North Dakota Economic Development Foundation to Launch Workforce Recruitment Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USDA Announces Sustainable Wood Building Training Program

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

Wood

Wood (photo – fs.usda.gov)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oregon NMTC Program Facilitates Chaucer Foods Facility

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

New Markets Tax Credit

New Markets Tax Credit (photo – nmtccoalition.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sempra Energy Awards Contract for $6B Louisiana LNG Project

CB&I (NYSE: CBI) and Chiyoda International Corporation, announced that they have been awarded a contract for the construction of Sempra Energy’s $6 billion Cameron LNG liquefaction and export facility in Hackberry, Louisiana.

Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG project in Louisiana

Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG project in Louisiana (photo – sempra.com)

Chiyoda International Corp. is a U.S.-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Yokohama, Japan-based Chiyoda Corporation (TSE: 6366 ; ISIN: JP3528600004).

The project is expected to create 3,000 on-site construction jobs, in addition to several hundred more jobs at CB&I fabrication facilities in Louisiana and hundreds more engineering and project management jobs at the company’s Baton Rouge office.

Once operational, the LNG liquefaction and export facility itself will add 130 direct and permanent jobs with average annual wages of $80,000, plus benefits. The project will support the creation of 610 more permanent indirect jobs in the region, and is also helping retain the existing 60 jobs at Sempra’s Cameron Parish terminal.

Cameron LNG, a subsidiary of Sempra, opened the $900 million LNG terminal in Hackberry in Oct 2009.

Louisiana Economic Development and Sempra began discussions in 2011 on the $6 billion expansion to add an LNG export facility to the company’s terminal at Hackberry. This was when the company had just begun to pursue federal permits to export LNG to countries that have free trade agreements with the U.S., as well as those that do not.

The location is ideal for LNG operations because it is situated along the Calcasieu Channel near the Gulf of Mexico, and is close to a pipeline hub that serves two-thirds of all the natural gas markets in the U.S.

LED announced in March 2012 that Sempra had secured the final commercial agreement it needed for the development. At that time, LED indicated that the Cameron LNG export facility would be eligible for state incentives under the Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

The latest announcement of the contract to build the facility comes after the U.S. Dept. of Energy approved Sempra’s application in Feb 2014, allowing the company to export LNG to countries that do not have a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

Debra L. Reed, chairman and CEO of Sempra Energy, said that exporting natural gas will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and economic growth in the U.S.

San Diego-based Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company. Their 17,000 employees serve 31 million consumers worldwide, and the company’s 2013 revenues exceeded $10.5 billion.

The Hague, Netherlands-based CB&I has its global administrative headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas, and is an energy infrastructure focused company with around 55,000 employees.

Chicago Named Earth Hour Capital of the United States

With the clock ticking down towards Earth Hour on March 29, 2014, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has named Chicago to represent the U.S. as the 2014 Earth Hour Capital.

Earth Hour City Challenge

Earth Hour City Challenge (photo – WWF)

Chicago was picked by an international jury after a year-long Earth Hour City Challenge involving 60 cities in the U.S.

The panel picked Chicago as a reward for the city’s commitment and demonstrable progress in combating climate change. Chicago is also getting a $30,000 grant to kick-start a residential solar purchase program.

Instead of just going dark with other cities around the world for that one hour at 8:30 p.m. (local time) on March 29, Chicago will also be hosting Earth Hour celebration events at notable landmarks such as the Willis Tower.

The City will encourage residents to go beyond the hour by developing a city-wide program to help homeowners install solar panels.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to portray the focus on sustainability as part of an overall Chicago economic development plan. He said that fostering economic opportunity and job creation through sustainability will ensure Chicago’s long-term livability and competitiveness.

Keya Chatterjee, director of Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach at WWF, said that Chicago’s efforts to make renewable energy accessible make it a “first city” in climate-smart policy. Chatterjee cited Chicago’s one-day turnaround policy for rooftop solar project permits as an example, along with efforts to strengthen the public transportation system.

This is the second year this challenge is being held. Last year, WWF invited cities from six countries to participate in the pilot Earth Hour City Challenge. Participating cities are asked to submit their data, actions and plans to the Carbonn Cities Climate Registry, where you can see what each of the cities is doing to develop sustainably.

Out of the 66 cities that participated last year, six were named as Earth Hour Capitals in their respective countries. San Francisco, Chicago and Cincinnati were named as finalists from the U.S., and San Francisco was ultimately named as the 2013 Earth Hour Capital of the United States. Vancouver ended up winning the title of Global Earth hour Capital.

This year, 163 cities from 14 countries participated. WWF picked 33 finalists from cities in 14 countries, and one city out of the finalists in each country was named as their sustainability leader. Chicago was named over the other two U.S. finalists Boulder and Cleveland.

Chicago and the other 13 Earth Hour Capitals will now compete for the title of Global Earth Hour Capital for 2014, to be awarded at a function on March 27 in Vancouver, Canada.

Nevada Approves $4.3M Film Tax Credits for Mall Cop – Blart 2

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. has been approved for Nevada’s first film tax credit for the filming of Mall Cop: Blart 2, a sequel to the original Paul Blart: Mall Cop movie.

Nevada Film Office tax credits

Nevada Film Office tax credits (photo – nevadafilm.com)

The $46 million production cost includes $27.9 million in qualified expenditures, which makes Sony Pictures eligible for a maximum of $4.383 million in transferable tax credits.

Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office , said he’d like to thank Sony Pictures for their interest in filming in Nevada, and for working with their office so well.

The production is entirely funded by Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and by their parent Sony Corp.

The production will create 3,400 direct jobs for Nevada residents with a payroll of more than $7 million during the 66 day filming period in Nevada. The shooting will primarily take place at Wynn Las Vegas and at Blue Line Studios.

Goods and services purchased from Nevada vendors during this period will add up to more than $8.7 million.

A special hearing of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), which administers Nevada economic development programs and coordinates job creation and business development efforts by other state and regional agencies, was held to decide on Sony’s application for a certificate of eligibility for transferable tax credits.

During this hearing, GOED Business Development Director Brad Mamer asked Pete Corral, who was one of those representing Columbia/Sony Pictures Industries, as to whether the tax credit program contributed to their decision to choose Nevada for the production.

Corral replied that the transferable tax credit was a major part of their decision to film in Nevada, and noted that Sony had also been looking at Louisiana and Georgia. He said they had calculated that they would receive a larger incentive if they had chosen to film in New Orleans.

However, Sony ultimately decided it would be more advantageous to film in Las Vegas, and in particular at the Wynn.

Mamer also asked if the company had any suggestions about how more categories of production costs (special effects, camea/video, etc.) could be brought to Nevada. Corral said Nevada would need to persuade companies such as Hollywood Rentals and Panavision to establish an annex in the state.

Corral also noted that Nevada should consider increasing its current 15 percent Transferable Film Tax Credit incentives program to be more in line with other states that offer film tax credits in the 25 percent range.

Paul DePace, another representative for Columbia/Sony Pictures Industries at the hearing, said Nevada could additionally secure post-production work by having a post-production studio or sound stage.

DePace said a studio/stage of 16,000 to 18,000 square feet would be a positive investment for state or local governments in Nevada, or even as a private business venture. DePace added that Columbia/Sony does not make such out of state capital investments since they already have their own facilities in Hollywood.

The Nevada Film Office is planning to hold more such hearings for three other productions that have applied for film tax credits in Nevada.

Kentucky, Germany Team Up For Workforce Development Skills Initiative

A German model for closing the skills gap may soon be helping Kentucky build the skilled future workforce it needs to support the state’s manufacturers.

KY Skills Initiative

KY Skills Initiative

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, accompanied by Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Fischer and other state and education officials launched a program called the Skills Initiative.

Kentucky’s Skills Initiative is based on Germany’s dual system of vocational education under which students pursue high school diplomas while doing apprenticeships in their chosen occupations.

Gov. Beshear said that businesses are consistently telling them that the need for highly-skilled workers has never been greater, so they set out to develop the best training programs possible for meeting the present and future needs of Kentucky business.

Gov. Beshear said they found an extremely effective German program, and contacted the German embassy to find out more about it. The Governor added that the Germans had been extremely helpful, and their assistance helped create the Skills Initiative.

The initiative is open to all manufacturers in Kentucky, but the partnership between the State and the German Embassy is primarily driven by the large number of German companies in Kentucky. Currently, there are 62 German-owned businesses in the state, which together employ more than 9,000 people.

Through the Skills Initiative, the German Embassy brings together local education and training providers with manufacturers. Participation for students is entirely voluntary.

Fischer said the Skills Initiative is a win-win idea and everyone benefits. He added that German-American cooperation on workforce skills development will provide communities across Kentucky with opportunities for quality training, good jobs and businesses capable of succeeding in the U.S. and global markets.

The primary aim of the Skills Initiative is to align Kentucky’s existing education and workforce development resources into a system of dual-track training that provides education and jobs at the same time. There are already more than 150 Kentucky companies employing hundreds of students through formalized dual-track training programs.

Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said their aim with the Skills Initiative is for it to be industry-driven and based on market demands of Kentucky’s workforce needs.

The Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency administering Kentucky economic development programs and initiatives.

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards

Trade & Industry Development magazine has announced their 9th annual Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards.

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards

TID Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards (photo – tradeandindustrydev.com)

The 2014 CiCi Awards recognize 15 economic development projects announced in 2013 that were notable for the extraordinary investment involved, and 15 other projects for their community impact (as in job creation).

This year, four of the top 15 in the CiCi corporate investment list are projects involving capital investments of $1 billion or more.

The biggest of the lot is the $1.6 billion Eastman Chemical Co. expansion in Kingsport, Tennessee. The second largest one is the $1.5 billion Tenaris steel pipe manufacturing plant in Bay City, Texas. The third largest one is the $1.1 billion Boeing expansion in North Charleston, South Carolina.

There are three data center projects in the top 15 CiCi corporate investment list, including two Microsoft projects ($677.6 million in West Des Moines, Iowa and $348 million in Mecklenburg County, Virginia).

The third data center project on the list is the $600 million investment by Google at its data center site in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

Most of the rest are automotive and tire company projects, with the exception of Big River Steel in Arkansas; Monsanto in Missouri; and MSC Aerospace in Utah.

The community impact list is topped by Cerner Corp.’s $2 billion redevelopment of the Bannister Mall site in Chesterfield, Missouri as part of its global headquarters expansion. This project will create 15,000 new full-time jobs.

The second largest project on the CiCi community impact list is the Motorola Mobility and Flextronics manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas, which is expected to create 2,000 jobs.

The third largest project is the 800-job IBM technology center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is part of a collaborative higher education initiative between IBM, the State of Louisiana and academic institutions. This project is expected to create 1,342 permanent jobs in the region.

Looking at both lists together, Tennessee tops the CiCi Awards in terms of the number of projects mentioned. The corporate investment list includes the Eastman Chemical and Hankook Tire projects in Tennessee, and the community impact list includes Calsonic Kansei North America and ProNova Solutions projects.

Scott Swoger, publisher of Trade & Industry Development, praised Tennessee economic development efforts and the state’s business climate. Swoger said that having two companies each in the corporate investment and community impact categories is an economic development achievement that should receive the full attention of corporate site selectors.

Houweling’s Tomatoes Brings Jobs and Sustainable Farming Technology to Utah

Houweling’s Tomatoes is planning to build an environment-friendly greenhouse tomato farm in Juab County, Utah.

Houweling’s Tomatoes

Houweling’s Tomatoes (photo Рhouwelings.com)

The company will invest $79 million into the project in two phases, and will create more than 280 new jobs.

Not to mention the fact that they are bringing state of the art climate control and sustainable farming technology to Utah.

The greenhouse located in Mona, UT will be heated using waste heat piped from the nearby Currant Creek Power Plant, which is a natural gas-fired power plant owned and operated by PacifiCorp Energy.

The waste Co2 from the power plant’s generators stack will also provide Co2 fertilization for the tomato crops. PacifiCorp operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, and will also be providing the electricity for the greenhouse.

Casey Houweling, president and CEO of Houweling’s Tomatoes, said that as far as they know, this is the world’s first commercial scale operation to pull both waste heat and Co2 from the same power provider.

Houweling added that the project will demonstrate how a sustainable technology partnership and environment-friendly utilization of water, land, Co2 and waste heat can grow exceptional tomatoes, create jobs and diversify the economy.

The company’s operations will generate $18,160,900 in new state taxes, and the more than 280 jobs the company expects to create will add $267,891,773 in new payroll. The jobs being created will pay at least 100 percent of the prevailing Juab County average annual wage, and include health insurance.

Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Utah Economic Development Corporation, said that Utah’s food and agriculture sector is incredibly diverse and employs nearly 12,000 people. Edwards said Houweling’s innovative and sustainable approach to food production adds a unique component to the industry.

In order to secure the tomato farm green house, the board of directors of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has approved EDTIF tax credits of up to of $4,648,270 for Houweling’s Tomatoes.

These tax credits will be provided as yearly post-performance incentives, calculated as 25.6 percent of the taxes Houweling’s operations in Utah will pay each year during the 20-year period of the agreement.

GOED Executive Director Spencer P. Eccles said Houweling’s Tomatoes, through its expansion and green practices, will have a positive impact on the rural community of Juab County.

Houweling’s Tomatoes was founded by Casey Houweling’s father, and currently has 750 employees based in Camarillo, California and Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

Houweling Nurseries Oxnard Inc. in California and Houweling Nurseries Ltd. in Canada operate autonomously, but under the Houweling family’s ownership. The Utah tomato farm will follow this model, and add one more separate legal entity to the family owned operations.

Online Education Provider K12 Inc. Selects Blount County, TN For New Campus

K12 Inc., which provides online education programs and curricula for grades K-12, announced that it has chosen Blount County, Tennessee for a new family support campus.

K12 Inc.

Photo – K12 Inc. / blountpartnership.com

The new campus will be located at the Tyson Center Building adjacent to McGhee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa, TN.

K12 will invest $2.4 million into the project, and will create 300 new jobs in Blount County. K12 Inc. already employs 140 teachers and educators in Tennessee.

The company’s site selection process had narrowed down the choices to San Antonio, TX and Blount County, TN.

Tim Murray, president and COO of K12 Inc., said Blount County’s skilled workforce and the premium that its citizens place on quality education are two key reasons why the company chose to locate and invest in Tennessee.

Murray also mentioned that Blount County’s one-stop shop community development agency helped in streamlining the process so that they could move forward quickly and efficiently.

That would be the Blount Partnership, the sole agency providing Blount County economic development and corporate location services to new and expanding businesses in the county.

Blount Partnership President and CEO Bryan Daniels said they are excited about K12 Inc. moving its family support operations to Blount County.

Daniels added that this is another solid addition to the community made possible by Blount County and the City of Alcoa, which he said are to be commended for their continued support of ongoing business developments.

Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said a major employer such as K12 pushes the county’s industrial employer count to nearly 2,500, and the total capital investment over the last three years to over $400 million. Mayor Mitchell said it goes to show how a business-friendly environment can attract investors from all over.

The Herndon, VA-based K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN) has both online public and private schools, and offers hundreds of individualized online courses and teacher-led learning programs. The company has created thousands of jobs for teachers all over the U.S., and their services are used by more than 2,000 public school districts and tens of thousands of students around the world.

Alcoa City Mayor Don Mull said that having a company with a strong education background lends itself to the diversity of companies and businesses Blount County attracts.

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