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Groundbreaking is planned Saturday for a $60 million stadium for the Houston Dynamo soccer team after city leaders approved an economic development tax zone deal. The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance for development, construction, operation and maintenance of the sports and entertainment facility. The Harris County Houston Sports Authority in December approved an agreement to build the proposed soccer stadium. The venue is scheduled to open in April 2012. The stadium would also be the site for Texas Southern University football games. The Dynamo currently play at Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston.
The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission have approved a new structure for economic development for Memphis and Shelby County, Business Journal reports. The Economic Development and Growth Engine, or EDGE, is a newly chartered industrial development board that will eventually consolidate a number of economic development agencies and functions of both governments. Those include the Office of Economic Development, the existing Industrial Development Board, the Port Commission, the Depot Redevelopment Authority, Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, the City of Memphis Foreign Trade Zone 77 program and the City of Memphis Renewal Community program. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell issued a joint statement today commending approval of the EDGE. “Momentum for economic development and job growth in our community has been building steadily over the last year, and this will only accelerate that forward progress,” Wharton said. “The function of the EDGE will be to strategically target great companies who are a good fit for Memphis and Shelby County’s unique assets and do what it takes to bring them here. We will also be able to provide new levels of support and assistance to start-up companies and small and medium-sized businesses. The competition for great jobs and great businesses in a global economy becomes more and more intense all the time. We need an edge to maintain our advantage.”
Pfizer Inc. has announced will add 350 jobs in the Boston area and look for a new site to house a pair of research operations it will move from southeastern Connecticut, the Boston Globe reports. The pharmaceutical giant also unveiled a restructuring plan that will cut global R&D by $1.5 billion, eliminating thousands of jobs around the world. However, despite these cutbacks, Pfizer will grow in Massachusetts, where it currently employs 2,300 workers at two research labs in Cambridge and a former Wyeth biotechnology plant in Andover. “We have recognized that we want to have a very significant footprint in Massachusetts,” said J.C. Gutierrez Ramos, the Cambridge-based Pfizer senior vice president of biotherapeutics research and development. “This emphasizes Pfizer’s commitment to increase our interactions with the academic medical centers, our interactions with the biotechnology companies and entrepreneurs, with all of the stakeholders in biomedical research.” Pfizer said it will 1,100 jobs in Groton, CN, about a quarter of its workforce there, and consolidate its neuroscience and cardiovascular metabolic research operations in the Boston area.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has launched “Business in Maryland Made Easy,” an economic development initiative and part of the governor’s ongoing efforts to improve the conditions that allow businesses to grow and create jobs. “Maryland Made Easy”includes specific strategies for state agencies to help improve Maryland’s business environment by streamlining processes, simplifying regulations and improving communication. In making the announcement, Gov. O’Malley outlined recently adopted improvements to the State Highway Administration’s access permit review. He introduced members of the newly formed Maryland Small Business Commission and charged them with identifying other permitting, licensing and regulatory areas for review. “As we transition our state into the new economy, we have to listen to the men and women on the front line of job creation on how to improve infrastructure, support our innovation economy, enhance the skills and talents of our people and improve our business environment,” said Gov. O’Malley. “In the past two years, we worked to unlock credit through the Maryland Small Business Credit Recovery Program and increase access to financial resources through Credit Connections. And just five weeks ago, at our first Maryland Forward forum on jobs and the economy, people told me that we needed to do a better job marketing those resources and I’m pleased to announce that we’ve heeded the call, and today, we’re releasing a new financing guide.” Joining the governor were John McLaughlin, CEO of DAP and a member of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, Ackneil Muldrow, Small Business Commission Chair, Jay Steinmetz, CEO of Barcoding and Manuel Hidalgo, executive director of Latino Economic Development Corporation. “One of the most effective roles my colleagues – such as secretaries Swaim-Staley and Sanchez who are here today – and I can perform is to be advocates for transparency, predictability and accountability in government,” said Christian Johansson, Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. With stakeholder process reviews, we’re working across state agencies to identify and remove barriers to business success.” In addition to stakeholder process reviews, Maryland Made Easy includes a planned Central Business Licensing (CBL) system, an initiative of the DBED and the Department of Information Technology to create a centralized, online system for all business licenses and permits. The CBL will eventually provide businesses with a one-stop shop to complete and submit various applications and permits regardless of agency or type of business. The governor will soon sign an Executive Order on Expedited Project Review to increase cooperation and communication in resolving cross-agency issues to facilitate major development projects and reduce delays. Gov. O’Malley also […]
Anyone who thought state budget deficits were confined to one or two regions of the United States had a sobering wake-up call in the form of a report issued this month by the Center on Budget and Policy. The report indicates that the sea of red ink has now washed over no less than 44 states. Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and California lead the list of states in arrears, each compiling current deficits that amount to roughly one-third of their budgets. Nevada currently is facing a $1.5-billion deficit that is equivalent to 45.2 percent of the state budget; Illinois’s deficit is about $15 billion, or 44.9 percent of its budget; New Jersey weighs in at $10.5 billion, or 37.4 percent of its budget; Texas is facing a $13.4 billion gap, 31.5 of its budget total; and California, despite draconian budget cuts in the past two years, still has a $25.4-billion gap to close. States that are closest to making ends, according to the center’s report, are Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, Iowa, and Massachusetts, which range from the Hoosier State’s 2 percent shortfall (approximately $270 million) to Massachusetts’ $1.8-billion deficit (5.7 percent of budget). Proposed remedies include a bill reportedly circulating in Congress that will enable states to file for bankruptcy so they can renegotiate obligations like pension payments. However, a less-painful cure can be found in the 2010 census results: the Census Bureau reports that the fastest growth was achieved by states without a state income tax.
Gov. Terry Branstad plans to unveil details Monday about a new economic development authority that would replace the existing agency, according to a report in the Des Moines Register. Gov. Branstad is expected to introduce the new Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress at his weekly press conference. He campaigned on a plan to scrap the existing Iowa Department of Economic Development, saying it was dysfunctional, citing mismanagement of the state’s film tax credit program, which resulted in the dismissal of several top economic development administrators. Gov. Branstad has said he wants a new public-private agency that’s more responsive to business needs. Debi Durham, the new economic development director, told lawmakers last week that she believes an authority gives the state greater flexibility to help expanding businesses. According to Durham, a partnership may make it easier for Iowa businesses to access federal industrial revenue bonds. Gov. Branstad also plans to cut corporate income taxes by half and would reduce commercial property taxes by 40 percent over five years. He want to maintain a pared-down Iowa Values Fund for business incentives, but is eliminating the Iowa Power Fund, designed to spark renewable energy development.
Automotive parts supplier ArvinMeritor will invest $23 million in facility and equipment upgrades to its headquarters in Troy, MI. The company got approval from the Troy City Council this week for personal and real property tax abatements that will total $2.4 million, $454,457 which will be city taxes, over a 12-year period. ArvinMeritor, which specializes in heavy duty truck, defense and industrial drive train components, will invest $10.7 million in new equipment and $6.4 million in facilities upgrades within the next five years. The upgrades are part of ArvinMeritor’s plans expand its output of hybrid drive train systems and enhanced safety features on defense vehicles, and re-enter the off-highway axle and brake markets. The upgrades will allow ArvinMeritor to add 125 engineers, designers and technicians to its current staff of 749. The average salary of these new jobs will be $1,185 per week.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell submitted four pieces of legislation to encourage increased investment in Alaska’s resource development and create job opportunities for Alaskans. “We continue to focus on legislation that will create economic opportunities and jobs for Alaskans,” Governor Parnell said. The governor transmitted a bill to establish a 20 percent tax credit for qualified research and development conducted by corporate taxpayers in Alaska. The proposed legislation would stimulate private-sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, and business expansion in Alaska that will bring opportunity and sustainable long-term benefits to the state. Gov. Parnell also submitted a bill to enable the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to invest in projects that promote economic development, including transportation, communications, and intellectual property. The proposed legislation provides greater flexibility for AIDEA to partner with investors in establishing joint investments. The governor also proposed a bill establishing the Alaska micro-loan revolving fund, the mariculture revolving loan fund, and the commercial charter fisheries revolving loan fund within the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The legislation would promote economic development by helping small businesses across the state access critical capital. Another measure submitted by the governor would allow AIDEA to issue guarantees and make loans to help finance projects funded through a federal new markets tax credit program. Under this legislation, AIDEA would have the ability to help reduce the financing costs for a project to foster more economic development in Alaska, especially in areas with great need for new investment.
Representatives of development agencies in two states whose ports are competing to become the go-to destinations from an expanded Panama Canal appear to be pooling their resources. South Carolina’s Lowcountry Economic Alliance reportedly has joined the Georgia Ports Authority and the Savannah Economic Development Authority signing a joint resolution in support of deepening both the Savannah and Charleston harbors and developing the Jasper Ocean Terminal. “Lengthy conversations with our counterparts in Georgia have shown that we have the same goal – economic prosperity for the Lowcountry and the Coastal Empire,” alliance board member Kim Statler told SavannahNow.com. “Our competitors are overseas, not across the river.” The Lowcountry Economic Alliance is the regional economic development arm of Beaufort and Jasper counties in South Carolina.
Coskata Inc. plans to build a new ethanol plant at the Crossroads of America Industrial Park in Boligee, Alabama. The Illinois-based company has secured a $250 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will seek additional funding for the plant, which will turn wood and plant waste into ethanol. After the rest of the money is raised, the company can outline a construction schedule to begin building. The Greene County project will create approximately 300 construction jobs and 700 direct and indirect jobs, including operators and engineers along with those that provide the materials to produce the ethanol, such as harvesters and haulers of pulpwood and plant biomass. The facility will generate around 55 million gallons of biofuel each year to help reduce dependence on foreign oil. According to a release from Coskata, the cellulosic ethanol they plan to make is a “high octane renewable fuel with a superior environmental footprint compared to gasoline”. The company said the Boligee plant will be the “largest planned cellulosic ethanol facility in the country.” Cellulosic ethanol is considered to have advantages over conventional ethanol, which is derived from grains such as corn and wheat or soybeans. In addition to recruitment by the state and local officials for more than two years, Coskata said Boligee was chosen because of its abundant supply of wood biomass. “Today’s announcement is very exciting for the state of Alabama and Greene County,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “It has the potential to create hundreds of good quality jobs and economic development in an area of the state where they are sorely needed.”