EDA Grant Programs Fund Construction, Revolving Loan Funds, and Revitalization Strategies

Public entities including state and local governments and port authorities, and non-for-profit entities including Community Improvement Corporations and Economic Development Corporations have an opportunity to apply to the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program.  The deadline to apply electronically for these programs is June 12, 2015 to receive funding in 2015.

The EDA invests its dollars in the following investment priorities: Collaborative Regional Innovation; Public/Private Partnerships; National Strategic Priorities; Global Competitiveness; Environmentally-Sustainable Development, and; Economically Distressed and Underserved Communities.

The Public Works program is designed to provide investments in infrastructure and facilities that will have a transformative impact on a community and have regional reach and collaboration.  The average Public Works program investment has been $1.4 million but awards range from $200,000 to $3,000,000.  The EDA invests in: sewer and water improvements; industrial parks; high-tech shipping and logistics facilities; workforce training facilities; business incubators and accelerators; brownfield development; technology based facilities; wet labs; multi-tenant manufacturing facilities; science and research parks, and; telecommunications infrastructure and development facilities.  Projects that submit an application for funding must be tied to a regional economic development strategic plan and be able to identify the job creation and retention tied to the project.

The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program provides funding for infrastructure, design and engineering, technical assistance, economic recovery strategies, and capitalization or recapitalization of Revolving Loan Funds.  The program is tied closely to communities that are experiencing a sudden loss of economic activity due to job losses or a community that can see a loss on the horizon.  An example of a funded project is a community that has recently lost a large manufacturer and is devising a revitalization strategy to move forward from that plant closing and promote the creation and retention of jobs in the community.   The average Public Economic Adjustment Assistance program investment has been $820,000 but awards range from $100,000 to $1,250,000.

To qualify for the programs the applicant needs to provide outside verification that the project is in a region that meets the EDA’s economic distress criteria that is determined by demographic data including unemployment rate and per capita income and special needs criteria such as the amount of plant closings, threat of closure, military base alignment and closure, natural disasters, changing trade patterns, depletion of natural resources, or designation as a Promise Zone.

Funding provided by EDA generally must not exceed 50% of the total cost of the project.  Projects that request no more than 30% of the project cost may receive special consideration.  Additionally a “maximum investment rate” is applied over and above the project cost as determined by a number of demographic and economic factors.

Projects seeking funding for construction must complete the Federal application and provide a preliminary engineering report along with a narrative about the environmental conditions of the property and environmental reports if they have been completed.

Projects that have strong support from the region, have a collaboration amongst various institutions in a community, including higher education institutions, are likely to viewed favorably by EDA. Discussions with EDA regional staff are strongly encouraged before submitting an application.

$16M Available for Higher Ed & Technical Ed Through OhioMeansJobs Program

Institutions of higher education (public and private) and career technical centers, joint vocational school districts, comprehensive career technical centers or comparable career technical centers offering adult training are all eligible for $16M in funding from the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Revolving Loan Program. The Ohio Board of Regents released a Request for Proposal (RFP) on May 14, 2015 and the RFP is due on June 22, 2015.

The OhioMeansJobs Workforce Revolving Loan Program will award funds through a competitive process to Ohio educational institutions who can then award these funds and loans to students in high-demand occupations. The participating institution will not be liable for the repayment of the loan made to the enrolled student but they must illustrate the training program proposed exists prior to the funding request.  Institutions are strongly encouraged to identify an industry partner consisting of one or more companies operating in Ohio that may benefit from the workforce training program.

Key requirements for the successful grant requests include:

  1. Need- describe an existing workforce development program or a proposed new program that addresses emerging job training needs in the region through Ohio job data
  2. Demonstrated program approval- workforce training programs (existing and new) approved by the Chancellor prior to the release of funds in accordance with the procedures described in Part II (C) must submit the appropriate documentation
  3. Program Assessment Plan- Provide an assessment plan for the program that address the elements outlined in Article X, Section D – Required Reporting
  4. Loan Eligibility Requirements- include loan eligibility requirements that will be applied to each borrower/student in the workforce-training program as well as proposed strategies for counseling borrowers/students about loan repayment expectations and timelines
  5. Education–Business Funding Partnerships- demonstrate strong public-private partnerships
  6. Outreach and Marketing- identify targeted program borrower (enrolled students) and describe outreach and marketing efforts to engage students and leverage OhioMeansJobs
  7. Ohio Residents- documentation that will demonstrate all potential recipients are an Ohio resident

A range of possible loan awards includes an institution may receive up to $100,000 per workforce training program per year with a maximum number of programs awarded to any institution is five and a loan awarded by an institution to a program borrower shall not exceed $10,000 per program in which the borrower participates. Eligible expenses and project term awards under the Loan Program are to be expended for loans to eligible borrowers who are enrolled in an approved workforce training programs. Consideration will be given to the entire proposed budget for the workforce training program, including other sources of funds used to administer the program or repay the loans on behalf of eligible borrowers. It is anticipated that the time period to award loans to eligible borrowers for the approved workforce program funded through this RFP will be a 12-month time frame, with a final program and expense report due from the institution 90 days after the end of the expenditure period.

The Montrose Group, LLC negotiated over $1B in local, state and federal government public private partnerships and brings a special expertise in comprehensive grant writing services.  Please contact Dave Robinson at drobinson@montrosegroupllc.com or 6147382109 if you need assistance with this grant or other grant writing services.

Register for Exporting to China Seminar in Youngstown

YSU Logo OHIO-SBDC Logo

Thursday May 28, 2015

9:00am- 11:00am

Cost $25, includes continental breakfast

Williamson College of Business Administration Room #3418

Parking is available in lot F25

This seminar will showcase the emerging trading opportunities in China. With the right exporting counseling and advice, businesses can start successful exporting and importing relationships with China. The Montrose Group, LLC and Transom Shield Group are excited to bring their knowledge and experience to Youngstown.

The Montrose Group, LLC and Transom Shields Group offers decades of economic development and China import-export experience. Specializing in business development for client export and government procurement, the group has worked at the local, state, and federal government levels with a variety of industries including banking, information technology, engineering, and many more.

This seminar will cover topics including: Business Culture & Practices, Macro & Segment Market Analysis, Competitor Landscape, Supply Chain Modeling, Product Localization Strategies, Comprehensive Go- to – Market Proposals, and many more international trade topics.

Expert Speakers Include:

  • David Robinson is the principal and Founder of the Montrose Group, LLC. With over a decade of experience in managing relations in the government, he helps consult businesses with economic development, consulting, infrastructure financing and public affairs. He has gained over $100M in public and private sector funding and deals for clients.
  • Joe Dorrian is co-founder of Transom Shields Group, LLC, and worked for three years directing supply chain and commercial distribution in China. Mr. Dorrian helps assist clients with working with China based manufactured products in a range of industries.

Click here to register.

For more information or any questions please contact Mousa Kassis, International Trade Advisor at (330) 941-2145 or Mhkassis@ysu.edu.

Over $300M Available at JobsOhio to Fund State Economic Development in 2015

Ohio, at the direction of Governor John Kasich, created a private sector led economic development organization known as JobsOhio to promote the Buckeye state as a leading location to retain and create jobs. State legislation was passed to create JobsOhio and an agreement was struck with the Ohio Department of Commerce to sell JobsOhio the state’s liquor business. The deal with the Commerce Department created a $100M plus revenue stream for JobsOhio and JobsOhio has a balance of well over $300M for economic development projects.

The success of JobsOhio cannot be questioned. Employment in Ohio’s private sector increased by over 285,000 jobs from January 2011- December, 2014—matching the timeframe for the launch of JobsOhio. Ohio’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 14.7% from 2011-2013 while the surrounding regional states grew at 6.9% and nationwide at 8.8%. Ohio is growing faster than the Midwest and the nation as a whole. In 2014, JobsOhio reported assisting 276 companies retaining over 50,000 jobs and creating over 20,000 jobs with a total of $6.1B in capital investment in Ohio. The data in 2014 represents an improving economy with 20% growth in job creation and 70% growth in capital investment. JobsOhio’s efforts focus on advanced manufacturing, IT, food processing, auto and energy. Large and small companies are a focus as well—middle market companies comprised more than 2/3 of the new job creation and capital investment for Ohio.

To accomplish this success, JobsOhio has built an array of their own tax incentives for Brownfield/urban redevelopment, loans and workforce grants all geared to retain and attract jobs. While local governments and the Ohio Development Services Agency still play a large role in the state’s economic development, JobsOhio is the acknowledged leader for the state when it comes to jobs retention and attraction. JobsOhio’s newly created JobsOhio Revitalization Program is focused on redeveloping contaminated and urban projects through a loan program for job creating projects on these challenging sites. In 2014, JobsOhio devoted $31M to 31 projects for the Revitalization Program.

2015 will prove to be an exciting year as JobsOhio continues its strong focus on retention and expansion projects but acknowledges the need to address the substantial talent gap all regions and states face as the Baby Boomer generation retires. In fact, 97.3% of corporate site location consultants surveyed listed the availability of skilled labor and labor costs as either very important or important making these two categories tie for the #2 spot. The availability of skilled labor holds the top spot, however, in the separate “very important” category — more than 90 percent of the consultants rated it as such. The Lumina Foundation reports Ohio will need 900,000 additional adults with college certificates or degrees by 2025 to meet the projected workforce demand. Georgetown University’s Center for Economic Research reports 64% of Ohio jobs in 2020 will require post-secondary education but only 37% of working age Ohioans currently have college credentials and will only reach a 44% rate by 2020. To address this substantial “Talent Gap,” JobsOhio is creating a customized workforce training initiative that will fund private sector led training efforts tied to job growth. 2015 will also continue an economic focus on shale and Big Data as prime economic drivers to compliment Ohio’s traditional focus on manufacturing, automotive and aerospace.

Ohio Transportation Budget Impacts Ohio Economic Development

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) can be a major partner for economic development. Highway transportation infrastructure could be the most important role the state and federal government provides for regional and state economic development. In fact, the most recent annual survey of corporate executives and corporate site location consultants by Area Development magazine identified highway accessibility at the #1 issue of importance to companies considering an economic expansion. American’s interstate highway system and state highway system built up starting the 1950’s is a prime driver of economic development as goods and services need a transportation system with which to travels.

ODOT’s Office of Jobs & Commerce is on point for meeting infrastructure needs on regional economic development projects. ODOT’s Jobs & Commerce group provides planning and executing infrastructure projects, including technical and financial support, routing analysis and transportation planning to help businesses compete by quickly reaching both domestic and international markets, site analysis to determine the cost and best delivery mechanisms for infrastructure construction, and facilitates multi-partner strategy sessions to solve transportation issues and promote economic growth for the state and region.

Recently, the Ohio General Assembly passed the nearly $6B Transportation Department budget to address the state’s highway, roads and bridge needs for the next two years. As with past Transportation budgets, this legislation contained a lot more than funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Changes were made to the state Transportation Improvement District (TID) program. A TID is a local government tool used by county governments to finance transportation projects. In connection with a transportation project, a TID may issue bonds, levy assessments, impose a motor vehicle license tax by a vote of the electors, and establish toll roads. The state’s most recent Transportation Budget requires $3.5M in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 from a specified highway construction line item to be made available for distribution by ODOT to TIDs that have facilitated funding for the cost of a project or projects in conjunction with and through other governmental agencies. A TID must submit requests for project funding to ODOT not later than September 1 in each fiscal year and awards must be made within 90 days.

The bill prohibits any funding provided to a TID to be used for the purposes of administrative costs or administrative staffing and requires the funding to be used to fund a specific project or projects within that TID’s area. The total amount of funding provided for each project is limited to 25% of total project costs not to exceed $250,000 per fiscal year. TIDs that are co-sponsoring a specific project may individually apply for up to $250,000 for that project, but not more than 25% of a project’s total costs per biennium may be funded through moneys provided under the bill. Funding provided under the bill may be used for preliminary engineering, detailed design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction of the specific project and such other project costs that are defined under the law governing TIDs and approved by the Director.

Governor’s Budget Addresses Challenge of Abandoned Gas Stations

Governor Kasich’s operating budget which passed the Ohio House in April, 2015 and it has a number of provisions impacting economic development. Among these provisions impacting economic development include the creation of a new Abandoned Gas Station program within the Ohio Development Services Agency. Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman not only served in both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate but also as Director of the Department of Commerce. As Commerce Department Director, Goodman saw the value of the Bureau of Underground Storage Tanks (BUSTR) Program.

Connected to the Development Services Agency mission to address redevelopment challenges throughout Ohio, Governor Kasich’s operating budget proposals creates the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant Program to provide $20.0M in grants to cover cleanup and remediation costs of underground storage tanks (USTs) at these vacant locations across the state. The abandoned gas stations must be classified as Class C release sites, where the responsible person for the release is determined to not be a viable person capable of undertaking or completing the required corrective actions. Grants under this new program may only be awarded to local governments in remediating these sites, in amounts up to $500,000 for a property assessment, and up to $2.0M for actual cleanup and remediation. The proposed funding is in the form of a capital appropriation of $20.0M from a transfer from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund. The Development Service Agency estimates that 600 abandoned gas stations may qualify with 180 in Appalachia alone.

This new program is being considered by the Ohio House Finance Committee. The “good government group” Greater Ohio suggested a number of amendments to the House related to the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant Program, including:

  1. Expanding the definition of property owner to include organizations that have entered into an agreement with a political subdivision such as county land banks, community development corporations, and other nonprofits, and some private sector developers who often own abandoned gas stations;
  2. Clarifying the definition of cleanup or remediation to include the acquisition of a class C release site, demolition performed at a site, and the installation or upgrade of the minimum amount of infrastructure that is necessary to make a site operational after other clean up; and
  3. Adjusting the grant amounts for property assessment from $500,000 to $100,000 and cleanup from $2,000,000 to $500,000 as the average assessment costs for small sites like a service station usually range from $50,000 to $125,000 and cleanup and remediation of these sites often can be accomplished with $250,000 to $600,000.

Legislative debate over the Ohio Development Services Agency Abandoned Gas Station Clean Up Grant Program moved to the Ohio Senate with final passage of the state operating budget expected by the start of the new state government fiscal year on July 1, 2015.