vRide Relocating Corporate HQ to Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced that corporate vanpooling service vRide has relocated its corporate headquarters to Philadelphia.


vRide (photo – vride.com)

The relocation will bring 75 high-paying jobs within the next three years to a leased 4,300-square-foot site in Philadelphia.

vRide, which is currently headquartered in Troy, MI, will invest $1.6 million for renovations, site improvements and for purchasing new equipment at their new headquarters.

Gov. Corbett said in a statement that they were thrilled that vRide has chosen Philadelphia for its corporate headquarters, and have no doubt that with the talented workers and pro-growth initiatives, vRide will thrive in the Keystone State.

vRide was founded in 1977 as a vanpool program for Chrysler employees. It became popular enough that Chrysler created a subsidiary called Van Pool Services, Inc. to provide innovative commuter transportation services. vRide is now the nation’s largest vanpooling business.

vRide CEO Ann Fandozzi said that while evaluating locations for their new headquarters, they were looking for a city with great talent, infrastructure and a positive approach to sustainability.

Fandozzi said it was clear that Philadelphia was the perfect choice for them as the company continues to develop consumer and business technologies to enable commuters to find the best ride to work.

The relocation project was secured with the help of an incentives package from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that includes a $250,000 grant under the Pennsylvania First Program, and Job Creation Tax Credits worth $150,000, in addition to $29,100 as a training grant for training their existing employees and the new hires.

Select Greater Philadelphia CEO Thomas G. Morr said vRide’s innovative technology application will take cars off the road and make commuting more productive, and added that the company is a great fit for Greater Philadelphia’s growing technology economy.

Select Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia coordinated with economic development professionals in the Governor’s Action Team (GAT) who report directly to the Governor and work with businesses that are considering expanding or relocating in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter likewise noted that Philadelphia is increasingly home to one of the country’s most exciting and dynamic technology sectors, and vRide is a great addition to the community.

Mayor Nutter said the most exciting thing about the announcement was that vRide is moving into a space vacated by Artisan Mobile, another technology company that is moving into a larger space to accommodate additional employees.

NJ EDA Approves Incentives For Projects Creating 1165 New Jobs

In its February board meeting, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board has approved incentives for projects that are together expected to create 1,165 new permanent jobs and retain 590 existing jobs, in addition to 435 construction jobs.

Liscio's Bakery, NJ

Liscio’s Bakery, NJ (photo – lisciosbakery.com)

One of the companies approved for incentives is Glassboro, NJ-based Liscio’s Italian Bakery, Inc., which has been approved for up to $13.5 million under the Grow NJ program. The incentives are being offered to help the bakery with an expansion project in Glassboro.

The Liscio’s Italian Bakery expansion project creates 71 new full-time jobs and ensures that the state will retain 176 existing jobs that were at risk of moving elsewhere.

Another company approved for incentives was Stoncor Group Incorporated, which is getting up to $9.9 million under the Grow NJ program to encourage their acquisition of a vacant 132,223-square-foot building in Pennsauken, NJ.

If the company does not go through with this project, they will instead exercise a lease-purchase option on a manufacturing and distribution campus in Fort Wayne, IN. This would mean New Jersey losing 75 new full-time jobs and the existing 85 Stoncor jobs that would be relocated.

Sandoz Inc. is likewise being offered $9.1 million under the Grow NJ program to secure their relocation to a site in Plainsboro, New Jersey. If Sandoz chooses a competing site in Pennsylvania instead, New Jersey would be at risk of losing 292 existing Sandoz jobs and 70 new full-time jobs.

The fourth project approved for incentives is for TR US Inc., a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters, which has been approved for up to $25.9 million under the Grow NJ program. The incentives are being offered to encourage TR US Inc.’s relocation of 450 employees from outside the state to the company’s Hoboken, NJ facility.

New Jersey has been competing with Carrollton, TX for this TR US Inc. relocation project, which will bring an estimated $123 million in net benefits to the State of New Jersey.

EDA CEO Michele Brown said that assistance from the EDA is often a crucial first step for these projects to advance and materialize, and when they do, they spur significant job growth and economic development in the state.

United Natural Foods Selects Prescott, WI for Distribution Center

United Natural Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:UNFI) has chosen Prescott, Wisconsin as the site for a new $37.8 million distribution center.

United Natural Foods Inc.

United Natural Foods Inc. (photo – unfi.com)

The Providence, RI-based UNFI is an independent national distributor of organic, natural and specialty foods.

The 300,000-square-foot facility located about 30 miles southeast of the Twin Cities is expected to create 314 new jobs in Prescott and Pierce County. Construction will begin in May and is expected to be complete in a year.

This is UNFI’s second distribution center in Wisconsin, following last year’s 425,000 square foot distribution and warehouse project in the Village of Sturtevant in Racine County, WI that is expected to create 220 new jobs.

The site for the new distribution center project was finalized after the company conducted a comprehensive site selection process involving locations in multiple states.

WI Governor Scott Walker said in a statement that UNFI’s decision to build a second facility in Wisconsin, particularly after looking at options in other states, is a testament to the state’s strong pro-business climate.

Gov Scott noted that the two UNFI facilities combined involve more than 500 jobs that could have gone elsewhere, and added that he was pleased with the company’s continued commitment to Wisconsin.

Sean Griffin, UNFI’s group president, said it was an optimal location for them which would enable the company to provide better service for customers and increase operational efficiencies while reducing their emissions and costs.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the City of Prescott secured the UNFI project with a package of state and local incentives. UNFI will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 million in state tax credits from WEDC over a four year period.

The City of Prescott has approved a $6 million local incentives package for UNFI, including the land in the Eagle Ridge Business Park, and assistance for site preparation and infrastructure improvements. The Eagle Ridge Business Park is one of the 13 shovel-ready “Certified In Wisconsin” sites in the state.

Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, said that UNFI’s decision to build in Prescott is proof positive that the “Certified In Wisconsin” program is helping communities in the state showcase their prime industrial sites. Hall added that they are looking forward to more development around the state as a result of the program.

Site location consultant J. Michael Mullis who helped UNFI with the site selection process cited the state’s business-friendly climate and the ability of the state and city to respond quickly to the company’s needs as factors behind UNFI’s choice of Wisconsin for the project.

State officials pointed out other factors such as the location’s proximity to the Twin Cities and easy access to a nearby four-lane highway.

Google Subsidiary Taking Over Moffett Field From NASA

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA announced the selection of Planetary Ventures LLC, which is an affiliate of Google Inc., as the preferred lessee to rehabilitate historic Hangar One at Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California.

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA (photo – nasa.gov)

The historic 8-acre Hangar One at Moffett Field, located in between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous landmarks.

It is part of a National Historic District that also includes Hangars Two and Three and Shenandoah Plaza.

Planetary Ventures taking over the space puts Hangar One to good use. The agreement also eliminates substantial management costs for NASA since Planetary Ventures will¬†be taking over management of Moffett Field from NASA’s Ames Research Center.

GSA issued requests for proposals (RFPs) on behalf of NASA in May 2013, asking for proposals from the private sector to collaborate with the government on rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of Hangar One, and management of the airfield through a long-term lease.

Moffett Field will remain a federal airfield and the government will continue to use it, since NASA’s Ames Research Center is located there and so is the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing.

The RFP requires Planetary Ventures to maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District. They are also required to reposition Moffett Field as a viable asset to support government and other public/private flight operations.

Planetary Ventures will also be rehabilitating Hangars Two and Three, upgrading the airfield’s golf course, and creating an educational and public use facility.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement that NASA is not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure that they’re spending tax dollars wisely. He said this agreement will benefit American taxpayers and the community around Moffett.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said Hangar One was a Silicon Valley landmark well before the rise of today’s high tech titans. He said NASA’s partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use.

Col Steven J. Butow, commander of the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, said this is a model for the nation, employing federal interagency partnerships with private entities, which he said allows them to continue their commitment as citizen-airmen to the community and the county.

NASA’s previous partnership experiment with the private sector to make good use of Moffett Field involved Airship Ventures, which was offering ‘’flightseeing” trips onboard a 246-foot-long Zeppelin NT based out of Hangar Two at Moffett Field.

NASA and Airship Ventures were additionally planning more collaborative projects including use of the airship as a platform for conducting scientific research and disaster response studies.

In fact, they actually did participate in one joint research project in collaboration with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. However, the blimp operations couldn’t stay afloat during the recession and Airship Ventures had to shut down in Nov 2012.

The competitive process through which Planetary Ventures LLC has been selected, the review conducted by the GSA and NASA, and the much wider scope of the RFP and pending lease agreement will hopefully mean this partnership lasts a lot longer.

Tax Credits, Grants Bring Housing and Jobs to Illinois WWII Site

East Alton, Illinois is getting 46 new single-family homes through a redevelopment project called Emerald Ridge in a former World War II-era development known as the “Defense Area.”

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL

Emerald Ridge groundbreaking in East Alton, IL (photo – ihda.org)

The Emerald Ridge project, formerly the East Alton Defense Area Redevelopment, kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by representatives from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the non-profit Rise and other partners involved in the project.

The project garnered more than $11 million in private equity facilitated through allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits, in addition to another $2.4 million through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit resources.

IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said in a statement that IHDA is proud to help the Village of East Alton achieve its redevelopment goals and stimulate economic activity.

Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) awarded an $184,000 grant to enable the Emerald Ridge housing units to add energy-saving features and reduce maintenance and utility costs.

DCEO Director Adam Pollet said that Governor’s Quinn’s administration is dedicated to working with developers in providing affordable living options in every corner of the state. Pollet added that the construction of Emerald Ridge will not only help working families in East Alton find housing, but also add more than 80 good-paying jobs in Illinois.

The Village of East Alton and Madison County provided additional financing.

The St. Louis, MO-based Rise is developing the project in partnership with the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA), Madison County and the Village of East Alton.

Stephen Acree, president of Rise, said they were committed to revitalizing neighborhoods and communities in the Greater St. Louis area. Acree added that the Defense Area redevelopment in East Alton is being built on strong partnerships that will reinforce a healthy and resilient community.

The project will replace 91 obsolete housing units in the area with 34 single-story and 12 two-story single-family detached homes.

Ten of the new housing units are set aside for extremely low-income people with special needs or disabilities earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income in Madison County. The remaining units require residents to be earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

SalesWarp Gets $500K Investment from Maryland Venture Fund

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that Baltimore-based e-commerce management software provider SalesWarp has received $500,000 in funding from InvestMaryland via the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).


InvestMaryland (photo – choosemaryland.org)

InvestMaryland is a public-private partnership between the State of Maryland and venture capital firms.

It was established in 2011 to invest in early-stage technologies in sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences.

InvestMaryland has raised $84 million through an online auction of tax credits to insurance companies, and is currently the largest venture capital investment initiative in the history of Maryland.

Two-thirds of that amount ($56 million) is being managed by private VC firms that are a part of the partnership, while the remaining is being managed by the Maryland Venture Fund.

If the investments are successful, the private fund managers will return 100 percent of $56 million principal and 80 percent of the profits to the State’s general fund.

The $500,000 that SalesWarp received was awarded through MVF, and was part of a funding round that will help the company grow its innovative line of products and create new jobs.

SalesWarp is located in the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, and currently has 12 employees. They expect the staff count to grow to 25 by the end of 2015.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said in a statement that entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses play a critical role in the growth of Maryland’s economy, and they are the engine that drives innovation and discovery while creating the family-supporting jobs of today and tomorrow.

Gov. O’Malley added that they are proud to make this investment in SalesWarp and look forward to the company’s success in Maryland’s growing community of exciting high-tech startups.

David Potts, Founder and CEO of SalesWarp, said they are thrilled to have this commitment from MVF. Potts added that beyond the funding, MVF also brings many skills and connections that will help the company achieve its goals and grow in Maryland.

The Maryland Venture Fund was created in 1994 as a state-funded seed and early-stage equity fund, and has since invested in hundreds of startups and early-stage companies, in the process helping retain and create more than 5,000 jobs.

Plano, TX Considers $1.67M Incentives to Lure FedEx Expansion

The City Council of the City of Plano, Texas is meeting on Feb 10, 2014 to approve an economic development agreement between the City and FedEx Office and Print Services.

Plano, TX

Plano, TX (photo – planotexas.org)

FedEx Office and Print Services, Inc., which is currently headquartered in the Galleria area in Dallas, is a subsidiary of Memphis, TN- based FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX).

They have been negotiating with Plano for an expansion project that will add at least 255,000 square feet of office space over their existing operations in Plano, in the process consolidating their regional operations and headquarters in Plano.

FedEx plans to invest around $45 million into the project, including $35 million for the building and another $10 million for setting up the operations in the new headquarters.

The project will retain, transfer or create up to 1,224 new FedEx jobs in Plano by Dec 31, 2016. FedEx considered several cities for the consolidation project.

Plano is securing the deal with the help of a cash grant of up to $1,674,000, subject to the company fulfilling its commitments.

The first payments of $450,000 and $899,000 will be made once the company leases and occupies the building in question and has created, retained or transferred 899 full time jobs to the facility by Dec 31, 2015. The third grant of $325,000 will be paid once the company has added the remaining 325 jobs by Dec 31, 2016.

The building FedEx is having built through developer KDC comes under the 240-acre Legacy West development project announced last week by JCPenney. This is a mixed-use project to develop the vacant land around the J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP) corporate headquarters in the Legacy Business Park in Plano.

JCPenney acquired the land in 1987, just before they relocated their home office from New York to Texas. JCPenney was one of the first major companies in the Legacy corridor, which now boasts of multiple Fortune 500 companies and a high quality of life as a vibrant residential, shopping and dining hub.

Katheryn Burchett, senior vice president of real estate and property development at JCPenney, said in a  statement they have seen a great deal of residential and business growth around their home office in the last 25 years, and it was now time to capitalize on this attractive asset.

The fact that FedEx will be taking up space in this project with more than 1,200 jobs and an investment of $45 million no doubt adds to the appeal.

Burchett added that the new project, with Karahan Companies, Columbus Realty and KDC as the developers, will be a positive venture for JCPenney and its associates, and for all of North Texas.

Business Facilities LiveXchange in Myrtle Beach, SC

The tenth annual Business Facilities LiveXchange is scheduled to be held from April 6-8, 2014 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Business Facilities LiveXchange

Business Facilities LiveXchange (photo – bflivexchange.com)

LiveXchange is an event that brings together corporate executives and site selection consultants tasked with finding new locations for their businesses with economic development organizations from across North America.

Delegates must be currently conducting or about to begin a preliminary search, with a timeframe of making the final location decision in between May 2014 and 2016.

The project has to meet at least one of the following three criteria over three years – $2 million in capital investment; 40 full-time jobs; or $1 million in payroll, including benefits.

Delegates who are invited to attend will get a personalized itinerary customized to their needs. Each delegate will be able to meet EDOs in prescheduled one-on-one sessions.

They will also be able to attend educational presentations, workshops and seminars where industry experts will talk about critical site selection issues.

The keynote panel will be on the “Future of Site Selection.” Mark Williams, Strategic Development Group, will hold a seminar on “Negotiating Incentives, Land Costs and Energy Costs.”

Hartley Powell, KPMG, will present the “KPMG Market Forecast/Competitive Alternatives Study.”

David Brandon, Site Selection Group, will hold a seminar on “Workforce Analysis and the Site Selection Process.”

Al Jones, aljonesbusinessgrowth.com, will hold a workshop on “Boom/Bust Cycles and Site Selection Opportunities.” Jason Hickey, Hickey & Associates, will talk about site selection case history.

Mark Sweeney, McCallum Sweeney Consulting, will be conducting a seminar on evaluating financial incentives.

LiveXchange is entirely free for delegates, since the organizers cover the entire cost of the conference, including hotels stays, meals and other events, and additionally provide a $350 travel stipend.

To top that off, LiveXchange is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (MBREDC) are inviting LiveXchange delegates and their families to extend their stay free of cost.

Delegates can arrive early before LiveXchange (April 4-6, 2014) or stay on afterwards (April 8-10, 2014) with family, and enjoy one afternoon or evening excursion per day to select local attractions.

What: Business Facilities LiveXchange

When: April 6-8, 2014

Where: Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

NE, AK Universities Get NIST MEP Funding to Support Manufacturing

The NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Alaska Anchorage funding to shore up manufacturing support in both states.

NIST MEP impact

NIST MEP impact

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been awarded $600,000 and authorized to establish an MEP center.

The $600,000 represents half of the MEP center’s annual operating funding needs. The University is required to come up with matching funds from non-federal sources for the remaining half.

The second grant announced by MEP was a $150,000 funding award to the University of Alaska Anchorage, provided as a State Technology Extension Assistance Project.

This funding will assist the University assess the technical needs of small and mid-sized manufacturers in the state, as Alaska looks towards diversifying its manufacturing base.

This effort is being undertaken by the University on behalf of MEP, and may lead to the establishment of an MEP center in Alaska.

MEP is a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, housed under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

MEP works with small and medium-sized manufacturers, helping them with innovation strategies, improvements, implementation of green practices, etc. that help the manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase sales, and save time and money.

In FY 2013 alone, MEP served 30,131 manufacturers. Manufacturers receiving MEP services reported 62,703 increased and retained jobs, cost savings of $1.2 billion and new client investments worth $2.6 billion. Not to mention $6.2 billion in retailed sales and another $2.2 billion in new sales.

MEP has worked with more than 76,000 manufacturers in the past 25 years, helping them rack up sales worth $79 billion and savings worth $12.8 billion.

MEP was first established in 1988, and has since helped create 636,000 jobs and more than $20 billion in investments in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Every dollar invested by the federal government through MEP generates $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investments. MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job for every $1,978 of federal investment.

The new MEP center in Nebraska and another one possibly in the pipeline in Alaska will join a national network of 400 centers and field offices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, with a staff that includes more than 1,200 technical experts.

NYC Awards Grants Under Fashion Manufacturing Initiative

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off Fashion Week by announcing that seven fashion manufacturers had been chosen as the inaugural winners of the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI).

NYC Fashion Manufacturing Initiative

NYC Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (photo – nycedc.com)

The FMI is a $3 million public-private program that aims to support and promote the growth of small businesses engaged in fashion manufacturing in the City of New York.

Mayor de Blasio announced the winners at an event held at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Incubator in Manhattan’s Garment District.

The FMI is being jointly administered by CDFA and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

NYCEDC has pledged $1 million in funding for the FMI, and another $1.3 million has been raised from other sources, including $500,000 each from Ralph Lauren and Andrew Rosen’s Theory.

All the winning businesses that receive grants will have to put up matching funds dollar for dollar, which means the total investment into FMI funded projects will reach at least $6 million.

The seven inaugural winners, who together employ more than 300 people, were chosen from a pool of nearly 40 applicants. The seven winners are – New York Embroidery Studio; Martin Greenfield Clothiers; Werkstatt; In Style USA; Create-A-Marker; High Production; and Vogue Too.

They will each receive grants ranging from $46,000 to $150,000, to be used for infrastructure and equipment upgrades, workforce training, increasing business capacity and creating new jobs.

Mayor de Blasio said this initiative will help increase business capacity and will generate economic growth while creating and preserving jobs in the fashion manufacturing industry, which he said will in turn support local designers who rely on the manufacturers.

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said the program will boost the city’s fashion manufacturing capacity while supporting small businesses that drive the industry, both of which he said are vital to maintaining NYC’s status as a global fashion capital.

New York City’s $98 billion fashion industry employs more than 180,000 people, accounting for $10.9 billion in wages, and generating nearly $2 billion in annual tax revenues. Out of the $98 billion, a full $8 billion is from annual manufacturing sales.

The City also gets 500,000 annual visitors who come to attend fashion industry events including trade shows and fashion shows. The semi-annual Fashion Weeks by themselves attract some 232,000 attendees each year, generating a total economic impact of $865 million.

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