Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nearly half of companies that received Ohio economic development awards didn't keep promises

A new Ohio Attorney General’s report showed that only 52 percent of companies that received Ohio taxpayer-funded economic development awards that ran out in 2010 kept their promises to boost the economy.

The report, released Thursday, identified 200 companies that received grants, tax credits and other awards from the Ohio Department of Development that did not meet their goals for job creation, job retention or other measures. More here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What’s behind those code names?

From The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA:

Referring to prospective companies by code names has a long history in economic development, said Jack Roberts, executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership.

“You come up with a code name so you don’t end up giving things away,” he said. Roberts said economic development officials strive for names that conjure a mental connection for those working on a project, but aren’t immediately apparent to outsiders.

When Enterprise Rent-a-Car was scoping out local sites for a call center, for example, Roberts and his team referred to it as Star Trek, as in the Starship Enterprise.

“When we told (company officials) that, they said, ‘You have to change that, it’s too obvious,’” Roberts said.

But it wasn’t too obvious in Lane County, where the typical resident would be more likely to associate Star Trek with a high-tech company than the car rental firm, he said.

Sometimes, a project will arrive already christened by a national site consultant. Sometimes, state officials will choose a moniker that local economic development officials adopt.

“I guess it’s one of the little ways we amuse ourselves in the economic development world,” Roberts said.

by Sherri Buri McDonald

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas present for Murfreesboro

Amazon announces a new $135 million distribution center that will employ 1,300 in this Tenessee community.  More here.

Wabash Valley marketing plan takes six-county approach

Six counties in western Indiana have joined together to market themselves through a new effort called “Accelerate West Central Indiana Economic Development.”

It is a cooperative effort of Vigo, Vermillion, Clay, Parke, Putnam and Sullivan counties to market the Wabash Valley with its available industrial and commercial land, buildings and workforce.

That cooperative marketing approach has brought leads such as a drug manufacturer now eyeing the former Pfizer property in Vigo County. Pfizer laid off more than 650 workers from its former Vigo County plant in 2008 after it decided to stop selling Exubera because of slow sales.More details on the new effort, its goals and successes can be found here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Company’s moving away ignites local political battle in Parsippany

Real estate franchiser Realogy Corp. is receiving $12.1 million in incentives from the state of New Jersey to move to a new location seven miles from their current one.

According to Richard A. Smith, president and CEO of Realogy,several other relocation options had been considered but business incentives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, along with the New Jersey Business Action Center’s efforts, were a significant factor in Realogy’s decision to remain in state. More here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Union: Show proof of missed jobs

In response to statements by Indiana Republican leaders that the state is missing job opportunites for lack of a right-to-work law, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is calling for them to prove their claim.

David Fagan, Merrillville-based financial secretary of the Countryside, Ill.-based, 23,000-member union local, called for Gov. Mitch Daniels, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, to produce a list of companies that passed over the state in the past 12 months and where they went instead. More here

Monday, December 19, 2011

RI, chamber of commerce join to lure businesses

Another "knowledge" district is born. More here.

Palm Coast takes business-ready approach

This editorial in the Daytona Beach New Journbal describes Palm Coast government's efforts to take a positive, proactive steps toward economic development.

Among the proposed actions is spending $25,000 for the promotion and pre-permitting of some land suitable for new businesses. City Manager Jim Landon said the city could shave as many as 300 days off the building process, because pre-permitting could allow construction in as few as 30 days.

The plan, called the "Business Ready Program," is hailed by the paper as a "laudable "micro" approach to economic development. Instead of waiting for the national and state economies to lift the Palm Coast tide, city officials are taking simple steps to promote development," the ditorial says.  More here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

St. Louis needs to reboot economic development efforts


For the St. Louis economy, this year looked a lot like the previous 20 or 30, and it's a rut we really need to get out of.

Job growth lagged the nation. Well-known local companies succumbed to takeovers, without enough new businesses to take their place. Officials argued about strategy while failing to address the region's deep-seated problems.

Denny Coleman, the president of the St. Louis County Economic Council, has been sounding the alarm about these issues recently, ever since the council commissioned a report on the region's economic strategy.

One headline from the report, written by consulting firm AECOM, is that within two decades, because of slow population growth, we'll no longer be one of the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. We're currently No. 18.

That top-20 ranking automatically confers big-city status. National retail chains want to have a presence in the top 20 markets; advertisers target their messages there. Cities in the next tier are important, but they have to fight harder for attention.

Coleman believes AECOM's warning should be a wake-up call.

"We have been living off the wealth creation from select legacy companies here for some time," he said. "While we've created some new, significant wealth, the competition in other metro areas is outpacing us."

More here.

In Michigan, privately run development sector grows

By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Though many communities and counties across Michigan operate their own economic development departments, nearly as many private organizations have been formed to spur growth in the state.

Most are set up as public-private partnerships, funded mainly by business with some contribution from cities, counties, school districts or colleges.

Nationally, about 55% of the members of the International Economic Development Council, a nonprofit trade group with more than 3,300 members, are from taxpayer-funded organizations and about 30% that were private-public partnerships. The remainder were either private consultants or private banks and utilities.

More here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Economists pitch Halifax-Detroit freight link

Detroit could become a major inland port by establishing a rail link with the expanding deepwater port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, say three Michigan economists who have formed a nonprofit group to promote the idea.

The Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway ultimately could create 150,000 jobs associated with transporting billions of dollars of auto parts, chemicals, agricultural products and finished goods sold by major retailers throughout the Midwest, backers say. More here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pulling the Strings

By Andy Meek

Long before the first widgets roll off the assembly line, way back before the ribbon cutting and the first shovels break ground, and even before executives quietly slip in to scout out a prospective piece of land, someone like Mark Sweeney gets a phone call.

Major corporate relocations and economic development coups might seem like a happy stroke of luck for the cities and states that win them. That’s because the public doesn’t see what went on to woo employers like City Brewing Co., Electrolux, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. (MEPPI), Great American Steamboat Co. and Kruger, all of which have brought tens of millions of dollars in new investment and the potential for thousands of new jobs to the Memphis area over the past year. One of the most recent such deals involved IDEXX Laboratories Inc., which completed a $13.5 million expansion of its Memphis reference laboratory and distribution center that will have resulted in 90 new jobs by the end of 2012.

IDEXX’s Memphis distribution center also is the worldwide hub for the company’s products, with more than 40 employees processing and shipping orders.

Like the journeys of a thousand miles that begin with a single step, so too begin the business recruitments and expansions that can reshape their hometowns for years to come. And what frequently sets that chain of economic development events in motion is often a site selection consultant like Sweeney, senior principal with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, simply answering the phone. More here.

Hampton Roads business agency seeks funding

Like many regional economic development groups, the Hampton Roads EDA is finding it a challenge to raise funds in the current economy.  The alliance is having to redouble its efforts to raise funding from companies looking for ways to cut costs.Part of this year's campaign is explaining to businesses why the region needs an economic development group and pointing to deals it helped bring to Hampton Roads.  More here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Indiana economic development group backs right-to-work

This would be a game changer for the midwest.  The board of directors of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has thrown its support behind the push for right-to-work legislation.

The agency unanimously passed a resolution to support the legislation, which Republican lawmakers have promised to push in the upcoming General Assembly. The IEDC said the state doesn’t even get a chance to compete for as many as half of the expansion projects out there “due solely to the absence of a right-to-work law.” More here.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Experts offer ideas on marketing Whirlpool plant

Shortly after Whirlpool announced plans to close its Fort Smith manufacturing plant by mid 2012, company, state and local officials said they would work hard to market the property to and attempt return jobs to the facilities. More on how they plan to do it is here.

Monday, December 05, 2011

More staff needed at TEAM Santa Rosa, expert says

TEAM Santa Rosa needs more staff and a new name to better do its job in economic development.

Those are among the recommendations that consultant Tom Ticknor made this morning to the Santa Rosa County Commission in his report on how to reform TEAM Santa Rosa.

"You have very, very good fundamentals to move forward from," Ticknor told commissioners. Ticknor, an economic development from Illinois whom TEAM paid $10,000 for his work. Ticknor spent a week in Santa Rosa County in November during which he interviewed 75 people, including all five commissioners, to determine how to best reform TEAM.

"The companies I talked to who have worked with TEAM Santa Rosa ... support it very, very strongly," he said. "That's not to say you don't have challenges. There have been downsizing in some of your major industries. ... The organization has relatively low private investment."

Ticknor recommended that TEAM keep its current staff and add a marketing professional as its chief executive officer for the purposes of better marketing Santa Rosa to potential industries and better managing the organization's image among voters and elected officials. TEAM chairman Dave Hoxeng said that position would require $100,000 from the commission this year.

He also recommended that TEAM work more closely with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce for regional economic development effort and that the organization change its name to Santa Rosa Economic Development Council, so that the name focuses more on the idea of economic development.

Ticknor said TEAM needs to be more aggressive in getting grants and private investment. He also said the county should consider increasing public funds to TEAM. Currently, at $413,480, the county pays $3.03 per capita, whereas he said "aggressive countywide" economic development efforts usually see a $3 to $5 per capital investment.

"If you want to be highly competitive, you need to look at strengthening those resources," he said.

The meeting is ongoing.

Chinese sweetener deal turns sour


By now, the SweetO plant on the edge of town was supposed to be up and running. It was supposed to be pumping out high-grade artificial sweetener by the truckload, paying nearly 200 people making $17.50 an hour, and serving as Exhibit A of how foreign — Chinese — investment could bring new life deep into the Missouri heartland.

Instead, the half-built plant sits idle, and the city could be on the hook for $39 million of the company's bad debt.

The apparent collapse last week of Mamtek USA's $46 million deal to build a sweetener plant in this central Missouri town is quickly becoming a sort of cautionary tale for those who ponder leaping into the rapids of the global economy. It also is becoming a flash point in Jefferson City jousting over a tax credit bill designed to draw Chinese investment to St. Louis and streamline incentives like those offered to Mamtek.

But in this old railroad town of 14,000 people, 30 miles north of Columbia, the swift disappearance of Mamtek and the jobs it promised is mostly just a disappointment.

It started with such promise.

More here.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mo. jobs chief defends review of sweetener maker

This is the story of a deal gone bad and the ensuing argument over how much due diligence ws performed. 

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced in July 2010 that a Chinese company named Mamtek would open a factory in Moberly that could employ up to 612 people. Moberly issued $39 million of bonds to finance the facility's construction, and the state offered about $17 million of incentives.

Work stopped on the partially built plant this September after Mamtek missed a bond payment to Moberly, which in turn said it would default on the bonds. No state incentives ever were paid, because the project collapsed before the aid could be triggered. The Missouri attorney general, legislature and federal Securities and Exchange Commission now are investigating the Mamtek project. More here.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Behind the Chiquita deal: Months of meetings, lobbying

The article describes the five months of meetings with state and local officials from Gov. Bev Perdue on down, an all-out lobbying push, a scramble to come up with financial incentives, custom-made bowties and a letter from a fourth-grader that served to lure Chiquita Brands from Cincinatti to Charlotte.

The city and state coughed up $22 million in an effort that also involved more than 180 elected officials, business leaders and others. It also included a grassroots social-media campaign.  More here.

Chamber study aimed at economic development enhancement

This article describes efforts by Cobb County Georgia to develop a new economic development strategy and model.   WIth the assistance of Market Street Services, it is believed to be similar to the effort in nearby Gwinnett County, There, econmic development services are delivered through Partnership Gwinnett, a special division of the Gwinnett Chamber that handles economic development there and has six full-time employees. The article gives good insight into Market Street's experience and the development of Partnership Gwinnett.  More here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

New Iowa economic authority adopts new logo

The State of Iowa has made the first change to its braand strategy since 2003.  "Iowa is Life Changing" is out in favor of a new a new brand that features the state’s name with the “O” in Iowa a colored pair of parenthesis, with the materials playing off that image to highlight or showcase various messages. More here.