Sunday, May 29, 2011

Panasonic move sparks real estate marketing effort in Newark

By Sarah Portlock / The Star-Ledger

In the days after Panasonic announced it would relocate its North American headquarters to Newark, city officials say they received many phone calls from companies asking what kind of space was available if they too wanted to move to Newark.

In response, the city and its economic development agency, Brick City Development Corporation, ramped up plans for a marketing campaign to highlight what development parcels and financial incentives are available. The program will launch this summer.

"This effort is about building momentum and bolstering Newark’s image, and sending the message that Newark is truly open for business," said Stefan Pryor, Newark’s deputy mayor for economic development.

"It may require a period of years, plural, to attract a significant new tenant," he added, "but we think the time to start this campaign is now."

The program will focus first on buildable land in the city’s central business district and port and industrial zones, and expand to include neighborhood commercial corridors, Pryor said. The group is finalizing site commitments from private landowners in the city. So far, the Berger Organization is offering three acres next to the New Jersey Transit Broad Street Station. Matrix Development Group, which is building Panasonic’s new 14-story headquarters at Two Riverfront Center, will market available space there and in One Riverfront Center at the intersection of Raymond Boulevard and McCarter Highway, as well as buildable land on the Passaic River waterfront. Developer Ron Beit said he will include a development site at the corner of Market and Washington streets.

Newark is among nine eligible cities for one of the state’s most lucrative financial incentives, the Urban Transit Hub tax credit. Panasonic leaders have said the move to Newark would not be possible without the $102.4 million tax credit it received, which requires it to bring at least 250 jobs to Newark, create 200 jobs and be located close to public transportation.

"This campaign by Brick City Development Corporation has the ability of jump-starting Newark’s transit hub development sites," said Miles Berger, CEO of the Berger Organization. "The various sites which qualify for the state transit hub tax package are certainly the best shot that Newark and developers have for attracting a major employer tenant to Newark."

City and state officials are reaching out to companies in the area, as well as nationwide and globally that they consider could be a good fit for the city. Part of the program will also target Newark’s existing, available office space for smaller companies that would not require ground-up development.

"And, we’re open for leads — we want to talk to anybody who might have an interest in the city of Newark," said Lyneir Richardson, CEO of the Brick City Development Corporation.

The campaign is important because it shows a proactive city government that is as serious about bringing new businesses to Newark as it is working with the firms that are already here, stakeholders said.

"Companies have different cultures, needs, and demands which all affect their real estate decisions," Beit said in an email. "By presenting a variety of sites, the development community and the city of Newark is maximizing the universe of companies and industries from which the city of Newark will draw its next Panasonic."

Sarah Portlock: (973) 392-5994 or

Alpharetta a hotbed for high-tech companies

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When Bob Trotter toured Alpharetta as a possible site for his company’s IT operation, he was struck by the miles of underground fiber-optic cable and a world-class broadband network.

But what really blew him away was what was above ground.

“If it was just technology, we’d have located to Chicago or Dallas,” said Trotter, North American president of ThyssenKrupp Corp.

Despite a dot-com drubbing and the worst recession in a generation, Alpharetta continues to lure high-tech companies during a time Georgia’s unemployment rate remains in double digits. One reason is Alpharetta’s commitment to developing its technology infrastructure like its nexus of fiber optic data lines.

But what distinguishes Alpharetta from other tech-wired cities, Trotter said, is its proximity to all the elements that contribute to an inviting lifestyle — good schools, good roads, access to university systems, quality housing, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

ThyssenKrupp, a German-based industrial conglomerate, invested a year researching 138 cities for its North American IT Shared Services operation. Its selection of Alpharetta in January will bring $30 million and 110 employees to the local economy.

“The board of directors — when I flew them in from Germany — they were extremely impressed,” Trotter said. “They actually said ‘Maybe this should be our world headquarters.’ They were that impressed.”

They’re not alone.

Seven of metro Atlanta’s top 25 technology employers call Alpharetta home. Close to 900 technology or tech-enabled companies are here, according to Technology Association of Georgia, a trade group that tracks the industry.

This year alone, tech companies have committed more than $125 million to expand or relocate businesses to the city, bringing nearly 300 jobs with them.

That’s good news to a city that leans heavily on its 
$2.5 billion commercial tax base to help fund its quality of life. Business property accounts for 55 percent of the city’s total tax digest, by far the highest proportion among north Fulton cities.

Even so, Alpharetta was not immune to the recession. The city lost more than 900 businesses from 2007 to 2008, and things only began turning around last year.

To sustain the rebound, city officials recently approved economic incentives to attract big employers. The package includes up to $25,000 worth of waivers in inspection and permit fees for companies meeting certain criteria of employment and size.

The action came after Alpharetta found itself losing out to cities like Dallas for major economic development projects. It was a gesture to let companies know Alpharetta was still in the game, said James Drinkard, assistant city manager and the city’s former economic development director.

Alpharetta got its edge 20 years ago when private groups invested in fiber optic cable, all of it secured in concrete. One project at North Point Mall, Drinkard said, had eight separate trunk lines feeding into it.

“You’ve got all these lines criss-crossing,” he said, “and the redundancy levels are insane.” If there’s one thing tech companies like, it’s redundancy, Drinkard said.

Another major factor that led to tech growth was the development and widening of Ga. 400 into an eight-lane super highway with limited access.

AT&T certainly thought highly of the highway when it moved to Alpharetta 20 years ago.

“[Alpharetta] offered ample space to develop an office campus, a good employee talent pool, and close proximity to major highways, retail and other conveniences,” said Joe Chandler, executive director of AT&T Strategic Communications.

With the residential and commercial growth that followed, Chandler said employees have enjoyed more conveniences in the way of restaurants and shopping.

Those conveniences attracted Tom and Bob Klein, co-founders of Digital Scientists, a digital marketing firm in Atlanta. The brothers opened a second office in downtown Alpharetta two years ago when their business grew too big for their Atlanta location.

They chose Alpharetta to offer employees a commuting option between Atlanta and the northern suburbs. It also allowed them to settle in the same neighborhood as their best potential clients.

“We felt comfortable there was a market up here for our services,” Bob said. “Sometimes people just walk in and ask directions. It’s definitely more folksy here.”

Tracy Chastain, senior vice president for human resources at McKesson Technology Solutions, one of metro Atlanta’s largest tech employers, thought enough of Alpharetta to relocate there from Lake Alatoona three years ago.

“I love being close to the office, and Alpharetta offers a lot of great places to go and see,” she said.

McKesson hired more than 600 new employees last year in metro Atlanta, including more than 60 straight out of college. About 40 percent of those came from Georgia schools.

Local business leaders are proud of the city’s status in the technology field, but they aren’t sitting pat.

The Alpharetta Development Authority, a quasi-government body composed of residents, is shelling out half of the $100,000 cost for a new economic development study for the city. That plan, which has been more than a year in the works, is due next month, said Michael Cross, development authority chairman.

Alpharetta understands it must tell its own story because there are obstacles beyond its control and beyond its borders for which it must account.

“Make no mistake, when the world hears we have this ongoing battle with Alabama and Florida over water rights, when the world hears about problems in the Atlanta Public Schools, it has an impact,” Drinkard said.

Alpharetta’s top employers

Attracted by bucolic settings, Alpharetta has been attracting both corporate headquarters and technology and health care firms. These are the city’s top employers.

Company Operation Employment

1. AT&T Inc. regional headquarters 5,000

2. Verizon Wireless regional headquarters 3,000

3. ADP Inc./
National Account Services regional headquarters 2,100

4. McKesson Provider 
Technologies headquarters 1,800

5. LexisNexis RIAG headquarters 1,100

Source: Georgia Power and the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Business activity 
in Alpharetta

One sign of a city’s commercial health is the number of business licenses it issues. Here is a look at business licenses issued in Alpharetta over the past 10 years.

Year Licenses Fees


2001 2,988 $634,598

2002 3,314 $653,296

2003 3,551 $648,579

2004 3,443 $678,887

2005 3,595 $754,394

2006 3,820 $800,687

2007 4,878 $855,692

2008 3,977 $904,375

2009 3,836 $872,391

2010 4,183 $936,927

Source: Alpharetta Department of Community Development

Friday, May 27, 2011

Economic Development Video Marketing Series Debuts

by Kara Clark

The Loudoun County Department of Economic Development debuted its seven-part video marketing series yesterday at a gathering of VIPs at George Washington University's Ashburn campus.

The seven videos were produced by Emmy award-winning company Electro-Fish Media, Inc. The videos describe Loudoun's competitive edge through the voice of nine local business leaders whose companies chose to locate in the county.

Featured in the videos are Michelle Frank of Orbital Sciences; Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars; David Carson of Neustar; Peter Weber of Carpathia Hosting; Juan Navarro of NIITEK; Ara Bagdasarian of Omnilert; Mary Ellen Taylor of Endless Summer Harvest; Kevin Grove of Quarter Branch Farm; and Kenneth Schreder of Rockwell Collins.

"We are pleased to have committed business evangelists in our community who are so willing to participate with us to bring our winning message to the world," Dorri Morin, communications manager for the Department of Economic Development, stated.

The first video available for public viewing is Loudoun's Competitive Edge: An Overview. It can be viewed online at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Plan needed to keep jobs in California

Cynthia Kurtz, Correspondent

YOU have likely heard that Texas is stealing California's businesses. Because Texas is creating jobs, they are also stealing many of our educated youth. Maybe the greatest loss to our state is educating the next generation of business owners and workers here then losing them to a competing state.

Now Texas is starting to get a little too blatant ... the Austin Chamber of Commerce has opened an office in Los Angeles. Dave Porter, senior vice president for the Austin Chamber says, "We typically take 10 to 12 marketing trips to California, and this year we decided to open an office in California for business development purposes.

"It will generate leads and respond quicker to leads. California is our greatest source of success, and we will continue this effort at least through this year."

I just returned from a few days in Dallas, Texas. While my trip had more to do with eating great barbecue than with economic development, I could not help noticing the miles of corporate campuses that line the highways. Each complex has large modern buildings, manicured landscaping, and is accessed from wide, clean streets free of potholes. You can certainly understand the appeal of Texas.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom recently led a bipartisan group of California officials to Texas to review their economic development efforts and learn about what they are doing to attract some of our best and brightest businesses and people.

He recently spoke about the trip and shared his conclusions with the board of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a consortium of business associations in L.A. County, including the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership.

Newsom agreed with many of the business representatives in the room when he said our regulations don't always make sense. He did not have to travel to Texas to learn that fact. He acquired it from his personal experiences as a business owner.

When he built a wine bar that was completely carpeted, the city still required him to install a mop sink. Since there was no mopping to be done, he planted flowers in the sink. Now it is one expensive planter, but Newsom said it did have good drainage.

Ironically, it was the sink incident that drove the him to become involved in government. He complained so much about the sink requirement that the powers at City Hall finally appointed him to a commission.

What he learned in Texas is that they are very organized and focused in what they do. They have a plan, they know where they want to go and they work together to implement that plan.

What about California? There is no California plan for economic development.

According to Newsom, there are 36 state agencies that "dabble" in job retention or job growth with their own ideas about what that means.

In his role as chair of the California Commission for Economic Development, Newsom has decided that there are two critical steps. First, we need an economic development plan that will strategically align economic development with work force development. A draft plan is currently being prepared and will be released in June.

Second, the plan must have focused leadership. He is working with Speaker Perez to initiate legislation that will organize the state's economic development agencies and activities under the Office of the Governor.

Cynthia Kurtz is the president and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. She can be reached at

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Economic pilfering

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorializes on the need for Indiana to join Illinois and Wisconsin in a regional economic development study and effort.

Berks County economic-development leaders silent on ‘Ride to Prosperity' progress

By Madelyn Pennino, staff writer

"The Ride to Prosperity" was supposed to be different.

It's one of many plans released in recent years, often with public funding, about how to attract business to the Reading area and retain what's already here.

Critics say that such efforts have been vague about responsibility for making the plans work.

This time, in the "Ride to Prosperity" document, the people in charge of carrying out the plan's ideas — and checking off a list of short-term goals — were clearly identified.

"Our effort differs from past strategies in its commitment to transparency and accountability," the report says. "Each working group is committed to publicly sharing its work plan, its progress to date, and areas where progress is faltering. Over the coming year, each working group will report their progress on a quarterly basis."

There is a Ride to Prosperity website, but if it includes quarterly reports, they are not easy to find.

The report states:

"As we begin this effort, each work group has developed top priority short-term action items that can be achieved in the coming year."

It listed the top action items:

• Establish a market in downtown Reading that can serve as a local hub for Latino entrepreneurs.

• Establish the WorkKeys certification system at three area high schools.

• Establish a new Berks Energy Industry Network to improve countywide business collaboration.

• Develop and market one to two smaller "shovel ready" sites.

• Develop and implement a new tourism marketing campaign to promote Greater Reading's arts and culture-related amenities.

But over the past few weeks, plan organizers would not say how "top priority short-term action items" are going.

Ellen Horan, president of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jon Scott, president and CEO of the Berks Economic Partnership; and Ed McCann, chief executive officer of the Berks County Workforce Investment Board, all declined to talk about short-term priority action items listed in the report.

Crystal Seitz, executive director of the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, was not available for comment. Glenn Knoblauch, executive director of the Berks County Planning Commission, did not provide information about the short-term action items.

Wait for our event June 9 to mark the one-year adoption of the plan, they said.

County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt said that the problem with plans like this, including the earlier Initiative for a Competitive Greater Reading (ICGR) and the Downtown 20/20 efforts, is that leaders lose interest in them.

"They are met with a lot of hullabaloo, but when the dust settles no one really seems to care," Barnhardt said. "These agencies have charged themselves and will make sure it gets done. ... As long as they don't go off on a tangent, I have good expectations."

On the other hand, Barnhardt believes it will take more than five years for all of the goals outlined in the plan to be met.

"I think we will see measurable results," Barnhardt said. "But we're not performing miracles. You don't see (trends) in graduation rates change in a couple of years. Those kinds of things take a decade or two."

Berks County Commissioner Mark Scott is less optimistic that this economic plan is going to be any different than previous efforts.

"I've become a little jaded over time with all of these studies," Scott said. "It's ambitious but unrealistic. The challenges this community faces are too great to solve in a short time. But there is nothing wrong with trying."

When the Ride to Prosperity report was released at a well-attended news conference June 17, Erik Pages, the high-power consultant who helped prepare the report, said that specific economic-development agencies are in charge of definite tasks and will report their progress regularly and publicly.

Pages has a doctorate from Georgetown University, was a Wilson High School graduate and was legislative director for former U.S. Rep. Gus Yatron and policy director for the National Commission on Entrepreneurship. His company, EntreWorks Consulting, is based in Alexandria, Va.

"I credit Erik," County Commissioner Christian Leinbach said at the presentation nearly a year ago. "It took a little bit of guts to say we're going to measure this."

Scott believes one of the tenets of the plan is flawed because entrepreneurship is not something that can be achieved by mere opportunity.

"Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They are risk takers. It is a cultural thing they have grown up with," Scott said. "You just don't pluck someone off of the street and say you should be an entrepreneur. You have to have the ingredients. Although education can already enhance what's already there."

He also said the city's 50 percent graduation rate is a huge problem and agrees with Barnhardt that it will take many, many years to fix.

"No economic-development organization can address the huge demographics of our local educational institutions," Scott said. "We know it's a problem. It's one thing to diagnosis it. It's another thing to have the ability to correct it."

What could start to make a positive difference in Berks County would be to start looking at major problems facing the state such as corporate taxation and the fact that Pennsylvania is a not a right-to-work state, Scott said.

"There's an incorrect perception that government creates jobs. Businesses and people create jobs," Scott said. "These factors determine whether businesses locate or expand their businesses here."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marine industry cluster idea gains steam in South Kitsap

By Rachel Pritchett

SOUTH KITSAP — Kitsap could be to the marine industry what Redmond is to computers.

That was the dream Port of Bremerton and county commissioners shared at a get-together Monday at the Trophy Lake Golf & Casting club.

The idea of forming a marine "industry cluster" took off like a water-skier in a no-wake zone, with everyone agreeing to take it a few steps further over the summer. At some point, they could maybe draw onboard the bigger port districts, the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, the Olympic Workforce Development Council and the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor & Convention Bureau.

"If you put a team together, you get things done," said port Commissioner Larry Stokes.

Under the idea that started with port Commissioner Bill Mahan, various economic-development groups would hire a consultant at about $198,000 to identify existing components of a marine industry cluster like boat manufacturers and a skilled marine workforce based on workers retiring out of the shipyard.

Following that would be a widespread marketing of Kitsap as the place to go for marine needs. That would attract more marine builders, services and suppliers, and build a bigger private employment base.

In the near term, it could be one more tool to convince restless port tenant Safe Boats International to stay in Kitsap. Its leaders believe too much distance separates it from its suppliers, Mahan said.

Kitsap County Commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Robert Gelder agreed with port commissioners to learn more about the concept over the summer. Garrido and Stokes will come up with some recommendations. Mahan agreed to get the industry-clusters consultants who recently addressed the port commission to speak to the county commissioners.

Mahan said Kitsap has the beginnings of a cluster now, with the naval bases, Safe Boats, Defiance Marine and Power Equipment, the marine engineering firm Art Anderson Associates and Leader International Corp., which makes marina parts, among other things.

"But I think it could be a lot more," he said.

The enthusiasm wasn't universally shared. One port commissioner later cautioned that promoting and building a bigger marine industry cluster can't be done just to keep an important port tenant in Kitsap.

"Anything that we do should be done for the public benefit," Roger Zabinskisaid.

Read more:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New website that brands Owensboro as college town touted as economic tool

OWENSBORO, Ky. — A new website that brands Owensboro as a safe and exciting college town is being touted as an economic marketing tool for the western Kentucky city. went live last week. The site is a collaborative effort between the four colleges that have campuses in the city — Western Kentucky University-Owensboro, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Community & Technical College and Brescia University.

Nick Brake, the president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., told The Messenger-Inquirer that the idea is to increase college enrollment to attract business, which in turn will keep more graduates in the area.

"Economic development has long been based on the location decisions of companies," Brake said. "The overall goal of our partnership is to focus on the location decisions made by college students and their parents."

He said educational attainment drives the new economy and the hope is to increase the community's college enrollment from 8.000 to 10,000.

The schools will is the website as their primary marketing tool to "Enroll, Engage and Employ" students who choose Owensboro.

"Our hope is that this initiative will help us work together as a region and recognize the role that higher education and a baccalaureate degree play in economic development," Brake said.

The website shows how the four colleges already have collaborated and provides an opportunity to continue those relationships, said Gene Tice, the campus director at WKU-Owensboro.

Leaders at the four institutions have met regularly for years.

"Parents are very interested in the community where their students will live," said Cheryl King, KWC's president. "This gives us a chance to showcase our community for its safety and amenities such as our emerging downtown which is exciting to students and to show that we are a community that will care about them."

Lyn Cooper, president and CEO of First Security Inc., said the partnership and website is a unique collaboration among the colleges and Economic Development Corp.

"It promotes knowledge of what we have in Owensboro," Cooper said. "And we especially like it because on one site, students and families can compare the institutions."

Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley argues for a change in economic development strategy

By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle

ROTHBURY — Lt. Gov. Brian Calley argued the case Friday morning for changing the rules for economic development in Michigan.

Calley laid out the Snyder administration strategy for “economic gardening” to Oceana County business and community leaders at the annual breakfast of the Oceana County Economic Development Corp. at the Double JJ Resort.

Gov. Rick Snyder's turnaround plan for Michigan began with budget and tax reforms now moving through the Legislature, he said. Those reforms support the governor's economic development strategy.

The concept is to stop putting so many of the state's economic development eggs in the basket of relocating big companies here and start tending to the growth of existing Michigan companies.

“I'm ready to embrace the future and believe in what Michigan can become,” Calley told the Oceana County leaders. “I see a future not based on incentives to bring in the big companies but build a system (of economic development) around those already getting the job done here.”

The case for “economic gardening” — supporting existing state businesses to expand and grow — is based upon a study of Michigan job growth during the expansion of the 1990s and the recession of the 2000s, Calley said. The difference between companies relocating to Michigan and those leaving the state resulted in a net job loss in both decades.

Working with start-up companies led to a net job gain in the 1900s but small business start-ups failed and led to a job loss in the 2000s, the lieutenant governor said. It was only in existing businesses that created a net gain in jobs over the two decades, even through the state recession the past 10 years, he said.

The state has spent too much time and money on chasing the big companies, he said. The tax incentives for out-of-state companies to relocate here has left existing businesses to pick up the tab, Calley said.

That is akin to a company charging its best customer more so that it can give a price discount to a new customer in hopes of gaining new business, he said. “It's been a spectacular failure,” Calley concluded.

The best way to help existing businesses expand and grow — along with helping start-ups and attracting relocating businesses — is to improve the overall business climate, he argued. That is what is behind Snyder's business tax reform of eliminating the Michigan Business Tax and imposing a simple, fair 6 percent tax on corporation profits, Calley said.

“It will be the simplest tax code in the nation,” Calley said of a tax program that eliminates future tax credits — a system that has cost state coffers $6.6 billion in potential revenue.

“We are taking the favoritism out of the system and going with the radical idea of treating everyone the same,” he continued. “We are done doing economic central planning. Statistics bear out this is the right strategy.”

But part of the tax reform is for the state to begin putting an income tax on pension income of senior citizens. As the population grows older, this is the fair approach to taking the tax burden off state businesses and young workers, Calley said.

“I'm not here to tell you these changes are easy but that this transformation will be hard,” Calley said of seeing multiple Lansing protests against Snyder's reform agenda.

As the tax and budget issues wind up in the Legislature, Calley said the next push by the Snyder administration will be for legislative approval of a plan to build a second Detroit River bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Calley said the controversial second bridge will remove a restriction on Michigan exports to Canada in a deal that will not cost the taxpayers of Michigan a dime.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Study to assess benefits of economic cooperation between Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune reporter

Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin are clawing at each other in the battle for corporate investment. So it may seem an odd time to engage in an in-depth study on how the three states can work together as a region to pull themselves out of their economic doldrums.

But, in fact, a prestigious international organization representing 34 industrialized nations is embarking on just such an assessment.

Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose predecessor fostered the rebuilding of Europe after World War II, is conducting an 18-month assessment of how the stalled region can better compete in the global economy. Findings from the nearly $500,000 project are due in the first quarter of 2012.

Lance Pressl, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation, acknowledged that the level of interstate hostility has risen sharply since it planted the seeds for the project three years ago. But, he said, the study should produce a roadmap for economic growth that will serve for the next decade or two, during which time the political landscape can change.

"We don't have to all sing 'Kumbaya' around the campfire, but for a very practical reason, if we are interested in boosting our competitiveness and our level of prosperity in the region, we have to take steps," Pressl said. "Not to do it would be short-sighted."

After robust economic growth from the late 1980s through the '90s, the region has lagged the nation for much of the last decade, noted Frank Beal, executive director of Metropolis Strategies, a business-led civic organization. "It's an erosion that's troubling. We have wonderful assets, but the trends seem headed in the wrong direction."

Notably absent from the roster of organizations supporting the OECD study is the state of Indiana, which has been aggressively pitching for Illinois businesses, with its "Illinnoyed" ad campaign and the recent lowering of its corporate income tax.

"We don't do studies, we do deals," said Indiana Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob.

But the chamber foundation does have the cooperation of the states of Illinois and Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, a Milwaukee commerce association and two Indiana business development organizations. And observers say the project could be a valuable addition to myriad economic studies and rankings that stop at the state lines.

"We've got two or three state lines that block any sort of joint action on marketing ourselves, on infrastructure, environment, planning for education, on tax harmonization, on anything that would enable us to really leverage our strengths." said Richard C. Longworth, author of "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism."

For instance, the region is "held together by its mutual reliance on water, and I'm sure water resources will be one of our biggest money spinners of the future," said Longworth, who also is a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "But we're not thinking about it together."

There are more than 80 organizations in the region engaged in economic development issues, Beal said.

"There's a thousand blooming flowers, but no larger perception of where we need to go," he said.

Teams of experts will size up the region, ranging from metro Milwaukee through LaPorte County, Ind., in five areas: innovation capacity, green technology, workforce capabilities, transportation/logistics and global activity, from imports and exports to direct foreign investment. The first visit was in March; the next will be the week of June 20.

The OECD has conducted 25 similar studies in other multicity regions globally and will compare the tri-state area to those locales. The tri-state study is the first of its kind in the United States.

The organization "has a broad knowledge bank on what works," said Karen Kornbluh, U.S. ambassador to the OECD.

The study and its associated expenses will be funded by a number of grants, the two largest from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, for $239,500, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, for $100,000. A Motorola foundation, Boeing Co. and Commonwealth Edison also contributed, as did the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The Chicago planning agency came out with its own regional plan for northern Illinois last year, and this study should build upon that, Pressl said.

Pressl acknowledged that "every study risks being placed on a shelf and ignored." But, he said, he's hoping the credibility of the OECD will carry enough weight to have policymakers take notice.

"The whole world will be watching," he said.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Development Official Touts Region

Managing Editor
The Evening Leader

ST. MARYS — A local economic development official says he believes a recent trip to the Windy City will help spur growth in the region.

St. Marys Development Manager Todd Fleagle, along with a contingent of economic development officials from Auglaize County, attended a conference May 4 and 5 in Chicago. The event, Fleagle noted, was geared toward meeting with site selection consultants in hopes of getting the region on the radar of companies looking to expand.

“Site selection consultants are nationwide consultants and know the companies and manufacturers that may be considering expansion,” Fleagle said. “They work with them on what they may be doing in the future.”

The contingent traveled to Chicago to sell the region. Fleagle said officials touted Ohio’s tax reforms regarding businesses as well as the region’s labor force.

“We need to get our name out there and the regional assets that we have to offer to new businesses,” Fleagle said. “We have to promote the state and our region and as they look, we are getting our faces and names out there that this is a good place to invest in.”

Dealing with site selection consultants is more common now than a decade ago. Fleagle said the consultants help narrow options for end-users.

“I’d say 75 to 80 percent of the larger projects use site selection consultants,” Fleagle said. “Before, it was the opposite.”

Rural areas have assets that large metropolitan regions lack, Fleagle said. These benefits often attract large companies.

“We have an outstanding quality of life,” Fleagle said. “We tell them this region has an attendance rate of 97 percent and a graduation rate of 98 to 99 percent — that’s unheard of and something we need to promote. We have a lot of large corporations that have established operations here.”

The city has an option on 32.2 acres of land along McKinley Road for possible development. The parcel is zoned for industrial use.

“It’s shovel ready,” Fleagle said. “It’s got utilities all there.”

To help promote the site, Fleagle uses the city’s website to get information out to site selection consultants.

“When we are talking with them, a lot of times they don’t have time to look at printed material so the companies look at the website,” Fleagle said. “They need it dialed down for their questions that they may have regarding the project.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Jersey vs. New York City in economic race

Gov. Chris Christie is staging raids across the Hudson, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have the better strategy.

By Daniel Massey
Crain's New York Business

When a battle erupted in 1987 between officials in New York and New Jersey over repositioning the Statue of Liberty, Mayor Ed Koch said the landmark would “stand exactly where she has stood for 100 years ... facing us and showing another side of her personality to New Jersey.''

It wasn't the first fight between New York and its neighbor, nor was it the last. Battles over commuter taxes date back to the 1960s. More recently, a standoff between the Pataki and Whitman administrations virtually paralyzed the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and former Gov. Jon Corzine called Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan an “outrageous action.”

Now, as the New York area struggles to recover following the Great Recession, tensions are again mounting between the neighbors. New Jersey, which was less-prepared for the downturn, was hit harder than New York City. Its recovery has also been more tepid than its cross-river rival.

Desperate to revive the Garden State's economy, Gov. Chris Christie has launched what many say is an unprecedented attempt to lure businesses—some of them based in New York—and to keep others from leaving. Meanwhile, he killed the ARC train tunnel, claiming that New York wasn't paying its fair share, and then grabbed Port Authority funds previously earmarked for the project to fix New Jersey roads instead.

“The typical economic-development contests between the states are playing out in a situation where the overall economy, particularly in New Jersey, desperately needs new jobs and new investment, given the severity of the recession,” said Joseph Seneca, an economics professor at Rutgers University. “The competition between the states will only continue to intensify.”

Mr. Christie kept the city from poaching Panasonic's North American headquarters from New Jersey by offering $102 million in subsidies. He is reportedly dangling some $200 million to entice the Hunts Point produce market—double what the city and New York state have offered to keep it in the Bronx, though officials here are working to sweeten the package.

Corporate subsidies hit $1B mark
Faced with a 9.3% unemployment rate and an economy that has netted only 4,000 additional jobs since employment bottomed out in February 2010, Mr. Christie has wielded tax incentives at a dizzying pace in an effort to create and retain jobs.

He recently agreed to revive the beleaguered Xanadu shopping mall project with a $200 million subsidy, dish out $261 million to an unfinished Atlantic City casino, award $16 million to keep Bayer in the state and fork over $12.3 million to Citigroup to expand its offices in Jersey City. In the 16 months since he took office, Mr. Christie has approved $1 billion in subsidies.

“Christie is a believer in ... corporate subsidies at the expense of teachers, fire and police,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, and one of Trenton's most dogged lobbyists. “He's using the recession as cover to take care of special interests.”

Mr. Christie is doling out incentives at a time when officials in New York City are largely shunning the outright corporate giveaways that were popular under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In 2001, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told The New York Times, “Any company that makes a decision as to where they are going to be based on the tax rate is a company that won't be around very long.” And, while handing out subsidies for development, the mayor has generally not played the relocation-subsidy game. He has chosen to focus his economic development strategy on diversifying the city's job pool, fostering entrepreneurship and improving quality of life.

“Rather than competing dollar for dollar with other cities' incentives, we're confident that our strategy of investing taxpayer monies in maintaining the city as a place that businesses want to locate will ensure the greatest return in the long term,” said a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp.

It's a policy that good-government groups of all political stripes typically approve of. New Jersey's tactics, on the other hand, are under fire.

“If all this largesse is working, where are the jobs?” asked Deborah Howlett, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Compare New Jersey's recovery to the nation's. When Christie took charge, we were roughly even, and now we're lagging behind.”

Caren Franzini, chief executive of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said that Mr. Christie has succeeded in overhauling the state's economy. Subsidies are only a piece of Mr. Christie's strategy. The plan has also included changing the state's corporate sales tax structure, allowing small businesses to transfer losses between companies, capping property taxes, freezing business and income taxes, and cutting red tape.

“What Chris Christie is all about and very focused on is growing jobs in New Jersey,” Ms. Franzini said. “We don't start out with incentives. That's when you're going into the end of negotiations. No. 1 was creating a friendly tax environment for businesses to do business.”

Ms. Franzini said that “not a dime” of the promised incentives has been given out, since the projects have to be built, jobs have to be created and taxes have to be collected before tax breaks kick in. The subsidies offered since 2010 would create an estimated 11,800 jobs.

Subsidies aren't the only thing causing tensions between New York and New Jersey. Mr. Christie has made controversial moves regarding transportation to help plug gaping budget gaps and pay for projects that New Jersey would otherwise be unable to afford.

Tunnel vision
Most notably, he killed ARC, incensing New York elected officials such as Sen. Charles Schumer, and advocates who view the project as vital to the region's economic growth. He upset them further by getting the Port Authority to agree to channel $1.8 billion that it had planned to spend on the tunnel to four state road-repair projects.

A month before axing the tunnel, Mr. Christie held the World Trade Center redevelopment hos-tage by tying a $1 billion financing agreement to the approval of $1 billion in funding to raise the deck of the Bayonne Bridge. And before 2010 ended, he rejected a proposal to spend Port Authority money to fix the Tappan Zee Bridge, which needs $16 billion in repairs, telling New York to “stop screwing with us.”

“The whole concept of the Port Authority as a bistate agency is nonexistent right now,” said one insider.

The time-honored practice of interstate warfare, however, is alive and well.

A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2011 print issue of Crain's New York Business.

Florida has 'a reputation for being business friendly' since Gov. Scott took office

Dusty Ricketts
Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — Gov. Rick Scott pledged to make Florida more business-friendly when he took office in January.

According to local economic development officials, he is doing just that.

“Since January I have responded to and seen more inquiries about Northwest Florida than I’ve seen in a few years, and it’s from major corporations,” said Shannon Ogletree, associate director of TEAM Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa County’s economic development council. “Before, large companies were not looking our way. They thought the regulatory process and just getting incentives, they didn’t think we had a pro business state, and now that has really changed with Gov. Scott at the helm.”

Scott has pledged to bring 700,000 new jobs to Florida in seven years. To help get there, several bills were approved in the recent legislative session to make it easier for businesses to relocate, expand or open in the state. Those include small business and property tax cuts, government restructuring to reduce the amount of time needed to approve or deny economic development initiatives and new incentives for high-wage research and development jobs.

Larry Sassano, president of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, said Scott’s plan is to make Florida the most business-friendly state in the country.

“That is a hefty goal. To do that you have to have the incentives,” Sassano said. “Those don’t just mean those dollar incentives. That means the ability to reduce the time it takes for a company to receive its approval for permitting and regulatory issues, and he’s put that into place. That’s a very important tool.

“It’s a dollar tool in terms of how the businesses look at it because it saves them time in starting their business, and time is money,” he added.

Sassano believes Scott’s work has been successful so far. He said he has talked with a Baltimore-based company that is planning to expand. Although the company has looked at several states, Sassano said he believes the company will choose Okaloosa County for its next expansion.

Scarlett Phaneuf, executive director of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance, said the measures Scott is taking to streamline the process for businesses have been effective.

“We’re already gaining more of a reputation for being business friendly and there seems to a lot more energy,” Phaneuf said. “Florida already has wonderful name recognition throughout the nation and throughout the globe, and now that we have a pro-business governor … I think that reputation will only increase and that will make our job easier when we go to call on companies and they’ve heard about the wonderful changes that we’re making.

“He’s making it easier to have one point of contact for all of those different agencies, reducing regulation, lessening of taxes and regulation measures to spur development and create competitive advantages for us to recruit companies, but also for us to be able to retain our current businesses,” she added.

All three local economic development agencies are working on projects to bring new businesses to the area.

The Walton County Economic Development Alliance has responded to request for proposals from about 12 companies since the beginning of the year, and Phaneuf said it is in serious talks with about half of them now. One of those is a technology company that would create 30 jobs in three years in South Walton. The alliance also talking to prospective tenants for the Northwest Florida Commerce Park in Mossy Head and the Walton County Industrial Park in Freeport.

Okaloosa’s EDC has 37 active projects, with about 20 percent of them requiring weekly or even daily meetings. If that 20 percent all comes to the county, that would create nearly 1,900 new high-wage jobs over the next two to three years.

TEAM Santa Rosa is currently in serious talks with roughly 15 companies to move to or expand in Santa Rosa County.

“(Scott is) doing a really good job of getting the word out and talking to companies, letting them know that they should look at Florida for job generation,” Ogletree said. “In the past, it wasn’t as strong.”

McDonnell: Asian marketing mission accomplished


Gov. Bob McDonnell says he expects a marketing mission to Asia to produce several economic development announcements in the coming weeks.

McDonnell has spent the past week meeting with business leaders, CEOs and government officials in Japan and China, and is heading to South Korea today.

While in Asia this week he announced the opening of a Virginia economic development office in Shanghai, China.

"We're very excited about that; it will give us an opportunity for a Virginia presence," McDonnell said from Beijing in a conference call with reporters Friday.

In a written release earlier in the week announcing the Shanghai trade office, McDonnell said Virginia has lagged in developing trade relations with China.

"We must tap into the Chinese market if we want to be successful in today's global economy," McDonnell said. "Unfortunately, Virginia has failed to properly devote resources in recent years to market to China, putting us behind other states in competing for investment opportunities. That is no longer the case."

China has become Virginia's second-largest export destination, with the state sending $1.17 billion in exports there in 2009.

In the phone call, McDonnell said the trade trip has gone well so far, and that business leaders in China and Japan have been eager to talk about business opportunities in Virginia. He said he held three roundtable meetings with 50 different business prospects over the last few days. Many of those businesses deal with agricultural, manufacturing and electrical products, he said.

In talking to Chinese business owners, McDonnell said he has stressed Virginia's business-friendly climate, recent tax incentives approved by the legislature, and the potential of the state's ports.

"They're very anxious to work with Virginia, they like our pro-business policies, they like the fact we've got our business open here," McDonnell said. "I'm very encouraged. I'm pleasantly surprised at the willingness of China to open up to free markets and do business with us here in Virginia."

He also said Chinese companies are more open to moving manufacturing to Virginia, because it can be costly to ship China-made products to the U.S.

McDonnell said Chinese leaders appreciate "the fact that we're here looking people in the eye."

He expects to make announcements about some new trade agreements soon.

"I am very confident that we will have some very good announcements that we can make to the people of Virginia about the results of this trip," McDonnell said. "Virginia stands to benefit from its great location in the middle of the Atlantic [seaboard], its proximity to D.C. and frankly its great reputation."

Before going to China, McDonnell visited Japan, conducting the same types of meetings.

Japan has been one of the Top 10 in terms of countries to which Virginia exports, although some exports to that country have been in decline.

Still, McDonnell said more than 120 Japanese companies do business in Virginia--the state has had a trade office there since 1981--and he hopes to see similar success in other countries.

McDonnell's visit to South Korea today will be the last leg of his trip. In 2010, Virginia sent $379 million worth of exports to South Korea.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

Saturday, May 14, 2011


2011 could go down as a watershed year in Colorado Springs, predict civic and business leaders who went on an economic development scouting trip to Oklahoma City earlier this month.

Participants returned home fired up and ready for change, as a result of the third annual “Regional Leaders Trip.”

The mission of the jaunt: Learn how another U.S. city went from a no-man’s land to a thriving metropolis and figure out what can be applied here.

Now, a movement to create a new vision for Colorado Springs is afoot.

Fifty representatives from the city and El Paso County, business groups, think tanks and sectors such as health care, real estate, sports, banking, the arts and education met with community leaders and visited strategic sites to learn about Oklahoma City’s economic development success story. (See the list of participants at the end of this article.)

In the last two decades, that city has added 600 employers and built a wealth of downtown attractions, including a man-made canal and river walk, a baseball park, a sports arena, a library and a transit system. A penny sales tax (per $1 spent) paid for much of the revitalization projects, along with some private contributions and existing budgets.

Now, Oklahoma City has one of the strongest economies in the nation and the lowest unemployment rate for a major metropolitan area, 5.2 percent — nearly half the rate in El Paso County.

Key findings from the trip are written on a poster in Dave Csintyan’s office at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, which organized the trip.

First, you gotta have a vision, and Csintyan, the chamber’s president and chief executive, thinks the stars above Colorado Springs are aligning for that to happen.

“The timing is perfect,” he said. “Oklahoma City had a wake-up call in the early 1990s when United Airlines decided not to locate there, even after the city offered them $100 million. The reason was the executives didn’t want to live there.

“We have a wake-up call in Colorado Springs right now — high unemployment.”

Csintyan points to new city leadership as a sign of hope and motivation for change. And it’s one of the steps Oklahoma City officials pinpoint as crucial for job growth: Identify a pressing need, have a visionary leader to guide the way, build a unified front among community leaders, make sure the goal is realistic and deliver what’s promised.

“It’s not so much the brick-and-mortar as it is the attributes that form the ability to achieve that grand vision — the high sense of inclusion and having someone people respect out front,” Csintyan said.

It’s also not so much about how to fund the vision, Csintyan said. Like Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City voters had a history of defeating proposed tax increases. But city officials there figured out how to change their minds by packaging multiple projects under a finite tax.

“Having a vision sets the conditions to go where we want to go, whether it’s a sales tax increase or property tax increase or no increase,” Csintyan said.

Chamber officials plan to hold a de-briefing for trip participants and host a public session in coming weeks.

“There’s a change in community conversation. Cynicism is being tossed away, which is creating an environment for possibilities,” said Stephannie Finley, president of governmental affairs and public policy for the chamber.

Colorado Springs already has what other cities yearn for: an abundance of natural beauty, amiable weather and outdoor activities, she said. What’s missing, Finley said, is the right environment for progress.

“The three communities we’ve studied (Oklahoma City, Charlotte, N.C. and Austin, Texas) were successful because their leadership came together. So how do we get that? It’s got to be a No. 1 priority among our electeds, the appointeds and the business community,” she said.

Comments about the Oklahoma City “Regional Leaders Trip,” from participants

“It’s clear that when a community rallies around something they can get a lot done. The need for jobs drove Oklahoma City’s investment in infrastructure. We could do a better job as a region of getting behind and supporting job attraction and retention.

“I think it’ll be difficult to lay out something here that gets voter support. But once voters understand the need and have it clearly articulated with specific objectives and outcomes, they have, in the past, supported those kinds of things.

“Part of it’s timing, part of it is doing the best we can with what we have first. The city and county already are embarking on a shared resources effort, and that’s refreshing.

“It was good to see how people deal with the same challenges we have. There usually are no new ideas, but there are ideas you take and modify them to fit your community.”
— Mike Kazmierski, president, Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.

“We have a wonderful community, but jobs are key to everyone’s quality of life, and we need more of them. We need to focus our communal energy to retain talent and leverage our natural assets to attract new young professionals.

“It may seem like Oklahoma City has as a lot of money because of the oil industry. But they made a concerted effort to diversity with sports, water features, higher education, health care, to make sure their economy isn’t solely dependent on one source.

“It’s really invaluable to look at best practices — that’s Community Building 101.”
— Amanda Mountain, regional director of Rocky Mountain PBS and general manager of KTSC

“We do a lot of things right. We need to fill in the gaps. Part of it is marketing. Part of it is a regional effort. I’d like to see us dust off old plans from the past to incorporate Fountain Creek into development. I’d like to see us work on marketing our Olympic ties better and move forward with a brand. One thing Oklahoma City and Colorado Springs have in common is that the states are part of both cities’ names, and I think we should capitalize on that. I look forward to the county participating in that branding process that the convention and visitors’ bureau is leading.”
— El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark

List of participants

-- Lisa Abuso, Colorado Technical University

-- Jan Bonham, Express Employment Professionals

-- Ron Butlin, The Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs

-- Mike Cafasso, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

-- Randy Case, Case International Company

-- Debbie Chandler, Colorado Springs Health Partners

-- Bill Cherrier, Colorado Springs Utilities

-- Commissioner Sallie Clark, El Paso County

-- Steve Cox, City of Colorado Springs

-- Dave Csintyan, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce

-- Dirk Draper, CH2M Hill

-- Susan Edmondson, Bee Vradenburg Foundation

-- Stephannie Finley, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce

-- Toby Gannett, Palisades at Broadmoor Park

-- Jeff Green, El Paso County

-- Chris Jenkins, Nor'wood Development

-- Mike Kazmierski, Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.

-- Pam Keller, Keller Homes

-- Nancy Lewis, LH Holdings

-- Commissioner Peggy Littleton, El Paso County

-- Councilwoman Jan Martin, City of Colorado Springs

-- Vicki Mattox, StifelNicolaus

-- Alicia McConnell, United States Olympic Committee

-- Christina McGrath, Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region

-- Mary Ellen McNally, Community Advocate

-- Chris Melcher, Colorado College

-- Carm Mocerti, Memorial Health System

-- C.J. Moore, Kaiser Permanente

-- Amanda Mountain, Rocky Mountain PBS - KTSC

-- Chuck Murphy, Murphy Construction

-- Donna Nelson, Security Service Federal Credit Union

-- Nathan Newbrough, Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra

-- Sherri Newell, Colorado Springs Utilities

-- Michael Pennnica, Pennica Financial Group

-- Doug Price, Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak

-- Doug Quimby, La Plata Investments

-- Dee Rogers Brown, Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

-- Dave Rose, El Paso County

-- Steve Rothstein, The Colorado Springs Service Center Project

-- Margaret Sabin, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

-- B.J. Scott, Peak Vista Community Health Centers

-- Randy Scott, Southern Colorado Business Partnership

-- Peter Scoville, Cushman & Wakefield

-- Steve Self, BBVA Compass Bank

-- Rod Slyhoff, Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

-- Fred Veitch, Nor'wood Development

-- Sandy Wenger, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce

-- Councilwoman Brandy Williams, City of Colorado Springs

-- Martin Wood, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

-- Henry Yankowski, Pikes Peak Regional Building Development

Read more:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Headed the wrong way on destructive Missouri-Kansas border war

Kansas City Star Editorial:

The economic development border war between Kansas City and the state of Kansas is promoting the kind of competition that could be mutually destructive. Yet everyone feels forced to play the game, even if it’s not rational.

Mayor Sly James this week entered the fray, pledging that Kansas City would fight back against efforts to poach its businesses. That was a shot at Kansas, which rewards some companies for moving a few miles over the state line.

Kansas City officials hope that Missouri soon will offer its own incentive program to reward companies that are threatening to move a few miles to Kansas.

Unfortunately, the net economic result of all the recent publicly subsidized activity has been pretty much a big, fat zero for the region.

And have we mentioned yet that neither state is exactly flush with cash right now? Both have slashed funds for schools and social services, even while handing over millions of public dollars to private corporations.

James this week also helped kick off an effort to retain businesses in the city. That will entail a lot of effort by local corporate leaders and some politicians to keep their ears to the ground and find out when businesses are thinking of expanding or possibly leaving. Then economic development officials supposedly should be able to swoop in and help find ways to keep the businesses in Kansas City. Sounds good, unless a lot more public incentives are involved.

In his remarks, James pointed out that Kansas City, as well as Overland Park, Olathe and other area cities on both sides of the state line, ought to be competing to attract companies from other states. That would bring real economic growth to the region, with new jobs and homeowners.

Seventeen top area business leaders recently signed a sensible letter asking Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to help halt the use of unreasonable incentives. That’s a powerful, positive message worth heeding. Both states should prohibit lavish subsidies just to shuffle businesses from one side of the state line to the other.

Read more:

Porsche's move revs up Atlanta's image

By Michael E. Kanell
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Porsche just gave Atlanta’s image a bit of a spit polish.

The decision to build a $100 million complex on the grounds of the former Ford assembly plant in Hapeville is not only a glitzy marketing move for the German carmaker, experts said, it is also a shiny endorsement of the city and state.

“This has marquee value,” said Don McEachern, president of North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, a company that offers advice on reputations to cities. “It speaks volumes about Atlanta. You get the Porsche name and brand. You get the halo effect. It is nothing but good.”

And with Georgia still shakily emerging from a painful recession, Porsche provides more marketing glow for luring other companies to the area.

The project, announced days ago, will shift two offices from elsewhere in metro Atlanta – including Porsche’s North American headquarters – as well as an office currently in Chicago. It will also include “an experience center” – a test track – on 19 acres on the site, which is virtually next door to Hartsfield-Jackson.

The news highlights the region’s strengths: a deep talent pool, corporate diversity, the use of tax benefits for footloose companies and – perhaps most critically – access to the world’s busiest airport.

“It demonstrates the advantages that we have versus other cities in having Hartsfield-Jackson Airport,” said Ken Bernhardt, marketing professor at Georgia State University. “If you’ve got to go to Germany regularly – or elsewhere in Europe or to Latin America – what a great place to be.”

The company will get roughly $14 million in state and local incentives – along with a spot that is high-profile from both air and land: Passengers on many flights get a close glimpse of the site as planes land, while millions of drivers pass each year on nearby I-75.

Government officials routinely toss millions of dollars in tax breaks to induce companies to move here. Those decisions shift the burden of paying for government to other taxpayers, although government officials maintain that long-term compensation comes in hiring and overall growth.

Deals like the one with Porsche – which was after all, already in Georgia – proclaim the willingness of government to offer business incentives. Yet experts say the perks aren’t as persuasive as the actions of corporate peers.

“Headquarters do not want to be trailblazers,” said Mark Sweeney, a principal in McCallum Sweeney Consulting of Greenville, S.C., which advises companies. “One of the very early screening factors is: who else is there? What other headquarters are there?”

And Atlanta, once known merely as the home of Coca-Cola, now boasts a slew of large companies, many enticed away from other American cities. Among the recent arrivals are Newell Rubbermaid and NCR.

Porsche’s project “is not as impactful as if they were relocating here from somewhere else, but it is definitely reaffirming,” said Jonathan Sangster, senior managing director at CBRE Consulting in Atlanta, which counsels companies on site selection. “This clearly reinforces Atlanta as a headquarters city.”

Porsche’s choice is another embrace of metro Atlanta’s business climate, said Jeff Humphries, director of the Selig Center for Growth at the University of Georgia. “Companies don’t come to Atlanta for natural amenities like a coastline. Companies put their headquarters in Atlanta for dollars and cents reasons.”

Porsche looked at about 70 sites before settling on Hapeville, said spokesman Steve Janisse.

The company wanted to build a complex, to combine different corporate groups, to construct a test track to help sell cars – and to have quick access to an international airport, he said.

Yet when it comes to selling the state and city, officials reach for more than just bottom-line concerns, experts say.

In economic terms, the Ford plant was a greater force than Porsche is likely ever to be. At its peak, Ford employed more than 3,000 workers while buying many supplies locally. In contrast, Porsche is promising to ramp up eventually to 400 employees.

Yet Porsche can be “leveraged” in ways that Ford could not, experts say.

First, a corporate headquarters is more of a magnet to other white-collar moves than manufacturing. State officials say they’re glad to have an association with a vehicle noted for its high performance.

“I think it will be something that we can sell,” said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Porsche’s name is synonymous with quality and excellence.”

Second, with prices ranging up to $245,000 a car, Porsche links Atlanta to a brand that has some flash, said marketing professor Bernhardt. “When you tell people that you drive a Porsche, they look at you differently. Porsche is a cool brand.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Business leaders oppose cuts to economic office

By Cheryl Mattix
Cecil Whig

Business leaders in Cecil County oppose cuts to the county's Department of Economic Development, saying a recession is not the time to cut this effort.

Several business supporters are expected to testify today at two public hearings on the proposed $162 million county operating budget that trims spending and maintains a constant yield tax rate.

Cecil County commissioners are proposing to cut the economic development office's request by $110,610, targeting the elimination of a marketing specialist position, $22,500 membership dues in the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and $27,500 in additional miscellaneous cuts.

Tom Sadowski, president and CEO of the EAGB, is scheduled to talk to commissioners today during a work session to explain the value of a membership.

"What message does this send to other members of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore if Cecil County cuts its membership?" asked Carl Roberts, a member of the Cecil County Economic Development Commission.

Roberts and several other EDC members expressed their outrage last week that the county is contemplating elimination of this membership and economic development marketing as ways to trim the budget this year.

"This is penny-wise and pound foolish," Roberts said of the $22,500 cut. "This is an example of not understanding our future."

Director of Economic Development Vernon Thompson told the EDC last week that the county worked hard to get a membership in this organization that he describes as a valuable marketing tool.

"We have more in common with Baltimore than we do with Kent and Queen Anne's counties," Roberts said.

Commissioner Robert Hodge, who attended last week's EDC meeting along with Commissioner Tari Moore, told Roberts that former board President Brian Lockhart and current President Jim Mullin don't attend the meetings, so the membership hasn't been taken advantage of by the board.

"Shame on us," Roberts said. "Not taking advantage of this is a reason to re-focus efforts, not cut," he said.

EDC members told Mike Ratchford, a W.L. Gore Associate and chairman of the EDC, to send a letter to commissioners supporting funding the marketing position and the membership in the EAGB.

Paula Gilley, a member of the Board of Realtors and EDC, said the Board of Realtors is also in support of the full budget request for the office of economic development.

Gary Stewart of Stewart Properties, a development and investment company, said the budget being proposed by the county commissioners sends a mixed message.

"They say they want business development, yet they don't support it in their budget," Stewart said.

"You just don't cut economic development in a recession," he said.

Hodge reminded EDC members that the county has a limited pot of money to work with and they are not going to raise taxes.

"It's unrealistic for you to believe you'll get everything you want," he said.

N.J. out to prove it’s friendly to business

The Record

The head of the agency charged with bringing business from around the world to New Jersey told an international trade conference Wednesday that concerns about the state's business climate are all in the mind.

Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, said the state merely needs to position itself to capitalize on strengths. Speaking at the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel in East Rutherford, Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, said the state merely needs to position itself to capitalize on strengths such as the ports, workforce, access to capital and quality of life.

"New Jersey really doesn't have a reality problem," McDaniel told the 350 business people at the Gateway to International Trade conference. "It has a perception problem. And it's time to change that ... New Jersey has all the ingredients an international company needs to be successful."

McDaniel outlined strategies she and the state are pursuing to transform the negative perception, among them the creation in June of her own agency, a non-profit organization funded with $7 million in corporate donations.

Governor Christie created the agency, and appointed McDaniel to lead it in December, to promote the state to businesses across the nation and the world.

The conference came less than a week after the release of an annual survey conducted by Florida-based Chief Executive magazine that ranked New Jersey 47th as a place to do business. The state held the same position in the magazine's surveys in 2010 and in 2009, the last year of Governor Jon Corzine's tenure.

Business leaders have for years said the state is unfriendly to business, and Christie, since taking office 16 months ago, has made it a top priority to improve the business climate. But the poll, based on the responses of 550 CEOs, showed that Christie's efforts have yet to make an impression.

McDaniel said it will be her job to change that.

"I think the opportunity for us to move that needle is occurring," said McDaniel, who noted earlier that she had been in her position only 99 days. "It's not going to happen overnight.

"There is always a default to old tapes - people say the same things over and over again, and it kind of gets stuck there, that repeat," she said. "We are going to have to change it."

She told that conference that the New Jersey, through aggressive improvement of its ports, is primed to take advantage of changes that are expected to see the movement of cargo around the world "nearly triple in the next 20 years."

These changes include state initiatives to deepen the ports and find waterfront sites for expansion and development. She said that one in five jobs in the state "depend on trade."

Choose New Jersey has already completed a series of strategic plans - for 90 days, six months and 12 months - and is conducting a survey of 4,000 executives outside of New Jersey, soliciting their perceptions of the state. The agency is also studying New Jersey's strengths and weaknesses, in comparison to other states, and identifying fast-growing industries, she said.

The results of those efforts be used to create a "Choose New Jersey brand" and a marketing plan, for release in September, she said. And she asked those present for their input, too.

"Collaboration is one of the key elements needed for successful economic development efforts. So I want to hear your thoughts," said McDaniels, before reading out her e-mail address. "If you woke up this morning and you were the CEO of Choose New Jersey, what would you do?"


Monday, May 09, 2011

Are Your Marketing and Communication Efforts Ethical? Consider These Six Aspects

By Ed Burghard, Executive Director, Ohio Business Development Coalition

How do you know if your economic development communications are ethical or unethical, and why isn’t the concept of caveat emptor (buyer beware) sufficient? These are important questions in our profession, and the answers aren’t always easy. Professional ethics is a matter of both moral and legal considerations.

In the world of economic development communication it can quickly get confusing if we let the desire to win compromise our ethics. Most everyone in the field wants to do the right thing – the real challenge is to understand what that right thing is.

To illustrate the complexities of ethical communication in economic development, below are six areas in which it may be most common to cross an ethical line.

1. Truth. You would expect it easy to describe what "truth" means. But truth can be interpreted in different ways (relative versus absolute, as one example). When it comes to economic development communication, the legal definition is the most appropriate: "The actual state of things, a completely accurate account of the facts." Take a look at the printed material you are using as handouts to describe your community. Ask yourself: Are they truthful?

2. Claim substantiation. A statement can be false in different ways – it can be false on its face, or implicitly false. The first is easier to identify than the second. An implicitly false claim is one in which you imply something is true, but don’t come right out and say it directly. Another way of thinking about it is as creating a false impression. So, what you don’t say might be as important as what you do say.

3. Use of rankings. In economic development, rankings are used often to provide a reason to believe a community is a good choice for capital investment. But rankings can be misused. A community may rank low in violent crime, but high in robbery/theft. Is it ethical to say the city is safe, and share the low ranking without disclosing the high one? What if there are two different rankings looking at the same thing but reporting very different results because of sampling methods? Is it ethical to present the results of one and not the other?

4. Testimonials. Capital investors want to know about the experience of other CEOs in your community, because nothing is more convincing than peer perspective. Is it ethical to use the testimonies of CEOs who just received significant incentives for investing in an expansion – but the quotes don’t mention the incentives?

5. Disclosure. We demand that our personal financial advisors disclose any financial interest they might have when recommending we make a specific investment. But what if an employee recommends in their personal blog post that the reader invest money in a particular company’s service without disclosing that he or she is an employee of the company? Is that ethical? Or, say a CEO is interested in a property in your community that you subsequently suspect may have an issue with asbestos. Is it ethical to withhold the concern pending further research?

6. Taste and decency. Every culture has different standards of taste and decency, and even within a culture the standards shift over time. Wally Snyder, President Emeritus of the American Advertising Federation, suggested that communication meets the test of taste and decency if it advances the image of the industry. Does a billboard with the headline "Kiss Your Assets Goodbye" advance the image of the economic development profession, or not?

Many people do believe that caveat emptor is appropriate and that trying to regulate ethics is a fool’s game. As an economic development professional, you must decide for yourself what you believe the right thing is. But I would like to suggest a pledge that would be appropriate for practitioners to adopt:

"As an economic development professional, I pledge to compete vigorously and effectively, but never unfairly or unlawfully; to make truthful statements about the assets available and cost of doing business in my community; to ensure the claims I communicate to potential capital investors are authentic; and to be committed to living up to the spirit, as well as the conditions, of all promises made by me and my economic development organization."

For more information about ethics in the profession, see the Code of Ethics that IEDC adopted in 2008. IEDC also created a Committee on Professional Conduct to help enforce the code and address alleged violations of ethical standards, and now provides ethics training at two conferences annually and in its Managing Economic Development Organizations training course. As professionals, we should each become familiar with the Code of Ethics and work hard both to ensure our personal adherence and encourage our colleagues to do the same.

In addition to his role as executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, Ed Burghard is the author of, a free educational resource for economic developers.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

With budget more than halved, EDAWN reevaluates priorities

Written by
Jason Hidalgo

In the world of economic development, three years is a short amount of time.

But for the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, three years feels like a long time ago.

Back in 2007, EDAWN was looking at a budget of $3.39 million -- the largest in its history. This came a year after the organization unveiled its ambitious Target 2010 plan, which was supposed to take economic development in the region to the next level.

Fast forward to 2010 and EDAWN finds its budget slashed by more than half thanks to the economic downturn. Staffing levels also are down sharply, falling from 22 employees to just "six-and-a-half," according to the organization.

Now, EDAWN finds itself struggling to meet the goals of its Target 2010 initiative while justifying its relevance in a business that's all about results.

"If the area is going to be viable economically, you'll need to have someone coordinating most of the economic development efforts," said Chuck Alvey, EDAWN's president and chief executive officer. "I think what EDAWN does is vital in pulling together that community vision. If we're not here, someone else will rise up and do what we're doing now."

Shifting gears

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is a 501 (c) private, not-for-profit company incorporated in Nevada.

Its budget for 2010 is just shy of $1.6 million. About 57 percent of EDAWN's funding comes from state and local government. The rest comes from the private sector, including member banks, hospitals, developers, agencies and other businesses.

Initially, EDAWN's approach to economic development focused on recruiting new businesses to the area. Focusing too much on company recruitment, however, comes with disadvantages, especially for smaller communities that don't have the same financial resources as other areas, said Mark Pingle, a professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"That type of effort is historically much more effective when coupled with big money incentives," Pingle said. "So, it can be really tough to attract businesses from outside because everyone else is trying to do the same thing. It's better if you can also grow your own companies and develop an environment of entrepreneurship in your area because the money you spend is invested in the community."

Mayor Burchett says budget knife is attention-getter for economic development group

By News Sentinel staff

Comments made by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett have sparked an exchange with a partnership designed to bring jobs and economic growth to the Greater Knoxville area.

Burchett made the comments Monday during a WBIR-TV interview. He was asked about part of his proposed 2012 budget in which he recommends cutting funding for the Innovation Valley Inc. partnership from what was once $350,000 to $125,000?.

"I haven't seen checks and balances there," he said, "a system where we've seen any production that I'm satisfied with.

"I think the best way to get ahold of that is to make cuts and get folks' attention... If they don't (improve) we'll continue cutting them."

Innovation Valley Inc. sent a letter to several media outlets this evening, stating Burchett's statements "could lead to misunderstanding by readers and viewers."

The letter was signed by Thomas Mason, chairman of the board; Jimmy Haslam, chair elect; and Kevin Clayton, secretary-treasurer.

"It is our belief that Knox County has seen a tremendous return on its investment since 2008 when Innovation Valley began," the letter states. "Knox County has the lowest unemployment rate among the state's metropolitan areas, and Forbes magazine ranked Knoxville no. 9 among medium-sized cities on its 2011 'Best Cities for Jobs' list."

"I appreciate the fact that they are taking full credit for that," Burchett said, when read that part of the letter this evening, "but I can assure you a lot of people had a hand in that. It's not just one organization. I think people come here and bring jobs because of our low tax rate and the fact that we have no income tax and are a right-to-work state."

Burchett called the proposed cut "nothing personal."

"The Chamber, Innovation Valley and the Development Corp. get $800,000 - all under the auspices of the Chamber - and we are in unprecedented economic times and we are cutting across the board. At the same time we are putting a half million dollars into our infrastructure - county roads and such - that is demanded. I think that is responsible government.

"Everybody wanted me to run (for mayor) as a fiscal conservative," he said. "Everyone wants us to make cuts everywhere but theirs. If they don't want the cuts then tell me who to lay off; people don't realize it but that's where we are at."

The letter states Innovation Valley would "welcome the opportunity" to tell its story.

It states that IVI "eliminates duplication and inefficient delivery of services in the region by creating a coordinated plan of work." The letter also states that IVI has kept the county abreast of its progress and finances with annual and quarterly reports.

"We are proud of what Innovation Valley has accomplished by bringing together local governments and the private sector to promote the Knoxville area - in a cost-effective and efficient way - as a great place to do business," the letter states.

Innovation Valley Inc. is composed of six partner agencies: the Knoxville Chamber, Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Loudon County Economic Development Agency, Oak Ridge Economic Partnership, The Roane Alliance and Tellico Reservoir Development Agency.

© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Budget knife is attention-getter for economic development group

Comments made by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett have sparked an exchange with a partnership designed to bring jobs and economic growth to the Greater Knoxville area.

Burchett made the comments Monday during a WBIR-TV interview. He was asked about part of his proposed 2012 budget in which he recommends cutting funding for the Innovation Valley Inc. partnership from what was once $350,000 to $125,000?.

"I haven't seen checks and balances there," he said, "a system where we've seen any production that I'm satisfied with.

"I think the best way to get ahold of that is to make cuts and get folks' attention... If they don't (improve) we'll continue cutting them."

Innovation Valley Inc. sent a letter to several media outlets this evening, stating Burchett's statements "could lead to misunderstanding by readers and viewers."

The letter was signed by Thomas Mason, chairman of the board; Jimmy Haslam, chair elect; and Kevin Clayton, secretary-treasurer.

"It is our belief that Knox County has seen a tremendous return on its investment since 2008 when Innovation Valley began," the letter states. "Knox County has the lowest unemployment rate among the state's metropolitan areas, and Forbes magazine ranked Knoxville no. 9 among medium-sized cities on its 2011 'Best Cities for Jobs' list."

"I appreciate the fact that they are taking full credit for that," Burchett said, when read that part of the letter this evening, "but I can assure you a lot of people had a hand in that. It's not just one organization. I think people come here and bring jobs because of our low tax rate and the fact that we have no income tax and are a right-to-work state."

Burchett called the proposed cut "nothing personal."

"The Chamber, Innovation Valley and the Development Corp. get $800,000 - all under the auspices of the Chamber - and we are in unprecedented economic times and we are cutting across the board. At the same time we are putting a half million dollars into our infrastructure - county roads and such - that is demanded. I think that is responsible government.

"Everybody wanted me to run (for mayor) as a fiscal conservative," he said. "Everyone wants us to make cuts everywhere but theirs. If they don't want the cuts then tell me who to lay off; people don't realize it but that's where we are at."

The letter states Innovation Valley would "welcome the opportunity" to tell its story.

It states that IVI "eliminates duplication and inefficient delivery of services in the region by creating a coordinated plan of work." The letter also states that IVI has kept the county abreast of its progress and finances with annual and quarterly reports.

"We are proud of what Innovation Valley has accomplished by bringing together local governments and the private sector to promote the Knoxville area - in a cost-effective and efficient way - as a great place to do business," the letter states.

Innovation Valley Inc. is composed of six partner agencies: the Knoxville Chamber, Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Loudon County Economic Development Agency, Oak Ridge Economic Partnership, The Roane Alliance and Tellico Reservoir Development Agency.

© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Polk County leaders search for economic development plan Read more: The Fish Wrap - Polk County leaders search for economic development plan

by Agnes Hagin
Cedartown Standard

This fact has been affirmed by local leaders who admit it won’t be easy meeting all the goals recommended in a Community and Economic Development Assessment, provided by Georgia Power Company and prepared by Janus Economics.

Robert Pittman, Janus Economics, said following a presentation last Tuesday evening that that Polk has wonderful development potential with a great manufacturing base.

“Our report finds that diversifying your funding for economic development and developing a strategic plan will be what it takes to take this community to the next level,” he said. “People need to decide where they want to go as a county. If you have a good site for business and industry and you have an economic development plan, you will succeed. Polk has a lot of potential for job creation.”

President Eric McDonald, Development Authority of Polk County (DAPC), said that the community assessment is only the beginning.

“My biggest fear,” he said, “is that we will take the report, lay it on a shelf and take no action on the recommendations. The idea is to use it as a tool to begin a process of developing the strategic plan.”

DPAC Chairman Reed Freeman said there is almost nothing board members can do about changing the status of development authorities. “One idea is to have one authority but forever keep the three we now have since they are needed for legal purposes. Whether anyone will give up their turf is another issue.”

McDonald pointed out that Polk is now living off land developed 20 years ago. He focused on product shortage with the Cedartown North Business Park needing further development and that upgrades could enhance the available acreage in the 101 Industrial Park near Rockmart.

Included in the Community and Economic Development report for Polk County are:

Product strengths: Ex-urban location, transportation, utilities, existing strong manufacturing base, downtown redevelopment potential, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, available workforce and telecommunications.

Weaknesses to address: Lack of available development ready industrial land, lack of available industrial buildings, lack of a countywide sewer system, K-12 education, highway access and first impression, limited incentives compared with surrounding counties.

Recommendations: Open up Phase II of Cedartown North Business Park, develop a spec building, target quality of life improvements to make Polk more attractive to young professionals, address the lack of county sewer system as part of a strategic planning process, augment DAPC’s business retention expansion and improve the appearance of gateways into the county.

Leadership needs include cooperation and consolidation in economic development, DAPC board rotation, public/private partnership for economic development, more understanding of and consensus on economic development by county residents.

Recommendations include promoting expanded DAPC board participation and diversify funding sources, both public and private and increase communication and coordination of economic development among county and cities.

Noted is the fact that there is no shared vision and no long-term strategic plan for economic development.

Suggestions include commitment to undertake and complete a visioning and strategic planning process that is comprehensive and inclusive.

Target industries include manufacturing - aerospace, food, medical, plastic – and services that include back office, finance and insurance, warehousing and storage.

A marketing proposal includes building up the identity of the Development Authority, developing a strong web presence for DAPC, identify target audiences, develop strategic alliances to share costs and capacity, draft a marketing plan and develop a vision of the perfect Polk County.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Port Authority director seeks new local marketing strategy

Written by
Kathie Dickerson

COSHOCTON -- Port Authority Director Dorothy Skowrunski said it's time to step back, evaluate things, and maybe take a different approach when trying to attract new businesses.

"We're not the only ones competing; we're up against lots of other communities that are in the same boat," she said.

The previous port authority director T.J. Justice focused on the large aquifer the city has access to, plus its capacity to produce up to 16 million gallons of treated water per day. Justice also promoted large development sites available in the area, including 200 acres near West Lafayette and the former General Electric site on South Second Street.

As the former director of Central Ohio Technical College Coshocton Campus, Skowrunski had an opportunity to be part of the Economic Development Task Force charged with setting out priorities in several different areas, including economic development.

That report was finished about five years ago, and it's been taken out and a review by various subcommittee members is under way, she said.

Hopefully by June, she'll have an idea what's the next course for some of those task force recommendations.

"One of my major goals is to develop a marketing strategy," she said. "But a lot of pieces need to be pulled together before I can."

Technology is a big factor in connecting in today's world, and even economic development has delved into social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, she said.

"A website is key to show what the community can offer," she said. "A company will do a lot of online research looking at data and obtaining a lot of information about an area before they even pick up the phone."

The Port Authority is in the process of revamping its website.

While the Internet might eliminate a lot of phone contact from potential companies looking to locate, it also can be beneficial.

Skowrunski plans to upload the updated Economic Development Task Force plan later this year. Hopefully reviews on what's been accomplished and what's not will be completed by June.

"That's the beauty of the web, that report doesn't have to sit on the shelf," she said. "Anybody can click on it, look at it, and see where we are and where we're going."

Once that's completed, Skowrunski said a marketing committee will be formed, and a request for proposals for a marketing company will be released.

She sees things such as the Revolving Loan Fund and the business incubator as tools that will help Coshocton's future economic growth.

In her search for ideas, Skowrunski found a successful "economic gardening" project that worked for small community in Littleton, Colo. The idea behind the concept is that often large corporations will pull up roots when the cost of doing business gets higher than somewhere else, such as Third World countries.

Building the economy from the inside out, relying primarily on entrepreneurs and providing nuturing support for those companies, is the gist of "economic gardening," as opposed to "economic hunting."

"We know that most new jobs are going to come from small business," she said. "So if we can help 50 small businesses create one, two, five or 10 jobs, that will add up."

kdickers@coshocton; (740) 295-3442