Wichita, Kansas Economic Development Plan and Report Card

More than 125 investors in the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition got a look at the economic development plan for Wichita, KS, and were given their annual update.

Wichita, Kansas economic development

Wichita, Kansas economic development (photo – gwedc.org)

In 2013, GWEDC successfully brought home five projects that together represent $45.13 million in capital investment in Wichita and Sedgwick County, along with a projected creation of 1,117 new jobs with an annual payroll of $31.86 million.

The 800-pound gorilla in the lot which accounts for an overwhelming majority of the new jobs is the customer contact center established by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) in Wichita.

The other four projects were expansions undertaken by and JR Custom Metal Products, Lee Aerospace, Wesley Medical Center, and High Touch Technologies.

GWEDC Chairman Steve Sharp, who is a vice president at Spirit AeroSystems, said that Wichita’s skilled workforce was an important factor that helped attract these new jobs.

Sharp said GWEDC made the business case for Starwood to locate in Wichita and for the other four companies to expand, adding that securing business expansions and recruitment was a complicated process with moving parts. Sharp said the competition for these projects was tough and they were glad to have won them.

Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research provided figures on the return on public investment into the GWEDC-facilitated projects. For 2013, the ROI was pegged at 42 percent.

This means that for every dollar in local government funds spent on economic development projects and the GWEDC’s operational costs, the public is expected to receive $1.42 back in terms of new public benefits for the City and County.

To increase competitiveness, GWEDC identified four critical areas in 2013, including incentives, diversification, real estate solutions and “telling our story.” They have developed an economic development plan based on three of the four factors, and have already started implementing tactics suggested in the plan.

As far as real estate solutions are concerned, GWEDC plans to focus on adding mega sites. To this end, they have already purchased an option for a large site on more than 400 acres near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The site could be ideal for large industrial projects that need access to a commercial runway and railroad track.

GWEDC is also working on a diversification strategy that focuses in part on reshoring and exports. To this end, GWEDC is participating in a Brookings Institute and JP Morgan Chase project that is helping them create an aggressive export strategy.

GWEDC is a public-private partnership which leads the South Central Kansas economic development activities to market the region as a business location. They are therefore also planning to undertake joint efforts with other partners to explore the potential of a community-wide brand statement.

Tim Chase, President of GWEDC, says he’s often said that economic development is a team sport. Chase said they’ll be advancing Wichita in 2014 with the help of all their investors, which includes 175 private companies and organizations, in addition to the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

Sumitomo Project in Ohio Economic Development Win For Columbus Region

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of electronic systems for the automobile industry, announced that it is consolidating operations at four sites in Marysville, OH into a single new build-to-suit facility.

Sumitomo Project groundbreaking in Marysville, OH

Sumitomo Project groundbreaking in Marysville, OH (photo – columbusregion.com)

The consolidation in Marysville helps the Columbus Region retain the company’s 123 existing jobs, and also creates 15 new jobs in Marysville.

The construction of the 355,000-square-foot facility involves an investment of $10 million being made Columbus-based developer Carey Realty Investments, which just broke ground on the project.

Marysville Mayor John Gore said they are thrilled to see yet another automotive-oriented business growing and investing in Marysville. Mayor Gore added that Sumitomo’s retention of its existing workforce and their commitment to new capabilities and jobs is a win for the entire Columbus region.

The 15 new jobs being created are related to new testing processes being added to the company’s operations in the region. Their existing but separate facilities currently focus on customer service, development and repacking.

Bick Marshall, vice president, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems, Inc. North America, said the Columbus Region’s proximity to the company’s key automotive customers provides a strategic location for growing their operations.

Marshall added that the consolidation in Marysville will create greater efficiencies and will be beneficial to their workforce, the community and for their customers.

The parent companies of Bowling Green, KY-based Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (SWES) are Japan-based Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. and Sumitomo Wiring Systems, Ltd.

SEWS has 18,000 employees in North America, spread across facilities in seven U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. The company could easily have chosen to relocate and consolidate all of the existing Marysville operations at any one of its other facilities.

Kristi Tanner, managing director of the private non-profit Ohio economic development organization JobsOhio, said they are thrilled that Sumitomo chose Central Ohio as the location for its consolidated facility, bringing more quality auto parts manufacturing jobs to the region.

Tanner added that the company had many options to build this facility outside of Ohio, but JobsOhio’s regional partner Columbus 2020 worked diligently to attract this investment and ensure that the project’s groundbreaking took place in Marysville.

Columbus 2020 is the regional economic development organization serving the Columbus Region that includes 11 counties.

The Federal Savings Bank HQ Relocation to Chicago Creating More Jobs

The Federal Savings Bank announced that it has relocated the company’s corporate headquarters to Chicago, Illinois, and plans on creating more jobs at their new headquarters.

The Federal Savings Bank

The Federal Savings Bank (photo – thefederalsavingsbank.com)

TFSB was established in 2011, and is a federally chartered savings bank owned and operated by military veterans.

It has quickly grown from a single office with nine employees to more than 10 offices with around 600 employees.

The relocation of their headquarters from Overland Park, KS to Chicago will bring 100 new jobs to the city.

This headquarters relocation and the 100 jobs that come with it are a follow-through on a commitment made by TFSB in June 2012. At that time, the company had announced they would build a National Home Loan Center in Chicago and then relocate their corporate headquarters.

That 2012 project, which has already created more than 300 jobs in Chicago in the last 24 months, was supported and facilitated by $9.5 million in Economic Development for Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate income tax credits over 10 years, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

TFSB also received a $4 million TIFWorks grant from the City of Chicago for training the new employees.

TFSB’s headquarters is now located in the same building at 300 North Elizabeth Street along with their existing operations in Chicago. No new incentives were provided for the headquarters relocation project.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that The Federal Savings Bank is another excellent example of a company recognizing Chicago’s many strengths and offerings as a city, and added that the relocation will create jobs and boost local economic opportunities in Chicago.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said the decision by The Federal Savings Bank speaks volumes about the business climate in Illinois. Gov. Quinn said that by adding its headquarters to the major office it already has in Chicago, the bank is strengthening its commitment to Illinois and putting more people to work.

Steve Calk, chairman and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, said they were thrilled to move their headquarters to Chicago, and looked forward to continued growth with Chicago’s incredible infrastructure, transportation access and the city’s strong pool of educated talent.

Google Pitches Fiber to 34 Cities as Economic Development Tool

Google has invited 34 cities across nine metropolitan areas to work with them on finding out whether it would be possible to bring them Google Fiber.

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas

Google Fiber expansion to 9 metro areas (photo – fiber.google.com)

Offering speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, a Google Fiber connection is up to 100 times faster than currently available average broadband Internet speeds.

Google Fiber projects are already being implemented in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Ramping up availability to 34 of the biggest cities on both coasts takes it to a whole new level.

Google is pitching the expansion and high-speed Internet access as a necessary economic development tool that mayors from all over the map have said will spark innovation and drive economic growth while improving education.

Milo S. Medin, VP, Google Access Services, said in a blog post announcing the proposed Google Fiber expansion that Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee [both on the list of invited cities] and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans.

Medin also singled out San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has declared that every school should have gigaspeed Internet access by 2020.

The nine metro areas that Google is targeting for an expansion of Google Fiber are Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; Phoenix, AZ; San Antonio, TX; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh-Dunham, NC.

Google has asked all the invited cities to put together a checklist that will make it easier for a Fiber project to go ahead in their city. For example, cities have been requested to streamline permitting processes and provide maps of existing conduits and utility lines.

This information can be used by Google to follow the plan and use existing infrastructure such as utility poles instead of digging up streets to put a new pole up next to an existing one. Google will be doing its own detailed study of each city including the topography, housing density, and the condition of infrastructure.

This process will be completed by the end of the year, at which time Google will be able to announce which of these 34 cities will be getting Google Fiber.

Medin noted in his blog post that cities which go through this process will end up more prepared for any provider who wants to lay out a fiber network.

Furthermore, as a means of helping other communities everywhere who want to bring fiber to their residents, Google plans to share what they learn from their studies involving the 34 invited cities.

Belgian Furniture Maker Selects High Point, NC For North American HQ

Kontich, Belgium-based furniture company BuzziSpace, Inc. has decided to establish its North American headquarters in High Point, North Carolina.

BuzziSpace

BuzziSpace (photo – buzzispace.com)

The company will invest $1.75 million for this project and create more than 113 new jobs over the next five years.

The average annual wage for the jobs will exceed $45,000, plus benefits. The prevailing average annual wage in Guilford County is $43,326.

BuzziSpace will be taking up space in the historic 105,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the Pickett Cotton Mill.

The building, which first opened in 1910, had been abandoned for a long time since operations were shut down in 1985.

It has since been renovated, and the previous occupant was Claude Gable Co.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said that the Buzzispace project marks a giant step forward in the manufacturing comeback, transforming a once vacant property into a development-ready site that will create good-paying permanent jobs.

In Sept 2013, the company was still in the process of considering High Point along with two other locations outside North Carolina. At that time, Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corporation, said that the Pickett Cotton Mill building fits in perfectly with the company’s green focus by “recycling” an older, unused mill.

BuzziSpace products stand apart not just because of the multi-functionalism and other unique design aspects, but also because the company focuses on using recycled and recyclable materials and makes sustainable use of energy and raw materials.

BuzziSpace CEO Tom Van Dessel said the High Point facility will be a reflection of who they are and what they stand for. He said they can make a real difference in the community by investing in its rich history of furniture and its skilled workforce.

One of the reasons that companies such as BuzziSpace and Stanley Furniture are expanding or relocating to High Point is because of High Point Market Рthe world’s largest home furnishings industry trade show covering more than 10 million square feet spread over more than 180 buildings.

The BuzziSpace project was secured by North Carolina with the help of a $100,000 performance-based grant under the One North Carolina Fund, which is contingent upon the company creating at least 50 jobs in the first three years.

The state grant also requires the company to secure a local match. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has already approved a proposal offering BuzziSpace up to $113,000 as performance-based incentives for creating jobs. The High Point City Council has likewise authorized up to $162,000 in incentives for BuzziSpace.

Illinois Tops USGBC LEED Green Building Rankings

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released its 2013 rankings of the top 10 states for LEED, their globally used and recognized green building rating system.

USGBC top 10 states for LEED

USGBC top 10 states for LEED (source – usgbc.org)

The per capita list is topped by Illinois, which racked up 171 commercial and institutional LEED certifications in 2013.

These projects together account for 29,415,284 square feet of space, which works out to 2.29 square feet of LEED certified space added per resident in the state.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement that both the public and private sectors in Illinois recognize that long-term investments in 21st century infrastructure should be done in ways that reduce energy consumption and protect the environment.

Brian Imus, executive director of the USGBC Illinois Chapter, said the state’s ranking was a result of a robust network of businesses committed to sustainability working together with elected officials who understand the benefits of green building.

Illinois was followed on the list by Maryland, which racked up 119 LEED commercial and institutional certifications in 2013 that together added 12,696,429 square feet of green building space, or 2.20 square feet per resident in Maryland.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley issued a statement in which he says that over the last seven years in Maryland, they have been committed to developing and implementing environmentally smart building practices because green development saves money and is good for the environment.

Mary Pulcinella, executive director of the USGBC Maryland Chapter, said that it’s rewarding to make the top 10 list, but being recognized is not the end goal. Pulcinella said they hope to see more widespread implementation of green building practices and look forward to innovative ideas coming from inspired entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

USGBC’s top 10 states for LEED list is based on the per capita green space added by commercial and institutional projects that were awarded LEED certifications in 2013.

If you go by the sheer number of LEED certifications, California is by far the top state with 595 projects certified in 2013, followed by New York which garnered 259 certifications. Funnily enough, California and New York were tied in fifth place on the per capita list with each adding 1.95 square feet of certified green space per resident.

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC, said the top 10 states for LEED list is a continuing indicator of the widespread recognition of the national imperative to create healthier and high-performing buildings that are better for the environment and for the people who use them every day.

Fedrizzi added that green buildings continue to provide for jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects.

CSC To Establish Technology Center With 800 Jobs in Bossier City, Louisiana

Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE:CSC) has selected the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, Louisiana for establishing a 116,000-square-foot technology center.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announcing CSC technology center in Louisiana

Gov. Bobby Jindal announcing CSC technology center in Louisiana (photo – CSC)

CSC will become the anchor tenant of the 3,000-acre research park. The technology center will also house a data center and 800 CSC employees within the next four years with a total payroll of about $39 million, plus benefits.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will support the creation of another 805 indirect jobs, leading to the creation of a total of more than 1,600 jobs in Northwest Louisiana.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said in a statement that this was one of the most significant economic development announcements in the history of Bossier and Northwest Louisiana.

The technology center is supported by a higher education initiative led by Louisiana Tech University and funded by the State to the tune of $14 million.

This funding, which will be provided over the next 10 years, will be used to expand higher-education programs primarily designed to increase the number of graduates in computer science and related fields.

Louisiana Tech University, which is getting 65 percent of the funding, plans to quadruple the number of undergraduate degrees awarded in computer science, cyber engineering and computer information systems over the next six years.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice said CSC’s workforce needs are exceptionally aligned with Louisiana Tech’s academic programs, and he was confident that this partnership will have a transformative impact on North Louisiana and will serve as a catalyst for further economic growth.

Falls Church, VA-based CSC chose the National Cyber Research Park and Bossier City after a site selection process during which they considered 134 locations all over the country.

LED began negotiations with CSC in May 2013, and has offered the company a $9.6 million performance-based grant to help with the relocation and recruitment costs of the project.CSC will also receive recruitment and training assistance from LED FastStart, which is Louisiana’s workforce development program.

CSC is additionally eligible for Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive, and will be able to seek incentives under the Quality Jobs Program for positions that do not qualify for the software incentive.

The National Cyber Research Park is being developed by the non-profit Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) which was established in 2008 with $57 million in funding from the State of Louisiana and $50 million in matching funds from local governments.

Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker said they invested in CIC to attract opportunities such as the CSC technology center. Mayor Walker said that without the CIC, they would not have been able to secure these 800 jobs.

The construction of the CSC technology center will begin later this year and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2015. In the meantime, CSC is taking up a temporary 40,000-square-foot with the CIC.

Clean Line Seeks Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy Converter Station

The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County (EDGE) is holding a board meeting during which the board will consider approving a PILOT tax agreement with Houston-based Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC.

Plains & Eastern Clean Line

Plains & Eastern Clean Line (photo – plainsandeasterncleanline.com)

Clean Line is considering setting up a $259 million renewable energy converter station near Millington in Shelby County, Tennessee, or at an alternate site in Tipton County.

The converter station will be at one end of a 700 mile, 600 kilovolt direct current electric transmission line.

The line will bring renewable power from the Panhandle of Oklahoma all the way to the converter station in Tennessee, which will convert the DC power to AC and tie it into the Tennessee Valley Authority network.

If it gets all the approvals, construction will start on the project in 2016 and is expected to be completed in two years.

Once the converter station is built and the entire project is operational, the facility will deliver more than 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy to the mid-South and southeastern United States via the TVA network.

According to the company, the whole project is estimated to create more than 5,000 construction jobs and over 500 permanent jobs maintaining the transmission line.

The converter station project in Shelby County will create 16 jobs at average annual wages of $56,875. The project will also support the creation of another 24 indirect jobs, adding up to a total of 40 jobs.

The company will invest $9.6 million on transmission lines, in addition to $1.248 million for acquiring 208 acres of land for the converter station, and another $10 million to build the 30,000-square-foot facility. The remaining $239 million is for the converter equipment at the facility.

The company is asking for an 11-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement that amounts to a tax abatement of 41 percent on all of the above, including the transmission lines, facility and the equipment.

The project will still generate $36.22 million in new tax revenue for Shelby County over the 11-year period at $3.19 million per year. After that, the county will get the full $5.4 million in annual taxes from the project.

The EDGE board meeting to consider the PILOT agreement with Plains and Eastern Clean Line is scheduled to be held on Feb 19, 2014.

Kentucky to Launch Hemp Pilot Projects

Kentucky is planning on setting up pilot industrial hemp projects across the state as partnership programs undertaken jointly with institutions of higher learning.

Industrial hemp products

Industrial hemp products (photo – kyagr.com)

Industrial hemp is the same type of plant species as marijuana, and its production and sale has until now been banned.

The pilot projects being undertaken now were made possible by amendments included in the United States Farm Bill that became law on Feb 7, 2014.

The Kentucky General Assembly has already approved its own legislation (Senate Bill 50) that legalizes industrial hemp production in the state. The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission has also been revived.

The KY Dept. of Agriculture has also set up an industrial hemp facts page on their website. It states that the global market for hemp includes more than 25,000 products, including textiles and fabrics, yarns, paper, carpets and home furnishings, construction materials, auto parts, animal bedding, industrial oils, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and body care products, etc.

Current industry estimates show that the annual U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products exceeds $300 million.

However, federal law still doesn’t approve commercial production of hemp, so any crop grown in the pilot projects will be within the confines of a research project that must be related to growth, cultivation and/or marketing of hemp.

There are five hemp pilots being planned by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. One will be a test project in Louisville at an as yet undermined Brownfield site. This project, which may involve the University of Louisville, will test whether a hemp crop can help clean up the soil on contaminated industrial plots.

Another pilot project in Eastern Kentucky will study the use of hemp as a renewable fuel source for producing alternative energy. Kentucky was one of the largest producers of industrial hemp during WWII, but there has no hemp planted for the last 50 years.

Commissioner Comer said that he and KY Attorney General Jack Conway have been communicating directly for the last couple of months about hemp production in Kentucky, and added that cooperation between law enforcement and agriculture was a critical element in moving this industry forward.

Commissioner Comer said he appreciates the AG’s help in overcoming the legal obstacles to this new market for Kentucky farmers.

The AG has furthermore pledged to work with Commissioner Comer in the state’s bid to obtain a federal waiver from the U.S. DEA to allow Kentucky to expand industrial hemp production for commercial purposes.

Remington Selects Huntsville, AL For Firearms Manufacturing Plant

Remington Outdoor Company (ROC) has announced plans to establish a firearms manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

AL Gov. Robert Bentley at Remington announcement in Huntsville

AL Gov. Robert Bentley at Remington announcement in Huntsville (photo – alabama.gov)

ROC will invest $110 million into the project, to be located in the 843,000-square-foot Chrysler Electronics building which is now vacant.

The project is expected to create more than 2,000 direct jobs in Huntsville over the next ten years.

George Kollitides, chairman and CEO of the Madison, NC-based Remington Outdoor Company, said the additional capacity is essential for the company to fulfill demand and introduce new products.

ROC already has 19 locations in the U.S., but had been scouting sites after gun-control legislation was passed in states where they are currently located.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a statement that he is honored to welcome Remington to Alabama, and added that the state’s workforce, business climate and quality of life continue to make it extremely attractive to companies.

Gov. Bentley said their relationship with Remington was just beginning, and he looks forward to a continued partnership with the company.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Remington is a historic brand, and this project proves that Alabama can compete against any state.

Alabama successfully competed against more than two dozen states to secure the Remington project. The name of the company was kept secret until yesterday, with the project being referred to in official documents under the codename “Project Traveler.”

Remington has been offered a massive package of state and local incentives totaling nearly $70 million. State incentives add up to around $54 million, including $16 million in recruitment and workforce training support through AIDT, the state’s workforce development agency.

The City of Huntsville, Madison County and the Industrial Development Board of the City of Huntsville on Monday approved a project development agreement under which they will buy the Chrysler factory valued at more than $10 million and lease it to Remington at no cost.

Huntsville will also pay Remington $2 million in performance-based incentives for job creation. Another $2 million in incentives will come from Morgan County, Limestone County and the City of Athens.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said news of this Remington facility expansion was yet another example of Huntsville fulfilling its economic development promise. Mayor Battle added that Huntsville’s workforce was among the best and brightest in the nation, and they deserve challenging career opportunities, along with the high quality of life Huntsville offers.

Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong said the pro-business environment and the region’s extensive manufacturing experience helped them outmaneuver two dozen other states that were also looking to attract Remington.

Remington expects to begin operations in Alabama within 18 months, once the facility upgrades are completed.

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