EARN Maryland Workforce Training Program Awards Implementation Grants

The EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) Maryland workforce training program launched last year is continuing its rollout with the state awarding 28 implementation grants.

EARN Maryland workforce training program

EARN Maryland workforce training program

The EARN Maryland program provides state funding for targeted workforce training programs that are tailored to meet industry needs in specific sectors.

The grant awardees include Maryland organizations and business partnerships that have submitted plans for workforce training programs designed to meet the needs of employers in nine sectors including manufacturing, logistics and transportation, retail/hospitality, healthcare, health information technology, the green industry, cybersecurity/IT, construction, and biotechnology.

The program was launched in 2013, and 29 planning grants were awarded in Jan 2014 by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Recipients used the grant funding to establish partnerships involving key players in their specific industries.

Each partnership then spent the early part of the year on a collaborative process to determine what type of training was most needed by workers in their industry. They developed and submitted the “Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plans” which were then reviewed by the State to decide the amount of implementation funding that should be awarded to each partnership.

For instance, two sets of planning and implementation grants have been awarded in the biotech category. One of them is the Baltimore Biotechnology Strategic Industry Partnership, led by the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc., and Baltimore BioWorks, Inc. The other is the BIOTrain partnership, led by Montgomery College.

Funding for the first phase of 29 planning grants averaged $22,000, and the average grant award for the 28 implementation grants was $179,302. The State had allocated a total of $4.5 million for the two-phase workforce training program plan development and implementation process.

Governor Martin O‚ÄôMalley said that awarding State-funded implementation grants to selected strategic partnerships moves the State forward and helps Marylanders get the skills needed to qualify for Maryland’s most in-demand jobs.

One of the grant recipients was the Allegany College of Maryland, which has received EARN Maryland planning and implementation grants as the lead organization in the Western Maryland IT Center for Excellence partnership that aims to provide IT training to rural workers.

Cynthia Bambara, president of Allegany College of Maryland, said that they look forward to collaborating with local businesses and economic and workforce leaders through the partnership, and added that the funding will put the area’s workforce to work and spur economic development in the region.

Good Customer Service by Clayton County Brings 1120 Call Center Jobs to Metro Atlanta

Chime Solutions Inc., an Atlanta-based firm specializing in contract staffing and contact center services, is opening a new call center at the Southlake Mall in Morrow, GA.

Chime Solutions creates call center jobs in Clayton County, GA

Chime Solutions creates call center jobs in Clayton County, GA (photo – georgia.gov)

The 1,000-seat call center will be located in the vacant 65,000-square-foot space in the Southlake Mall formerly occupied by JCPenney.

The project will create 1,120 direct jobs in Metro Atlanta ranging from executive and administrative positions to customer service representatives and their supervisors.

Governor Nathan Deal said that Georgia has become a global hub for communications services. The Governor added that with the help of the state’s top 10-ranked talent pool, this industry has grown to include nearly 300 Georgia-based companies.

Chime Solutions is a minority- and woman-owned business, and was assisted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) and the Clayton County Office of Economic Development.

The company will be able to take advantage of generous state incentives under the Job Tax Credit Program as a result of Clayton County’s Tier 1 (economically distressed) status.

Georgia classifies counties into four tiers based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Census Bureau, with Tier 1 being the most economically distressed. The amount of state tax credits offered to companies for job creation is therefore based on the number of jobs and their location.

Creating jobs in a Tier 1 county makes a company in one of the targeted sectors eligible for a tax credit of up to $3,500 per job ($4,000 for Tier 1 counties participating in a Joint Development Authority with other counties). This tax credit can be used offset state income tax liability, and excess tax credits can be carried forward for up to 10 years or claimed against withholding taxes.

Jeff Turner, chairman of the Clayton County Commission, said this was one of the largest corporate announcements in Clayton County’s history, and they are thrilled to welcome Chime Solutions to the community.

Georgia Economic Development Department Commissioner Chris Carr said that in just the past few years, call center companies have created more than 4,800 jobs in the state. Commissioner Carr added that the robust fiber optic landscape and well-equipped talent pool will help Chime Solutions find the support needed for better serving its clients.

Chime Solutions CEO Shelly Wilson said they are excited about the grand opening of the 1,000-seat contact center in Morrow and the building of an experienced and capable workforce to meet their clients’ staffing and contact center needs.

EPA Releases Clean Power Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions From Power Sector

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a Clean Power Plan requiring states to bring carbon emissions from existing power plants down to specified levels by 2030.

Air pollution from power plants

Air pollution from power plants (photo – epa.gov)

Power plants account for around a third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Power Plan released by the EPA will, by 2030:

-   Reduce nationwide carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels. This reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 150 million cars, or the emissions caused by powering 65 million homes (half of all residential power consumption in the U.S.);

- Lower electricity bills by eight percent because of enhanced energy efficiency and reduced demand; and

- Generate up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits through reduced pollution and improved air quality which will in turn help avoid 6,600 premature deaths, along with 150,000 asthma attacks in children and 490,000 missed work or school days. Every dollar invested into the plan for reducing smog and soot will generate $7 in health benefits.

The Clean Power Plan does not seek to impose any specific actions to be taken by states or power plants. The plan provides for a flexible and results-oriented approach wherein each state can develop its own plan for meeting carbon pollution reduction goals.

States can work alone and develop individual plans that incorporate and enhance existing programs, or work with other states by participating in multi-state plans. Either way, states will need to submit their plans to the EPA by June 2016.

If you’re wondering about the economic impact of the ruling and the resultant jobs creation/loss, it’s explained in considerable detail in an impact analysis report (scroll down to chapter 6.3; pg 278) using both regional and state compliance models.

The full supply-side labor impact estimates are provided in Tables 6-4 and 6-5 (pg 300), and the demand-side energy efficiency employment impacts are in Table 6-6.

The summary of it is that the guidelines could have an impact of 25,900 to 26,700 job-years in 2020 for the electricity, coal and natural gas sectors if you take the regional compliance model. Demand-side energy efficiency employment impacts would be around 78,800 jobs (including part-time jobs) in 2020.

EPA will be accepting comments on this proposal for 120 days after the proposed ruling is published in the Federal Register. The agency will also hold four public hearings in July in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., with the standards scheduled to be finalized by next June.

Raytheon New Mexico Expansion Aided by Local Economic Development Act Funding

The design and construction of a warehouse at a Raytheon Diné facility in the NAPI Industrial Park near Farmington, New Mexico is getting state funding in the form of Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds.

New Mexico LEDA

New Mexico LEDA

To be specific, the New Mexico Economic Development Department is providing San Juan County $200,000 in LEDA funding on behalf of the Raytheon expansion project.

New Mexico communities that have passed LEDA have in effect created an economic development organization with a strategic plan for entering into public-private partnerships for an economic benefit.

The Act empowers communities to embark on economic development projects tailored to their local needs, and further allows counties and municipalities to enter into “Joint Powers Agreements” that are helpful in planning for and supporting regional projects.

LEDA can be used to support infrastructure and improvement projects, economic development projects that create jobs, and retail sector projects. The LEDA funding being provided to San Juan County will help retain 42 jobs and create two new jobs.

New Mexico Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela said this funding was much needed to help Raytheon fulfill its current mission and expand capacity. Sec. Barela said the LEDA program is a great tool to help the department expand and recruit economic-base jobs to New Mexico, and added that they are happy at being able to assist San Juan County and Raytheon.

The Raytheon Diné facility has a total of 207 employees, and has been located since 1989 at the 250-acre Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) Industrial Park located a few miles south of Farmington. They produce electro-mechanical assemblies for the Tucson, AZ-based Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS).

The NAPI Industrial Park is a part of the Navajo Reservation covering 24,000 square miles spread across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. The Navajo Nation last year approved $3.3 million for Raytheon Diné’s expansion project. This funding is being provided from their Business Industrial Development Fund.

RMS Spokesman John Patterson said the company values its relationship with the Navajo Nation, San Juan County and the State of New Mexico, and added that they will use the new warehouse to more effectively manage operations at the NAPI Industrial Park facility.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission lands ArcBest HQ With 975 New Jobs

ArcBest Corporation (NASDAQ: ARCB), formerly the Arkansas Best Corporation, has announced a land purchase agreement for building a new $30 million corporate headquarters in Chaffee Crossing, Fort Smith, AR.

ArcBest Corp

Photo – ArcBest Corp

This is the second major project announced in the same week by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the City of Fort Smith, following the announcement of Georgia-Pacific’s $40 million manufacturing expansion at their Dixie facility in Fort Smith.

ArcBest has outgrown both its current 195,000-square-foot headquarters location at Fort Smith and the additional space it leased in 2012.

The new headquarters building on the 40-acre site will give the company up to 150,000 square feet of additional space to house administrative and corporate offices, along with ABF Logistics personnel. The company’s other subsidiaries, including ABF Freight System Inc. and ArcBest Technologies, are expected to stay put at the larger existing facility.

The new space will therefore be used to support ArcBest’s anticipated growth, including the creation of 975 new jobs in Fort Smith and Sebastian County through 2021. ArcBest already has around 1,200 employees in Fort Smith.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission secured the ArcBest headquarters project by offering the company state incentives under the Create Rebate program tied to their fulfillment of job creation commitments. ArcBest stands to gain around $16 million to $19 million over the 10-year period during which it can claim tax refunds as a percentage of new payroll.

AEDC Executive Director Grant Tennille thanked ArcBest for expanding their Fort Smith headquarters, which he said would benefit the region for years to come, and for their vote of confidence in the strength of Sebastian County’s workforce.

The City of Fort Smith is pitching in with local incentives in the form of sales and use tax refunds for building material purchase associated with the project.

Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said ArcBest has been an outstanding Fort Smith company for 90 years, providing substantial employment opportunities for people in the area and throughout the nation. The Mayor said this announcement was not only great news for the company, but also for Forth Smith and for all the people who will gain jobs as a result of ArcBest’s continued growth.

Southern South Carolina Announces Batch of Economic Development Projects Creating 304 Jobs

Governor Nikki Haley joined state and southern South Carolina economic development officials in Allendale to announce seven new projects that will bring 304 jobs along with new capital investments worth $38.2 million.

SouthernCarolina Alliance

Photo – SouthernCarolina Alliance

The announcement of the seven companies expanding or relocating was made as a part of the SouthernCarolina Alliance’s Annual Regional Celebration.

The SouthernCarolina Alliance is a regional economic development organization which represents the state’s six-county Southern Carolina region.

These regional alliances in the state work with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and county economic development offices to market their region to prospective companies and bring new jobs to the state.

Here’s a brief roundup of the seven projects announced in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

Dixie Poly-Drum Corp, which had to shut down operations in Hampton County after a fire, is planning to invest $1.1 million to rebuild the facility and expand by creating 84 new jobs.

Hugh Gray, chairman of the Hampton County Council, said that good jobs created through economic development are the key to improving the quality of life in their communities, and they are thrilled that Dixie Poly-Drum has decided to invest once again in Hampton County.

Another Hampton County project announced was a new distribution center by Progressive Packaging, Inc. The company will invest $500,000 and create five new jobs during the first year of operations for the distribution center.

Augusta Fiberglass Coating Inc. is investing $800,000 for an expansion that includes purchase of new manufacturing equipment. The company’s expansion at an existing facility in Blackville, SC and a new one nearby in Bamberg County is creating 69 new jobs.

John W. Boyd, president and founder of Augusta Fiberglass Coating, said it is their pleasure to continue to work with the people of South Carolina to grow the economy.

SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Johnny Williamson said they appreciate the additional investment in Bamberg and Barnwell Counties by Mr. Boyd and Augusta Fiberglass Coating, and are looking forward to working with them as they continue to grow.

Hardwood veneer manufacturer Green Link Wood Industries is investing $1.2 million to purchase a former manufacturing facility in Bamberg County. The new operations at this facility are expected to create 44 jobs.

Advanced composites manufacturer KBRS, Inc. is investing $2.6 million for opening a new 60,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Hardeeville that will produce custom shower and tileable components. They also plan to relocate their corporate headquarters to the new facility. This project is expected to create 30 new jobs in Jasper County.

Tommy Davis, president and CEO of KBRS, said the economic development team in Jasper County and the community were extremely helpful in assisting the company locate in Hardeeville. Davis said they made the transition seamless, and added that he has never worked with such a professional and responsive group in completing a project.

Laminate flooring producer Kronotex USA is expanding operations in Barnwell County. This $29.5 million expansion project is expected to create 28 new jobs.

Aerospace supplier Palmetto Aero is building a new hangar and acquiring two existing ones at the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro, Colleton County. This $2.5 million project is expected to create 44 new jobs.

Apart from these seven projects, the Governor also recognized Walmart supplier¬†Louis Hornick & Company’s previously announced $2.5 million investment and 125 new jobs in Allendale County.

South Dakota Economic Development Incentives Secure Consumers Supply Relocation

Consumers Supply Distributing, LLC, a wholesale distributor of agricultural and animal nutrition products, is relocating its corporate offices to the Flynn Business Park in North Sioux City, SD.

South Dakota incentives - Reinvestment Payment Program

South Dakota incentives – Reinvestment Payment Program

The company’s relocation was secured with the help of incentives approved by the South Dakota Economic Development Board earlier this month under the Reinvestment Payment Program.

Governor Dennis Daugaard said the Reinvestment Payment Program is ideal for companies looking to expand and add jobs. The Governor added that with the state’s low taxes and reasonable regulatory climate, Consumers Supply made the right choice to expand in South Dakota.

Consumers Supply is moving the corporate offices from Dakota Dunes, IA to the same location in North Sioux City where it is building a new state-of-the-art livestock feeds plant.

Half of it will be used for manufacturing bagged pelleted or texturized feeds, while the other half will produce vitamin premixes. The expansion project will create 20 new jobs.

Dan Patee, vice president of Consumers Supply Distributing, LLC, said the Reinvestment Payment Program played a key role in helping the company grow. Patee said it was nice to have support from the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Consumers Supply is the sixth company to receive incentives under the Reinvestment Payment Program since it was approved by the South Dakota Legislature in 2013 as a bipartisan effort (SB 235) to enhance the state’s ability to compete for attracting new business and jobs.

The new incentives program allowed the Board of Economic Development to offer upfront reinvestment payments to assist companies that are relocating to the state, expanding existing operations or upgrading equipment.

Companies applying for incentives under this program need to show that the project in question would not be able to go ahead without state support in the form of a reinvestment payment.

Kory Menken, director of North Sioux City Economic Development, said they are extremely excited to welcome Consumers Supply to the Flynn Business Park and North Sioux City. Menken added that value-added agriculture is a significant component of the city’s economic base, and Consumers Supply will be a wonderful addition to their growing business community.

Goodyear Site Selection in Progress for $500M Americas Tire Manufacturing Plant

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced that it is planning to build a new consumer tire plant in the Americas to fulfill growing demand for high-value-added tires.

Goodyear headquarters in Akron, OH

Goodyear headquarters in Akron, OH (photo – Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co)

The company said it will invest $500 million into the project, and has initiated the site selection process to identify the best location that will enable the company to serve customers in North America and Latin America.

The new facility will be Goodyear’s most technologically advanced plant yet, and will have an annual production capacity of six million tires, while keeping open the possibility for future expansions to enhance capacity if demand increases.

The plant’s production will be used for supporting Goodyear’s long-term growth plans in the OEM and consumer replacement sectors.

Richard J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, said that the investment supports a key element of the company’s strategy focused on winning with consumers in profitable market segments.

Kramer added that with growing consumer demand for their high-value-added tires in North America and Latin America, the time is now right for investing in additional manufacturing capacity in the Americas in order to maintain Goodyear’s leading position and grow earnings beyond 2016.

JobsOhio, the non-profit that leads Ohio economic development efforts and programs, is sure to make a big play for the new plant, considering that Goodyear is headquartered in Akron, OH.

Indiana and Michigan with their strong automotive sectors and supplier networks will likewise be the other leading Midwest contenders for the plant. South Carolina with its recent successes in luring tire manufacturing projects will also make a serious bid for the Goodyear plant.

South Carolina landed the $500 million Continental Tire plant in Sumter, which is expected to employ 1,600 workers and produce eight million tires a year. Last year, Michelin North America announced a $200 million expansion of its Starr, SC manufacturing plant, which brought the company’s investment in South Carolina in a 21-month period to $1.15 billion.

Goodyear expects to complete the site selection process and finalize a location for the new plant by the first quarter of 2015. Actual tire production at the facility is expected to begin in the first half of 2017.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, founded in 1898, is the leading tiremaker in the Americas with 51 plants in 22 countries and a total worldwide workforce of around 69,000 people. Last year, the company posted net sales of $19.5 billion, leading to net income of around $600 million.

Oregon Governor and Regional Economic Development Group Sign Declaration of Cooperation

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has signed a Declaration of Cooperation with a regional economic development group focused on innovation-based startups and commercialization of university-based research in the South Willamette Valley.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber at RAIN Declaration of Cooperation signing in Eugene, OR

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber at RAIN Declaration of Cooperation signing in Eugene, OR (photo – oregon.gov)

Members of the partnership, called RAIN (Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network), include the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the cities of Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Springfield, in addition to businesses and agencies in the region.

At the signing ceremony in Eugene, Gov. Kitzhaber said they are sowing the seeds of innovation in the Willamette Valley so that forward-looking industries and economic prosperity can grow.

The Governor added that RAIN brings together critical players in the regional economy not only for helping scale up new companies, but also as a signal to the world that Oregon is creating jobs for the future.

RAIN, with a board of directors comprised of university researchers and business leaders, was established as a means for the Governor’s South Valley Regional Solutions Advisory Team to support the innovation economy in the state.

The initial $7.5 million investment in RAIN helped with facilities acquisition and improvement, staffing and program development. The Oregon Legislature has approved RAIN’s 2013-2015 funding, including $3.75 million for capital and operating expenses.

The partnership aims to build on the University of Oregon and Oregon State University’s 10-year track record of 45 spinouts. The plan is to mobilize and expand the region’s assets including UO and OSU’s combined $400 million of research activity linked to regional economic development programs, which has created a thriving ecosystem of tech companies and entrepreneurial talent.

RAIN’s engagement in the region is expected to triple these results over the next ten years.

In Phase I, RAIN is establishing venture accelerators in conjunction with UO and OSU. The OSU Advantage Accelerator for Corvallis-Albany is already operational with 15 participating startups. The UO RAIN Eugene-Springfield Accelerator is now accepting applications for its first batch.

Both these RAIN centers will assist early-stage technology efforts, providing them with mentoring and other resources to help them grow and spin off private initiatives that will create more jobs in Oregon.

Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet Throws Entrepreneurs Into Shark Tank

Governor Steve Beshear announced that Kentucky will be hosting eight regional pitch competitions similar to reality television show Shark Tank.

Kentucky entrepreneurs

Kentucky entrepreneurs (photo – thinkkentucky.com)

The competition is sponsored by the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet’s Office of Entrepreneurship, the Kentucky Innovation Network and the Kentucky Angel Investors Network.

Gov. Beshear said the next great idea can come from anyone, and the state needs to support these visionaries and provide them with the tools to turn their vision into reality, including the financial means to get started.

The Governor added that he is looking forward to seeing more small businesses and new jobs come to life as a result of these competitions.

This won’t be reality television, but the format for the pitch competitions will be the same. Entrepreneurs will present their business ideas to a group of local angel investors and individuals who can provide capital for startups.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Acting Commissioner of Business Development Mandy Lambert said small businesses are job creators and the backbone of the state’s economy. Lambert added that this is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with potential investors and get their business off the ground.

Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, said these regional events help form the foundation for a statewide network of investors and entrepreneurs working together for creating new businesses and jobs across Kentucky.

The competitions will take place in Ashland, Pikeville, Murray, Elizabethtown, Richmond, Louisville, Covington and Lexington starting June 3 in Ashland and wrapping up in Lexington on Sept 24.

The winners will get cash prizes, and the opportunity to make their pitch to the entire membership of the Kentucky Angels in Frankfort.

The Kentucky Angels Investor Network was launched last year in November by the Cabinet for Economic Development, and brings accredited investors together with new ventures via monthly online meetings. Investors within Kentucky and those outside who are interested in investing in Kentucky companies are provided access to form partnerships and deals with entrepreneurs from all over the state.

The Kentucky Innovation Network has a network of 12 offices across the state staffed by experienced and educated business leaders from the local community. The network is managed by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp and the Cabinet for Economic Development, along with local partners.

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