Monday, May 31, 2010

Teamwork sought to bring jobs to Strand area

By John McDermott
By Adva Saldinger, The Sun News
Monday, May 31, 2010

MYRTLE BEACH -- The Grand Strand needs diversity in available jobs and improved communication and teamwork among business, political and education leaders to create a better plan for improving the employment situation, officials at a job summit said.

Few concrete ideas were laid out during last Wednesday's summit at Coastal Carolina University, but attendees said it may be a step toward improving the conversation about an economic development plan and trying to generate new ideas moving forward.

"I think we've about hit rock bottom with the economy, and I think it's a good time to get our thoughts out on how we can rebound," said Brent Schultz, an Horry County councilman and a member of the board of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.

Joe Taylor, the S.C. Secretary of Commerce, said Horry County should focus on finding jobs that fit the community.

"It's more than just chasing factories. You've got to look at your area, and you've got to look at your work force. When I look down here ... I don't see a heavy-industrialized economy," Taylor said.

Knowledge-based industries such as call centers, reservation centers and back-office operations for major companies are a good fit for the area, Taylor said.

Taylor talked about jobs the state has lured, but did not mention any on the Grand Strand. The Commerce Department recruited more than 18,000 new jobs to the state in 2009, he said.

Taylor said he doesn't discuss potential deals the department is working on, but said he sees potential on the Grand Strand. One of the problems on the Grand Strand is the lack of ready-to-go space for companies, who are increasingly looking to move to where a discounted building waits at the ready, he said.

Richard Singleton, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Chicora, who is also a board member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., said it is possible to retrofit some of the existing vacant buildings into office space suitable for the call center-type business the area looks to attract.

The development group has been in talks with a company to bring a call center to the area, but the plans have been delayed several months, said Jimmy Yahnis, chairman of the group's board, who attended the event.

The organization, which is charged with bringing jobs to the area, is in negotiations with the county about future funding and the restructuring of the organization. The development group has failed to meet job creation benchmarks set by the county in the past few years and has been without a president since Hugh Owens left in December.

The organization is working to expand the types of business it targets, Yahnis said.

"The world is changing, and you've got to adapt your business to that change," he said.

The presenters agreed that diversifying the economy beyond the tourism industry is key to future job growth and improving the average salary in the area.

"This is not a situation where we have too many jobs in tourism," said Don Schunk, a research economist at Coastal Carolina University. "The problem is we don't have enough jobs outside of tourism."

The Grand Strand needs to bring in new jobs that require more skills and provide better salaries, he said. The average wage in Horry County is among the lowest in the state and is well below the national average.

Average unemployment on the Grand Strand in the first three months of the year is down more than 12,000 jobs from the same period in 2008, and those jobs must be regained to get back to those levels. Schunk said he doesn't expect those jobs to be back until 2013 or 2014.

Several panelists discussed the need for better cooperation and planning among the different groups.

The development corporation and the county need to work together to evaluate and make the area's resources work together, Schultz said.

Marilyn Fore, senior vice president of Horry-Georgetown Technical College, said education is a key component moving forward, and the college is looking to expand and develop new programs that respond to local industries.

Fore said the area needs a united front of salesmanship by business, governmental and education leaders.

William Alford, chairman of the Coastal board of trustees, said the greatest asset is the people, and their knowledge should be brought together to create a plan.

"What we need is a vision, and in creating a vision, I think it's important that we coordinate all the entities in the county," he said.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Consultant Hired to Market the Flathead

By Erin Cole, 05-30-10
Flathead Beacon

In a series of meetings last week, Flathead County community and business leaders met with an economic development expert to develop a strategy on how to revive the county’s economy. The meetings come a year after economists called the Flathead the “epicenter of the recession” in Montana.

Montana West Economic Development, which is spearheading the project, hired Eric Canada, a partner of Blane, Canada Ltd., a Chicago-based consulting firm, to help create a county-wide marketing plan.

Canada’s services were funded by a $20,000 grant awarded to Montana West Economic Development by the Montana Department of Commerce. The funds were matched by the Flathead County Economic Development Authority, Montana West Economic Development, the cities of Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Whitefish, their local chambers of commerce and Glacier Park International Airport.

“When we wanted to do this project, we wanted to reach out to the person that had the expertise and who will give us a product that is constructed for our area,” Kellie Danielson, president and chief executive officer of Montana West Economic Development, said. “Eric is very seasoned and has had over 25 years of experience in niche marketing for economic development.”

Canada says he will help Flathead’s communities define their priorities and learn how to attract investment while retaining and expanding current industries.

“Tourism is a big important business, but we need other businesses that are bringing in capital from outside the communities,” he said. “We’re in the process of launching the effort to create a marketing plan.”

Canada says the development of a cohesive marketing plan will help direct the Flathead Valley toward economic recovery.

“It’s just like when you’re adrift at sea or you go out on a drive and don’t decide where you’re going,” he said. “You’ll end up somewhere, but it may or may not have anything with what you would like to do or what you would like to have as a community.”

However, Canada says little will come to fruition if the communities fail to band together.

“Time will pass and opportunities will come and go,” he said. “Everyone has limited resources, so the best way to succeed at this is for everyone working together.”

According to Canada, his firm’s primary responsibilities end at architecting the marketing plan. Implementation, meanwhile, rests on the shoulders of the communities, although Canada will return to over the next several years to monitor the progress.

“Our activity is fairly defined at the front end,” he said. “Once we deliver the plan, they’ll have everything they need to go forward without us, except maybe a shoulder to cry on and a little coaching.”

Danielson says that to help ensure implementation, Montana West Economic Development will oversee the formation of a task force.

“We asked the communities to select one or two people to represent their community on a task force and then we also asked some of our investors and board members of Montana West who specifically have something to contribute from a marketing perspective to economic development,” she said.

Prior to Canada’s arrival, Montana West Economic Development commissioned Brad Eldredge, Director of Institutional Research at Flathead Valley Community College, for a preliminary study of the region’s economical development. Eldredge’s report revealed a gamut of positive and negative factors in the valley.

“A lot of it confirmed what I had already suspected in terms of how many jobs the county lost,” he said. “I knew we weren’t doing very well, but it was a little bit shocking.”

As of April, the county’s unemployment rate stood at 12.2 percent, with the most jobs lost in the forestry, mining and woods product manufacturing sectors. While Eldredge feels the economy is turning the corner, he worries about a lack of diversification in the region’s businesses.

“The Flathead area was so dependent on home construction and wood products manufacturing that those are two industries that I don’t think are going to turn around very fast,” he said. “What I see as a threat is if other parts of the economy don’t grow to take up the slack, you’ll have this overhang of unemployed folks.”

On a brighter note, Eldredge found that the economic slump had failed to diminish the lure of Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake.

“I was surprised that tourism did so well last year, given the economic circumstances of the country,” he said.

Because tourism is such an important part of the region’s economy, Eldredge suggests the Flathead look at the development of places such as Skagway, Alaska, a town that has successfully marketed itself as a tourist destination.

“It was a community that had a real dependence on tourism, more so than us, and I thought that the way they were marketing themselves was really well done,” he said. “I’m not sure that we do that.”

Eldredge is encouraged both by Canada’s involvement in the county and by the formation of the business improvement district in Kalispell.

“That’s very positive because there’s a lot of small businesses or medium-sized businesses in this valley that benefit a lot from tourism but none of them have the resources to individually promote ‘Come to the Flathead,’” he said. “But if they do it as a group and pool their resources, they’ll all benefit.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Building a better brand


By HANK DANISZEWSKI, The London Free Press

In a world where companies and even countries live by their branding, Southwestern Ontario — a huge farming and manufacturing region, with 20% of Ontario’s population — often defies recognition beyond its borders. A regional economic conference in London next week will tackle that issue. Hank Daniszewski reports.

* * *

Southwestern Ontario is more than a place. It could be a brand. One that could be sold to the world.

That's one of the goals of the South-West Economic Alliance (SWEA) assembly to be held at the London Convention Centre June 3 to 4.

It's been more than four years since area municipalities met in Stratford to forge the alliance, an economic front for the region, and SWEA chairperson Dan Mathieson said this will be a watershed meeting for the 250 delegates.

"The biggest weakness we have is that people in governments and businesses outside the region can't identify what the Southwest does. It's time to build a brand around our economy," said Mathieson, who is mayor of Stratford.

Mathieson said SWEA must counteract the perception Southwestern Ontario is no more than an extension of the American rust belt, with a sagging manufacturing sector done in by the collapse in the auto industry.

He said the region represented by SWEA has a diverse economy with a strong and evolving agricultural base and a manufacturing sector that is fighting back with new productivity and green technologies "We have some of the most fertile agricultural land in the country. We need to talk about tourism and bioscience and other things we do well," he said.

Mathieson said his own city is a classic example of image not fitting the reality. While Stratford is known internationally for its Shakespearean festival, Mathieson said the theatres have been icing on the cake for a city that has always relied on manufacturing and agriculture.

That's why the Ontario Pork Congress held in Stratford every year gets equal billing to the Stratford Festival on the city's welcome signs.

A study done for SWEA by the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario analysed the economic development plans of 19 Southwestern municipalities. It showed agriculture was the top shared economic priority, followed by tourism and culture, green technology, advanced manufacturing and transportation and logistics.

Serge Lavoie was hired last August to serve as SWEA's full-time president and administrator.

Lavoie admits manufacturing and agriculture have been written off as "dead ends" by some policy markets battered by the economic downturn, the rising value of the Canadian dollar and trade policies.

But he said SWEA recognizes these sectors are still the key to the region's economic future."

"It's what we have been in the past. It's what we are still good at it and it's not going away. It's simply changed and we have to nurture those changes," he said.

Lavoie said agriculture has become a "different beast" branching out to green energy production and bioplastics. He said manufacturing is also evolving into more efficient and "green" technologies.

He said SWEA has been able to broaden its original municipal base by entering into formal partnerships with the universities including Western, Guelph, Windsor and Waterloo and Fanshawe College.

He said post-secondary institutions can provide expertise and research in business, rural economic development and engineering.

SWEA has also created a 45-member advisory council that includes representatives from businesses such as Libro Financial, Ernst & Young and SmartCentres.

Mathieson said it has taken years of meetings and debate to pull SWEA together. There was initial skepticism from municipalities such as Woodstock. And Elgin County and St. Thomas are still not members.

Mathieson said there were fears municipalities would have to surrender their economic development office to a bureaucratic regional super agency.

"We are not top-down, trying to control where development takes place. We are trying to bring the area together in a cohesive fashion to tell our story," Mathieson said.

Lavoie said SWEA has become more of a "think tank" and forum for the region's municipalities to work on common strategies.

"We have created a big tent where everyone can work together. That's very different from a super economic development agency," he said.

E-mail, or follow Hankatlfpress on Twitter.

Indiana to partner with Chinese on economic development

Business First of Louisville

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob Friday joined Zhang Yingxin, deputy director general of the China Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Commerce, to sign a memorandum of understanding that outlines an economic development partnership between Indiana and the Chinese government.

The agreement outlines ways Indiana and China can strengthen trade and economic development opportunities, according to a news release from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

According to information provided by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for 2008, the most recent data available, Indiana exported $930 million worth of goods to China, making it the state’s sixth-largest export destination. Indiana exported $759 million worth of goods to China in 2007 and $559 million in 2006.

“As Chinese companies look to expand into the U.S., Indiana has the manufacturing and life science capabilities to attract a significant portion of this new investment,” Yingxin said in a release.

The agreement was signed at the U.S.-China Advanced Technology Vehicle Summit, which is being held this week in Indianapolis. The event brought a delegation of more than 70 Chinese automakers to Indiana to meet with Indiana companies that make components for hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles.

The event is being presented by the Energy Systems Network, a nonprofit organization that is focused on the growth and commercialization of Indiana’s clean-technology and energy sectors.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Best North American Cities for Manufacturing and Production Business Development, according to

Princeton, NJ (PRWEB) May 18, 2010 -- New 2010 reports from ( compare the cost of business development for manufacturing and production facilities in more than 100 North American cities. The reports analyze all major geographically-variable operating costs critical to the corporate site selection, including labor, taxes, construction, real estate, shipping, utilities and other criteria.

Lowest cost cities for manufacturing and production according to include Monterrey, Mexico, Augusta, GA, El Paso, TX, Starkville, MS and Greensboro, NC. High cost business development centers include San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Boston and Vancouver, Canada.

The cost comparisons draw from the data bank and a 35-year caseload of The Boyd Company, Inc. location consultants out of Princeton, NJ. Boyd carries out independent site selection business development research for major corporations like PepsiCo, Hewlett-Packard and Pratt & Whitney.

"In the current soft economy and credit crunch, comparative costs are the white-hot issues in corporate boardrooms today. Costs are ruling the manufacturing and production plant and office site selection process," explains John Boyd, Jr., a principal of The Boyd Co. and founder of “For many corporations, improving the bottom line on the cost side of the business development ledger is far easier than on the revenue side in this weak, uncertain and globally-linked economy,” adds Boyd.

More here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Initiative hoping to spur growth

By: Martin Cash

A newly launched effort to attract more businesses to the city is being touted as an ideal public-private partnership.

And to top it off, it's going to have a big enough budget to really make a difference.

The premier, the mayor and a hotel ballroom full of business leaders were present early Tuesday morning for the launch of Yes! Winnipeg, a new initiative that will act as the revved-up marketing arm of Winnipeg Incorporated.

Charlie Spiring, the CEO of Wellington West Capital, is leading a fundraising campaign that's looking to raise $6 million to give the organization a five-year budget.

Spiring said at least one-third of that is already committed and all the big-15 companies in the city have agreed to invest, many of them at six-figure levels.

Asked why he believes this initiative will generate better results than others that have attempted to spur growth and development in the city in the past, Premier Greg Selinger said, "The difference this time is that there is substantial private-sector commitment up front."

Selinger believes the targeted, focused approach that will be used will help it produce the ambitious targets that are being set.

Yes! Winnipeg hopes to help create more than 4,200 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic output over the next five years.

Bill Morrissey, vice-president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, has been leading an 18-month undertaking called Selling Winnipeg to the World that has evolved into Yes! Winnipeg.

Morrissey and the chamber have mobilized a large team of senior business leaders in the province to market the city to their industry contacts.

But he's also researched best practices around North America and used the services of an Atlanta consulting firm called National Community Development Services (NCDS) that has helped many smaller Midwest cities in the U.S. beef up their own marketing.

Tom DiFiore, president of NCDS, said they have found a successful approach for cities is not dissimilar to a company's approach.

"You've got product development, R&D and sales and marketing," he said.

"In Winnipeg, your product development is well ahead of most places. There's great quality of life, great schools, good infrastructure, people love to live here. All that is great but if you don't have the sales and marketing function you won't sell as many widgets."

On top of that, he said, the public and private sector need to be working together.

One-third of the budget is expected to come from the three levels of government.

Yes! Winnipeg will become a division of Economic Development Winnipeg with a dedicated staff of 10 people.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2010 B5

Saturday, May 15, 2010

EDC hires consultant to study biz parks

By Susan Latham Carr
Staff writer

Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.

Got jobs? That is what the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corp. is looking for, and to help its recruitment efforts it has hired Moran, Stahl & Boyer to conduct a business park marketing analysis.

“This is very important, since the last business park study was 1996, and also the WilsonMiller study the county commission conducted on the need for properties and also our need for the jobs in the future,” EDC president and CEO Pete Tesch said. “This is what I view as the last and final study that looks at the current properties in the process of becoming business parks and what is necessary for economic recovery and job creation as it relates to the business parks as we go through the post-recession era.”

Tesch said it is frequently mentioned that Wal-Mart and Sysco were considering building distribution centers in Ocala/Marion County but an appropriate location to accommodate their needs could not be found, so the companies went elsewhere.

“Do big boxes make sense for Marion County as we go forward?” Tesch asked as a question in search of an answer. “What is on the horizon given our strengths and weaknesses? What type of industry sectors are compatible with Marion County and what’s going to make sense in the future?”

Tesch said he is pleased that the private sector is interested in using property along the Interstate 75 corridor for industrial parks, which could help promote economic growth and job creation.

John Rhodes of MS&B will be presenting the study’s findings at the EDC’s quarterly luncheon on June 2 at the Ocala Hilton. The marketing portion will follow in July. More here.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Aerotropolis drives recruiting

Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

As cities around the world are seeking an aerotropolis identity, Memphis is staking claim to the title of “America’s Aerotropolis.”

Aerotropolis cities are centered around a strong airport along with robust transportation and logistics capabilities. Memphis economic development officials are using the aerotropolis concept as the lead initiative in their five-year Memphis Fast Forward plan to recruit and retain businesses in the area.

Thanks mostly to FedEx Corp., Memphis International Airport has been the world’s busiest cargo airport since 1992. More than 3.8 million tons of cargo were shipped in 2008. A study by the University of Memphis’ Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research and the Center for Manpower Studies at Fogelman College of Business and Economics shows that including passenger operations, construction and visitor impact, the airport generates $28.6 billion in annual economic impact and more than 220,000 jobs, which means more than one in three jobs in Memphis are tied to the airport.

“Then, you have to have connectivity and access for people and for goods through all sorts of other modes to leverage that power,” says Tom Schmitt, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Global Supply Chain. “Not everything flies. You need to look for what’s the best combination of moving goods and people, looking at the lowest cost, the highest speed, the lowest carbon footprint.”

Economic officials tout similar advantages among the other three modes of distribution and transportation: five Class I railroads, the fourth largest inland port in the nation and the third-busiest trucking corridor in the U.S.

“All of this emerged in a haphazard fashion,” says Arnold Perl, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. “We’ve had these different modes, but they’ve been silos — they haven’t been connected.”

In 2009, the Greater Memphis Chamber started changing marketing efforts from “America’s Distribution Center” to “America’s Aerotropolis.” In fact, it has trademarked the logo and phrase “Memphis: America’s Aerotropolis.”

“To me, aerotropolis is a compelling world brand,” Perl says. “It visualizes the greater Memphis region in the 21st century.”

Several cities worldwide have seized on the aerotropolis concept for their economic identity.

In March, economic development officials from France, including some from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, came to Memphis for a three-day tour of the area’s four transportation modes. Paris is labeling itself “Aerotropolis Europe.” Similarly, Gaungzhou, China is labeling itself as “Asia’s Aerotropolis.” FedEx hubs in these cities bolster those claims.

Schmitt says by embracing the aerotropolis concept, Memphis is putting its stake in the ground, similar to Central California’s “Silicon Valley” for its technological industries or North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” for its health care pharmaceutical expertise.

Memphis Fast Forward is a five-year plan that runs until 2012. During the Chamber’s annual luncheon in December 2006, the city’s economic development officials started to mold the aerotropolis concept into the lead initiative of Memphis Fast Forward.

The city and county mayors are on the Memphis Fast Forward steering committee, which has four work groups: access and transportaion chaired by Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC senior attorney Julie Ellis, corridor development led by Commercial Advisors LLC president Larry Jensen, gateways and beautification led by University of Memphis president Shirley Raines, and marketing and branding led by Perl, who has been chairman of the Airport Authority for 14 years.

The committees have been looking at ways to marshal government and business support for road projects, whether it is pushing large state projects or beautifying Plough Boulevard, Brooks Road or Elvis Presley Boulevard, all significant arteries to the aerotropolis. Plough alone handles more than 11 million cars annually.

“People who come to visit the community have to have a first impression and last impression of our community,” says Chamber president John Moore. “Those are important to the Chamber because we need positive impressions in order to attract attention to our community to get people to come and recognize our brand and see what we can do for their business.”

It also means increased government participation in recruiting and retaining companies.

Smith & Nephew PLC, for instance, has had its Orthopaedic Reconstruction and Trauma and Clinical Therapies units on the neglected Brooks Road for years.

The London-based company had talked to Memphis economic development officials about the possibility of moving its operations to Raleigh, N.C. in 2009.

The aerotropolis committees pressed for quick action. Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz and others pushed for stricter rules for adult entertainment establishments in the area. Memphis Police Department director Larry Godwin assigned more patrols along Brooks, helping to reduce crime. Several efforts were made to clean up the area more effectively. Wharton, then county mayor, lobbied Smith & Nephew’s London leadership, expressing the local government’s commitment to the company.

Because of this commitment, Smith & Nephew purchased the former Concord EFS Inc. headquarters, a 285,000-square-foot office building at Goodlett Farms in northeast Memphis, while keeping manufacturing operations on Brooks Road. The new facility, which involves a total investment of $42 million, means 160 more employees with an average wage of $101,000 a year, including benefits.

“That economic development opportunity was ours to lose,” Moore says. “Because of this activity, we’ve saved the jobs we have, but we’ve opened up the opportunity for growth with that company in the future.” | (901) 259-1732