Illinois Governor Signs Law to Fund $30M Solar Power Purchase

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed new legislation that promotes the installation of distributed solar power systems in Illinois by making the State a buyer of solar power.

Illinois Power Agency

Illinois Power Agency

The law (HB 2427) includes an amendment that calls for the Illinois Power Agency to spend up to $30 million for purchasing solar power to meet the state’s electric power needs.

The funding for solar power purchase will come from the agency’s Renewable Energy Resources Fund, which gets the clean energy fees paid by power companies in Illinois.

What the solar power amendment included in HB 2427 does is to establish a competitive procurement process under which the State will purchase solar-generated power from existing solar power systems and new installations.

To be specific, the Illinois Power Agency Act is amended to include a supplemental procurement process for procuring renewable energy credits from new or existing photovoltaics, with $30 million from the Renewable Energy Resources Fund to be used for this purpose.

The law emphasizes development of distributed solar generation systems such as solar panels on residential rooftops by specifying that a percentage of the funding allocated should be set aside for purchasing distributed solar power.

“Thousands of residents will soon get cheaper, cleaner energy, and we will create good paying jobs for working families in the process. It’s this sort of innovation that has made Illinois a national leader in clean energy production,” said Gov. Quinn.

The law is effective immediately, and will benefit utility-scale solar projects too. But the emphasis is on distributed solar power purchase that could lead to thousands of new residential solar panel installation projects being undertaken. Homeowners will be able to generate solar power for their own use and further reduce electric bills by selling excess power to the grid.

State Senator Don Harmon, one of the sponsors of the bill, said that increasing the investment in clean energy creates jobs, protects the environment and reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

Senator Harmon added that wind energy has taken off in Illinois over the past few years, and their hope is that this investment will start a similar revolution in solar energy.

Maverick Arms Expansion Gets Texas Economic Development Incentives

Maverick Arms, Inc., a firearms maker specializing in shotguns, is undertaking an expansion of its manufacturing facility in Eagle Pass, TX.

Mossberg

Photo – O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.

The $3.4 million expansion which is creating 50 new jobs was secured with the help Texas economic development incentives in the form of a Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) investment of $300,000.

The announcement was made by Governor Rick Perry. ‚ÄúThis TEF investment in Maverick Arms will help create jobs and opportunity in Eagle Pass, while reaffirming Texas’ longstanding support of the Second Amendment,‚Äù said Gov. Perry.

Maverick Arms’ Eagle Pass facility already assembles shotguns and rifles for the various Mossberg brands. The expansion makes it possible for the company to consolidate barrel production to this facility.

Maverick Arms Inc. is a subsidiary of North Haven, CT-based Mossberg Corp., the oldest family-owned firearm maker in America and the world’s largest producer of pump-action shotguns.

Mossberg CEO Iver Mossberg noted that investing in Texas was an easy decision, adding that Texas is a state that that is not only committed to economic growth but also honors and respects the Second Amendment and the firearm freedoms it guarantees for the company’s customers.

The Maverick Arms facility is unique in this border region because it actually creates a lot of jobs locally. Most companies here are partners with the tax-advantaged Maquiladora facilities in Mexico that send back assembled goods after receiving materials and components transported from across the border.

Maverick Arms, on the other hand, cannot do this because of the restrictive gun control and firearm production policy in Mexico.

This is the second major expansion of Mossberg’s Eagle Pass facility in recent years, following an expansion in 2007 which doubled the facility’s space to 85,000 square feet. The original plant was opened in 1989 as a 40,000-square-foot facility in the Eagle Pass Industrial Park.

Mossberg said this new expansion allows them to take full advantage of the outstanding work ethic of their long time Eagle Pass employees, and will help the company meet the ever growing demand for Mossberg shotguns and rifles.

He also thanked Gov. Perry for his efforts, which Mossberg said have helped make this expansion possible and will help the company create even more jobs in the community.

Gov. Perry has also actively helped in efforts to attract firearms makers to Texas by writing letters to them highlighting the state’s combination of low taxes, skilled workforce, fair courts and smart regulations.

The Governor also attended the 2014 SHOT Show and Conference organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Las Vegas, where he again shared this message with the industry leaders.

US Labor Dept Awards $154.8M for Job Training Programs for the Unemployed in 32 States

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $154,757,547 in grants for 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation under the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant (NEG) program.

National Emergency Grant (NEG) program

National Emergency Grant (NEG) program

Funding for these grants is coming from the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker National Reserve fund.

The funds will be used by grantees for creating or expanding job-driven training programs that train unemployed workers with the skills and training required for jobs in high-demand industries.

Grantees may use the funding for creating or expanding employer partnerships providing opportunities for on-the-job training, registered apprenticeships and other occupational training that result in industry-recognized credentials.

The funding can also be used to provide services such as career counseling and coaching, and job placement assistance that connects laid-off workers and the long-term unemployed to available jobs.

For instance, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the $6,105,117 DOL grant for Virginia will be used by the Virginia Community College System.

VCCS will be able to bundle three existing community college programs (On Ramp, Adult Career Coaching, and On-the-Job Training) that have been found successful at accelerated credentialing and job placement.

The new model will bring together the community colleges with local Workforce Investment Boards and businesses in targeted sectors to serve individuals who have already been laid off, or are likely to be laid off soon.

“Increasingly, this is our sweet spot: helping people who’ve been without a job for some time get back to work,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

DuBois added that the DOL grant was exciting for them and for the employers and individuals they would be able to connect through this work.

In Oregon, which is getting a $4,522,863 grant, the seven Workforce Investment Boards will be administering the federal funding and will target investments based on regionally specific, high-demand industries.

“We‚Äôll use this money to invest in training that gives workers the tools and credentials they need for high-demand fields, and leads to a greater chance of longevity in their careers,‚Äù said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.

Grantees are also expected to develop partnerships between workforce and industry organizations, and align the services they provide with economic development agencies and other local, state and federal programs and agencies.

All of them have also committed to documenting their experiences under the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program and sharing best practices and the lessons learned about workforce training and development.

“Providing workers with access to the skills training they need to pursue in-demand jobs is critical to expanding opportunity and to helping businesses grow and thrive,‚Äù said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

Pathways Tennessee Recognized for Forging Ties Between Economic Development and Education

Leaders of the nine-state Pathways to Prosperity Network met in Nashville, TN for discussing how to build academic pathways that establish clear connections between education and the workforce.

Pathways to Prosperity Network

Pathways to Prosperity Network

Tennessee was lauded for its Pathways Tennessee program, an initiative that forges critical relationships between economic development and education.

Bob Schwartz, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-leader of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, said that network states are eager to learn how Tennessee’s bold strategy was developed and put in place.

Schwartz said that with programs such as Pathways Tennessee, Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55, state leaders have set out a vision and the critical supports needed for implementing and providing a 21st century education and training for young people.

The Pathways to Prosperity Network is a collaboration between nine states that have joined forces with Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project.

Apart from Tennessee, other states that are a part of the network include California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Ohio.

Pathways Tennessee is a multi-agency initiative established in 2012 with the goal of helping provide rigorous education that leads to relevant careers. The initiative is currently running two pilot programs, one in southeast Tennessee and the other one in the Upper Cumberland region.

The latter program has middle school students in four counties working through 10-day modules specific to careers such as health sciences and advanced manufacturing that regional industries have identified as emerging.

In the Southeast, middle and high school students in four other counties are being trained and provided skills in IT and advanced manufacturing that will prepare them as attractive candidates for jobs and careers with regional employers.

Over the next two years, the initiative will expand to include all corners of the state. Support for these programs comes from multiple state agencies and organizations. The Tennessee Economic Development Department is involved, and so are the Labor and Workforce Development, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

“Making education more relevant to today’s marketplace is critical to our state attracting the jobs of the future,” said Governor Bill Haslam.

The Governor added that initiatives like Pathways are helping provide the workforce the job market demands by matching the skills employers need to the training and education students are receiving.

Maryland Economic Development Agency Signs Up For OPIC Partners Program

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has joined the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s Partners Program.

OPIC

OPIC

The Washington, D.C.-based OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution.

At no cost to taxpayers, OPIC mobilizes private capital and works with the private sector to help U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, in the process creating jobs and growth opportunities in the U.S. as well.

OPIC Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Dr. Lawrence Spinelli said that the agency’s support produces development impact abroad, but their work also has the positive effect of benefiting American small and medium-sized businesses.

Since it was established in as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC’s assistance and support has resulted in investments worth more than $200 billion in over 4,000 projects, which in turn have supported more than 278,000 American jobs and generated exports by U.S. companies worth an estimated $76 billion.

Their Partners Program aims to expand the agency’s role by working through key organizations that help spread understanding and awareness of OPIC programs and activities among businesses in their region. Maryland is the 19th member to become a part of the program.

As a participant in the OPIC Partners Program, the Maryland economic development agency will be able to connect businesses in the state with the resources and support OPIC can provide. This includes everything from loans and guarantees to support for investing funds and political risk insurance.

The offerings are uniquely tailored to assist private sector companies who are interested in trade and investment in challenging locations around the world, and need support such as long-term financing and protection against political instability.

“Making the move to expand internationally can be that much easier with the expert advice that OPIC offers,” said DBED Secretary Dominick Murray.

Secretary Murray added that they are pleased to be able to bring this important resource to Maryland businesses even as DBED continues to help businesses explore new global markets for trade and investment.

The support and assistance OPIC will provide to Maryland businesses complements the Maryland Export Initiative established in 2010 by Governor Martin O’Malley. OPIC’s mission is also compatible with the efforts and activities of the Maryland Economic Development Dept’s Office of International Investment and Trade.

New Volvo Investment in Dublin, Virginia Truck Assembly Plant to Improve Energy Efficiency

Volvo Trucks North America announced a $69 million investment at their New River Valley truck assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia.

Volvo NRV assembly plant in Dublin, VA

Volvo NRV assembly plant in Dublin, VA (photo – volvotrucks.com)

The NRV assembly plant, which produces all Volvo trucks sold in North America, is already the world’s largest Volvo largest truck manufacturing facility with 1.6 million square feet of space spread across a 300-acre site.

The company is making this new investment at the NRV plant for new equipment, processes and plant redesign that will improve their manufacturing efficiency and the quality of the vehicles produced at the facility.

The enhancements include energy efficient upgrades to the paint facility. The redesign and new equipment will provide the plant’s employees with a safer and more ergonomic work environment.

The NRV plant is among the industry leaders in Southwestern Virginia promoting sustainable development and environmental care.

When this facility achieved zero landfill status in 2013, it was the first Volvo plant in North America to do so. A year before that in 2012, the plant was certified as being ISO-50001 energy-management standard compliant, and also received an energy efficiency certification from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Less than a year before that, NRV became the first company under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program to fulfill a 10-year pledge to reduce energy intensity per unit by 25 percent.

Volvo achieved these results by investing in more energy efficient systems and installing clean energy sources such as solar hot water heaters. The company also engaged employees by asking them to come up with more energy-saving ideas. All savings (totaling about $1.2 million) from such projects are being reinvested into enhancing energy efficiency efforts.

“The NRV plant and the passion of its employees are a competitive advantage for Volvo Trucks,” said Göran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales and Marketing.

Lars Blomberg, Volvo North America Trucks vice president and general manager, said that employees at all levels have been actively engaged throughout their energy reduction journey.

The NRV assembly plant employs more than 2,000 Virginians. A majority of these jobs were created as part of a major workforce expansion way back in 1999, when Volvo added 1,277 new jobs at the facility.

That expansion was secured by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership working together with the New River Economic Development Alliance and Pulaski County.

Baltimore Mayor Unveils Strategic Economic Development Partnership with Anchor Institutions

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was joined by leaders of eight of the city’s leading higher education and medical institutions for the announcement of the Baltimore City Anchor Plan.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveils Baltimore City Anchor Plan

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveils Baltimore City Anchor Plan (photo – baltimorecity.gov)

BCAP is a strategic economic development action plan that will drive growth and development in Baltimore neighborhoods with the help of these anchor institutions.

The eight institutions that are a part of BCAP are divided into three sectors. Sector One includes the Bon Secours Baltimore Health System and Coppin State University.

Sector Two includes Johns Hopkins University, University of Baltimore, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Sector Three has Notre Dame of Maryland University, Morgan State University, and Loyola University Maryland.

These anchor institutions have an outsize role to play in Baltimore’s economic vitality. They are the city’s largest employers, and serve as catalysts to attract and retain residents, create jobs and drive economic growth.

Their hiring and purchasing power and real estate development activities support local businesses and help revitalize communities.

Since fall 2012, the City has been working on a plan to build on the strengths of existing partnerships with these anchor institutions in order to increase collaboration and communication between the local government, hospitals and universities.

Separate working groups were created for the three aforementioned sectors, and this led to the development of the Baltimore City Anchor Plan.

Under BCAP, the City and the anchor partners will work together to address priority areas such as local hiring and purchasing, quality of life and public safety.

BCAP will directly support existing Baltimore economic development strategies, and will assist in efforts to achieve Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s target of growing Baltimore by 10,000 families.

The City will work through BCAP to coordinate with the anchor institutions on City services and urban development activities including neighborhood revitalization, public works and transportation investments, business and employment services, homeownership incentives, etc.

The coordination on priority areas will be conducted through quarterly inter-agency meetings and bi-annual roundtable meetings between the anchor institution presidents and the mayor.

Read the full Baltimore City Anchor Plan – Download (pdf)

Indiana Undertakes Study to Help Cities Come Up With Economic Development Strategies

Indiana is undertaking a study of regional cities that have experienced positive economic transformation. The study is supposed to help provide information and resources that can be used by cities across Indiana that are looking to initiate transformative economic development strategies.

HEA 1035 Indiana law

HEA 1035 Indiana law

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has hired consulting firm Fourth Economy Consulting to conduct the study.

IEDC President Eric Doden said Indiana has become a national role model for economic development with other states replicating the IEDC’s structure, enacting similar business-friendly policies, and practicing the same fiscal discipline.

“We need to know what our Indiana cities can do to energize growth and witness a tomorrow even more prosperous than today,” said Doden.

The study is required under a law (HEA 1035) passed by the General Assembly after Governor Mike Pence called for a study of regional cities to help identify tools and best practices that could be implemented across the state.

HEA 1035, signed into law by Gov. Pence on March 25, 2014, calls for the IEDC to conduct an assessment of regional metropolitan areas and provide said assessment results before October 1, 2014.

The law requires that the final report prepared after the study include recommendations for initiatives, quality of life and other such improvements that may lead to economic growth.

HEA 1035 also asks that the report include recommendations on financing options for the recommended initiatives and improvements using a combination of public and private investment involving participation by the state and local governments, financial institutions and private enterprise.

State Representative Steve Braun, who authored HEA 1035, said that the legislation ensures that Indiana is taking the necessary steps to build a strong economic future. Braun added that each corner of the state is very diverse, and a one-size-fits-all economic development policy will not work.

Along with the study, the IEDC will also be encouraging community leaders to think differently about economic development and come up with an economic vision for their future.

The report containing the study results can be used by communities to start identifying their strengths, natural resources and industry assets that can be included in a strategic plan that will help achieve their vision for growth.

Michigan Economic Development Corp Launches Placemaking Initiative Backed by Crowdfunding

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with several other organizations, has launched an innovative placemaking initiative funded through a combination of crowdfunding and matching grants.

Crowdfunding MI

Crowdfunding MI (photo – crowdfundingmi.com)

The Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort involving the MEDC, crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Michigan Municipal League.

Local residents will be able to be a part of transformational projects in their communities, supported with a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Innovative placemaking efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” said Governor Rick Snyder.

A platform has been created (www.crowdfundingmi.com) where projects submitted by communities, non-profits and businesses will seek online crowdfunding pledges from the project’s supporters, residents and community members.

Projects must focus on things such as outdoor plaza or park enhancements that activate public spaces and capture public awareness and momentum.

Any project which meets its fundraising goals on the platform will then be eligible to receive a matching grant of up to $100,000 from the MEDC.

This is the first program of its kind in the nation involving a state agency. Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC, said that Public Spaces Community Places is a new tool that communities can use for creating vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity.

Finney added that this was a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.

The website for the platform was designed by the Michigan Municipal League as a one-stop resource for the crowdfunding needs of Michigan communities, businesses and investors. Projects may be submitted starting July 9, 2014 through Patronicity.

Michigan Municipal League Executive Director and CEO Daniel Gilmartin said they believe this program will inspire and assist communities of all shapes and sizes take on and complete projects they could previously only dream about.

Patronicity Founder and CEO Chris Blauvelt said that through crowdfunding, MEDC is empowering everyday citizens to have a dramatic impact on their communities.

The MEDC has chosen Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Green Alley Project as a pilot project for the program. This is a $200,000 project which has already secured a $100,000 grant. Midtown Detroit will seek to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding to transform the 415-foot alley with enhancements such as a new design to promote walkability and community connectivity, and green infrastructure upgrades that reduce the burden of storm water on the city’s sewer system.

If they are successful at raising the $50,000 target through crowdfunding, then the remaining $50,000 will be provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Midtown Detroit Inc. President Susan T. Mosey thinks it’s doable, noting that the idea of creating something sustainable and impactful for the community out of something so blighted has really resonated in the Midtown community.

North Carolina Governor Signs Bill Creating Economic Development Partnership

Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 1031 into law to create a nonprofit corporation that will take over major North Carolina economic development functions from the Department of Commerce.

NC economic development partnerhip bill signing

NC economic development partnerhip bill signing (photo – state.nc.us)

The Governor was joined at the bill signing in the State Capitol‚Äôs Old House Chamber by Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker and members of the Governor’s Economic Development Board, along with the bill‚Äôs sponsors and legislators.

“This legislation allows us to put a new economic development approach in place that helps to create jobs by putting a greater emphasis on customer service, all while saving taxpayer money,” said Gov. McCrory.

House Bill 1031 authorizes the NC Department of Commerce to contract with a North Carolina nonprofit corporation that will be assisting the Department in fostering and retaining jobs and other functions including business development, international trade, marketing, and travel and tourism.

The initiative to establish what is now known as the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina was first announced last year in April. A lot of the preparatory work to get the non-profit corporation operational and ready for the transition of functions has already been done.

The non-profit corporation will not be awarding incentives under programs such as the One North Carolina Fund and the Job Development Investment Grant Program. The State will also retain administration of grants and funds received from the federal government.

The law establishes the Economic Development Accountability and Standards Committee chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. This committee’s duties include oversight and monitoring of the contract entered into with the non-profit partnership.

The committee will also be coordinating North Carolina economic development grant programs between the Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Transportation and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources.

The activities of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina will be funded through a mix of state funding and private contributions from the industry. Resources from the Dept. of Commerce, including part of the department’s funding and employees, will be made available to the non-profit corporation.

The law also requires the non-profit corporation to raise $250,000 before entering into the contract, and then $5.75 million in private contributions over the next five years, including $750,000 in the first year of the agreement and $1.25 million per year after that.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260  Scroll to top