Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tennessee effort seeks growth in rural incomes

Written by Duane Marsteller , The Tennessean

State agriculture officials are exploring various ways to promote Tennessee farmers’ and foresters’ products as part of a broader effort to spur economic development in rural areas.

Among the ideas on the table: targeting agribusiness recruitment efforts, marketing lesser-known commodities and seeking “green” certification for building products from Tennessee.

Those concepts are among the first to surface from a recently created working group within state government. The Tennessee Agriculture and Forestry Economic Development Task Force has met twice since it was formed in October.

“It’s primarily looking at things we can do or adjust to improve incomes in our rural areas,” said Joe Gaines, assistant commissioner of market development for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, one of the group’s member agencies. Others taking part include economic and community development, labor and workforce development, and tourism.

Gaines said the group has discussed only agriculture and forestry matters so far, but is looking at several key concepts, among them:

Better targeting agribusiness recruitment efforts by identifying which companies are most likely to relocate here or expand in Tennessee, then aggressively courting them.

Promoting Tennessee exports, especially of lesser-known products, by organizing more trade events and trade missions. The state also might take a more active role in a 12-state compact that promotes hardwood sales, which total $300 million a year in Tennessee.

Seeking LEED, Green Globe and other “green” certifications for Tennessee wood products.

State officials plan to meet with agriculture and forestry industry leaders in the coming months to get feedback and solicit other ideas, Gaines said.

Although there is no deadline or timetable for making any decisions, “we would like to have some of our thoughts together by the start of the legislative session,” he said.

The task force is part of a broader effort by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration effort to spur job creation. Other aspects include reorganizing the economic development agency and creating a $29.7 million seed, early and expansion-stage capital program for business interests.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Can Rick Scott's jobs czar bring business to Florida?

By Michael C. Bender, Times/Herald Tallahassee BureauTampa Bay Times

Gray Swoope pulls his hands from his pockets long enough to hold open each door he crosses in the state Capitol for anyone who might want to pass through first.

It's a fitting image.

As Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar, Swoope (rhymes with "hope") must open the door to more business in Florida, finding a better calculus than his predecessors to lure new companies across the state line while keeping existing employers from escaping.

There have been early signs of success. The state's 10.3 percent jobless rate is its lowest since June 2009. In September, Time Warner announced plans to create 500 jobs in Hillsborough County. The company got state and local tax incentives worth $3 million.

But there have been hints of trouble, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brand Kenya unveils drive to market counties

By Mugambi Mutegi

Brand Kenya is training local government officials on the branding and marketing of counties in order to attract investment.
The national image agency is keen on preparing counties for the sizeable budgetary allocations expected once the devolved government structure becomes operational after next year’s General Election and has set aside Sh3 million for the campaign.

“Town and city branding is critical to the development of urban centres and if well planned such centres stand at a vantage point to attract investments and roll out better infrastructure facilities to benefit residents,” said Brand Kenya chief executive Mary Kimonye. More here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Iowa’s New Economic Development Entity

The newly formed Iowa Economic Development Authority (formerly IDED) will use the best aspects of the public and private sectors to create a dynamic, results-driven partnership with programs and incentives that will meet the needs for business growth.

This model marks a new direction in economic development for the state and consists of two arms – the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Innovation Corporation.

The authority is a quasi-government agency that replaces the existing Iowa Department of Economic Development and will perform its current duties. The authority will have a more focused set of incentives, providing maximum flexibility to meet the needs of potential employers.

The second entity, the Iowa Innovation Corporation, will serve as the private sector side of the economic development equation and will work to attract investors and investment capital. A non-profit, the IIC will solicit funds for various sources in the private sector to be used for its job creation efforts.

Iowa has set bold economic development goals for the coming years: Create 200,000 private-sector jobs and raise family incomes by 25 percent. This new approach to economic development will focus on innovation and growing high-paying jobs that will support Iowa’s future.

Advanced Manufacturing On The Rise

One key economic cluster that will help the state reach these goals is the advanced manufacturing industry. Newly released numbers by the Battelle Memorial Institute, reveal that advanced manufacturing employs 13 percent of all Iowa private-sector jobs. It also accounts for 33 percent of Iowa’s private-sector economic output and generates 78 percent of its patents. During 2009, advanced manufacturing employed around 156,000 people.

The report also identified biosciences and information technology as key areas for the state.

Included below are some additional data points from the report:

• Iowa's advanced manufacturing sector remains diverse, and not overly dependent on any one sector for its economic fortunes. Containing 18 subsectors, the advanced manufacturing sector in Iowa demonstrates regional specialization in fully 14 of these.
• During the recession, Iowa's advanced manufacturing sector shed 11% of its jobs; somewhat less than the national sector which dropped by nearly 12%.
• Average wages for the state's advanced manufacturing sector and all of its major subsectors are greater than those for the average private sector worker. The average wage is $50,669 which is 40% higher or more than $14,000 greater per year. Among the major subsectors, aerospace has the highest average wages at $71,313 per year.
• The expanding biobased products sector and the need to find biobased alternatives to foreign energy imports is a good subsector in which to leverage strengths and holds promise for future employment growth.
• The "emerging potential" subclusters, that are gaining employment but have not yet reached regionally-specialized levels include "research, engineering and industrial design services" and "human biosciences"—areas that are actually supported by the other Iowa clusters of IT and bioscience.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Study looks at how to improve economic diversification in Nevada

By Jennifer Robison

No more muddling through.

That's the big message from an economic-development study to be unveiled Monday before Gov. Brian Sandoval and other state policymakers.

The 178-page report, from the Brookings Institution's Brookings Mountain West division and its Metropolitan Policy Program, features an exhaustive accounting of Nevada's past efforts at diversification, and how the state can do better.

One key finding: "We concluded there's been a bit of a drift in the past," said Mark Muro, coordinator of Brookings Mountain West and a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program. "There's been a lack of strong vision, not too much management of the state's partners and not much data used."

More here.

Unified economic development strategy urged

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

The Milwaukee area has several public and private groups doing good work to help businesses grow, but lacks a unified economic development strategy that would improve those efforts, a new report says.

As a result, there are conflicts between groups that focus on drawing larger companies to southeastern Wisconsin, and other groups that support local start-up businesses.

Those are among the conclusions in the report issued by the Public Policy Forum, a nonpartisan research group that focuses on Milwaukee-area issues. More here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Changing the Economic Development Paradigm in Maryland

By Oz Bengur

With the federal government and states scrambling to figure out ways to jump-start the economy, creating jobs seems like a politician's main job these days.

One tried (if not true) method has been for states to offer incentives to businesses to relocate from another state; or as an ode to our dismal economic times, offer incentives so a company doesn't take its jobs and leave. That's what happened recently when the O'Malley Administration offered about $9.5 million to keep Bechtel Corporation​ from moving its Frederick, Maryland manufacturing facility to Virginia and saving about 1,250 jobs.

No doubt the administration had nightmares of another company like Northrup Grumman​ choosing Northern Virginia over Maryland. Grumman, if you remember, was looking for a site for its corporate headquarters that would have brought 300 high paying executive jobs to the state. No matter that the deal cost Virginia about $40 million dollars of taxpayers' money or $133,000 for each job.

At just $7,600 a job, the Bechtel deal was a comparative bargain.

The state Economic Development chief and others argue that in the economic development equivalent of an arms race, the state has to ante up cash and incentives to attract companies and jobs - or worse, keep them from moving. These deals have become an accepted way of promoting economic development. But should that continue? The state will never have enough money to provide incentives to all the companies that may be looking around for another headquarters or manufacturing facility.

More here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Economic development millage defeated

In Adrian, Michigan, the Lenawee County EDC proposed a property tax to fund economic development after declining support from businesses and local governments. 

The ballot measure was soundly defeated after voters said no in Tuesday’s election to the tax. The vote was nearly 63 percent against the 0.28 mill property tax that appeared on the ballot as Proposal 1. The final tally for Proposal 1 was 6,957 against and 4,125 in favor. More here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

EDC turns to the Web and social media to spotlight economic development

By: Anne Polta, West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — A contest to help launch the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission’s newly retooled website at www.kandiyohi.com has turned up some little-known facts about the local economy.

For instance, 100 patents in agriculture and the biosciences have been filed since 2006 by companies located in Kandiyohi County. Or, within the next five years, local companies are projected to collectively invest $1 billion in renewable energy projects.

By the end of November, the EDC hopes to have dozens of similar stories to feature on the website, promoting the county as a dynamic, innovative place to do business.

“We’ve got some really great stories to tell,” said Jean Spaulding, assistant director of the Economic Development Commission.

More here.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Gov. Bill Haslam joins Memphis officials in rolling out red carpet for site-selection experts

By Tom Bailey Jr
The Commercial Appeal

The governor, mayors and Greater Memphis Chamber rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for about a dozen people who advise businesses where in the world to build or relocate.

When all other factors among competing cities are about even, building relationships between local leaders and corporate decision-makers is crucial, said one of the visiting site-selection consultants, Robert M. Ady of the Chicago-based Ady International Company.

"Here, it's been demonstrated in spades, in my opinion,'' he said of Memphis. "Memphis has its act together."

Ady and his fellow travelers had just been treated to a lunch at The Peabody, given time with with FedEx chairman Frederick W. Smith, and greeted royally by Gov. Bill Haslam, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

After lunch, the Greater Memphis Chamber's "2011 Red Carpet Tour'' continued as the consultants boarded a bus. They were to see first-hand Memphis Bioworks, Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park and the CN/CSX intermodal facility, Smith & Nephew, and the Bartlett life science corridor.

More here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Illinois program more about maintaining than growing jobs

A Chicago Tribune analysis shows Gov. Pat Quinn has pledged about a half-billion dollars in tax credits over the next decade to create 5,709 jobs and retain 22,610 workers through the EDGE program

More here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Art for Economic Development’s Sake

by James A. Bacon

Forget about art for art’s sake. Let’s talk about art for economic development’s sake.

A couple of days ago I lauded the City of Richmond’s efforts to create a downtown arts district. (See “Richmond’s Wine-and-Brie Path to Community Development.”) I was thinking mainly in terms of the effect that a cluster of artists would have in improving the region’s quality of life, making Richmond city a fun — dare I say it, even a cool — place to live. It turns out that I may have sold the arts district short by neglecting to observe that artists also make decent money and contribute to innovation.

A research update to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, “Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005,” suggests that artists aren’t all of the starving variety. Indeed, the median wage/salary for artists — a group ranging from architects, producers and writers on the high end to dancers, photographers and “other” entertainers on the bottom — averages out to be $43,230. That’s 10% higher than the average wage.

Artists are highly entrepreneurial: they are 3.5 times more likely than the total United States workforce to be self-employed. They also are better educated — more than half have a bachelor’s degree. However, they also are less likely to have full-year or full-time employment, which accounts for their having lower median incomes than workers with similar education levels.

Not surprisingly, New York and California have among the largest concentrations of artists in the country, although the top honors goes to Washington, D.C., with 3.1% of the population. (That’s “artist,” not “con artist.”) The home state of Broadway counts 2.3% of its residents as artists, while artists comprise 2% of the workforce in LaLa Land. Virginia lags the national average: only 1.3% of its workers are classified as artists. Virginia stands out artistically speaking only in one way: It has a high concentration of writers and authors. (Ironically, Virginia ranks way below average in the book publishing occupational cluster.) Richmond, for what it’s worth, has a high concentration of dancers.

As economic geographer Richard Florida has observed, artists are a key component of the “creative class” that contributes disproportionately to innovation and entrepreneurial activity. In the case of Richmond, the artistic cluster seems to be tied closely to the advertising/marketing industry segment. We’re not talking “high tech” here — a will ‘o the wisp for a region like Richmond. But encouraging the growth of Richmond’s artistic community strikes me as a sound economic development strategy that builds upon existing assets (the Martin Agency, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the VCU arts department) and contributes to the growth of a robust creative class.