The national battle among states to lure entertainment industry dollars has intensified this month, with several states upping the ante in film production tax credits whiles others are dropping out of the competition. On July 1, Florida became the latest state to offer generous tax incentives to motion picture, TV documentary and digital media producers. Florida activated its Entertainment Industry Incentives Program, which offers a total of $242 million in transferable tax credits over the next five years for projects that locate in the Sunshine State. More than $50 million of these credits are earmarked for the 2010/2011 fiscal year. Florida’s Office of Film & Entertainment has begun accepting applications for the Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive program via electronic submission for projects with a principal photography or project start within 180 days of the application date (principal photography or project start date must be July 1, 2010 or later to qualify). The priority for qualifying/certifying projects for tax credit awards is determined on a first-come, first-served basis within its appropriate queue. Eligible productions include films, TV, documentaries, digital media projects, commercials and music videos. About 33 states have adopted tax incentives to spur entertainment industry production in their venues, but some budget-strapped states are having second thoughts about the value of these programs. Included in the passage last week of New Jersey’s $28.4 billion budget is the suspension of tax credits for film and digital media content production in the Garden State. New Jersey had offered a 20 percent tax credit since 2006, but the votes to approve the budget by the state’s Assembly and Senate eliminated it effective July 1. About $15 million will be raised as a result of the suspension, part of Gov. Chris Christie’s first budget as the state’s chief executive. Producers, actors and others involved with two network TV shows that filmed in New Jersey—“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Mercy”—lobbied at a public hearing early last month to save the credit. Producers of the former have already said they intend to relocate production across the river to New York, which is considering raising its film incentives pool to $420 million despite a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit crisis.
CT&T, a Korean-based world leader in manufacturing electric vehicles, is forming a joint venture with 2AM Group of Spartanburg, SC to build electric cars in the state. The venture, called CT&T Southeast LLC, will invest $21 million and create 370 new jobs to support its production over the next five years. Company officials project the Spartanburg County facility to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of this year. “Upstate South Carolina is an ideal location for our first North American assembly facility,” said CT&T Chief Executive Officer Young Gi Lee. “We are very happy to be located in an area that provides automotive infrastructure, a skilled workforce and proximity to markets that are prime targets for electric vehicle ownership.” Under the joint venture agreement, CT&T will manufacture its flagship e ZONE and c ZONE vehicles in South Carolina. The e ZONE electric low speed vehicle offers a range of up to 70 miles in a single charge through its advanced technology lithium polymer battery. The advanced lithium polymer battery provides twice the mileage and lifespan of traditional lead acid batteries, and is 30 percent smaller and lighter. The c ZONE line consists of a range of low speed electric off-road and street legal LSVs. They have applications for commercial use and are ideal neighborhood transportation for planned communities and resort properties. “We are delighted to be part of the history making for South Carolina and CT&T to produce and distribute their vehicles throughout the U.S.,” stated Artie Perry, president and CEO of 2AM Group. “We feel that our knowledge and presence in the automotive industry will factor well in generating a good start up here, and we look forward to adding additional jobs in South Carolina where we are headquartered,” Perry added, “we know we will make a success with all the efforts from the state and county behind us.” Gov. Mark Sanford welcomed CT&T to South Carolina noting, “Today serves as a reminder that South Carolina is making strides even in these challenging economic times. This announcement represents not only a significant investment and hundreds of new jobs, but also another step toward expanding our state’s role in next generation technologies.” CT&T Southeast will locate its new assembly facility in the Hwy. 290 Commerce Park in Duncan, SC, in coordination with the existing 2AM facility allowing for total building access of over 300,000 square feet. CT&T currently has U.S. operations in Atlanta, GA and Long Beach, CA. CT&T Company Ltd. is located in Seoul, Korea with manufacturing facilities […]
The U.S. Postal Service was at it again this week, banging its tin cup and trying to buy more time to reinvent a dying business model while confronting a growing annual budget deficit that now exceeds $7 billion. However, before we see the blueprint for moving our 19th century postal system into the 21st, the nation’s mail carriers apparently need some more triage. They are asking us to pony up another two cents for a first-class stamp—the sixth time the price of stamps has increased in the past 10 years. On Jan. 2, the price of a first-class stamp will be 46 cents, which is almost twice as much as it cost to buy a stamp in 1990. But you won’t be able to tell this by looking at a stamp, because the Postal Service stopped putting the price on its stamps years ago. This sad news was accompanied by a laughable a bit of public relations balm: in addition to the first-class rate increase (expected to raise $3 billion), the Postal Service will be issuing some special “forever” stamps. The “forever” stamps, adorned with evergreens, will remain permanently priced at 44 cents, with one caveat: you can only use them during the Christmas holiday crunch. What’s next, specially priced stamps for Mother’s Day cards going to Toledo? The Postal Service eliminated the equivalent of 50,000 jobs this year and began the process of closing nearly 10 percent of its facilities. Unfortunately, these measures have had about as much of an impact on the flow of red ink as one of BP’s oil-leak containment caps. Before the latest stamp price increase was announced, trial balloons were briefly floated proposing to eliminate Saturday mail deliveries and cut back on postal workers’ pensions. These lead balloons were quickly shot down, especially the latter, which made the postal workers’ union go…well, postal. After spending more than 20 years watching UPS and FedEx eat its lunch in the overnight and two-day delivery market —most of those U.S. Postal Service overnight boxes they tout on TV actually are flown by the private carriers—the Postal Service is now watching the World Wide Web devour what’s left. In just the past 12 months, the amount of snail mail has declined by almost 13 percent. It is not a stretch to suggest that the only remaining profit centers for the U.S.P.S. are those fake government letters touting mortgage refinancing and the fake “pay to the order of” checks that car dealers spew out. Come to think of it, that’s probably […]
The state, Montrose County, the Montrose Economic Development Corp. and the city of Montrose are prepared to offer a package of incentives to an international manufacturing company, which officials are declining to identify until a deal is struck. County spokeswoman Kristin Scuderi said the company is headquartered outside the U.S. and intends to move to North America. She said the company has narrowed the locations it is considering to Montrose and one other city she did not know. The company would immediately create 40 new jobs and a total of 200 within two to three years, making it one of the largest employers in Montrose, said Sandy Head, president and executive director of the Montrose Economic Development Corp. She said the company’s average annual wage is $49,000, about 50 percent more than Montrose County’s average annual wage of $32,800. Head wrote an e-mail to Montrose Economic Development Corp. investors, seeking their support. She described the company’s clientele as “very high-end” and said they’re based both in the U.S. and outside the country. She wrote that the company’s customers will travel to and stay in Montrose for several days and possibly purchase second homes in the area. Scuderi said the county’s unemployment rate has been above the national average, so the introduction of new jobs would be a boom to the unemployed. Head said Wednesday the Montrose Economic Development Corp. has been working for seven months to try to lure the company to Montrose. She said officials hope to know whether the company will select Montrose in the next four to six weeks. Head said a number of incentives are being dangled in front of the company. She said the state and the Montrose Economic Development Corp. are offering cash through a state job-training program, performance-based incentives and enterprise zone tax credits. The county is proposing a property tax credit and another incentive, while the city is offering breaks on development and permit fees, she said.
Oklahoma City Council Members today approved amendments to a 2008 joint agreement between developer Horizon Group Properties LP (HGP), the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust and The City of Oklahoma City for the developer to build an outlet mall in Oklahoma City. An agreement was first signed in May 2008 between city entities and the developer. The project was set to open in November 2009, but dramatic changes in the retail market and the developer’s difficulty to obtain financing took a toll on the project. The original agreement required a minimum investment of $50 million by HGP. The project was expected to generate approximately $106 million in annual retail sales at the center and an estimated $4.1 million in sales tax revenues each year for the city. Further, HGP requested incentives with the agreement to include a regional marketing reimbursement of $5.5 million over a ten-year period (approximately 12.5 percent of sales taxes received). Details within the amended agreement include a change in size of the center from 340,000 square feet to 320,000 square feet, and an increase from $2,395,000 to $3,937,690 in public improvements to the site from the city, which includes $1 million for Drive 2, a private road. The project is expected to generate 700 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs, with $19 million in direct payroll. It is anticipated that the property will bring 90 retailers into the outlet center with a possible 75,000-square-foot expansion on several out-parcels based on the success of the mall. By August 31, 2010, the developer must meet certain requirements before the city proceeds with public improvements. By end of August, the developer needs to close on land acquisition, execute its construction contract and provide evidence of financing for the project.
Caves Valley Partners has been selected to receive up to $16 million in tax-exempt federal aid to rehab the Investment Building in downtown Towson, which it plans to gut and redevelop into the new headquarters for Mile One Automotive. Baltimore County’s economic development office announced its award Monday of $16 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to Caves Valley. The development team, which includes real estate veterans Anthony W. Deering and Arthur H. Adler, plans to spend $27 million to redevelop the 12-story building. The county is not on the hook for the federal bond funds, earmarked in the federal stimulus bill to help convince banks to lend money to commercial redevelopments. Caves Valley will use the bond funds to borrow more money to finance its project, Baltimore County Economic Development Director David S. Iannucci said in Monday. Caves Valley development director Arsh S. Mirmiran told the Baltimore Business Journal in May his firm hopes the rehabilitated building, to be called Towson City Center, will eventually employ 500 people and become the centerpiece of Towson’s ongoing transformation. Construction could begin this fall. The county also set aside $10 million in Recovery Zone funds for Home Run Lodging LLC to build a Hampton Inn on Red Run Boulevard in Owings Mills. Home Run wants to build a 105-room, five-story hotel, expected to cost $11.3 million. The county has been earmarked to receive $48.8 million in Recovery Zone bond funds. Iannucci said the county received about a dozen requests for the aid and his office plans to announce additional project recipients in the future.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the Ottumwa Regional Airport in Iowa. The funds will be used to update water infrastructure, provide infrastructure support to the new job training facility, encourage future private investment and create jobs. “It’s a significant grant. It provides support for the infrastructure that services water to the new Job Corps and all the industries over by the airport,” said Ottumwa City Administrator Joe Helfenberger. Plans include water main additions, sewer improvements and updates to Fifth Street, among others. Helfenberger said the improvements will also be helpful in fire services near the airport. “It makes it possible for some businesses to do future expansions and to keep existing jobs because there was a need for additional water supply to the area,” Helfenberger said, adding that about 205 jobs would be saved and others would be created. Ottumwa Water and Hydro is covering the local match for the grant, which totals $1,649. The total project is estimated to cost $3.1 million. The funding is estimated to allow for $15 million in private investment to be leveraged. The airport is a 1,440-acre complex and includes a General Aviation airport with two runways, rental hangars and full aviation services. The Industrial Park houses manufacturing, trucking and industrial businesses.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is re-opening the Generations Partners program. Distributors, such as Nashville Electric Service, had been among those shocked when told last week that the program would take no new participants. “TVA launched Generation Partners as a pilot project, with periodic adjustments expected along the way, to encourage customer interest in small to medium-sized renewable energy projects, such as rooftop solar panels,” John Trawick, a TVA senior vice president said in the announcement. “The response has exceeded all expectations, prompting us to expand and enhance the program to include additional projects and help support public interest in renewable energy.” Alternative energy projects, including solar and wind, of up to 200 kilowatts are eligible for the program, which includes a $1,000 payment for each participant to help with startup costs. Also, TVA buys all of the green power from participants, paying the retail rate, plus any fuel cost adjustment, plus a premium per kilowatt-hour, depending on the type of renewable energy produced. The program offers incentives for solar, wind and other types of alternative energy, but the solar program, which pumps electricity into the grid, has proven the most practical and popular for homeowners and small businesses. Generation Partners also spurred new solar installation businesses and brought jobs to others. Officials with the public power producer, which had set aside $50 million for the program, said they had many more requests for help with projects than they can fund. TVA also said it was: – Moving 33 additional customer proposals into the approval process; – Evaluating various longer-term solutions aimed at transforming Generation Partners from a pilot project to a firmly established TVA program. TVA began an effort earlier this year that gave approval in advance of a project to make it easier for customers to finance equipment. Large non-solar projects that can take big chunks of the available projects have been one issue of concern for the solar installers.
The site of the former Pfizer World Research Headquarters in New London, CT is being purchased by General Dynamics’ Electric Boat (EB) unit. The nuclear submarine builder will invest $99 million in a new research, development, engineering and design facility that will create 700 jobs. “Pfizer’s announcement in 2009 that it was vacating its global research headquarters in New London and consolidating operations in Groton created enormous uncertainty throughout an entire community,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. “The news caused understandable fears about individual career prospects and cast doubt on the economic promise of the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project. “Today, however, we open a new and important chapter in that same community – we look on a brighter prospect for the same community and see a far rosier future for the local economy,” Rell said. “EB’s decision to purchase the former Pfizer facility for its own R&D center will create 700 engineering jobs, establishing a center of excellence in the field of engineering that will help Connecticut develop and sustain a work force in this critical field. It also establishes a robust pipeline for future innovation.” Electric Boat, a subsidiary of Groton-based General Dynamics, is the world’s premier designer and builder of nuclear submarines. The company plans to purchase land and buildings at 50 Pequot Avenue that are currently owned by Pfizer and upgrade two EB-owned buildings in Groton. The project will create 700 positions, adding to EB’s 2,300 engineers and more than 8,000 total employees already in Connecticut. “We have been coordinating closely with Gov. Rell and the State of Connecticut, the City of New London, the U.S. Navy and Pfizer to determine if this site meets our needs and the initial results are very encouraging,” said John P. Casey, president of Electric Boat. “We appreciate the state’s support, which was instrumental in making this transaction.” The Department of Economic and Community Development will assist EB with a $15 million grant that will be phased over three years at $5 million per year. Funding may be used for construction, to buy equipment and for other eligible project-related activities. Because the New London facility is located in an enterprise zone, EB also may be eligible a five-year, 80 percent abatement on real and personal property taxes and a 25 percent corporate tax credit for 10 years. The former Pfizer site previously was enmeshed in a controversy that reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the state’s right to use eminent domain to seize nearby residential property […]
The Memphis Coalition for Advanced Networkingrn(MCAN) inaugurated its ultra high speed fiber-optic communications network thisrnweek with an event at the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology. MCAN is an independent, nonprofit corporationrnchartered to promote and operate leading-edge communications technologies thatrnsupport education, research, public service, and economic developmentrninitiatives. MCAN founding members include the University of Memphis,rnUniversity of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, St. Jude Children’s ResearchrnHospital, and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. Key corporate partners includernXO Communications, Cisco Systems, and Pomeroy IT Solutions. In addition to facilitating scientificrnresearch, MCAN is designed to generate economic benefit from advancedrnnetworking applications. “The launch of this ultra high-speed researchrnlink creates intriguing potential for the Memphis business and entrepreneurialrncommunity,” said Russell Ingram, president and executive director of MCAN.”Connectivity at this speed will allow development of novel technologiesrnand applications that would otherwise not be possible. These new technologiesrnwill inevitably lead to new businesses and new jobs.” MCAN is the result of several years of work byrnthe Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Oak RidgernNational Laboratory, and the Memphis community. In 2008, the State of Tennesseerngranted a contract to Oak Ridge to create a high-speed link between Oak Ridgernand Memphis. In 2009, Oak Ridge requested the participation of the Memphisrncommunity in designing and implementing that link. In response, representativesrnof the four major Memphis research institutions, along with an array of other Memphisrncommunity leaders, formed MCAN to build and administer a 10 gigabit per secondrndata network among the research institutions and between Memphis, Oak Ridge,rnand the national Internet2 research network. In early 2010, the TennesseernDepartment of Economic and Community Development funded the joint MCAN/OakrnRidge project with a grant of $3 million. “The MCAN infrastructure provides vastlyrnimproved data transfer capacity, allowing researchers to collaborate using datarnthat would otherwise present a significant challenge,” says Dr. ClaytonrnNaeve, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CIO and MCAN board chairman.”For example, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/WashingtonrnUniversity Pediatric Cancer Genome Project will result in the sequencing of 1200rnhuman genomes, each of which requires the production of 90,000,000,000rncharacters of information. If printed out, this amount of data would fill 40rnmillion 4-drawer filing cabinets, enough to fill 26 Memphis Pyramids. MCANrnmakes it possible for researchers to transmit data on this scale.” MCAN is a state of the art, very high speedrnoptical broadband communications network deployed over more than 50 miles ofrnoptical fiber reserved solely for MCAN use through a long term lease with XOrnCommunications. MCAN connects with similar research networks in Tennessee tornform a statewide very high speed research backbone connecting the principalrnresearch institutions in east, middle […]