Alaska

Alaska Gets Five IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards

Nearly 1,000 economic development professionals from around the world are in Anchorage for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference.

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska (photo – neil alejandro/flickr)

The conference is expected to pump an estimated $2 million into the economy in the Anchorage and surrounding areas, not including spending by conference attendees who extended their trips to further explore Alaska.

It’s a happy coincidence that the host state is also one of the top winners of the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards. Five Alaska organizations, including the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), have been named as award recipients in different categories.

AEDC took top honors in the General Purpose Website category, winning the Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award. Last year, AEDC embarked on a project to redesign AEDCweb.com to transform it into a modern, innovative website with user experience at the forefront of their objectives. The website continues to evolve and improve.

AEDC also took the Silver Award in the Special Event category. Their Crowdfunding AK event, part of AEDC’s 2014 Alaska Entrepreneurship Week, included a keynote presentation by Danae Ringlemann, co-founder of Indiegogo.com, as well as a panel of successful local crowdfunders.

Other Alaska organizations who won the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards this year include the Alaska Division of Economic Development, the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority, Haa Aani Community Development Fund, Inc. and Huna Totem Corporation.

Another winner with two Gold Awards is the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). One Gold Award in the Special Event category was for LAEDC’s Most Business-Friendly City (MDFC) Awards program. The second Gold Award was in the category of Business Retention & Expansion, honoring LAEDC’s Business Assistance Program (BAP), which reached the milestone of 200,000 jobs retained and created in LA County.

JoAnn Crary, CEcD, Chair of the International Economic Development Council and President of Saginaw Future Inc., said in a release that from localized community projects to large scale endeavors, economic development efforts have played a vital role in the global economy.

“As we address new and longstanding challenges, these efforts continue to take on even greater importance,” added Crary. “These two awards serve as a salute to pacesetting organizations like the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) for leading the charge.”

Yet another Gold Award winner was the Rutgers Business School, honored for helping small businesses in New Jersey grow and create jobs through the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI). Since its launch in 2009, over 180 entrepreneurs have participated in the EPI program. The aggregate impact of these companies exceeds $35 Million in annual revenue.

Lyneir Richardson, executive director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers Business School, accepted the award. “This is a prestigious honor and we are proud to be acknowledged for having social and business impact,” said Richardson.

The York County Development Corporation, which serves York County, NE, also won an Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award in the General Purpose Website category for communities with populations less than 25,000. YCDC launched a new economic development website in June last year, and has since continued to expand the site with new pages and information.

IEDC is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,600 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind.

President Announces Alaska Economic Development Grants to Combat Climate Change

During a trip to Kotzebue, AK, President Obama announced a broad package of Alaska economic development grants and initiatives to incentivize clean energy and energy-efficiency solutions, and build resilience to climate impacts.

Kotzebue, Alaska

Kotzebue, Alaska (photo -images.usace.army.mil/)

Highlights of the funding package for Alaska:

USDA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture will finalize a rule that revises definitions and eligibility of the Rural Alaska Villages Grant Program. Water system conditions now do not have to be “dire” before assistance can be provided, so vulnerable Alaskan villages will not have to wait until disaster strikes to improve critical water infrastructure.

USDA announced $17.6 million in grant funding for 33 projects that will be the first recipients of grants under the new rule for the Rural Alaska Villages Grant Program.

USDA also signed cooperative agreements totaling $240,000 with four Native nonprofit organizations in western Alaska that are charged with extending the reach of the USDA Rural Development programs to hard-to-reach populations.

BIA – The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Tribal Climate Resilience Program has awarded $1.38 million to support internships for tribal youth working on projects or performing research directly related to climate change impacts.

Sustainable Southeast Partnership – SSP is a regional economic development organization serving Southeast Alaska. SSP announced over $5 million in new private sector commitments to aid their work supporting projects and businesses that improve the economy, social structures of the communities, and well-being of the environment.

DOE – The U.S. Department of Energy will launch a new $4 million energy efficiency competition called the Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency Competition that aims to accelerate efforts by remote Alaskan communities to adopt sustainable energy strategies.

DOE also announced a funding opportunity of up to $6 million to deploy clean energy projects and energy efficiency projects on Indian lands, promoting economic development and reducing reliance on fossil fuel. Through this FFO, DOE is soliciting applications from Indian tribes and Tribal Energy Resource Development Organizations to install facility- and community-scale clean energy and energy efficiency projects on Indian lands.

Denali Commission – The Denali Commission is announcing approximately $15.5 million in grants to support bulk fuel facilities and rural power system upgrades and power generation across rural Alaska.

Anchorage Mayor’s Office – Anchorage is providing up to $6 million for installing LED roadway lighting across parking lots, roadways, garages, trails, and other outdoor lighting installations. This new effort builds on the City;s past success with investments in LED technologies. Anchorage was the first city in the world to replace more than a quarter of roadway lighting with LED solutions, in the process saving the city $260,000 dollars annually and reducing energy consumption by nearly 60 percent.

City of Kodiak – A $3 million public-private partnership project involving the City of Kodiak, Matson, Inc. and the Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) will test a renewable energy-powered shipping crane. This project will enable the island to become the first in the world to put flywheel and battery energy storage together to stabilize variable electric power from wind turbines. Kodiak, the second largest island in the United States, recently achieved 99.7 percent renewable electricity from wind and hydro, and this will now be augmented by flywheels.

NE, AK Universities Get NIST MEP Funding to Support Manufacturing

The NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Alaska Anchorage funding to shore up manufacturing support in both states.

NIST MEP impact

NIST MEP impact

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been awarded $600,000 and authorized to establish an MEP center.

The $600,000 represents half of the MEP center’s annual operating funding needs. The University is required to come up with matching funds from non-federal sources for the remaining half.

The second grant announced by MEP was a $150,000 funding award to the University of Alaska Anchorage, provided as a State Technology Extension Assistance Project.

This funding will assist the University assess the technical needs of small and mid-sized manufacturers in the state, as Alaska looks towards diversifying its manufacturing base.

This effort is being undertaken by the University on behalf of MEP, and may lead to the establishment of an MEP center in Alaska.

MEP is a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, housed under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

MEP works with small and medium-sized manufacturers, helping them with innovation strategies, improvements, implementation of green practices, etc. that help the manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase sales, and save time and money.

In FY 2013 alone, MEP served 30,131 manufacturers. Manufacturers receiving MEP services reported 62,703 increased and retained jobs, cost savings of $1.2 billion and new client investments worth $2.6 billion. Not to mention $6.2 billion in retailed sales and another $2.2 billion in new sales.

MEP has worked with more than 76,000 manufacturers in the past 25 years, helping them rack up sales worth $79 billion and savings worth $12.8 billion.

MEP was first established in 1988, and has since helped create 636,000 jobs and more than $20 billion in investments in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Every dollar invested by the federal government through MEP generates $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investments. MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job for every $1,978 of federal investment.

The new MEP center in Nebraska and another one possibly in the pipeline in Alaska will join a national network of 400 centers and field offices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, with a staff that includes more than 1,200 technical experts.

FAA Announces Selection of Six UAS Test Sites

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced the six test sites that will be used for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and testing, with the aim of integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

 FAA UAS test sites

FAA UAS test sites (photo – nd.gov)

After receiving 50 or so proposals from 37 states, the FAA shortlisted 25 proposals and undertook a comprehensive 10-month site selection process to choose six of them.

The six UAS test site operators located in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Alaska who were selected by the FAA are:-

State of Nevada – Nevada’s project will concentrate on UAS standards and operations, as well as the standards for the operator and their certification requirements.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement that this was a historic moment for Nevada. He said the state has been preparing for this selection and added that they were ready to enter a new era of aviation history.

Senator Harry Reid likewise said this was wonderful news for Nevada and creates a huge opportunity for the economy.

Steve Hill, director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), said that the state’s selection as one of the six test sites allows them to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry. Hill added that the job creation and economic impact will be significant.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport – Their proposal includes a plan for working on developing processes for testing and evaluation as well as verification and validation.

According to the FAA, Griffiss International also plans to focus its research on UAS sense and avoid capabilities, and their sites will aid in research conducted into the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested airspace in the northeast.

North Dakota Department of Commerce РNorth Dakota’s plans include developing UAS airworthiness essential data and validating high reliability link technology.

Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi – This operator plans to develop system safety requirements for the UAS and the operations they are used in, with a goal of coming up with protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) – This operator plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site ranges in Virginia and New Jersey.

University of Alaska – This operator’s proposal offers seven different climatic zones for testing, with test site ranges located in Hawaii and Oregon.

The test site operations are currently scheduled to continue until at least Feb 2017. Visit faa.gov for more information on the test sites and the FAA’s plans for UAS integration.

Alaska Oil Tax Reform Generates Billions in Investment in North Slope

On May 21, 2013, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell signed Senate Bill 21 aka the More Alaska Production Act into law to encourage oil company investments and crude production on the North Slope. Ten days on, BP is all set to announce a massive billion dollar investment in Alaska’s North Slope.

Alaska oil tax reform

Alaska oil tax reform (photo – alaska.gov)

BP will be adding two new drilling rigs at its Prudhoe Bay oil field, adding to the seven that already exist.

The investment on the drill rigs and facility upgrades are expected to create at least 200 new jobs.

The company will also be making other investments to reduce bottlenecks at Prudhoe Bay and improve efficiency to increase production.

BP is also considering an additional $3 billion investment for joint North Slope development projects along with Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips that would lead to the addition of 110 new wells.

Last month, immediately after the Alaska legislature approved SB 21, ConocoPhillips had announced its own new rig at its Kuparuk oil field on the North Slope. Exxon has not yet made any announcements.

SB 21 eliminated the state’s old base oil company tax rate of 25 percent coupled with a 0.4 percent hike for every $1 rise in the wellhead price of oil above $30. The new system taxes oil companies at a flat rate of 35 percent, coupled with a per barrel tax credit that rewards an increase in actual production.

Under the old system, the oil companies would pay tax at rates as high as 50 percent when prices went up, and the state would be paying them tax credits when prices dropped. The new system makes the tax imposed more stable, with the oil companies expected to save around $750 million a year in lower taxes based on current production.

This bill was approved despite significant opposition of it being another tax break for Big Oil. There was an urgency to “Fill the Pipeline” since the oil flowing through the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) between the North Slope and Valdez has been slowing down and getting colder.

This was because the investments had dried up and the amount of oil being produced in the North Slope and moved to Valdez through TAPS has been steadily decreasing as shale developments in North Dakota and elsewhere look more promising. If the same trend had been allowed to continue, a critical point would have been reached when the pipeline would have shut down.

The state is hoping the shortfall in taxation revenues will be balanced by increased production, new investments and more jobs. At the moment, it seems to be working out with the oil companies moving forward quickly with huge investments and planning for long-term growth.

Gov. Parnell said the state was on track for an Alaska oil comeback, and added that Alaskans were already seeing the positive impact of the new tax regime with encouraging announcements made by several companies.

Holiday Giving to Support Economic Development

The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts that the 2012 holiday shopping season will work out to $586 billion. This is a big boost to the economy, but you can get a lot more bang with holiday giving that actually supports economic development.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Catholic Campaign for Human Development (photo – usccb.org)

One option is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), a domestic anti-poverty project created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Through CCHD, you can buy gifts that support economic development projects in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world. The concept is simple enough – CCHD gives grants to groups that help low-income people start small businesses. You can help if you buy gifts that support these businesses.

The North Pole Economic Development Corporation (NPEDC) is very busy during this time of the year. The City of North Pole, Alaska sends more than two million personalized Santa letters to children all over the world. Apart from mundane activities such as helping clean the world’s biggest Santa, the NPEDC also organizes toy drives every year. It’s a bit late now to donate toys, but you can still help with donations.

You could also take a few tips from Bill and Melinda Gates, who wrote a helpful primer on how to make the most of your holiday giving.

“This holiday season, we decided to list several of the charity initiatives that have sparked our interest. Each of these projects takes a different approach, but they have three things in common: they’re innovative, committed to transparency and accountability, and they’re getting good results.” – Bill and Melinda Gates, thegatesnotes.com.

Their choices are listed below:-

Catapult – Crowdfunding site that helps organizations raise funds for projects to advance gender equality.

charity: water – Raises funds for freshwater wells, rainwater catchments, and biosand filters in developing countries.

DonorsChoose.org – Teachers from around the U.S. post classroom project requests on the site.

Gifts that Give РShopping website that contributes 20 percent of every merchandise sale to the charity of the purchaser’s choice.

Threadless – Buy the CARE-themed t-shirt, with 100 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of each shirt going to CARE, to help raise money to improve the health and education of women and children in developing countries.

Leveraging State CEFs for Economic Development

The Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation has come out with a new paper on how state clean energy funds (CEFs) in more than 20 states are leveraging combined appropriations of about $500 million per year into thousands of clean energy projects.

State CEF investment map

Photo credit - Brookings.edu

The report says that over the last decade, these state CEFs have invested over $2.7 billion to support renewable energy markets.

Combined with another $9.7 billion in federal and private sector investment, the state CEFs have been instrumental in the deployment of over 72,000 clean energy projects in theUnited States.

These projects range from business and home solar installations to community wind turbines, large wind farms, hydrokinetic projects in rivers and biomass generation plants on farms.

California is the biggest spender, with $363.7 million of CEF invested in renewable energy in 2010 alone, and a total of $4.56 billion for the period from 1998-2016 (based on fund expiry date).

Alaska comes in second, with $50 million in 2010 and a total of $250 million in between 2008-2013. To be noted that Massachusetts spent $25 million in 2010 and a total of $524 million in between 1998-2017.

The report adds that state clean energy economic development efforts face at least four major challenges:-

  1. Limited funding for clean energy economic development programs.
  2. Insufficient information about in-state clean energy industries, jobs, suppliers, and other infrastructure.
  3. Limited collaboration among stakeholders such as the CEFs, ED agencies, community finance agencies and educational institutions.
  4. States acting in isolation, with no coordinated federal-level clean energy economic development policy.

Note that the paper ends with the summation that, “our new paper proposes a much greater focus in U.S. clean energy finance on ‚Äúbottom up,‚Äù decentralized clean initiatives that rely on the states to catalyze regional economic development in regions.”

Read the full Brookings.edu report – Download (pdf)

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