Thursday, April 29, 2010

Developers seek expert advice

By Chandler Myers

Products, promotion and patience are the key tools communities need to land new industries, an economic development expert told local officials and area economic developers Saturday at a breakfast meeting hosted by Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority.

The breakfast meeting was part of a weekend visit by three industrial site consultants.

“We spent Thursday to Sunday with the site consultants,” said Wiley Blankenship, president of Coastal Gateway. “The comments I received regarding the familiarization tour were very positive. The consultants were able to see many of the assets of Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe counties and conduct a windshield tour of the region. They were able to familiarize themselves with regional buildings and industry as well as experience the flavor and culture of our communities.”

The group met for breakfast at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, with featured speakers including Robert Pittman and Jennifer Tanner, senior principals for Janus Economics. Pittman suggested the “three Ps” are the secret to success for landing a company in a community.

“The first thing you need is product,” Pittman said. “A community has to have something that people in your community want to work with. Look at your community as an outsider to find strengths and weaknesses. This helps with site selection. The second ‘P’ is promotion. A community needs to market itself. A lot of places rely on the state to bring them products, but they need to promote their communities to attract attention. The last ‘P’ is patience. It takes awhile to get economic development rolling. Once a target industry has been found, you need to go after them. Once that happens you also need to have a good labor force. One last thing to know is that low manufacturing is not coming back, but advanced manufacturing is alive and well.”

Henderson said that most companies do not have a preference of where they are located.

“Regionalism is not as important as you think,” Henderson said. “Companies don’t care where they are located as long as they can get what they need from the region.”

Local incentives come into play at the back end of a project once a company or site consultant has narrowed their selections down to two or three communities or regions, Pittman said.

A community is not “buying” a project by having incentives ready and available, he said.

“Incentives cannot make a bad site or community good,” Pittman said. “You must still have the labor force, business climate and appropriate site for the project in order to make the short list. But, incentives must still come into play.”

Marshall Rogers, executive director for the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority, said she came away from the meeting with good information.

“I thought it was informative,” Rogers said. “I thought they hit some good points that we could use in the future to improve our economic development program. We can use it to make sure our documents and submissions are more presentable.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quad Cities too generic a name for ID, WA cities


LEWISTON, Idaho -- A business consultant says the "Quad Cities" moniker used by four northcentral Idaho and eastern Washington cities as a tool to lure economic development should be abandoned.

David Leland, a Portland, Ore.-based consultant, told leaders from Lewiston and Moscow in Idaho, as well as Clarkston and Pullman in neighboring Washington, the name may be too generic to capture the imagination of those who could help the local economies.

Some local leaders say finding a brand name for the whole region is tough, due to its diversity. For instance, Lewiston and Clarkston are river towns along the Clearwater and Snake; Moscow and Pullman are largely known for their institutions of higher education, the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

Meanwhile, the surrounding area makes up some of the richest farming country in the world, producing wheat and other crops for export.

Leland says any new marketing campaign should include a "success audit" to compile each community's accomplishments.

"That becomes part of your marketing kit," he said. "That becomes part of your story."

Leland came to Tuesday's meeting of local leaders on the invitation of the Port of Clarkston, which he's been helping with marketing.

The region, rich in agricultural, mining and recreational resources, has nevertheless struggled with 1 percent annual growth - or worse.

That's despite the economic benefits promised in the 1960s and 1970s with the construction of Snake River dams that created the slackwater inland ports of Lewiston and Clarkston that connected the region via waterway with the Pacific Coast.

Locals could highlight the region's low crime rate and safety, Leland said, something to be marketed to people looking to escape the hectic hustle and bustle of places like Southern California.

Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association, said the region may be too economically and geographically diverse to market with a single message.

He suggests more cooperation on individual projects.

For instance, Wollmuth and John Lane, with the Clearwater Economic Development Agency, are hoping a $50,000 grant - and more than $21,000 in matching funds from local agencies - will successfully develop international markets for boat manufacturers. Already, about a dozen boat makers call the area home, producing aluminum craft for trips up the Snake River into the rapids of Hell's Canyon.

For now, however, Leland says the cities - and many of their products - are just a "well-kept secret."

"There are a lot of people who really don't know who you are and what you are," he said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Northrop Grumman chooses Virginia over Maryland

Defense contractor to move headquarters and 300 jobs to the state

By Andrea K. Walker, Jamie Smith Hopkins and Paul West,
The Baltimore Sun

In a closely watched, highly competitive deal to lure the headquarters of one of the country's largest defense contractors, Northrop Grumman is rejecting Maryland and putting its main office in Virginia, the company confirmed Monday night.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia is expected to announce today that the company will relocate its California headquarters and 300 employees to his state, economic development officials confirmed.

Gov. Martin O'Malley learned about the decision in a late afternoon call with Northrop chief executive Wesley G. Bush, said O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese. The head of the Los Angeles-based company said his choice of Virginia was a real estate decision, he said.

O'Malley congratulated Virginia in a statement and said the relocation was still a win for the entire region. The company already employees 40,000 in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

"With today's announcement the region will not only gain new corporate-level jobs, but a number of the company's key subcontractors and suppliers," O'Malley said.

Northrop executives announced in February that the company planned to move its 300-person headquarters to the Washington region in 2011. It has since been heavily courted by all three jurisdictions.

The chance to lure the defense contractor was especially enticing to Maryland, which has lost several headquarters in recent years, most recently Black & Decker, which merged with Connecticut-based Stanley Works. Some had hoped a Maryland win would help reverse a perception that the state isn't business-friendly.

Virginia officials remained tight-lipped about the deal Monday. A spokesman with the Virginia governor's office would not comment when asked about the announcement. "We are still very much in the negotiation process with them," Christie Miller, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Northrop Grumman released a statement Monday night about the move.

"Our final decision was driven largely by facility considerations, proximity to our customers, and overall economics," Bush said in the statement.

Northrup is in negotiations with building owners in the Falls Church/Arlington area, with a specific building to be announced soon, the statement said. The new office would open in 2011.

Karen M. Vasquez, public relations manager for Arlington Economic Development in Virginia, said her group was told the governor would make an announcement today, but said it would not comment until after the announcement.

More here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Businesses saying goodbye to Denver hit civic pride

By Kevin Vaughan
The Denver Post

In January 1999, in the obligatory send-up of the other city before a big football playoff game, a New York Daily News columnist dubbed Denver "Cleveland with a nice backdrop."

Cleveland, at least, has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Denver, on the other hand, is losing another corporate giant and its biggest Fortune 500 company with last week's takeover of Qwest by CenturyTel, a telecommunications company based in Monroe, La.

Within a year, Qwest's corporate headquarters is expected to be moved to the bayou, its dominating logo stripped from the 53-story tower it has called home at 2801 California St.

And while it's inherently unfair — this was a takeover by a competitor — it inevitably sparks questions about whether some underlying problem in Denver precipitated the move.

"That is not a question people want asking about you," said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

Losing companies

In the past year, the Denver area has gone from 11 Fortune 500 companies to eight — and will fall to seven after the Qwest-CenturyTel merger is complete.

And though Denver fancies itself a major mid-size city, other metro areas have as many or more Fortune 500 companies — St. Louis has nine, Minneapolis-St. Paul has 20, and Dallas-Fort Worth, which has over twice Denver's population, has 24.

The reality, according to economic development leaders, is not that simple.

"When you lose a corporate headquarters, particularly a large one, it is national news, and probably only the people in the industry of which the company is a part understand what the reasons may be," Clark said.

The Qwest deal follows other high-profile corporate defections. More here.

Charleston, Everett WA Collaborate on Boeing Expansion to SC

By Seattle Times business staff

Boeing is rolling out the red carpet in Everett this week, along with some of its local suppliers and officials who promote the aerospace industry in Snohomish County. All will play host to a high-level delegation of economic-development officials from Charleston, S.C.

That has raised a few eyebrows among local aerospace boosters fearful of job poaching, though none would say so publicly.

The visiting South Carolina team is led by David Ginn, president of the Charleston Regional Development Authority, one of the leading players in Charleston's successful campaign last year to beat Everett for the 787 Dreamliner second assembly line.

In an interview Friday, Ginn said his group will tour the Boeing Everett facility and have breakfast with their economic development counterparts in Snohomish County. But Ginn wouldn't name any of the companies he will meet with during the three-day visit.

Does he hope some of those companies will open plants in Charleston?

"We want to understand how we can best position the Charleston area to meet Boeing's needs," Ginn said. "So, yes."

Boeing, too, wants to help get Charleston up and running.

"The ultimate objective for all involved is partnership and education for long-term, mutual success through and for the 787 Dreamliner program," said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel.

But why is the Snohomish County Economic Development Council (EDC) so keen to help out?

The answer seems to be that local officials believe they need to support Boeing's broader interests, and that if it's good for Boeing and the 787 it will ultimately be good for Everett, too.

The EDC is a private nonprofit organization that works with government officials and local businesses to promote the local economy. EDC Chief Executive Deborah Knutson sent out invitations to a breakfast this coming Tuesday with Ginn's delegation.

In a phone interview, one of the breakfast invitees, Michael Zubovic, an executive with Aviation Technical Services of Everett, read an excerpt from the invitation explaining the EDC's rationale.

Knutson wrote that she and Ginn "met at a conference in early December and decided, with Boeing's support, that we will work together to help in any way we can, to grow the Boeing Company in both locations."

Zubovic said he sees no issue in sitting down with the Charleston team.

"We'd have loved the second line. That didn't happen," he said. "The worst thing we can do is react in any kind of vindictive way."

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, an EDC board member, said he received assurances that "there's no poaching and jobs won't be lost" on this visit.

"I'm not interested in having South Carolina poach our suppliers," he said.

Reardon offered another rationale: We could learn how to be more like them.

He said the EDC wants to learn what the economic- development officials in Charleston are doing "that we can transfer."

Reardon conceded that to win the second assembly line South Carolina provided tax breaks, land and upfront money — together estimated at upward of $1 billion — that this state cannot legally offer to a single private company.

"They did things we can't do, that we're not constitutionally allowed to do," said Reardon. "It's more, 'Are there applicable models or actions (South Carolina used) that with slight tweaks we can replicate?' "

— Dominic Gates

Va. may have slight edge in race to lure Northrop Grumman site

By David Ress
Published: April 25, 2010

It's been an unusual wooing: The courted, defense-contracting giant Northrop Grumman, announced it wanted to move its headquarters and even picked its new hometown before the courting started.

But the metropolitan Washington region that Northrop Grumman picked is split by state lines. Usually, the very quiet but very fierce jockeying among states for a big relocation ends with the company saying where it is going, instead of starting with it.

Northrop Grumman is on a fast track, though. The company plans to open a 300-person headquarters somewhere about 100 miles north of here, in Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia, in a bit more than a year. It expects to decide exactly where within the next few weeks.

"The primary factors are proximity to our customers and economics," said company spokesman Dan McClain.

More than 91 percent of Northrop Grumman's $35 billion a year in revenue comes from the U.S. government, and much of that is with the Pentagon, in Virginia's Arlington County, according to the company's financial filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Defense Department is the main customer of its $6 billion-a-year shipyard in Newport News, as well as a major customer of its $10 billion aerospace business and its nearly $8 billion Maryland-based electronic-systems business.

The military is a big customer of Northrop Grumman's nearly $3 billion technical-services operation, based in Virginia, which focuses on logistics support and training. The company's Reston-based information-services business, a nearly $9 billion-a-year operation, provides IT services to a variety of federal, state and local government agencies, as well as to commercial customers.

"A lot is going to have to do with what they already have in Maryland and Virginia, and how they feel about how they've been treated in each state," said Dennis Donovan, a principal with Wadley Donovan Gutshaw, a New Jersey-based consultant to corporations selecting sites for facilities.

Northrop Grumman employs 31,000 people at 22 main locations in Virginia, including 20,000 at Newport News Shipbuilding and more than 400 in Chesterfield County, one of the facilities it operates to provide IT services to state government operations across Virginia. The company employs 11,525 in Maryland, where it is the largest industrial employer.

Donovan said the acrimonious, recently resolved controversy over Northrop Grumman's $236 million-a-year IT services contract with the state was probably not the kind of thing that would weigh on the company. The dispute ended when the state extended the contract by three years to 2019 and payments totaling an additional $105 million.

"They'll be looking at how they're treated with infrastructure, permits, the important things," Donovan said.

Some Maryland politicians have suggested that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opposition to colleges' policies banning discrimination against gays might sway Northrop Grumman -- known for its policies giving gay employees the same workplace and compensation benefits available to others -- to move to Maryland.

Asked about that issue and the dispute over the Virginia IT services contract, company spokesman McClain repeated that proximity to customers and economics were the company's main considerations.

When it comes to economics, Montgomery County, Md., has the edge when it comes to property taxes -- its rate is the lowest in the region, though the differences in the bill for a $5 million property would range between $34,000 and $92,500 and may not be a big deal for a company that made a pretax profit of $2.3 billion last year.

But Virginia has a big edge when it comes to taxing that profit -- or, at least, whatever portion of income that would be deemed to be earned in whatever state Northrop Grumman ends up picking for its headquarters. Every million dollars of pretax income costs the company $22,500 more in Maryland than it does in Virginia.

Other taxes, for business equipment or on purchases, are pretty much a wash, Donovan said.

Personal-income taxes, though, may be a factor.

Donovan thinks Maryland's 6.25 percent income-tax rate for people earning more than $1 million a year might not look so good to Northrop Grumman, compared with Virginia's 5.75 percent rate for everyone earning more than $17,000 a year.

On the other hand, Maryland's rates are lower for people earning less than $1 million -- 5.5 percent for those earning more than $500,000 and 5.25 percent for those earning more than $300,000, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that monitors federal and state tax policies and practices.

"You're talking about 300 people, and some of them are must-keeps," said C.R. "Buzz" Canup, founder of Canup and Associates, a South Carolina site-selection and economic-development consulting firm.

"Northrop is going to be listening very closely to what they want."

Commuting time to desirable neighborhoods will be a critical factor, he and Donovan said.

"A great deal has to do with the real estate package," Donovan said. "There are a lot of elements that go into it. It's a headquarters, and they'll probably want something distinct -- a branding thing."

Amenities in or near the headquarters will be important, too, he said.

Donovan said the incentives -- tax credits and grants -- that states and local governments offer could be key.

Moving is a big one-time cost, and companies like being able to offset some of those costs with public money.

Last month, District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi told the district council that the city could not afford a $25 million package of incentives proposed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

"I think Maryland and Virginia have both clearly signaled that they would like to be the destination for Northrop Grumman's new HQ, and I have the sense that both have offered competitive economic-development incentives," said Bobbie Greene Kilberg, Northern Virginia Technology Council president and CEO.

How any incentives are customized will be important, Canup and Donovan said.

How the states and localities will do that, though, is a closely guarded secret. And there aren't many clues from the tools Maryland and Virginia officials have available, Donovan said. The two have a similar range of incentives such as tax credits, grants, infrastructure improvements and other financial sweeteners.

"They're both pretty much in the middle of the pack."

However, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell last month pushed through the General Assembly job-creation legislation that increases funds for economic-development incentives by $30 million over five years. The legislation also allows the use of state funds to pay for the refurbishment of private office buildings to lure such companies as Northrop Grumman.

Gregory H. Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, said the company's already-large presence in Virginia is a key advantage.

"We also have a large concentration of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Northern Virginia, so they would be among peers," he said.

"My take on the Northrop Grumman headquarters race is that it is Virginia's to lose."

Contact David Ress at (804) 649-6051 or

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ten Hottest Cities for the Next Decade

Ten boom towns with resilient economies, growing industries, and lots of job potential. Knowledge workers, take note.

Note to President Obama: Future job growth is all about brain power. Over the next decade, the best jobs are going to go to the cities with the industries and the entrepreneurial incentives in place to support a highly educated, tech-savvy workforce. Want to know where, exactly? We dug through Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, interviewed a host of regional economists, and examined industry trends. In the end, we came up with ten hot spots where jobs will likely grow in the double digits between now and 2018. All are home to notable research institutions; all have solid technology based sectors; six out of ten are state capitals -- if you count Minneapolis, St. Paul's twin city, and the big kahuna of capitals, Washington D.C. -- and each one is a great place to live. More here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Branding company has mixed record

Some pleased with results, others reject
themes and go with their own

By Robert Mentzer • Wausau Daily Herald • April
19, 2010

Fairbanks, Alaska, has a cold climate and is thought by outsiders to be remote and forbidding. It is in the center of its state, but there are not many cities to its north.

At the same time, it's in the midst of a beautiful natural environment, with an abundance of outdoor recreation and a healthy tourism industry.

In short, Fairbanks and Wausau have no small number of similarities -- in their challenges and strengths.

When Fairbanks hired Tennessee firm North Star Destination Strategies Inc. to help it attract prospective tourists and businesses to town, it walked the same tightrope that Marathon County will walk as it sets out on the same quest: how to sell itself while acknowledging that the area is not exactly Miami.

"We really are an extreme kind of place," said Karen Lundquist, vice president of marketing for the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, who was involved in the North Star brand-building process. In 2006, Fairbanks paid $76,000 to develop its campaign.

In the end, Fairbanks and North Star agreed that "For indomitable and adventurous spirits" captured the message they wanted to convey to outsiders.

"It was like, 'Wow, that really is us,'" Lundquist said. At the same time, the city wanted to counter the associations that come with a cold and dark winter, or the mistaken perception that the city shuts down for half the year.

"We came up with messages that centered around light, energy and warmth," Lundquist said. "We've gone to a much brighter color pallet. The language we used was more fun and playful. ... It's driven the language, and what we think about ourselves."

Those new colors, messages and language all came together in the slogan used by the Visitors Bureau today: "Where the unparalleled meets the unexpected."

North Star now is trying to work that same magic in central Wisconsin. The economic development arm of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce recently hired North Star to develop a marketing plan for Marathon County.

While there are some parallels -- climate, economy, society -- between Fairbanks and Marathon County, the specific branding challenges are different everywhere, professionals say. Still, the overall process -- of finding the balance between embracing the image people have of a place while also challenging their preconceptions -- is something that every community branding effort must go through.

"(North Star's) approach is very much that you shouldn't have an 'a-ha' moment," Lundquist said. "It should be fairly clear when it's done that it reaffirms what you know, but also puts it into perspective."

In Dothan, Ala., which contracted with North Star about five years ago, the common thread the community found was competition, said Bob Hendrix, executive director of the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. People came to Dothan for their kids' Little League baseball tournaments, or for soccer or softball games. Today, the city's tag line is "We're out to win you over."

"We did see (tourism) increases" after the rebranding effort, Hendrix said. "We were probably leading the state in (hotel) occupancy numbers, as far as percentages. And because we were doing well, more hotels came and built more."

The process does not always go smoothly. Some of North Star's clients have rejected suggested campaigns, or felt that they offered only superficial, glossy takes on the communities involved.

After Peoria, Ariz., paid $81,000 for a North Star campaign in 2008, residents and city council members protested its recommended slogan: "Naturally connected."

Residents complained that the words didn't say anything in particular about Peoria, or that "Naturally connected" wouldn't do anything to drum up development. At least one city council member called the project a waste of taxpayer money. Today, neither the city's official website nor its tourism site displays the logo.

The same thing has happened in other cities, too. In Fort Collins, Colo., people called the North Star logo generic, dull and lacking heart. The city rejected the
logo and instead engaged a local firm to design one.

There's also the risk that a branding effort will be botched in execution, said Tom Bullington, who heads a Minnesota-based community marketing and communications firm called City Image, which works on projects similar to North Star's.

"It's all about implementation," Bullington said. "After I leave town, it's all about people left behind to do the work. ... There need to be people who are
dedicated to it, and who have a stake in it."

Suzanne Morse, professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia, said she's seen such efforts go very well -- and she's seen them go very poorly.

"I work with a lot of communities," Morse said. "The ones that are doing better are the ones that are not fighting (with themselves). Those that are still fighting are getting smaller by the minute and losing ground by the minute.

"The real secret in moving a community forward is for people to see their own interests in it," Morse said.

In that sense, Morse said, the brand, the logo and the tag line aren't so important as community buy-in and a sense of purpose -- whether that's for a cold Alaska outpost, a dusty Alabama town or a community in north central Wisconsin.

GIGERICH: Happiness is factor in location choices

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Carl Bialik titled, “The Drag of Devising a State by State Mirth Meter,” explores the concept of measuring happiness and well-being across the country.

While the subject is not new, the studies surrounding it are receiving attention from economists, researchers and health care specialists as they attempt to put accurate measurements on a topic that has traditionally been viewed as vague and indefinable.

State-by-state comparisons ranking satisfaction levels are gaining traction in economic development circles. Louisiana ranks as the No. 1 place to find satisfied citizens. California comes in at 45, one notch above New Jersey.

While rankings do not drive site-selection decisions, they do play a role. Traditional criteria typically include work force, education and utility infrastructure, as well as a community’s and state’s overall business climate. Depending on the type of project, quality of life often ranks in the bottom half of the list and typically has a greater impact on businesses trying to attract certain types of employees.

For example, white-collar employers tend to rank quality of life high on the list, since they need to attract and retain top talent. Factors such as climate and cultural offerings take on even more importance in the latter stages of site selection when CEOs look at where their families and key employees are willing to move. More here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Berkshire Economic Groups Come Together As '1'

PTTSFIELD, Mass. — The county's four economic and creative growth organizations are taking the next step in cooperation by forming a strategic partnership called "1Berkshire."

The initiative was announced late Wednesday by the leaders of Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Creative Economy Council, Berkshire Economic Development Corp., and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau.

"We are creating a streamlined, coordinated economic development engine to provide a seamless single point of service for inquiries and opportunities related to the region," said Roger O. Goldman, managing director of the Berkshire Opportunity Fund and 1Berkshire's volunteer acting chief executive officer.

Goldman and Michael Daly, president and CEO of Berkshire Bank, will chair the steering committee made up of volunteers C. Jeffrey Cook of Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP, Rockwell Museum Director Laurie Norton Moffatt and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts Director Joseph Thompson.

The concept came out of a brainstorming retreat in early February with 80 business and community leaders. From that meeting, 1Berkshire was developed and is focused on uniting the four regional economic development organizations toward one vision as a place to thrive.

At the core of the project, Berkshire business and community leaders view the strategic partnership as the next step to build on the strong movements that began with the collaborative unified regional planning through the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education in 2005, the Berkshire Strategy Project in 2006, the launch of Berkshire Blueprint in 2007, and the formation of the Berkshire Creative Economy Council established in 2007.

"On a larger scale, we are striving to create a unified Berkshires brand as a means to compete to the maximum effect for attraction of talent, visitation, quality of life and business opportunities," said Daly. "Additionally, the region can foster even greater influence generated through a larger representative membership while also obtaining larger and a wider range of national, state and private funding."

Other regions are already investing in collaborative initiatives to spur growth, said Goldman.

The interim board includes David Avery, UBS Financial Services; Mick Callahan, Callahan Sign Co.; Stuart Chase, Berkshire Museum; Jeff Cook, Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP; Reggie Cooper, Canyon Ranch in Lenox; Nancy Fitzpatrick, The Fitzpatrick Companies; Beth Mitchell, Petricca Industries; Stan Rosen, Hampton Terrace Bed & Breakfast; Ellen Spear, Hancock Shaker Village; Karen Zink, Berkshire Gas Co.; and Michael Zivyak, Berkshire Living Magazine.

The goals of the project are to unify efforts of the four main entities; leverage the momentum of the ongoing projects and bring Berkshire business and civic leaders together to strategize, promote and implement initiatives for the strong, sustainable growth.

The partnership will also give the region greater clout for procurement and coordinate economic development, complementing Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and broad regional development efforts.

"Collaboration is essential to ensure a vibrant and prosperous Berkshire county," said state Sen. Benjamin Downing, who's been sounding that note for some time. "1Berkshire recognizes that and understands that scarce public resources need to be used efficiently and effectively to create jobs and grow the Berkshire economy."

iBerkshires • 106 Main Street • P.O. Box 1787
North Adams, MA 01247 • tel: 413.663.3384 • fax: 413.663.3615 •

Eco-devo consultant urges funding, sites for Wichita

Wichita Business Journal - by Chris Moon

Economic development leaders in the Wichita area should target the aerospace, medical, alternative energy and business and professional service industries for business expansion, a site selection consultant hired by the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition said in a report released this week.

Site Selection Group LLC also says local government needs to create a definitive funding stream for economic development activities, and eco-devo leaders here need to develop large, shovel-ready sites for business expansion.

“The lack of shovel-ready sites that can be used as inducements to attract new business investment is a substantial impediment to Wichita’s economic development efforts,” Site Selection Group said in its report, which has been distributed to GWEDC stakeholders.

The consultant said sites should be 100 acres or larger with the ability to be divided into no smaller than 20-acre parcels. The sites also should have utilities close at hand. Sites should be developed both with and without rail access.

“Wichita’s competitors have shovel-ready sites available to donate when necessary,” Site Selection Group says.

The Dallas-based consultant also urged economic development leaders to create a dedicated funding stream for economic development, similar to sales taxes levied in states like Oklahoma and Texas for that purpose. SSG noted Topeka, Manhattan, Hutchinson, Salina and Pittsburg already have economic development sales taxes.

“To ensure long-term success, economic development funding must be certain and flexible,” SSG’s report said.

Site Selection Group developed its recommendations after reviewing cities that have improved their economic development climates in recent years — Huntsville, Ala.; Boise, Idaho; Greensboro, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Clarksville, Tenn.

SSG says Wichita should target industries that take advantage of the fact the city has a workforce that is “technically superior,” especially in engineering, design and manufacturing.

The group says the medical industry’s growth and stability makes it a “critical target” for diversification here. Meanwhile, Kansas has been named the No. 2 state in the nation for wind supply, making alternative energy one that economic development leaders should target.

Horizon Council: Fort Myers Regional Partnership joins social media sites

Jennifer Berg • Special to •
April 12, 2010

Following the successful launch of an integrated,
grassroots campaign, The Fort Myers Regional
Partnership, Lee County’s Economic Development
Office, adds social networking to its array of
marketing and communications tools to boost the
region’s business climate.

Online visitors to the Web site, www., now have additional
opportunities to connect with the Partnership and
stay on the forefront of news coverage and trends
for continued collaborative efforts to generate and
share business leads and ideas to benefit the local
business environment and enhance the quality of
life in Lee County.

Fort Myers Regional Partnership can easily be found
on these popular social networking sites:

• Facebook

• Linked-In

• Twitter

• YouTube

There are links to all of the Partnership’s social
media sites at and at at the top
of each page of the website.

“The mission of our aggressive and integrated
campaign is to leverage the creativity, breath and
depth of existing relationships within our own
communities to identify potential business
candidates for expansion or location to Lee
County,” said Jim Moore, Executive Director for the
Fort Myers Regional Partnership.

The Fort Myers Regional Partnership is
implementing an effective mix of both traditional
and new-age approaches to marketing for economic
development. In addition to its unique advertising
and grassroots campaign, the Partnership
understands the value and power of social
networking to further engage our audiences and
virally promote our united efforts.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Economic Development Corp. asks for three-year contract

Claudia Lauer -

The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. asked the Horry County Council to consider a three-year contract to fund the agency for $375,000 annually.

The corporation presented a plan for improvement of the agency, which has drawn criticism in the past few years for not meeting job creation results expected by the county. The council heard the proposal today at its spring budget retreat.

Dodd Smith, president and chief executive officer of Metglas Inc. and an EDC board member, presented the plan and the funding request.

"Competition is fierce. When you look at who’s competing for economic development, the competition is fierce for obvious reasons. It’s jobs; and people desperately need jobs. We need to compete," Smith said.

The EDC proposed expanding the board of directors from 10 to 17 members who would have three-year terms and meet every two months. There would also be an executive board that would have one-year rotating terms and meet monthly. Smith said the group has been discussing a change in organization and in efforts that would require hiring a president to replace Hugh Owens, who resigned late last year. He said the terrain provided by the International Aeronautics and Technology Park and the Bucksport Marine Park change the game plan for the organization.

"The EDC of the future needs to be involved in marketing, not in development," Smith said.

Smith said the county has to help provide flexible incentives for potential companies. In his presentation, Smith said the group needs more input from the County Council on a regular basis and in terms of selling the commodities in the county. The group said one of their goals was to communicate more about progress and leads, and increase partnerships with other economic development groups.

Councilman Howard Barnard asked whether the group had input on a measurement plan for success. EDC board President Jimmy Yahnis said the past two years had been a wash in terms of success, but the council should not expect quick results in six months. Smith told Barnard that the group wanted to be challenged, and wanted to work with the council to come up with a reasonable expectation for results if the council would be willing to fund the more than $1 million over the next three years.

The council went into a closed session to discuss the points of the potential contract, but did not vote on a contract after coming out of the session. The EDC's five-year contract with the county for funding will end this year.

Check back with for more on the EDC.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cedar City wins economic development consultation

BY SAMANTHA ARNOLD • • April 7, 2010

CEDAR CITY - The Cedar City and Iron County Economic Development office won a free consultation with Hickey & Associates, one of the top site selection firms in the country at the Governor's Economic Summit on March 29.

Represented by Economic Development Director Brennan Wood, of Cedar City, won in The Dating Game-style contest against Weber and Davis counties at the summit.

Wood said the questions ranged from funny to serious, focusing on Cedar City's economic development advantages and strategies.

"I had a chance to really talk about the community," he said. "It's a huge compliment for us. I was pretty excited when we won the visit."

Wood and the rest of the economic development office gets to meet with a representative from Hickey & Associates to help go over Cedar City and Iron County's strength and weaknesses for attracting companies.

"It's very difficult for a community to get attention from a site selector," he said. "Just the chance to get them to come out ... this is a great thing for our community."

As one of the top site-selector companies in the country, the opportunity to receive feedback is great, said Clark Caras, marketing director for the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

"Cedar City really has a lot going for it," he said. "Cedar definitely came off as a good date."

Because the firm represents so many companies throughout the country, the visit from one of the representatives is also a good opportunity for Cedar City to demonstrate why it is an economically viable site to locate, Caras said.

"We hope the date turns into a good match or marriage," he said.

Wood said as part of the meeting, he plans to take the consultant around the area to show off some of Cedar City's strengths like the airport, Port-15 business area and Interstate 15.

"The first battle of economic development is to get in front of these consulting firms," he said. "We want to sell them our community. They'll give us a review and a one-on-one opportunity to talk to the consultants to find out what works and doesn't work in our community presentation."

A representative from the company is expected to pay a visit to Cedar City in June, Wood said.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

U.S. Cities Seek to Woo Chinese Investment

Wall Street Journal

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Chinese companies are increasingly looking to invest in the U.S., and state and local governments are scrambling to win a share of the money. But Chinese companies' go-slow approach and a longstanding preference for investing in Asia may leave governments disappointed.

In March, Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group announced that it would buy Volvo from Ford Motor Co. for $1.8 billion. Even as such occasional, major deals grab headlines, many smaller mergers and acquisitions and so-called greenfield investments—in which an investor sets up a factory, office or other facility—involving Chinese firms are quietly taking place across the country.

Georgia is home to about a half-dozen Chinese ventures, including a soy-sauce plant. Texas has a handful of Chinese telecommunications and industrial manufacturers. In Milwaukee, Wis., Beijing's Toward Group has bought a shopping mall.

The trend stems in part from Beijing's moves to ease restrictions on overseas investments, as it seeks to nurture homegrown multinationals. Many Chinese firms, flush with cash or squeezed by competition, are casting abroad for new markets, technology and product lines.

Chinese and U.S. officials and trade groups note growing interest among potential Chinese investors over the past 24 months, with oversubscribed attendance at investment fairs, increasing numbers of inquiries concerning U.S. investment opportunities, and more delegations visiting the U.S.

"I think within the next two or three years, we will see a big wave" of Chinese investment into the U.S., says Clarence Kwon of Deloitte Services LP's Chinese services group. More here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Constellation Energy CEO helping to lure Northrop's headquarters to Maryland

By Gus G. Sentementes |

March 31, 2010
E-mail Print Share Text Size bal-bz.northrop31mar31

With a decision expected any day from Northrop Grumman Corp. about where it will move its headquarters in the Washington area, Maryland officials have recruited a seemingly unlikely ally in their effort to lure the defense powerhouse here - energy company CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III.

Shattuck, head of Constellation Energy Group, put aside past skirmishes with state leaders to personally pitch Maryland to Wesley G. Bush, Northrop's chief executive. Shattuck said he volunteered to help Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration win over Northrop.

"The governor and I agree on a number of things, and this is one of them," Shattuck said in an interview this week. "I really do think this is one of those issues where we really should be on the same page, with regards to economic development. I'm a Maryland booster."

The breadth of the effort to court Northrop demonstrates the high stakes for the three possible locations: Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia. Northrop's headquarters would bring about 300 high-paying jobs, and nothing would be sweeter for political and corporate leaders than to attract a Fortune 100 company in tough economic times. The company expects to decide on a new home in April.

Northrop now employs about 40,000 people at several locations in Maryland and Virginia. But the O'Malley administration, which has worked to rebut the sentiment that Maryland is not as business-friendly as its neighbors, is hungry to snag a major corporate headquarters. And the state's top business leaders are looking to attract top corporations to deepen the region's corporate bench and add to its prestige.

That means Bush has been a popular guy in Maryland since his company announced in January that its headquarters would move from Los Angeles to this region.

O'Malley made the state's final pitch, which included tax and other incentives, to Bush in a telephone conversation Friday. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who sits on the powerful Appropriations and Intelligence committees, has been working the phones.

In addition to Shattuck, current and retired Lockheed Martin Corp. executives are lobbying Northrop counterparts on Maryland's behalf, and T. Rowe Price Group Chairman Brian C. Rogers recently called Bush to tout the state as a great place to live and work. More here.