approved a grant of up to $5 million is an expansion by the Ford Motor Company at their Buffalo Stamping Plant in Western NY. This is one of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council’s projects to strengthen and support the region’s manufacturing industry.

The Ford expansion in Buffalo helps retain 640 jobs through to 2018, and keeps the stamping plant open and viable for future production growth. In 2012, Ford informed ESD that in order to keep the stamping plant open, a significant investment would have to be made to add new product lines.

In order to secure Ford’s large investment and in the process prevent the closure of the plant and loss of 640 jobs, ESD offered Ford a package of incentives totaling $7 million. This includes $5 million as a capital grant and another $2 million as tax credits under the Excelsior Jobs Program.

Yet another major project for which the ESD has now approved a $1 million grant is an expansion by an IT subsidiary of Xerox Corp. Xerox Commercial Solutions, LLC was looking for a location for a customer support call center, and went through an extensive site selection process involving sites in 10 states.

XCS finally chose Webster, NY after the ESD agreed to make their project cost-effective by providing a $1 million capital grant and tax credits under Excelsior Jobs Program. This is one of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Council’s projects and helps their plan to support the expansion of the business services, software and telecommunications cluster in the region.

As a result of this expansion in Webster, XCS committed to retaining 70 existing jobs and create 500 new jobs in the region. They have already created 545 new jobs.

The other projects for which funding was approved by the ESD Board are as follows:-

Bates Troy Inc. – (Southern Tier) – $380,000

Kolmar Laboratories – (Mid-Hudson) – $250,000

North Country Cultural Center of the Arts – (North Country) – $250,000

Rome Strip Steel – (Mohawk Valley) – $150,000

Munson Machinery Company – (Mohawk Valley) – $200,000

Town of Babylon DRF – (Long Island) – $2,000,000

Orlando, Florida Economic Development Incentives Secure Solodev Expansion

Web and mobile app developer Solodev announced an expansion of its headquarters operations in Orlando, Florida.

Solodev

Photo – solodev.com

The company will be investing $315,000 for construction and equipment, and expects to create 25 new tech jobs over the next three years. They already have ten employees in Florida.

Orlando secured the project with the help of close partnerships between the City, Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orange County, Enterprise Florida and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The 25 new jobs being created are tech jobs with an average annual wage of $68,000, which is 150 percent of the average wage in Orange County. The average value of benefits that will be available to employees filling these positions is $11,200.

Solodev is creating a fully integrated online marketing technology solution called OCOA that includes website and mobile app creation, CRM as well as marketing automation.

In order to be able to attract and retain qualified talent for its growth plans, Solodev was looking to expand in a major metropolitan area. They were considering a location in South Carolina, in addition to staying and expanding at their current headquarters in Downtown Orlando.

Solodev CEO Ray Gilley said in a release announcing the expansion that Orlando is home to a thriving community of talented computer programmers, web designers and digital strategists. “We are excited to provide opportunities for them on our team,” said Gilley.

Just Program LLC (dba Solodev) applied for state and local incentives in Florida adding up to $150,000 to support their expansion plans. These incentives are being provided under the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund program.

For its part, the Orlando City Council has approved a resolution supporting the Solodev expansion. The City will be providing $30,000 as a local match required under the QTI program, with the rest being provided by the State of Florida.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in the release that Downtown Orlando is a great location for tech companies like Solodev. The Mayor added that Downtown Orlando, with its talented labor force, high quality of life and business-friendly environment, has become an ideal place for dynamic startups to make their home, find success and expand.

Orlando Economic Development Commission President and CEO Rick Weddle said they are pleased that Solodev continues to grow in Orlando, and added that tech firms like Solodev are one of the reasons why Orlando has been named by Techie.com as a ‘most promising tech hub to watch.’

Sylacauga Marble Quarry Plans to Resurrect Alabama White Marble Industry

The belt of white marble that runs beneath the City of Sylacauga has been historically used in iconic structures including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Lincoln Memorial and other famous monuments and buildings.

Translucent Sylacauga marble ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial

Translucent Sylacauga marble ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial (photo – Florian Hirzinger/Wikipedia)

But the industry has faced a steady decline over the last few decades, and the creamy Alabama marble’s supply for major architectural market projects has been erratic.

Bessemer, AL-based businessman Roy Swindal plans to change this and establish the new Sylacauga Marble Quarry with the help of international backers.

The venture has already acquired a 50-acre tract in Talladega County, and spent another $500,000 to purchase specialized quarrying equipment. They plan to invest another $2 million in the coming months for purchasing additional equipment.

They also plan to hire a dozen workers by the end of the year, and will be bringing in an Italian quarry master to train the new employees. The crew will be lifting large marble blocks from the quarry, with each block being sliced and processed into 50 odd slabs of white marble.

With the help of the international connections of the Swindal family and their Chinese partner TBGS Holdings, the venture plans to ship marble blocks all over the world, including to China, the Middle East and Europe.

Swindal said in a release that there is no telling how many hundreds of people the marble industry in Sylacauga employed back in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Then the operations began to change hands to companies, and the white marble industry in Sylacauga just basically died.

There are quarries still extracting white marble in Sylacauga, but it mostly ends up as powered calcium carbonate used in cosmetics, diapers and other products.

Swindal said they that Italian marble is sold worldwide, and they are going to sell Alabama marble from Sylacauga worldwide.

The Swindal family and their partners held a launch ceremony for the venture to honor the state and local support for the project. Sylacauga Mayor Doug Murphree was presented with an exquisite Chinese vase mounted on an Alabama white marble stand that will be put on display at City Hall.

A small square of marble with the Alabama economic development logo ‘Made in Alabama’ was another one of the gifts that was presented at the launch ceremony.

Others have tried in the past to revive interest in Sylacauga Marble and failed, but Roy Swindal believes his venture has the capabilities, funding and international partnerships that will be required to make this work. Swindal’s family owns a business called Masonry Arts in Bessemer, and Roy Swindal has been a part of the stone industry for three decades.

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