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The eighth annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, a process that has helped start-up companies get up and running with the help of prizes, mentoring and access to private capital, is open for entries for the 2011 contest season. The BPC has attracted about 1,800 entries in its first seven years, with roughly 160 finalists sharing in $1 million in cash and other in-kind prizes. The contest begins with a 250-word abstract that is filed online at www.govsbizplancontest.com no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 31. The contest opened at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in November; the grand prize is $50,000 in cash and services. The contest has four categories: Advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. In the first stage, contestants cover four topics: Product or service description; customer definition: their needs – your solution; market description, size and sales strategy; and competition. The contest is conducted in three written phases, culminating in oral presentations at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee in June. Mentoring is available after the first phase, and participants will be eligible to take part in an early March “boot camp.” The contest is judged by more than 70 experienced entrepreneurs, investors and service professionals. Contestants must be 18 or older and a resident of Wisconsin to enter, although out-of-state residents may enter upon demonstrating they intend to move their business to Wisconsin. The goal of the contest is to stimulate company creation and business growth, especially in tech sectors that are a part of Wisconsin’s “knowledge-based” economy. Four regional or collegiate contests will feed into the statewide competition: the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the UW-Madison, the Marquette University Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest, the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Contest, and the Mason Wells BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition. “It’s important to build a network of regional and college contests that can augment the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which remains one of the premier statewide competitions for entrepreneurs working in the tech-based economy,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council produces the BPC. Past BPC finalists have raised about $20 million in private equity. Here are the stages of the 2011 competition: * In the “Business Concepts” phase, which is open until Monday, Jan. 31, 2010 at 5 p.m., the contest will accept IDEA Abstracts on the web site. IDEA abstracts are 250-word business concepts that will be graded on a scale of 1-10 (10 highest) by our judges. The top 50 […]
To develop cost-competitive solar technologies, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to fund up to $50 million in testing and demonstration initiatives. The program will be a critical link between DOE’s advanced technology development programs and full-scale commercialization efforts. The Nevada National Security Site will provide a “solar demonstration zone” that will serve as a proving ground for cutting-edge solar technologies, such as concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) and concentrating photovoltaic (PV) energy. DOE expects to announce the Funding Opportunity Announcement early this year. Potential technology applications include: CSP systems that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight on a heat absorbing fluid, convert it to steam, and ultimately generate electricity; and concentrated PV power that uses lenses to concentrate sunlight to improve the efficiency of conventional photovoltaics. The demonstration projects that are part of the Solar Demonstration Zone will be deployed at a large enough scale to provide useful operating and economic data for the eventual deployment of solar energy projects at utility-scale, which are typically grid-connected projects larger than 20 megawatts. The solar demonstration zone will complement the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Land Management’s 24 Solar Energy Study Areas on public lands across the Southwest by providing essential data about the commercial viability of the most advanced solar technologies. As part of DOE and the DOI’s continuing collaboration, the departments are working together to implement this project, including conducting environmental reviews and coordinating necessary infrastructure planning for the site. Responses will be due by March 30, 2011. Late last year, DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed “solar energy zones” on public lands in six Western states. Lands that are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah that are most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production are the focus of the joint announcement that was made on December 16. A 90-day period for public comment on a detailed study, known as the draft Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), began December 17 with the publication of a notice of availability. Under the study’s preferred alternative, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would establish a new Solar Energy Program that would standardize and streamline the authorization process and would establish mandatory design features for solar energy development on BLM lands. The BLM would establish “solar energy zones” within the lands available for solar development right-of-way applications. These have been identified as most appropriate for development, containing the highest solar […]
Oshkosh Corp. is expanding Pierce Manufacturing in Bradenton, FL and Frontline Communications in Clearwater, FL . The Wisconsin-based company’s fire and emergency segment will relocate two of its businesses — Medtec Ambulances and Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles — and consolidate them with existing business units in Florida, according to a statement issued by the Economic Development Council of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. Medtec will be consolidated with Pierce Manufacturing in Bradenton while OSV will merge with Frontline in Clearwater. The expansion involves $5 million in capital improvements and up to 200 new jobs, the statement said. The planned relocations qualify Oshkosh for up to $1.44 million in economic development incentives.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and officials from Stion, a venture-backed manufacturer of high-efficiency, low-cost thin film solar panels, announced this week that the company is locating a 100-megawatt solar panel production facility in Hattiesburg, MS. The operations will be located in the Sunbeam building. The production line is the first phase of a company investment of $500 million that will create 1,000 new jobs over the next six years. “Today’s announcement that Stion is locating a thin film solar panel manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg is further proof that Mississippi is an ideal location for clean energy companies to locate and expand,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “I am pleased to welcome Stion to Mississippi, and I thank the company for creating so many high-quality jobs for Mississippi’s workers.” From its Hattiesburg location, Stion will utilize its proprietary material and process expertise to produce its high-efficiency, thin film solar panels. The 110W to 120W panels are designed for use in all major applications, including commercial /government, residential, utility and off-grid and offer significant cost and performance advantages over many competing products. The company will use approximately 300,000 square feet of the Hattiesburg facility to manufacture the solar panels. “Together, the state of Mississippi, Forrest County, and the city of Hattiesburg offer a business-friendly location with a strong resource base for manufacturing,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to partner with them to help increase domestic production of clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the local and national economy.” The State of Mississippi is providing loan assistance totaling $75 million through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund, pending approval by the Legislature. The State is also providing clean energy tax incentives and workforce training incentives for the project. Additionally, local officials provided tax and other financial incentives to assist with the project. “In 2010, Mississippi sought legislation to target clean energy companies, and Stion’s location in Hattiesburg is a result of this effort,” said Gray Swoope, Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) executive director. “I am excited to see Stion occupy the Sunbeam building. I know firsthand that the quality of the building coupled with the area’s workforce equals a win-win situation for the community and the company.” Founded in 2006, Stion currently produces its highly-efficient, low-cost thin film solar panels in its state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and research and development facility in San Jose, Calif., where the company is headquartered.
Thin-film solar technology developer W Solar Group will relocate its headquarters from California to Wisconsin, where it will build a $300 million factory. The company will receive $28 million in state incentives for the project, which is expected to create 620 jobs when the new plant ramps up to full capacity by 2015. W Solar has developed a copper-indium-gallium-sellenium (CIGS) solar panel technology, which offers lower cost per watt solar panels. W Solar was awarded Enterprise Zone tax credits from the state’s Department of Commerce for the company to establish its manufacturing facility, along with its corporate headquarters and research and development facilities, in Dane County, WI. Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce has previously helped solar companies including Cardinal Glass, 5NPlus, PDM Solar, ZBB Technologies, and Helios. Officials believe the solar industry is on track for a tenfold growth in the next decade, while around half of the new factory’s output could be destined for overseas markets. W Solar Group, which will move from its current HQ in Chatsworth, outside Los Angeles, is now considering several locations in Wisconsin for its new plant, which will is slated to begin production in 2012. Conditions for the state incentives include targets for creating jobs in 2013 and 2014 prior to full production a year later. The company has also made a commitment to purchase materials and services from Wisconsin suppliers in an effort to create or retain additional jobs in the state. “We are impressed with the high quality workforce, extensive supply chain, and the commitment to producing world-class products. Making Wisconsin our home is the right decision, and W Solar’s goal is to be a great addition to the Wisconsin economy. Wisconsin’s role as a leading manufacturing state with hard-working people also contributed to our decision to make the Badger State the place to grow our company,” said Chris Hamrin, president and CEO of W Solar Group.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who took office this week, wants to abolish the state Department of Commerce and replace it with a public-private economic development agency, according to a report in the Superior Telegram. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation would be run by a 12-person board chaired by Walker and filled with his appointees. “Think about this corporation kind of like being the local Chamber of Commerce,” Walker told the Superior Telegram. “We need to have an entity that’s about promoting Wisconsin, promoting jobs, telling the world and everybody here in the state that we’re open for business and what we can do to help make that possible.” Wisconsin formed a similar partnership in the early 1980s called Forward Wisconsin, but the initiative was phased out a few years ago due to lack of donations from the private sector and a focus on other economic development tools. Gov. Walker’s proposal would either eliminate regulatory functions now held by the state Department of Commerce or move these functions to other agencies. The governor also wants to require employees currently working in Commerce to reapply for their jobs. Gov. Walker’s proposal is modeled after a similar public-private partnership in Indiana. Officials there say using private money has given them more freedom to travel abroad and host receptions to recruit potential employers.
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As a tumultuous year comes to an end. it’s time to take another look into our Crystal Ball for some sure-fire prognostications of the big stories of 2011: — Ben Bernanke demands $500-billion “overdraft fee” from top U.S. banks, tells them to cut up debit cards. — Hamid Karzai retires to Paris, opens chain of men’s clothing stores called Afghan Wearhouse. — Cliff Lee pitches against Yankees in World Series, leaves game in fourth inning when car is towed from Stadium parking lot by NYPD. — President Obama announces federal deficit will now be calculated using Google algorithm. — Oprah surprises final studio audience with free trip to the Moon, buys Saturn rocket from Smithsonian. — BP unveils high-octane biofuel produced from Gulf Coast shrimp. — Congress orders Census Bureau to re-do 2010 count when number of Facebook pages in U.S. exceeds reported population. — Interpol seizes shipment of Afghan Wearhouse capes, finds 10-kilo bags of heroin sewn into linings. — Sarah Palin announces presidential candidacy on hour-long ESPN special, tells nation she is “bringing my talents to Washington.” — Charlie Sheen inks 10-year deal as spokesperson for Afghan Wearhouse. — New York City installs metered outlets for electric cars on city streets, collects $15 for 15-minute charge between 8 am and 4 pm. — Chevy Volt owner tasered by NYPD on Broadway attempting to obstruct city tow truck. — California Gov. Jerry Brown misses State of State address pinned to the floor of the governor’s office after attempting to move Arnold’s barbells. — Julian Assange leaks transcripts of NFL refs practicing holding penalties for Super Bowl. — Midwest governor returns federal stimulus funds, drives limo off unfinished highway ramp, says “this proves government can’t do anything right.” — Club Med opens summer resort in Greenland. — Germany withdraws from Euro after Silvio Berlusconi requests 1 billion Euro bailout for Naples trash removal. — China refuses to revalue currency, agrees to 50-percent discount on men’s socks at Wal-Mart. — Mike Bloomberg buys Bermuda, declares island sixth borough of New York. — Donald Trump announces presidential candidacy in Palm Beach, unveils plans for luxury resort/golf course at Camp David. — China agrees to exchange $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury Bonds for interstate highway system, Cape Canaveral and Disneyland. A Happy and Prosperous New Year to All!
Business Facilities magazine has selected Louisiana as its 2010 State of the Year. “The diversity and growth potential of Louisiana’s top projects in both high-tech and traditional manufacturing, as well as healthy total investments, overall job creation and innovative incentives made Louisiana a clear winner of our annual State of the Year Award,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers. Runners-up in the annual State of the Year contest included Texas, Tennessee, Utah and South Carolina. Texas was Business Facilities’ 2007 State of the Year award winner; Tennessee snared the magazine’s top honor in 2009. To determine the winner, Business Facilities reviews each state’s top five projects in terms of overall investment and job creation. The magazine also evaluates the state’s execution of its economic development strategy, and the diversity and growth potential of its target industries. “We were particularly impressed with the diversity of Louisiana’s strategy for developing high-growth sectors, including digital media, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and modular nuclear power plant components,” Rogers said. The Business Facilities editor noted that Louisiana “has emerged unbowed from a series of disasters that would have brought less-determined locations to their knees—including a major hurricane, an oil spill and the national economic downturn—and charted a course for the future that positions the state to be a national leader for years to come.” “This is a remarkable achievement,” he added. “Well done, Louisiana!” Gov. Bobby Jindal hailed the State of the Year Award as “yet another example of the better Louisiana we are building for our children.” “Since day one, we have made economic development our top priority by cutting taxes, revamping workforce training, and reforming our ethics code,” Gov. Jindal said. “We’ve made incredible progress and fostered an economic environment that is creating opportunity for our people, but we will not rest until all of our sons and daughters can pursue their dreams right here at home.” Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Stephen Moret said the State of the Year Award is proof that Louisiana is “closing the gap between the perception and reality of [its] business climate.” “This terrific news is a reflection of Louisiana’s continued economic progress during a difficult national economic period,” Moret said. “This recognition is in large part the result of recent economic competitiveness improvements in Louisiana, including business tax cuts, governmental ethics reform, the creation of LED FastStart and our focus on business retention and expansion.” Louisiana’s FastStart program was cited by Business Facilities in its annual State Rankings earlier this year, earning the Bayou State the […]
Amazon.com Inc. will build two new distribution centers in Chattanooga and neighboring Bradley County. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Seattle-based online company plans to spend up to $139 million on the projects that will create up to 1,400 jobs in the next three years, in addition to hundreds of other peak season positions. Amazon.com’s North American Operations vice president Dave Clark said in the statement that the new facilities in Tennessee will allow the Seattle-based online company to “serve customers more quickly and efficiently.” The distribution centers are expected to be in operation before the 2011 holiday season at Enterprise South Industrial Park in Chattanooga and on State Route 308 in Bradley County. Attracting Amazon was a team effort from jurisdictions representing Cleveland, Chattanooga, Bradley County, Hamilton County, the chambers of commerce in both Cleveland and Chattanooga, and the state of Tennessee, including the Office of Economic and Community Development and Gov. Phil Bredesen. In addition to state funding for roads and other infrastructure upgrades, Amazon.com negotiated local tax incentives for both locations. In Chattanooga, the company’s local property tax abatement totals about $10 million over 11 years, while Amazon.com has committed to investing about $91 million and spending about $488 million in payroll. “Amazon.com’s investment is good for the people of our region not only because it represents new jobs, but also because it is a major investment by a world-class company that stretches across county lines,” Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said in the statement. In Bradley County, Amazon.com is receiving a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years that totals about $2.4 million while making a $48 million investment. With 226 full-time employees and hundreds more seasonally, the new center is expected to generate an annual payroll of about $10.3 million. Doug Berry, the Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development, said there will be “about $800,000 a year of tax gain from this operation.” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out that although the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Bradley County will be located outside the Cleveland city limits, the residents of Cleveland will still benefit along with all residents of the county.