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21 - Economic Development and Developers in the News

Econ dev news from seventy-seven economic development executives and organizations in 30 US states and Canada.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
17 min read
21 - Economic Development and Developers in the News
Photo by Dusan Kipic / Unsplash

Welcome to the 21st weekly edition of Economic Development and Developers in the News.  (Here are all of the past issues.)

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Economic Development and Developers in the News

Alaska

The Alaska Industrial Development and Energy Authority distributed $282 million in relief funds from the federal CARES act to help struggling businesses. (Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District; Alan Weitzner, the executive director AIDEA)

Arkansas

Colleen Carr recently joined the City of North Little Rock's Economic Development team as the Director of Workforce Development.

California

Matt Mahood, the former CEO of the Silicon Valley Organization, will be the new economic development director for Morgan Hill. (Edith Ramirez, Morgan Hill's assistant city manager for development services)

Longtime Merced Economic Development Director Frank Quintero will soon take on a new role as deputy city manager. Quintero ascends to the position of second-in-command to Merced’s top administrator after serving more than three decades with the city.

The City of Santa Maria is going through the process of updating their General Plan to guide the growth and development of the City for the next 20 years. There are many new regional developments that could impact the future of the Santa Maria Valley, including the growth of the commercial space industry at Vandenberg Space Force Base and the possible construction of a specialized port facility in San Luis Obispo County to service offshore wind farms. (Glenn Morris, President and CEO Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce)

Canada

Almaguin Community Economic Development may be on the verge of losing Powassan, its largest member community. ACED represents 10 Almaguin communities as well as the Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce, and provides economic development services to the members. Last month, Magnetawan gave its one-year notice to withdraw from the agreement.

The Ville de Forestville airport received over $2.6M from the federal government to maintain regional connectivity and jobs.

Associate minister of rural economic development, Nate Horner, was appointed to the new ministry position earlier this month. Priorities for the position include improving rural internet, recovering from COVID-19, and attracting investment.

Colorado

Logan County Economic Development Corporation and Leeds School of Business at The University of Colorado Boulder hosted a business workshop called “Demystifying Entrepreneurship – StartUp to ScaleUp.” Around 20 local entrepreneurs and innovators from the Sterling area banded together to learn how to take their business concepts to the next level. (Erick Mueller and Hunter Albright, faculty members at CU’s Leeds School of Business, Deming Center for Entrepreneurship)

Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado is updating the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, which includes Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan counties and the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes. The CEDS provides data that can be used to obtain grants for local projects and helps to solicit funding collaboratively to meet changing economic and business conditions across the region.

Connecticut

The Board of Selectmen agreed to hire an attorney to represent the town in Hartford, advocating for more access to state-owned Waterford Parkway South and Waterford Parkway North. There is significant vacant commercial and industrial land in the town's "industrial triangle" but the issue is highway access.

Newtown’s residential taxpayers are seeing their tax burden lowered as new commercial developers and existing businesses expand.

Florida

Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker has been unsuccessfully advocating for the development of an economic development department. Mayor Bryan Nelson says he is acting as the economic development director for Apopka. The city currently has a partnership with the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce for economic development.

The New Smyrna Beach City Commission has approved the $1.1 million sale of two city-owned properties in a move that promises to bring 50 new jobs and $73 million in economic development to the area.

The Van Wezel Foundation welcomed new board member Sharon Hillstrom, the president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, the lead economic development organization serving the nine communities in Manatee County.

Georgia

Roswell Economic Development and Tourism, Inc. -- the board of directors that oversees the city's economic development organization, Roswell Inc, as well as destination marketing organization Visit Roswell -- has announced that Jon-Paul Croom, president of Wellstar North Fulton Hospital, will take on the role of board president, after four years on the board. Former Board President Kenneth Davis, having served in this role for the past 10 years, will now transition to the role of board chairman.

Clayton State University researchers have completed their study of the Clayton County economic strengths and weaknesses. Clayton is updating its strategic economic development plan for the first time since 2013, hoping to establish momentum as Americans go back to work in person and the shattered economy restarts.

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is once again seeing an increase in the number of travelers passing through its gates. The airport's June numbers surpassed those of June 2019 by 19,000 travelers, marking the first 2021-over-2019 increase. (Trip Tollison, president of Savannah Economic Development Authority; Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah)

Fulton County’s first crack at reforming its troubled development agency failed to produce any reforms. The proposed changes to the Development Authority of Fulton County included setting a stipend rate and requiring financial disclosure for authority members. Both items were tabled. (Michel “Marty” Turpeau IV, interim executive director)

Illinois

Agriculture research and development and global agribusiness is a priority for economic development in DeKalb County. (Paul Borek, the executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.)

Macomb officials said they've accomplished a lot with their Tax Increment Financing district over the last 35 years and they want to keep that success going by expanding the district to help more businesses. Macomb Community Development Director John Bannon said the current TIF district expires in December and they're working to establish a new one to continue to see a growth in development.

The City Council moved Wednesday to turn a financial albatross on Chicago taxpayers into an economic engine with potential to generate $3.1 billion in new tax revenue for the city and create nearly 10,000 jobs. In 2008, the City Council borrowed $85 million to buy the shuttered hospital, hoping to put an Olympic athletes village there for the 2016 Games. But Chicago lost its bid for those Games, and the site has remained vacant.

An 8-acre Jack Flash truck stop and travel plaza has submitted a letter of intent and design to build in Tilton, on the former General Motors site. To facilitate this economic development, Tilton officials are pushing to modernize and make the Interstate 74/G Street interchange safer.

Indiana

Representatives from Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties met to discuss recommended priorities for their Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) application.

The Greater Lafayette Region, made up of local governments, economic development organizations, non-profits and businesses from six local counties, is seeking projects for possible inclusion in a regional development plan. Once completed, the plan will be used to apply for up to $50 million in state funding.

Danone US, LLC, a worldwide leader in fresh dairy products in plant-based products is considering adding a $290 million facility in Shelby County that would house manufacturing and warehousing. The company asked and received a tax abatement from the Shelby County Council. (Brian Asher, executive director of the Shelby County Development Corporation)

Iowa

Woodbury County officials are seeking input from the community about the rural roads, housing, land use and more for future development planning. The Woodbury County 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which will help guide development for the next 20 years is being reviewed and updated, according to David Gleiser, county director of rural economic development.

Professional Developers of Iowa have introduced the Cindy Litwiller Scholarship, in honor of a longtime economic development professional who served the Fort Dodge region. Litwiller was the Wright County economic development director at the time of her passing in March 2021, after a battle with COVID-19. She was 65.

Calhoun County is poised for business growth and welcomes Riley Bleam as the new executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Corporation. (Keaton Hildreth, president of the Calhoun County Economic Development Corporation)

John Hall has been named the next president and CEO of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jack Roeder helped build nine baseball diamonds in the middle of a cornfield along single-lane County Home Road on the outskirts of Marion. Now thousands of people are coming to the "Field of Dreams." Tournaments at Prospect Meadows in July alone are expected to result in 5,000 hotel rooms and $5 million in economic activity. (Nick Glew, the president of Marion Economic Development Corp.)

Kansas

The Leavenworth County Port Authority will need to look for additional funding sources and possibly review the organization's scope of work following news of a cut in funding from the county government. (Steve Jack, LCDC Executive Director; Josh Hoppes, LCDC President)

Kentucky

Kentucky launched a statewide system for economic developers that enables them to communicate more effectively and efficiently with local businesses within their counties. All 120 counties in the commonwealth will have access to intelligence, market research and competitive analysis. (Beka Burton, economic development extension specialist at Community Economic Development Initiative at the University of Kentucky; Matt Tackett, president and CEO of Kentucky Association for Economic Development)

Dollar General has opened a new distribution center in Walton. The 630,000-square-foot, $65 million investment will create 300 distribution and private-fleet jobs. (Lee Crume, President and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED)

The nearly vacant Kyova Mall on U.S. 60 west of Ashland is being repurposed into an entertainment center that will include a hotel, a convention center, an entertainment center, restaurants and a farmers market. The $30 million project includes a 140,000-square-foot Malibu Jack’s indoor theme park at the former Elder-Beerman store and additional mall space that will include laser tag, bowling and 3D games.

Maine

The town of Lisbon and the local Masonic lodge signed an agreement to develop a 2,300-square-foot entrepreneurship hub, co-working space and business incubator, called the Moxie Hub. The site may also include a retail area for pop-up markets and short-term kiosk rentals, a maker-space and a commercial kitchen to support a café and food vendors. (Brett Richardson, Lisbon's economic and community development director)

Michigan

For its efforts in establishing a solid foundation to attract private investment and further build on municipality assets, the city of Marquette has been awarded the Redevelopment Ready Communities certification by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Marquette joins an elite group of 59 Michigan communities that have qualified as “thoroughly prepared” when it comes to planning and zoning to remove traditional barriers and promote opportunities for prospective investors. (Michele Wildman, MEDC Senior Vice President; Dennis Stachewicz, Marquette Community Development Director)

A group of dog owners and residents of Hancock are raising funds to build a park for area dogs to enjoy safely while running off-leash. This effort will be made possible through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the city of Hancock. (Michele Wildman, MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development; Deborah Mann, chairperson of the City of Hancock Recreation Commission; Dan Gilmartin, CEO Michigan Municipal League)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off the MI Small Business Summer tour. The governor announced she and her cabinet members will visit and recognize Michigan’s small businesses that have shown resiliency throughout the pandemic. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have launched the Michigan.gov/SmallBusiness site to help Small Businesses navigate state programs and services. Michigan’s economy grew 7.6% in the first quarter of 2021, the best in the Midwest, higher than the national average, and among the top 10 states nationwide.

Minnesota

Jackson Economic Development Corporation broke ground on a new retail center. Subway and Cabin Coffee will anchor the development. (Tom Nelson, community and business development specialist with the Community and Economic Development Association; Scott Reimer, JEDC President)

Mississippi

Clif Chitwood has served as leader of the Mississippi County Economic Development Commission for over 20 years and has seen positive results from the economic one-half cent sales tax that originally passed in 2002.

Missouri

WireCo WorldGroup Inc. announced it is investing $15 million over the next five years to expand production capabilities in its Sedalia facility. The facility currently employs more than 160 individuals, and this expansion will result in the creation of 18 new jobs. Officials say WireCo flagship manufacturing facility – in Pettis County – has employed workers for more than 40 years.

Montana

The new Economic Development District created by Missoula County near the Wye last winter has landed one of its first rezone requests ahead of a potential industrial development. The Missoula Consolidated Planning Board approved a request from Jack Long Enterprises LLC to rezone around 6 acres of ground from general commercial to light industrial.

Nebraska

Sustainable Beef LLC leaders took their first steps Monday toward securing City Council support for their proposed 875-employee beef processing plant near North Platte’s wastewater treatment plant. The company won a city panel’s backing for a combined $1 million in forgivable loans toward its planning costs. (Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp)

New Mexico

Tim Morgan is the new VP of economic development with the New Mexico Partnership. When asked what sectors are ripe for economic development opportunity, he pointed to aerospace and the space industry, as well as manufacturing, among others.

Los Alamos County hired Daniel Ungerleider as their new Economic Development Administrator.

Carlsbad City Councilors voted to extend an agreement in place since 2013 with the Carlsbad Department of Development for economic development services through 2025. CDOD helped the City of Carlsbad and Eddy County provide vital services during the pandemic, including assistance with government grant programs. (John Waters, executive director of the Carlsbad Department of Development; Jeff Campbell, CDOD director of marketing and business development)

Los Alamos County will be considering a request from Pebble Labs to cancel its public-private partnership with the County. As part of the proposal, Pebble Labs would return two parcels of land to the County that was given to them under the Local Economic Development Act in order to facilitate its original plans to build a biotech campus.

New York

Earlier this month, some of the Staten Island business leaders and top educators contributed to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future titled, "250 Ideas from New Yorkers to Revive NYC's Economy, Spark Good Jobs, and Build a More Equitable City," urging policy makers to consider recovery plans from some of the city's most knowledgable residents. (Cesar Claro, president of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation; Linda Baran, president of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce)

Onondaga County legislators are considering a $20 million allocation of federal stimulus money to prepare commercial sites for business development. If the proposal passes, the county would loan the money to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency as needed for land acquisition, infrastructure work or other activities to prepare sites for development. OCIDA would repay the county later from fees it earns from developers that seek its help with financing or tax breaks.

The UB Buffalo Institute of Genomics and Data Analytics reported that it has helped create 530 jobs at high-tech companies, far surpassing its commitment to create 250 jobs by next February. (Christina Orsi, UB's associate vice president for economic development)

The investment made at BioBat through Brooklyn NYEDC’s partnership with SUNY Downstate has been made to create affordable manufacturing spaces, life science and “wet lab spaces” for growing companies that can stay in New York City and grow and expand in Brooklyn. Wet lab spaces are places where chemicals, drugs and other biological material are tested in areas needing water, direct ventilation and specialized piped utilities. “The BAT is a crown jewel in the city’s assets, and it’s really about providing affordable manufacturing space in the city for growing companies,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb.

A new local branding effort seeks to promote the Rochester region in hopes of spurring more economic development in the area. Joe Stefko, president of ROC 2025, explains the Greater ROC campaign aims to show why this part of New York is a great place to live, work and play by highlighting what the region already has in hopes of attracting more talent and new businesses.

The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is seeing an increase in business interest in the county it hasn’t witnessed in years. (Ronald Peters, President/CEO)

North Carolina

Greenville is expecting a big boost from The Little League Softball World Series, which is expected to bring nearly 150 Little Leaguers from across the country. The estimated economic impact is $750,000 in tourism spending. (Steve Weathers, president and CEO of Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance)

Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties are teaming up to promote the N.C. Global TransPark in Kinston as well as the surrounding area. Officials announced the formation of the N.C. Global TransPark Economic Development Region. The idea is to market the region in a team effort to attract new businesses and retain current businesses.

Labor force expert Ron Hetrick provided a grim assessment of the workforce picture facing companies during his presentation at the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. “It’s not just a perfect storm -- it’s a hurricane, tornado and earthquake rolled into one,” Hetrick said. Among other points, he identified three major trends contributing to the problem: the accelerating retirement of baby boomers, birth rates that are well below replacement level and a younger generation that has distinctly different preferences when it comes to work when compared to previous generations. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated many of these trends. (Scott Millar, Economic Development Corporation President)

The North Carolina Department of Commerce has unveiled a new strategic economic development plan for the state.

Ohio

Paul Herdeg -- a decades-long Cuyahoga County employee, serving most recently as deputy chief of economic development -- has been nominated for the department’s top job. Herdeg has served as interim director since April, when former chief Ted Carter resigned to work for the city of Baltimore.

The Oregon Economic Development Committee met to discuss its town center project, located at the former Kmart site. Phase I includes roadway construction, new apartment complexes and housing, a bike trail, and a dog park. Phases II and III include retail businesses, restaurants, and possibly medical offices.

A new Ohio law solidifies the state’s reputation for stifling clean energy industries. And the law may well be an economic development victory for places that stand to gain projects Ohio chases away. The new law says county governments can pass resolutions to ban large wind and solar developments, or say that certain parts of their counties are off-limits to wind and solar projects. (Susan Munroe, director of economic development at Chambers for Innovation & Clean Energy)

Defiance County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) Director Erika Willitzer recently gave an update to county commissioners.

Jason Ricker, Director of Business Development and Real Estate at Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corporation has achieved his Best in Class Economic Developer OhioCED certification from Ohio Economic Development Association.  So have: Susan Ellerhorst of the Village Of Williamsburg, Jerome A. DuVal, and Alex Kraemer, the Director of Economic Development & Zoning at Hamilton Township & Village of Maineville.

Pennsylvania

Downtown Inc, an organization enhancing and encouraging investment in York’s central business district, recently announced the 10 recipients of the 2021 Downtown Bloom Grant. Recipients will share $25,000. Six businesses are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOOC)-owned, and seven are owned by women. (Elaine Bonneau, director Downtown Inc)

The Chester County Economic Development Council has unveiled a redesign of its website. The new design is expected to make it easier for visitors to find information about the organization’s core activities -- financing solutions, location services, workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship. (Gary Smith, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council; Michael Grigalonis, COO and executive vice president) Hey guys, the new website is great, but unfortunately it doesn't make it immediately clear where Chester County is. What state is it in? I know it's in Pennsylvania, but I had to search for it. There are three Chester counties in the US. -Dane

The Clarion County Economic Development Corp. has a new executive director. Jarred Heuer, who has served the CCEDC as an economic development specialist since 2019, has taken over as leader of the organization.

Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development brings its entrepreneurial resources to the university’s faculty and students through a newly created position, the Director of Academic Services. Associate Professor of Business, Mary Ellen Wells, has been appointed to the position for the 2021-22 academic year and will help create and manage services focused on supporting Alvernia faculty, staff and students in scholarly activities.

Texas

Site Selection Group, LLC has announced the promotion of Allison Boden to Senior Associate.

Matt Carlson has earned his designation as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council. He thanks Mary Ann Moon, CEcD for her support.

The Victoria Economic Development Corporation announced the selection of Jonas Titas as their new president. He will be leaving his role as executive director for Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation.

Two Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation leaders have resigned. The Port Arthur EDC vice president John Chirafis has resigned effective immediately. Chirafis' resignation comes one day after the Port Arthur's EDC CEO Floyd Batiste announced his resignation.

Galveston is entering into a round of discussions aimed at improving its economic development strategy with a goal of attracting more businesses and improving quality of life for island residents. (Jeff Sjostrom, president of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership; Michele Hay, Galveston economic development coordinator)

The Paris Economic Development Corp. board of directors recognized their outgoing member and seated new board members. (Maureen Hammond, executive director)

The City of Uhland and the City of Wimberley have joined the Greater San Marcos Partnership. GSMP has been able to develop a pipeline of potential relocations or expansions totaling more than $31 billion in prospective capital investment in this fiscal year alone. (Jason Giulietti, President Greater San Marcos Partnership)

Van Horn, Texas has a population of around 2,000 people. Mayor Becky Brewster believes that after Tuesday’s successful Blue Origin space launch, the town is on track to become bigger and better.

Protecting the ground water and keeping the water clean is vital for economic development in Bois d'Arc Lake.

“We're really not in recovery mode anymore. We're in growth mode", said Kevin Carter, President & CEO of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.

In 2010, San Antonio city leaders pretended to be venture capitalists and subsequently squandered $10 million, almost all of it taxpayers’ money. (Caitlin Cowart, EDD spokeswoman)

The Katy Area Economic Development Council launched a new business opportunity website that displays the first-ever minority and women-owned business directory with the hopes that the website will be a resource for small businesses.

Christine Bryant, formerly of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation is the new Visit Galveston CEO.

Alicia Fawcett is the new Director of Strategy and Planning for greater:SATX

Miesha Adames has been named the new Executive Director of Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development. She will be succeeding Ken Becker who will be retiring at the end of September.

Utah

The Center for Rural Development is moving forward with ways to help local governments in their efforts to spur economic activity. (Ryan Starks, managing director of Business Services in the Office of Economic Opportunity)

Virginia

Marilyn M. Mills, 70, passed away Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Marilyn worked as a secretary for the New Kent County Economic Development Authority.

Arlington Economic Development will keep its office space. As part of the agreement, Arlington will receive free rent from February 2022 to January 2023, and also will receive a $1.13 million improvement allowance from the landlord.

In support of advancing the creation of an innovation district in National Landing, the Arlington County Board approved signing an Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) Agreement with JBG SMITH, to use a share of County-owned excess dark fiber and conduit access in National Landing. This agreement will support and benefit businesses, federal agencies, educational institutions, the public and other organizations with cost-competitive and reliable access to high-speed wired or wireless (5G) data-transmission capacity to promote economic and community development.

Richmond-based Red River Foods, Inc. will invest $16.5 million into new facilities in Henrico County. The specialty foods company is establishing a new warehouse and processing plant for nuts, seeds and dried fruits, creating a total of 60 new jobs. (Stephen A. Edwards, Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director)

Washington DC

Jeff Finkle is retiring early next year after 35 years leading the International Economic Development Council. He credits some of his success to the experience of being a newspaper carrier. “I view all of that knowledge on how to run a business from running that darn paper route," Finkle said. "I learned how to make sales. They taught us service. They forced you to collect. Those are life experiences. While they seem small, collection is collection, whether it’s 42 cents or $150,000. You just need to keep at it.”

West Virginia

Clarksburg City Council members discussed multiple ideas on how to use an estimated $6.34 million of American Rescue Plan funds. Proposals were made to improve infrastructure and to fund the new Clarksburg Visitors’ Bureau.

State Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael toured the Port of West Virginia in Follansbee and met with Empire Diversified Energy in an effort for funds to expand the operation of the port.

Nicole Christian is the new president and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance.

Wisconsin

The City of Sun Prairie announced the promotion of Taylor Brown as the City’s Economic Development Director. (Scott Kugler, Sun Prairie Community Development Director; Neil Stechschulte, Development Director for the City of Green Bay)

Kewaunee County is known for producing award-winning wine, meat, cheese, and so much more. Ben Nelson, Executive Director for the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation gave viewers a closer look at how they can explore the products and people that make the area so great.


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Dane Carlson

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas. Previously: World's first business blogger.