Michigan Governor’s Economic Development Trip to China Leads to Fuyao Expansion

Gov. Rick Snyder announced an expansion of operations by Fuyao Automotive North America in Orion Township, Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder speaking at Michigan Investment Attraction Seminar in Shanghai, China on Sept. 20, 2012

Gov. Rick Snyder speaking at Michigan Investment Attraction Seminar in Shanghai, China on Sept. 20, 2012 (photo – michigan.gov)

During an economic development trip to China in 2012, the Governor had put forward Michigan as an expansion location to the company’s leadership in Shanghai.

Fuyao will be investing $15.3 million for the expansion project, which is expected to create 102 new full-time jobs in Oakland County.

Gov. Snyder said that Fuyao’s expansion in Michigan tells global companies that the state holds great opportunities for growing their business. The Governor added that Michigan leads the country in creating new manufacturing jobs, and the jobs resulting from Fuyao’s growth will keep the state moving in the right direction.

Fuyao Automotive North America Inc., a subsidiary of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, was established in 2008 to manage the company’s automotive glass supply and service to North American automotive OEMs.

They are now expanding the Orion Township operations to install equipment for manufacturing auto glass assembly parts.

Chris Feng, president of Fuyao Automotive North America, said that Michigan is the undeniable capital state of North America’s automotive industry, and Fuyao has employed more than 100 people in Orion Township since its beginning in 2008.

Feng added that he is confident that the dedicated workforce, OEM network, supply base and pro-business environment in Michigan will support Fuyao’s growth in the state and the U.S.

For this expansion, Michigan was competing with sites in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. Back in January 2014, Fuyao chose a former GM assembly plant in the City of Moraine, OH for establishing a new $200 million glass manufacturing facility.

This time, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) secured the expansion project by offering the company a $1 million performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Orion Township is additionally providing local incentives in the form of a property tax abatement.

MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said that Gov. Snyder’s meeting with Fuyao executives in China demonstrated their commitment to helping companies expand their auto presence. Finney added that the meeting delivered the message that there is no better place in North America for Chinese companies to expand than in Michigan.

The MEDC has scheduled another trade mission to China in August 2014. Eligible SMEs in Michigan who want to be a part of the mission can receive 50 percent reimbursement of their participation fee and travel expenses under the State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grant program.

Team Effort By Florida Economic Development Agencies Secured Northrop Grumman Expansion

Governor Rick Scott led the dedication of Northrop Grumman’s Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence in St. Augustine, Florida. The project is creating 400 new jobs and injecting $102 million in capital investment into the region.

Gov. Scott at dedication of Northrop Grumman center of excellence in St. Augustine, FL

Gov. Scott at dedication of Northrop Grumman center of excellence in St. Augustine, FL (photo – Northrop Grumman Corp)

Back in March 2013, Northrop Grumman announced that it was designating five centers of excellence across the country, and two of them went to Florida – to St. Augustine and Melbourne.

Enterprise Florida, the state’s official economic development organization, has now released more details about how the state secured the two projects that represent more than $170 million in capital investments and 1,400 jobs.

The project was made possible with the help of strong partnerships between Florida economic development agencies and officials at the state and local levels.

Apart from Enterprise Florida, other partners who helped in the effort include the City of St. Augustine, St. Johns County, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and CareerSource Florida.

CareerSource Florida is providing Northrop Grumman partial reimbursement grants for employee training. The performance-based grants are being offered under the Quick Response Training (QRT) program, which is structured to be flexible and adaptable to the specific training needs of new or expanding businesses.

For its part, St. Johns County has approved a local incentives package totaling $3 million as part of an economic development agreement with the company. Northrop Grumman will in return be creating 400 new jobs at average wages greater than 125 percent of the county’s average wage, in addition to maintaining the 959 existing full-time jobs and third-party supporting positions located at the facility.

Tom Vice, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president, Aerospace Systems, said the dedication of the center of excellence signifies the company’s continued commitment to service members and their employees in St. Augustine and Florida.

Gray Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, said this second center of excellence is another fantastic project for the state, with a strong and long-time partner in Northrop Grumman.

Swoope said that they were obviously incredibly happy and proud when they learned Florida had been chosen for not just one but two of five national centers, and added that these facilities speak to the work they’re doing to highlight Florida’s numerous business advantages and the pro-business climate that Gov. Scott and the State Legislature have created in the last three-plus years.

Austin Economic Development Dept Puts Feet on the Street

The City of Austin Economic Development Department is taking a personalized approach by literally sending out employees on walkabouts to talk to businesses all over the city and inform them about a low-interest loan program.

Austin Family Business Loan Program

Austin Family Business Loan Program

The Family Business Loan Program (FBLP) is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Austin Economic Development Department, and private lending institutions in the area.

The program has a $40 million loan pool, including an $11 million HUD allocation and $25 million from institutional lenders.

It was launched to assist qualified small businesses in Austin with their expansion and job creation plans, in the process revitalizing communities, increasing the tax base and enhancing the overall quality of life for residents.

In addition to interest rates significantly lower than regular market lending rates, the FBLP program also requires only a 10 percent equity injection on the part of the borrower. This makes it much easier for small businesses to avail of a loan.

The program requires borrowers to create at least one job for every $35,000 borrowed, and 51 percent of the individuals hired must be in the low to moderate income range, as defined by federal levels. The project for which the funds are to be used must be located in the Austin Energy Service Area.

FBLP loans are available only for small businesses with a tangible net worth of less than $15 million and after-tax profits of less than $5 million. Eligible projects for which financing is provided include acquisition of commercial and industrial land or buildings, and renovation and new construction of commercial and industrial buildings.

City employees will be hitting the streets on five walkabout events scheduled in different parts of the city over the next three weeks to talk to businesses and their employees about the Family Business Loan Program.

FBLP was established in May 2012 using no city funds, and the first project that received financing under this program was the restoration of a fire-damaged property and its subsequent lease to a community yoga studio that opened its doors in Dec 2013.

Kevin Johns, director of the Austin Economic Development Department, said that this program was part of the department’s broader efforts to make sure that businesses of all sizes have the tools they need to grow the business and create jobs.

U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $200K to Assist Job Loss Recovery in Minnesota

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a grant of $200,000 to the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission to assist in establishing an economic recovery strategy in the wake of job losses at a paper plant in International Falls, Minnesota.

Boise paper mill job loss impact in Minnesota

Boise paper mill job loss impact in Minnesota

In May 2013, Idaho-based Boise Inc. announced that it would be closing two of its four paper-making machines at their International Falls paper mill, and would be downsizing the workforce by cutting 265 jobs. The mill still has 580 employees left.

These cutbacks were initiated after the struggling Boise was acquired by Packaging Corp. of America in a $2 billion deal. The resulting restructuring and merging of the two companies’ combined capabilities called for cutbacks of $105 million, part of which came from the reduction in production capability and workforce in International Falls.

This was a big blow to Koochiching County, whose 6,300 jobs include 1,100 manufacturing jobs, of which 900 are (were) paper mill jobs. The loss of 265 of these jobs accounts for a 30 percent reduction in the county’s paper mill workforce.

According to an analysis prepared by the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the loss of these high-paying 265 jobs (around $97,300 per employee, including benefits) directly reduces annual economic activity in the county by $207 million.

The job loss means that another 290 jobs in businesses that serve the plant and its employees will be lost, adding up to a total of 555 jobs lost in the county. The total labor income loss in the county adds up to $38.2 million. The ripple effect also spreads out into other counties in northeast Minnesota, with a total loss of 805 jobs in the region.

To deal with this crisis, an Economic Response Team was created to brainstorm ideas, but the group needed additional funding to develop a strategic plan.

This is where the EDA stepped in with a $200,000 grant that will help the region develop a strategy focusing on business and industry growth opportunities. It will allow the region to diversify its economy, assess workforce needs and help displaced workers find new opportunities.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine said this grant will allow for the creation of a long-term strategy to help Northern Minnesota realize greater economic growth and stability.

The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission is additionally getting a $64,465 planning grant from the EDA. This grant will be used to help develop and implement a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for the region.

GE Selects University of Louisville for FirstBuild Micro-factory

GE (NYSE:GE) announced that their first-ever GE Appliances FirstBuild micro-factory will be located on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus in Louisville, KY.

Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers speaking at GE FirstBuild micro-factory announcement

Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers speaking at GE FirstBuild micro-factory announcement (photo – louisville.edu)

The project is a partnership between GE, UofL and Phoenix-based open-source hardware innovator Local Motors.

The 35,000-square-foot FirstBuild micro-factory will be housed in a former storage facility at UofL, and is slated to open this summer.

GE had announced last month that it as teaming up with Local Motors to create a new model for the manufacturing industry that harnesses the power of a co-creation community and an open platform to establish micro-manufacturing capabilities.

The first set of projects at the micro-factory will focus on the “future of cooking.” A global community of innovators will be working to prototype, iterate and refine GE products, and come up with new designs.

Kevin Nolan, vice president of technology, GE Appliances, said that they selected Louisville for the FirstBuild micro-factory because of the strong collaborative innovation and entrepreneurial spirit nurtured by the city government and UofL.

He also mentioned the need for the micro-factory to be close to the design and engineering teams of GE Appliances to ensure real-time iteration as community designs produced in small batches transition to larger-scale production.

Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, said America is searching to define its new manufacturing soul, and many people assume that this industrial reinvigoration will come out of the tech hubs of San Francisco, New York or Boston. However, said Rogers, trends such as micro-manufacturing powered by co-creation and the industrial Internet show that cities such as Louisville can be leaders in the Third Industrial Revolution.

FirstBuild will enable UofL researchers and students to collaborate on innovation and production of kitchen appliances with GE engineers, Local Motors workers and community residents. FirstBuild will have a kitchen demonstration space, showroom, wood and metal shops and lounge areas.

The FirstBuild micro-factory is part of a plan for GE and UofL to create an advanced manufacturing hub called the “Institute for Product Realization” where students will be able to conduct research while getting practical training on 3D printing and technologies in a micro-factory setting.

UofL President James Ramsey said they are excited to be expanding the collaboration with GE. Ramsey added that together, they’re finding new ways to grow technologies and the economy while giving students real-world engineering experiences.

Connecticut Economic Development Dept Awards $3.8M in Brownfield Grants

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development has awarded grants totaling $3,821,000 for advancing development of brownfield sites all over the state.

Science Park in New Haven, CT

Science Park in New Haven, CT gets brownfield grant (photo – cityofnewhaven.com)

The grants, announced by Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, will enable 21 communities to assess and investigate 48 sites covering more than 310 acres.

Gov. Malloy said that the communities receiving these grants will be able to prepare key sites that are in many cases vacant and blighted for a return to productive uses that will grow jobs and improve the quality of life across Connecticut.

The Governor said these assessment grants will create a pipeline of larger redevelopment and remediation projects in the near future.

The grant funding, provided under the state’s Municipal Brownfields Assessment and Inventory Grant Program, allows regional development agencies, towns and cities to take a vital first or next step towards reuse of blighted and vacant sites that have been abandoned for decades or are underused.

The program was created as a complement to the DECD’s larger brownfield programs, enabling local governments and their development agency partners to get started with the process of redeveloping brownfields.

Before the redevelopment of a brownfield or suspected contaminated site can begin, environmental assessments are required in order to provide potential developers with information about the site’s status and required cleanups.

This is where the municipal grant program came in handy, allowing applicants to receive grants of up to $200,000 for investigation and other pre-development activities. The CT Economic Development Dept’s Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development is administering this grant program.

One of the 22 grant recipients is the City of New Haven and Yale University’s Science Park Development Corporation, which is getting $200,000 to kick off the next phase of development by investigating another 3.5 acres.

The Science Park is being developed on 80 acres of industrial land and buildings in between Yale’s Science Hill and the city’s Newhallville neighborhood that formerly housed the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory.

Connecticut Economic Development Dept Commissioner Catherine Smith said these grants will unlock significant new development opportunities for new housing, commercial office space, open space and adaptive reuse of legacy brownfield sites.

Connecticut Energy and Environmental Protection Dept Commissioner Rob Klee said that putting these properties back into productive use enables taking advantage of existing infrastructure, protecting public health and the environment, and reduces development pressure on undeveloped lands.

New York Smart Grid and Control Center Project to Save $190M Per Year

Federal, state and local officials and energy sector leaders attended the grand opening of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) Control Center in Rensselaer County, NY.

NYISO control center

NYISO control center (photo – nyiso.com)

NYISO is the non-profit that oversees New York’s bulk electricity grid and wholesale electricity markets, and the 64,000-square-foot control facility adjacent to their headquarters will serve as their primary operations and control center.

The control center is part of a smart grid project funded partly with $38 million in Recovery Act investment provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Energy Department and utilities across the U.S. have partnered to deploy advanced grid sensors known as synchrophasors that will improve grid reliability, safeguard against outages and enable faster power restoration.

In New York, the Energy Dept teamed up with eight NYISO and eight transmission owners to deploy these synchrophasors and smart grid technologies. The control center gives NYISO an in-depth and expansive view of the power grid on a 2,300-square-foot video wall, the largest such utility installation to-date in North America.

The video wall shows New York’s entire grid on a single screen, with more than 3,000 live status points on it representing key electric systems operations data and information.

The control center supports and boosts some of the state’s key energy goals, including maintaining reliability through smart grid technology. It will also assist in implementing the NYISO regional markets initiative that will provide New York ratepayers with around $190 million in annual savings by eliminating barriers and optimizing resources among regions.

The best part about it is that the new control center replaces a 44-year old one which was the oldest such utility control center in the country.

NYSIO President and CEO Stephen G. Whitley said that reliable operation of the grid requires constant vigilance every hour of the day, every day of the year. Whitley said the new control center helps them meet the 21st century grid’s reliability requirements through the use of state-of-the-art visual displays and the latest control technologies that are designed to improve NYISO’s ability to receive, process and monitor changing conditions throughout the region.

U.S. Senator for New York Charles Schumer said NYISO has recognized the importance of creating a 21st century grid to support New York State’s 21st century economy, and the opening of the facility is a major component of that effort.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, in whose district the NYISO headquarters is located, said the completion of the control center and smart grid infrastructure upgrades will help ensure that new and existing businesses have the power they need to drive economic growth in the region and state.

California JEDI Ballot Initiative Highlights Economic Development Benefits

Proponents, cities and interest groups who support the revival of California’s 425 eliminated redevelopment agencies have a legitimate shot at getting what they want, provided voters agree with them and approve a ballot initiative in November.

CA JEDI Act

CA JEDI Act (photo – ij.org)

The initiative is named the California Jobs and Education Development Initiative (JEDI) Act, and is being pushed by an organization called Californians for Jobs and Economic Development.

If voters approve the ballot measure, the 425 RDAs that were dissolved by legislation in 2011 would be reauthorized to continue their former functions.

The property tax revenue that went to the RDAs, along with their cash and proceeds from sale of other assets, is now going to local governments. This year alone, around $1.85 billion that would have gone to the RDAs is going to local governments, with schools and community colleges getting more than half of it.

Redevelopment supporters claim that the loss of tax increment funding for housing and development projects has resulted in the loss of $41 billion in economic activity and $2 billion in tax revenues. Not to mention the loss of 300,000 jobs, of which 170,000 are construction jobs.

The ballot initiative renames the RDAs as JEDI agencies. The JEDI Act claims that if these agencies are reactivated, it would be a boon for California economic development, putting thousands of Californians back to work and generating billions in new tax revenue for public schools without raising taxes or state debt.

A legislative analysis of the initiative’s fiscal impact, however, doesn’t consider the impact of any economic development that could be generated by the JEDI agencies. The analysis merely states that if the RDAs are reactivated, the state’s education cost would go up by anywhere from $1 billion to a few billion dollars per year.

The JEDI Act not only restores the eliminated redevelopment agencies for another 40 years, but also vastly expands the scope of their activities. It redefines blight, or to be specific – it modifies the economic conditions that cause blight to include unemployment rates that are higher than the statewide or national average.

This would make large parts of California where the unemployment rate is higher than the state or national average blighted, paving the way for redevelopment on a much higher scale than before.

The institute for Justice published a report (pdf) last month called “Return of the Empire? An Analysis of California’s JEDI ACT and Resurrecting Redevelopment.”

This report details how the broadened blight conditions in the JEDI Act would enable redevelopment agencies to condemn homes, apartment buildings and businesses, potentially putting hundreds of thousands of properties at risk of being condemned for destruction and transfer to developers.

Santa Fe Business Incubator Opens Bioscience Lab Funded by US EDA

New Mexico’s bioscience startups and researchers have a big advantage working in their favor now, with the opening of the new Bioscience Lab at the Santa Fe Business Incubator.

Bioscience Lab at Santa Fe Business Incubator

Bioscience Lab at Santa Fe Business Incubator (photo – sfbi.net)

The SFBI is holding a grand opening for the new lab, with special guests including Pedro Garza, regional director for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales and Jasper Welch, president of the National Business Incubation Association.

The 700-square-foot lab housed within the 30,000-square-foot SFBI was built with the help of a federal grant of $1.25 million from the EDA. The City of Santa Fe and the Los Alamos National Laboratory provided additional fund the project.

The funding was used for build out and outfitting of the lab with state-of-the-art equipment that startups will be able to share. The lab offers everything from fume hoods to bio-safety cabinets, an autoclave and ultra low temperature freezers. It even has an ultracentrifuge, real-time PCR system and inverted fluorescence microscope.

This is the kind of specialized equipment that few startups can afford unless they are very well funded. The Bioscience Lab is expected to attract researchers and startups to New Mexico, looking to make use of the facilities to develop and commercialize innovative technologies while reducing startup costs and early capital expenditures.

The EDA grant was approved in Nov 2011 after SFBI, supported by New Mexico’s congressional delegation, applied for the grant so that they would be able to better support life science startups.

Sen. Tom Udall said the Santa Fe Business Incubator is a great public-private collaboration, and he’s proud to be a strong supporter.

At that time, EDA Regional Director Garza emphasized the importance of encouraging innovation and bringing new technologies to the marketplace as critical for creating jobs and improving the nation’s economic competitiveness.

Marie Longserre, president and CEO of SFBI, said the shared Bioscience Lab lowers the risk for early stage life sciences companies by reducing startup costs, and it enhances SFBI’s mission by adding a focus on the growing life sciences sector.

Longserre added that on behalf of the community and region, they are grateful to the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the supporters and partners involved, for this opportunity.

Since opening in 1997, SFBI has helped launch and grow more than 140 businesses that have gone to create more than 1,000 direct jobs and generated millions in annual revenues.

North Carolina Launches NCWorks Workforce Development Initiative

North Carolina has launched a major initiative called NCWorks to promote a cohesive strategy for workforce development across the state.

Gov. McCrory at Caterpillar plant in Sanford, NC for NCWorks announcement

Gov. McCrory at Caterpillar plant in Sanford, NC for NCWorks announcement (photo – NC Division of Workforce Solutions)

The announcement was made by Governor Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at an event held at the Caterpillar plant in Sanford, NC.

Korey Coon, human resources manager at Caterpillar, is also the chair of the NC Commission on Workforce Development.

Gov. McCrory said he is continuously pleased to see more and more people finding jobs in North Carolina, but added that it was important to remain focused on getting people back to work.

The Governor said they are officially launching NCWorks to focus on one goal – connecting North Carolina jobs with North Carolina people.

Sec. Decker said that developing a stronger workforce means helping the backbone of the economy statewide, and added that the North Carolina Community College System has been an integral partner in this innovative project, and they will all be working closely in the months ahead to make NCWorks a success.

Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the NC Community College System, was present at the event in Sanford. Ralls said that as the state’s designated leader in workforce training, the community colleges are pleased to be a part of the NCWorks initiative.

Ralls added that by aligning resources and focusing their services, North Carolina’s workforce system can open up new opportunities for both citizens and businesses.

The plan begins immediately, and the NCWorks website is already functional. “NCWorks Online” is now the main one-stop resource for employers and jobseekers in North Carolina.

Jobseekers will be able to create resumes, search and apply for jobs, and find education and training. Employers will likewise be able to use the website for posting jobs, finding candidates and searching for labor market information.

On the ground, hundreds of workforce professionals in North Carolina will focus on connecting the state’s residents seeking jobs with employers. Will Collins, executive director of NCWorks, said they have an aggressive plan to work with partners and visit 1,000 businesses in all 100 counties in 100 days.

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