Monday, September 29, 2008

Utah attractive to distributors

Utah long has been viewed by many in the nation's business community as ideally situated to foster the movement of manufactured goods between both the East and West coasts, and Canada and Mexico.

And now the state known informally as the "Crossroads of the West" is getting a boost to its reputation as a premier location for warehousing and distribution operations.

A new survey by one of the nation's leading corporate site selection companies - The Boyd Co. of Princeton, N.J. - found the cost of operating a distribution warehouse in the Salt Lake City/Provo area was the second lowest among 30 cities it studied.

"Utah has a lot going for it," said consultant John Boyd. "You have a pro-business governor, a relatively low corporate income tax rate, low land and utility costs and a central location."

The study looked at the cost of operating a 500,000-squarefoot distribution center employing 225 hourly workers that ships its cargo by truck to markets in California and through the West.

Annual operating costs ranged from a high of $24.6 million in Chicago to a low of $13.7 million in Mohave Valley, Ariz., Boyd said. The cost of operating in the Salt Lake City-Provo area was $15.7 million a year.

Boyd argues that despite the nation's weakening economy, the expansion, construction and operation of new warehouses will be a major source of new investment and jobs in Utah in the years ahead. More here.

Syracuse named a top site for business location

Business Facilities magazine cites affordability, abundance of water.

Friday, September 26, 2008
By Rick Moriarty Staff writer

A site selection magazine has named the Syracuse metropolitan area among seven around the country worthy of a look by companies seeking a new location.

Business Facilities magazine said in its September issue that Syracuse came to its attention when it came in as the sixth most affordable place for business in a ranking developed by Regional Financial Associates, an independent provider of economic research.

After taking a closer look, the magazine said it found that the Syracuse area "has something that increasingly is a rare and valuable commodity: an abundant supply of fresh, potable water!"

Early this year, Onondaga County's economic development office launched an advertising campaign touting the Syracuse area's abundance of water. The campaign was geared toward the beverage and food-processing industries.

"At a time when the southeastern U.S. is experiencing devastating drought conditions that are affecting industry as well as individuals, Syracuse, located next to Lake Ontario, has access to eight million gallons per day of high-quality, low-priced water," the magazine said.

The magazine also noted that the area's manufacturing sector got a boost in February when Bitzer Scroll Inc., a large independent manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration compressors, announced it would set up a manufacturing facility in Salina and create 289 jobs. It recently opened the facility in the former General Motors Inland Fisher Guide plant, now an industrial park.

The other six metro areas listed as the magazine's "editors' location picks" are Salt Lake City; Midland, Texas; Philadelphia; Oklahoma City; Minneapolis-Saint Paul; and Wichita, Kan.

Greg Hitchin, interim director of the Onondaga County economic development office, said being included in the listing will help Syracuse grab the attention of corporate real estate executives and site selection consultants.

The magazine has a circulation of 43,000, with 51 percent going to manufacturing companies and the rest to business services and other types of companies, he said.

He said a Web site created for the county's advertising campaign received more than 700 hits. And as a result of the campaign, the county has been in contact with a food-processing firm and a company that uses a lot of water in its manufacturing process, Hitchin said.

The full article is on the magazine's Web site, Click on the "Editors' Location Picks 2008" link.

Staff writer Rick Moriarty can be reached at 470-3148 or

The Case For Place Branding

Contributed by: Ed Burghard, Harley Procter Marketer, Procter & Gamble/Executive Director, Ohio Business Development Coalition

In my current role, I am often asked why I believe place branding is a right strategy for accelerating the economic growth of a location.

Global competition for capital investment in increasing, driven in part by companies deciding to increase their capability and capacity to service emerging markets in Asia. This puts pressure on the amount of practically available capital for investing in developed markets. Additionally, advances in telecommunications are making it possible for companies to service developed markets from virtually any location that can provide a high-speed internet connection. Limited dollars and increased choice are the classic conditions that demand effective place branding to attract capital investment and drive accelerated economic growth.

Place branding is a strategy being used by an increasing number of locations around the world to effectively compete for an increased share of foreign direct investment dollars and capital expansion of resident companies. However, too often place branding initiatives are little more than sales campaigns with limited sustainable impact.

I think the work supported by Cincinnati USA to communicate the region's promise and the purposeful integration with the Ohio branding work to ensure delivery of a consistent and persuasive message, is among the best in class examples. The Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland business communities are supporting similar initiatives. From my vantage point, this is a very positive development that will make Ohio even more competitive for capital investment.

However, other locations like St. Louis, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, Triangle Park, and so on, are strengthening their investment and capabilities in place branding as well. We need to continue to focus efforts on improving our state and local business environment, and on effectively communicating our Ohio and Regional brand promises to potential capital investors.

I thought you might find it interesting to read the following 7 tips I provide to economic development professionals to help ensure maximum return on investment from place branding efforts. The greater Cincinnati region does a good job across all seven. Continuing to keep these in mind will help ensure long-term success.

TIP #1 – Create a team of trusted advisors.
It is important you seek the guidance of marketing professionals to cut through the jargon used by advertising agencies and place branding consultants. They can help ensure the process being recommended will deliver the results you expect, and the price is reasonable. These experts can easily be found in private industry companies. Your board of directors is a good place to start looking for a marketing professional resource to provide you guidance. Often, just a couple of meetings with professional marketers during the strategic phase of your place branding initiative can make a huge difference in ensuring a positive outcome.

TIP #2 – Enroll your business community thought leaders as ambassadors.
One sure way to cripple a place branding initiative is to involve too many opinions and not enough data. Thought leaders can be key in helping you enroll local private and public sector managers to the design and output of your place branding initiative. Defining the right brand promise without having broad based buy-in will cause you to fail. Thought leaders can often help ensure your vocal influencers are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

TIP #3 – Focus on a few industries and do the job well.
No industry or company wants to be left out of a place branding effort. However, in the short term it is often better to limit the playing field to gain a competitive share of promotional voice. Spreading limited resources across multiple fronts increases the risk of failure. Begin with your driving industries first. These are the industries representing the majority of your location’s gross domestic product. A good resource to help define driving industries is Moody’s database. These industries have experienced success in your area and their vitality is critical to economic growth. Build from strength. To ensure a balanced approach, select one or two emerging industries to add to your focused portfolio. This conscious and controlled speculation is often prudent to managing your economic portfolio. Your budget and internal resources will guide your decision on how many industries is too many to focus on.

TIP #4 – Get to know industry experts in your business community.
Once you’ve selected industries to focus your place branding efforts against, you need to generate insights into which assets in your area are key points of competitive difference. Industry experts can keep you current on emerging trends that will affect profitability and global competitiveness. They are outstanding sounding boards to evaluate campaign concepts proposed by your agencies. They help keep your communication focused and relevant.

TIP #5 – Translate your location assets into business benefits.
There is an old saying in business circles … features tell, but benefits sell. An excellent university is a wonderful feature. The benefit is a sustainable pipeline of qualified labor. You need to connect the dots for the capital investor and explain the business value of your location assets. Great branding copy states the benefit and uses features as reasons to believe the benefit can be realized. Your industry experts are an effective resource to help you understand why an asset is important to their business performance. It is often easiest to brainstorm the most important assets in your area and then use your industry experts to ladder the assets up into benefits.

TIP #6 – Partner with other communities in your region to be more competitive.
Economic clusters are not limited by geographic boundaries. Often a manufacturers supply chain will include multiple communities and regions. When communities have an interdependent economy, then the assets of the broader geography are important to consider. These assets can be leveraged to make a more compelling case than could be made by focusing on your community alone. And, if there is true interdependence, a capital investment made anywhere within the economic cluster benefits everybody connected to it.

TIP #7 – Provide adequate support for your project.
Two truths about place branding is that it takes time and costs money. If you want to change people’s opinion about your location quickly, you need to be prepared to invest to buy a leadership share of voice. If you have a limited budget, you need to be patient to see measurable results. This is a hard, but important, discussion to have with your community leaders. You need a sustainable effort at competitive levels to make a difference in the minds of capital investment decision makers.

Arm & Hammer Reaches Out to Pennsylvania

By: Andrew Deichler

Household and specialty products provider Church & Dwight broke ground on its new Arm & Hammer manufacturing facility and distribution center in York County, PA, with the promise of bringing 300 new jobs to the region.

The Davies Facility, named after former Church & Dwight CEO Robert A. Davies III, is slated for delivery at the end of next year. The planned 1.1 million-square-foot industrial property will feature a cutting-edge green design, minimizing waste and energy consumption.

Church & Dwight selected the 232-acre site at 260 Hidden Lane due to its proximity to Interstate 83, U.S. Route 30 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well as its convenient access to rail lines.

After a yearlong search, the company chose the York County site in south central Pennsylvania for its strategic location and its proximity to major highways and railroads. The site is near Interstate 83, U.S. Route 30 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the north, and Interstate 81 to the west. The local railroad, York Rail, has ties to the Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines.

First Industrial Realty Trust is developing the $150 million facility, with The Norwood Co. signed on as the general contractor. First Industrial purchased the site earlier this month from Stewart Associates for $15 million, or $64,655 per acre.

Kevin Hodge of ROCK Commercial Real Estate represented Stewart in the sale. Joseph McDermott of CB Richard Ellis represented First Industrial.

The York County Economic Development Corp. assisted Church & Dwight in obtaining a $3.25 million funding offer from the Department of Community and Economic Development that includes a $900,000 opportunity grant, $1.25 million in infrastructure development program funding, $900,000 in job creation tax credits and $200,000 in job training assistance.

The facility will make and distribute Arm & Hammer brand liquid laundry detergent and laundry additives. The General Contractor for the project is The Norwood Co.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Google's departure from Valley stirs debate

by Andrew Johnson - Sept. 22, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Was it us, or them?

Some Valley technology entrepreneurs have asked that question since Google Inc. announced plans Friday to close its Tempe office by Nov. 21.

Most economic-development officials attributed the search-engine giant's departure to an internal company decision, not a deficiency in metro Phoenix's talent pool.

The company said moving some of the employees in the office to other Google locations will increase efficiency.

But some well-networked entrepreneurs question the message the decision sends to Arizona's technology industry.

Aaron Post, director of business development for Chandler-based marketing firm Forty Agency, said colleagues he talked to took the news as a setback.

Google, which employs about 50 workers at its office on Arizona State University's main campus, first announced plans to come to the Valley in 2005.

Some local software developers thought the Mountain View, Calif. company's presence would shed light on the burgeoning startup community that has taken shape in the Valley.

They hoped that perhaps, venture capitalists would pay closer attention to the innovations taking shape in Arizona and invest more frequently in companies based here.

Post said he and others took the company's decision as a signal that more needed to be done to highlight progress in the technology community.

Aaron Bare, chief executive officer of Scottsdale-based CareerTours, said the belief that Google's arrival would somehow jump-start the technology environment here was misguided.

He noted that the positions housed at the Tempe office - engineers that worked on finance, billing and other internal matters - weren't the type of jobs that would necessarily elevate a city's status as technology hotbed.

One reason why Arizona lags when it comes to venture-capital investments, some business owners say, is that much of the investments are going to later-stage technology companies. A large part of the Valley's technology base is startups.

"I think we definitely need to facilitate in getting the venture capital moving in this market by having more success stories," Bare said.

Bare's company, which creates online recruitment videos for businesses, received $1.2 million in venture capital this year. The company is considering additional investment offers worth as much as $3 million, he said.

"We just need more successful startups to come out of Phoenix and really create a Silicon desert," Bare said.

Google marks two-year anniversary of its Ann Arbor AdWords operations

"I cannot underestimate what we've termed 'The Google Effect.' It's a worldwide brand that means something to a lot of people. They are a young, hip, growing company that hires good talent and sets up offices in cool places." - Spark spokeswoman Elizabeth Parkinson on the Internet search engine giant's impact on Ann Arbor.

It's been two years since Google Inc. opened its Ann Arbor AdWords office with eight employees housed above a restaurant on South Main Street.

It was a small but auspicious start - but one that would soon become a beacon of light in the darkening economic gloom that settled in the area after Pfizer Inc. announced in early 2007 it would shutter its Ann Arbor research center and take away more than 2,100 high-paying jobs.

Since that first day on Sept. 18, 2006, the Ann Arbor Google operations have moved to larger quarters in the newly renovated McKinley Towne Centre on East Liberty Street at Division Street and its local payroll has grown to about 250 (the company won't give exact figures).

The local office is still a long way from the company's initial growth projections of creating 1,000 jobs in the area within five years. It needs to reach that goal by the end of 2011 to take full advantage of the tax breaks the state offered to lure the Internet giant to Michigan. More here.

Hub hears recommendations on economic development

ASHEVILLE – With more than 30 different agencies involved in economic development, Asheville might be better served by focusing efforts and money in a single umbrella group to oversee job growth and business expansion, consultants recommended Tuesday.

The Asheville Hub Alliance heard a preliminary report from the Strategic Growth Institute, a consulting group at the University of Central Arkansas hired to inventory Asheville’s economic development efforts and suggest improvements. “The wheels aren’t coming off in this community, but we want to help get those wheels aligned,” said Robert Pittman of SGI.

The Asheville Hub Alliance is a community-wide group promoting the area’s strengths in health care, tourism, the arts, technology, manufacturing and other sectors to create new jobs and industry in a changing economy.

Pittman and his SGI team found that no single agency is in charge of setting the long range vision for new jobs and industry in the Asheville area. Their initial recommendation is to revamp the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville and Buncombe County with a broader-based board of directors.

Now housed in the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and funded through the city and county, the EDC has been slowly trying to create a new identity for itself, according to Rick Lutovsky, CEO of the chamber and a member of the Hub Alliance. The group was first known as a commission, “but that sounded governmental,” Lutovksy said.

Pittman suggested a name like the “Greater Asheville Partnership, which would help the city market the region to outside industries.

With 53 consecutive months of job growth, Asheville is becoming a model for many other communities who want to duplicate that kind of success, Lutovsky said. “We aren’t recession-proof, but we like to think we’re recession-resistant.

The consultants will deliver a final report to the Asheville Hub in November. SGI won out over 22 other groups to provide the new study at a cost of $50,000. Buncombe County contributed $30,000 for the study, and individual Hub members contributed the rest.

NW Iowa Leaders Launch Economic Development Campaign

A new campaign was unveiled Tuesday to lure large companies to Northwest Iowa. It's called "Beyond Expectations" and it's a joint effort from economic development leaders in six local counties.

Cherokee, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola, Plymouth and Sioux Counties will now be marketed as one region.

Local business leaders, development leaders and elected officials gathered at Northwest Iowa Community College Tuesday night to hear campaign organizers present a new plan to attract, retain and grow business investment in a six county region.

"To build upon the strengths of each of our counties and communities and regionalize those efforts so that we're more competitive," says Gary Tucker, Plymouth County Econ. Dev. Director.

Targeted companies are those that are compatible with the region's current industries.
"Distribution, logistics, companies in the advanced manufacturing area as well as biosciences," says Tucker.

And the list of incentives to move to Northwest Iowa seems endless.

"We have a quality, dedicated workforce. We have infrastructure. We have ready to build sites. We have industrial parks. We have state incentives, local incentives," says Kiana Johnson, Chair of NW Iowa development campaign.

But while campaign organizers promote Highway 60 as a key Midwest transportation corridor, they also assure neighbors that a boom in big time business won't bulldoze the region's small town values.

"This is just like any other community or county working toward economic development but instead we're doing it regionally," says Johnson.

For detailed information on the campaign click here:

Five Keys to Effective Economic Development Marketing

By Steve Vierck, CEcD, President/Economic Development

Getting the attention of your targeted business prospects is a difficult task in the best of situations; battling 13,000 competitors makes it substantially more so. Unfortunately, that is the challenge faced today by economic development professionals. Because of this increasingly intense competition, it is imperative for economic developers to do all in their power to elevate above the competition in order to achieve meaningful results. Angelou Economics has observed that the following five marketing fundamentals can make the difference between great success and mediocrity.

1. Measure results
Knowing what you want to achieve and how to determine whether you are ultimately successful is where the most effective marketing programs begin. Most successful economic development organizations have meaningful performance objectives as their starting point. This means not only tracking final results, but also the effectiveness of your various approaches to generating and converting leads, prospects and locates.

To help evaluate which elements of the marketing mix are most cost effective, try to calculate “dollar to dollar” results from the marketing initiatives which you carry out. One way to do this is to divide expenditures for a particular marketing category, such as advertising or sales trips, by the results generated, in order to derive an average cost per lead or prospect. For instance, your year’s advertising in a particular site selection magazine may yield one lead per every $600 spent while an annual sales trip to a key market area may generate on average one lead per $800. Recognize that some prospects and leads will result from a combination of different elements of the marketing mix.

Along with clarifying your best lead generation approaches, you’ll discover that some approaches are more effective than others at generating quality prospects; the type that may ultimately become locates. Conversely, you may also determine that an approach where you’re spending valuable marketing dollars churns up numerous leads - but few ever come to fruition. Using the previous example, you might find yourself generating numerous leads through advertising, but discover that few ever turn into qualified relocation prospects that actually visit your community or region. On the other hand, the annual sales trip with face-to face meetings may not generate many leads but those that do develop often end up locating in your community.

Once you’ve fine tuned the types of marketing used to generate leads, conversion rates are a useful technique to gauge how effective you are in working with those new clients. Conversion rates are essentially a tool to measure your organization’s efficiency in converting potential customers into new or expanded businesses. As used in economic development, they are calculated by dividing the number of qualified prospects or business locates by the total number of leads. For example, if over the past year your organization converted 20 leads into 5 qualified prospects into 2 locates then your lead to prospect conversion rate would be 5/20 = 25% while your lead to locate conversion rate would be 2/20 or 10%. You can also carry the analysis one step further and compare the conversion rates of leads generated from different types of marketing.

We can often learn more from our failures than from our successes. Don’t neglect to carefully track why companies go elsewhere. Was it because certain skill sets in your workforce were inadequate to support the companies’ operations, the lack of an appropriate building, insufficient incentives, or some other factor? This information helps us to repair any deficiencies and to become more competitive in the future.

2. Understand and meet your customers’ needs
Understanding and meeting customer needs is the essence of marketing. You can do just about everything else wrong, yet serve your customers well, and often be successful. To get a true edge on the competition, strive to not only meet, but exceed, their expectations. First, understand what they really want and need.

On most projects, there are 2-3 main drivers that are the differentiators between success and failure. A key starting point is precise identification of those critical site selection factors. At this point, careful listening to the prospective business is much more important than skillful presentation. This identification of real project needs can be more challenging than expected and often requires clarification. It is not uncommon for economic developers to hear conflicting requirements from the different corporate executives and consultants on the site selection team. It is your job to work your way through the conflicting information and understand what is really important to the success of this project.

Once the real “driver factors” are known, pull out all stops to demonstrate your specific competitive advantages relative to those needs. Perhaps you have a training program at your community college applicable to a primary workforce need, a building that meets their facility requirements, or an incentive program uniquely fitted to their financial needs. Customize your communications to emphasize these attributes and deliver the information ahead of schedule (thereby exceeding their expectations).

Your presentations should be customized to their specific requirements; and not include too much generic material. The key is to provide information that is timely, relevant and concise. Tell them what they need to know; not what you want to tell them. Include regional “subject experts” within the fields of most interest to the client. Avoid the tendency to present “canned” information rather than material customized to the businesses’ specific requirements.

The same need for customized information applies to websites. Develop sections devoted to your target industries with a list of area businesses within that sector, applicable cost information, relevant infrastructure, education/training programs, and other resources. Having a special section of your website dedicated to data centers, for instance, shows that data centers are of strong interest to your region.

Focus on meeting and exceeding your customers’ needs and you’ll successfully meet your own needs as well.

3. Marketing is a process … not an event
A colleague recently went to the drycleaners to pick up his clothing. When he walked in, the owner told him that there was no charge as the bill was on him. When asked why, the owner said that he wanted to thank my colleague for his steady business over the years. I suspect that my colleague won’t be changing drycleaners anytime soon. This is an example of relationship marketing.

Economic Development marketing is relationship marketing - an approach that includes the following steps: Awareness, Comparison, Transaction, Reinforcement and Advocacy. Successful projects will transition from initial awareness of your area to comparison with competitor areas to a transaction such as leasing of facility space and hiring, following successful completion of which the company’s decision will be reinforced, often turning them into strong advocates of your region and organization.

The importance of this “process versus event” approach was reinforced several years ago, when an economic developer scheduled a meeting with a former client in the electronics industry merely to thank him for placing a small design facility in the region. The meeting had barely started before the former client announced that they had a brand new need for another design center and based on his previous experience and dependable relationships, he had decided to locate the second facility in the region.

Just as with the recent success at the Beijing Olympics of the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, your efforts will be most successful if all the parts work together. A well structured marketing plan contains initiatives that gain substantial value by tightly connecting to the other elements. A commonly-used approach used to help tie together marketing initiatives is to develop a marketing calendar which shows the timing of sales trips, trade shows, industry conferences, special events, etc. Connecting your marketing together reinforces awareness of your area and your specific messages. For example, before exhibiting at a major trade show some organizations send out direct mail or e-mails to attendees inviting them to stop by their booth for a drawing and advertise in trade publications read by many of the attendees.

4) Be different!
Granted, this point cuts across the grain of most of the advice delivered to us as children. But with so many competitors across the globe, it is essential to stand out from the pack. Marketing is about creating desirability and differentiation. Most organizations understand the desirability objective, but a quick glance through the oh-so-similar advertisements in any site selection magazine illustrates that we have a long way to go towards differentiating our messages and communities.

Carve out specific niches. Is your organization known for your interest and assets in at least one field not shared with numerous other economic development organizations? If a target industry market is already filled with competitors, then look for a specific category where you can be tops. You are normally much better positioned pursuing a more specialized industry with, say, 15 relocation or expansion projects per year and 30 competitors, than a larger field with 100 projects pursued by 1,000 organizations.

The fresh perspective and insights on targeting provided by a consultant can often be of value. AngelouEconomics has helped over 100 clients sharpen their industry targeting.

5. Use your Allies (and be used too!)
If there is one industry that absolutely requires effective alliances, it is certainly economic development. No organization has the resources to achieve all that it desires, yet, community and regional resources can be immense. The best organizations are often those that best engage those public and private resources.

Surveys of community economic development groups show that state departments of commerce, regional organizations, and utilities are viewed as the best resources for assistance with developing new business. These allies should be included along with those businesses being targeted as important parts of any relationship marketing process. Periodically communicate with them including face to face visits. Just as we market to prospective new and expanding businesses, we need to market to our principle allies.

If your allies are helpful and deliver results, be mindful of their needs by helping to recognize and bolster them. Exceed their expectations of you as a partner. This is of particular value for state agencies which require demonstrated support from the community level. Testify in support of their funding needs or write a note of recognition to a legislator.

Local colleges and universities are often underutilized as allies and resources. Their alumni can be excellent sources of new business leads as that Engineering or Business Administration graduate from 30 years ago may now be running a company. Don’t stop at the Office of the President or Chancellor. Often, the college Deans and department heads know best where their alumni are located and which are in positions of authority to influence corporate expansion to your region. One community reports of the location of a technical support center, partially because the company’s co-founder was a graduate of the local university’s College of Engineering.

Surveys have consistently shown that corporate decision makers are heavily influenced by their industry peers when making decisions about new facility locations. Business executives, particularly within the same industry, are viewed as credible sources of information. So, don’t forget the power of local businesses. Get them on your marketing team. Leverage their suppliers, customers, and other contacts. Local company support often means the difference between a “cold call” to the supplier and a “warm reception.”

Include appropriate local industry representatives on sales trips and when you host events for visiting companies and site consultants. Local business executives are often the ones most listened to as they have often dealt directly with many of the areas of strong interest and speak the executive “dialect”. Practicing these five fundamentals will help your organization achieve excellent marketing results. Measure results... Understand and meet your customers’ needs – and exceed their expectations... Take a long term relationship marketing approach… Be different and carve out unique niches… gain valuable leverage by using your allies (and being used too!). And think big! A favorite quotation from Michelangelo has much applicability to economic development:

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss it, but that we aim too low and reach it.”

Steve Vierck and the Angelou Economics professional staff is available to talk with you about developing and implementing effective marketing programs. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly at 512-225-9321.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cornerstone staying ahead


by David Chapman

Staff Writer

With the national economy down, the competition rises for Cornerstone and its executive director, Jerry Mallot.

Not just from other U.S. cities, either — it’s the international business community that the Northeast Florida economic development organization is going to battle over business growth.

“The business climate has certainly changed,” said Mallot. “The late ‘90s had some of the most prolific growth ever seen ... today the strength of the euro versus the dollar means more companies are expanding their services overseas in foreign markets.”

Amid the current national economic woes, though, Mallot believes the region is building a foundation that will help it overcome the competition – even international companies – and flourish.

“The down economy is kind of a perfect storm affecting businesses,” he said, “but Northeast Florida is well positioned to come out ahead.”

He bases that optimism on the ever-growing and direct port system, numerous roadways that allow for easy accessibility and distribution.

For the Jacksonville Port Authority, working with Cornerstone — the economic development division of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce — to attract business to Jacksonville is a “tag-team” effort according to one Port official.

“We have a very close relationship with Cornerstone,” said Roy Schleicher, senior director of trade development and global marketing for the Port. “We’re both constantly keeping each other involved with business and looking for opportunities to get jobs to Jacksonville.

“It’s a great relationship and the Port is lucky to have them.”

Mallot said he and his staff are currently looking to attract 57 different business clients — 24 in manufacturing and processing, 23 in office and commercial business and 10 warehouse distribution companies.

Of those 57 potential clients, said Mallot, 68 percent of them would be new to Northeast Florida. More here.

Enterprise Group widens focus

Posted by Chris Gautz | Citizen Patriot September 14, 2008 00:08AM

Quantum. Windmill. Cookie.

Those names that don't mean anything to anyone outside local economic-development circles represent Jackson County's efforts to attract hundreds of jobs and millions in investment.

For years, The Enterprise Group focused on retaining jobs in a county that has been hemorrhaging them. Now the agency is broadening its focus to attract new businesses.

Enterprise Group President and CEO Scott Fleming said after he arrived on the job in February, he asked business and community leaders what they wanted.

"What everyone told me was we need new businesses here to inject more dollars into our economy," he said.

To help track that, he presents a scorecard each month to the EG board, which contains a list of the attraction activities he and his staff are engaged in.

The August scorecard contains 12 potential and confidential projects that represent a potential total investment of more than $300,000 and 1,000 jobs. Each project has a code name.

Among the others are Global Solutions, MMC, International and Greenwood.

Fleming said aside from manufacturing and high-tech companies, the EG are also looking to Hollywood.

"Much like the rest of the state, we're trying to attract some of the movie industry to the area, because of the large tax incentives the state now offers," he said.

Fleming knows that every pitch won't be successful, but he said you need to juggle 10 to 20 potential projects in hopes that one of them will come through.

"One home run is all we need," he said. More here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

$16M development effort launched; regional partnership seeks to compete with the world

From Staff Reports

Every day, around the world, businesses are choosing places to locate new facilities. To attract new businesses and maintain a thriving economy, East Tennessee must act now because the world won't wait.

That was the message Innovation Valley Inc., an investor-directed program dedicated to recruiting, retaining and expanding business growth, delivered to community business leaders at a kick-off breakfast Monday morning.

The group outlined its plan of traditional economic development marketing strategies as well as innovative tactics in work force development, education and technology-led economic development to grow local business.

Additionally, organizers announced the group has already raised $4.2 million toward the $16 million cost of the five-year campaign.

Live, streaming video connected the event across three locations: the Airport Hilton in Blount County, the Knoxville Convention Center in Knox County and Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge. The locations span the 25-mile-long Innovation Valley Technology Corridor and underscore the regional approach now under way.

Blount Partnership President and CEO Fred Forster said he was impressed by the presentation and that the future looks bright for the region and for the organization.

"I think it's going to be very successful. I think we've got people in the region now interested in working together," Forster said.

Bryan Daniels, executive vice president for industrial development for the Blount Partnership, will be the chief contact between Innovation Valley and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.

There have been previous efforts to promote the region's economy. Daniels said he believes conditions now are conducive for this effort to match expectations. He said the economy is changing. "I think what you're seeing now is the economy in the U.S. is leading toward research and development, what we call technical manufacturing," he said.

A change at the north end of Pellissippi Parkway encourages companies to look at this region, according to Daniels. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has opened up to work with private businesses. "Oak Ridge has become a user-friendly facility. Companies can come in," he said.

The region is trying to cater to those companies wanting to locate near the national lab, near the University of Tennessee and near McGhee Tyson Airport.

"That's why we're building our technology park," Daniels said, referring to Pellissippi Place that will be built off Pellissippi Parkway at Old Knoxville Highway.Seeking regional impactCommunity, business and government leaders in attendance at the event Monday were treated to a synchronized presentation, a technology-fueled event led by Innovation Valley Inc. board chairman Dr. Thomas Mason of UT-Battelle in Oak Ridge and board members Kevin Clayton of Clayton Homes Inc. in Blount County and Jimmy Haslam of Pilot Travel Centers LLC in Knox County. "We have put together a truly unique partnership of business and community leaders to help our region compete globally for increased economic growth," Mason said.

"It's all about a regional impact, and we realize that by partnering instead of competing, we have much more to gain for the Innovation Valley Technology Corridor. It all works together, and together it works better.

"The Innovation Valley Inc. board members Mason, Haslam and Clayton introduced the organization's goals and strategic plans. The effort employs a comprehensive, five-year economic development plan designed to build on the successes of the Jobs Now! program and lead Innovation Valley into the future. At the conclusion of the presentation, University of Tennessee men's head basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, addressed guests from the Knoxville Convention Center location.

"The world is moving ahead in areas of education, technology and business recruitment. Just watching the Olympics from China helps you appreciate that fact. We need to keep up," Pearl said. "East Tennessee has what it takes to meet the challenge, to recruit and train the best team and rise to the occasion. We've got to work together to be successful, to be at the top of our game."

"The central idea behind Innovation Valley Inc. is that a single successful partnership benefits all partners. It doesn't make any sense for us to devote energy and resources to working against one another when the real competition is not down the road, it's around the world," said Mason.

"This kick-off event was indicative of the unified, inspired coalition that Innovation Valley Inc. represents in our region," said Clayton. "This is the first step in bringing everyone together to collectively improve and secure our economic future and to position Innovation Valley as the place to locate or grow your business.

"Partnering organizations in Innovation Valley Inc. include Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Knoxville Chamber, Loudon County Economic Development Agency, Oak Ridge Economic Partnership, The Roane Alliance and Tellico Reservoir Development Agency.

Innovation Valley Inc. plans to increase economic prosperity in the region by focusing on six program areas:

� Education and workforce development
� Technology and entrepreneurship
� Global marketing
� Business retention and expansion
� Public policy
� Resources for living

By addressing these key program areas, Innovation Valley Inc. intends to foster growth for communities in our region and those who do business here. And in doing so, generate headlines that more business and prosperity are headed to Innovation Valley, according to a prepared statement.

To learn more, visit

'Committee of 100' members take matters into their own hands

Fund to assist current, future business owners

Staff Writer • September 12, 2008

COSHOCTON - Some local residents are taking it upon themselves to help boost economic development.

And they are asking for others to join them.

The Coshocton Committee of 100 was announced Thursday by the Coshocton Port Authority and Coshocton County Chamber of Commerce.

The idea came from local business owner Mike Remington, who said as the community continued to fall on economic hard times, he heard, and probably said himself, why doesn't somebody do something?

"What can I do, I'm just one person?" he asked. "What about 100 people who could commit to $100 a month for a year, and that could continue to grow two years, and eventually four, until the port authority would have $1 million available for development?"

The plan has evolved over the last few months, and a fund as been setup through the Coshocton Foundation. Though there's been no formal announcement until now, nine people have committed to the program, Remington said.

Money raised will be used to create a community development fund that will allow the port authority to offer financial assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses; provide lease subsidies to companies interested in locating in Coshocton County; provide $2,500 relocation grants to graduates of Coshocton County high schools who have left the area and want to return and start a business; and provide matching funds to obtain other state and federal dollars to support economic development projects.

"This gives the port authority new tools to create a stronger economic climate here in Coshocton County," said T.J. Justice, port authority executive director.

The funds will be used strictly for economic development and not operating expenses, Justice said. Operating funds for the port authority come primarily from county commissioners and the city of Coshocton.

Kathy Thompson, executive director of the Coshocton Foundation, said the fund is a donor advised fund, which means the port authority will have input in how the money is awarded.

Allotment of fund will have to go through the five-member distribution board of the Coshocton Foundation and the Port Authority Board.

There are certain criteria applicants will have to follow, such as new business owners participating in training with the Small Business Development Center.

The SBDC was one factor that swayed Buehler's Fresh Foods to committing to the project, said Mel Allerhand, marketing consultant to Buehler's.

He said the company was looking for a way to invest in the community that would in turn make a difference at the store.

"Buehler's wanted to look at something that would also assist businesses over a long period of time," he said.

SBDC offers startup training for entrepreneurs, but also has a volunteer committee of professionals who offer advice in a wide area, including accounting, law, human resources and marketing.

"These people are experts in their fields and can help with ongoing strategic planning," said Steve Schillig, director for Region 10.

Allerhand said Buehler's has committed to the project, but the dollar amount won't be decided until next week when the Buehler's Foundation board meets next week.

"This could be a role model for others around the state," he said.

Remington said presentations about the Committee of 100 are already planned for the Coshocton Kiwanis and Coshocton Rotary clubs, and the Board of Realtors has expressed an interest in hearing more about the project.

"It comes back to 'somebody ought to do something,'" Remington said. "Here's your chance to do something for Coshocton County."


Site selection consultant tells Rowan leaders how to attract company investment, new jobs

By Mark Wineka

It was a Boy Scout message for an industry-hungry audience.

Be prepared.

Mark Sweeney, a nationally recognized site selection consultant, told Rowan County leaders Tuesday that the preparations they make now in things such as sites, teamwork, workforce, infrastructure, incentives and quality of life will pay off.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe five years from now.

But prepared communities win, Sweeney said, and attracting company investment and new jobs is more competitive than ever.

Speaking at Catawba College as a guest of the Ketner School of Business and the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, Sweeney gave specific examples of how communities elsewhere were able to land the big companies.

In Marion, Ind., where Dollar General built a million-square-foot distribution center, it came down to a mayor's leadership on troubling site issues and state legislation on incentives.

The mayor's work led to 750 jobs and kept Dollar General from choosing its other favorite site in Illinois.

In Columbus, Miss., the community invested up front in a certified site with the best infrastructure possible to land Severcoor Steel, which invested $800 million and created 450 jobs.

Canton, Miss., invested in the education and training of its workforce, and it proved to be the deciding factor for Nissan to build an assembly plant that created more than 4,000 jobs.

Greenville, S.C., used a creative approach with taxes and incentives to attract a Nissan warehouse.

Olive Branch, Miss., depended on its quality of life and emphasizing its place within a greater Memphis, Tenn., region to attract a large Trex Manufacturing plant.

"Salisbury is a nice town, but it's not going to have an NFL team soon," Sweeney said.

That doesn't mean Rowan County can't leverage its regional assets — its proximity to bigger cities such as Charlotte and Greensboro.

"The regional thing has worked pretty well here," said Sweeney, a principal in McCallum Sweeney Consulting of Greenville, S.C.

Part of being prepared is having customer knowledge, Sweeney said. The clients he works for are profit-driven, deadline-driven, have multiple location options and are "risk averse," Sweeney said.

"If it was your billion dollars you were investing, you'd be risk averse, too," he said. "... We want to get to the right place with the right package."

Sweeney said when his own company narrows down a client's search to a handful of "finalist communities," it means the clients could go to any of the communities and operate successfully.

The final decision on which community it will be comes down to negotiations (maybe with incentives), risk analysis, cost modeling and other things. Again, a community has to be prepared.

Executives of companies are passionate about their companies, Sweeney said, and they want to see that same passion from leaders about their communities.

Sweeney was once in a community where an official welcomed his client by saying, "We hope you come here — we really need the taxes." That's not a good opening line, Sweeney said.

Sweeney's large audience included businessmen, EDC members, county commissioners, municipal mayors and council members and college faculty and students.

Here were some other Sweeney observations:

- A community has to have "product," and that product takes the form of leadership, sites, infrastructure, human resources, taxes and community assets.

- The county could have the best labor force, incentives, leadership and quality of life, but if it doesn't have sites, it almost always will lose the clients of site consultants such as Sweeney. A community has to have a portfolio of ready, available sites because location decisions demand speed. Companies work off tight schedules.

- Taxes and what a company will have to pay in taxes are a major site variable. "They are considered in every location decision," Sweeney said.- To many company officials, small towns are more of a risk, presenting a lot more issues to overcome. Again, smaller communities should strongly sell themselves as part of a greater region.

- For some companies, a location decision comes down to what assets a community has. A community should never stop investing in its quality of life, Sweeney said. Companies who would be bringing or recruiting people from around the world to a new location ask themselves, will they come to this place?

- Sweeney said it's "very common" to offer incentives to existing industries which are looking to expand. He said growth inside a company often can be competitive among different locations, and economic development officials should make their existing companies aware of the incentive packages that might be available to them in that competition.

- Having existing buildings as part of a community portfolio is good. At the least, Sweeney said, a speculative building generates traffic and should partly be viewed as a marketing tool. If he had to recommend a size for a speculative building, Sweeney said, something in the neighborhood of 50,000 square feet, easily expandable to 100,000 square feet, would be a start.

- Asked if it were feasible to have an incentives package in which many local taxing authorities within a region participated, Sweeney said it makes sense on paper, but the execution is difficult. Many times there are legal restrictions and political obstacles, he said.

- Incentives are community decisions, Sweeney said, but if a community decided against them the impact would be immediate and substantial. Incentives don't drive projects, but in the final decision stages, they matter, he said.

- Incentive packages can be designed and crafted to lead to the kind of industries a community wants, Sweeney said.

Report: Competition holding back growth of Ohio’s major cities

Business First of Columbus - by Matt Burns

Competition might be a big part of the American dream, but that same spirit in communities around the state could be a major factor holding back Ohio’s economic development, according to a study released this week.

The Columbus nonprofit Greater Ohio, along with the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, unveiled “Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing Ohio’s Core Communities.” The study takes a look at the state’s growth history, its policies and how those all tie in to 32 so-called core communities, those with at least 15,000 residents in 1950.

Those communities now account for a little more than 2 percent of Ohio’s land area, but for more than a quarter of its population and more than a third of its jobs.

Outlining economic troubles in Ohio that are more pronounced on average than the rest of the nation, the study recommends building on what the cities currently have and adjusting what it considers misguided strategies at state and local levels.

The study praised several recent moves by Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration, including a new economic development plan from the state Department of Development and a 10-year plan for higher education. Moves made during former Gov. Robert Taft’s administration, such as a tax-reform package that is phasing in a commercial activity tax and the state’s $1.6 billion Third Frontier program, also got nods as “smart initiatives with solid results.”

But problems remain that are affecting growth.

According to the study, the state funnels funding through specific agencies without a clear overall goal, and its development policies favor suburban growth and new communities over inner-city growth and ailing older areas.

The study also questioned incentive programs that look at specific businesses but not the larger development picture.

Looking at the effects growth can have, the study also examines how communities use tax breaks and incentives to lure companies within their borders. The report points to a level of competition for those businesses among Ohio communities, of which there are nearly 3,800 local government jurisdictions, or about one for every 10 square miles.

Competition can sometimes have spillover effects, however, for neighboring communities that must deal with the growth without reaping its benefits, according to the study.

Revitalizing the core areas around the state, according to the study, will require a shift in the state’s focus toward encouraging regional development that builds on assets in individual areas.

Such work has already begun in Columbus, Cleveland, Akron and Cincinnati through the growth of universities and medical centers, so-called “anchor institutions.”

Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said the governor is taking a look at the recommendations, but believes the Development Department’s recent strategic plan represents a step in the right direction. Strickland on Wednesday attended and spoke at a summit centered around the study.

“There are multiple components to the strategic plan, but a core strategy is moving forward to ensure we’re recognizing the state’s strengths and, in particular, its regional strengths, and working to collaborate with local government,” Daily said.

The study notes that changes must involve more than just state officials. That means partnerships among city and suburban leaders in the state, along with a federal partner to help drive innovation.

To download the full report, click here.

Consultant: Area needs industrial sites ready

EDC luncheon told that without facilities, Marion at risk of being left behind.

By Rick Cundiff
Published: Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 6:30 a.m.

OCALA - Marion County needs to develop industrial sites if it wants to attract industry in the future, a leading site selection consultant said Wednesday.

John Rhodes, senior principal in the Moran, Stahl and Boyer consultant firm, told the annual luncheon of the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corp. that the county needs to get serious about developing new industrial sites or risk getting left behind when the economy recovers from the current slowdown.

Just offering vacant land without infrastructure development is no longer enough, Rhodes said.

"You are going to have to put some of your hard-earned money on the line," he told the audience of nearly 350 business and community leaders. "If you don't have the facilities and the readiness you need, stop marketing, because you're just playing games." More here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ohio debuts new strategic plan for development

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has unveiled a new strategic plan for economic development that calls for boosting the per capita income of Ohioans and increasing job growth to a level that’s 25 percent higher than the five states surrounding Ohio.

“We can’t be first in the nation until we’re first in the Midwest,” said Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, who detailed the new strategic plan at a noon press conference Wednesday.

Fisher described several new programs aimed getting Ohio companies to expand their business ties to each other, helping companies find employees who have Ohio ties but now live out of state and establishing incentives to get companies to locate near “knowledge centers,” including research universities and centers for advanced manufacturing technologies.

The new program, dubbed “Ohio Hubs of Innovation and Opportunity,” will take several years to develop, said Fisher, who is also director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Details of the strategic plan can be found here. Among its other goals are to increase population among Ohioans ages 25-64, boost venture capital investment in Ohio and grow the state’s inventory of “development-ready sites” from the 3,744 acres now available to 15,000 by 2020.
Fisher declined to detail the cost of the program, but said it would be funded through the Department of Development’s existing operating budget.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Development corp. unveils plans to attract jobs

Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star
Published: Tuesday, September 02, 2008

There have been few new jobs created and little new investment during the 18 months it's been operating, but officials from the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation vowed Tuesday it can generate success stories for the region.

"When we took over about a year and half ago, it was a blank sheet in terms of new investment," Michael Burton, vice-president of the corporation, told city council on Tuesday. "We have about 20 specific clients we are looking at for new investment."

He cited potential investment opportunities in such areas as recycling, wind power technology and information technology.

"But I have no companies I can announce tonight in a more positive way," Burton said. "We have a lot of things in the works. We are still slugging away at them. We will be the first to announce the success and highlight it prominently."

The organization's new strategic plan was unveiled Tuesday. It is a blueprint to bring new investment and jobs to Windsor, currently suffering high unemployment because of the decline in manufacturing.

Disarray has so far slowed the development corporation's progress, with last year's hiring and firing 14 months later of CEO Matthew Fischer. A hunt has began for his replacement. More here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

To Do List for a Down Market

Economic developers across the country are reporting decreased prospect activity. Everywhere there are tales of recessionary and inflationary constraints hampering new business attraction efforts. The smart economic developer will use this time to re-examine and refine marketing efforts. At the end of the cycle you will come out stronger and better positioned to capitalize on pent-up opportunities.

What things should you be considering during this time? Here’s a list for success in difficult economic times:

Focus on retention – we all know this is where the great majority of our growth occurs. Talk with your existing businesses and identify their needs, Understand their challenges and opportunities by learning about their industry. If you have a formal program, step up the effort. If not, now’s a good time to start a formal retention effort.

Refresh and refine marketing vehicles – now’s a good time to take a fresh look at your website and other marketing materials to evaluate whether they are still relevant to your markets. Especially important is providing the web-based tools being expected and demanded by your customers today. Take some time to refresh the look, the capabilities and the information of your website.

Cultivate relationships – develop new relationships with site selection influencers to increase your future prospect activity. Extend your efforts beyond the consultant community only and identify real estate brokers, trade association executives, architects, engineers and others who are influencing site selection decisions everyday. Let them get to know you and your community.

Be creative with your creative – if you continue your brand building efforts by using direct mail, print advertising or other forms of creative pieces, make them stand out above your competition. Focus on your product benefits, not product qualities.

Stop selling, start informing – your potential customers want accurate, current and unbiased information. Shouting your message at prospects only reduces your credibility. Give them unique information about your community instead of reinforcing your sameness with other communities.

Smart marketers know that business downturns are a great time to market. While others are cutting back, those that stay the course will make progress and move ahead when the normal business cycle returns.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Economic development is a matter of attitude, say experts

By Ray Chandler
Thursday, August 21, 2008

In the globalized game of competing for businesses and jobs, communities need to think outside their boundaries, say economic development experts.

But they should look farther for their competition than right next door.

“Just moving a business from one county to another isn’t economic development,” said Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a 16-county regional economic development effort spanning the metro Charlotte area in both Carolinas. He was speaking Thursday to an assembly of about 80 Anderson area leaders and residents .

Instead, Bryant said, counties and communities need to think regionally, and market their combined advantages as a package. Elected leaders need to better understand that what benefits a neighboring county or community can also benefit them, he added.

Counties and communities aren’t really competing with their neighbors anymore, he said. They are instead competing with communities around the world offering advantages of their own.

Bryant, together with Hal Johnson, president and CEO of the 10-county Upstate Alliance regional marketing cooperative; and Ray Jones, a partner, banking and capital markets department with the Columbia law firm of Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein LLP; were guest speakers at an economic development summit Thursday at Tri-County Tech’s Anderson campus. The summit was sponsored by Imagine Anderson’s economic development committee.

Imagine Anderson is a 20-year vision plan to improve Anderson County’s quality of life between now and the county’s bicentennial in 2026. Economic development is one of seven major focus areas identified in the Imagine Anderson plan. More here.

Small town steps up

By Sarah A. Reid
Staff writer

ROBBINS — Members of RobbinsAlive! joke about the black notebook that sits between dog-eared books at Deep River Coffee Co.

You would think The Plan, as they call the notebook, would be heavily guarded or tucked away in some prominent person’s home. But RobbinsAlive!, a group of residents determined to revitalize their town, wants people to look at what it hopes is the blueprint for Robbins’ rebirth.

So the members have left the plan in the Deep River coffee shop, which has become the unofficial headquarters of Robbins’ revival.

Since 1990, the mill town has lost 1,500 jobs, according to state statistics. Nearly a third of those jobs have been lost since 2005.

Officials at the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center have taken notice of Robbins’ plight. Robbins is one of 20 sites taking part in an experimental economic development program called STEP, or Small Towns Economic Prosperity. The pilot, three-year program is designed to revitalize struggling rural communities. More here.

Beyond Clusters... Alternative Growth Paths for Economic Development

As economic clusters have attracted criticism for being oversold as a basis for economic development strategy, the Appalachian Regional Commission has published "Sources of Economic Growth", which presents an alternative approach for regional growth. This new series of reports, led by the Economic Development Research Group, discusses how communities and regions can choose to pursue different "growth paths" to successfully achieve economic development. More here.

Website Evaluation Tool

From Blane, Canada.....

Website Evaluation... Website Grader is a no-charge SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool that measures the marketing effectiveness of a Website. Enter your URL and it gives you an analysis of how well your site is set up from a SEO and marketing perspective. The score you receive incorporates factors like Website traffic, SEO and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the Website can be improved from a marketing perspective. You can also enter the URLs of your competition and get a competitive online marketing analysis. Source: Donna Gunter, SpeakerNet News.

Sign up for Blane Canada's excellent "Economic Development Marketing Letter" here.

Incentives for VW plant total $577 million

8/29/2008, 7:27 p.m. ET
By BILL POOVEY The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's financial incentives for Volkswagen to pick Chattanooga total $577.4 million, apparently the largest such offer to an automaker joining the South's lineup of assembly plants.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber said in announcing the incentives package on Friday that he does not know if the total is a record offer to an automaker.

Kisber said regardless, it is a deal that he "would never turn down."

A state report shows the German automaker's July selection of Chattanooga for the $1 billion plant that will have 2,000 employees is expected to create another 9,477 related jobs.

Kisber joined economic development officials and the mayors of Chattanooga and Hamilton County at a news conference in Chattanooga before the State Funding Board approved the package at a meeting in Nashville.

He said the VW plant represents Tennessee's "largest investment" and the largest projected economic impact of any project since Gov. Phil Bredesen took office after the 2002 election.

Tennessee was a finalist with Alabama and Michigan for the VW plant.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has said Alabama put together incentives worth over $385 million, the most that state had ever offered for an auto project.

A report by Mississippi's economic developers shows incentives totaling $294 million were provided Toyota in 2007 for an assembly plant at Blue Springs. Kia received about $324 million in incentives from Georgia in return for agreeing to build an assembly plant at West Point, Ga., in 2006.

Kisber said the other states' totals, unlike Tennessee, do not necessarily include tax credits for the automaker.

Allison Tyrer, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the projected tax credits, based on the number of jobs, are included in the report on Georgia's incentives for Kia.

Kisber said the other finalists for the VW plant made competitive financial offers and "we are in the same ballpark as the other finalist states."

Linda Swan, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Development Office, said Tennessee's $577.4 million package is "certainly larger than any of ours."

Alabama Development Office director Neal Wade said the Tennessee package is "the largest."

"We went as far as we could go," he said.

Michael Randle, editor and publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine in Birmingham, Ala., said Tennessee's $577.4 million package is unprecedented in the South.

"It is the largest," Randle said. "There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing with a larger economic effect in the South than an auto plant. You can't put a value on that."

Kisber said the planned VW plant and its 2,000 jobs are only part of the projected financial return. A study by the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research predicts 11,477 jobs — including construction and suppliers — will be created in the region that also includes northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.

Kisber said the study shows that on a cash-flow basis, for every dollar that state and local governments spend on a one-time basis for the VW project — $229.7 million state and $86.2 million local — both state and local government coffers will get $1 in new tax revenues annually for 30 years.

Kisber said that means a net cash benefit of $526.9 million for the state and $557 million for local government.

Kisber also said that Volkswagen has agreed to fully pay local property taxes that fund public education.

Kisber noted the incentives package is not the most important part of recruiting a major company like Volkswagen.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jill Bratina agreed, saying the incentives "play an important role" but the selection of Chattanooga as the plant site is mainly due to finding the "right partner" for the company's future plans.

Volkswagen plans to start production at a 1.9 million-square-foot plant by early 2011 at Enterprise South industrial park, making at least 150,000 vehicles.

2 cities join in appealing to businesses

Published: August 30, 2008

Mooresville and Statesville will start a cooperative marketing campaign aimed at site consultants and business owners in September.

The Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corp. and the Greater Statesville Development Corp. selected a new strategy developed by GSDC marketing strategist John Marek with the tagline, "Business on the Growing Edge," which references Mooresville's and Statesville's status as "edge cities" within the rapidly growing Charlotte region.

This isn't the first time the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corp. and GSDC have partnered in a marketing effort, Marek said.

The campaign will include advertising placement in Site Selection magazine and a special Web site dedicated to jointly selling the region as a premiere business destination. The campaign will cite a skilled workforce, business-friendly environment, available buildings and high quality of life.

Attracting jobs gets tougher

Regional Development Alliance copes with nation's economic realities
By Katy Stech (Contact)
The Post and Courier
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colorado-based WellDyneRX liked what it saw in the Charleston economy.

While scoping out potential sites for a $20 million, 670-worker business expansion to sort and mail medications, company officials said they were impressed with the local labor costs and the availability of skilled workers.

Plus, they found a building that met their tricky real estate requirements in North Charleston's Remount Business Park.

But it wasn't enough to win the company over in the end. WellDyne said Monday that it opted for a competing site in Lakeland, Fla., putting it closer to distribution companies it already works with closely.

"Charleston did an admirable job," said John Krug of Charlotte-based Development Advisors, a site-selection consulting firm that assisted WellDyne in its search.

It's inevitable in the economic development business that one location loses a big employment prospect to another. But the loss of this particular company stings because the Charleston region has had so few job announcements this year.

So far in 2008, just two companies have announced plans to open or expand local operations with the help of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which markets the three counties as a business destination.

2AM Group LLC, a technical support company that works with the BMW manufacturing plant in the Upstate, launched a 50-worker operation in North Charleston, while Cummins Turbo announced plans to add 100 jobs and invest $11 million in new machinery at its turbocharger assembly plant off Ladson Road.

At the current pace, 2008 could mark the slowest year for the alliance in recent memory as measured by the number of new jobs, the amount of money invested and the number of announcements.

David T. Ginn, the alliance's chief executive officer, said the uncertainties in the financial and energy markets and in the overall economy have forced many companies to re-evaluate their expansion and spending plans.

"Businesses are obviously very cautious with what's going on in the world," Ginn said.

Companies that the alliance has assisted have created an average of almost 1,200 jobs annually for the local economy over the past decade, according to the North Charleston-based group's figures.

The slowdown comes as unemployment is on the rise. In July, the jobless rate for the Charleston region increased to 6 percent compared to 5.4 percent in June and 4.7 percent in July 2007.

Still, alliance officials estimate that they are working with about 15 business prospects on expansion projects that could solidify in the next 90 days. In each of those instances, Charleston is competing only against either one or two other sites, Ginn said.

"It's increased in the last four to six weeks," he said. "We've seen a substantial increase in new projects that have come onto our books. ... That's obviously a very good sign."

The alliance has altered its strategy to keep pace with the changing times, Ginn said.

For example, it is investing more resources to make its Web site more effective and useful. And its marketing efforts are now focused more on the site-selection consultants who advise companies like WellDyne rather than industry trade shows.

The group also continues to pitch success stories about the Charleston economy to an array of publications that reach corporate decision-makers, Ginn said.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or

M-7 tallies wins, losses

Organization still searching for an industrial trophy
Posted: Aug. 30, 2008

It was 18 months ago that Jeffrey Joerres, chief executive of Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc., argued that the Milwaukee 7 — an organization formed to attract, retain and expand business in southeastern Wisconsin — must “get a real win out of this within the next 12 to 18 months.”

“The Milwaukee 7 will not work if we don’t have a breakthrough soon,” Joerres said at the time.

The verdict, 18 months later?

“There is no big win,” said Tim Sheehy, one of the M-7’s leading collaborators and president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. “And if that’s a surprise to you, then there is no Easter Bunny.”

But the M-7 notes it has had its share of victories — biggest among them the retention and expansion of Direct Supply Inc., which means hundreds of added technology jobs.

And there have been losses, including the high-profile decision to locate the headquarters of the MillerCoors LLC joint venture in Chicago. And lots of opportunities are still pending.

“Have we accomplished a bunch of wins that add up to a big win? Yes,” Sheehy said.

Yet in its fourth year, the M-7 is still scrambling for an industrial trophy that will add momentum to its efforts and possibly compel outsiders to rethink their views of the Wisconsin economy.

In an ideal world, the big win would be akin to the blockbuster 2001 announcement that Boeing Co. would move its headquarters to Chicago, a coup that World Business Chicago, that city’s economic development agency, pulled off 18 months after its inception in 1999. More here.