Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Great Lakes to Gulf Coast Seek Jobs as U.S. Autos Surge: Cars

By Tim Higgins

Russell Runge, an assistant city manager in Missouri, hovered on the edge of a packed reception for economic-development boosters and automotive-industry executives in northern Michigan. Runge was seeking jobs.

Runge’s city of Mexico, Missouri, located between General Motors Co. (GM:US) and Ford Motor Co. (F:US) factories in Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas, is home to a small auto-parts maker.

“Obviously, we’d love to see more suppliers in the area,” he said last week after a long day at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual industry conference near Traverse City.

He wasn’t alone. The 17-page roster of registered attendees included a who’s who of economic-development officials from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, all seeking a piece of a growing industry. The conference has long attracted state and local government officials eager to gain an audience with auto industry leaders by offering everything from MoonPies to cash incentives. There was new urgency and vibrancy this year. More here.

Muncie officials making China trip

Written by Keith Roysdon

MUNCIE — City and county officials are preparing for their latest trip to China in search of economic development.

The September trip will be the first by local officials since June 2012 and one of the few that’s not part of a state economic development junket led by the governor.

“We’re firming up some final meetings,” Terry Murphy, vice president of the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance, told The Star Press. “When we go, our days are full.”

Murphy, Brad Bookout of the Economic Development Alliance and Delaware County Commissioner James King will make the trip. Bookout represents the city, while King represents the county. The two governments will split the cost of the trip, which Murphy said had not yet been finalized. More here.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The search for identity: Officials start process to ‘brand’ greater Wilmington


Ask Wilmington’s business community to define the city’s identity. Reach out to residents of unincorporated New Hanover County for their perspective. Put it to the natives, tourists, students and nonprofits in the lower Cape Fear. From all corners, answers are sure to differ wildly, but officials say there’s got to be some commonality in this small, southeast corner of North Carolina.

The best of it–whatever it may be–could figure into the area’s “brand,” and that’s the target of a new initiative in discussion between the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, the area’s beach towns and various other partners with stakes in economic development and tourism.

It’s not a re-branding; officials involved are calling it an essential first-time effort to shape an attractive message from the greater Wilmington area to outsiders.

“The branding initiative gives you an identity that you can sell,” said Beth Schrader, strategy and policy manager for the county, during a Monday morning meeting at Wilmington City Hall with city council members and staff.

“A brand is a perception–and a promise that we will deliver on that promise,” said a slide projected on the wall. “What sets our area apart from all of the other southern historic coastal areas?” More here.

London ON has high hopes for high-tech shout out

 By Scott Taylor Metro London

It may go as viral as a Justin Bieber video, but if it reaches its intended audience, folks at the London Economic Development Corp. will be happy.

A new YouTube video — This Morning from London, Canada — is a high-tech shout out to IT and digital-media pros around the world. See it here: http://youtube/V2C7RV24wWg

“It speaks to the three things we wanted to communicate, and it works specifically to support IT and digital media here in the city,” said LEDC president and CEO Peter White. More here.

Economic development study offers tough lessons for counties

by By Ralph Davis

PRESTONSBURG — Local government officials and economic development experts got some tough love Wednesday, when the results of an eight-month study of regional recruitment efforts were revealed.

Insite Consulting, out of Greer, S.C., which specializes in economic development, site selection and real estate services, was hired by Kentucky Power late last year to study and make recommendations about economic development efforts in Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties. Their findings, delivered by Insite princpals Rob Cornwell and Tonya Crist during a luncheon at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, were not pretty.

Local leaders were taken to the woodshed on almost every point, including a lack of full-time staff devoted to economic development, a lack of industrial recruitment websites to let the world know of opportunities in the area, an unwillingness to spend any funds except coal severance tax on economic development, a lack of suitable industrial sites, an inability to handle requests from companies seeking information, a lack of a centralized database listing available assets, and a pervasive atmosphere of county-to-county competition. More here.

Collaboration to promote area to companies

by Aaron Burns

HUNTERSVILLE – Marketing a geographic region is all about teamwork, according to one of the area’s economic development leaders.

“By working together, we can maximize effectiveness (in promoting the region),” said Ryan McDaniels, executive director for the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation.

McDaniels refers to The Lake Norman Region, a new partnership between EnergyUnited and the Lake Norman EDC, the Lincoln County Economic Development Association, the Mooresville-South Iredell EDC, the Catawba County EDC and Statesville Regional Development. More here.

Alabama economic development chief: State "on precipice of great things"

 By Michael Tomberlin |

POINT CLEAR – Armed with a new state branding campaign, coming off Alabama’s most successful year for economic development in seven years and still flying high from landing Airbus a year ago, Greg Canfield couldn’t hide his enthusiasm at the annual summer gathering of the state’s economic development community.

“I found it difficult to concentrate on a few things,” Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, confided as he took the podium of the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s summer conference. “I think the State of Alabama is on the precipice of great things.” More here.

Audit criticizes NC economic development program

A North Carolina audit is finding problems with a program that gives businesses big tax breaks.

At issue in the report State Auditor Beth Wood released Monday are grants issued under the Commerce Department's Job Development Investment Grant program. The decade-old program has awarded 145 grants totaling more than $600 million.

The audit says state officials are relying on companies to confirm they've met job-creation and investment targets without independently checking the information. It also says the Economic Investment Committee, which oversees the JDIG program, should be informed about other companies being considered. More here.

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Development delegation networks in Chicago

A delegation of economic development officials from the Jackson Regional Partnership traveled to Chicago in June to network with site-selection consultants.

It’s all about building relationships, said Kyle Spurgeon, chief executive officer of the Jackson Chamber. He traveled with other economic development officials from West Tennessee, including Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley and Milan Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Julie Allen Burke.

“People do business with the folks they like and trust,” Spurgeon said. “Building relationships with site-selection consultants is a key piece of any economic development effort.”

Site-selection consultants rely on data — such as available workforce figures, quality of life indicators and the strength of transportation facilities — to determine whether a community is a good fit for a particular industry. A good relationship between local economic development officials and consultants can set a community apart from others or win closer scrutiny from a prospective company. More here.