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27 - Economic Development and Developers in the News

Econ dev news from 71 economic development executives and organizations in 30 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
13 min read
27 - Economic Development and Developers in the News
Photo by Manuel Meurisse / Unsplash

Welcome to the 27th weekly edition of Economic Development and Developers in the News.  (Here are all of the past issues.)

Today's issue contains economic development news from 71 economic development executives and organizations in 30 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Please share this with your friends and colleagues in economic development. -Dane

Alabama

PowerSouth Energy Cooperative promoted Taylor Williams to director of external affairs. (Gary Smith, president/CEO PowerSouth)

Germany-based REHAU announced plans to invest $50 million in expansion project that will create 125 jobs at its Cullman County facility, which recently secured a contract to build exterior polymer-based components for Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama-made SUV models. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairswill provide a $700,000 grant to the city of Cullman toward a $1 million road project to service the REHAU plant. (Kenneth Boswell, director ADECA; Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency)

Community members noted the absence of city government representatives at the most recent Gadsden Airport Authority meeting. Their absence was noted because this meeting was all about economic development for the city of Gadsden and Etowah County. (David Hooks, executive director Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority; Frankie Davis, city’s director of economic development and governmental affairs)

Arkansas

Bill Schwyhart, former Northwest Arkansas auto dealer, real estate developer and former member of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, has died.

After a nationwide search, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith has chosen Bill Sabo as the regional office director of its Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center office in Fort Smith.

Four years ago, a 58-page plan was released by Go Forward Pine Bluff detailing recommendations as part of a strategic plan offering future direction for the city of Pine Bluff. One of Go Forward Pine Bluff’s initiatives is to revive downtown by removing blight and restoring dilapidated historical buildings.

Canada

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton announced three local investments from the provincial government through Ontario’s Rural Economic Development program. “This is really exciting,” said McNaughton. “I believe in Main Street. I’m more Main Street than Bay Street. I think small towns are truly on the comeback. Especially because of the pandemic, we’re seeing people being able to work close to home and grow our small towns. That’s what this investment is all about.”

An economic development campaign focused on helping agricultural businesses in the area recently kicked off in Sarnia-Lambton. (Stephen Thompson, CEO Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership; Shauna Carr, partnership economic development officer)

Colorado

The Boulder Chamber family is mourning the loss of a community leader, partner and friend. Frances Draper, former Executive Director of the Boulder Economic Council passed away Wednesday evening following a courageous battle with cancer. (John Tayer, President & CEO, Boulder Chamber)

The transformation of Grand Junction, Colorado over the last decade is an incredible case study in rural economic development. At the bottom of the recession, the community grappled with 11% unemployment, which resulted in high crime and poverty rates and significant loss of workforce-aged population. A decade later, Grand Junction is thriving despite a global pandemic, with the most diversified economy in its history. (Robin Brown, former executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership)

Region 9 Economic Development District was recognized with a 2021 Aliceann Wohlbruck NADO Impact Award for their management of COVID-19 business response, and putting together grant and loan opportunities. In total, $1.486 million in grants were provided to 234 businesses in 2020 with another $99K provided to 31 businesses in 2021. (Laura Lewis Marchino, Executive Director)

Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado will host its sixth annual Economic Development Summit in Rifle, Colorado. Speakers include Dr. Nathan Perry of Colorado Mesa University, Trent Thompson with the Economic Development Administration, and Wendell Pryor from Chaffee County will be the lunchtime keynote speaker discussing successes he has been involved with in Chaffee County.

Connecticut

Andrew Martelli was hired to replace Jerry Sitko as Cheshire's economic development director.

Florida

Tourism plays a major role in Bay County’s economy, bringing in millions of dollars each year. While tourism is important, some notable names say they want to diversify our economy. “For us to be successful, we need to diversify our economy and that’s our job as economic development professionals,” Bay Economic development Alliance President Becca Hardin said. (Parker McClellan, Executive Director ECP)

Georgia

The health care industry has since 2000 become the second largest employer in Glynn County, surpassing retail, according to a recent study issued by The Reg Murphy Center for Economic and Policy Studies at College of Coastal Georgia.

Illinois

(A correction from last week: This is in Illinois not Missouri.) Civic and business leaders in the Metro East aim to foster new local businesses through the help of an incubator that officially launched on Thursday. The Metro East Business Incubator will serve as a hub for local entrepreneurs to find mentors, contacts for local governments, events and other resources for those trying to scale a small business, said Dr. Amy Determann, executive director of the incubator.

The Galesburg labor force is shrinking faster than the population. With an aging population, an ongoing pandemic and help wanted signs on every corner, finding enough workers to fill positions is a continuing problem for local businesses, schools and hospitals. (Ken Springer, president Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development; Seamus Reilly, President Carl Sandburg College)

Indiana

Medical coating technology provider, DOT America, Inc., announced plans to expand operations in Columbia City. They received a tax abatement for their equipment. (Dale Buuck, President Whitley County Economic Development Corporation; Jim Staton, SVP and chief business development officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation)

Local leaders and a consulting firm have kicked off the process for a new plan - Future Hancock - that will shape the county’s future. (Michael Dale, executive director Hancock County Area Plan Commission; Meredith Perks, associate planner with Vandewalle & Associates and project coordinator for Hancock County’s comprehensive plan team)

How's the Bloomington-Normal labor market? A Q&A Patrick Hoban, CEO at Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.

Iowa

Dr. Kathryn Anne Edwards outlined two principal ways to gain more workers. “Either you import more people though immigration,” she said — “if your population grew, you’d have more people” working — or you must develop ways to get more of the current population working. Both these avenues can be expensive and require “investments” on the part of employers — day care options and accommodations at the workplace, for example — as well as policy changes at the state level. (Dr. Kathryn Anne Edwards is a labor economist with the Rand Corporation, and is a professor at the Pardee Rand Graduate School)

The Knoxville City Council will hold public hearings and consider rezoning ordinances and will discuss a community economic development position.

Clinton Regional Development Corporation has its hands in every aspect of economic growth — from new companies to expansions of existing companies and finding a workforce. (Erin M. Cole, President/CEO CRDC; Andy Sokolovich, Vice President of Economic Development)

Kansas

Governor Laura Kelly joined Superior Boiler to cut the ribbon on their new 73,000-square-foot facility – totaling a $2,786,000 business investment – in Hutchinson, Kansas. (David Toland, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce)

Kentucky

Tucked into the pandemic-heavy agenda for a special legislative session is a request to strengthen Kentucky's negotiating hand in trying to reel in mega-sized economic development projects. Gov. Andy Beshear plans to ask the GOP-led legislature to give the state's recruiting team more flexibility in offering incentives for investment projects topping $2 billion.

Michigan

The Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County will receive a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to develop a new building and expand the region’s entrepreneurial system and county’s small business services in a state-of-the-art business center along the waterfront. (Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation;  Dan Casey, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County)

A city in western Michigan is trying to figure out what to do with nearly $200,000 in gift cards purchased to support local restaurants businesses during the pandemic. The cards were never formally approved by Muskegon city commissioners. The money came from the city’s economic development fund.

The city of Jackson has invested approximately $1.5 million over the years to keep the Hayes Hotel building intact for potential redevelopment. Past deals with potential developers have fallen through, but the city and the Jackson Anchor initiative are once again looking for a partner to help return the historic building to its former glory. (Scott Fleming, CEO Anchor Initiative)

Across the Ohio border in Monroe County’s Dundee, Mich., economic development is booming. Several nearby Michigan communities have been experiencing similar growth spurts in recent years, and local officials are preparing for continued expansion in the future. (Tim Lake, president Monroe County Business Development Corporation; Mark Cochran, city’s economic development director; Tracy Bosman, a Chicago-based site selection consultant with Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co.)

Minnesota

LaCanne is building a new Celebration of Life Center, which will include flame-based cremation, a large gathering space and a chapel in Jackson at the Jackson Crossroads. LaCanne purchased the lot from the Jackson Economic Development Corporation. (Tom Nelson, community and business development specialist)

Samantha DiMaggio joined the Farmington city staff administration as the new community development director. Former Farmington Community Development Director Adam Kienberger reached out to DiMaggio to tell her about the job opportunity and said it would be the perfect career opportunity. Kienberger now works in neighboring Rosemount as the community development director.

Montana

Jerry Meerkatz, who recently retired as the Montana West Economic Development CEO and President in Kalispell, died on Aug. 27 in a motorcycle accident in Wyoming. He was 63. (Christy Cummings Dawson, new president and CEO of MWED)

Nebraska

Kelsey Bergen reviewed a busy year of economic development activity last week while thanking city leaders for their help in forging a growing partnership with the Aurora Development Corporation.

Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation announced new housing program, Build Grand Island. The $2 million in funds will be used to assist housing developers to revitalize, rehabilitate and add to the housing stock in the Grand Island area. (Dave Taylor, president of GIAEDC)

New Jersey

The Chester Township Planning Board has developed a presentation as well as a survey to solicit feedback from the Township's business community. These two components are part of a Sustainable Economic Development Plan.

New Mexico

Officials with the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that Chase Gentry, the city’s economic development director, died earlier this week from COVID-19 complications. Gentry spent two decades leading the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation.

North Carolina

North Carolina's Covid vaccination rate could make or break economic development deals.

Iredell County Economic Development Corporation's annual meeting brought together leaders from across the county to celebrate the accomplishments from the previous year and set strategic priorities for the upcoming year. (Jenn Bosser, President & CEO Iredell EDC)

Henderson County is not exempt from the labor shortage sweeping the country. This shortage is long-term and based on years of developing trends. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the lone cause of the increasingly complicated situation, but has put a magnifying glass over already existing issues and shifts. (Brittany Brady, president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development; Ben Smith, Director BRCC Small Business Center)

North Dakota

Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. CEO Keith Lund says Grand Forks is resilient and rising.

Ohio

An economic development initiative is in the works to replace jobs being lost in Piketon. (Tammy Eallonardo, Economic Development Director of Greater Chillicothe and Ross County Development)

JobsOhio, Ohio Southeast Economic Development, and the Adams County CIC celebrated the investment of a $4.2 million JobsOhio Grant in the Winchester Industrial Park with a groundbreaking ceremony. (J.P. Nauseef, president & CEO, JobsOhio; Mike Jacoby, President OhioSE; Holly Johnson, Director of Adams County CIC)

The recent opening of Rose Run Park and the Charleen & Charles Hinson Amphitheater are the latest examples of how New Albany and its community partners continue to invest in amenities that enhance the quality of life for residents and employees. (Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s director of community development)

Oklahoma

Kian Kamas, executive director of the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity shared updates and the project successes that are indicative of how they create economic opportunity for Tulsans.

TIF celebrates its 30th anniversary in a few months since it was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature. It has become one of the most successful economic tools in Oklahoma, but it almost didn’t happen.

Oklahoma City television station Channel 9 will receive $2.7 million in economic development money to relocate downtown in the former Century Center. The station will relocate about 195 jobs with an average annual salary of $100,952.

Oregon

A new report about opportunity zones in Oregon has been released and calls into question the current operation of these zones and recommends for how they can work better in the future. The paper entitled “The Failure of Opportunity Zones in Oregon: Lifeless Place-Based Economic Development Implementation through a Policy Network” was the work of Jay Matonte when he was a graduate student in the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon. He was advised and assisted by University of Oregon Professors Robert Parker and Benjamin Clark.

Pennsylvania

The Berks County Commissioners have announced the launch of the planning process for Imagine Berks, a new economic development strategic action plan for Berks County. The 8-month process will include listening tours, community-driven discussions and data to craft a plan that will then guide the County’s economic development efforts for the next five years. Pamela Shupp Menet, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Economic Development, will serve as the County’s project manager and oversee the IMAGINE Berks process.

Puerto Rico

In its ongoing bid to attract capital investment to the island Invest Puerto Rico, announced the launch of Impeller, an online hub for investment opportunities on the island. The proprietary tool provides a growing list of business opportunities for issuers and companies looking to access on- and off-island investment deals, InvestPR CEO Rodrick Miller said.

Texas

The Board of Directors for the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation approved the recommendations to fund five applicants in the first round of the Business Improvement and Growth (“BIG”) Program 2.0 applications. The result of the program now reflects a total of $17,278,614 of private investment attracted to Downtown Brownsville to promote economic development. (Cori Pena, Director of Community Development for the BCIC)

Jessica Herrera is leaving her job as director of the city Economic and International Development Department to take a job in the private sector, city officials announced Friday. Herrera has headed the department for almost five years, and before that was the department’s assistant director. She's worked for the city for just over eight years. She's taking a job in the El Paso office of CBRE Group, an international commercial real estate services and investment firm based in Dallas.

The City of El Paso announced the appointment of David Coronado, as Managing Director of International Bridges and Economic Development, and Elizabeth Triggs, as Interim Director of Economic and International Development Department.  Triggs will replace Economic and International Development Department Director Jessica Herrera, who is stepping down to take a position with another organization.

The City of Duncanville will launch a redesigned website in 2022. “Marketing our great city is also key to attracting the kinds of development residents have been asking for,” added Gus Garcia, Duncanville’s Director of Economic Development. “These days, a website is the way to make a positive first impression. Through this redesign process, Duncanville will get the web presence that truly represents the greatness of our city, which helps attract new economic development to our community.”

Panhandle unemployment rates continue to decrease while the labor force continues to increase.  According to the Economic Profile for Workforce Development Area for the month of July 2021, the Amarillo unemployment rate for the Panhandle is at 4.2%, which is .5% lower than June’s 4.7% unemployment rate.  (Kevin Carter, president and CEO of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.)

Texas A&M Central Texas and the Fort Hood Regional Economic Development Corporation are establishing a University Research Park and Innovation District, and recently discussed presented to 85 industry and community leaders how a 1.2-million-dollar federal grant will help start the research park.

The Austin Economic Development Corp. launched a search for a full-time president and CEO to take the helm of the organization. The AEDC was created last year to further a wide range of city efforts, such as supporting the cultural arts scene, assisting in community development projects and promoting economic development. Veronica Briseño, the city's chief economic recovery officer, has served as AEDC interim president.

The Board of Directors of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation announced the selection of a new president to lead the organization. Jonas Titas will step into the role of President of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation. Titas, formally Executive Director of Copperas Cove EDC, began working at VEDC on Aug. 16.

Few details have been shared so far of Samsung's interest in the suburb of Taylor for its $17 billion factory. But new public documents outline a potential reinvestment zone, which may connect the dots between the tech giant and a nearly 1,200-acre site in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The Taylor site has nearly twice as many acres as what Samsung owns in North Austin, where the company has had manufacturing operations for 25 years.

United States

Alejandra Castillo, the new administrator of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, says communities should expect to see ramped-up engagement and outreach from the agency as it works to manage billions of dollars in grant funding Congress made available under pandemic relief legislation.

Virginia

Douglas Parsons, currently the head of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority, will take over the top economic development position in Fauquier County next month. The director position has been vacant since August 2020, when the then-economic development director Miles Friedman stepped down after seven years in the role. The longtime business coordinator for the department, Beverly Cooper (formally Beverly Pullen), has filled the director role on an interim basis since Friedman’s departure.

Chesapeake’s Greenbrier neighborhood has scored another economic development win. Prism Maritime, which is based in Chesapeake, plans to spend $4 million to build two 12,000-square-foot facilities, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday. The expansion project will create 166 jobs. As part of economic development incentives, Prism will be able to use the Virginia Jobs Investment Program to help with recruiting and training.

Virginia launched the Supply Chain Optimization program designed to help businesses improve their global competitiveness and international trade, Gov. Ralph Northam announced. The program will provide companies with training resources, strategy development and counseling to help improve global competitiveness and streamlining their supply chain management. The program focuses on companies that import critical elements of the supply chain. (Monica Sadie, Supply Chain Program Manager)

Washington

New Growth Innovation Network has selected North Central Washington Economic Development District to receive technical assistance. The NGIN is a grant initiative by the federal Economic Development Administration to focus on inclusive economic development. “The technical assistance is going to be broken down into two different areas,” said Alyce Brown, executive director. “The first one is analytical and will be looking at the economic impact of the coronavirus.”

West Virginia

Wood County Development would like American Recovery Act funds to make potential sites ready for development in the county. Executive Director Lindsey Piersol appeared before the Wood County Commission to discuss the challenges they have in bringing development to the area and how the recovery act money might help move forward on potential projects.

Wisconsin

Economic Development Coordinator Christina Dollhausen says the key to continued growth in Vernon County is to turn visitors into community members.

The Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp. is sponsoring a series of events in September to celebrate and recognize the impact that the Chippewa Valley’s robust arts scene has on business development in the region. The Economy of Art Weeks runs Sept. 11-18


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