Memphis Innovation Center Aims to Create 500 Companies

The Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle is aiming to create 500 companies and 1,000 entrepreneurs over the next 10 years through the Memphis Entrepreneurship Powered Innovation Center (EPIcenter).

Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle announces EPIcenter

Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle announces EPIcenter (photo -Greater Memphis Chamber)

The Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle is a group of 100 business leaders who have committed to making Memphis great through five “moon missions.” One of these missions is the goal of creating 1,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years.

They benchmarked Memphis against other successful locations, and determined that the kind of success they were aiming for requires a concerted effort and common strategy to be adopted by all the organizations serving the region’s startups.

This is what the EPIcenter aims to be, as the single front door and point of accountability for entrepreneurs in Memphis.

The center will assist any entrepreneur who wants to start a business, but will focus on sectors where Memphis is already strong, including logistics, healthcare and bioscience, and the information and software technology that enables these sectors.

The EPIcenter will be working directly with companies through existing incubator, capital and accelerator programs. The center will also work in conjunction with the Shelby County and Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), which was created in 2011 to streamline and manage economic development programs.

David Waddell, president, CEO and CIO of Waddell & Associates, Inc. and chair of the Chairman’s Circle entrepreneurship committee, said the EPIcenter will impact everyone in the region significantly.

Waddell said that creating 500 scalable high-growth companies in the Memphis economy’s key sectors will eventually produce an economic impact of $600 million and at least 4,500 new jobs.

The Memphis Bioworks Foundation has been chosen to lead the EPIcenter, based on their strong record of supporting and nurturing entrepreneurship. Since 2009, Bioworks and Innova have together supported 200 entrepreneurs and formed 60 companies while managing $53 million in equity investments.

Steven Bares, PhD, president and executive director of Memphis Bioworks, said they are proud to step forward and own this responsibility.

Bares said that having partnered with virtually every organization in the region focused on incubation, acceleration and commercialization, they have a great sense of the region’s innovative strengths and feel confident that there is enough business and development going on to keep everyone busy for years to come.

SCAG-LAEDC Report on CA Film and Television Tax Credits

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) released a study that assesses the impact of California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program.

SCAG report on California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program

SCAG report on California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program (photo Р

The study commissioned by SCAG was conducted by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. It reviews 109 film and television projects that were allocated credits and completed production in the program’s first three fiscal years.

The study analyzes the impact of the allocated funding for the first three years, and evaluates alternatives to the current program – a $100 million annual allocation that is distributed to qualifying projects once a year based on a lottery system.

Highlights from the SCAG report analyzing the impact of the 109 funded and completed projects:-

- These projects have generated $1.9 billion in direct spending, $4.3 billion in economic output and $247.7 million in state and local tax revenues;

- These projects supported 22,300 jobs with $1.6 billion in labor income;

- Each dollar of tax credit certificate issued resulted in – $1.11 being returned to state and local government; economic activity increasing by $19.12; labor income increasing by $7.15; and total state GDP increasing by $9.48.

The most interesting part of the report is the economic and fiscal impact analysis of lost big-budget productions (above $75 million) that do not qualify for tax credits under the current program.

The report says that in 2013 alone, a full 75 percent of the 41 live action feature films with budgets exceeding $75 million were filmed outside California.

This includes films such as The Hobbit (1 and 2) filmed in New Zealand with a combined budget of $320 million; Iron Man 3 filmed in North Carolina at $200 million; Oz, The Great and Powerful filmed in Michigan at $200 million; and Man of Steel that was filmed in Illinois with a $220 million budget.

These and other such “lost” films account for $4 billion in total budgets. If they had been produced in California, it would have generated additional economic output of $9.6 billion, with $410 million in state and local tax revenues and 47,600 jobs.

Christine Cooper, LAEDC Vice President for Economic and Policy Analysis, and principal author of the SCAG report, writes in it that it is not hyperbole to assert that California is losing jobs to other states and nations and is continuing to bleed out at increasing rates.

SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata says California is very much at risk of losing its film industry, and the losses would have been even more painful the past five years without this program.

Ikhrata said the decline in California’s motion picture industry is one of the most pressing economic challenges facing the state, and urged lawmakers to not only expand the tax credit program, but also make it stronger.

The report suggests lifting the $75 million budget cap and bringing in visual-effects operations which do not qualify for the program at the moment.

This SCAG report, the Milken Institute report released last month, and events organized by the California Film & Television Production Alliance, are all aimed at drumming up support for a bill that was introduced in the California Assembly last month.

The bill (the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act – AB 1839) will overhaul the tax credit program and make the changes necessary to help California retain more film and television productions.

Read the full SCAG report – Download (pdf)

Greater Cincinnati Economic Development Organizations Co-locating in New HQ

Five Greater Cincinnati economic development organizations have agreed to co-locate in a single building in downtown Cincinnati that will serve as a headquarters for all of them.

Greater Cincinnati economic development co-location HQ

Greater Cincinnati economic development co-location HQ (rendering – Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber)

The five organizations are the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI); Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority; Cincinnati Business Committee (CBC); and the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC).

Their new headquarters on East Fourth Street was first built in 1967, and is currently owned by a subsidiary of the American Financial Group.

The 40,000 square feet of space in the building includes workspaces for all of the nearly 100 employees of the aforementioned five organizations, and a business center and conference rooms on the first floor.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber has entered into a 10-year lease with American Financial for the building, and will be moving in this October.

Brian Carley, president and CEO of the Chamber, said this new headquarters building was an exciting announcement for many reasons. Carley said the greater collaboration and easier access for business leaders and partners will make the organizations more nimble and better stewards of the region’s success.

The relocation schedules of the other organizations will vary, but the building will eventually bring together their rich history of civic engagement and over 200 cumulative years of continuous business focus.

REDI Interim Executive Director Matt Davis said that this move is about brokering more deals and winning jobs for the region. Davis said the opportunity to do that simply by co-locating with these other economic development partners and business leaders was too good to pass up.

Gary Lindgren, executive director of the CBC and CRBC, said they are committed to the vitality and economic growth of the region, and they will be better able to support these efforts by aligning strategies and resources.

Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, said they are excited to be sharing an address with organizations that are equally committed to driving economic growth in the region, and look forward to opportunities for enhanced collaboration.

South Dakota REDI Fund Provides Concrete Returns

Carl V. Carlson Company, a concrete contractor based in Lincoln County, SD, will build a new plant in Hartford, SD where they plan to manufacture pre-cast concrete pipes that will be used in roadway and construction projects.

South Dakota loan programs

South Dakota business assistance loan programs (photo –

The company chose the site and procured the land two miles outside Hartford at the intersection of I-90 and Highway 38 after a two year site selection process.

They plan to break ground this spring and construct an 18,000-square-foot building on the site. Once the facility is complete and operational by late summer, the company will hire up to 20 new employees at the new plant.

The project was secured through a joint effort made by the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Minnehaha County Economic Development Association, and the Hartford Area Development Corp.

The South Dakota Economic Development Board which manages the Revolving Economic Development and Initiative (REDI) Fund has approved Carl V. Carlson Company for a $1,420,000 loan, to be used for construction of the aforementioned building.

Carl Carlson, owner of Carl V. Carlson Company, said South Dakota is a wonderful place to do business, where government regulation is not obtrusive, and there’s no personal or corporate income tax.

Nick Fosheim, executive director of the Lincoln and Minnehaha County economic development associations, said that Carl V. Carlson is one the region’s established companies, and the new site will afford them an opportunity to grow a new product line and the company.

REDI loans are attractive for businesses because these are fixed low-interest rate loans (currently at two percent). The loans are available not only to startups and businesses that are expanding or relocating, but also to local economic development agencies in South Dakota.

The REDI loan can cover up to 45 percent of the project cost, subject to the applicant fulfilling all the required terms and conditions such as securing interim financing and permanent matching funds, and putting up a 10 percent equity contribution.

The loan may be used for land acquisition, site improvements, construction and renovation of buildings, and for purchase and installation of equipment and machinery for the project.

GOED Commissioner Pat Costello said that Carl V. Carlson is just the latest company to take advantage of one of South Dakota’s low-interest financing programs.

Commissioner Costello added that he encourages any company, those already established in the state as well as those looking to expand or relocate, to check out the financing programs, because there’s a good chance that his office may be of assistance.

Vitality Works For New Mexico

Apart from the health and well-being of their customers, the natural health and dietary supplements that Vitality Works makes also seem to strengthening the economy in Albuquerque and New Mexico.

Vitality Works

Vitality Works (photo –

Governor Susana Martinez and New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela took a tour of the Albuquerque-based Vitality Works’ manufacturing facilities, and announced that the company is creating 50 new jobs.

Vitality Works already has 120 employees, and positions at the company pay annual wages ranging from $30,000 to $100,000.

Vitality Works was founded by Mitch Coven in 1982 as a compounding supplement pharmacy, and is now a leading dietary supplement manufacturer that has developed and manufactured thousands of formulas.

The company provides private label and contract manufacturing services for top natural product chains and national brands from their 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 22-acre site in Albuquerque. They are undertaking this expansion because of a spurt in demand for their products and services.

Gov. Martinez said that so many successful growing businesses, Vitality Works could have chosen to expand anywhere in the country or even the world, but she was pleased they are growing in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department awarded Vitality Works $53,252 as a training grant under the state’s Job Training Incentive Program. Some of the jobs the company is creating will also make it eligible for other state incentives such as the high-wage tax credit.

Coven said New Mexico has a talented workforce and they are looking forward to bringing on 50 new employees to meet the growing demand for their products. Coven added that they are happy to be expanding with support from Governor Martinez and Secretary Barela, and their leadership in creating a business-friendly environment.

Business tax reforms enacted last year in New Mexico give businesses such as Vitality Works, which sells 99.5 percent of its products out of state, the option to sell and export goods outside the state without being hit with additional taxes. The reforms also lowered the business tax by 22 percent, making New Mexico more competitive with its neighboring states.

Gov. Martinez said that as they move forward in creating a diverse economy and ending the state’s heavy reliance on federal spending, they are trying to do all they can to encourage companies in the private sector such as Vitality Works to be successful in New Mexico.

Virginia AFID Grant Helps Attract Wood Building Jobs

Trout River Dry Kiln, LLC will establish a major hardwood kiln operation in Nottoway County, Virginia, where the company will dry lumber that will then be used for making hardwood flooring.

Trout River Lumber facility in Town of Crewe, VA

Trout River Lumber facility in Town of Crewe, VA (photo –

Trout River Dry Kiln will be investing $5.5 million to establish the facility in the Town of Crewe, and the company expects to create 40 new jobs in Nottoway County.

In addition to the jobs created and the capital investment, the project will provide a boost to Virginia’s wood building supply chain and forestry industries such as sawmills and logging operations.

Trout River Dry Kiln plans to spend more than $30 million over the next three years for purchasing 34 million board feet of lumber from Virginia sawmills.

The company will dry, trim and grade the lumber before sending it to a sister company called Trout River Lumber which makes hardwood flooring.

The Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) provided state support for facilitating the project, in partnership with the Nottoway County Economic Development Committee and the Town of Crewe.

The Nottoway EDC serves as the main point of contact with both the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and businesses looking at sites for their facilities in Nottoway.

Nottoway County has been awarded a $100,000 AFID grant that will help the county pitch in for making site improvements on a 5.26 acre parcel of land in the Crewe Industrial Park, which is adjacent to where Trout River Lumber is already located.

The land, valued at $115,000, is being donated free of cost by the Town to Trout River Dry Kiln for the project. It helped ease the company’s site location issues, and served as the required local incentive match for the AFID grant.

The best part is that the entire facility with nine hardwood dry kilns will be designed and built to be an environment-friendly operation. The kilns will be heated by two large biomass boilers that will be fed wood residuals and sawdust from the company’s kilns and flooring operations.

Trout River Lumber even has a line of engineered wood flooring called GreenLeaf which the company says is entirely made in the USA using earth-friendly and sustainable processes.

One of Trout River Lumber’s biggest customers is Lumber Liquidators, which is the largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring in the U.S.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said that Trout River’s expansion and relationship with Lumber Liquidators means that Virginia wood will be found in homes and businesses throughout the country.

John Barber, owner of Trout River Dry Kiln and Trout River Lumber, said this new facility enhances vertical integration of hardwood flooring production, and provides Lumber Liquidators with hardwood flooring that is harvested and converted in Virginia.

Florida, Space Coast Economic Development Agencies Angling for Project Magellan

Florida’s space coast may soon land Project Magellan, a massive aerospace economic development project that would bring private investment worth $500 million and create 1,800 new jobs.

Made in Brevard

Made in Brevard (photo – Space Coast EDC)

The Brevard County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution granting local incentives for a major aerospace company, identified in county documents only under the codename of “Project Magellan.”

The company considered several other locations for aircraft development in the Space Coast and outside before settling on Brevard’s Melbourne International Airport.

MLB is already home to a large industrial park and is home to aerospace and aviation projects by companies such as Embraer and Northrop Grumman.

If the Space Coast gets this new project, the company and its suppliers would create 1,800 new and high-paying jobs with average annual wages of $100,000.

This would support the creation of another 549 indirect and induced jobs in Brevard County, leading to a total job creation figure of 2,349 that would generate additional wages of $241 million.

The company proposes to invest $500 million and create the jobs in two phases. In the first phase, they would build and occupy a 216,000-square-foot building and create 300 new jobs by the end of 2015.

If the company manages to achieve its business objectives for the first phase, they would then undertake a second phase to expand and add another 500,000 square feet of space and create another 1,500 new jobs.

For Phase I, Brevard County will waive development impact fees estimated to be around $30,000 related to the company’s construction plans. The City of Melbourne will likewise waive its development impact fees estimated at $41,000. For Phase II, the county’s waived fees will be around $40,000, and the city’s waived fees will be about $94,000.

Of course, the company will get a lot more from Enterprise Florida, the Melbourne Airport Authority and the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, which is the lead economic development agency putting together a package of state and local incentives to secure Project Magellan.

The vastness and complexity of the proposed agreement and the number of entities involved can be judged from the fact that on March 12, the Melbourne Airport Authority held a special meeting during which they approved $75,000 in spending to retain outside counsel to help with the negotiations for Project Magellan.

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation to Launch Workforce Recruitment Campaign

The North Dakota Economic Development Foundation announced that it will be launching a new workforce recruitment campaign as a public-private partnership in May 2014.

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation Announces Workforce Recruitment Campaign - Find the Good Life in North Dakota

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation Announces Workforce Recruitment Campaign – Find the Good Life in North Dakota (photo – Experience ND)

The $800,000 workforce recruitment campaign, billed as “Find the Good Life in North Dakota,” is funded with $400,000 from the State. The rest of the funding comes from a contribution made by energy company Hess Corporation.

Steve McNally, general manager of Hess Corporation’s North Dakota operations, presented the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation with a $400,000 check.

McNally said that like many businesses, Hess is facing tremendous workforce needs and they want to hire workers who believe in the exciting opportunities North Dakota has to offer.

The workforce recruitment campaign will focus not only on the career opportunities available in North Dakota, but also on the quality of life, portraying the state as a great place to live and work and raise a family.

The campaign will target specific markets in states with chronic unemployment, focusing on attracting talent in industries that have a high demand in North Dakota, including energy, transportation, skilled trades, engineering, IT and healthcare.

It will also focus on attracting veterans and active military personnel as they transition to civilian careers.

ND Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, who made the announcement about the workforce recruitment campaign, said they have been working hard to grow the economy and create jobs, and those efforts have paid off in a big way as North Dakota now leads the nation in terms of job creation and economic growth.

Wrigley added that to sustain this growth, they now need to ensure that the jobs being created are filled by highly-skilled workers, and this campaign offers a tremendous opportunity for expanding the workforce while promoting the quality of life North Dakota offers.

Wally Goulet, who chairs the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, said their goal is to ensure that North Dakota has the workforce it needs for taking full advantage of the opportunities they have all worked so hard to create and foster.

The North Dakota Economic Development Foundation comes under the ND Dept. of Commerce, and is tasked with helping the Governor and the Department develop and execute strategies for increasing economic growth and improving the state’s competitiveness.

USDA Announces Sustainable Wood Building Training Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new training program that will educate engineers, architects and builders about the benefits of advanced wood building materials.


Wood (photo –

This program will be a partnership effort involving the Wood Products Council’s non-profit WoodWorks initiative.

WoodWorks already provides technical support, resources and education for developers and professionals involved in the design and construction of modern non-residential and multi-family wood buildings.

The Forest Service is investing $1 million to support the program, and Secretary Vilsack also announced plans to hold a competition later this year in which teams will be expected to design and build wood high-rise constructions.

The USDA is putting up $1 million for this competition, and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council will pitch in with a matching $1 million. Preference will be given to applicants who source materials from domestic sustainably-managed forests and rural manufacturers.

As per industry estimates, a three to five story building constructed using emerging wood technologies and sustainably sourced wood would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 550 cars off the road for a year.

The manufacturing process for wood products consumes less energy, and the carbon captured by the tree is stored for the lifetime of the structure and kept out of the atmosphere, and this may continue even after that if the wood is reclaimed and reused to make something else.

Designs based on wood also improve energy efficiency, further reducing the energy consumed for heating and cooling. Not to mention that wood as a material is cheaper and more readily available, and so is the labor force. It also cuts down on construction costs further by reducing the need for foundation capacity and minimizing construction delays.

Then there’s also the fact that increased demand for advanced wood products in the construction sector will support sustainable forestry jobs. The market for wood and related forest products supports more than one million direct jobs, many of which are in rural America.

Jennifer Cover, PE, executive director of WoodWorks, said that as advanced wood products allow the use of wood in a wider variety of buildings including high-rises, the role of forests in mitigating climate change and strengthening rural economies will grow.

These announcements were made by Sec. Vilsack and others at a workshop hosted by the White House Rural Council as part of the USDA’s three-part plan for promoting the use of wood as a green building material.

Oregon NMTC Program Facilitates Chaucer Foods Facility

U.K.-based Chaucer Foods is opening a new freeze-dried food processing facility in Forest Grove, Oregon.

New Markets Tax Credit

New Markets Tax Credit (photo –

This is the company’s first U.S. manufacturing facility, and will help fulfill domestic demand for the company’s freeze-dried vegetables, fruits, yogurt and cheese that were previously being made in plants in France and China.

The company is taking up 84,600 square feet of space in a previously vacant industrial building, and will be creating up to 73 new jobs in the first year of operations at the new Forest Grove facility once the renovations are complete by Sept 2014.

The workforce at the facility may increase to more than 150 within two years. The project was funded by Wells Fargo Community Lending and Investment, in partnership with Stonehenge Community Development, LLC.

The Chaucer Foods project was awarded affordable financing in the form of a $6 million federal New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation, coupled with $4 million in matching Oregon NMTC funds.

State Senator Bruce Starr, whose district includes Forest Grove, said that the Chaucer Foods expansion is an example of what happens when the Legislature makes laws that help the economy grow.

Starr said he was glad that his support for the Low Income Communities Jobs Initiative Tax Credit (Oregon’s state NMTC match program) had a part in 73 people being able to provide economic security for their families.

The Oregon Legislature approved the Low Income Community Jobs Initiative in 2011 as a state match for projects receiving federal NMTC funding. Oregon is now one of 13 states that have this kind of matching state NMTC program. However, the federal NMTC program expired at the end of 2013, and Congress is currently considering a bill to renew NMTC another three years.

Chaucer Foods Inc. President Andy Ducker said they look forward to growing the company’s business in Oregon, and added that they would not have been able to do so without access to the affordable financing provided under the state and federal NMTC programs.

Wells Fargo Community Lending & Investment’s William Turner said Wells Fargo is pleased to be a part of this transformational project, and added that they are committed to providing capital that stimulates economic development in distressed communities.

Peter Skei, project manager at Specht Development who worked closely with all the parties involved to put together the financing, said the NMTC funding was integral to this Forest Grove economic development project which is bringing jobs from abroad back to the Willamette Valley.

L’Quentus Thomas, director of Stonehenge Community Development, said that Oregon policymakers have been leaders in encouraging private capital investments into job-creating businesses. Thomas added that this investment is proof positive that the Oregon NMTC incentive is delivering real results.

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