Santa Clarita Valley EDC Offers Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive

The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC) announced that they are now offering an Industry Cluster Attraction Incentive (ICAI).

Santa Clarita Valley EDC

Santa Clarita Valley EDC (photo –

ICAI is aimed at attracting new businesses in targeted industry clusters to the Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California.

SCVEDC, in partnership with Los Angeles County, has made $200,000 available for the ICAI program. Qualifying businesses would be eligible to receive up to $40,000 for relocation or new projects.

In order to qualify, the project must create at least 40 jobs. The company would also need to buy property or sign a five-year lease for the project.

The incentive will be available for companies in targeted sectors including entertainment, manufacturing, aerospace, IT and medical devices.

SCVEDC President and CEO Holly Schroeder said the new incentive demonstrates their commitment to being pro-active in recruiting these sectors to the Santa Clarita Valley.

The incentive will be applicable towards reimbursement of permitting costs paid by the company to the City of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County.

Schroeder added that the Santa Clarita Valley with two million square feet of new construction and an overall 30 million square feet of office and industrial space offers tremendous opportunities for businesses, but establishing new operational locations is a big decision for any company.

The ICAI program, said Schroeder, helps defray permitting costs so that companies can find the location right for them.

The SCVEDC was established in 2010 to help create high-paying jobs for the area’s skilled workforce, grow the regional tax base, and strategically position the Santa Clarita Valley as a globally competitive business location.

The Santa Clarita Valley is located along the I-5 corridor in northern Los Angeles County, less than 25 miles from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. It already has industry clusters such as film production, biomedical, high tech, and aerospace manufacturing.

The thriving businesses, institutions of higher learning and the educated and skilled workforce combine with the serene surroundings to give Santa Clarita a mix of small-town charm and urban sophistication.

Santa Clarita Valley is consistently rated as one of the safest communities in the nation. A few years back, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation chose the City of Santa Clarita as the most business-friendly city in Los Angeles County among cities with a population of more than 50,000.

Milken Institute Report – A Hollywood Exit

The Milken Institute’s California Center has come out with a report that looks at what California must do to remain competitive in the entertainment industry, and also examines the film production credits and other incentive programs being offered by California‚Äôs main competitors such as New York and Canada.

Milken institute report - A Hollywood Exit

Milken institute report – A Hollywood Exit (photo –

The Milken report is titled ‚ÄúA Hollywood Exit: What California Must Do to Remain Competitive in Entertainment — and Keep Jobs.‚Äù

It says that between 2004 and 2012, California’s film production employment dropped 10 percent from 152,525 to 136,388 Рa loss of 16,137 jobs with annual wages averaging $98,500.

During the same period, rival New York’s film production workforce grew 25 percent by adding 10,675 new jobs with annual wages averaging $89,000.

States such as California and New York keep the entire economic value of the production, including the spending, indirect jobs, and taxes on wages and spending by employees.

What the study seeks to find out is whether any locations have been successful at establishing their own permanent production bases and workforce, and how these efforts are eroding California’s workforce.

Of the states they examine, only New York is able to consistently create and sustain a viable production cluster. Only a few other states such as Louisiana and New Mexico are mentioned as being able to create permanent job growth.

The key question for California, as per the report, is how much more the state is willing to spend to preserve these high-paying jobs. The report’s authors also suggest specific measures that can be taken, based on how the same measures are working elsewhere.

For example, they cite New York’s new post-production tax credit offered for productions in the state outside the NYC metro area. The report authors say it allows them to demonstrate to California that if state policy is managed properly, a localized cluster of entertainment jobs can be leveraged to provide statewide benefits instead of just to that one city.

Another suggestion they offer is to increase the amount of available tax credits to a level where the $100 million lottery system becomes a moot point.

An economic impact study of the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) shows that the program, enacted in 2009, has generated $3.8 billion in economic output. For every dollar spent on the program, at least $1.13 is returned to state and local governments as tax revenue.

But productions in California seeking tax credits currently have to apply at the start of June and a lottery system decided who gets the credits, which usually run out on the first day.

In 2012, 322 productions applied and only 27 projects were awarded credits. If any project has a tight schedule and cannot wait for the once-a-year lottery results, they choose to relocate elsewhere.

Another drawback is that this lottery system does not allow for assessment of projects based on potential economic benefits. For example, hour-long network dramas are the ones that create the most jobs.

These dramas, along with big-budget movies and visual effects, are the ones leaving the state faster than others because they don’t qualify for the currently available incentives.

The Milken report follows the introduction on Feb 18, 2014 of a bill (the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act РAB 1839) in the California Assembly that seeks to improve and expand California’s incentive program.

This bill does address many of the suggestions in the Milken report, including a five percent increase in the tax credit for filming done outside of the Los Angeles Zone, and allowing big-budget movies and hour-long dramas to apply for incentives.

Read the full Milken Institute “A Hollywood Exit” report – Download (pdf)

Sandia National Laboratories Economic Impact Report

The Sandia National Laboratories economic impact report for fiscal year 2013 shows they spent $2.6 billion.

Sandia National Laboratories Economic Impact

Sandia National Laboratories Economic Impact (photo

This includes more than $974 million in contracts for goods and services, almost $1.5 billion in labor and non-contract payments, and nearly $63 million in corporate taxes.

Small businesses received $499.31 million of the total $974 million spent for goods and services.

Small businesses in New Mexico received $287 million, and other businesses in the state got $133.9 million, for a total of nearly $421 million.

Small businesses in California received $55.45 million, and other businesses in the state got $57.47 million, for a total of nearly $113 million.

Total spending on small business contracts increased by $27 million as compared to FY 2012.

Don Devoti, manager of Sandia’s Small Business Utilization Department, said the economic impact of this increased spending has benefited small businesses in New Mexico and across the nation.

Devoti added that Sandia’s partnership with small and diverse business suppliers is key to New Mexico’s economic prosperity.

Sandia Labs added 1,602 new hires in FY 2013, taking its total workforce to 10,597 regular and temporary employees. Out of this total, 9,474 are located at the Sandia Labs site in New Mexico.

More than 5,000 of Sandia Labs employees have a Masters Degree or a PhD, and about 5,000 are classified as engineers, scientists and technologists.

Graduates from universities in New Mexico made up 304 out of the 1,602 new hires, and California universities chipped in with another 82.

Sandia Labs has a big part to play in New Mexico economic development programs such as the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program which helps small businesses access new technologies and find solutions for complex technical issues with the help of Sandia experts.

In 2012, Sandia offered nearly $2.4 million in technical assistance to 196 small businesses spread across 27 counties in New Mexico.

The Sandia Science & Technology Park (SS&TP) next to Sandia Labs attracts a variety of startups and large companies looking to collaborate and do business with Sandia and the adjacent Kirtland Air Force Base. In 2013, SS&TP welcomed five new companies and two major expansions by existing companies, including a 17-acre solar farm opened by EMCORE.

Sandia also took a big step forward in 2013 in terms of partnering with the private sector to commercialize the results of R&D and intellectual property. As of Nov 1, 2013, Sandia technologies had secured 105 newly issued patents, with patent applications increasing 14 percent to 126.

Read the full Sandia Labs economic impact report – Download (pdf)

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 –

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.

Google Subsidiary Taking Over Moffett Field From NASA

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA announced the selection of Planetary Ventures LLC, which is an affiliate of Google Inc., as the preferred lessee to rehabilitate historic Hangar One at Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California.

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA

Hangar One at Moffett Field, CA (photo –

The historic 8-acre Hangar One at Moffett Field, located in between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous landmarks.

It is part of a National Historic District that also includes Hangars Two and Three and Shenandoah Plaza.

Planetary Ventures taking over the space puts Hangar One to good use. The agreement also eliminates substantial management costs for NASA since Planetary Ventures will¬†be taking over management of Moffett Field from NASA’s Ames Research Center.

GSA issued requests for proposals (RFPs) on behalf of NASA in May 2013, asking for proposals from the private sector to collaborate with the government on rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of Hangar One, and management of the airfield through a long-term lease.

Moffett Field will remain a federal airfield and the government will continue to use it, since NASA’s Ames Research Center is located there and so is the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing.

The RFP requires Planetary Ventures to maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District. They are also required to reposition Moffett Field as a viable asset to support government and other public/private flight operations.

Planetary Ventures will also be rehabilitating Hangars Two and Three, upgrading the airfield’s golf course, and creating an educational and public use facility.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement that NASA is not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure that they’re spending tax dollars wisely. He said this agreement will benefit American taxpayers and the community around Moffett.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said Hangar One was a Silicon Valley landmark well before the rise of today’s high tech titans. He said NASA’s partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use.

Col Steven J. Butow, commander of the Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, said this is a model for the nation, employing federal interagency partnerships with private entities, which he said allows them to continue their commitment as citizen-airmen to the community and the county.

NASA’s previous partnership experiment with the private sector to make good use of Moffett Field involved Airship Ventures, which was offering ‘’flightseeing” trips onboard a 246-foot-long Zeppelin NT based out of Hangar Two at Moffett Field.

NASA and Airship Ventures were additionally planning more collaborative projects including use of the airship as a platform for conducting scientific research and disaster response studies.

In fact, they actually did participate in one joint research project in collaboration with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. However, the blimp operations couldn’t stay afloat during the recession and Airship Ventures had to shut down in Nov 2012.

The competitive process through which Planetary Ventures LLC has been selected, the review conducted by the GSA and NASA, and the much wider scope of the RFP and pending lease agreement will hopefully mean this partnership lasts a lot longer.

Otis Report on California’s Creative Economy – 1.4M Jobs

The Otis College of Art and Design has published its seventh annual report on the Creative Economy, and this year the scope of the report encompasses the entire state of California.

Otis report on California and LA creative economy

Otis report on California and LA creative economy (photo –

Otis commissioned the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to prepare the report.

Previous editions of this report have been limited to the Los Angeles region. However, they have now expanded it to cover the entire state with the help of a grant from the California Arts Council.

Key findings from the 2013 Otis report (based on economic data for 2012):-

The creative economy accounts for 1,416,800 jobs in California, including 681,400 direct jobs and 735,400 indirect and induced jobs. That’s roughly one in ten jobs, or 9.7 percent of all wage and salary employment in California.

The creative economy in the Los Angeles region alone accounts for 726,300 workers (including 404,000 direct jobs) who earn a combined $50.6 billion. That’s one out of seven sage and salary jobs in the region.

For California, the creative industry’s direct, indirect and induced economic impact works out to $273.5 billion, leading to tax revenues of $13 billion.

Note that that the tax revenue figures cited are based on property, state and local income and sales tax revenues attributed directly and indirectly to the creative sector. They do not take into account other taxes such as corporate taxes and federal income taxes.

The creative industry in the Los Angeles region alone is responsible for a net economic contribution of $80 billion, and has a total direct, indirect and induced impact of $140 billion, leading to tax revenues of $6.9 billion.

In the report’s foreword, Otis President Samuel Hoi said the next Otis report will also include a set of regional snapshots, with a goal of portraying the different faces of the creative economy in specific local contexts in California.

He says the expanded Otis report assesses the premise that creativity is essential to successful workforce investment and economic development strategies.

This year’s report also includes a special addendum called “L.A. Creates” by Keith McNutt, director of the Western Region of the Actors Fund, in which he details how collaborative and regional efforts can support and develop the region’s creative industries.

Read the full Otis report on the Creative Economy – Download (pdf)

Blu Homes Relocates Corporate HQ to California

Blu Homes, Inc., a leading provider of premium prefab homes, announced that it is relocating the company’s corporate headquarters to Mare Island in Vallejo, California.

Blu Homes factory in historic Building 680 on Mare Island, CA

Blu Homes factory in historic Building 680 on Mare Island, CA

Blu, which has until now been headquartered in Waltham, MA, will be moving to a new headquarters in a historic building at 1245 Nimitz on Mare Island.

The building, known as Building 680, had a major role in the rebuilding of America‚Äôs¬†Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor. It was at the heart of the¬†Mare Island Naval Shipyard’s shipbuilding and repair works during WWII.

The 1940 building is also an architectural gem and a part of the Mare Island Historic District. It was used as a machine ship until the mid-1990s, and has since been dormant until Blu Homes took it up in 2012 for a factory.

Blu CEO Bill Haney said that two decades after closing down, this elegant building now centers a new vision for premium home building and green manufacturing in America. He credited the tremendous work by Lennar’s Mare Island team in cleaning up and repositioning the landmark for the innovation economy.

Jason Keadjian, spokesperson for Lennar Mare Island, said Vallejo has always been a place where hardworking people and creative ideas have come together to build great things. He said Blu Homes is continuing that tradition on Mare Island, and they were proud to have the company as a major part of the growing business community.

Haney added that they began with the facility on Mare Island two years ago with 20 factory employees, but with this move they will now have more than 260 engineers, craftspeople, architects and professionals for project management, product development and the business side of the company.

Until this consolidation announcement, Blu Homes’ operations were widely dispersed, with their headquarters in Massachusetts, factory on Mare Island and offices in San Francisco.

Blu Homes COO Woody Bell said that by moving the headquarters to Mare Island and bringing all their business units under one roof, they will be able to increase collaboration and enhance innovation.

On Jan 27, the company also broke ground on a design center on Mare Island, preceded by a groundbreaking for another design center a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. Blu Homes is planning to set five more design homes in select cities across the U.S. this year and the next.

Blu Homes was founded in 2008 by Bill Haney, and the prefab homes they produce are built to be LEED certifiable using sustainably sourced raw materials such as recycled steel and reclaimed wood, and the homes are equipped with energy-efficient appliances. The Blu factory on Mare Island is a zero-landfill facility.

For home owners, there is a 70 percent average energy savings difference between a Blu Home and an ordinary stick built home.

U.S. Announces Five Zones Under Promise Zone Initiative

The first five of 20 planned Promise Zones under the federal Promise Zone Initiative that was unveiled last year are Los Angeles, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

 Promise Zones

Promise Zones

Each of these Promise Zones will benefit from intensive federal support and assistance provided at the local level for implementing economic and community development goals.

Each of the selected Promise Zones has put forward a plan detailing how they plan to work with local businesses and community leaders to make investments that will expand opportunity and reward hard work.

Here’s a brief outline of what each Zone has proposed:-

San Antonio, Texas (Eastside Neighborhood) РFocus on job creation and training in key growth areas through a partnership with St. Philip’s College and others.

Empower children with the skills needed by increasing enrollment in quality pre-K programs and installing a STEM focus in the local school district. Offer adult education opportunities.

Facilitate neighborhood revitalization by expanding public safety, better street lighting and demolishing abandoned buildings.

Los Angeles, California (Pico Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Hollywood and East Hollywood) – Provide more affordable housing by preserving existing units and partnering with developers to add more affordable housing units.

Ensure youth have access to high-quality education, and prepare them for college and careers via the Promise Neighborhoods initiative. Partner with L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Youth Policy Institute for expanding the Full Service Community Schools model from the current seven schools to all 45 Promise Zone schools by 2019.

Partner with the Los Angeles Community College District and career and technical training schools to provide technical training opportunities and prepare youths and adults for high-growth industries.

Invest in transit infrastructure to attract new businesses and create jobs. Empower the Promise Zone Director and Advisory Board to eliminate wasteful and duplicative government programs.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (West Philadelphia) – Put people back to work through skills training and adult education, small business development classes, and loans and technical support for small businesses. Develop a supermarket that will provide access to healthy food and create jobs.

Partner with Drexel University and the William Penn Foundation to prepare children for careers. Prevent and reduce crime to attract investments and new residents.

Southeastern Kentucky (Kentucky Highlands) – Implement sustainable economic effort involving eight counties in the Kentucky Highlands region. Create jobs and grow small businesses within the Promise Zone using a revolving loan fund created with the help of $1.3 million in private sector funding.

The University of Kentucky Economic Development Initiative, the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, and the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation will provide leadership and entrepreneur training for youth, and also retraining for the local workforce in specific industries.

Eastern Kentucky University will expand technical education programs in the Promise Zone, while Berea College will provide high school students with evidence-based college and career readiness programs.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma – Provide workforce training for skilled trades and professionals with a focus on STEM certifications through partnerships with Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, and the Kiamichi Technology Center.

Make infrastructure Investments including for water and sewerage systems, and pursue economic diversification. Support women-owned businesses in the Promise Zone, and implementation of large-scale greenhouses and technology-enhanced farming and ranching.

The remaining 15 Promise Zones around the country will be announced over the next three years.

Find out more about the Promise Zone Initiative at

Los Angeles 2020 Commission Report

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission has released a report about the current state and issues being faced by Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles 2020 Commission Report

Los Angeles 2020 Commission Report

The independent commission was constituted in April 2013 at the request of Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.

The report they released, titled “A Time for Truth,” is the first of two reports the Commission will produce. The second one will cover the Commission’s recommendations and ideas.

This first 50-page report looks at the challenges and pressing issues Los Angeles needs to face up to.

Specific issues cited by the 13-member commission chaired by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor include weak job creation, poor economic development, lack of industry, traffic, a declining school system, poverty, deficits and budget cuts.

About economic development, the report says – “We lack a coherent or coordinated approach to economic development and soliciting investment in Los Angeles. In fact, we do an abysmal job of identifying and servicing the legitimate needs of the employers already located here. According to a recent survey, 9% of businesses in LA are planning to leave, citing stifling regulations and an unresponsive bureaucracy.”

The report also says Los Angeles has missed out on opportunities. They cite New York taking a leadership role in bioscience with projects such as the Cornell NYC Tech university campus. The report says Los Angeles has no similar project to take advantage of the world-class minds in the region.

The report says the City is hindering private efforts. They cite the three years it took for City Hall to greenlight a $1 billion private investment by USC, which was seeking approval for adding academic buildings, retail space and student housing, in the process creating thousands of jobs.

Other highlights from the report:-

– Among the seven major metropolitan areas, Los Angeles is the only one showing a net decline in non-farm employment over the last decade;

– Los Angeles had 12 Fortune 500 headquarters three decades ago. Now that number has come down to four.

– Los Angeles is dramatically underinvesting in the modernization of its greatest assets including Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Los Angeles.

– City revenue has been flat since 2009, with a forecast for a one percent revenue growth in 2014. Meanwhile, expenses will grow by more than five percent.

– The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) spends $7.1 billion to educate around 640,000 students, but less than 60 percent of LAUSD students graduated from high school. Only 32 out of 100 students who enter ninth grade will fulfill the course requirements to enter the UC or Cal State systems.

Read the full Los Angeles 2020 Commission Report – Download (pdf)

New Zealand Lands Avatar Sequels With Enhanced Film Incentives

The Government of New Zealand has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lightstorm Entertainment Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation for the filming of three Avatar sequels.

Avatar sequels announcement in NZ

Avatar sequels announcement in NZ (photo – Wellington Mayor)

New Zealand Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson signed the MOU on behalf of the government with Avatar Director James Cameron and Jon Landau.

The combined production spending on the three sequels is expected to reach at least NZ$500 million (US $413 million), including live action shooting and visual effects.

The NZ government recently hiked the screen production incentives it offers for international productions from 15 to 20 percent. For Avatar, the government is willing to add another five percent and make it 25 percent of the Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE).

As per the MoU, this additional five percent will be provided to Lightstorm and 20th Century Fox only if they undertake activities that bring significant economic benefits for New Zealand.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the Avatar sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work for the screen sector and for jobs right across the economy. Around 90 per cent of live-action crew jobs are likely to be filled by New Zealanders.

The film production work will be based out of Wellington, where the announcement was made. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said this was an early Christmas present for the creative communities in Wellington and New Zealand.

Apart from the direct economic impact of half a billion dollars, the Mayor said the wider effects would be substantial. She added that the films define New Zealand as a good place to visit and great people to do business with.

The first Avatar movie generated around NZ$100 million in spending for Wellington and more than NZ$307 for the New Zealand economy. Spillover effects such as the establishment of the Matakina 3D breast cancer detection imaging technology have been attributed to the development work at Weta Digital, the Wellington-based special effects company which handled the work for Avatar.

The three Avatar sequels are scheduled for back-to-back Christmas releases from Dec 2016-18.

Media reports in 2011 had indicated that the Avatar sequels may be produced in the United States instead of New Zealand, and anticipated the creation of more than 700 jobs. The Santa Monica, California-based Lightstorm Entertainment even established a new studio in Manhattan Beach, CA that would have been useful for producing the Avatar sequels.

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