Getting Around “Lending of Credit”

November 12, 2010

Every economic development blog in the state of Washington has, at some point, railed against the “lending of credit” provision in the state’s constitution. Which is actually a pretty good pun, considering the lending of credit provision was put in as a backlash against “greedy” railroad barons. Zinger! Anyway, you know what I’m talking about: the prohibition against direct investment of public funds into private enterprises. Which is a big deal around the country in economic development, where cities and states will throw money at a company to get it to move there. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it’s money that they don’t quite have.

A lot of folks in the state talk about making a run at a constitutional amendment, but I’ve never seen anyone actually make a go of it. Not that there’s a lot of money in the state government to lend to private companies anyway. But there are actually some interesting approaches that get around that prohibition going on these days. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly B-MOW: Improving EDA’s Investment Approval Process

November 5, 2010

“Government should operate more like a business!”, they say. Maybe yes, maybe no. But one business-like area that it is always exciting to hear government talking about is customer service.  Whether you’re at the Department of Motor Vehicles (trying to get a driver’s license) or the Small Business Administration (trying to get a low-interest loan), you want a quick, clear response from a friendly, professional staff person. For those of us in the economic development world, the thing we want from the government is often grants, and so it’s pretty cool when a federal agency revises their funding process to be more responsive and faster. Which is why this week’s Best Meeting of the Week is “The Improving EDA’s Investment Approval Process Webinar.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, What’s Up With the Stimulus These Days?

June 7, 2010

Glad you asked. It’s been a while since we posted our last “Where are the Recovery Act Dollars” update, and I’m pleased to say that ARRA investments in our four-county region’s leading industry clusters (i.e. – direct funding of projects in clean tech and life sciences, excluding things like transportation and public safety) has topped $1.1 billion. Check out the entire list here.

The big question, as I’ve been saying for a long time, is not how much money did we get, but where did it go? Read the rest of this entry »

Insightful Commentary: “This Is a Good Article”

May 10, 2010

I know many of you have come to see the Prosperity Blog as a unique source of insight and analysis on our region’s economic development activities. So, it will disappoint you to no end that I don’t have a lot to say about this article except that it’s a really good summary of one of the main issues for the energy efficiency market: that the demand for energy efficiency upgrades is hampered by the bad economy and the large upfront costs. The one additional piece of thought (“piece of thought?”) I’ll offer is this: I’m really glad that they discussed the supply side opportunity, because I don’t think a lot of folks do. Read the rest of this entry »

The Recovery Act as Baby Boom

March 3, 2010

Good public policy is all about planning ahead. It’s like that old Wayne Gretsky quote about being where the puck is going to be (and no, I’m not talking hockey because I’m on the post-Olympics NHL bandwagon…although, go Flyers!). One of the biggest public policy challenges that our country is facing is what do we do about all these baby boomers, who are going to increasingly put a strain on things like Social Security & Medicare, on our healthcare system and on our workforce needs. (Nothing personal, boomers.)

On the economic development side of things, I think that there is going to be a similar challenge/opportunity with Recovery Act investments in R&D. Read the rest of this entry »

“Where Are the Recovery Act Dollars” Update, Part 6

February 17, 2010

It’s that time again! As is our monthly ritual, a quick update on major awards and opportunities with regard to the Recovery Act: Read the rest of this entry »

E-RIC Is Everything We’ve Ever Dreamed Of

February 16, 2010

Sure, this blog has in the past been used for some shameless self-promotion. But don’t let the title of this blog post fool you; it’s not me that I’m excited about, it’s the new support of an “Energy Regional Innovation Cluster” that the Obama Administration just announced as part of its $130 million Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative:

Anchored around a DOE-funded Energy Innovation Hub that will focus on developing systems-based approaches to designing, building, and operating commercial and residential buildings, the E-RIC will integrate this Hub into a broader regional economic development initiative by linking the Hub with complementary federal and non-federal investments in business development and support, public infrastructure, workforce development, and education.

Sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry »

“Where are the Recovery Act Dollars” Update, Part 5

January 20, 2010

As is our monthly ritual, a quick update on major awards and opportunities with regard to the Recovery Act: Read the rest of this entry »

Manufacturing in the Central Puget Sound

January 12, 2010

Last week, the Obama Administration announced another big expenditure from the Recovery Act – $2.3 billion in clean technology manufacturing tax credits to not only create jobs but actually spur investment in mass producing clean tech products. How much of that manufacturing will be done here? $0.00.

In fact, the only Washington company that got any money was our good friends at Ramgen, but it was to produce their exciting new carbon capture technology in upstate New York. When you see that, it recalls the conventional wisdom you always hear about our business climate being bad for manufacturing. But is that true? Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Lightbulb Change-out of 2009, Part 2

January 4, 2010

As promised, I’ve been doing some research on how local jurisdictions are using their Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant dollars. We’ve collected info from 30 of the 41 jurisdictions so far, and the results are very interesting. A wide variety of projects, with about two-thirds of the money going to 1) lighting, HVAC and window upgrades to municipal buildings, public facilities and streetlights; 2) loan, grants & loan loss reserves for residential & commercial retrofits; 3) energy audits to help identify the work for #2; and 4) weatherization of low-income housing.

Check out the list of projects here and the breakdown by category here.

The Great Lightbulb Change-out of 2009?

December 28, 2009

When the Recovery Act first passed and local jurisdictions were reacting to the opportunities of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, one of my colleagues expressed concern that all of these dollars would only result in “The Great Lightbulb Change-out of 2009.” That is, despite the investment of what ended up being $33.5 million to 37 cities and 4 county governments in our region, we wouldn’t see any game-changing impacts or long-term market shifts. So did that happen, or was the money used in innovative ways? Read the rest of this entry »

“Where are the Recovery Act Dollars” Update, Part 4

December 21, 2009

As is our monthly ritual, a quick update on major awards and opportunities with regard to the Recovery Act:

1) Not too many changes, award-wise. We’re up to $897,869,521.56 from more than 560 projects directly related to our region’s industry clusters, although $350 million of that is an 8-year award to a company based here but doing work in Texas.

2) The Recovery Act bus tour a few weeks ago was a huge success. You can find a number of the presentations and the agenda here under “December 11, 2009 – Recovery Act Industry Cluster Tour.”

3) Finally, I’ve laid out an up-to-date list of relevant current Recovery Act funding opportunities (with links to each!). Check them out, and see if you’d like to apply!

Mystery Solved

December 10, 2009

Yesterday, I wondered aloud about why a Texas energy project funded by the Department of Energy through the Recovery Act was listed as being based in Bainbridge Island, WA. As loyal commenter “Frank” pointed out, it’s because they are indeed based in Bainbridge Island, WA, right there on good ol’ Winslow Way. Of course, the Seattle Times had already picked that up, but what am I supposed to do…read the news?

Anyway, it’s $350 million over 8 years, which is a lot of Bainbridge Island ferry passes, if you know what I mean. But again, what it does is add another notch to the central Puget Sound’s belt of carbon capture leadership. We should get all the related local folks together and see what sparks.

Weirdest Typo Ever?

December 9, 2009

So, as your humble Recovery Act analyst, I scour the departmental websites for updates on funding announcements and new grant opportunities. And I’m always overjoyed to see one of our region’s jurisdictions mentioned as an awardee…until now. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Throw Away That Project List!

December 7, 2009

As conversations continue to advance about a “jobs bill” (not to be confused with a “second stimulus” in any way), there are a lot of ideas floating around out there about what should be funded and how. But probably the biggest criteria is when, as in “as soon as possible;” the long timeline of Recovery Act fund distribution is not going to be tolerated for this go around. But, let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater! Read the rest of this entry »