Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Garner Completes New Plan for Evansville Region

Garner Economics has issued a new report for the Economic DEvelopment Coalition of Southwest Indiana entitled “A Blueprint for Success."
The master plan for strengthening Evansville’s regional economywill require broad community support to achieve the plan’s numerous recommendations.
Funding for the project came from a $231,482 federal grant secured as a result of Whirlpool’s closure of its Evansville refrigerator plant in 2010.

The study recommends four target areas for job growth in this region: advanced manufacturing, plastics, health and life sciences and logistics/distribution. The four were selected because they build on the area’s strengths, pay above-average wages and represent growth industries.

The study also includes 32 recommendations for improving the area’s business climate and infrastructure, its approach to economic development and its marketing efforts.

More here.

Alpharetta plan targets new business

Market Steet Services has presented Alpharetta, Georgia with a new Economic Development Plan that stresses the importance of attracting new business.

The report said that Alpharetta is in a good position to grow, but the city needs to invest more in promoting
itself with a comprehensive marketing program. He also said small business growth would be key to the city’s success, especially with the current state of the economy.

The firm also told city officials that keeping and attracting younger residents would be important going forward. Creating a community that is aesthetically pleasing and easily commutable will assist in this effort.

Mac Holladay of Market Street said the city should be spending more money on economic development and hiring new staff members to work on these goals.

He salso said that developing good relationships with current businesses will also help the city be successful.

More here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New state business development corporation hoping to avoid pitfalls

This article describes Wisconsin's effort to transition its econmic development department to a public-private hybrid agency.

The new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) was created by Governor Scott Walker through  legislation signed in February abolishing the former Commerce Department and replacing it with the WEDC, an agency free of the regulatory duties that many felt hampered Commerce.

The new agency officially opened July 1 and agency officials are still working out the details of its operation.  They are trying to fill four vice president slots and several key director positions.“It really is like buying a house and trying to remodel it from the inside out,” said Mike Klonsinski, WEDC chief operating officer.

More here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Southern Virginia kicks off regional alliance with cooperation theme

Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling recently helped launch the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance in Halifax County.

The alliance is a newly formed marketing partnership comprised of Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry and Patrick counties and the cities of Danville and Martinsville that promotes economic development and job creation in Southern Virginia.

The alliance has received a total of $600,000 in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission that funds $200,000, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership that provides $200,000 and each of the six communities that are contributing a total of $200,000 over the next two years.

It is being directed by its new executive director, Leigh Cockram, who was selected to head the organization in June. 

More here.

Texas incentive funds touted by Perry draw praise, criticism

With Texas Governor Rick Perry's entry into the presidential race, the tools used in offering state incentives for businesses to relocate and add jobs has come under scrutiny.

The Texas Enterprise Fund was created in 2003 to provide money to attract companies to the state or help them expand. As of June 30, the fund had committed nearly $440 million to about 100 corporations, according to the governor's office. A separate Emerging Technology Fund has awarded $370.5 million to new ventures and university research programs since its formation in 2005.

As Perry campaigns for president, he is trumpeting Texas' unmatched success in creating jobs and the importance of the funds in maintaining Texas' competitive edge.
But the funds have also come under fire for falling short of delivering on promised job gains and creating an appearance of political favoritism because Perry has accepted campaign contributions from companies that received taxpayer funds. There are also complaints that Perry exercises too much control over the funds.

More here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oakland County has growing interest in life sciences

Oakland County, Michigan has established "Medical Main Street" program to brand the region as a center for excellence in health care.

The effort doesn't involve any special incentives but instead relies on a mixture of traditional advertising, social media and more than 40 ambassadors, which are local companies, organizations and others that have volunteered to help market the area.

Oakland is aiming to be among the top 10 in the U.S. when it comes to the number of life science and health care companies. Right now, it's No. 11 or No. 12, according to the county.It aspires to become a major hub for medical device and other life science companies, joining the ranks of top-tier health care destinations like Cleveland and Rochester, Minn.

More here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seattle Sets Course for "High Road" in Economic Development

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says his city must take the "high road" in its jobs and infrastructure efforts to effectively compete in the new world economy.

"There are choices. One choice is the low road..what we do is we go for low-cost, low wages...push environmental costs onto the community or into the future to try to compete on the basis of low price. I'll tell you, the City of Seattle and our region is never going to beat the rest of the world by competing in a race to the bottom. We can't win that."

Seattle has to take the "high road" McGinn was quoted as saying in the Seattle PI.

"Compete on the basis of quality, compete on the basis of innovation, the intelligence, savvy and hard work of the people that are here," McGinn said. Just like we export airplanes and software, we're going to export our knowledge and vision of how you create a high-road economy."

More here.

Alabama Economic Development Alliance to launch Sept. road show

The State of Alabama has hired an economic development consulting firm to develop "Accelerate Alabama" that will guide the state's economic development efforts.

"Accelerate Alabama," is a new strategic economic development plan being developed for the state. The Alabama Economic Development Alliance is planning several road trips in September seeking input into the plan.

The Alliance was created by Gov. Robert Bentley to bring various agencies, businesses and organizations together that are currently involved in economic development in the state.

More here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cuomo launches New York Open for Business campaign

New York’s launched its marketing initiative to draw businesses to the state this week. The New York Open for Business concept is designed to show companies worldwide that New York is a premier place for business to invest and grow, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“As we continue to transform Albany’s approach to economic development, we must emphasize the many advantages New York has to offer, including our central location, our wealth of resources, our unequaled network of colleges and universities, and our diverse, innovative educated and hard-working residents,” Cuomo said.

The campaign will be led by a committee of nine state business leaders and will span several years, with an initial cost of $10 million to as high $50 million.

More here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Location Matters for Entrepreneurs: Top Cities by Industry

Even in a down economy, some industries are flourishing by setting up shop in cities that have become hubs for their industry sector. In turn, the cities are supporting the businesses through mentorship, access to funding and facilities. A map illustrates seven industry hubs in cities across the U.S. drawing entrepreneurs and investors. More here.

Growth of intermodal industry provides spark for commercial real estate firms in Will Co.

John Grueling, president and CEO of Will County Center for Economic Development reports that 10-12,000 jobs have been created over the past ten years as a result of two major intermodal projects developed by CenterPoint Properties.

Together, the developments encompass 6,100 acres and are capable of supporting up to 32 million square feet of commercial real estate space.

“The number one thing that these developments have done for us is attract private capital,” says Grueling. “In a time when many communities are not attracting private capital, we have seen $2 billion in investments during this process.”

More here.

South Dakota Ad Campaign Generates 50 Leads

The state of South Dakota is using Gov. Dennis Daugaard to lure potential businesses to that state with a theme of "Great Faces, Great Places".

The two month campaign is directed at businesses in the more highly taxed states of Illinois, Minnesota and California. Officials say it has already generated 50 solid leads.

The campaign includes direct mail, radio andprint ads with a budget of $142,950.

"We're trying to portray we've got a very friendly governor that understands business exists to make a profit, and in South Dakota it's OK to make a profit and keep a profit," said Pat Costello, commissioner for the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "The intent is to get peoples' attention."

More here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Omaha Creates a Good First Impression

The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce hosted a visit of 19 site selection consultants in June as a way to showcase the attributes of that region.

The chamber-hosted Select Tour is held annually. This year, the participants, about half of them first-time visitors, were treated to the inaugural game of the downtown CWS, on-site visits to big employers and data-filled presentations on what made Omaha a fertile land for business.

The local paper interviewed several of them about their impressions of this community. They appear here.

'Clean economy' could help Holland evolve into a more successful city.

The Holland, Michigan region has a strong "clean economy”, based on the number of locals employed producing green consumer products, energy-saving building materials and energy-saving consumer products.

So says a report prepared by The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit think tank. Their report compares the metropolitan areas of Holland/Grand Haven, Saginaw, Kalamazoo and Flint to “peer cities” of Erie, Pa.; Fort Wayne, Ind., and Mansfield, Ohio. The report also compares the Michigan cities to those they ought to aspire to — Eugene, Ore.; Knoxville, Tenn., and Spartanburg, S.C.

More here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Economic study in; will A-C act this time?

Athens Georgia benefits from a major university, an educated workforce and good quality of life, but is held back by high poverty, an anti-business image and lackadaisical attitude toward jobs, according to a recent study by Janus Economics.

More here.

Augusta Tomorrow works to rebrand Augusta area, attract economic development

What sets Augusta apart? Some local business minds are trying to pin that down.

Augusta Tomorrow is spearheading an effort to “rebrand” the greater Augusta area, studying data and getting community feedback on what makes it somewhere businesses and individuals want to be.

The rebrand project, officially titled Defining Our Re­gion for Continued Economic Development, is based on the thought that the Augusta area has myriad qualities that make it a good place for business – people just don’t know enough about them. More here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Duluth Looks For Skilled Workers In Hopes Of Attracting A New Company

Duluth, MN - City officials are working hard to help an industry-leading aviation company “choose Duluth” as one of only a handful of communities under consideration for a new aircraft maintenance facility.

The Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) and its partners, Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Duluth Airport Authority (DAA), and APEX have been courting AAR Aircraft Services, a leading provider of aircraft maintenance and modifications services and part of AAR CORP., a publicly traded company with over $1.7B in fiscal year 2011 revenues, to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations in Duluth.

City officials are seeking skilled workers to attend a Career and Networking Fair to meet company representatives.

More here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary sets job creation goal

Louisiana Economic Development is looking for Louisiana to create 40,000 new jobs per year over the next 20 years, Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret said during a speech in New Orleans on Thursday. "My goal is to hit that growth rate of 40,000 to make us the leader in the South," he said.

"We have to be head and shoulders above everyone else to consistently perform as the best in the region."

The biggest challenge, Moret explained, is that Louisiana's traditional economic base is rooted in industries like agriculture and shipbuilding, which are not expected to experience significant job growth in the United States.

"We have a low to negative growth industry base, with the exception of the energy industry," he said. More here.

Initiative works to connect the dots in Norwalk

Fostering creativity, forming collaborations and empowering others to get involved in their community are just some of the goals of a recently launched initiative that aims to bring Norwalk to its "next version."

"(Norwalk's) got everything," said Norwalk resident Maribeth Becker. "We're just committed to making Norwalk even better than it already is."

For Becker, 44, and Norwalk resident Jackie Lightfield, 45, co-founders of Norwalk 2.0, that means working on several community-based projects, many of which focus on the arts and culture, such as a public murals program, arts programs and exhibits, public performances, student workshops and a street beautification project.

Read more.

New Memphis-Shelby County economic development agency open for business

The Economic Development and Growth Engine board raised a few edgy questions Wednesday but steered away from local politics as usual on the first agenda item of its fresh history.

The inaugural EDGE meeting seemed to raise the question: Will the pursuit of consensus and harmony for the sake of economic development sacrifice the healthy checks-and-balances of traditional politics?

The new board with broad oversight of economic development for Memphis and Shelby County unanimously approved its bylaws, but not before member Deidre Malone questioned how the EDGE president -- the top staffer -- will be selected and held accountable.

More here:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rural development: Are we selling out?

Darin Rutledge blogs about the challenge of economic development in smaller communities here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Columbus2020 taking regional role in JobsOhio plan

Several regional development organizations around the state will grow under a new plan to privatize a chunk of Ohio’s economic development efforts.

Ohio officials visited Sinclair Community College in Dayton Wednesday for a public rollout of Ohio’s new economic development strategy. At the stop, they said a $24 million pool is being established for six organizations around the state, including Columbus2020, that will be charged with putting together the initial stages of economic development deals, then funneling those to the new private nonprofit JobsOhio organization.

More here.

Community Futures initiatives keep up with changing times

Businesses in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys have the support of one of Canada’s leading regional economic development agencies – the first in the country to deliver a bold new program to help small companies expand their markets.

In its recently released 2010-11 Annual Report, Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen (CFOS) provides details of its groundbreaking introduction of the proven ‘Economic Gardening’ program, as well as details of its other major initiatives and operations during the past year.

More here:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Analysis to help chamber go after jobs for the region

By ROBYN L. MINOR, The Daily News,

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is both narrowing and broadening its path to creating jobs and boosting economic development for southcentral Kentucky.

A recently completed target market analysis will help guide the chamber in going after jobs for the region, according to Chamber President Ron Bunch.

The idea is to attract businesses or industries that would bring in new dollars to the region or to help existing industries expand through export, which also can bring new dollars into the region.

In some respects, the study narrows the focus of which industry sectors it should foster, and in others, it broadens them because the areas have not previously been studied.

Bunch said the study was actually conducted before he took over the post in January but was only recently completed, reviewed and is now being implemented, at least in part.

A group of site selectors visited Bowling Green in 2009 and suggested that the chamber conduct this target sector analysis, according to chamber marketing and communications director Jessica Thompson.

The analysis takes into consideration the skill level of the available work force, infrastructure in place for a particular field, whether the industry is a growth sector and has average wages above $35,000, as well as other factors.

The analysis made the chamber take an introspective look at the “talent supply chain” in the region and consider how to coordinate education and skill development for the already available jobs, as well as for jobs in new sectors that might work for Bowling Green.

“I have shared this information with our superintendents and educational leaders,” Bunch said of the targets.

Those areas being targeted include food processing and the manufacture of equipment needed for that industry, automotive parts and suppliers, distribution and logistics, fabricated metal, niche and emerging industry sectors, such as cyber defense, cellulosic biofuels and green building products.

The food and green industry categories would be a new focus.

Such things as headquarters and management offices were eliminated.

“Mostly because of the lack of Class A office space available,” Bunch said.

Class A refers to the top-of-the-line finish and amenities available for the space.

Western Kentucky University can play a role in helping develop those niche markets with its applied research capabilities. WKU President Gary Ransdell said he would like the university to be able to provide more applied or practical research but is somewhat limited because of state law. Is that something Ransdell would like to see change? Yes.

“But we have to play the political dynamics as best we can given the funding challenges we have in Frankfort and Washington,” he said. “But we want to use our emerging research capacity to benefit the region as much as possible.”

Ransdell cited one recent example of how such research can help the region. University researchers and Bowling Green Municipal Utilities this month opened a high-speed computing center at the Center for Research and Development and have had in place a scanning electronic microscope, both of which are available to business and industry in the region.

“That is infrastructure they don’t have to develop,” Ransdell said.

In going after these target markets, the chamber has or will develop marketing sheets for each of those industries.

In the automotive supply industry, the chamber shows that the operating cost in southcentral Kentucky is less than that for facilities in Nashville, Huntsville, Detroit and Windsor, Canada.

This region already has 10,462 full-time workers at 56 vehicle-related facilities.

“Just because something isn’t one of those targeted industries (of the study), doesn’t mean we won’t consider going after it,” Bunch said.

Despite success, work never done for Natchez Inc.

By Emily Lane

NATCHEZ — Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ has been getting picked on lately about the pressure his economic development team has created for itself after landing two big industries within two months time.

“I get the joke,” Russ said, “when people come up to me and say, ‘What are we doing next month?’”

Russ said the pressure to lure industries, however, remains the same — no less and no more.

Eye on the future

Attracting new companies to Natchez-Adams County will always be a front-burner issue, Russ said, regardless of the number of economic development announcements the governor makes about Natchez.

“Our work is not near done,” Russ said.

Russ said he still has a very active portfolio of prospective companies and Natchez Inc. is currently pursuing several projects.

But the nature of economic development business, Russ said, is that the naturally recurring life cycles of businesses requires communities to be consistently searing for the next one.

“Eventually, (businesses) do run their course,” Russ said.

Once a business closes after a certain number of years — often through no fault of its own — it’s too late to replace that business if others haven’t been recruited in the meantime.

“International Paper (Company) is an example of a (business) life cycle,” Russ said.

Russ said cigarette filters became a large sector of the products IP manufactured. And when the United States market for cigarettes began to shrink, IP suffered due no fault of its own.

“It wasn’t anything the labor force did or the community did (that led to the IP closing) other than national market shrinking on them,” Russ said.

Constantly seeking growth and new industries creates padding for those natural industry life cycles, Russ said.

“You have to keep churning the local economy at all times,” he said.

Eye on the present

After the politicians left town following the announcements of Elevance Renewable Sciences and Enersteel in June and August, respectively, Russ said plenty of work remained for Natchez Inc.

“Now you have to do what you said you were going to do as far as an incentive package,” Russ said.

Russ said the work he has already started by acting as a liaison to the Adams County Board of Supervisors in setting up tax breaks for Elevance will soon be in the works for Enersteel.

“And we have to keep projects on task and on track,” Russ said.

Russ said additional responsibilities include, for example, pursing upstream suppliers for chemical producing Elevance.

Russ will also be working with Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the WIN Job Center in Natchez on specifically geared training programs to provide both companies with a ready-to-go workforce.

Russ said Elevance is currently on track for beginning construction at the former Delta Fuel site in November.

Russ said Elevance has completed “a tremendous amount of engineering” during the last two to three weeks and is beginning to finalize some of plans for its ground-breaking.

“No one has indicated they have begun to slow down and (the company) is going full steam ahead,” he said.

Russ said those with lingering impatience for Rentech Industries should know the company is currently actively pursing capital investors to get the project off the ground, but the money is not available at this time.

Eye on the past

Russ said while there isn’t a magic number of jobs Adams County needs, it helps to look at the past to get a clearer sense of the economic health of the community today.

During the past 20 years, the labor market and number of people employed in Adams County has dropped by approximately 2,000 people.

In 1991, an average of 13,500 people were employed in all of Adams County and the labor force contained 15,170 people.

The labor force, Russ said, equals those either employed or seeking employment.

In 2010, an average of 11,790 people were employed in Adams County and the labor force contained 13,180.

“We’ve got a long way to go just to get back to where we were,” Russ said.

Russ said employment numbers also reflect a downward shift U.S. Census numbers from the past 20 years.

“So our work is not done yet, and it’s really never done,” Russ said. “It’s a constant progression.”

Eyes on Natchez-Adams County

While landing two big industries in a row isn’t an excuse to slow down recruiting other companies, Russ said recent announcements do bode well for luring other industries.

Regional media coverage and media coverage in trade publications — like the chemical and steel industries — gives Natchez-Adams advantageous exposure to prospective businesses, Russ said.

For example, if a steel supplier remembers reading Enersteel just located in Natchez, Russ said the company might realize the area has a good environment for steel. The media coverage might also let them know about the 250-ton pedestal crane at the Natchez-Adams County Port, not to mention the area’s access to the river,

“It puts them in the mindset (to locate in Natchez),” Russ said.

Russ said while he won’t slow his recruiting, he will happily accept the perks of the momentum from the success of landing two quality companies as a result of a team effort between Natchez Inc., the Mississippi Development Authority, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and other groups.

“Momentum is definitely something that is important in this businesses,” he said.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teaming up on economic development

Louisville, KY (WDRB) -- Louisville and Lexington are working together to attract business and industry. The plan comes from the mayors of Kentucky's two largest cities.

The two cities have often been seen as rivals. There is UK Blue in Lexington and U of L Cardinal Red in Louisville. But while the sports rivalries are likely to continue, the mayor of Louisville and the mayor of Lexington are working to come up with a regional plan for economic development.

Before an audience of more than a thousand business and civic leaders, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray outlined their plans to develop what they call a Super Region.

It was a luncheon forum sponsored by Leadership Louisville.

The two mayors who come from business backgrounds believe now is the time to put aside differences and work together in a regional approach to economic growth.

"We think like businessmen, we are thinking about how we can leverage and market and sell our region, how do we create jobs," says Mayor Gray.

With support from the Brooking's Institute, the 18-month project will determine how Kentucky's two largest cities can build on their existing manufacturing base and work together to achieve job growth.

"We are partnering with the Brooking's Institute, which is a world class think tank to find out how we approach this region as one," says Mayor Fischer.

As the home of two Ford plants in Louisville, and a Toyota plant near Lexington, and all of the small manufacturers that supply parts to the major auto makers, the mayors hope to build on what they call advanced manufacturing. "Auto industries obliviously, appliances GE is here (in Louisville), it's about bringing back those middle income jobs," says Fischer.

The project's chairman will be Jim Host, who headed the successful effort to build Louisville's new arena during a time when the economy was suffering through a recession.

Host says the regional approach makes sense. "By drawing together the two largest cities in the state with a common purpose," says Host, "which is to improve the economy of not only Louisville and Lexington and the core between them, but also the economy and future of Kentucky."

The project will cost $250,000. It's to be funded with private money raised by the two cities chambers of commerce.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making Georgia more competitive when it comes to economic development

By: Raquel Rodriguez

COLUMBUS, Ga. - State and community leaders from the peach state attended the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative meeting to help make sure the state stays at the top of its game when it comes to economic development.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Muscogee County is competitive when it comes to attracting businesses but there are some areas we need help in.

“We need to find a better way to partner, we need to find a way to get very good incentive packages for some of these companies that are looking, we have great labor markets but we could use a better more educated workforce,” said Tomlinson.

Mayor Tomlinson echoed the same sentiments that many state leaders have, that the peach state needs to stay attractive in this tough business climate.

“We're actually a leader in the United States but through these economic times other states in the south east especially have sort of closed the gap with Georgia,” said Chris Cummiskey, the Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development.

Cummiskey said transportation improvements would help further that gap since good transportation plays a key role in attracting business.

“Companies around the world when it comes to this day in age it’s all about speed if they are going to produce their manufacturing goods here they got to get raw materials in and goods out if they can't do that in a timely fashion there going to go somewhere else,” said Cummiskey.

Finding the funds for transportation fix ups could be put to a vote in regions through Georgia.

“It’s not a state wide referendum but to send it to the different regions and allow the regions the opportunity to tax themselves an extra penny,” said Tomlinson.

While every region has specific needs when it comes to staying competitive, Georgia’s Secretary of State said cutting through red tape and regulations for businesses has been unanimous.

“If there is a redundant rule an outdated law whatever it is send it to us we'll look at it help vet it and then we'll work with either boards or the legislature to help repeal it,” said Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State.

According to the Commissioner of Economic Development, the peach state ranks around 5th or 6th place in the United States for doing business.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Commission Launches Innovative Out-of-State Marketing Campaign

By Nevada Commission on Economic Development

CARSON CITY, Nev., Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the face of challenging economic times, the Nevada Commission on Economic Development (NCED) has launched an "Empowering Success" integrated marketing campaign. The campaign highlights success stories of four cutting-edge companies doing business in Nevada.

"Empowering Success captures the strengths of doing business in Nevada," said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. "This campaign comes at a critical time and represents an opportunity for the commission to introduce Nevada to a fresh group of business leaders, encouraging them to consider doing business in Nevada. It is also an opportunity for the state to help stimulate economic growth and keep Nevada competitive during this challenging time."

The Web-based campaign features a series of online banner ads and video vignettes. Companies and executives featured include: Chief Executive Officer Tony Hsieh, Cord Blood America Chief Executive Officer Matt Schissler, ElectraTherm Chief Executive Officer John Fox and Click Bond Chief Operating Officer Collie Hutter.

Empowering Success is designed to capture the attention of business leaders, C-suite executives, directors, managers and entrepreneurs in select markets such as Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Raleigh/Durham, N.C.

Banner ads will appear on a variety of business, news, finance and technology focused Web sites, such as Fox News, Business Daily News, Newsweek, TIME, Forbes, New York Post and USA Today.

"Empowering Success is centered on all the positive things Nevada is... growth, innovation, service focused and technology," said Click Bond's Hutter. "Doing business in Nevada allows you a freedom to spend time and energy on the projects you really care about and make a big impact, have access to legislators to work with government to solve specific problems, access to a talented workforce and all major transportation routes including international airports, Interstate and rail."

This campaign is a comprehensive marketing effort for NCED as it helps diversify Nevada and provides important information to business people contemplating a move to the state.

"Now is the time to start, relocate or grow a business in Nevada , and the Empowering Success campaign drives home these facts," Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said. "It highlights our diverse, service-oriented, anything is possible in Nevada spirit. I encourage all business leaders, entrepreneurs and decision makers to consider Nevada as a potential home for their business."

For more information on NCED's Empowering Success campaign, visit

Monday, August 08, 2011

How Cities Lure Startups

By Karen E. Klein

How do cities successfully engineer conditions to attract high-potential small companies that will create new jobs in the future? Two California cities that have gone to extraordinary lengths to make their climates business friendly are Irvine in the south, with about 212,000 residents, and San Jose in the north, with a population around 946,000. Both cities suffered during the recession and are admittedly expensive places to do business, given California’s stringent regulatory climate and relatively high tax rates and minimum wage. But both cities have established successful public-private partnerships and programs aimed at encouraging businesses. Here are some of their strategies that others could apply in their own regions.

Maximize resources. The city of Irvine has a University of California campus within its boundaries. Both the city and the local chamber of commerce have tapped that resource extensively to boost local startups. "We draw on the intellectual horsepower of professors, interns, and students from UCI. It lends us a more educated workforce and higher standards for our local schools," says Christopher Lynch, vice-president for business and economic development at the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. The university has been open to extensive collaboration, with a business incubator next door, entrepreneur forums, and business plan competitions taking place on campus.

Focus on nurturing locals. In San Jose, 39 percent of job growth comes from first-year startups, says Jeff Ruster, deputy director of the city’s Office of Economic Development. "We’re not out there poaching companies from other places," he says. Another 60 percent of job growth comes from the expansion of existing companies; only three percent to four percent comes from established companies relocating to San Jose, where real estate and labor costs are expensive. In the past, startup companies that grow exponentially have located satellite facilities out of the state, where costs are lower, Ruster says. "Our value proposition is to keep their headquarters and their highly skilled job here," he says.

Community investment. Both cities make education and infrastructure a high priority, arguing that better living conditions attract ambitious, entrepreneurial residents. Ruster points to a Silicon Valley workforce study released in July that says talented entrepreneurs, workers, and their families are attracted—not suprisingly—to "great schools, world-class infrastructure, and a high quality of life." That means long-term investment, much of it coming from local and state tax revenue, some in the form of school and construction bonds. "The entire community must support the quality of life for everyone so that talented entrepreneurs, workers, and their families will want to live and work in the community," he says.

Creative partnerships. Ruster works not only in the city’s economic development office; he also serves as executive director of Work2Future, a workforce investment board that serves the larger Santa Clara County. The board, one of 640 in the U.S., is funded by about $10 million annually from the U.S. Labor Dept. under a job training program that dates back to the Great Depression. It has 40 full-time employees who focus on helping the roughly 90,000 officially unemployed people and an additional 180,000 discouraged and underemployed workers in the county get jobs, from highly skilled workers who have been downsized in the recent recession to lower-skilled people with poor work histories, Ruster says. Although it is unusual to have one person head both agencies, "our vision was that we shouldn’t look at economic development and the workforce as two separate entities. There has been a bottleneck for corporate growth here because of the problem of finding talent. We felt the workforce investment board could and should play a role in [fixing] that." Because they come from the economic development side, job counselors are often better received by the unemployed: "People don’t see us walking up to their doorstep in a charity role."

Startup outreach. Even before they come looking for help, Lynch wants Irvine startups to get connected with local resources, training, and funding. The chamber co-sponsors several initiatives aimed to do that. The Micropreneur Economic Development Program is something like an online training course, featuring seminars, webinars, and interviews with local business owners. Hands-on events are held regularly in conjunction with the TriTech Small Business Development Center, a Small Business Administration office that provides free consulting and workshops to fast-growth tech companies.

Ruster also wants his staff knocking on the doors at new companies and helping them connect. To that end, San Jose has established a separate website,, that lays out services from 40 organizations aimed at startups, from help with government procurement opportunities, to commercial leasing, to a database of prescreened job applicants. "We did firsthand research, and we found that there were a lot of resources available for [startup business owners], but the companies weren’t aware of it. BOS [improves] awareness, Ruster says.

Entrepreneurial mindset. In order to help entrepreneurs, cities and business groups must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset themselves. "We partner with companies from startups, to gazelles, to monolithic corporate brands. We help them develop their network, look for co-branding opportunities for them, help find management and employees at every skill level, and offer support from expedited permitting to helping them demonstrate proof of concept. Instead of just helping them with real estate, we take a holistic approach," says Ruster.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

Miami-Dade unveils new strategy to court Brazil


As Brazil’s prosperity and global profile have risen, it has become South Florida’s top trading partner, the source of its most freely spending visitors and increasingly a source of investment in the local economy.

Now Miami-Dade business and economic development leaders have crafted a strategy aimed at helping the community take advantage of the opportunities the growing South American giant offers.

The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development agency, released a white paper this week that offers specific recommendations on how to strengthen the county’s business relationship with Brazil and in the process create more local jobs.

“Our China is to the south of us — and that’s Brazil. But Brazil is a very large country and we need to have a laser-focus strategy to make sure we are operating in the correct manner,’’ said Frank R. Nero, president and chief executive of the Beacon Council.

Already, Brazil-South Florida annual trade tops $13 billion, Brazilian visitors are spending more than $1 billion yearly in the county, Brazilians are leading the pack in purchases of luxury condos in the downtown Miami/Brickell area, and they have begun to invest in local businesses or establish U.S. outposts here.

And business and marketing opportunities are expected to increase as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics — both hosted by Brazil — approach.

In introducing the white paper, Jack Lowell, chairman of the Beacon Council, said: “Miami-Dade County’s established relations with Brazil provide us with a significant advantage over most other countries and definitely over other areas of the United States. To maintain this advantage, Miami-Dade County must continue to develop and strengthen these relationships.’’

The recommendations include:

• Pushing for a visa-waiver program with Brazil similar to those the United States has with most European countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Currently bills are pending in both the House and Senate to do away with visa requirements for Brazilian visitors.

Waiting time for a U.S. visa now ranges from 62 days in the Brazilian city of Recife to 142 days in the capital Brasilia.

Getting a visa waiver is a priority for the Beacon Council and is “probably the real game-changer,’’ said Nero, because it would not only boost tourism from Brazil but also make it easier for Brazilian executives to visit and potentially set up operations here.

“We plan to kick up our lobbying efforts,’’ said Nero.

• Organizing economic development missions to Brazil that target specific sub-markets and industry clusters because Brazil — the world’s seventh-largest economy — is too big to tackle as one unified market.

Enterprise Florida is planning an October trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. Gov. Rick Scott plans to participate. The Beacon Council, which will be part of that mission, also plans a side trip to Belo Horizonte to meet with economic development officials and companies.

• Collaborating with local, state and Brazilian business organizations in Miami-Dade County to maximize efforts to promote the business climate.

• Working with business organizations such as chambers of commerce and economic development agencies in Brazil.

• Participating in trade shows, such as the large life science fairs Hospitalar and FCE Pharma in Sao Paulo.

• Marketing Miami-Dade in Brazil through the “Miami: Where Worlds Meet’’ campaign — a joint effort of the county, American Airlines, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Downtown Development Authority, Miami International Airport, the Port of Miami, and Baptist Health South Florida.

The white paper was an outgrowth of a March meeting organized by the Beacon Council that brought together Brazil experts, local and Brazilian companies, the Brazilian Consulate in Miami and economic development agencies.

“This is the foundation for a multi-year strategic plan,’’ said Nero. “We want to seize the opportunities Brazil offers as much as possible through a coordinated approach because no one has the resources to do this alone.”

Friday, August 05, 2011

Behind the business of luring in new businesses

By Kevin Keen

Chippewa County (WQOW) - As unemployed Americans struggle to find work, the communities they live in have also struggled to bring in new jobs. Friday, we're taking a closer look at what one local county does to lure new businesses and jobs for the families who live there.

A national trade magazine helps companies scope out new locations. Right on page 53 of a recent issue: an ad for Chippewa County. It lists reasons to do business there.

"We call it the 'product,' says Charlie Walker. "What is Chippewa's product? Our product is our ready industrial park, our infrastructure. We sell that."

Charlie Walker heads the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, which placed the ad in the trade magazine. The organization works to bring in new companies and keep existing ones.

"How do you get customers? You advertise," Walker says. "You have to go where the market's at. You have to tell them that you're open for business, that you have the product that they might need."

Ads, trade shows and visits with business owners and consultants help "sell" Chippewa County to possible future employers.

"We actually ran a direct mail piece to Illinois," Walker says. "You can recall when Illinois raised their taxes and every company was talking about bailing out of Illinois. We did a target market [mailing] there to Illinois."

Selling points include the county's dual railroad lines, central location and possible tax credits from the state.

"Not just the city of Chippewa Falls is being included in economic development but all of the communities--Boyd, New Auburn, Cornell, Stanley," says Teresa Isensee, chair of the economic development corporation's board.

At any given time, the organization is in talks with 10 to 25 potential businesses, answering their questions and trying to beat competitors.

"The competition in economic development since the Great Recession has been heavy," Walker says. "Outside Wisconsin, our competition--which is Iowa, Minnesota, even Illinois--they've put more financial resources behind the marketing of economic development."

The Great Recession also makes their work all the more important. Successes, like helping SGI relocate all its manufacturing here, bring jobs.

The "selling" of Chippewa County continues.

"To make sure that our county is recognized, that we keep everybody here," Isensee says. "We have a great place to live and great place to work."

There are a number of other economic development organizations in Western Wisconsin, including in Eau Claire, Dunn County and Rusk County.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Northern Developers Clash Over Selection Of Regional Marketing Group

Ron Brochu

In the midst of a lingering recession, Northwestern Wisconsin leaders are engulfed in a dispute that could hinder efforts to better promote the area and fund new development.

For months, members of various economic and job development bodies have complained the 10-county area lacks an overarching regional marketing group to seek new private investment. Similar entities – such as The New North, representing a coalition of business groups in 17 counties surrounding Green Bay – already have been created in eight areas of Wisconsin. Only the northwest lacks a unified organization.

But there’s sharp disagreement over who should manage that entity, if it’s created, and the angst has flowed all the way to Madison through a series of letters to the Commerce Department.

In June and July, the dispute came to a rolling boil when Spooner-based Wisconsin Business Innovation Corp., a private nonprofit affiliate of Northwest Regional Planning Commission, was awarded a $30,000 state grant to facilitate creation of the regional marketing group. Within a month, a competitor for that grant, Opportunity North, raised the stakes, declaring itself the “New Regional Economic Development Authority in Northwest Wisconsin.”

“Opportunity North will enable the economic development corporations, governments and member businesses to have their economic interests and concerns communicated to State of Wisconsin and federal officials,” the group said in a July 18 news release. “The mission of the agency will be to bring agencies, businesses and governments together, including tribal governments and municipalities, to improve economic development conditions and the quality of life for residents living and working in this part of the state.”

That announcement caught many by surprise, including Doug Finn, Northwest Regional’s board chair. He said Opportunity North threatens the concept of a unified marketing effort.

“We can’t afford to go in different directions,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of time for people who don’t want to work together.”

Myron Schuster, executive director at Northwest Regional, also was surprised.

“I have no idea what’s going on” with the formation of Opportunity North, he said.

Nonetheless, friction between the groups was hardly a secret in state and local development communities. From Ashland to Hayward, written complaints were filed with the Commerce Department last December after WBIC submitted its grant application to the state. Representatives of city and county development groups and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board said that WBIC, in its grant application, claimed their allegiance without seeking their consent or making any contact whatsoever, an accusation Schuster denies.

“The LCO Tribe knows nothing of the details or the goals and objectives of the (WBIC) grant application,” Michael Isham, a member of the LCO governing board, said in a Dec. 29 letter to Mickey Judkins of the Wisconsin Commerce Department.

“We have had no input and do not support the (Planning Commission’s) application,” Ashland Area Development Corp. Executive Director Dale Kupczyk wrote in a similar letter of complaint dated Dec. 22. Development officials from Washburn and Sawyer counties also submitted written objections, along with former Barron County development director David Miller.

Their response emerged following several months of meetings during 2010 at which the city and county developers discussed creating a regional economic development authority (EDA). Miller led that group until Barron County decided it could no longer afford to fund his position. Scott Allen also was at those sessions. The executive director of Sawyer County Development Corp., he currently is a spokesman for Opportunity North.

“One of the sessions was held in Northwest Regional’s own meeting room in Spooner. Myron (Schuster) didn’t attend. Myron never showed any interest in the project, nor did anyone else at Northwest Regional,” Allen said.

He said participants submitted a grant application to the Commerce Department. Then one day, a state official called to ask if they’d provide a letter to formalize their support for the competing proposal authored by WBIC. That’s when they first learned about WBIC’s application, Allen said, and when they first learned that WBIC claimed region-wide support.

Allen contends Northwest Regional and its WBIC arm wasn’t interested until it learned the incoming administration of Gov. Scott Walker was putting a sizable amount of money on the table for the state-recognized regional marketing groups.

“When money went on the table, Myron Schuster suddenly became interested,” he said.

Others who attended the sessions, however, said they weren’t making much progress.

“All I can do is guess that Scott Allen is upset that his (grant) proposal wasn’t selected” by the state, Schuster said.

In an interview, Allen said Opportunity North intends to proceed without the state’s $30,000 grant. With a budget of less than $1,000, he said his group has formulated bylaws and incorporated as a non-profit to represent the economic interests of Sawyer, Bayfield and Ashland counties. He questioned why so much money was needed to launch a marketing group.

“This is not an ‘Us vs. Them’ situation. We hope they form an EDA for the remaining counties. But the other three have unique needs and unique demographics. Our number one employer is the tribes. We also have significant tribal populations. We have no large cities or interstate highways, and our economy is dominated by forestry and tourism – seasonal jobs,” he said.

An administrator in Wisconsin’s newly reorganized Commerce Department, however, said the state will only sanction a marketing group that represents all 10 counties. Strategic Policy Adviser Amy Young said the state’s goal is to bring “all players to the table,” and it won’t support an entity that represents less than a third of area.

The process to facilitate creation of a regional marketing group will begin in August, Schuster said, and WBIC is interested in becoming that group.

“We have the resources and staff to do what the state wants to get done,” he said, noting that WBIC has $3.2 million in assets and manages a $2 million loan fund.

“I think Northwest Regional Planning Commission is the right group. They make things happen,” said Michelle McKercher, assistant director of the Development Association, which represents Superior and Douglas County. “We’ve had a great working relationship with Northwest Regional. Whenever we’ve contacted them for assistance, we’ve got it.”

Some feel the rift is not as deep as it may seem.

“There might be some pushback because Northwest Regional has such a long history,” said Mari Kay-Nabozny, who directs the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board. “When you’re that old, you’re bound to have some people who don’t like you. Maybe some people just wanted something new.”

Opportunity North intends to hire an executive director having grant writing, development and private sector business expertise, Allen said, who will seek funding through foundations and the federal government

These days, that’s a challenge, said Bill Bay, president of Almena, Wis.,-based Impact 7. Government spending cuts have slashed the availability of many funding sources, he said. Meanwhile, banks face federal lending restrictions.

“These are the worst conditions I’ve seen in 43 years in the economic development business,” he said.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Economic development spending lags in Nevada


Nevada politicians are fond of saying their top three issues are "jobs, jobs and jobs."

But when it comes to state spending on economic development, other states are leaving Nevada in the dust.

Though it was among the few areas in which spending increased in the 2011-13 state budget, Gov. Brian Sandoval is still looking at an economic development budget that is dwarfed by those other states.

"This is a difficult time to throw money into those activities when you have kids and senior citizens with profound needs," said Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who, with Sandoval and other officials, serves on the state's Economic Development Commission.

Mike Skaggs, executive director for the commission, said annual state spending increased to $7 million in the new budget, compared with about $4.6 million in the previous budget.

That's in addition to a $10 million "catalyst fund" the state started to help businesses start or expand.

By comparison, Ohio, in what the USA Today called "the biggest intervention in a private economy" since the Great Depression, will spend $1.4 billion.

Texas, another big spender on economic development, spent more than $350 million in the 2010 fiscal year.

Still, there's no consensus that spending more tax money will result in more private sector jobs.

Michigan has dramatically cut economic development spending.

In recent years Michigan spent as much as $250 million on economic development and couldn't stop a continued economic decline, USA Today reported.

New Gov. Rick Snyder, however, is cutting spending dramatically, according to news reports, and will count on an overall cut in the corporate tax rate to lure business.

During a meeting last week of Nevada's Commission on Economic Development, Sandoval acknowledged Nevada isn't positioned to spend big bucks on economic development.

But he added that doesn't mean the state won't compete.

That's why he's pressing hard for a new analysis of Nevada's strengths and weaknesses as a destination that is expected to identify potential places where complementary industries can form "economic clusters."

The report is expected to be complete in the fall, and Sandoval wants to have a revamped economic development effort running full speed by the new year.

"We all want the same thing, which is a plan," Sandoval said. "We can't just be hoping these companies will move here."

-- Benjamin Spillman

Contact Benjamin Spillman at 702-477-3861 or

EDC, chamber might be headed toward merger


Two decades after a bitter fight led the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. to break away from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the city’s two leading business groups might be headed for a reunification.

The boards of each organization will meet Tuesday to vote on the idea of a merger — and key members of each group say there’s momentum to reorganize under one roof. How a merger would work, the structure of a combined EDC-chamber, its mission and staffing aren’t yet clear.

“Everybody is inclined to find a way to make this merger happen,” said Bill Hodgkins a Boeing Co. executive and chamber board chairman. “There is a lot of devil in the details that will have to be worked out, but I haven’t heard anyone say this isn’t what we want to do.”

EDC Board Chairman Doug Quimby, a Springs real estate developer, said he doesn’t know which direction Tuesday’s meeting will go. But he personally is leaning toward a merger.

“I think that a unified, integrated organization focusing on the economic vitality of the region would be a good idea,” Quimby said.

At stake for the community would be the direction of crucial job creation and retention efforts, along with addressing the problems of local businesses as they deal with health care, government regulations and other public policy issues that affect their bottom lines.

“It’s an important decision that will have long-term implications for the community,” Quimby said.

The idea of a merger, which has surfaced occasionally since the EDC split from the chamber two decades ago, began picking up steam this year as representatives of the two organizations discussed how to improve the local economy.

Among the area’s problems: an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent in May, after having reached a record 10 percent in February; a housing market that continues to struggle; and manufacturing and high-tech industries that have been decimated by two recessions and global economic changes over the last decade.

Talk of a merger heated up after a May visit by Springs civic and business leaders to Oklahoma City — where the local chamber includes economic development operations and tourism promotion. Oklahoma City’s chamber helped lead an economic rebound for that city, which has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates of any metro area in the U.S.

While Oklahoma City’s success helped accelerate discussions, Quimby said, the local economy remains the dominant issue.

“More than anything, it’s the state of the economy and the lack of job growth over the last several years that has led the business community to ask itself whether or not we’re doing all we can to improve the economy in Colorado Springs,” he said.

Soon after EDC President Mike Kazmierski stepped down in May under pressure from his board, an EDC-chamber committee began studying a merger, which included looking at other cities and how they operate. Denver, for example, has combined economic development and chamber operations.

Launched in 1971, the EDC operated for years as an arm of the chamber, which itself was founded in 1892. In 1991, after years of infighting and turf battles mainly over the direction of job creation efforts, the chamber granted the EDC its independence. Since that time, the EDC has had several successes, especially in the early 1990s when Apple, MCI Telecommunications and the Focus on the Family ministry all brought thousands of jobs to the area over a period of just a couple of years.

But times change, Quimby said, and what has worked over the last 20 years might not be the best structure going forward as the economy continues to slump.

On Tuesday, the EDC-chamber committee will present its findings and make a recommendation to a joint meeting of the EDC and chamber boards, which then will meet separately and cast votes on what direction they want to go, Quimby and Hodgkins said.

Hodgkins said negotiations between the two groups over the direction of a combined organization might follow after they cast their votes.

­Contact the writer at 636-0228. Staff reporter Wayne Heilman added to this story.


• The Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. works to attract primary jobs to town — those that bring wealth and investment into the community. It also works to retain existing businesses and to encourage them to expand. In recent years, as job attraction and retention has become more critical and the Springs has competed with other communities to woo businesses, the private, nonprofit EDC has been in the community spotlight.

The EDC is funded in large by investor contributions, but also receives funding from the city of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities. Its 2010 budget was $1.45 million, and its current staff numbers less than 10 people.

• The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for businesses, addressing their concerns and seeking to foster a better business climate by lobbying on their behalf, offering educational programs and the like. The chamber also has been a strong supporter of area military installations and the armed forces.

The chamber has more than 1,600 members — mostly small businesses — who have a combined workforce of 75,000. Its annual budget of about $2 million is funded in large part by member dues, along with revenues from chamber programs and investments by businesses that belong to the chamber’s leadership council. The chamber has about 20 employees.

Creative leaders question decision to send ad work to Denver

By: Louis Llovio
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond's decision to hire Atlas Advertising, a Denver agency, to create a branding campaign for the office that sells the city as a place to do business is not sitting well with some who question the commitment to promoting creativity.

"The word I would use is unfortunate," said Andy Thornton, who owns LaDifférence, a contemporary furniture store in downtown Richmond. "They might have a totally valid reason for doing it, but it certainly sends the wrong signal that (the department of) economic development goes somewhere else" to hire an ad agency to craft the city's message.

Some local ad executive and creative types with a stake in a movement to market the region as the "capital of creativity" are wondering how much faith the city has in the local ad community.

"Atlas has overwhelming experience and quite the roster of clients," said Ed Trask, an internationally known artist living in Richmond. "But in putting faith in our city's own creative abilities, we empower our creative class to work toward a stronger, brighter picture for economic development that doesn't come from an outside firm casting judgments piled on top of endless reports and stats."

In March, the city asked ad agencies to bid on a contract for brand development, website design and creative services for the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The city posted a notice on its website Thursday that it intended to award the contract to Atlas in Denver, where Richmond's chief economic-development officer, Peter Chapman, previously resided.

Andy Stefanovich doesn't fault the city for choosing Atlas, which specializes in providing creative services for economic-development departments, but worries about the message the decision sends in light of the efforts to promote the creative community.

"When you are trying to create a (movement), you have to be careful of any symbol or action that gets in the way of the momentum," said Stefanovich, an executive with the global branding firm Prophet and founder of local branding firm Play.

He is also a force behind i.e.*, a movement to bring businesses and creative leaders together with the goal to "transform this city from a Civil War attraction into a nationally renowned hotbed of creative talent."

A spokeswoman for the mayor said Friday that the city was prohibited from discussing a bid that has not been finalized, adding that the city had reached out to local agencies to participate in the bid. Several did, although she could not say who or how many.

She did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

"The fact of the matter is we don't know all the details," said Jeff Kelley, a spokesman for the Richmond Ad Club. "But we think there was a lost opportunity to engage the local ad community."

While Stefanovich understands that local agencies might be upset, he cautioned people not to get too upset by the city's decision. The creative community "can't be myopic," he said. "There has to be tolerance to looking outside the area."

Stefanovich said if he was advising the mayor, he would recommend that Atlas be brought in to help local agencies who might not have the depth of experience in the economic development field.

"We can use their expertise, but let the creative come from us," he said.

And Trask said there are plenty of agencies in the region that can do the technical side of the job along with the added benefit of knowing what the Richmond region is all about. "I commend the city for trying to find creative change, but they need not look past the borders of our fine city," he said.