Missouri Proposes End to Incentives “Border War” With Kansas

During an address to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a proposal for ending what he calls the “border war” of incentives between Missouri and Kansas, and for jointly promoting growth in the Kansas City region.

Kansas City economic development

Kansas City economic development (photo – thinkkc.com)

The main point of contention is about line-jumpers – companies located in the Kansas City metropolitan area that get incentives by simply relocating across the state line while staying put in the Kansas City metro area and not creating any new jobs.

Currently, both states provide such incentives and treat the relocated jobs as newly created jobs. Gov. Nixon said it was bad for taxpayers, bad for the state budgets, and bad for the economy, and it hampers the region’s ability to compete on a global level.

He said the problem unique to the region is the result of a flaw in the incentive programs of both states, and they have a shared responsibility to fix it.

Gov. Nixon then outlined the proposal he has made to Kansas to fix the issue:-

1. An immediate moratorium on discretionary incentives for projects where jobs are merely being relocated across the state line.

2. Governors and legislatures in both states to work on a permanent moratorium mandated by law.

3. Local officials should be encouraged to avoid similar counterproductive use of local tax dollars.

4. Leverage both states’ combined resources to promote the Kansas City region as a whole.

Gov. Nixon cited several examples of the interdependent two-state economy in the Kansas City region. One was the Animal Health Corridor stretching from Columbia, MO to Manhattan, KS. It is packed with the world’s largest concentration of animal health companies for whom the state line was irrelevant.

Gov. Nixon also cited the example of automotive supplier Yanfeng USA, which is building a factory in Riverside, MO. Yangfeng’s biggest customer is the GM Assembly and Stamping Plant in Fairfax, KS.

The $600 million Fairfax plant expansion announced by GM in Jan 2013 pushed Yangfeng to increase manufacturing capacity in Riverside by building a new $45 million production facility and creating 263 new local jobs.

Gov. Nixon said such expansions were a win for the region and for both states.

He said while Missouri and Kansas were engaged in petty skirmishes along the state line, they were losing the global competition for the jobs and industries of the future.

He added that every dollar spent moving a job from one part of the region to another was a dollar they could have spent on creating new jobs, strengthening research and infrastructure, or marketing Kansas City’s advantages to the world.

Most importantly, said Gov. Nixon, this was a dollar not spent on investing in students and schools – the best economic development tools for competing and winning in the global economy.

Yahoo Considering Champaign, IL Research Park For Expansion

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is growing, and is planning a strategic expansion aimed at hiring highly-skilled workers at different Yahoo locations.

Yahoo facility at University of Illinois Research Park

Yahoo facility at University of Illinois Research Park (photo – researchpark.illinois.edu)

One of the locations they’re considering for an expansion is the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign, IL, where Yahoo already has a facility.

If Yahoo goes through with it, they will double their office space and hire 200 new employees who will get a starting pay of over $75,000 per year. Most of these jobs will be created within the next two years.

Yahoo already has more than 90 employees at the existing 24,000-square-foot facility, so the expansion would triple the workforce.

Yahoo is considering other locations too, including a building in downtown Champaign. The company has been engaged in negotiations with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) since June for an expansion in Illinois.

Yahoo is seeking incentives from DCEO and the City of Champaign. Fox Development Corporation, the Research Park’s developer, is offering Yahoo a lease on a proposed 40,000-square-foot building for the expansion.

In order to secure the Yahoo expansion, the City of Champaign has offered a $3 per-square-foot incentive for all the new space Yahoo will occupy, and a $1,000 per-new-employee incentive.

The details of the arrangement have not been decided yet, including when Yahoo would be eligible to start receiving the incentives, how much the required minimum pay for the jobs should be, and the period for which Yahoo would need to retain them.

However, Yahoo has already started the hiring process, and expects the new jobs being created to be eligible for incentives from Champaign or any other location they choose. The State of Illinois has approved state incentives for the project, and is taking into consideration the new jobs being added by Yahoo since June into the incentive package.

Also, since the site falls under the Champaign / Champaign County Enterprise Zone, the project is eligible for an exemption of state and local sales tax on purchase of construction material, and also for a five-year abatement of the property tax increase resulting from the improvements.

Yahoo executives from California and Indiana have been asked to attend a City Council discussion and answer questions about the project.

P&G Subsidiary iMFLUX Planning $50M Headquarters in Hamilton, OH

Back in September, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) had announced that P&G subsidiary iMFLUX Inc. had been approved for job creation tax credits for a project under which the company would create 221 new full-time jobs.

iMFLUX HQ in Hamilton, OH

iMFLUX HQ in Hamilton, OH (photo – hamiltonohiobusiness.com)

iMFLUX Inc. holds patents for innovative injection molding technology that has the potential to revolutionize the packaging industry.

The company is establishing a new headquarters in the City of Hamilton, OH.

iMFLUX will spend $50 million to purchase machinery and equipment, and the company will relocate from its current location at P&G’s Beckett Ridge Technical Center in West Chester Township.

iMFLUX has signed a long-term lease for the former Hamilton Fixture facility at 3550 Symmes Road. Hamilton Fixture shut down its operations at this site in May 2012, in the process eliminating 100 jobs in Butler County.

The new headquarters of iMFLUX housed in the 317,542-square-foot building will include manufacturing and demonstration facilities, along with an R&D Center.

iMFLUX will relocate around 30 existing positions from West Chester to Hamilton, and create an additional 200 jobs in Butler County by 2017, increasing their payroll by $17.5 million.

The project was secured by the City of Hamilton and the State with a generous package of local and state incentives. The Ohio TCA approved iMFLUX for a 60 percent, eight-year Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC) worth around $2.6 million.

The City of Hamilton awarded a matching 60 percent, eight-year JCTC for iMFLUX. The City has also offered a $100,000 forgivable loan linked to the company’s job creation plans, in addition to a 75 percent property tax abatement for a 10-year period on the property’s new valuation.

iMFLUX is also being provided cheap power for a 10-year period at a rate that is 10 percent lower than Duke Energy’s standard service offer rates. The City will additionally certify that the energy consumed by iMFLUX is from a 100 percent green/renewable source.

All these local incentives are slated to be approved at a Hamilton City Council meeting scheduled to be held on Nov 13, 2013.

iMFLUX Inc was formally incorporated in Aug 2013 by Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). iMFLUX holds injection molding patents which P&G says will save their group businesses $150 million annually in cost savings, and avoid another $50 million in capital expenditures.

UN Climate Change Conference COP19 – World Ready For Climate Change Deal

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (Nov 11-22, 2013) kicked off in Warsaw, Poland with an enhanced sense of urgency in the shadow of Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation in the Philippines.

Christiana Figueres opening address at COP19

Christiana Figueres opening address at COP19 (photo – UNFCCC/Jan Golinski)

In her opening address, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told the 19th session (COP19) participants from 195 nations that “the world is ready” for a climate change deal.

Figueres said there is a groundswell of climate action, not just for environmental reasons, but also for energy, economic, security and governance reasons. Figueres noted that public support and political will now favor climate change action.

One of the main issues that will take center stage in the negotiations over the next 10 days is the way forward on the establishment of the $100 billion Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The GCF is one of the key components of the international climate change agreement. Developed countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to fund efforts made by developing countries to tackle climate change.

The framework for the fund is almost done, and the pledging process is scheduled to begin in Sept 2014.

Another key point of discussion will be about laying the groundwork for the international climate action agreement that UNFCCC participants agreed to establish by 2015 when they met a couple of years ago in Durban, South Africa. This agreement is now scheduled to be put in place at COP21 in Paris in 2015.

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd D. Stern explained what the United States is doing, and what they hope to achieve from the climate change negotiations at COP19.

Stern said the U.S. has or will provide $2.7 billion in public climate finance for Fiscal Year 2013 in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries.

Apart from the UNFCCC negotiations, there are a significant number of high-profile events being held in Warsaw timed to coincide with COP19.

The U.S. Center, a State Dept. initiative, has put together a packed program schedule at Warsaw involving various federal agencies and departments including NASA, NOAA, DOE, DOT, DOS, USDA, USAID and others to highlight their climate change programs.

In fact, the U.S. Center also has one event in its lineup sponsored by the California Governor’s Office. The session on “Local Leadership Creating Resilient Communities” will focus on how significant progress is being made on resilience through the State of California’s emerging collaboratives at the regional level, and through local government leadership.

This session will highlight work being done on climate change throughout the U.S., and explain options that can be translated as a platform for communities worldwide.

Florida Mulls $5M Incentives To Lure Project With 400 Jobs

An as yet unnamed multinational company is planning an expansion of its office space and workforce, and Lee County, Florida is one of the contenders.

Lee County, FL

Lee County, FL (photo – lee-county.com/wikipedia)

The company, whose identity is being kept secret by the Lee County EDO, is identified in official county documents only as Project #LC-13-09-01.

They plan to invest $24 million and create 400 new jobs by 2020. The company is primarily engaged in gathering and reporting marketing and public opinion data.

If the incentive agreement is finalized, the company will build and equip a new 120,000-square-foot building for use as office space.

They plan to invest at least $6 million in 2014, another $12 million in 2015 and round it off with $6 million in 2016 for a total of $24 million. Around $4 million of this will be used to purchase equipment.

The 400 new jobs being created will pay average annual wages and benefits worth $62,933, which includes $53,789 in wages and $9,144 in benefits. By comparison, the average wage in Lee County last year was $38,627.

An economic impact study of the project was undertaken by Dr. Gary Jackson, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at the Lutgert College of Business, Florida Gulf Coast University.

The study shows that the project would create an additional 424 induced and indirect jobs, adding up to a total of 824 jobs for Lee County by 2020.

The annual economic impact of the project will reach around $152 million once the investment and job creation commitments are fulfilled.

To secure this project, Lee County and Florida are jointly working out a package of local and state incentives worth around $4.95 million to balance the appeal of lower costs at two other competing locations the company is considering.

The incentives being offered tax refunds under Florida’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund Program. The State of Florida would be providing $1,920,000 as QTI incentives, with Lee County putting up a 20 percent local match of $480,000.

Apart from the QTI tax refunds, the company would also get $1,000,000 grant award as a local incentive from Lee County under the Lee County FIRST program. The State of Florida will chip in with another $750,000 paid through the Quick Action Closing Fund.

Global Energy Conference on Energy Security and Sustainability

The Global Energy Conference on Energy Security and Sustainability is scheduled to be held at the UN headquarters in New York on Dec 11-12, 2013.

Global Energy Conference, NY

Global Energy Conference, NY (photo – globalenergyinitiative.org)

The conference is organized by Global Energy Initiative, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City.

The conference is an invitation-only affair, with a capacity of 500 attendees including industry leaders, academics, non-profits and government officials.

The speakers lined up for the event include, among others:-

-        Dr. Carolyn Kissane, Professor and Academic Director of the Center for Global Affairs at NYU-SCPS;

-        Dr. Andrew Yager, former head of the UN’s Water, Energy and Strategies branch in the Division for Sustainable Development;

-        Ed Crooks, US Industry and Energy Editor at the Financial Times;

-        Celia Wade-Brown, the Mayor of Wellington, NZ;

-        Dr. Roel Swierenga, founder and chairman of the European Hansa Green Tour Foundation; and

-        Dr. Michael Webber, Professor and Associate Director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

This event is being held in response to the UN declaration of the decade from 2014-2024 as the “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.”

Dr. Dinesh Kumar, president of the Global Energy Initiative, says in his welcome message that while supporting and furthering the UN’s goals, the conference is committed to promoting an ongoing conversation aimed at encouraging innovation, concerted action and collaborations that support sustainable energy initiatives.

Many of the sessions at the two-day conference are therefore aimed at discussing and establishing the vision, priorities, and action plans necessary for achieving sustainability for all, and about fostering the public-private partnerships necessary for executing these action plans.

For instance, one of the sessions on the first day is about “How Technological Innovations are Driving Success.” There will be a World Mayor’s Panel on urban sustainability, and an Ambassadors’ Panel on energy security.

One session will discuss “corporate social responsibility and the sustainable energy landscape.” Another one focuses on financing the energy systems of tomorrow.

What: Global Energy Conference on Energy Security and Sustainability

When: Dec 11-12, 2013

Where: UN Headquarters 777 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017

Veterans Day Brings Rush of Job Creation and Training Programs

Monday, November 11, 2013 is Veterans Day, and it’s not just about platitudes. Veterans Day this year brings a rush of job training and job creation programs for veterans from both the private and public sectors.

Jobs for Veterans

Photo – senate.gov

Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks Coffee Company announced a hiring strategy focused on veterans and active duty spouses, with the aim of filling at least 10,000 positions in the next five years.

Starbucks will also open five Community Stores in n U.S. joint base locations, and provide funding to local non-profits supporting veterans reentering the workforce.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. likewise plans to provide veterans with training for tech jobs. The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy will provide a 16-week software development training and testing courses to active duty service members transitioning into the civilian workforce.

Microsoft will begin the training this year as a pilot program in Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, followed by an expansion to key bases in California and Texas, and then to additional locations next year.

This Microsoft Academy was inspired by the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” legislation which became law in 2011. It allows service members to get started with the post-military employment process before their separation from the military, making the transition to non-military jobs more seamless.

Service members who complete the course will be hired for an entry-level job in software testing by Microsoft or the program administrator Launch Consulting.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander H. Charles Hodges Jr. said unemployment rates are higher for veterans because it’s not always easy for service members to understand where their skills apply outside the military.

In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory announced that November 10-16 would be “Employ A Veteran” Week.

In Iowa, Governor Terry Branstad is scheduled to unveil a major jobs initiative called “Home Base Iowa” for attracting veterans to Iowa.

At the federal level, members of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus introduced the bipartisan United We Stand to Hire Veterans Act (S.1637).

This bill, if passed into law, would require the consolidation of federal online employment services into a single federal portal. It will make it easier to connect veterans with government employment services, and the portal will additionally offer assistance such as resume services for veterans.

Suitable Technologies Selects Kansas City for Expansion

Palo Alto, California-based remote presence technology company Suitable Technologies, Inc. announced plans to open an international support office in Kansas City, Missouri.

Suitable Technologies Beam telepresence

Suitable Technologies Beam (photo – KCADC)

Suitable Technologies is the maker of Beam, a telepresence solution that combines a video conferencing system with a movable transportation platform on wheels that can be controlled remotely.

Suitable Technologies Inc. CEO Scott Hassan “beamed in” remotely from the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto to the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) office.

KCADC is the regional economic development agency that covers the 18-county Kansas City metro straddling both Kansas and Missouri.

Suitable Technologies will hire a handful of new employees at the  office in at City Center Square, 1100 Main Street. Hassan said they are looking forward to bringing local talent on-board as the business grows.

According to research published by ABI Research, the global market for consumer robots is expected to grow to $6.5 billion by 2017, with the security/telepresence segment taking a significant share of this market.

After an extensive site selection process, the company narrowed down the list of suitable locations to Kansas City and Austin, Texas. Hassan said they chose Kansas City because of its central location and the access it provides to tech talent from the 20 universities in the area.

KCADC President and CEO Bob Marcusse said Suitable Technologies was initially attracted to the Kansas City area by the presence of Google Fiber, and the city subsequently made a good impression on the company’s decision makers to seal the deal.

Google’s first foray into providing high-speed fiber connections with internet speeds at up to one gigabit per second was in Palo Alto, when it launched a free trial in a single residential community. However, Google chose the Kansas City metro over 1,100 other cities (including Palo Alto) for Google Fiber’s first city-wide installation.

The dividends from that win now include a Silicon Valley company choosing Kansas City for its first office outside the Valley.

The Suitable Technologies project was secured by KCADC working together with other regional partners including the Kansas City EDC; the City of Kansas City; Missouri Partnership; KCnext; Kansas City Power & Light; and real estate firm Cassidy Turley.

EDA Awards $1.1M Grant for Statesboro, GA FabLab and Incubator

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded Georgia Southern University and the City of Statesboro, GA a grant of nearly $1.1 million for an expansion of the University’s City Campus to establish the FabLab and Innovation Incubator.

Statesboro, GA FAbLab and Incubator

Statesboro, GA FAbLab and Incubator (photo – georgiasouthern.edu)

The EDA’s $1,097,360 grant enables Georgia Southern and the City of Statesboro to renovate two buildings and create a business incubator with office space and a fabrication laboratory that will have 3D printers and other equipment to support advanced manufacturing.

Locating an incubator and a Fab Lab within the same space combines support for innovation and entrepreneurship with the sequential commercialization process.

The idea is based on the FabLab pioneered at MIT by Dr. Neil Gershenfeld to enable low-cost manufacturing of “almost anything.”

This Fab Lab model has since been successfully replicated at universities all over the U.S. and the world. The Statesboro FabLab is the first one in the State of Georgia.

Charles Patterson, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Economic Development at Georgia Southern, said many of their faculty and students are engaged in entrepreneurial activities creating inventions, technologies and devices which the university can license, patent and spin off into companies.

The City of Statesboro pitched in with the remaining $800,000 commitment for the $1.8 million project, in order to facilitate purchase of the two buildings that will house the Fab Lab and incubator.

The expansion of the City Campus includes space for the Statesboro office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership, and the Bureau for Business Research and Economic Development (BBRED).

The announcement was made by U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who said this was a huge opportunity for Georgia Southern to break out and become a leader in business development.

Rep. Barrow said it was also an opportunity for small businesses to find the resources they need to compete and grow, and an opportunity for the community to show how you can come together and create conditions that help businesses grow.

Georgia Sothern University President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D., likewise said that it was a golden opportunity to help build new businesses in the community, generate new jobs and put more people to work.

Automotive Supplier REHAU Plans R&D Center in Cullman, AL

Automotive supplier REHAU, Inc. announced plans to establish a new technical center adjacent to their manufacturing facility in Cullman, Alabama.

AL Gov. Robert Bentley at REHAU Cullman announcement

Gov. Robert Bentley at REHAU Cullman announcement (photo – Alabama Governor’s Office)

REHAU will invest in between $2 and $3 million to construct the 20,000-square-foot technical center, which will be the company’s first R&D facility outside Germany.

The company plans to use this space for automotive component and systems design initiatives, which will then be introduced into REHAU’s production processes in Cullman and all over the world.

REHAU was founded in the Town of Rehau, Germany, but is now a global company headquartered in Muri, Switzerland.

Reiner Leifhelm, CFO of REHAU Automotive and also a member of the REHAU Automotive Executive Board, said their previous technology development projects had all been executed out of R&D centers in Germany, and then shared with the Cullman engineering and production teams.

He said that locating the new technical center in Cullman will centralize their efforts to streamline productivity and help keep more jobs related to REHAU’s North American automotive business in the Cullman region.

REHAU also plans to use the new center as a training venue, and is working on how their training department (REHAU Academy) can establish synergies with regional high schools, technical colleges and educational institutions that provide professional trade skills.

The Cullman R&D Center will house 45 engineers, along with other employees. Overall, REHAU is adding 140 new jobs in Cullman, and now has more than 700 employees in Alabama. The company has 17,000 employees in 170 locations around the world.

REHAU’s Cullman plant supplies bumper assemblies to the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.(MBUSI) plant in Vance, Alabama. REHAU recently won a new contract from MBUSI to develop and produce bumper assemblies for the Mercedes M-Class and C-Class vehicle lines. The Class-C Sedan is scheduled to be added to the MBUSI assembly line in Vance in 2014.

As a result of this contract, REHAU announced a $115 million expansion earlier this year with 200 new jobs. This investment and the 200 jobs created are separate from this latest announcement of the R&D Center and 140 new jobs.

Albert von Pelser, plant manager of the REHAU Cullman plant, attributed their success to the employees in Cullman and their international network, and the ongoing support from the Cullman Economic Development Agency, the City of Cullman, and the Industrial Development Board of Cullman.

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