Virginia Governor Signs Clean Energy Economy and Green Jobs Package

Marking the occasion of Earth Day, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a package of bills that is designed to significantly expand the growth of the clean energy economy and green jobs in Virginia.

Keep Virginia green

Keep Virginia green (photo – wakacheeka/flickr)

The legislative package includes the following bills:

HB 2267 and SB 1099 – This bill authorizes the creation of the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority. The new state entity will support and facilitate development of Virginia’s solar industry and solar-powered facilities.

HB 1950 and SB1395 – This bill doubles the allowed generation capacity for a solar net energy metering facility in Virginia.

HB 2237 – This bill authorizes utility cost recovery for construction or purchase of a solar facility with capacity over 1MW. It also designates 500MW solar generation projects as being in the public interest.

SB 1331 – This bill supports natural gas energy efficiency programs by clarifying how costs are evaluated by the State Corporation Commission.

HB 1446 and SB 801 – This bill expands the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which has been instrumental in helping localities establish loan programs for financing commercial building energy efficiency projects using private capital.

HB 1843 and SB 1037 – This bill extends the Green Jobs Tax Credit for another three years. This Virginia economic development incentive program provides employers creating green jobs in Virginia with a $500 tax credit per job created.

The bill signing ceremony that made this legislation law was held at Capital One’s Meadowville Technology Park in Chester, VA, as part of the company’s week-long Earth Day celebration events. Dominion Power recently completed a 500 KW solar array installation at this site.

In a release issued after the bill signing, Gov. McAuliffe said that these legislative initiatives are key components of his Virginia Energy Plan and will significantly expand solar generation, energy efficiency programs and green jobs in the Commonwealth.

Delegate Jennifer McClellan, who introduced the net metering bill, said in the release that creating laws that attract clean energy to Virginia will help to build economic and environmental sustainability for Virginia families, communities and businesses.

Delegate David Yancey, who introduced the utility-scale solar bill, said that with this legislation, Virginia is taking a much needed step in developing a solar industry in the state.

Yancey said it shows that important issues like energy can bring a variety of parties together to achieve a common goal, and added that he worked with environmental groups, small businesses and Dominion Power to craft a bill that was in line with the Governor’s energy policies.


PTT Global Chemical Selects Belmont County, Ohio for Potential Multi-Billion Ethane Cracker Project

Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical PLC and its project partner Tokyo, Japan-based Marubeni Corporation announced the selection of a site in Belmont County, OH for a potential multi-billion investment to establish an ethane cracker complex.

Ohio jobs

Ohio jobs (photo – americaspower/flickr)

The selection of the former FirstEnergy R. E. Burger power plant in Shadyside, OH as the potential site for an ethane cracker facility comes after a two-year site selection process during which PTTGC and Marubeni looked at project sites all over the Utica and Marcellus shale regions.

Ohio economic development non-profit corporation JobsOhio has been working with the companies on this process the entire time, along with regional partner Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth and other local development partners.

Dr. Kongkrapan Intarajang, executive vice president of International Business Relations for PTTGC, said in a release announcing the selection of the Belmont site that working with JobsOhio and the state over the past two years has been a positive experience, and added that they are looking forward to moving this project into the next phase.

Governor John R. Kasich said in the release that they are one step closer to landing a new, multi-billion dollar investment in eastern Ohio, and that’s exciting news for the state, the region and Belmont County. The Governor added that a project of this size can help lift the region forever.

JobsOhio President and CIO John Minor added that this project has been a truly collaborative effort, resulting in this good news for eastern Ohio and the state. Minor noted that an ethane cracker in Belmont would facilitate additional investments in the growing shale and petrochemical industries, and with greater investments come more job opportunities for Ohioans.

U.S. Senator for Ohio Rob Portman issued a statement in which he says that this is exciting news for Belmont County and would mean more jobs and economic growth for the state. Sen. Portman adds that he looks forward to working with JobsOhio and local economic development officials to support this important project.

Exact numbers in terms of the investment and job creation impact of the project haven’t been made public. However, the multi-billion investment project is expected to create hundreds of direct permanent jobs and thousands of construction jobs.

PTTGC and Marubeni will be spending the 12-14 months completing engineering planning and permitting for the project at the Ohio site. Once they make the final investment decision next year, the construction of the ethane cracker facility will take another three and a half years after that.

Wake County Economic Development Brings CBC AMERICAS Corp US Headquarters to Cary, NC

CBC AMERICAS Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based CBC Co. Ltd., announced plans to relocate its U.S. headquarters to Wake County, NC, and establish a distribution warehouse in the Town of Mebane, NC.


CBC AMERICAS Corp (photo –

Supported by Wake County Economic Development, the NC Dept. of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) and other local and regional partners, the company is relocating its operational and financial divisions to Cary, NC.

The relocation will create 67 jobs in Cary and Wake County, out of which nearly 50 are high-paying jobs with an average annual wage of $85,000. The distribution project in Mebane will create another 29 jobs in Alamance County with an average annual salary of $38,957 to $74,163.

All put together, the company will create just over 100 jobs in North Carolina, and will be making an investment at least $3.5 million.

Apart from its current headquarters operations in Commack, NY, the company also has facilities in Torrance, CA and Mexico City, Mexico. Its parent CBC Group is headquartered in Tokyo, and has more than 30 sales and manufacturing facilities worldwide.

The recruitment of the CBC AMERICAS Corporation headquarters from Long Island to Cary, and the location of the new distribution center in Mebane, is the result of four months of collaboration between various state, local and regional organizations.

Wake County Economic Development (WCED) Executive Director Adrienne Cole said in a release announcing the project that CBC’s relocation is evidence of the strong economic development and community partnerships they have at play in Wake County and across the state.

WCED, a part of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, is the lead economic development organization serving Wake County and the 12 municipalities within the county. Apart from WCED, EDPNC and the NC Commerce Dept, other partners involved in the project include the Town of Cary, Town of Mebane, and Alamance County.

Also involved were NC State University’s Japan Center, the Capital Area Workforce Development Board, Regional Partnership Workforce Development, the North Carolina Community College System, Elon University, and Meredith College.

Governor Pat McCrory said in an NC Commerce release that CBC AMERICAS is a welcome addition to the thriving community of Japanese businesses in North Carolina.

CBC AMERICAS CEO and Executive Vice President Kazuhiko Kondo extended their deepest appreciation to the towns of Cary and Mebane, Wake and Alamance counties and the state of North Carolina for their support and cooperation in this corporate relocation.

A North Carolina economic development grant of up to $63,000 through the One North Carolina Fund helped secure the project for the state.

Warren, Michigan Approves Economic Development Incentives for GM Tech Center Expansion

The City Council of Warren, MI has approved a resolution authorizing the City to offer tax exemptions for an expansion project by General Motors at its Warren Tech Center campus.

GM Warren Tech Center, Michigan

GM Warren Tech Center, Michigan (photo – Local hero/wikimedia)

The Warren economic development tax incentives for the General Motors, LLC, Technical Center will enable the company to go ahead with a planned investment of $419,437,940.

GM;s expansion plan includes construction of new buildings, parking decks and additions, along with the renovation of various buildings to modernize the campus and make it more competitive and collaborative.

The expansion will enable GM to create 2,600 new jobs at the Warren Tech Center by the time the project is completed, and also supports the retention of 3,860 jobs.

GM wants to get started immediately on this project, and had therefore applied for the approval of three Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption (IFTE) certificates, requesting that the Warren City Council approve them before the company began work on the project.

At a special meeting held after a public hearing on the project, the City Council approved the resolution, offering GM a 12-year, 50 percent real and personal property tax abatement, with two additional years for construction.

GM is not at the moment seeking additional state incentives for this project. Last year in June, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of an increase in the maximum allowance for retained GM jobs from 33,000 to 34,750.

This was after the company announced plans to create 1,750 new jobs in Michigan through consolidation from out-of-state facilities. Before that in Oct 2012, GM announced plans to locate one of its four global IT Innovation Centers at the Warren Tech Center, bringing another 1,500 jobs to Warren and Michigan.

The GM Warren Tech Center is a National Historic Landmark that was completed in 1955 and first opened in 1956. It was conceived by then GM Board of Directors Chairman Alfred P. Sloan, and designed by architect Eero Saarinen to consolidate GM’s vast spread of research, design and engineering facilities.

The result was one of the largest architectural projects undertaken in the U.S., with a $1 billion investment in the Tech Center, where 31 buildings were constructed on a 680-acre site in phases between 1949 and 1985. The establishment of the Warren Tech Center consolidated vehicle engineering functions from 14 different GM locations across Southeast Michigan. The campus can accommodate a workforce of more than 20,000 people.

Illinois Bill Seeks to Create Non-Profit IL Business and Economic Development Corporation

Illinois may soon get a new private economic development corporation that would take over many of the functions of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol (photo – Nikopoley/wikipedia)

The bill (Amendment No. 1 to HB0574) was filed by IL House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and is cited as the Illinois Business and Economic Development Partnership Act.

If approved, it would create the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation as a not-for-profit corporation tasked with promoting Illinois economic development.

Aside from business development, its responsibilities would include small and minority-owned business incubation, trade and investment, and tourism and film.

The bill empowers the new corporation to enter into grant agreements with the DCEO and sub-grants with other persons and entities. It will also be able to negotiate tax incentives with private businesses, subject to DCEO approval.

The 16-member of board of directors of the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation will include the Illinois Governor or his designee, and 11 directors appointed by the Governor. The remaining four directors will be appointed by the leadership of the Illinois House and Senate.

The creation of a private non-profit corporation that leads state economic development efforts and coordinates with a state agency is now pretty much an accepted model. Such entities established in Ohio and Florida are both doing very well, and the recently created Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is based on this same model.

The legislation that seeks to do the same in Illinois looks likely to be approved by the Illinois House on a fast track. For starters, it was filed by the House Majority Leader and is sponsored by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

The IL House leadership is supporting the bill because they and Governor Bruce Rauner are both getting something out of it. The Governor has been pushing for privatizing the state’s economic development functions to help Illinois compete better for job creation and retention projects that it has been losing to other states.

The other part of the bill is about putting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum under a new stand-alone state agency, something which Speaker Madigan is interested in. The IL Historic Preservation Agency, under which the Lincoln Presidential Library is currently housed, would be abolished by the bill, and its other functions transferred to the DCEO.

South Dakota Workforce Development Campaign Tries to Attract Mars Colonists

If you’re one of the thousands of people who signed up for a one-way trip to colonize Mars, you might want to take a look at a workforce development campaign video put out by the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

Video – SD GOED

The state unveiled the ‘You Can Live in South Dakota’ campaign at the Governor’s Economic Development conference held last week in Sioux Falls, SD.

The state had to do some solid research first to find out what it would take to attract people to South Dakota, and what the messaging should be.

Their research showed that people don’t picture themselves being able to live in South Dakota because they don’t know enough about the state. Lacking salient images, people think the state lacks development and a forward economy.

This is what the new marketing campaign focuses in, with a theme of “South Dakota: You can live here.”

GOED Commissioner Pat Costello said in a release announcing the campaign launch that their goal is to build brand awareness of South Dakota not just as home to Mt. Rushmore, but as home to thriving industries, job growth opportunities, recreational opportunities and more.

“In other words,” said Commissioner Costello, “we need to show people they could have a great life in South Dakota.”

As part of the campaign, GOED plans to put up unscripted videos showcasing individuals who recently moved to South Dakota seeking employment opportunities. One of these videos is already available on GOED’s youtube channel.

But they also plan to tap into trending topics that are in the news, and link the workforce development campaign to it.

The first such effort is the Mars video above, which starts off describing the inhospitable nature of Mars and then segues to exhorting the people who signed up for colonizing Mars to come to South Dakota instead, in the process describing all the good things about the state.

The tag line – “Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”

Commissioner Costello notes that they think Mars has what South Dakota wants – thousands of people lining up to live there, and so they decided to have a little fun with it.

Campaign ads on television, banners and social media efforts will drive people to a new website that highlights the lifestyle and job opportunities in South Dakota. The Live in South Dakota workforce development campaign will officially be launched on May 1.

Shakopee, Minnesota Economic Development Incentives Support Rahr Corp Expansion

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced state assistance for a major expansion by Rahr Malting Corporation in Shakopee, MN.

Rahr Malting Co.

Rahr Malting Co. (photo –

Supported by Minnesota and Shakopee economic development incentives and tax increment financing, the company is investing $68 million into the expansion to construct four new facilities at their Shakopee headquarters.

This expansion will make the site the world’s largest single-site malting facility. Rahr is a family-owned business that has been manufacturing malt in Minnesota for 168 years and distributing ingredients to brewery and beverage makers worldwide.

The company is expanding its operations to meet increased demand for its products from the craft brewery industry. The expansion includes the construction of a 115,000-square-foot malt house that adds another 70,000 metric tons of annual malting capacity, bringing the facility’s total capacity to 460,000 metric tons.

That’s enough to brew six billion bottles of the average craft beer, or twelve billion 12-ounce cans of the average light beer. This makes the Rahr malthouse and headquarters in Shakopee the world’s largest single-site malting facility.

The expansion also includes a 20,000-square-foot pilot brewery and technical center, a 15,000-square-foot maintenance warehouse, and an 80,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility for Brewers Supply Group (a Rahr Corp subsidiary).

The company is also making use of the expansion to add new green spaces, ponding, more parking, and other site improvements to their complex.

Another reason that this expansion is making history is that this is the first time in 168 years that Rahr Corp has asked the state for assistance in expanding and adding jobs. As part of the expansion, the company is creating 28 new full-time jobs at an average wage of $20 per hour.

Rahr Corporation President and CEO William Rahr said in a release announcing the project that they’re very excited to be able to continue growing in their home base of Shakopee, and appreciate the state’s recognition of the economic benefits that Rahr’s expansion will bring to Minnesota.

DEED has approved $610,000 in Job Creation Fund incentives for the Rahr expansion project. DEED Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon said in the release that they thank the company for its continued investment in Minnesota and for its commitment to bring new jobs to the Shakopee area.

The Shakopee City Council has already voted to approve an economic development agreement that allows Rahr Corporation to make use of tax increment financing to partially fund the expansion.

Cuomo Trade Mission Kicks Off New York-Cuba Economic Development Discussions

On April 20, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo led a delegation of industry leaders and the NY Senate and Assembly leadership on a one day trade mission to Cuba.

Cuba Si

Cuba Si (photo – twicepix/flickr)

This is the first Governor-led trade mission from the United States to Cuba following the initiation of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Upon landing in Cuba, Governor Cuomo had a working lunch with Cuban Minister of Trade and Foreign Investments Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz. The ten staff members who were a part of the delegation included New York economic development agency staff.

Governor Cuomo said in a release issued before departing for Cuba that the representatives in New York’s delegation will help ensure Empire State companies are at the front of the line as the door opens to a market that has been closed to U.S. enterprise for over half a century.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky added that New York State will be leading a series of economic development trade missions that will strengthen existing trade relationships and create new ones.

In the afternoon, Gov. Cuomo delivered remarks to kick off a series of roundtable meetings between delegation members and their potential partners in Cuba.

The NY trade delegation included prominent business leaders from different industries that see a lot of potential in Cuba. Air travel, for example, was represented by JetBlue and the Plattsburgh International Airport. The U.S. airline industry is expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the normalization in relations with Cuba.

JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes was their representative on the trade mission, along with EVP General Counsel and Governmental Affairs James G. Hnat. Long Island City, NY-based JetBlue has more than 6,000 employees in New York, and is a leading carrier in Florida. JetBlue carries more than 32 million passengers every year to 87 cities across the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America.

Plattsburgh International Airport, an important regional transportation hub in Upstate New York, was represented on the delegation by Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas, who is also co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

Here’s a full list of the other industry sectors and companies represented on the Cuba trade mission:

Air Travel – JetBlue and Plattsburgh International Airport

Financial Services – MasterCard, represented by MasterCard Vice Chair Walt M. Macnee;

Health, Biotech and Pharma – NY Genome Center, Pfizer, Regeneron and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute;

Technology – Infor, represented by CEO Charles Phillips and Steve Fanning, VP Healthcare Industry Strategy.‎

Agriculture – Cayuga Milk Ingredients CEO Kevin Ellis and Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya; and

Higher Education – SUNY Chancellor Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher and Dr. Jose F. Buscaglia-Salgado, director of Caribbean, Latin American, and Latino Studies, University at Buffalo.

Berkeley County, SC Economic Development Lays Groundwork For Project Soter

Late last month, Volvo Cars announced plans to build a new $500 million U.S. automobile manufacturing facility, and said that they had drawn up a short list of potential locations for the facility.

Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars (photo – Christopher Persson/wikimedia)

One of those sites seems to be near Charleston, SC. Berkeley County Economic Development has submitted an application for an environmental permit for “Project Soter” that paves the way for an advanced manufacturing project that would create 4,000 jobs in two phases.

The permit, filed with the Charleston District U.S. Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, seeks the permit for the facility in unincorporated Ridgeville, just off I-26 and a fair distance from Charleston.

The application says that Phase 1 of Project Soter includes the development of land for the construction of a manufacturing and production space, administrative offices and a visitor’s center. At full capacity, Phase 1 is expected to employ approximately 2,000 individuals.

Phase 2 will include the development of additional land for the construction of a second manufacturing, assembly, and production space. Phase 2 timing is dependent on market conditions, but it is expected to be operational within 10 years of the start of Phase 1 construction. At full capacity, Phase 2 is expected to employ another 2,000 individuals, adding up to a total of 4,000 jobs.

The Corps makes mention that transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) cluster advanced manufacturing facilities in the aerospace and automotive industries require direct access to the Interstate Highway system and location within 50 miles of sea and air port facilities.

In order to offset the impact of the project, the Project Soter-Landscape Mitigation Plan seeks to preserve, enhance, and restore approximately 1,533 acres of wetlands within approximately 2,496 acres of property that has been defined as a critical priority area in need of protection.

Volvo Cars has been doing business in the U.S. since 1995. The Volvo Car Group was originally part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, at which time it was acquired by the Ford Motor Company, and subsequently by Zhejiang Geely Holding of China in 2010.

As of the end of last year, Volvo Cars had more than 25,000 employees worldwide. The company currently has four main car production factories located in Sweden, Belgium and China.

Another plant in the U.S. gives the company a global footprint with manufacturing capabilities on all three key continents. The new plant will also enable the company to meet its medium-term ambition of selling 100,000 cars a year in the U.S.

While announcing the decision to establish the $500 million U.S. manufacturing plant, Volvo Cars Chief Executive and President Hakan Samuelsson said in a release that Volvo Cars cannot claim to be a true global car maker without an industrial presence in the U.S.

Samuelsson added that the U.S. is an absolutely crucial part of their global transformation and this announcement makes it perfectly clear that Volvo is in the U.S. to stay.

The company is still considering sites for the location of the facility, but the environmental permit applied for by Berkeley County Economic Development underlines the short timeframe for the project, which was announced less than a month ago. The final location is expected to be announced by Volvo Cars within a couple of months.

NYC Secures Historic Economic Development Agreement to Build Office Tower With Living Wage Jobs

Brookfield Property Partners has reached an agreement with the NYC Economic Development Corporation for building their new $2.2 billion One Manhattan West office tower in the Hudson Yards District.

NYC Mayor signing of living wage executive order

NYC Mayor signing of living wage executive order (photo – usdol/flickr)

The project will generate more than 10,000 construction and permanent retail and office jobs in New York City, and Brookfield has agreed to subject all these jobs to the City’s new Living Wage standard.

This is the first such agreement for an economic development project in NYC after Mayor Bill de Blasio issued the Living Wage Executive Order. It increases wages in projects supported by City subsidies to over $13 per hour and also makes it applicable to tenants after project completion.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release announcing the agreement with Brookfield that they are incredibly proud to see this agreement come to fruition. The Mayor thanked Brookfield Properties, anchor tenant Skadden Arps and the staff of the NYC Economic Development Corporation for collaborating on this dynamic addition to the city.

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen added that there was no shortage of voices who said a deal like this could never happen, but through productive negotiations, they were able to see the policy objectives realized.

Deputy Mayor Glen added that this fundamentally changes the way in which NYC uses its economic development tools.

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball noted that when they look at job creation, they don’t only consider quantity, but quality as well. Kimball thanked Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Glen and Brookfield for crafting this agreement in a way that puts New Yorkers on a path to a brighter future.

One Manhattan West is a 2.1 million square feet Class A office tower project on a five-acre site. The tower will be anchored by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. At the tower’s base will be a two-acre plaza lined with retail space.

These retail jobs, office cafeterias and parking facilities typically create jobs that mostly offer minimum wage. But the Living Wage order, and the agreement reached with Brookfield Properties, ensures that these jobs will now offer significantly higher wages.

The living wage has been set to $13.30 per hour without benefits ($11.90 with benefits), and will be adjusted every year to account for Consumer Price Index changes. By 2019, the living wage is expected to rise up to more than $15 per hour.

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum said in the release that economic development is only truly effective when the jobs created enable people to earn enough to survive in the city. Appelbaum added that they congratulate Mayor de Blasio for discarding outdated notions of economic development under which building for building’s sake was thought to be sufficient.

Construction on One Manhattan West is expected to begin this year and be completed by 2020.

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