FEATURE STORY: 2013 Economic Development Awards

By Business Facilities Staff
From the March/April 2013 issue

Each year, Business Facilities selects the 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 honor these organizations with our Economic Development Excellence Awards, which are earned by the overall performance of the organization on behalf of its location, and with a series of awards for specific Achievements in Economic Development for categories including achievements in targeted incentives, business retention, downtown revitalization, public- private partnerships and ports/FTZs. We also bestow our Achievement in New Media Award for Best Use of Video and Best Use of Social Media.

The finalists for our new overall Economic Development Excellence awards were asked to prepare a detailed submission that summarized the most productive project development in their locations and gave our us an overview of the economic development strategy they have deployed to ensure sustained long-term growth. The information provided included the top projects (initiated since the beginning of 2012), in terms of capital investment and job creation. These projects included new facilities, expansions, relocations or corporate headquarters. In their strategic narratives, finalists identified the growth sectors they’re targeting and described the specialized tools being deployed to achieve growth in these sectors. We encouraged them to specify their approach to workforce training, specialized incentives and the support they provide to the development of start-ups, small businesses and other entrepreneurial initiatives.

In assessing the candidates for our Excellence awards, we assessed the diversity and scope of the agency’s overall economic development program (in terms of the expansion of existing industries as well as the attraction of new ventures). Our Achievement Awards throw the spot- light on agencies and organizations that have established the best practices in their specified category.

And now, without further ado, here are the winners of our 2013 Economic Development Awards.

Population Greater Than 500k

Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, through its CEO Council—and through its headquarters marketing and recruitment initiative—set a new standard of excellence in 2012 for the delivery of high-quality, effective economic development programs. These programs have resulted in substantial upward mobility for current and new Broward County residents, while providing substantial returns on investment to local municipal partners through the generation of new revenue as a result of capital investments.

In 2012, a national TV ad blitz continued to promote Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County’s strong business value proposition. The campaign, built on the tagline of “Life. Less Taxing,” aired for six months in the NY/NJ/CT, Boston and Chicago markets.

Key to the new marketing initiative was a CEO Council-sponsored hosting event for leading corporate real estate executives, site selection consultants and media outlets, which included a reception at Nova Southeastern University’s new $50-million Oceanographic Center.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale area continued to notch headquarters relocation and expansion success stories, including:

  • Custom clothier Astor & Black moved to Pembroke Pines, creating 62 jobs in a $1.48-million capital investment over a three-year period. State and local incentives from Florida and the City of Pembroke Pines totaled $554,000, including $434,000 from the Qualified Target Industries Tax Refund Program and $80,000 from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund
  • SmartWater CSI, a UK forensic technology firm also established its North American Headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, and UK-based Private Jet Charter expanded its headquarters there.
  • Connecticut-based Turbine Controls, Inc. (TCI) announced it is undertaking a $1.5-million expansion in Miramar, creating 60 jobs. TCI, an industry leader in air- craft engine component MRO services, will locate its facility at Miramar Park of Commerce.

There also were 23 other company relocations and expansions throughout Broward County in 2012, resulting in 1,669 new jobs, 1,689 retained jobs and more than $88 million in new capital investment. Highlights include the largest industrial spec development lease in the last five years in Broward County. AeroTurbine, the Miami-based aviation supply company is expanding to a new, 264,000-square-foot building in Miramar. The project offers a direct capital investment of $30 million dollars and will create 75 jobs.

Saveology’s move to Margate will add 700 jobs to its operation. The Internet company received a $2-million incentive package (tied to job-creation commitments) for its relocation to the 100,000-square-foot office. Stretch Wrap Packaging Industries, a manufacturer of plastic stretch wrap for the logistics industry, also has relocated to the Fort Lauderdale area from Suriname, South America; the company has committed to add 200 jobs over the next three years. The total foreign direct investment is $12 million.

The Alliance substantially expanded international business activities to raise the global footprint of Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County by taking an active and participatory role in Gov. Rick Scott’s missions to Brazil, Colombia and Spain, and a separate mission to Mexico, along with hosting and facilitating visits from Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The Alliance has a strong partnership with Broward County’s Workforce One employment center, securing nearly $1 million state and local training assistance for 1,107 employees in local companies.

The Alliance supports the GrowFlorida program designed to provide both technical assistance and access to capital to second-tier, high-growth companies in the area; it also provided assistance to Broward College to establish a new business incubator to promote small business.

In 2012, the Alliance formed its first Port Everglades Action Team, led by CEO Council member Terry Stiles, to work with the business community to generate support in securing necessary state and federal funding for expansion projects in the county’s Port Everglades Master Plan. Port Everglades, the 12th largest cargo port in the U.S. and one of the top cruise ports in the world, is embarking on three critical expansion projects that will create 7,000 new jobs regionally and support 135,000 jobs statewide over the next 15 years.

Throughout the year, a primary focus of the Alliance is assisting local companies succeed through its Business Retention and Visitation Outreach (BRAVO) program. In 2012, the Alliance visited 178 companies to assist with access to capital, workforce training opportunities, permitting issues and site location assistance.

Gaining Honorable Mention Awards in this category were Greater MSP (Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership) and Columbus (OH) 2020.

Greater MSP launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership dedicated to accelerating job growth and capital investment in the 13-county regional MSA. Thanks in large part to Greater MSP’s efforts, the region now boasts the highest per capita concentration of Fortune 500 and large privately held corporate headquarters. The area also has the second-highest concentration in the U.S. of employment in its biotech sector, anchored by its world-class research institutions, including the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota.

Columbus 2020 represents the 11-county region centered on Columbus OH, working in collaboration with JobsOhio and local partners to offer comprehensive services to companies evaluating the area. The organization has targeted development in growth sectors including logistics, international business, manufacturing, corporate headquarters and bioscience.

Population Between 200K-500K

Lincoln (NE) Partnership
Lincoln, NE is a community recognized around the nation for its aggressiveness in pursuit of new job creation opportunities. This effort is focused at the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. The primary service territory of the organization is Lancaster County and its primary focus is on Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E), Business Attraction, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) and Community Competitiveness.

In 2012, the Partnership completed 100 annual surveys of key businesses in the region; it is spearheading key workforce issues including the development of a career academy which will be a partnership between Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College to provide career-based educated for juniors and seniors in the LPS District. The overall BR&E program brings together representatives of the City, the County, Lincoln Electric System, Black Hills Energy and the State of Nebraska. Most recently, the Lincoln WIB was brought into the group.

The Partnership works through a regional marketing consortium that includes regional communities, utilities and higher education institutions including the University of Nebraska.

The Partnership and the Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau recently launched a new community branding strategy called “Life is Right: that is targeting young executives, workers and entrepreneurs.

The E&I program has been the top priority for the Partnership over the past three years, focused on two significant programs:

  • Innovation Connect brings the engineers and executives from manufacturers together with University of Nebraska researchers, promoting the use of UNL technology in Lincoln-based businesses.
  • Health Care Connect was unveiled in 2012. The program asks local health care providers to identify problems they believe can be solved through new technology, and then forwards these challenges to Lincoln’s software community. After two months, a quick-pitch contest was held and the winning software proposal got a 120-day test period at the health care institution.

The Partnership sponsors numerous quick-pitch and business plan competitions, and it was a key facilitator of the area’s software angel fund, Nebraska Global, which helped launch five companies in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska Global has launched its fifth software company, Elite-Form, which is producing programs for recording, coaching and evaluating strength training. Prototypes now are being used at the University of Nebraska’s athletic department.

The Partnership helped spearhead a successful effort by the University of Nebraska to take over the former state fair grounds; $80 million is being invested on four new facilities to attract, expand and grow new companies. The first, announced in 2012, is ConAgra’s new facility and research agreement. When fully developed, the project is expected to add over 2,000 high-tech jobs to the community.

The Partnership is leading an effort to undertake a $2.5-million redevelopment of the Lincoln Airpark, a 1000-acre industrial park located on a former Air Force Base. The project is expected to generate more than 3,000 new manufacturing jobs in the city.

The largest project in the community’s history, the West Haymarket redevelopment project, was sup- ported financially by the Partnership through the passage of a bond issue that will construct a new 16,000-seat arena. Over $100 million in investments are expected to be made by concerns adjacent to the arena, which could generate over 1,000 new jobs, new retail and significant quality of life enhancements.

Cabela’s credit card operation has moved into its expanded space in northwest Lincoln. The company $7.2-million expansion is to create about 340 new jobs. Cabela’s site is part of Nebraska Technology Park.

Family-owned Duncan Aviation is undertaking a $25-million expansion including an 80,000-square-foot maintenance hangar, 95,000 square feet of office and shop space; the new facilities are scheduled to open in June 2014. Last year, Duncan Aviation opened an $11.5-million paint shop. When all of its projects are complete, Duncan will employ more than 1,300 people in the Lincoln area.

Receiving Honorable Mention Awards in the 200k-500k category are Brick City Development Corp., Commerce Lexington, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brick City Development Corp. (BCDC) was formed in 2007 to be the primary economic development catalyst for New Jersey’s largest city, Newark. BCDC is focusing on industrial, technology and commercial growth sectors, putting New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit to good use to secure capital investments of more than $50 million for large-scale renovation or new construction projects.

A key priority is revitalization and development of site in Port Newark, the nation’s third-largest port; the program has succeeded in closing a series of industrial deals covering 750,000 square feet of production space. Pacific Group Holdings, one of the world’s largest importers, brought its Northeast U.S. headquarters to Newark.

BCDC also is targeting food processing and distribution. Success stories include Bartlett Dairy, kosher food producer Manischewitz, Damascus Bakery and grocery store distributor Wakefern.

More than 90 biotech incubator start-ups are now up and running at the University Heights Science Park, a mixed-use technology park anchored by the city’s huge university cluster. A major French pharma research concern, Biotrial S.A., has purchased a 1.2-acre parcel in the tech park for a new facility.

Commerce Lexington scored a major coup in 2012 with its recruitment of Bingham McCutchen’s Global Services Center. Lexington was chosen after a site-selection competition which considered 350 cities across the U.S.

Commerce Lexington is one of three members in the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership (BBDP), which Lexington’s economic development team together the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government in a coordinated program which serves as a one-stop service provider linking entrepreneurs with key programs and incentives to help them jump-start business initiatives.

In May 2011, Joplin, MO was devastated by one of the worst tornados in U.S. history. In the months before the tornado hit, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce was spear- heading two new regional development initiatives, the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative (JRPI) and the Joplin Region Partnership (JRP). Even during the massive recovery effort undertaken after the storm (about 560 business facilities were destroyed by the tornado), these development efforts have continued to grow and bear positive results.

In the wake of the tornado, these efforts have created more than 1,800 jobs in Joplin area. The Joplin Tomorrow Fund was deployed to distribute more than $1 million in funding to restart two companies, expand four businesses and assist a new start-up. Today, more than 500 of the businesses directly impacted by the storm have reopened, retaining more than 4,500 jobs in Joplin that had been considered “at risk.” Jasper County, which includes Joplin, has been named Missouri’s first national ACT “Career Ready Certified” community (Missouri is one of only four state’s that have made it to ACT’s second round).

In 2012, Airbus selected Mobile for its first final assembly line in North America, an investment of $600 million that is expected to create at least 1,000 direct jobs. The Airbus decision already is spurring suppliers to put down roots in Mobile, including a recent new plant announcement from Labinal.

In 2012, the Mobile Area Chamber assisted more than 1,600 entrepreneurs in developing business plans, one-on-one counseling and access funding.

Population Between 50K-200K

Operation Oswego County
Operation Oswego County (OOC) is a private, non-profit organization that works to enhance, promote and protect the business and industrial climate of Oswego County. To achieve that goal, they provide comprehensive assistance to existing businesses and those seeking to relocate, whether they are developing a business plan, looking for the best site, or searching for financing or other assistance.

OOC’s primary objectives are to help create new job opportunities, retain employment, build a broader real property tax base, diversify the economy and improve the area’s quality of life through a planned, organized and environmentally-friendly economic development process. They are guided by a board of directors made up of community-minded people from business, labor, education and government throughout Oswego County.

Coordinating and implementing special economic development initiatives allows OOC to enhance the potential to create and retain jobs. They operate three industrial parks in Oswego County—the Oswego County Industrial Park in Schroeppel, the Airport Industrial Park in Volney and the Lake Ontario Industrial Park in the city of Oswego—with other sites currently being studied for potential business parks.

The Start-up Facility in the Oswego County Industrial Park and the Business Expansion Center in the city of Oswego are designed to help non-retail, industrial and service businesses achieve significant growth and development during the first few years of business with the intention of eventually moving out of the building and into private commercial space.

OOC facilitates programs supporting entrepreneurship and small business development and growth including Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training, Connections Women’s Symposium, Next Great Idea Business Plan Competition and Workforce Development. The businesses obtain Minority and Women Business Enterprises state designation and are authorized to finance projects using the SBA 504 loan program which can fund up to 40 percent of fixed asset financing for eligible businesses at below market rates.

Oswego County is experiencing a growth spurt in the food processing sector. Over the last year, three companies have purchased existing facilities and are expanding their food processing ventures into Oswego County. Champlain Valley Specialty is renovating and expanding a former onion packing site into an apple processing facility. The $5.5 million project will create approximately 90 jobs. Teti Bakery USA plans to renovate a 200,000-square-foot building in Volney, using about 40,000 square feet of it as a bakery for its Italian flat breads. The Canadian company will create 63 jobs with the $5 million investment.

Our Honorable Mention Award in this category goes to Peoria Economic (AZ) Development. Peoria is taking an aggressive approach toward business attraction by creating partnerships focused on targeted industries including bioscience, health care and renewable energy.

The top 10 projects in Peoria in 2012 included a $75-million investment in Trine University Peoria Campus, a development which will create more than 1,200 direct jobs; a partnership between the city and BioAccel to create the Bioinspire Medical Device Incubator, including six start-up companies; and Genome Identification Corp.’s relocation of its forensics lab from Virginia to Peoria, where the company will continue to develop its proprietary DNA analysis technology.

Population Less Than 50K

City of Rochester (NH)
The City of Rochester has an independent and focused attraction program unique to the goals and objectives of each Targeted Industry Initiative.

The program for Advanced Manufacturing is based on input from the existing manufacturers and includes introductions and referrals as well as industry and trade publications and trade shows. Once a business has interacted with the development program, they may offer a testimonial on the www.thinkrochester.biz website, and may refer vendors and suppliers. The Retail/Hospitality strategy is based on data from the University of Shopping Centers Economic Development Program by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The city contracted with the Buxton Company to develop a comprehensive retail assessment and analysis to support the commercial districts and the attraction of private developers and retailers. That research supports the trade shows and targeted retail and hospitality efforts of the city.

Rochester partnered with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning at Northeastern University to complete a competitive analysis focused on infrastructure, local policy, planning and other factors established by NAIOP. This report led to infrastructure and policy improvements, and as part of this continuing emphasis, the city reorganized all the development related departments, creating the Community Development Division. The city is considering locating all of the staff in a modern and efficient “one-stop” center to improve efficiency.

The Back Office/Call Center effort involves the owners of the major office buildings and office parks in the city to do collaborative marketing and research. The Medical/Health Care program is based on a strong relationship with the city’s major medical center and other health care partners. They utilize community listening posts that included all of the major employers to discuss health care demands and anticipated impacts of changes to health care and insurance requirements.

Strategic Action items now on the agenda for Rochester’s economic development program include: Establishment of the Granite Ridge Commercial District; Expansion of the Granite State Business Park, Establishment of incentives including Tax Increment Financing, Establish a Downtown Revitalization Organization (Rochester is one of 10 NH communities Certified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation); and Implement a Business Retention and Expansion Plan.

Albany Engineered Composites and Safran USA have partnered for a $100 million state of the art aerospace composites facility on a 50-acre site in Granite Business State Park. They will add approximately 500 employees with a payroll of more than $30 million annually to produce LEAP-X engines, which incorporate green technology while retaining aviation power. The local economic development office for Rochester, NH led the Recruitment Team for the project, and persevered during a two year selection and negotiation process, managing a complex package of deliverables. The ultimate key to success was the team being small, talented and committed, and support from the State Department of Resources and Economic Development, the NH Business Finance Authority and Governor John Lynch.

Construction of a 57-acre, 330,000-square-foot marketplace that could bring up to 800 jobs in the Granite Ridge Development District is also under development. In addition, the City of Rochester recently issued a $100,000 JOB Loan (its biggest ever) to the young firm, LHR Sporting Arms, LLC so that they can begin hiring employees.

The city has created two Tax Increment Financing Districts with a third in process, to expand the municipal infrastructure to industrial and commercial zones. The city has adopted three NH Economic Revitalization Zones, offering corporate tax credits to qualifying businesses. The City has two HUB Zones through SBA, and is a New Market Tax Credits eligible community. The city is working with the NH Foreign Trade Zone Program to consider expansion of an existing zone to Rochester.

The city has a Special Downtown Business District with an expedited approval process to encourage adaptive reuse. Also in Downtown, the city has adopted the property tax credit program 79e enabling real estate investors in the District to recoup their investment over five to 13 years before a tax increase. The city created a Sign & Façade Matching Grant to encourage investment into exterior improvements, even on a small scale. Rochester also has a revolving loan fund capitalized at $600,000 from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). This program has created more than 300 jobs over the last ten years in manufacturing, hospitality and service industries, including start-ups. City staff provides one on one support for business plans, application process and follow up.

Honorable Mention Awards in the Population Less than 50K category went to Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and Ponca City, OK.

In April 2012, Cummins-Seymour announced it will invest $219 in a new engine plant in Jackson County, IN, creating 290 new jobs. Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., which is based in Seymour, also scored a local success with Valeo Sylvania’s decision to invest $28 million in an expansion of their Seymour facility (creating 187 new jobs) and Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing’s announcement that it will undertake a $21-million expansion of its two Seymour facilities (114 new jobs). Additionally, Seymour Tubing is putting about $20 million into expanded workspace and new equipment.

The top five projects in Ponca City, OK in 2012 totaled $78 mil- lion in capital investment. The largest capital investment in Ponca was made by Phillips 66, which is putting $50 million into an upgrade of its alkaline units, a lift station at its South Plant and equipment upgrades throughout it complex. Mertz Manufacturing, an oil and gas concern, completed a new $12 million facility on an 80-acre site. Dorada Foods, a chicken processor and supplier to McDonald’s restaurants, is preparing to add a new production line with upgraded equipment. The project is expected to create 75 new jobs.

Two companies new to the Ponca area were drawn to the location due to new oil drilling and the general resurgence in the oil and gas sector in Oklahoma spurred by fracking operations extracting natural gas/ Dawson Geophysical brought 85 jobs to their new office in Ponca City; Crescent Services, an independent oilfield support service and management company, established a satellite office in the city.

Business Facilities congratulates all of the well-deserved winners of our 2013 Economic Development Excellence Awards.

Achievement In Targeted Incentives

When we launched our annual Economic Development Awards two years ago, there was one category for which we knew the podium would be crowded when it came time to call up the winners. Every year, there are dozens of new incentives programs to consider for our Achievement in Targeted Incentives Award. This year was no exception and, as always, it was difficult to narrow the field. Here are the four winning programs that meet our criteria for an innovative effort to snare new projects for a targeted growth sector:

The widespread use of hydraulic fracturing drilling techniques to extract an abundant supply of natural gas from shale formations in the U.S. is transforming the economies of several states, especially in the region that includes the Marcellus formation (stretching from Ohio through Pennsylvania and into upstate New York). The fracking boom itself has become a development magnet, so it shouldn’t be surprising that state economic development agencies are beginning to tailor targeted incentives related to natural gas resources.

Pennsylvania has jumped ahead of the curve with its PA Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit (PRM).

Beginning in 2017, any manufacturer purchasing natural gas containing ethane as a petrochemical feedstock at a facility within the Commonwealth could be eligible for a PRM Tax Credit equal to five cents per gallon ($2.10 per barrel) of ethane purchased and used in manufacturing ethylene, so long as the company makes a capital investment of at least $1 billion and creates the equivalent of at least 2,500 full-time jobs while constructing the facility.  This credit is effective for ethane purchased between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2042.

Thanks in part to the health care reforms enacted in Washington in 2010, employment in the health care sector is expected to outpace national averages in coming years. Anticipating this, Mississippi has structured an incentive which throws down a welcome mat for health-care providers to come to the Magnolia State.

The Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Incentive Program was enacted in 2012 to encourage health care-related businesses to locate or expand in the state. The program benefits medical services providers and other health care-related businesses, such as those engaged in medical supply, biologics, laboratory testing, medical product manufacturing/distribution and diagnostic imaging that locate in a qualified Health Care Zone in the state. Health Care Zones are defined as areas where there are three contiguous counties which have Certificates of Need for more than 375 acute care hospital beds—the business must locate or expand within a five-mile radius of a health care facility with a Certificate of Need and/or areas located within five miles of a hospital that will be constructed before July 1, 2017, with a minimal capital investment of $250 million.

Qualifying businesses are eligible to receive an accelerated, 10-year state income tax depreciation deduction, a sales tax exemption for equipment and materials purchased from the date of the project’s certification until three months after the facility is completed, and a 10-year ad valorem tax exemption.

Workforce training remains a top priority across the nation, and we’re impressed with an initiative in Florida that targets incumbent workers to enable companies to maintain their competitive edge and retain employees.

The Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWT) provides training to currently employed workers to keep Florida’s workforce competitive in a global economy and to retain existing businesses. The program is available to all Florida businesses that have been in operation for at least one year prior to application and require skills upgrade training for existing employees. Priority is given to businesses in targeted industries, Enterprise Zones, HUB Zones, Inner City Distressed areas, Rural Counties and areas, and Brownfield areas.

The program provides funding for training to existing for-profit businesses. IWT grants are structured to be flexible to meet the business’s training objectives. The business may use a public or private training provider, or may use an in-house training provider based on the nature of the training.

Through June 2012, Workforce Florida awarded 230 IWT grants totaling more than $6.1 million to help companies train and retain more than 12,000 full-time employees. Trainees’ wages have increased more than 25 percent on average within a year of completing IWT-supported training.

Funding priority in the Incumbent Worker Training Program is given to businesses with 25 or fewer employees that is located in a distressed rural area, urban inner city or Enterprise Zone. The business should be part of a targeted sector whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff-avoidance strategy.

Recent announcements from Louisiana make it clear that the Bayou State is emerging as leading high-tech hub. Louisiana is moving quickly to capitalize on this trend and maximize its impact.

The Technology Commercialization Credit and Jobs Program provides a 40 percent refundable tax credit (not to exceed $250,000) on costs related to the commercialization of Louisiana technology and a 6 percent payroll rebate for the creation of new direct jobs.

The Tax Credit Incentive is open to individuals or businesses that invest in the commercialization of Louisiana technology in Louisiana. The technology must be created by a Louisiana business and researched by a Louisiana university or college. A company must submit the completed Technology Commercialization Eligibility Application and fee. The eligibility application should include a description of technology to be commercialized; an agreement with a university; a business plan; an estimate of commercialization cost, number of new jobs, wages and health benefits created. Eligibility application is due by December 31 of the year the company is seeking tax credits.

Achievement In Business Retention

New Jersey Partnership for Action; Metro Denver Economic Dev. Corp.
We are honoring two organizations this year with our Achievement in Business Retention Award: the New Jersey Partnership for Action and Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

When Gov. Chris Christie took office in 2010, he made it a top priority to change the negative perception of NJ’s business climate by initiating one of the most comprehensive reorganizations of statewide economic developments we’ve seen in a long time. The new structure consists of three highly-focused organizational elements, all under the umbrella of the Partnership for Action—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.

Armed with NJ’s innovative Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, the Partnership for Action has achieved notable success in its business retention efforts, including deals that kept Panasonic’s headquarters in the state and spurred Prudential to commit to a new HQ building in the heart of Newark.

NJ has used the forward-thinking transit hub credit as a financial tool to spur private capital investment, business development and employment by providing tax credits for businesses planning a large expansion or relocating to one of New Jersey’s designated Urban Transit Hubs.

The program offers developers, owners or tenants up to 100 percent of a qualified capital investment made within an eight period. Taxpayers may apply 10 percent of the total credit amount per year over a ten-year period against their corporate business tax, insurance premiums tax or gross income tax liability. Developers or owners must make a minimum $50 million capital investment in a single business facility, and at least 250 full-time employees must work at that facility. Tenants in a qualified business facility can represent at least $17.5 million of the capital investment in the facility, and up to three tenants may aggregate to meet the 250 employee requirement.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC), an affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, was one of the nation’s first regional economic development entities. Its partners include 70 cities, counties, and economic development organizations in the seven-county Metro Denver and two-county Northern Colorado region. Metro Denver EDC works to create a competitive environment that attracts companies and is backed by the region’s business community, with primary funding coming from private-sector investors, as well as participating cities and counties. Strategic initiatives are developed among the partners, with final decision-making authority by an investor board of directors.

From energy to aerospace, to bioscience, information technology-software and financial services, Metro Denver offers a diversified economy of viable industries and the nation’s third-most highly educated workforce. Metro Denver is first among the 50 largest metros for total private aerospace workers, with 19,600 people employed at aerospace companies. Colorado has the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy and is home to four military commands, eight major space contractors, and more than 400 aerospace companies and suppliers. Denver International Airport and three reliever airports create a solid foundation for 15,910 workers directly employed by aviation companies.

Ten Metro Denver higher education institutions with bioscience programs and numerous bioscience research assets support the region’s bioscience industry. The industry also is enhanced by the opportunities to bring together academic, research, and corporate biotechnology institutions at the 578-acre, $5-billion Fitzsimons Life Science District and the adjacent Anschutz Medical Campus.

Metro Denver’s Mountain Time Zone location makes it the largest U.S. region with one-bounce satellite uplinks, providing companies real-time connections to six of seven continents. With a broad mix of broadcasting and telecommunications firms, the region ranks sixth out of the 50 largest metros for employment concentration in this growing sector.

The integration of cleantech and Colorado’s rich energy resource base places the Metro Denver region at the forefront of energy development. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden is the U.S. Department of Energy’s laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D.

The Metro Denver region also is one of the few areas outside of the Northeast with a substantial financial services industry in three key market segments. A variety of trade associations and service firms support the diverse financial services industry base of more than 13,020 companies and 87,750 employees in the region.

Achievement In Downtown Revitalization

Indianapolis Downtown, Inc./Indianapolis
This year’s Achievement in Downtown Revitalization Award goes jointly to Indianapolis Downtown Inc. and the Indy Partnership for their continued success in making Indiana’s largest city a winning combination of business-friendly growth and exceptional quality of live. While progress has been notable in the past year, this award also honors a body of work that stretches back two decades.

Downtown Indianapolis has been transformed into a vibrant 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week urban center over the past two decades. Businesses have taken note and are flocking to the city.

Cities across the country look to Downtown Indianapolis as a revitalization model. Since 1990, Indianapolis has invested nearly $9 billion of public and private funds equaling more than 485 projects through 2011. This is an average of more than $408 million of new investment each year, for the past 22 years.

Even in a tough economy, Downtown development momentum continues with $3 billion of new construction and renovation efforts to be completed by 2017.

More people continue to come Downtown on a regular basis. Annual attendance at major Downtown leisure attractions has increased by 83 percent since 1994 to 8 million visits. Surveys of Central Indiana residents show 79 percent of Marion County residents visited Downtown in a six-month period, up from 47 percent in 1994.

Businesses are taking note, and they are flocking to the city. Rolls Royce last year moved 2,500 employees to Downtown Indy. Economic studies show spending by the company and its employees is expected to boost the Downtown economy by $510 million each year.

Three Fortune 1000 companies’ world or regional headquarters in Downtown Indianapolis continue their commitment through growth and expansion, including WellPoint, Inc. (32 new jobs), Eli Lilly and Company (122) and Simon Property Group (573).

NCAA recently completed a $40-million, 150,000 square-feet headquarters expansion; Simon Property Group, North America’s largest real estate investment trust, WellPoint, Inc., Emmis Communications, and Urban League of Indianapolis have all opened headquarters Downtown. Other Downtown headquarters include OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc., Indiana University Health, Denison, Inc., Farm Bureau of Indiana, Regions Bank, The Indianapolis Star, Kite Realty Group, LDI, Ltd., National Association of High School Athletics, National Bank of Indianapolis, National Wine and Spirits Inc., Reilly Industries, Inc., and The Steak N Shake Company.

Achievement In Public-Private Partnership

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise; Upstate SC Alliance; Tucson (AZ) Regional Economic Opportunities
As more and more states decide to reconfigure their economic development operations from the traditional government-run structure to a public-private model, there are more entities to choose from when we make our annual pick of the best public-private programs. This year, we’ve selected three organizations as the co-winners of our Achievement in Public-Private Partnership Award.

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) is a nonprofit, private business development and regional marketing organization dedicated to the proposition that, as a place “where life works,” the Buffalo Niagara region is the ideal place for businesses to locate, grow, and start-up.

The Buffalo Niagara region is comprised of eight counties that form the western-most end of New York State. The region is strategically located with in 500 miles of 40 percent of the continental North American population and is a bi-national gateway for commerce, facilitating $81 billion in annual trade between Canada and the United States.

BNE’s team includes local investors, a board of directors, economic development partners and professional staff. Since it was launched in 1999 by members of the local business community, BNE has succeeded in attracting more than $2.9 billion in capital investment and created or retained over 36,000 jobs in our region.

BNE provides services that run the gamut from demographic information to tax incentives to site identification. BNE acts as the central clearinghouse for the information and supporting services required by companies interested in locating and growing in our region. It provides market data and other information services relevant to business location decisions, including economic indicators, workforce information, industrial and commercial real estate information and customized business development data.

BNE also provides professional account management services, offering potential investors in our region a one-stop shop for information on economic development, and serving as a liaison with local economic development organizations.

Formed in 2000, the Upstate South Carolina Alliance is a public/private regional economic development organization designed to market the dynamic 10-county Upstate region to the world. The 10 counties represent the commerce-rich northwestern corner of SC.

The Upstate SC Alliance’s vision is to compete for business investment globally. The Alliance’s goal is to spearhead an aggressive, innovative and comprehensive global marketing strategy to attract new investment to the Upstate region. By creating a powerful brand and image for the region, Upstate SC Alliance is confident increased opportunities will ultimately lead to greater investment, enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for the entire Upstate. Funding for the Upstate SC Alliance comes through two sources: member counties/cities and private sector business partners. The Alliance’s private sector partners number more than 170 individual companies/organizations.

Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO) was formed in 2005 to serve as the lead economic development agency for the greater Tucson, AZ area and its surrounding regional partners. The primary goal of TREO is to facilitate export-based (non-retail) job and investment growth, in order to increase wealth and accelerate economic prosperity throughout Southern Arizona. A secondary role is to shape policy and mobilize resources to ensure the region is competitive.

TREO engages in partnerships focusing on demonstrating leadership to strengthen education, create a vibrant downtown and engage in infrastructure improvements. To serve a population approaching one million residents, TREO offers an integrated approach of programs and services that support the creation of new businesses, the expansion of existing businesses within the region, and the attraction of companies that offer high wage jobs.

Achievement In Ports/FTZs

Philadelphia Regional Port Authority; El Paso, TX Foreign Trade Zone No. 68; Port of Mobile
We’ve only been bestowing our top honor for Achievement in Ports/FTZs for two years, but we already have our first back-to-back winner. We are pleased to grant this distinction to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. A co-winner of our port award is the Port of Mobile. El Paso International Airport’s Foreign Trade Zone No. 68 got our top honor for FTZs.

Philadelphia, one of the oldest and most venerable ports in the United States, continues to outshine the competition as it gears up to compete for what is anticipate to be a surge in new shipping next year.

Philadelphia’s harbor often was the point of arrival for the nation’s founding fathers when they emigrated from Great Britain in the early 1700s, but the port and the City of Brotherly Love are not resting on its laurels: the port is busy preparing to meet the challenges of 21st Century commerce, including an expansion of the Panama Canal that will see huge cargo ships arriving at East Coast ports directly from Asia beginning in 2014.

PRPA has renewed its MOU for the Panama Canal Authority and it has undertaken a channel-deepening project along the 102-mile Delaware River shipping lane. 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.

FTZ No. 68 is an integral part of El Paso’s regional and international investment strategy, providing a business platform for domestic and foreign trade to prosper in the region. The City of El Paso is the Grantee and Operator of Foreign-Trade Zone No. 68; it is administered through El Paso International Airport. The zone consists of 5 regional sites totaling 3,443 acres within El Paso County.

FTZ No. 68 has been ranked first in exports among U.S. General-Purpose Zones, ITA (2010). FTZ No. 68 is the only Grantee in the nation providing compliance and training services and one of only five Grantees with an Accredited Zones Specialist. FTZ No. 68 contributed to over 1,300 direct jobs to the El Paso economy in 2012, using innovative best practices in zone management and strategic alliances.

A recent economic impact study prepared by John C. Martin Associates, LLC, a leading maritime industry economic consulting firm, estimates $22.3 billion in total economic value for Alabama from the cargo and vessel activity at the Port of Mobile; of this value, $18.7 billion is directly tied to the Alabama State Port Authority’s (ASPA) public terminals. Martin’s study calculates between 55 and 65 million tons of cargo moves through the Port of Mobile annually.

In FY (Fiscal Year) 2011, there were 141,029 jobs in Alabama related to the cargo and vessel activity at the ASPA and the private terminals at the Port of Mobile, with 127,591 total direct, indirect, induced and related user jobs directly linked to ASPA’s operations. Martin concluded that the terminals at the Port of Mobile generated $573 million in direct, induced, indirect and related user taxes paid to state and local governments by individuals and firms dependent upon the Port of Mobile cargo and ship repair activity.

Achievement In New Media


Saratoga Economic Development Corp.
SEDC is a perennial candidate for our top video award, consistently producing eye-pleasing and informative packages promoting the Saratoga, NY region. This year’s award-winner is a video entitled SEDC 35th Anniversary—Success Without Limits. The video is posted below. We encourage everyone to take a look at it and enjoy the presentation.

Our Honorable Mention Award in the Best Use of Video category went to Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) for their informational video entitled Lubbock Economic Development Alliance – 2012 Forecast.

Each year, LEDA hosts an Economic Forecast luncheon for select members of the Lubbock, TX community. This video was used to highlight an entire year’s worth of work not only for LEDA, but also for Visit Lubbock (the convention and visitor’s bureau) and Lubbock Sports. This year’s video was created to appeal to a wide audience with eye-catching visuals and in-depth testimonials from clients, business partners and community partners. The video is a direct reflection of how all of these entities work together to enrich, empower and strengthen the entire Lubbock community.


Saratoga Economic Development Corp.
SEDC’s award-winning networking strategy is to monitor all content coming in and out of their networks to make sure it is relevant to the Saratoga NY area’s mission. The key to their success comes from the SEDC’s members being very active themselves. The organization’s president, vice president, and director of marketing all are on these social networks (especially LinkedIn) and supporting SEDC’s cause.

The SEDC LinkedIn Group is their strongest social profile, boasting 1,849 members made up of primarily C-level executives from the region and industry sectors they are trying to reach. By keeping their group’s audience limited to only qualified members, it keeps the content being exchanged relevant and supportive to the area.