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Business Facilities Names Achievement Award Winners

Business Facilities has introduced a new annual series of Economic Development Awards to honor the agencies and organizations that have established and consistently executed the best practices in our industry, bringing measurable success in targeted economic development to the locations they represent.

We have created more than a dozen new awards categories, including overall economic development excellence awards, best practices awards that cite achievements in specialized programs like workforce training and incentives, and awards for marketing excellence in the use of new media (including social networks and video).

Today, we are pleased to announce the winners of our Achievement Awards.

New Jersey’s Partnership for Action is the first recipient of our new Achievement in Reorganization of Economic Development Award. This award is in recognition of the scope of the reorganization undertaken by New Jersey with the Partnership for Action plan.

The Garden State for many years has had to fight an uphill battle against the perception that its business climate has been, to put it diplomatically, a bit surly. Two years ago, Gov. Chris Christie set about to change that perception with one of the most comprehensive reorganizations of statewide economic development we’ve seen in a long time. Under the umbrella of the New Jersey Partnership for Action and headed by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the plan consists of three highly-focused organizational elements—-Choose New Jersey, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and the Business Action Center—-that provide economic development services, link companies to incentive programs and attract international investment to others.

Business Facilities continues to be impressed with this reorganization’s focus on a steady improvement of the state’s business climate. We believe the Partnership for Action now has the plan and structure in place to move New Jersey into the top rank of national economic development leaders,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers.

“The change has been dramatic and effective, and it made our choice for the first annual winner of our Achievement in Reorganization of Economic Development Award an easy one,” Rogers added.

New Jersey organizations also snared the top prize in two other Achievement Awards categories.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has been selected to receive our new Achievement in Targeted Incentives Award for the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit. There were five winners nationally in our new incentives awards category, which honors the programs that have deployed a creative use of carefully designed incentives aimed at achieving specific growth targets.

“The Urban Transit Hub credit shows great promise not only as a tool for business retention but also as a growth driver for New Jersey’s urban centers,” Rogers said. “The leveraging of transportation infrastructure as an economic development tool exhibits a forward-thinking approach to urban revitalization that positions New Jersey ahead of the curve as the development paradigm shifts to a more energy-efficient future.”

Our first Achievement in Downtown Revitalization Award goes to Brick City Development Corp. In assessing the candidates for this award, we took note not only of recent progress in the cities that made our list of finalists, but also how far they have come in breathing new life into their urban centers.

After a lengthy malaise in past years, Newark, NJ is undergoing a renaissance that is transforming its downtown into a model of 21st Century urban development. This effort has been spearheaded by our award winner, Brick City Development Corp. The city has deployed the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit incentive to spur major projects, including the relocation of Panasonic and a planned new headquarters for insurance giant Prudential.

“This award is in recognition of the steady progress Newark has made in its efforts to attract new businesses to the city while maintaining its traditional employment base, a growing center of leading institutions of higher education and a world-class logistics and transportation hub,” Rogers said.

“We are particularly impressed with the way Newark is maximizing the opportunities for growth facilitated by New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit. We are confident Newark has set in place the foundation for future success with an economic development strategy that will continue to produce positive results for New Jersey’s largest city,” he added.

The other winners in our Achievement in Targeted Incentives Award category were Louisiana Economic Development (Digital Media and Software Incentive); Nebraska Department of Economic Development (Nebraska Super Advantage); Mississippi Development Authority (Mississippi Aerospace Initiative Incentives); and Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Northern Kentucky Info Cluster Accelerator).

The winner of our first Achievement in Public-Private Partnership Award is the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

Over the past decade, we have chronicled the proliferation of public-private partnerships as an alternative or supplement to state-run economic development agencies and/or departments of commerce. Not all public-private partnerships are created equal. The best public-private partnerships bring together a high-powered team of business leaders and economic development specialists who leverage the assets of a region to establish a coherent strategy for development and brand the location as a prime site for new business.

“Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance has set the standard for best practices in this dominant new economic development model by forging a powerhouse collection of area CEOs into a driving force for growth,” Rogers said.

The mission of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance is to lead Broward County in building a stronger and more diversified economy by promoting increased public/private sector collaboration, delivering business development initiatives focused on new investment and job growth, enhancing the competitiveness of Broward’s business climate and driving regional initiatives. The CEO Council of Greater Fort Lauderdale recently has been involved in several high-profile initiatives that are raising national awareness for the region and throwing a spotlight on its highly skilled, diverse and talented workforce, an exceptional quality of life and easy access to domestic and international markets.

A TV commercial produced by Zimmerman Advertising has featured CEO Council members Wayne Huizenga, Mike Jackson, Roy Krause and Keith Koenig along with County Administrator Bertha Henry and NFL Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson. The TV ads, which aired for six months in the NY/NJ/CT and Boston markets and on JetBlue’s in-flight TV, conclude with Huizenga’s memorable tag line: “Hey, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.” The top execs also appeared in print display ads.

“The Alliance has done a splendid job of putting the Greater Fort Lauderdale area on the national radar,” Rogers said. “With a strong footprint in everything from aerospace to life sciences and cloud computing, we anticipate steady progress and exponential growth from this region.”

Philadelphia Regional Port Authority is the winner of our first Achievement in Ports/Foreign Trade Zone Development Award. This award is our recognition of PRPA’s efforts to ensure that one of nation’s oldest and busiest ports remains competitive in an era of dramatically increasing global shipping.

“PRPA is proactively positioning the port for direct shipping from Asia that will commence with the completion of the Panama Canal expansion, including the renewal of its MOU for the Panama Canal Authority and the ongoing channel-deepening project along the 102-mile Delaware River shipping lane,” Rogers noted. “We also are impressed with PRPA’s ability to maintain and grow a thriving shipping hub while undertaking these improvements, evidenced by double-digit increases in cargo tonnage at the port in the past two years, despite a very challenging national and regional economy.”

“PRPA has consistently set the standards for best practices in logistics and shipping, and we believe Philadelphia is a worthy model for developing ports throughout the U.S.,” he added.

When we decided to honor Achievement in High-Tech Cluster Development, we quickly realized that we could not limit this award to a single technology sector. So we have selected five standard-bearers to be our first recipients of this award, which is our recognition of the national centers of excellence in each of these emerging high-tech growth clusters. Our winners are:

Kansas Bioscience Authority, for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, soon to be the nation’s premier biodefense facility, located in the heart of the Kansas animal health corridor; Commerce Lexington and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing R&D Center, which is in the forefront of the development of lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles; Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities for the Solar Zone at UA Science and Tech Park, located in the heart of Arizona’s “solar city,” the leading U.S. hub for solar energy manufacturing; the Capital Region (NY) Economic Development Corp., for the CNSE Nanotech complex, perhaps the most advanced research facility in the world for the development of nanotech-scale semiconductors; and the Virginia Partnership for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing. The Commonwealth Center is anchored by jet maker Rolls Royce’s two major facilities in northern Virginia (the first of which was our 2008 Deal of the Year Gold Award winner).

Loyal followers of our annual State Rankings Report will not be surprised that Louisiana Economic Development is the hands-down winner of our first Achievement in Workforce Training Award for the Louisiana FastStart program.

FastStart’s innovative training initiative has been the perennial front runner in our ranking of state training programs. FastStart’s innovative, customized programs are available to companies that meet eligibility requirements and are aligned with Louisiana’s diverse economic development targets, which include digital media, headquarters and business operations, service industries, advanced and traditional manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and research and development.

“When it comes to workforce training, Louisiana FastStart remains the gold standard,” Rogers said.

Fairfax County (VA) Economic Development Authority is the winner of our Achievement in Business Retention and Expansion Award. The convergence of medicine and technology are creating significant growth opportunities beyond traditional government-based development in Fairfax County, a thriving business center just west of Washington, D.C.

“It seems like every week we receive another announcement of a big-ticket corporate headquarters or facilities expansion in northern Virginia,” Rogers said.

A feature article on the new Economic Development Awards appears in the March/April issue of Business Facilities.

 

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