Saturday, May 17, 2014

How the U.P. can fight population decline and foster economic development

Like many rural areas, the U.P. has struggled with population decline for decades. We explore what cities, state agencies, development groups and entrepreneurs are doing to lessen its impact and create new opportunities. 
The 2010 census confirmed what leaders across the U.P. already know: the region, like many rural areas, continues to lose population. The trend is partly due to the U.P.'s demographics, which skew older than the country's urban areas, and partly due to residual effects from the loss of major employers like K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. It's likely to persist for the foreseeable future, whether due to the apparent final closing of the Empire Mine in Marquette County or the potential loss of a lucrative military contract at Marinette Marine, which would affect Menominee County.

But the U.P. has a bounty of natural--beyond traditional resources like timber and iron ore--and human assets that have yet to be tapped. So what are the region's business leaders, economic development authorities, local governments, and tourism agencies doing to stem the negative effects of population decline and attract or retain residents? More than you might think. More here.

Toyota hit pay dirt in Texas, will Charles Schwab?

Senior Reporter- San Francisco Business Times

Toyota struck a cash gusher when it moved its North American headquarters to Dallas from Southern California.

This week the city council of the Dallas suburb of Plano unanimously approved an incentive package for the Japanese auto maker.

The issue is top of mind in the Bay Area, where Texas is considered to be one of the states heavily courting Charles Schwab and the 1,000 San Francisco jobs the brokerage is moving out of California.

Toyota might be a bigger catch, given the 3,650 jobs and the likelihood that the company's suppliers will gravitate to Plano. But there's no doubt that winning the Schwab jobs would provide bragging rights to Dallas — as if Texans ever need a reason to boast. More here.

Detroit: the bankrupt city turned corporate luxury brand

Rose Hackman,

It's Friday night in the heart of Detroit at the Red Bull House of Art, a 14,000-square-foot underground art gallery carved out of the basement of a 19th century brewery. Thousands of the young, the chic and the smart have gathered to celebrate a new cycle of local artists’ work. DJ Erika is spinning, champagne is flowing. Outside, a line of people hoping to enter winds around the block.

Christopher Stevens, a good-looking 29-year-old car designer from California, is the host of the hottest after-party, in his loft above the brewery's back stairs. In the middle of the room casually rest two of his motorbikes, with a piano in one corner. Darko, the resident pit bull puppy, darts in between guests from one end of the room to the other.

“I love Detroit,” Stevens says, after declaring how depressing he finds the idea of suburbs. “Detroit is full of heritage and history. I came for its grittiness. It’s full of culture – old Americana culture.”

To Kirk Cheyfitz, CEO of New York-based advertising firm Story Worldwide, and a former Detroit Free Press award-winning reporter, companies coming to the Motor City for branding are “wrapping themselves around a mythology that is outlaw”.

“It is a safe way to be appealing to young people all over the country who embrace those kinds of feelings – of wanting to be outside of the mainstream while actually defining the mainstream,” Cheyfitz says. More here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Speed dating meets economic development

Kathy Aney East Oregonian East Oregonian

Matchmakers traditionally bring two people together into a romantic relationship, but the concept also makes good sense in the business world.

Matchmaking was the goal this week as the SiteLink Forum revved up Wednesday afternoon at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino. At the conference, economic development people will woo site selectors -- the folks hired by companies to find locations for factories, call centers and other business ventures -- with factoids about their cities and regions.

The 65 attendees will meet individually with each of seven site selectors during short meetings resembling speed-dating sessions. More here

Friday, May 09, 2014

State official blasts Torrance for ‘complacency’ in losing Toyota

by  Nick Green

TORRANCE >> A South Bay representative to the state’s economic development panel has blasted the “embarrassing failure” of city officials to prevent Toyota from moving its U.S. sales and marketing headquarters to Texas and their attempts to shift the blame to their statewide counterparts.

The world’s largest auto manufacturer announced last week it would move about 3,000 jobs to Plano, Texas, consolidating manufacturing and sales operations there into one North American headquarters.

But Jonathan Kaji, who serves on the California Economic Development Commission and was part of a previous unsuccessful county effort to retain Nissan’s South Bay headquarters, criticized Torrance officials for “false and misleading” statements that they were unaware the company could leave the state.

“The city staff were fully aware of ongoing recruitment and outreach efforts,” he said in an email to the Daily Breeze. “I believe that due to complacency, arrogance, laziness and the belief that Toyota Motor Sales was ‘too big to leave,’ the city staff failed to launch a coordinated effort to retain Toyota. More here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

City leaders acknowledge crossroads for economic development

WICHITA, Kansas – City leaders say it’s time for Wichita to put its money where its mouth is, and pony up some serious cash for economic development.

The number they’re looking at is $90 million to retain, expand and bring new business to the Air Capital.

The plan comes from the Chamber of Commerce, city and Sedgwick County. It is a three-tier proposal to help Wichita recover from the recession they say has cost the city more than 10 percent of its jobs.

“The status quo is not acceptable,” Gary Plummer, president of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, said.

“Therefore we cannot continue to do things the way we have in the past. We have a sense of urgency to try and change that and to try to beef up the resources that we have.”

It calls for more entrepreneurs to launch businesses, retaining and expanding current businesses, and luring new business through incentives, to the tune of a $90 million fund over a five-year period. Supporters say it would be a big step up from the $1.6 million annually it has now, which is small compared to neighboring cities like Oklahoma City, which operates a $75 million economic development fund.

“No one can beat us at what we do, but the thing is that there are some businesses that we have not been able to get in the game, or even go to ask them to take a look at the city of Wichita,” mayor Carl Brewer said. More here.

Yonkers Unveils Generation Yonkers, a New Marketing Campaign

PR Newswire
YONKERS, N.Y., April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Building on the momentum of new business activity and development along the city's waterfront, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano today unveiled a bold new economic development marketing campaign designed to position Yonkers as the New York Metro area's next great place for people to live, work and play.

Called Generation Yonkers, the new initiative speaks to the Millennials or Generation Y, loosely defined as those born between 1983 and the early 2000's who represent the next big wave of the nation's workforce. Generation Yonkers also refers to the many generations -- past, present and future -- that have made Yonkers great.

"People often talk about what's the next urban frontier. What's the next Brooklyn? What's the next Hoboken? What's next? Clearly, Generation Yonkers is what's next," said Mayor Spano speaking at a news conference held today at the Yonkers Riverfront Library and attended by city officials and area business leaders. More here.

Connecticut unveils $3.4 million tourism campaign

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut launched its newest tourism campaign Thursday, marketing the state as an attraction offering a lot without a long drive.

The $3.4 million advertising and social media effort unveiled at a tourism conference in Hartford will run through August. It will appear in nearby markets such as the New York City area, Hartford-New Haven, Providence, R.I., and western Massachusetts.

Connecticut launched its "Still Revolutionary" marketing campaign in 2012 seeking to draw attention to the state's role in both the Revolutionary War and Industrial Revolution.

The industry generated about $11.5 billion annually in economic activity in Connecticut and accounted for about 110,000 jobs in 2011, according to state officials.

However, Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, said the numbers are outdated and more recent data are not available. State officials are not funding research into the economic impact of tourism, making it difficult to tailor marketing efforts properly, he said.

"We mostly throw darts," Carstensen said. "Sometimes we hit a target. Sometimes we break a window." More here.

BoC wants to market and brand south Cobb

by Rachel Gray

MARIETTA — County Commissioners say a path to more economic development in south Cobb will be paved with a new marketing campaign by an independent firm to rebrand the area.

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized the county to accept requests for competitive bids from experienced consultants, who will develop a marketing and branding campaign for south Cobb.

Franklin County leaders adopt Maine High Peaks logo as regional brand

By Kaitlin Schroeder
Staff Writer

KINGFIELD — Future visitors to Saddleback Mountain or Flagstaff Lake won’t say they are planning vacations to the specific sites, they’ll be going to the Maine High Peaks and its attractions.

That’s if a new branding effort is successful.

“We’re all becoming part of something greater than ourselves,” said consultant Jim Cox, hired to brand the Franklin County region as the Maine High Peaks.

A group of Franklin County community and business leaders gathered Tuesday with Cox at the Kingfield Poland Springs bottling plant to adopt the high peaks logo and finalize a two-month branding process.

The idea of branding the high peaks region — centered around the mountains in northern Franklin County — had been discussed for years, but leaders took the first official steps earlier this year when they hired destination branding consultant Cox of New York City. Cox was paid for by a donor to the Network of Networks, an organization that collaborates between Franklin County organizations. The benefactor wants to remain anonymous.

The tagline for the region’s new brand is: Maine High Peaks: Discover an elevated sense of living. More here.

Economic development officials create "Cultivation Corridor" brand for central Iowa region

DES MOINES, Iowa — State and local economic development officials in central Iowa have come up with a brand name and logo for the region in an effort to create an identity similar to that of Silicon Valley in California.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Gov. Terry Branstad were among the dignitaries at the unveiling of the "Cultivation Corridor" branding of an area within a 60-mile radius of Des Moines.

The idea is to focus attention on the marketing of agribusiness, biotechnology and renewable fuel products.
Iowa State University President Stephen Leath helped lead the 3-year process of identifying concepts and coming up with the idea.

He says the primary goals are to attract and retain top quality workers in agriculture biosciences, expand job creation, and create a ripple effect in the economy statewide.

The Associated Press

New $1.5 million marketing effort to create brand for N.C.

By Richard M. Barron/News & Record

RALEIGH — If you’ve heard a great state slogan, you don’t forget it.

Michigan — a cold, economically depressed place to many folks in North Carolina — has done a pretty good job of jazzing up its image to tourists with “Pure Michigan.”

“Virginia is for Lovers” remains timeless.

But who remembers “Variety Vacationland”?


Well, a slogan is a pretty big deal — enough to make it onto Wednesday’s agenda of the N.C. Economic Development Board, a part of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Starting in the 1930s, that little slogan represented the state’s first ad campaign aimed at tourists. It brought in millions of dollars.

Today, the state doesn’t really have much of an identity to people across the nation, according to the Department of Commerce. North Carolina needs “branding,” David Rhoades, the department’s director of marketing, told the Economic Development Board on Wednesday. More here.

What Vancouver gets right that Seattle (and the U.S.) gets wrong

Staff Writer- Puget Sound Business Journal
Microsoft announced this week that it’s more than doubling its work force in Vancouver, B.C., going from about 300 workers in the city to 700 by the end of next year, with plans to invest $90 million in the Vancouver facility.

But that’s not the surprising thing.

Back in 2008, Microsoft opened an office in Richmond, B.C., just south of Vancouver. That office was primarily a place where workers who couldn’t get U.S. visas would work for a few years, then transfer to Redmond or another U.S. office.

Now, though, Microsoft says 80 percent of its employees in Vancouver are Canadian citizens.

“We do hire a lot of Canadian workers who come to Redmond for various positions in the business. I don’t think this will change that significantly,” said Karen Jones, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel for HR law.

As Microsoft develops a larger presence in Vancouver, she said, Canadian citizens will stay in Canada instead of transferring to the U.S.

So how did Vancouver change from a funnel for foreign workers eventually coming to the U.S. into a permanent stop?

The answer is in the Canadian immigration system. More here.

Economic development leaders: Branding Tampa Bay could be simpler

Staff Writer- Tampa Bay Business Journal
"We're prettier than them."

That was the impromptu catch phrase for Bay area economic development posited by Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. He came up with it during a luncheon roundtable on the topic presented by the Tampa Bay Business Journal at Eddie V's in Tampa. The event brought together 11 people from economic development and business communities, along with Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe. Near session's end, the conversation turned to the thorny issue of branding Tampa Bay.

Lopano was saying, in effect, that a unified message to the wider world should incorporate a lot of things, but the Bay area's physical beauty and temperate weather should not be overlooked in the chase for technology workers, corporate headquarters, startups and all the other hot-button issues in economic development.

Lopano, who came from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport three-and-a-half years ago, added, "In Texas, people brag a lot. We should too. We're big, bad and beautiful."  More here.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Toyota moved to Texas for traditions not taxes

Birginia Postrel Bloomberg News

Toyota sent shock waves through Southern California when it announced this past week that it’s moving its North American sales headquarters from Torrance, south of Los Angeles, to Plano, Texas, north of Dallas.
The move, which is part of a broader headquarters consolidation, will cost the city of Torrance about $1.2 million in annual tax revenue and affects about 3,000 employees.

Employees who relocate are in for a surprise. Contrary to the image promulgated by both critics and boosters, Texas is not an alien planet populated by barbarians with big hair.

With its cheap suburban housing and good public schools, Plano in fact offers a 21st-century version of the middle-class California dream that built towns like Torrance. It’s just been updated, with more immigrants, better restaurants and a lot more marble countertops.

In contrasting Texas and California, politicians and pundits tend to emphasize taxes and business regulation. But for most people on a day-to-day basis, the biggest difference between the two is the cost of housing. More here.