South Dakota Economic Development Board Lands $10M Polaris Expansion

Snowmobile, ATV and electric vehicle maker Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) announced that they will be spending $10 million for capital improvements at their distribution center in Vermillion, SD.

Polaris PG&A

Polaris PG&A (photo –

Aided by funding approved by the South Dakota Economic Development Board, Polaris is making significant upgrades to the material-handling systems at the Vermillion Parts, Garments and Accessories (PG&A) Distribution Center.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that the decision by Polaris to invest in the Vermillion facility speaks volumes about South Dakota’s strong business climate. The Governor said that whenever state programs can be used for assisting a company during its expansion, he is pleased to do so.

The company is undertaking the upgrades to meet increased demand and ensure the Vermillion distribution center’s long-term viability. The investment therefore helps secure the future of the 150 employees at the 385,000-square-foot distribution center who ship more than 60,000 PG&A products to the company’s customers, distributors and dealers in 130 countries.

This is the second major investment made by Polaris at the Vermillion distribution center in the last few years. In 2008, the company doubled the size of the distribution center, adding 128,000 square feet of space to the existing 256,000 square feet.

At that time, the company said they decided to expand in Vermillion because of the low cost of doing business in South Dakota, support from the local community in Vermillion, and the flexibility of the workforce, adding that the University of South Dakota provides the company with ample temporary and part-time labor.

Announcing the new $10 million investment, Steve Eastman, vice president of Parts, Garments and Accessories, Polaris, said the improvements being made will create efficiencies that notably enhance the Vermillion Distribution Center’s throughput.

Eastman added that the investment is a sign of their commitment to the facility, community and their strong and vibrant workforce. He also said they were grateful to the State of South Dakota and the City of Vermillion for their support as the company invests in their shared future.

The South Dakota Board of Economic Development has approved funding for the Polaris expansion project under the state’s Reinvestment Payment Program. This funding will help cover some of the upfront costs of the capital improvements being undertaken by Polaris.The company is also getting a workforce development grant for employee training.

The Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company (VCCDC) and the City of Vermillion have furthermore teamed up to offer the company additional incentives. The VCCDC and the City put together a package of incentives for this project in conjunction with the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) programs.

Missouri Dept of Economic Development to Develop Energy Plan For State

Governor Jay Nixon announced that the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Division of Energy will be leading an initiative to develop an energy plan for the state.

Gov. Jay Nixon announces energy plan at renewable energy conference in University of Missouri Columbia Campus

Gov. Jay Nixon announces energy plan at renewable energy conference in University of Missouri Columbia Campus

The Governor made the announcement while speaking at the “Advancing Renewables in the Midwest” annual conference at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The energy plan will be developed with input from stakeholders across the state, including renewable energy companies, public utilities, businesses, consumers, environmental advocates and academic researchers.

The responsibility for developing the state’s energy plan falls to the new leadership at the Missouri Economic Development Department’s Division of Energy. To lead the effort, Gov. Nixon has named Lewis R. Mills as the new director of the division.

Mills will be moving to the Division of Energy from his current position as head of the Office of Public Counsel. Mills has more than twenty years of experience in public utility regulation, and has served as a state regulator as well as a consumer advocate.

Gov. Nixon said that it is clear that meeting the need for affordable and abundant clean energy in the future will require a strategic approach and a diverse energy portfolio. That is why, said the Governor, he is charging the Division of Energy with leading the development of a comprehensive energy plan that engages stakeholders throughout the state and charts a course towards a prosperous and sustainable energy future.

Another leadership change moves Kristy Manning, serving as the Deputy Legislative Director in the Office of the Governor, to the Division of Energy as the new Deputy Director of Policy.

These leadership changes which put key people in Gov. Nixon’s administration in charge of developing the energy plan indicates how serious the effort is.

Over the past five years, the Governor has already made it clear that clean, affordable and abundant energy is a priority for his administration. State agencies in Missouri have reduced their energy usage by 22 percent after the Governor signed an executive order in 2009 requiring the agencies to reduce their energy usage by at least two percent each year.

Gov. Nixon also signed into law the Energy Efficiency Investment Act which gives investor-owned utilities incentives for implementing energy efficiency programs that reduce energy rates for consumers and protect the environment.

The Governor’s Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth, announced in 2010, identified “Energy Solutions” as one of the seven target industries with the highest potential for spurring economic growth and creating jobs.

Recognizing the growing importance of energy to the state’s economy, Gov. Nixon last year moved the Division of Energy into the Missouri Department of Economic Development. It had previously been a part of the Department of Natural Resources.

New Mexico Economic Development Dept Deployed $5.4M in SSBCI Funding

The U.S. Department of Treasury has published a report that provides a summary of states’ progress in assisting small businesses with the help of federal funding under the Treasury‚Äôs State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).

SSBCI report

SSBCI report

According to the report, the New Mexico Economic Development Department and New Mexico Finance Authority have deployed $5,412,974 in SSBCI funding to provide loans for small businesses.

New Mexico utilizes SSBCI funds for attracting private lending and investments into small businesses, and this is often done in partnership with local financial institutions.

NM Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said these funds are a great resource to drive growth for New Mexico’s small businesses, and added that they invite small business owners to take part in this opportunity which helps leverage their assets and expand.

The SSBCI funded loans provided to small businesses in the state since 2011 have helped attract another $7 million in private investment and created 151 new jobs.

The State of New Mexico was awarded a total of $13,168,350 under SSBCI. Having deployed the initial $5,412,974 to good effect, the New Mexico Economic Development Department has received a second allocation of $4,345,555.

The SSBCI was created within the U.S. Treasury under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 as a program to encourage small business lending. SSBCI was authorized to provide $1.5 billion in support of new and existing state programs that invest in and lend to small businesses and small manufacturers.

This $1.5 billion in federal funding is expected to help drive $15 billion in additional private sector investments and lending to small businesses and small manufacturers.

Every state that sought these funds had to demonstrate that their programs had a reasonable expectation of being able to leverage every $1 in SSBCI funding to generate another $10 in new small business investments or lending.

In 2011 and 2012, the Treasury signed SSBCI allocation agreements with 47 states, D.C., five territories and four consortia of municipalities, and is disbursing funds to them in three installments.

As of Dec 31, 2013, the 47 states and other recipients have already been allocated more than $1 billion, and have expended, obligated or transferred more than $750 million of the allocated funding.

Six states reported recycling a total of $5,626,701 that had been repaid and then deployed again into new SSBCI loans or investments.

Read the full SSBCI report – Download (pdf)

Kentucky Economic Development Chief to Lead New Automotive Industry Association

Governor Steve Beshear announced the formation of the new Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, which he said will play a vital role in addressing the challenges, solutions and opportunities facing the industry.

Gov. Steve Beshear announcing KY Automotive Industry Association

Gov. Steve Beshear announcing KY Automotive Industry Association (photo – Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development)

The Governor said the association will create a unified voice for an industry sector that is profoundly important for the state’s economic health and growth, and will help in highlighting successes and elevating the state’s contributions to the global automotive industry.

The 12-member board of directors of the association is comprised of leaders from industry and government. Larry Hayes, secretary of the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet, will serve as the inaugural chairman.

Hayes said that the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association was formed hand-in-hand with the state’s auto manufacturers and suppliers. It is a partnership, said Hayes, which he has no doubt will create an environment in which tangible results and continued growth for Kentucky’s economy will be seen.

Auto manufacturing leaders on the board include Eric Henning, regional director for state government relations, General Motors Company; Mike Goss, general manager for external affairs, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.; and Gabby Bruno, regional director for state government relations, Ford Motor Company.

Automotive supplier leaders on the board include Toru (Richard) Kamioke, president and CEO, Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc.; Rich Whitaker, vice president, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Inc.; Doug Cain, CEO, Mubea North America; Mike Hirsch, vice president of operations for passenger car steering systems, ZF Steering Systems LLC; Kurt Krug, vice president of North American human resources, INOAC; Brandon Kessinger, vice president and general counsel, Akebono Brake Corporation; Jim Rachlin, president, Metalsa Light Vehicles; and Joe Adamcik, director of planning and strategy, AGC Automotive Americas.

These 11 board members and Hayes will develop the association and set strategic goals and activities, taking a leading role in creating collaborative partnerships that will advance the auto industry in Kentucky.

More than 1.2 million vehicles rolled off automotive assembly lines in Kentucky in 2013, leading to $5.5 billion in motor vehicle exports from the state. There are more than 460 motor vehicle-related establishments in the state, and these companies together employ nearly 82,000 people.

Almost 300 motor vehicle-related projects have been announced in Kentucky in the last five years, generating about $4 billion in new investments and 17,600 new jobs.

Georgia Economic Development Dept Gets Presidential E Star Award

The Georgia Department of Economic Development has been selected to receive the Presidential E Star Award. The GDEcD is being awarded for excellence in the export programs and services it offers through its International Trade Division.

Presidential E Award and E Star Award for excellence in exporting

Presidential E Award and E Star Award for excellence in exporting (photo –

The “E” and “E Star” awards are the highest honor the nation can bestow on an export service organization.

The history of these awards goes back to World War II, when more than 4,000 war plants received “E” pennants for their production excellence. The flag emblazoned with the big E on it became a badge of honor for American producers involved in the war effort.

In 1961, President Kennedy revived the “E” Award as a means of honoring and recognizing excellence by America’s exporters. The “E Star” is given to recognize continued efforts in export growth by organizations that have already won an “E” Award previously.

Georgia was awarded its first “E” in 1970, and this will be the state’s second “E Star” following one in 2007 for shared leadership approach and facilitation of export activities that lead to export growth among companies in the state.

Governor Nathan Deal said that international trade has a powerful job creation effect which enriches the lives of Georgians and helps the state remain a leader in the global markerplace.

The Governor congratulated the Georgia Economic Development Department’s International Trade Division, and said he looks forward to continuing their partnership to keep Georgia the No.1 place in which to do business.

The International Trade Division of the GDEcD works to match suppliers in Georgia with buyers around the world, and offers a wide range of export promotion services that are available to Georgia companies. Not to mention access to and assistance from the state’s international representatives in 11 strategic global markets.

GDEcD Commissioner Chris Carr said that developing and maintaining solid international exports is vital for bringing investment and jobs to Georgia.

Commissioner Carr noted that exports by Georgia companies were responsible for creating and retaining 227,747 jobs last year, and added that he couldn’t be more proud to work for an organization with a nationally recognized export assistance program.

In 2013, more than 14,500 companies in the state exported $37.6 billion in goods and services to 230 countries and territories. For its part, the GDEcD International Trade Division’s work with 1,346 companies in FY 2013 resulted in 420 export deals worth $35.9 million.

Kathe Falls, director of the International Trade Division, said she was thrilled that the Georgia Department of Economic Development has been selected to receive its second E Star Award. Falls added that they are striving to offer Georgians the highest quality services, and the award recognizes those efforts.

Ranger Design Selects Ontario, NY as US Operations Center

Canadian commercial van outfit manufacturer Ranger Design has selected the Town of Ontario in Wayne County, NY as the location for their main operations center in the U.S.

Ranger Design

Ranger Design

Ranger Design U.S. Inc. will invest $3 million on the project, and will purchase a 78,670-square-foot facility in the Town of Ontario where they will establish their main manufacturing and final assembly and the U.S. distribution center.

The company is creating 62 new jobs in Wayne County and will be spending $10 million on local purchases in the region during their first year of operations.

Ranger Design’s customers include major automotive manufacturers and fleets, and some of the capital investment they are making is for new machinery and equipment that will be used for custom van shelving and parts manufacturing operations.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said that Upstate New York’s manufacturing industry continues to be the backbone of the region’s economy, and noted that his administration is doing everything they can to make New York the most attractive state for businesses to grow and expand.

The Montreal, Canada-based Ranger Design will retain the company’s engineering and design team, and the accounting and HR divisions.

Ranger Design U.S. Inc. Vice President Ron Cowie said they recognize the value of building products in America for America, and added that Wayne County and New York have been a perfect fit for their growth plans.

The company entered the U.S. market last year by establishing a temporary office in Rochester with six employees. Wayne County, which is part of the Rochester metropolitan area, was competing with another location in New Jersey for their permanent facility.

Wayne County and New York facilitated the project with a package of state and local incentives. Empire State Development, the NY economic development agency, will provide $400,000 in performance-based tax credits to Ranger Design under the Excelsior Jobs Program.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that Ranger Design U.S. Inc.’s commitment to create more than 60 jobs and invest in Wayne County is good news for the region’s economy.

The Wayne County Industrial Development Agency has offered the company a PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement to reduce their costs. The IDA is also providing a $300,000 loan to help the company cover some of the costs of the expansion.

Bob McNary, director of the Wayne County Economic Development Department, said that manufacturing is one of Wayne County’s strengths, and added that the county provides a competitive base of operations for Canadian companies that need to sell into the U.S. marketplace.

The Ranger Design expansion project closely aligns with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s (FLREDC) plan for accelerating job growth by attracting new businesses to the area.

Peg Churchill, executive director of the Wayne County IDA, pointed out the teamwork that facilitated the project. Churchill said this is again an example of the town, county, IDA, Regional Council and the State of New York all working together to assist Ranger Design in finding a long-term home.

TAMU Offshore Wind Project Awarded $2.2M From Texas Emerging Technology Fund

An offshore wind demonstration project undertaken by the Texas A&M University Wind Energy Center and other partners has been awarded $2.2 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF).

GoWind offshore wind demonstration project in Texas

GoWind offshore wind demonstration project in Texas (photo –

The TETF award will support the development of offshore wind farms and turbine and platform technologies.

The state funding will be matched by $50 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, as a DOE Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Project.

Another $13.3 million in private sector investment is being put up by members of GoWind consortium. Not to mention $1 million from the participating universities in Texas.

TAMU is working on this collaborative project along with the Texas Tech National Wind Resource Center; Conrad Blucher Institute; the University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics and Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; and the University of Texas at Brownsville School of Business and Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences.

Assuming the project gets the required clearances, the next phase would involve the construction of an 18 MW offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Mexico with three turbines.

Gov. Perry said that that the world-class universities and culture of innovation in Texas have helped foster cutting-edge technologies in everything from traditional to new energy sources, and added that this investment from TETF will support an important collaboration between the state’s universities and growth of offshore wind capabilities.

John Pappas, director of the TAMU Wind Energy Center, said that Texas is a leader in wind and offshore energy, and this TETF grant will help the state take its natural leadership position in the nascent offshore wind energy industry.

Pappas added that it will lead to significant increases in university capacity, lower the costs for wind power, and will contribute to the birth of a new industry as the U.S. continues on its path to energy surety.

The $200 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund was first authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2005, and has a 17-member advisory committee comprised of research experts, entrepreneurs and high-tech leaders to review projects and recommend allocations to the Governor.

As of date, TETF has allocated more than $205 million to 144 early-stage companies and startups, and over $221 million to universities in Texas. TETF has also turned out to be an efficient Texas economic development tool, since projects receiving TETF funding have managed to leverage more than $2.2 billion in additional non-state funding.

Senate Finance Committee Approves Startup Innovation Credit Act

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a bill that allows startups and small businesses to claim the federal R&D tax credit against their payroll taxes instead of income tax.

Video - Senator Chris Coons discusses the need for R&D tax credits for small businesses

Video – Senator Chris Coons discusses the need for R&D tax credits for small businesses

The bill was originally authored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Mike Enzi as a stand-alone bill (pdf) called the Startup Innovation Credit Act.

It was reintroduced as an amendment to a tax extenders package bill that has just been approved by the Senate Finance Committee, and now goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote from the full Senate.

The amendment to the Internal Revenue Code extends for another two years the original R&D tax credit which had expired on Dec 31, 2013, and further modifies it by helping new startups and small businesses which have little or no income tax liability take advantage of the R&D tax credit.

It would otherwise be available only to large businesses with income tax liabilities significant enough to enable them to claim tax credits. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than half of this credit goes every year to companies that have $1 billion or more in receipts.

Senator Coons said that the R&D tax credit has helped tens of thousands of American companies make investments for innovation that creates jobs, but startups haven’t been able to take advantage.

The bill would make the Startup Innovation Credit available to companies that are less than five years old and have less than $5 million in gross receipts.

If the two versions of this bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee are both approved and become law, then startups and small businesses that qualify for this tax credit would be able to claim the credit and reduce their Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) liability or employer-side employment taxes by an equivalent amount up to $250,000.

U.S. Senator for New York Charles E. Schumer, who is one of the sponsors of the amendment, said that this bill will make sure that startups in New York and throughout the country can devote more resources to innovation and creating jobs.

Sen. Schumer added that he will fight for the bill’s passage in the full Senate. Before it can be signed into law, the tax extenders package will need to be approved by the full Senate, and a version of the bill must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

DC Group Expansion Facilitated by Minnesota Job Creation Fund

Minneapolis-based DC Group is planning an expansion with the help of economic development incentives being provided through the recently launched Minnesota Job Creation Fund.

Minnesota Job Creation Fund

Minnesota Job Creation Fund (photo –

The DC Group, which provides uninterruptible power supply (UPS) service and maintenance to clients all over North America, already has a 26,000-square-foot building which houses their headquarters, sales offices and research and reconditioning facilities.

Their operations have outgrown this space, but the company still wants to stay in the same location. They will, therefore, invest $6.2 million to construct a 27,000-square-foot expansion to the same building.

DC Group expects to create at least 33 new full-time jobs with average wages of $20 per hour. The company already has 62 existing employees.

The City of Minneapolis is facilitating the project with a planned Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District under which $872,900 of the project cost may be paid through tax increment revenues associated with the expansion.

State level incentives are being provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in the form of $535,000 from the Minnesota Job Creation Fund, subject to the company meeting its performance goals.

The Minnesota Job Creation Fund was proposed by Governor Mark Dayton last year, and was launched earlier this year with $24 million in initial funding.

Gov. Dayton said that some people think there is no role for government in economic development, but these 33 new and good-paying jobs being created in North Minneapolis through this expansion are proof positive that public-private partnerships are good for business and for the economy.

The Job Creation Fund provides up to $1 million for qualified projects undertaken by eligible businesses. The company has to work with the local government to get designated as a JCF business. The project in question also needs to create at least 10 full-time jobs and involve an investment of at least $500,000 in order to be eligible for financial assistance from JCF.

Minnesota Economic Development Department Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said that expanding companies like the DC Group highlight the type of game-changing technology offers Minnesota has, and added that they were proud to work with this innovative company and assist with their expansion which is adding high-quality jobs to the state’s workforce.

Irving, TX Hoping to Attract 7-Eleven Headquarters Relocation

The City of Irving, TX and the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce are working with 7-Eleven, Inc. to facilitate the relocation of the company’s headquarters to the Cypress Waters master-planned development.

Cypress Waters

Cypress Waters (photo –

7-Eleven would be establishing an office campus in a new 300,000-square-foot building, and making use of a 500-car parking garage and additional surface parking space in the new 1,000-acre Cypress Waters development five minutes from DFW International Airport.

The company anticipates relocating up to 1,250 jobs from its current headquarters location in Dallas. These would be high-paying corporate jobs with average annual wages of $100,000.

As per the terms of the economic development agreement proposed by the City of Irving, the company would need to maintain at least 800 employees with average wages of $100,000, and must occupy the facility before Dec 31, 2016.

In return, 7-Eleven will receive a 74 percent rebate on the sales tax generated over the initial 7-year period of the agreement, and an average of 88 percent of the ad valorem tax on the business personal property during initial 6-year period.

This incentive package was taken up for consideration by the City Council as a companion item to another Irving economic development agreement involving Crow-Billingsley 635 Beltline, LTD., a subsidiary created by developer for the Cypress Waters Project.

Crow-Billingsley 635 Beltline will get an average of 87 percent of the real property tax generated during the first 13 years of 7-Eleven’s lease. They will also get sales tax rebates as reimbursement of certain costs associated with road improvements and construction of the parking garage. The total reimbursement for the developer is capped at $3,960,112.

The incentives for Crow-Billingsley 635 Beltline are contingent upon 7-Eleven accepting its own agreement with the City and fulfilling the terms of the agreement thereafter on an annual basis.

7-Eleven Inc. operates, licenses or franchises more than 52,500 stores in 16 countries, including 10,300 stores in North America alone. Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population lives within a mile of a 7-Eleven store which usually carries about 2,500 items. 7-Eleven sells 2,300 fresh sandwiches per hour and more than a million cups of fresh-brewed coffee every day. Every year, they sell around 100 million fresh-grilled hot dogs and 41 million gallons of milk.

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