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Dennis Mullen recently was officially named chairman of New York’s Empire State Development agency, which has been actively involved in revamping the state’s incentives programs. BF: The elimination of the Empire Zones program on June 30 has generated a lot of controversy across New York. What will you replace it with? DM: Since its creation in 1986, the Empire Zones Program has gone through numerous revisions and lost its original focus of attracting new business and enabling existing businesses to expand and create more jobs in economically distressed areas of the state. The Governor’s decision to sunset the flawed Empire Zone program and implement a new economic development program addresses the need for accountability and administrative efficiency, while providing a strategic focus that more narrowly targets state incentives to key sectors of our struggling economy. BF: Will converting incentives from loans to grants if specified job targets are met generate more economic development activity in the state and more relocations of businesses to New York? DM: ESD’s assistance is typically provided in the form of a loan or a grant. Recently, ESD has been offering loans that convert to grants if certain investment and job creation milestones are met. While loans and convertible loans have the potential to return funds back to ESD, all of our products are deployed to “win the project” and each is considered equally effective, based on the situation, to induce the project and create economic activity. BF: The Tax Foundation ranks New York near the bottom of its annual Business Tax Climate index. What are the most important steps you can take to improve NY’s competitive position? DM: We’ve created an economic development plan we believe is tight and focused. It concentrates on both job development and capital investment. Our go-to market strategy is a balanced approach centered around four key pillars: partnering with business and academic leadership; supporting New Economy job growth and capital investment; maintaining our core competency in manufacturing; and providing access to capital for small business. We believe [with] this strategy we will make great strides towards a more business-friendly and competitive New York. BF: Is New York positioned to be a leader in alternative energy manufacturing and renewable energy generation? DM: Yes, definitely. New York has one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country: the “45 by 15” initiative. By 2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy. This initiative [will create] an estimated […]


Dennis Mullen recently was officially named chairman of New York’s Empire State Development agency, which has been actively involved in revamping the state’s incentives programs. BF: The elimination of the Empire Zones program on June 30 has generated a lot of controversy across New York. What will you replace it with? DM: Since its creation in 1986, the Empire Zones Program has gone through numerous revisions and lost its original focus of attracting new business and enabling existing businesses to expand and create more jobs in economically distressed areas of the state. The Governor’s decision to sunset the flawed Empire Zone program and implement a new economic development program addresses the need for accountability and administrative efficiency, while providing a strategic focus that more narrowly targets state incentives to key sectors of our struggling economy. BF: Will converting incentives from loans to grants if specified job targets are met generate more economic development activity in the state and more relocations of businesses to New York? DM: ESD’s assistance is typically provided in the form of a loan or a grant. Recently, ESD has been offering loans that convert to grants if certain investment and job creation milestones are met. While loans and convertible loans have the potential to return funds back to ESD, all of our products are deployed to “win the project” and each is considered equally effective, based on the situation, to induce the project and create economic activity. BF: The Tax Foundation ranks New York near the bottom of its annual Business Tax Climate index. What are the most important steps you can take to improve NY’s competitive position? DM: We’ve created an economic development plan we believe is tight and focused. It concentrates on both job development and capital investment. Our go-to market strategy is a balanced approach centered around four key pillars: partnering with business and academic leadership; supporting New Economy job growth and capital investment; maintaining our core competency in manufacturing; and providing access to capital for small business. We believe [with] this strategy we will make great strides towards a more business-friendly and competitive New York. BF: Is New York positioned to be a leader in alternative energy manufacturing and renewable energy generation? DM: Yes, definitely. New York has one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country: the “45 by 15” initiative. By 2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy. This initiative [will create] an estimated […]

60 Seconds with Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development

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60 Seconds with Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development

60 Seconds with Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development

Dennis Mullen recently was officially named chairman of New York’s Empire State Development agency, which has been actively involved in revamping the state’s incentives programs. BF: The elimination of the Empire Zones program on June 30 has generated a lot of controversy across New York. What will you replace it with? DM: Since its creation in 1986, the Empire Zones Program has gone through numerous revisions and lost its original focus of attracting new business and enabling existing businesses to expand and create more jobs in economically distressed areas of the state. The Governor’s decision to sunset the flawed Empire Zone program and implement a new economic development program addresses the need for accountability and administrative efficiency, while providing a strategic focus that more narrowly targets state incentives to key sectors of our struggling economy. BF: Will converting incentives from loans to grants if specified job targets are met generate more economic development activity in the state and more relocations of businesses to New York? DM: ESD’s assistance is typically provided in the form of a loan or a grant. Recently, ESD has been offering loans that convert to grants if certain investment and job creation milestones are met. While loans and convertible loans have the potential to return funds back to ESD, all of our products are deployed to “win the project” and each is considered equally effective, based on the situation, to induce the project and create economic activity. BF: The Tax Foundation ranks New York near the bottom of its annual Business Tax Climate index. What are the most important steps you can take to improve NY’s competitive position? DM: We’ve created an economic development plan we believe is tight and focused. It concentrates on both job development and capital investment. Our go-to market strategy is a balanced approach centered around four key pillars: partnering with business and academic leadership; supporting New Economy job growth and capital investment; maintaining our core competency in manufacturing; and providing access to capital for small business. We believe [with] this strategy we will make great strides towards a more business-friendly and competitive New York. BF: Is New York positioned to be a leader in alternative energy manufacturing and renewable energy generation? DM: Yes, definitely. New York has one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country: the “45 by 15” initiative. By 2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy. This initiative [will create] an estimated […]



Ohio Corporate Moves

Ohio Companies Making a Material Difference in Advanced Energy In recent years, Ohio has made significant commitments to the support of advanced and alternative energy solutions, including the adoption of renewable portfolio standards and a State Job Stimulus program in advanced energy. Ohio Third Frontier also has made major investments, accelerating the success of advanced energy projects and industries in Ohio. Underlying many of the successes in advanced energy is Ohio’s breadth and depth of world-class competencies in the area of advanced materials, which has also been a major focus for investment by Ohio Third Frontier. Whether improving on more mature energy technologies such as wind turbines or leading the development of next generation solar, research and commercialization of advanced materials is making Ohio a recognized source for alternative and renewable energy solutions. Located in Kent, AlphaMicron, Inc. has been capitalizing on the depth of liquid-crystalline materials expertise that has emerged at Kent State University over the past two decades and has given rise to the Liquid Crystal Display industry. A major product focus of the company has been the use of liquid crystal materials to create actively lightening and darkening lenses for motorcycle helmets, ski goggles, and designer sunglasses. The same switchable property of the liquid crystals that makes these applications possible is now being applied, with Ohio Third Frontier funding, to an energy conservation product. AlphaMicron is developing the world’s first auto-adjusting “Adaptive Window.” The window is based on the company’s VALiD™ liquid crystal-based technology to create an adaptive film that can be laminated to windows and has a self-regulating and photovoltaic-powered electronically controllable tint. The window will transmit more winter sunlight to assist with heating and less summer sunlight to minimize overheating, thus transforming windows from a source of energy loss to one of energy gain. Market applications targeted for AlphaMicron’s window include greenhouses, automobiles, and office and residential buildings. Several years ago, Miamisburg’s WebCore Technologies, Inc. began working closely with leading research laboratories including the Air Force Research Lab, located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, to develop an advanced polymer composite panel system. Initially, the product concepts focused on marine (e.g., bulkheads) and infrastructure (bridge decks) applications that could benefit from the new material which is lighter, stronger, and more durable than the steel and other metals it would replace. These very same properties may make WebCore’s technology an ideal material solution for the wind power industry. The company is now developing the TYCOR® polymer […]




Southern Innovation in the Carolinas

Creating Exciting New Workforce Development Strategies for the 21st Century In the past few years, the Carolinas have become well known for their creative and innovative climate, as well as their low-cost business environment. North Carolina and South Carolina has spent the past two decades certifying shovel-ready sites and pioneering new incentives. For example, Gov. Bev Perdue recently established the North Carolina Innovation Council to foster strategic investments and policies in the growing knowledge and innovation economy. The North Carolina Innovation Council is part of Gov. Perdue’s JobsNOW initiative. Through JobsNOW, the state will work aggressively to create jobs, train and retrain its workforce, and lay the foundation for a sustainable economic future. “To continue growing jobs in North Carolina, we must make sure this state is poised to compete globally in the 21st century,” says Perdue. “Innovation is North Carolina’s launch pad to success in the global economy, and it’s a primary way for us to maintain and sharpen our competitive edge.” North Carolina recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to provide free technology training to its citizens through the North Carolina Community College System, the Division of Workforce Development and the Employment Security Commission. The Elevate America courses range from basic- to intermediate-level technology literacy, and even provide a portion of the recipients with Microsoft Certification. “This partnership will provide North Carolinians with another opportunity to retrain for today’s new economy,” Gov. Perdue says. “At a time when businesses are seeking a highly qualified, well trained workforce, Elevate America can give potential employees new skills to succeed.” In South Carolina, the focus also is on creative workforce development strategies. The South Carolina Department of Commerce is committed to meeting a business’ specific workforce needs. The Department of Commerce’s Workforce Division and the readySC™ program, offered through the S.C. Technical College System, coordinate training needs at no cost for eligible new or expanding companies throughout the state. The readySC™ program works with the state’s 16 technical colleges to develop training curriculum tailored to meet a company’s workforce requirements. More than a quarter-million workers have been trained since the nationally recognized program’s inception. “South Carolina is dedicated to establishing an environment where businesses can prosper,” says Gov. Mark Sanford. “The state has taken necessary steps to further enhance its business-friendly environment. Efforts like tort reform, workers’ comp reform, lowering taxes and expanding healthcare access for small businesses are just a few reasons why South Carolina has been ranked among the top five most business-friendly states for the past four years […]


Mississippi Sets its Priorities: Business is Number One

Incentives and initiatives in a supportive business climate—along with an obvious geographic advantage—will prove once again that Mississippi is a business force to be reckoned with. In his state of the state address, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said “2010 is the year we will help lead America out of this global recession; the year when we pick up where we left off before this recession sidetracked our growing economy and rising incomes.” He then backed the statement up by helping to create and renew incentives and initiatives that would do just that. In October, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the state’s lead economic and community development agency, held events around the state for local economic developers during a nine-city rollout of the new PriorityOne program. An effort of MDA’s Existing Industry and Business (EIB) Division, PriorityOne is a key component of the agency’s business retention and expansion program. Goals of PriorityOne include assisting businesses in solving immediate and long-term problems, promoting economic development and job creation and strengthening and diversifying the local economy. To achieve these goals, MDA staff and local economic developers interview businesses throughout the state to assess their particular needs and concerns, using the PriorityOne survey questions as a guide. All survey results are entered into a database. MDA then analyzes and reports the results, in the aggregate, to each community. With this information, local developers and state officials can provide relevant assistance to community businesses. The information PriorityOne provides to local officials will assist them as they define their communities’ priorities and determine how best to allocate their resources. At the state level, this program will enable MDA to develop policy and implement programs that will be most effective in assisting the state’s existing businesses. “The PriorityOne program . . . will be beneficial for businesses around the state, particularly during a time when economic development efforts and job creation are critical to maintaining a healthy economy,” said Chandler Russ, EIB Division director during the roll-out. Gov. Barbour also created a partnership with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to launch The Aerospace Alliance, a 501(c)(6) private/public organization that will establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world-class aerospace, space and aviation corridor. “This alliance will go far in promoting our region for what it is—one of the largest aerospace corridors in the world and a great place for companies in this sector to do business,” says Gov. Barbour. “The Gulf Coast states share geographic proximity, a long tradition of aerospace and aviation activities and a […]


Louisiana to Site Seekers: What Recession?

Louisiana’s economy and job creation have been outpacing the nation throughout the past two years. Come see how this Southern state can boost your business. Louisiana is bucking the national recession by having an economy that currently is outperforming both the South and the nation. Unemployment rates in 2009, according to Louisiana Economic Development (LED) officials, was down about one percent since January 2008, bringing it to 6.7 percent as compared to the national average of 10 percent. The year 2009 saw expansions and relocations that resulted in more than 21,000 new jobs, $2.5 billion in new capital investment and $53 million per year in new state tax revenues. “Our aggressive focus on preserving our existing jobs and attracting new jobs is resulting in increases in our national rankings, improvements in our business climate, population in-migration and most importantly more good job opportunities for our people,” Gov. Bobby Jindal says. In fact, Louisiana tied for third among all U.S. states in Gallup’s Job Creation Index for 2009. According to Moody’s Economy Adversity Index, New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles have emerged from the recession. “There is no longer a placeholder for Louisiana at the bottom of the major economic and business climate rankings,” says Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. “The positive national recognition Louisiana has received since 2008 is a strong indicator that our economy has performed better than the South and U.S. during the recession. This consistent recognition also demonstrates that we are taking the right steps to grow our economy, create better job opportunities and position our state for long-term economic growth.” But the governor and the state’s economic development officials aren’t resting on their laurels, in fact, in April, Gov. Jindal laid out the Louisiana Way Forward. “The Louisiana Way Forward means that during these tough economic times, we’re pursuing reforms and efficiencies that make government do more with less. Families and business across Louisiana are tightening their belts and we’re doing the same for state government,” says Gov. Jindal. “The Louisiana Way Forward will create a more accountable state government so that even when our revenues grow back, we will not simply restore funding to the status quo, but instead, we’ll make investments that produce results.” The Way Forward includes further developing LED’s recently launched priority initiatives, including: • The Louisiana FastStart program—building on the expertise of national-caliber corporate training experts recruited from around the country, Louisiana FastStart is a first-class workforce solutions provider executing more than a dozen pilot projects—more than 11,000 hours of […]


Certified and Ready to Go

There are no national standards for certifying a site. Here is a handy guide to the typical certification process from a firm that specializes in evaluating mega-sites. Q As we begin to look at sites for a new facility, we are coming across a number of sites designated as “Certified.” What is a certified site and how does this designation create value for us? The Expert Says: A certified site is one which has been screened and evaluated against a set of development criteria in order to assess, and certify, its readiness for development. The first thing to know is that there are no national, centralized standards for site certification. So if you are evaluating a site that carries such a designation, you should still evaluate the site in full against your project specific criteria. If a site has been certified, it will have readiness advantages if the evaluation items and their criteria definitions are properly identified and designed to align very closely to what you are looking for in a site. All of these criteria issues are ones that matter to you in how timely and how costly it will be to get you project developed on the property, so properly designed and executed programs will have real bottom line value to you. Most certification programs will cover such fundamental criteria as property identification, property ownership and control, and availability. However, the “certification” criteria for each of these factors may vary from one program to another. With identification, there may informal descriptions or there may be full boundary surveys completed. With ownership and control, one property may have an owner or owners identified while another may not address this in full, particularly for a site that has multiple owners or different owners of different parcels. Availability may be documented with a formal real estate listing, or an option held by a development agency, or even simply a letter from the owner(s). One key element of availability is an opening or list price. A fundamental real estate issue is zoning. Since there are many reasons why a property may not be currently zoned for your intended purpose (including a lack of zoning regulations in the community), a properly certified site should address the zoning issues and the process, schedule and likelihood of achieving the required zoning designation in a timely manner. Constructability issues include surface and near-surface conditions such as flood plain and soil conditions. A major component of a site’s readiness is its development status. Four key studies that […]


Race to the Bottom

KPMG’s 2010 Competitive Alternatives study reveals that the push to be the location with the lowest cost of manufacturing is heating up around the world. In a recovering economy, every major business expansion, relocation or new facility is the focus of intense competition. With fewer projects to zero in on, every location is vying to offer the lowest overall manufacturing costs. One of the most coveted measures of cost competitiveness is found in KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives study, which is conducted every two years. The 2010 Competitive Alternatives survey examined 112 cities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The KPMG study measured 26 significant cost components most likely to vary by location, including: labor, taxes, real estate and utilities, as they applied to 17 business sectors over a 10-year planning horizon. A range of non-cost competitiveness factors also were considered, as were currency exchange rates. The 2010 study was revamped to include a new focus on the largest cities in each country, and it includes a number of major cities not included in the 2008 survey, such as Berlin, Los Angeles, Lyon, Miami, Osaka, Rome and Tokyo. The results, released at the end of March, revealed some bad news for the U.S.—the United States dropped from third place in the 2008 KPMG study to seventh place in the 2010 survey. Mexico and Canada continued to hold onto the first- and second-place rankings, respectively, while the Netherlands surged from number seven to number three. “The global recession has not been the only factor impacting international business over the last two years,” explains Simon Harding, associate partner in KPMG’s Advisory Service practice and head of its Canadian Strategic & Commercial Intelligence practice. “Divergent trends in exchange rates, utility and transportation costs, taxes and incentives all helped to shape the international competitiveness environment in 2010,” Harding noted. “The degree of variation in business costs between major cities in some countries also is quite remarkable. All of these factors highlight the importance of having access to up-to-date intelligence on international business competitiveness issues for both businesses and governments.”   TAMPA AND ATLANTA LEADING LOW-COST LARGE U.S. CITIES Harding told Business Facilities that this year’s emphasis on the largest cities in each country was a primary factor in the downward shift in the U.S. competitiveness ranking. The change in focus impacted on the U.S. ranking due to the greater variation in costs between the largest cities and regional cities in the U. S. The cost […]