Wisconsin is moving to make use of $238 million in economic development bonding provided under the federal stimulus program. Gov. Jim Doyle recently signed legislation enabling the state to pool its federal recovery zone bonds to fund job-creation projects statewide. “By pooling these resources together, we will make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity and move forward job-creating projects across the state,” Gov. Doyle said. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, counties and local governments are authorized to issue tax-exempt conduit bonds, known as Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, for private-sector economic development projects. However, since the funds allocated to Wisconsin were divided among the state’s 72 counties (as well as the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay), most counties did not have a large enough allocation to make tax-exempt financing for economic development cost effective. The legislation enacted in Wisconsin automatically waives unobligated Recovery Zone Facility Bonds into one statewide pool. Authorization for the bonds expires Dec. 31, 2010. “It was vital that this provision become law quickly so that shovel-ready projects can move forward and the bond allocations won’t go to waste,” state Sen. Julie Lassa, a co-author of the bill, told the Business Journal of Milwaukee. The signing of the bill will fund projects like Energy Composite Corp.’s proposed wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Wisconsin Rapids, projected to create 600 jobs. Under the new law, Energy Composite will be able to apply for bonds from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for the multi-million dollar expansion. Gov. Doyle signed the legislation in a ceremony in Wisconsin Rapids.
A $700 million renewal of Ohio Third Frontier — the 10-year, $1.6 billion project to re-energize Ohio’srneconomy by investing in emerging technologies — will be decided by voters inrnreferendum on the state’s May 4 ballot Gov. Ted Strickland praised a bipartisan agreement reached inrnthe state legislature to renew the Third Frontier. “This bipartisan agreementrnis the strongest validation of the successful economic development program thatrnhas already created tens of thousands of jobs. This is a significant investmentrnin Ohio’s economy and cornerstone of Ohio’s economic growth strategy.” spokeswomanrnAmanda Wurst said. The Ohio Senate voted 30-2 to ask voters to extend ThirdrnFrontier — slated to end in fiscal 2012 — for four more years with a bond issuernof $700 million. The Ohio House passed the joint resolution 83-14. The measure wouldrnrenew funding for the project and raise its annual grant-making ability to $175rnmillion from about $160 million a year. In addition, the bond funding would notrnbe subject to state budgetary issues, as is two-thirds of Third Frontier’srncurrent budget. The effort to renew the state’s most ambitious economicrndevelopment project began late last year when two legislators proposed issuingrn$1 billion in bonds to fund an additional five years. Third Frontier invests inrntechnology research, development, commercialization and entrepreneurship inrnfive industries. Two weeks ago, the Ohio House trimmed that to a $950 million bond issue. Last week, the OhiornSenate cut that to $500 million.rnThe two legislative branches agreed to split the difference. ThirdrnFrontier already is succeeding, even though the project is a long-termrninvestment. By one independent analysis, the project created an economic impactrnof $6.6 billion and 41,300 jobs and a return on the state’s investment ofrn10-to-1 in its first seven years. A recent analysis led by business people whornsit on the Third Frontier’s commission and advisory board concluded the projectrnwould likely pay back taxpayers by with just sales and payroll taxes generatedrnby businesses and industries it helped.
One of the world’s first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plants has opened near Vonore, TN, marking what Gov. Phil Bredesen calls “an important step forward” in the race to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The $50 million facility is expected to have an output of 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually and serve as a testing ground for new technologies that can be used in larger scale production. A partnership of DuPont Danisco Celllulosic Ethanol (DDCE) and the University of Tennessee (UT), the 74,000-square-foot plant has already started producing ethanol from corncobs and switchgrass. Organized under the management of Genera Energy LLC, an arm of the university, the facility is a central part of the University of Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative championed by Bredesen. The goals of the initiative are to support bioenergy crop research, establish a production network and position Tennessee as a national leader in clean energy. Bredesen, UT officials and economic development leaders throughout the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley also hope the use of switchgrass will give Tennessee farmers a new cash crop. Switchgrass, a perennial, can grow in marginally productive soil and does not compete with food crops for arable land. Startup of the plant is also good news for researchers at nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s largest research center, which finds itself at the forefront of applied carbon fiber research. Many observers are intrigued by the possible uses lignen, a natural byproduct of the biofuels plant, as a relatively inexpensive feedstock that might lower the cost of producing carbon fiber. The Innovation Valley partners—Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Knoxville Chamber, Loudon County Economic Development Agency, Oak Ridge Economic Partnership, The Roane Alliance and the Tellico Reservoir Development Agency—work together to leverage technological advances into prosperity.
The city of Linden, NJ has cleared the way for the construction of a $5-billion clean coal plant to be constructed on the banks of the Arthur Kill river. The Linden City Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding to resolve development rights to a 106-acre property on the banks of the Arthur Kill, property the city had previously tried to condemn for a redevelopment plan in 2005. The council’s action paves the way for a “clean energy” coal power plant that will be partially financed with $2.5 million in structured cash payments and create 150 permanent jobs. PurGen is now pursuing permits to build a $5 billion, 500-megawatt electric power plant using clean-energy technology. Coal will be pressurized, rather than than burned as in other power plants, and the carbon dioxide exhaust will be piped 100 miles for storage under the Atlantic Ocean. In October, the council rejected a similar settlement plan that lacked the cash payments. The new deal also requires the developer to pay for city-hired consultants to monitor the project. In October, the council rejected a similar settlement plan that lacked the cash payments. The new deal also requires the developer to pay for city-hired consultants to monitor the project. “The original deal didn’t have checks and balances,” explained Councilman Robert Frazier. “We’re pleased to work with the council to address their concerns and we’re looking forward to New Jersey being the host of an important climate change solution,” said attorney Bradley Campbell, New Jersey’s former Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, who is representing PurGen. Several environmental groups oppose the project, but a number of vocal union members attended the council meeting to show their support.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, Aeroframe Services President and CEO Roger Porter and Lake Charles, LA Mayor Randy Roach have announced that Aeroframe will undertake an expansion of its operations at Chennault International Airport. Headquartered in Lake Charles, Aeroframe, which specializes in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft, will add at least 300 new, direct jobs this year with an average salary of $55,000, plus benefits. This expansion will bring Aeroframe’s total Chennault presence to 550 employees with a total payroll in excess of $30 million. Louisiana Economic Development estimates that the 300 direct new jobs will result in more than 360 indirect jobs for a total impact of more than 660 new jobs, the vast majority of which are expected to be created in the next six months. “I’m thrilled to announce this exciting expansion of one of Southwest Louisiana’s largest private-sector employers,” said Gov. Jindal. “This expansion is yet another big boost for the Lake Charles area economy. Thanks to our national-caliber workforce initiative, Louisiana FastStart™, Aeroframe will be able to recruit and train 300 new workers in as little as six months. Louisiana FastStart is one of the reasons why our economy continues to outperform the South and the U.S. We’ve made business retention and expansion our top priority, and today’s expansion announcement is yet another example of the value of that commitment.” Aeroframe’s expansion is the result of a recent surge in aircraft maintenance work from both existing and new customers. The company plans to begin hiring immediately. To begin accepting the additional work, Aeroframe Services will add one line of production every 45 days with each line including a minimum of 75 new jobs. “We fully expect this ramp up to be widespread and sustained for many years. But the competition to service these aircraft will be fierce and on a global scale,” said Porter. “The good news is the state of Louisiana and local political bodies, through Chennault Airpark Authority, have continually invested in the Airpark for many years to ensure it remains a premier facility and that the productivity of our workforce remains the best in the industry. This allows us to compete in the global marketplace—and win.” Aeroframe Services is working with Louisiana FastStart, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and SOWELA Technical College to meet its employee recruitment and training needs. Louisiana FastStart will coordinate the recruitment and screening processes, develop and deliver detailed training programs for recruits and supervisors, as well as provide significant post-employment classes specifically for aviation core skills training. “We […]
The Dow Chemical Company has announced that Midland, MI has been identified as the preferred site for the first full-scale production facility for its new DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ solar shingles, subject to finalizing local, state and federal funding. In her State of the State address this week, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke of the site selection, which could bring more than 1,200 jobs to the region by 2014. “Dow welcomes the opportunity to work with the City of Midland, the State of Michigan and Governor Granholm to secure support for renewable energy technologies, like the DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle,” said Andrew N. Liveris, Dow Chairman and CEO. “Collaboration between government and business is essential to overcoming the challenges facing our society today, including energy, climate change and the creation of sustainable jobs. As the leader in applied chemistry, Dow is well positioned to address the technical challenges of bringing affordable, renewable energy solutions to the market and to be a leader in ushering America into the new clean-energy future.” The Michigan Economic Development Corp. currently is considering up to $140 million in economic incentives for the plant, which would produce the innovative photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles that can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. Local, state and federal funding will help Dow Solar Solutions to accelerate production plans for the solar shingles already being manufactured in a small-scale market development plant at Dow’s Michigan Operations in Midland. If received, the MEDC economic package will add to the $100 million in investments Dow has already made in the development of solar solutions since the program’s inception in 2007 when Dow was awarded a $20 million Solar America Initiative Pathways Program grant by the U.S. Department of Energy. “At Dow, innovation is about our ability to apply materials science to address a challenge like the need for affordable, renewable energy sources,” said Jane Palmieri, General Manager of Dow Solar Solutions. “Being able to work with the State of Michigan and other funding sources to accelerate the commercialization of groundbreaking technologies like DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle allows consumers and the marketplace to have quicker access to energy saving technologies, which is a win for everyone.” The expected growth of more than 1,200 jobs to support the increased solar shingle production will be in the manufacturing, commercial and technical areas, with staffing anticipated to begin in late 2010. DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingles are expected to be available in limited amounts by mid-2010 and projected to be more widely […]
Louisiana Economic Development is maximizing the positive impact of the New Orleans Saints’ appearance in the Super Bowl by taking out full-page ads in major newspapers portraying the Saints as a metaphor for other good things happening in the state. “This is really a huge win for our state, not just for the Saints and fans that supported them for so long, but it is a big economic win for the state of Louisiana as well and we’re really working hard to take as much advantage of that as we can to use this as a tool for our economic development efforts,” Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret told WWLTV.com, the web outlet for a local TV station. Moret made the statement after proofing national print ads that will run this week in this week in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other major newspapers. The Louisiana ED Secretary says the Saints Super Bowl bid couldn’t come at a better time. Like the Saints, Louisiana has a compelling story to tell about rebirth and hard work, he noted. “Talk about our state having gone from worst to best in state governmental ethics laws,” said Moret. “Talk about Louisiana having received it’s highest ranking ever in Forbes ‘Best States For Business,’ now ranked eighth best in the country for economic growth outlook, a state that really is making some serious reforms.” In the months after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005, there was a lot of speculation that the Saints might relocate from the Crescent City. However, the Superdome was refurbished and the Louisiana state legislature eventually approved a deal to keep the football team in the Superdome in New Orleans through 2025. Moret says that investment is now paying off for the rest of the state. “There’s no question that agreement has been benefit, not only to New Orleans, but really to our whole state,” Moret told WWLTV.com. “Boy, aren’t we glad we got that deal done before the success of this season because it might have been a little more difficult to do at this point.” Secretary Moret also revealed that his department has a special treat in store for prospects interested in bringing jobs to Louisiana: the Saints organization has agreed to supply the economic development group with Super Bowl souvenirs and team gear. No doubt, Secretary Moret and his colleagues are hoping that they can add some “Super Bowl Champion” hats to this booty after Sunday’s game.
The New York State Economic Development Power Allocation Board (EDPAB) officially authorized the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to utilize net revenues from the Niagara Power Project for an expedited funding package and Industrial Incentive Award to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC). These funds will help support future waterfront redevelopment efforts in the Western New York region, including the exciting Canal Side inner harbor revitalization project. EDPAB’s action follows the Dec. 12 announcement by Gov. David A. Paterson of a renewed commitment from New York State in support of the redevelopment efforts at Buffalo’s inner and outer harbor areas. The announcement preceded the NYPA trustees’ approval several days later of a bolstered funding stream and Industrial Incentive Award to ECHDC for a total of $8.4 million a year for 20 years. “The Governor and his team at NYPA and ESD honored their pledge to support the redevelopment effort here in Buffalo, moving us one-step closer to creating the transformational waterfront that the people of this region deserve, said ECHDC Chairman Jordan Levy. “ECHDC is extremely thankful to Governor Paterson and the EDPAB for taking Tuesday’s proactive step to bolster the waterfront effort here in Western New York.” EDPAB chairman Kenneth A. Schoetz and Congressman Brian Higgins also weighed in with praise for the governor’s actions. “The additional support provided by New York State and authorized by the power allocation board ensures that our efforts to make Canal Side a reality remain on-track,” said ECHDC president Thomas P. Dee. “This approval is more good news for Buffalo and something that ECHDC certainly expected, but never took for granted.” Under New York State law, EDPAB must approve the use of the Industrial Incentive Awards, which are funded through net revenues from the sale of a certain block of hydropower deemed Expansion Power. This Expansion Power is one of the two large amounts of low-cost Niagara power that account for more than one-third of the project’s generating output and is linked to supporting widespread job creation and retention across Western New York. EDPAB, which was established by a 1987 state law, recommends allocations of electricity with regard to four statewide and downstate power programs administered by NYPA, with those initiatives linked to approximately 320,000 jobs.
A new study concludes that new renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in Utah could yield 7,000 net ongoing jobs, $310 million in net annual earnings, and a $300 million net annual increase in gross domestic product by state (GDPS) by 2020, according to alternative energy organization AWEA. The report, “Building the Clean Energy Economy: A Study on Jobs and Economic Development of Clean Energy in Utah,” analyzes the economic impacts of an energy strategy that includes a 20% electricity reduction through energy efficiency measures and 20% of electricity coming from renewable resources by 2020. The study was requested by Governor Gary Herbert’s energy advisor, Dianne Nielson. “This study confirms that increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy development will have a net positive impact on Utah’s economy,” said Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, the nonprofit organization that led the analysis, told AWEA. “Utah has set goals to increase efficiency and renewables over the next ten years; with leadership and determination, Utah can make clean energy an integral part of our economy.” Utah Clean Energy collaborated with two economic consultant organizations, MRG & Associates and Wikstrom Economic & Planning Consultants, to conduct the economic analysis. In 2008, the state of Utah initiated the Utah Renewable Energy Zone (UREZ) Task Force to identify Utah’s homegrown renewable energy resources (wind power, concentrating solar power, and geothermal) suitable for utility scale electricity generation. Renewable resources modeled include: — 475 MW of wind energy generation in Utah — 241 MW of geothermal generation; –150 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) with storage; — 84 MW of residential and commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) distributed electricity; and — 23 MW of various types of biomass. The renewable electricity generated from this mix of renewable energy resources expands Utah’s percentage of renewable electricity usage from roughly 4% in 2007 to 20% by 2020.
International credit information firm Experian plans to increase the size of its Allen, TX operation by almost a third, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News. Experian signed a deal this week with the city of Allen to expand its operations by 300 people in exchange for increased economic incentives, the Allen Economic Development Corp. said. Experian plans additional business operations at its 300,000-square-foot complex in Allen’s Enterprise Business Park. About 600 Experian workers are housed in the facility, east of U.S. Highway 75. Experian has had operations in Allen since 1993 and is the Collin County city’s largest employer. The company has facilities in Allen for several business groups, including its National Consumer Assistance Center and its Decision Analytics, Information Technology and Public Education groups. In 2008, Experian renewed its lease at the Enterprise Business Park for 10 years, according to Robert R. Winningham, Allen Economic Development CEO. The new agreement calls for Allen to provide funds to remodel and build new offices in the Enterprise Business Park building that Experian will use. Winningham said the value of the incentive depends on how much growth the company has. It could be as much as $1.5 million paid over 10 years. But to receive all the incentive funds for the building renovation, Experian would have to invest $30 million. “Experian’s positive relationship with the city has influenced our decision to move additional business here,” said Carlos Medina, senior vice president of global operations.