Monday, May 27, 2013

Great Lakes region pins economic hopes on water

By  John Flesher -Associated Press 

MILWAUKEE -- A century ago, the seven-story brick building a few blocks from downtown was a factory - a symbol of an era when Milwaukee and other cities ringing the Great Lakes were industrial powerhouses churning out steel, automobiles and appliances. Eventually the region's manufacturing core crumbled, and the structure became an all-but-forgotten warehouse.

Now it's getting a makeover and a new mission. It will reopen this summer as a hive of business experimentation swarming with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. They'll share a lab where new technologies can be tested. Office suites will host startup companies, including one devising a system for cultivating algae as biofuel, another producing a type of pavement that lets rainwater seep into the ground instead of flooding sewers.

The center is part of a broader effort unfolding across the Great Lakes region to regain lost prosperity by developing a "blue economy" - a network of industries that develop products and services related to water, from pump and valve manufacturers to resorts offering vacations along redeveloped lakeshores.

As growing water scarcity casts a shadow over the economic boom in warmer states, many in the long-scorned northlands are hoping they can finally make their abundance of freshwater a magnet for businesses and jobs that are now going elsewhere. More here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Northern Kentucky economic development is flying high

Northern Kentucky has generated lots of economic announcements in the past year--business expansions here,  job expansions there--and the momentum continues into this year.  Much of the growth is thanks to a wealth of resources such as available land, a well-trained workforce and nearby transportation, including the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and DHL.

 The economic development organization for Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, attracts about 22 new projects a year.  Senior Vice President Karen Finan said last year there were 24 that generated $300 million in capital investment and thousands of jobs.  She's projecting another signature year for the region.

"Right now, we have ten projects that we have announced; we have over 500 jobs that have been created and over $80 million in capital investment," said Finan.  "The first half of this year has been very strong, in part, because of the pipeline we have established in attracting and creating that awareness about Northern Kentucky." More here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Regional economic development group Thrive rebrands

Thrive, the eight-county economic development group for south-central Wisconsin, is now the Madison Region Economic Partnership. 

The new name, a new logo, and the next round of plans for growth were unveiled Thursday at the organization’s State of the Region summit, along with a report showing the Madison area is not keeping up with peer regions in jobs, income or population gains.  Read more.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Iowa economic development boss defends expenses

The director of Iowa's Economic Development Authority is defending her substantial travel spending, saying it's necessary to promote the state.

Debi Durham said Monday that spending will be going up as she and others continue to sell the state across the world.

"We are going to go out and make calls. We are going to travel the world," she said. "It is only going to increase."

She came under fire last month after WHO-TV in Des Moines reported she spent more than $73,000 on travel in the 2012 fiscal year. Gov. Terry Branstad soon came to her defense, saying Durham "works day and night for the taxpayers of Iowa." More here.

Information from: Sioux City Journal,

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Iowa’s Creative Corridor hires company to market region.

The Gazette

Economic development groups hope a new partnership with a site selection company it hopes will boost business interest in the Corridor.

The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) and Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, two of the seven counties that make up Iowa’s Creative Corridor, hired Site Location Partnership (SLP) to represent and market the region at industry trade shows.

SLP, a Dallas-based consultant, will market the corridor’s advanced manufacturing, bio processing, food ingredients, distribution and logistics industries, among others, to companies interested in expanding or relocating to the Corridor.  More here.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

NE Ohio economic development groups tout benefits of their collaboration

Civic and political leaders in Northeast Ohio talk at length about working together regionally. But it may be the area's private-sector business development and attraction organizations that make the best effort at getting regionalism to work.

Ten of those organizations report that, as a group, they worked last year with companies and entrepreneurs that expect to create 36,363 jobs and $1.8 billion in capital investment in Northeast Ohio. The jobs and investment is expected to come from companies in many sectors; the businesses include expanding health care and biotechnology firms and drillers rushing to tap into the recently discovered oil and gas fields in Ohio's Utica shale region.

While business investment decisions are complex and often based on internal factors, these organizations help untangle red tape, identify public and private financial partners and show companies locations for offices or plants. More here.

Plan advances for a merged city-county economic development agency


A plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County economic development efforts advanced Tuesday when the County Council introduced legislation to establish the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

Hailed by business leaders this year, the new body’s role would be to guide the St. Louis region’s joint efforts to attract, retain and expand businesses. It’s intended to provide a unified voice for the region, officials said.

The partnership would be based in Clayton. The target date to begin operation is July 1.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen already is considering similar legislation.

In February, St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced that the Economic Development Partnership would be created. Dooley championed it as “greater collaboration between the city and county as a way to propel our region forward.” More here.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Saying no thanks to growth, Leelanau County commissioners abolish development authority


SUTTONS BAY, Michigan — Business leaders are criticizing a decision by the Leelanau County commission to abolish its economic development corporation and reject a partnership with nearby Grand Traverse County that is designed to promote growth.

Meeting in Suttons Bay on April 8, commissioners said the northwestern Lower Peninsula county is wealthy enough already and that they don't want growth. They said it's up to people to find their own jobs and businesses to make their own plans.

"We've been a county for over 150 years," Commissioner Karen Zemaitis said at the meeting. "The people in this county have always managed to make a living, whether it was fishing or ice-marketing. Times changed, that didn't work, they went to agriculture, cherries. Now they have the wineries.

"These independent, intelligent people in our county can make a living for themselves. They can develop their own economic community, they can figure out what it takes to have a business here. They can adapt." More here.

City chiefs pitch joint economic development plan for all of region

Paige Desmond, Record staff

WATERLOO REGION — In the next two months, city officials will consider an unprecedented move — working together on economic development and a strategy for industrial land.

To do so, they will have to get over their trust issues.

“There’s a lack of trust in the region,” said Lee Parsons of Malone Given Parsons Limited, the consultant hired to complete an assessment of economic development here.

“There’s a lack of shared consensus on how to proceed.”

At an all-council meeting Thursday that brought together local city, township and Region of Waterloo politicians, a plan was unveiled that would see the creation of a regional office of economic policy, an employment land strategy and economic development strategy. More here.

Merge Beacon Council with chamber, trade center

Stop the executive search! The Beacon Council should suspend the search for a new executive director. Now is an ideal time to explore a merger of the Beacon Council, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the World Trade Center of Miami.

By putting all of these economic growth interests under one roof, the private sector would be the majority stakeholders of a combined agency. With a controlling interest, the business community could set the course for restoring the prosperity of our region, free of the persistent buffeting by the public sector.

The very existence of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s public/private partnership for economic development, is ripe for review. It seems the Beacon Council is constantly the target for ridicule by elected officials, newspaper columnists, representatives of disadvantaged communities and small business owners. Simply changing the executive director will not stem the criticism.

Read more here.

Consultant presents economic development recommendations

Craven County’s best bet to successfully grow jobs and its economy appears to be recruiting businesses of 100 employees or less and having shell buildings ready for them to quickly modify and move in, a consultant said last Thursday.

Kyle S. Talente, vice president of the economic planning and real estate consulting firm RKG Associates Inc., made that recommendation to about 50 other area leaders at a presentation at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.

Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh suggested that having shell buildings ready was a step that had been debunked in economic development philosophy not that long ago.

But Talente said his analyses of the times and place show the theory of being ready for occupants has come full circle. More here.

Alliance, Fort Wayne chamber merge together to promote shared vision

Community leaders say the consolidation of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance will create a one-vision, one-voice approach that will enhance economic stability and development.

“The missions of the alliance and the chamber are not the same, but they are very well-aligned,” said Scott Glaze, chairman and CEO of Fort Wayne Metals and a member of the consolidated organization’s board. “We believe with common leadership, with common purpose, we will continue to be able to make our community stronger.” More here.

Economic development, Texas-style: What Illinois can learn

Texas Gov. Rick Perry last week made a high-profile job-raiding trip to Chicago. But the Lone Star visit worth watching will be in June, when economic development officials from Austin make their annual trip to call on site-selection consultants as well as companies.

As the city and the state of Illinois fill top jobs at World Business Chicago, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, it's worth paying attention to how Austin approaches economic development.

Read more