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23 - Economic Development and Developers in the News

Econ dev news from 112 economic development executives and organizations in 38 states, the Virgin Islands and Canada.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
20 min read
23 - Economic Development and Developers in the News
Photo by Hillshire Farm / Unsplash

Welcome to the 23rd weekly edition of Economic Development and Developers in the News.  (Here are all of the past issues.)

Thanks for reading!  I spend more than twelve hours each week on these summaries. If you enjoy all my effort, please share with your colleagues in economic development.  If you'd like to chat, please contact me. -Dane


Alabama

The Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce chamber executive Laura Strickland recently completed week one of the Intensive Economic Development Training Course, presented by Auburn University’s Government and Economic Development Institute.

The Alabama Department of Commerce unveiled its new "Next" campaign at the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s summer conference. Building on the Made in Alabama brand, Next is their vision of the future of Alabama’s economy and the types of high-technology, life sciences and other technologically driven opportunities. (Greg Canfield, Alabama Commerce Secretary; Greg Barker, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; Jim Searcy, executive director)

Economic Development has three key principles: "pride of place", a strong and willing workforce, and a forward-thinking mindset. Tallassee has parts and percentages of all three elements, but if everyone was on the same page and singing from the same songbook – who knows what the future could hold for this town.

The Alabama League of Municipalities is working with the Alabama Community College System to launch the Economic Development Academy, which offers tools and resources to local officials of cities large and small. The academy will focus on the role of elected officials in evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gauging the community’s expectations and workforce development. (Greg Cochran, executive director of ALM; Neal Wade, Economic Development Academy; Lawrence Haygood, vice president of the ALM)

The Talladega City Council unanimously approved resolutions supporting Main Street Alabama and Alabama Communities of Excellence, designed to boost economic development. (Seddrick Hill, City Manager)

Alaska

Anchorage’s economy is recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, but employment won’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2024, according to the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. The city had already experienced four straight years of jobs losses when the pandemic arrived. (Bill Popp, president & CEO Anchorage Economic Development Corp.)

The Alaska Congressional Delegation introduced landmark legislation to increase accessibility for tax-exempt financing on economic development efforts for Alaska Native and American Indian projects. Tribal Economic Development, or TED Bonds, is an important tool for Tribal governments to finance economic development opportunities and diversify resources that benefit their communities.

Arizona

Harvard Extension student Chris James has dedicated his career to promoting economic development in Native American communities. His work with the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development was recently featured on Harvard University’s Upward Immobility podcast.

Arkansas

Jonesboro Unlimited, the city’s economic development organization, launched a multi-million dollar job creation effort five years ago known as Momentum Jonesboro. Its goal was to create 2,500 jobs in five targeted sectors. More than 4,000 jobs were created through the initial effort and $500 million in capital investments have been made. The new 2.0 initiative will officially launch in January. (Mark Young, president Jonesboro Unlimited; Amy Holloway, Ernst and Young National Director of Economic Development Advisory Services

California

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board is hosting the second installment of their new signature economic series, Economic Perspectives. BIPOC Impact will examine the economic impacts and challenges of Black, Indigenous, and people of color owned businesses featuring keynote speaker Marlene Orozco of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative and a panel of Sonoma County BIPOC business owners.

Canada

The Government of Canada is providing support to business ecosystems in Saskatchewan through targeted investments that build on regional strengths, encourage innovation, and support underrepresented groups. (Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada)

Fort St. John is among eight B.C. communities that will house offices for the federal government’s new Pacific Economic ­Development Canada agency. PacificCan will take over economic development in BC from Western ­Economic Diversification.

Reg Johnston is the new Economic Development Officer for the Town of Drumheller.

Nanaimo city council and its partners have agreed on the framework for a new economic development corporation. The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation was dissolved at the end of 2016, with economic development becoming a city hall function. Since then, a consultant recommended economic development in Nanaimo would be better served with both an internal department and an external corporation, and a city task force guided the creation of an economic development strategy. (Bill Corsan, city director of community development)

Colorado

Robin Brown, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership will soon be leaving her position to become the CEO and Vice President of Development for the Colorado Mesa University Foundation. Brown took over as GJEP’s executive director in December 2017 after her predecessor, Kristi Pollard, left for a similar role on the Front Range.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation tracks how nine cluster industries are doing during and after the pandemic. The group says due to lockdowns and restrictions, the leisure and hospitality industries were hit hard. However, Colorado is maintaining a higher level of labor force compared to other states.

Nearly 30% of the vehicles that travel along the University Boulevard corridor each day do not stop or start their drive in Centennial, instead rolling through the city as “pass-through” traffic. To help address that problem, the city council has voted to allow shopping centers to have one stand-alone drive-thru and one attached — or “endcap” — drive-thru. (Neil Marciniak, economic development director for Centennial)

The recent Solarize Garfield County campaign generated $2.8 million in rooftop solar and battery investment, added nearly a megawatt of renewable energy to the grid and helped county residents bank $270,000 in rebates. (Sheryl Bower, Garfield County Community Development Director)

Longmont area industries lost 3.3% of jobs in 2020. The hard-hit Smart Manufacturing sector experienced negative 4.5% job growth from 2019 to 2020 but are projected to grow 1.4% from the end of 2020 through the end of this year. Even harder hit was a Food and Beverage sector where total jobs fell by 13.7% from the end of 2019 through the end of 2020 and are expected to fall another 0.7 percent by the end of this year. (Jessica Erickson, president and CEO Longmont Economic Development Partnership)

Cañon City boasts a recreational and tourism economy based around the Arkansas River. There are roughly 845 people in the county employed in that sector, who largely live in or close to Cañon City. While that represents approximately 10% of the city’s workforce, tourism grew by 148 jobs between 2016 and 2019, while many other industries saw lesser growth or even declines. (Rick Harrmann, economic development manager Cañon City)

International visitors explored El Paso County this week as part of the 13th Americas Competitiveness Exchange. The program, created by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration in coordination with the U.S Department of State and the Organization of American States, brings together dignitaries and business leaders to explore global and regional partnerships, as well as economic development opportunities. El Paso County’s natural resources, parks and open space, and famous attractions are key elements that drive its economy and make it a top travel destination. (Crystal LaTier, executive director of economic development El Paso County; Doug Price, president and CEO of VisitCOS; Becky Leinweber, executive director of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance)

In more than 10 years as Windsor’s director of economic development, Stacy Miller has compiled a voluminous list of accomplishments that have greatly enhanced the attractiveness of the town for business, industry and residents alike.

Pueblo Community College announced a new learning center geared towards helping adults learn economic development. The project is called the Place for Enrichment and Academic Knowledge (PEAK). The center will offer meeting spaces, training, technology, and more.

Andrea Oaks-Jaramillo has been named the new Disaster Recovery Coordinator at the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group, with the task of reviving the region’s economy following the negative impacts of the COVIC-19 pandemic. (Kevin Wilkins, SLVDRG Executive Director)

Connecticut

Wes Thompson, chair of the Economic Development Commission addressed the Newtown Board of Finance: "We try to balance real hard what is tolerable to the people and residents in town, what they want to see, how can we preserve the look and feel of Newtown — at the same time attracting things that might change things. You know, if we don’t change, we’re in trouble, because if we don’t change and we depend only on bringing in nice people, I don’t think too many people are going to be able to afford to live here.”

Florida

$4 million in grant funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will be used to expand infrastructure improvements to prepare the Daytona Beach International Airport's commercial/industrial park for future development in Volusia County. Targeting research and manufacturing, the infrastructure improvements are expected to result in $150 million private investment and the creation of 360 jobs. (George Recktenwald, Volusia County Manager)

The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center has become a major economic force on Florida's Adventure Coast with more than 120 businesses and 2,000 employees generating more than $350 million for the region, including manufacturing. It boasts many infrastructure-ready sites for new companies of all sizes to build their next location, many with direct runway access. (Valerie Pianta, Hernando County Economic Development Director)

PureCycle Technologies, Inc., a Florida-based plastic recycling company, has announced plans to build a $440 million plant in Augusta. The project is among the largest investments ever in the city. (Cal Wray, President Augusta Economic Development Authority)

The Sarasota County Economic Development Corp. named Erin Silk as vice president of business development services. The promotion comes after Silk served more than two years as director of the department and she now leads the EDC’s efforts to attract businesses to the county. (Lisa Krouse, interim CEO of the EDC)

All signs point to Amazon's intent to build a fulfillment center in Tallahassee. Project Mango would represent the largest injection of private sector jobs in Tallahassee history. Project Mango is projected to generate a total economic impact of $451.1 million with 3,602 jobs and $167.6 million in wages. (Sam Blatt, economic development policy manager at Amazon)

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced $750,000 in workforce training funds that are available for Floridians interested in pursuing nonagricultural occupations in rural areas through the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program. Eligible employers and educational institutions may apply for funding to cover the cost of training or tuition on behalf of eligible applicants.

Georgia

The Kennesaw City Council passed a resolution to create the Sister Cities Commission that will be tasked with finding and establishing a relationship with an international “sister city.”

Hawaii

The Maui Chamber of Commerce will discuss economic development, climate change, affordable housing and supporting small business as part of a weekly podcast and radio program. The “Business Matters” show is hosted by Pamela Tumpap, President of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

Idaho

Clearwater County has been awarded a Rural Economic Development Professional Grant in the amount of $30,000.

Illinois

St. Charles aldermen approved the creation of a $205,000 economic development director position at Monday's government operations committee meeting. With Community and Economic Development Director Rita Tungare retiring and Economic Development Planner Ciara Miller moving out of state, the city is working to redefine the roles by separating the two departments.

USDA Rural Development Area Director Dan Jansen made a visit to the Effingham County Economic Development Advisory Board this week to provide an update on programs that might be of interest to county residents. The Economic Development board established their Revolving Loan Fund Program from a $99,000 USDA Rural Business Development grant. ( Courtney Yockey, president and CEO of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance)

There’s still no director for Springfield’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. A director is needed to organize and distribute federal pandemic grant money on behalf of the city. The last economic director, Val Yazell, was terminated in March.

The Normal Town Council unanimously approved a uniform economic incentive package. Businesses meeting certain criteria would receive property tax abatement, utility tax exemptions on gas and electricity and other deals under the plan.

Indiana

Knox County Indiana Economic Development is sporting a new name and website. Two months ago, the organization, formerly the Knox County Development Corp., officially began the process of rebranding it self and approved the use of a new logo. (Chris Pfaff, CEO Knox County Indiana Economic
Development)

Jay Julian plans to retire as president/CEO of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and as chief economic development officer of the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance in April 2022. (Kelly Shrock, chair of the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance)

The Speedway development project is underway after delays with final reviews, permits and documents with the developer. It will bring apartments, condos and business to Main Street with two restaurants — Le Peep and Vine & Table — already committing to open on the ground floor. (Tim Gropp, Director Speedway Economic Development)

Iowa

Ames will retain its "metropolitan statistical area" status under a decision announced earlier this month by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, a move local economic development officials say will help the community in its economic development efforts. (Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission)

Kansas

Kansas’ biggest economic competitor is its eastern neighbor, according to one state leader. Bill Murphy, deputy secretary of business development at the Kansas Department of Commerce, said the state loses most of its residents to Missouri for new jobs and other opportunities.

Kentucky

Fruit of the Loom, a textiles and sporting goods company headquartered in Bowling Green, is expanding its operations at its 540,000 sq. ft. Bowling Green distribution center with a 203,000 sq. ft. addition. Fruit of the Loom serves as an essential diversification of the economy in Warren County. (Larry Hayes, Interim Secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet of Economic Development; John Bradley, TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development; Dewayne McDonald, President and CEO of Warren RECC; Ron Bunch, Chamber President and CEO)

Pratt Paper aims to change economic landscape of Henderson County with the addition of 300 jobs, and 700 construction jobs. (Missy Vanderpool, Henderson Economic Development Executive Director)

Greater Paducah Economic Development announced that Drake Lighting would be expanding to Paducah. Drake Lighting will invest $2 million into an existing facility, along with the construction of a distribution and warehousing facility. The project will add 60 full time jobs and generate an estimated community economic impact of $6.8 million per year. (Bruce Wilcox, President of Greater Paducah Economic Development)

The Barren County Economic Authority broke ground the South Cooper Industrial Park. The BCEA is making a significant investment in the new industrial park including the grading of its first two sites and a road entering the park. (Maureen Carpenter, executive director BCEA)

When he took the job as executive director of the Logan County Economic Alliance for Development in 2008, Tom Harned viewed it as a short-term post-retirement gig. Thirteen years later, at age 80, Harned has finally stepped down from the role as the county’s chief economic development professional.

Louisiana

The Lafayette Economic Development Authority announced that seven candidates remained in consideration to replace Gregg Gothreaux as the organization's president and CEO. The LEDA board will select and interview three finalists from this pool: Monique Boulet, Verdelle Hawkins, Larry Holt, Mandi Mitchell, John O'Toole, Bob Shark, and Troy Wayman.

Southern Business & Development magazine named Ascension Parish its 2021 Small Market of the Year. (Kate MacArthur, president and CEO of Ascension Economic Development Corp.)

The New Iberia City Council approved the creation of an economic development district to fund Louisianna PepperPlex improvements. (Wess Robison, President Iberia On Tap)

The Vermilion Economic Development Alliance will receive federal funds to provide training in the form of online and in-person classes, one-on-one counseling with interested businesses, and outreach to ensure that available resources are known and utilized. Anne Falgout, executive director VEDA)

A Lake Charles organization has released an "ACT NOW" campaign to help the region 's businesses receive immediate relief 11 months after the impact of five major disasters, in one treacherous year.

The Acadiana Veteran Alliance has named Millicent Nugent as its first executive director.

Executive Director and CEO of St. Landry Economic Development Group, Bill Rodier, joins Discover Lafayette to share news of the growth of St. Landry Parish as well as the current boom in growth along the I-49 corridor.

Massachusetts

Consultants for Sunderland presented six key economic development recommendations for the town's pandemic recovery. (Geoff Kravitz, Town Administrator)

Michigan

Lear Corporation will operate a seat manufacturing facility that will create hundreds of new jobs at the site of the former Cadillac Stamping Plant on Detroit’s east side. In January, the Detroit City Council approved a 12-year tax abatement for the project. The Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Strategic Fund board in December approved $3.3 million in brownfield tax credits to demolish the old plant and build a multi-tenant industrial and manufacturing facility.

Lakeshore Advantage is accepting applications for its Surge "Boostcamp" program. The 16-week program helps entrepreneurs build their high-tech or product-based startups. The virtual program is ideal for individuals looking to shape their company ideas and test the waters of ownership, all while keeping their day job. (Amanda Chocko, Lakeshore Advantage Director of Entrepreneurship)

Minnesota

David Ramstad, Willmar Planning and Development director, has resigned from his post, effective later this month. He has accepted a job with the city of Minneapolis. During his tenure in Willmar, Ramstad helped create the downtown Renaissance Zone and assisted in bringing several new housing and business developments to the city.

State Representative Dan Wolgamott was recognized as a Legislator of Distinction for Economic Development by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. The coalition cited Wolgamott’s work on funding Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grants.

Mississippi

Brittany Mayfield is the new director of economic development for the city of Madison. The city has merged its chamber of commerce with its economic development efforts and created Madison Community Partners.

Missouri

The Jefferson City Regional Economic Partnership announced Luke Holtschneider as its first chief executive director.

County engineer, and former mayor, Donnie Brown, is now also the economic development director of the New Madrid County Mayors Association.

New Jersey

Hamilton Township Economic Development Advisory Commission has announced the 2021 award recipients for the 45th Annual Hamilton Township Economic Development Distinguished Business Achievement Awards Dinner. (Lori Danko, chair of the Hamilton Township Economic Development Advisory Commission)

New Mexico

The City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department announced that the Small Business + Entrepreneurial Recovery Grant Program has received a high volume of applicants in the Family-Owned Business and Entrepreneurial & Startup categories, and will be closing applications to both grants. Applications are still being accepted for Mainstreet Business Grants, Hotels & Public Safety Grants, Arts & Entertainment Business Grants, and Youth & Education Grants. (Synthia R. Jaramillo, director of EDD)

New Mexico Mainstreet selected 10 community economic development projects to receive technical assistance that ranges from revitalization specialists to architects.

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation is partnering with Assent Aviation to build a new air hanger. The partnership is also expected to help college students prepare for the workforce, giving students in the aviation maintenance program at ENMU - Roswell more of a hands-on opportunity. (Mike Espiritu, President of RCCEDC)

The New Mexico Economic Development Fund awarded $300,000 to the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance and The Borderplex Alliance, two regional economic development organizations.

New York

The top of the Largest State Incentives List is usually dominated by big projects receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from New York state. Due to the budget uncertainty of 2020, some incentive programs were canceled altogether, and other programs saw fewer applicants and awardees.

Onondaga County legislators approved a $20 million revolving loan for the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency.

North Carolina

Tiffany Hall McNeill has accepted the economic development director position with the Town of Fuquay-Varina.

Scott Millar, president of Catawba County Economic Development Corporation spoke at Hickory City Council regarding population and workforce challenges. The difficulty many companies are having finding workers will be a long-term problem because of such factors as low birth rates, the mass retirement of Baby Boomers, lower labor force participation and a preference for part-time work among young people.

Following the recommendations of a newly released study, the City of Charlotte is developing a strategy to attract employers, help residents access careers, and spark commercial real estate development in areas of Charlotte that lag in employment opportunity.

The North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center has selected the City of Whiteville as the latest “North Carolina Main Street Community,” a designation earned by municipalities after meeting rigorous national downtown development criteria.

Siler City is taking steps to address some of its more dilapidated commercial buildings that residents often complain about. The Chatham County town of 8,200 recently adopted a minimum nonresidential building code. This gives the town power to spur improvements on commercial buildings that are vacant, abandoned or in desperate need of repairs. The town already uses a similar set of regulations for homes. (Jack Meadows, Siler City planning and community development director.)

North Dakota

The Williston Area Chamber of Commerce and Williston Economic Development office hosted the 1 Million Cups gathering at 3 Amigos on Aug. 4, featuring the owners of 3 Amigos and Abele Apparel. Held every month, the 1 Millions Cups event allows entrepreneurs to highlight their business or present business ideas to the local community and learn how those around them can support their business in its growth.

Four site locations for a new career and technical education center in Grand Forks will be reviewed as part of an application for funding from the state, said Eric Ripley, executive director of career and technical education and technology for Grand Forks Public Schools. The grant application must be submitted by a local school district or a consortium of school districts, Ripley said. But, in Grand Forks, other entities – the Grand Forks Region Economic Development, the city, Chamber of Commerce, businesses, industry and post-secondary institutions – also have important roles to play in crafting it. (Becca Cruger, workforce development manager; EDC President and CEO Keith Lund)

Ohio

Former Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg is being remembered for his belief in the growth of the county as a street is named in his memory. Jay Begg Parkway will be the entrance into the Gateway Shawnee industrial Park off McClain Road. The 70-acre site is owned by the Allen County Port Authority and is being marketed by the Allen Economic Development Group. (Cindy Leis, Business Development Director with AEDG)

Long-time Cuyahoga County employee Paul Herdeg was sworn in Tuesday as the economic development chief after his nomination won unanimous approval from County Council.

Julie Needs, executive directive of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center here, has earned the credential of Ohio Certified Economic Developer.

To spur development in Lorain County, area mayors invited Lt. Gov. Jon Husted to Avon to talk the Ohio economy and workforce. Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said his desire is for Lorain County’s communities to band together and work for success. When other municipalities succeed, Jenson said Avon succeeds. When Avon succeeds, Jenson said others succeed.

Oklahoma

After more than a decade of service to Shawnee as its economic development director, Tim Burg served his last day Friday, July 30. Burg will be moving on to a position as economic development director for Moore Norman Technology Center. It's a “twist on economic development” he said, as most economic development positions are with city and county entities, while his new job will be with a career and technology education center. But he said the center is “on the cutting edge of workforce development.”

Oregon

The Portland Oregon metro area's bi-state nature, thanks to Clark County, Washington is a great asset for recruiting companies to launch, expand or relocate in the region. It provides a greater diversity of options for prospects to consider, whether they're looking for an urban, suburban, industrial, forest or farmland setting to live and work. (Amy Jauron, VP of business development at Greater Portland Inc.; Jennifer Baker, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council)

The Rainier Economic Development Council directed the city administrator to look into several questions that arose during this year’s budget process, including the status of several 2006 intergovernmental agreements and the lack of annual reports.

Pennsylvania

Amid the Lehigh Valley’s housing shortage, Bethlehem’s considering creating a special tax abatement zone to entice developers to build more affordable housing in the Southside. (City Director of Community and Economic Development Alicia Miller Karner)

South Carolina

Global Location Strategies is thrilled to welcome Braden Holst, a Junior at Clemson University, as their 2021 summer intern. GLS offers year-round internship opportunities for college students, providing the opportunity to work and learn alongside the GLS team.

The work of an economic developer typically goes unnoticed until a major announcement is made but much of the work plays out behind the scenes. This is the case for Greenwood County Economic Development Director James Bateman.

Tennessee

Livingston is one of 8 communities taking part in this year’s TVA Economic Development Community Innovation Academy, a program and experience to help economic developers create breakthrough ideas together to better their communities. Developed by TVA Economic Development and Guillermo Mazier, VP of Global Innovation for Conway Data Inc., the academy aids in unlocking the tools, tactics, and skills to solve community problems more effectively and collaboratively with the goal of sparking more economic growth and shared community prosperity.

Texas

John Osborne, the head of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance talked about building new interstates in Texas during the 17th annual West Texas Legislative Summit at Angelo State University Wednesday. San Angelo is currently the largest city in the United States without an interstate, but in the future will likely have two new ones intersect at the city.

The Lampasas City Council unanimously voted Monday night to name former mayor Misti Talbert the new president of the Lampasas Economic Development Corp. board. She will replace Charlie Pratus III, who resigned.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Director of Community Development, Angela Lambert, has been selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives to study economic recovery and resilience strategies with 21 other chambers of commerce professionals from communities throughout the United States. The Fellowship for Inclusive Economic Growth is an immersive executive development program that provides chamber of commerce professionals with education and tools to build a more equitable economy in their regions.

The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department and Austin Resource Recovery announced the winner of the first annual Circular Austin Showcase, a virtual pitch competition for local businesses – known as 'circular' businesses – focused on reuse, zero waste and/or sustainability. The virtual pitch event took place on July 28 and was held in partnership with the Austin Young Chamber.

The Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation is in competition to further expand the area’s bio-corridor. BVEDC President and CEO Matt Prochaska said the organization is competing with a location in North Carolina to bring a new Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies manufacturing facility to College Station.

Following a nationwide search that began in March, San Antonio hired Brenda Hicks-Sorensen as director of the Economic Development Department. Monday was her first day on the job, leading the 35-member staff.

The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation named a familiar face to serve as interim director of the organization. Ike Mills, who is listed as the executive director of the Port Arthur Chamber Minority Chamber of Commerce, was approved for the position during a Monday evening meeting. He will serve on an interim basis until a new director is hired.

The Austin Economic Development Department announced the awarding of an additional $2.5 million dollars in economic recovery grants to 89 small businesses impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

After a year of progress in the city, Palestine Economic Development Director Lisa Denton is leaving Palestine. Denton has been named the new Economic Development Director for Kilgore.

Utah

A contingent of Northern Utah entities from Weber and Davis counties is hoping to create a fund, the Northern Utah Venture Fund, to foster growth of, perhaps, new tech companies, advanced materials manufacturers and more. (Guy Letendre, Director of Economic Development at Weber State University.)

Box Elder County is looking to form a new economic development project area, hoping to attract industrial and logistical business into the county in the coming decades. Called the Box Elder Industrial Park Community Reinvestment Project Area, the proposal includes dozens of parcels across approximately 2,082 acres of property, offering businesses incentives and infrastructure upgrades to entice them to locate there. (Mitch Zundel, Director Box Elder County Economic Development)

Virgin Islands

With Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and Limetree Bay executives actively seeking a buyer to restart St. Croix's shuttered oil refinery, an Engage VI town hall hosted by the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development on Thursday invited Crucians to reimagine their economy without it and ended with a call for action. (Wayne Biggs Jr., director of the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority)

Virginia

The Town of Leesburg Economic Development Director Russell Seymour offered an update to the Town Council July 26 on the town’s current commercial vacancy rates. The key for the council, he said, is protecting the available commercial land it has left. Seymour said he was troubled by the amount of commercial land that is being rezoned to accommodate residential development.

Virginia Beach’s former economic development director pleaded guilty to four counts of felony embezzlement Wednesday. Warren Harris, 64, was accused of misusing city funds for personal use throughout his tenure. His fraudulent expenditures totaled $79,479.50, according to a release from the prosecutor’s office.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority gave nearly $29,000 to 10 social media influencers over the past year to highlight its jobs portal and virtual career fairs. The FCEDA used Development Counsellors International to identify and vet the influencers, set goals for the number of posts, and ensure posting requirements were met, Alan Fogg, the authority’s vice president of communications, said in a statement.

West Virginia

Last week, Empire Diversified Energy hosted West Virginia Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael to tour the Port of West Virginia. On Thursday, the effort continued for funding for it. The company hosted Michael Graney and Jennifer Ferrell from the West Virginia Economic Development Office to get them up to speed on Empire's plans for the port.

The members of the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation elected two new board members during their annual meeting Tuesday according to HCEDC Executive Director Amy Haberbosch Wilson. Additionally, Harrison County commissioner Patsy Trecost called for monthly reports from organization because they receive county funding.

Regional

The Appalachian Regional Commission recently announced that 38 economic developers had graduated from the 2021 session of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, their leadership and economic development program. Graduates include: Diane Lautenschleger, Tuscarawas County Ohio Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bridgett Massengill, Thrive Regional Partnership CEO; Betsy McGriff, Dawson County Chamber Economic Development Director; Dr. Teresa Orok, professor and executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Development of the College of Business and Public Affairs at Alabama A&M University; Jessie Owensby, Community Development Manager for the City of Cornelia; Tami Reist, CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association; Lesley Ridge Allen, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership; and Todd Wolford, Executive Director for Downtown Wytheville Inc.


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Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas.