Thursday, October 30, 2008

Project Lead the Way opens Engineering and Biotech Programs to High School Students

The Owensboro Community and Technical College announced a new partnership this week with the University of Kentucky and area high schools that will create a pathway for high school students to be exposed to college-level engineering and biotechnology curricula.

Project Lead the Way is a well respected program with a national reputation that aligns the OCTC Discover College programs for high school students with 4-year engineering and biotech curricula at institutions such as UK, UL, and WKU among others. The program will create a career path for students beginning the junior year for a high level engineering and biotech courses with dual credit. OCTC is one of three community colleges in Kentucky to recieve funding for the intiative.
"Project Lead the Way is so critical for the future workforce of this region," said EDC President Nick Brake. "Not only will graduates have opportunities in the existing businesses in the region, they will also have opportunities to be the innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs such as those in biotechnology that are currently working with Kentucky BioProcessing in our Life Science Partnership."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hancock County Lands New Alluminum Technology Startup

Rick Lazarou, chairman and chief executive officer of Lazar Anode Technologies LLC, says his Lazar Continuous Carbon Baking Furnace technology will revolutionize the alluminum industry.

The company, registered in Switzerland and currently based in Owensboro, broke ground yesterday for a 45,000-square-foot furnace near Hawesville.

"This is the culmination of many years of working with this company," said Jim Fallin, the executive director of the Hancock County Industrial Foundation. "They could have located in many parts of the world, but chose this region because of the alluminum and the business environment."

Lazarou compares the company's process to a pizza oven. "The best analogy is to a pizza-making machine," Lazarou said. "You put pizza into a long oven, and the pizzas all come out looking and tasting the same time after time. It's much faster and more efficient with the same temperature throughout."

The process now used by aluminum companies, Lazarou said, "heats it in a large pit, cools it down and takes it out. The pit is as big as a football field. It takes a lot of energy to heat, and it wastes a lot of energy." His process, Lazarou said, uses no natural gas and is more efficient. "Our temperature is a constant 2,100 degrees," he said. "With a pit, temperatures vary from the top to the bottom." Wastes, Lazarou said, "aren't expelled into the environment, they're injected into the furnace, which is like an incinerator. We destroy any carcinogens in the process. And we make a higher quality product." His patented process, he said, "is better for the environment and an extremely cost-efficient way of creating aluminum."
"We're hoping this will act as a catalyst for other green-friendly industries to locate in the area," said Madison Silvert, vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. "This is a good example of high technology and green technology working together." The Owensboro area, he said, is strategically located because of all the aluminum companies in the area.
Lazarou, a native of Melbourne, Australia, worked for Rio Tinto, one of the largest international mining groups, before forming his own company in 2006. "I traveled a lot with them," he said. "That experience enabled me to put this together." Century Aluminum is an equity partner in the company, with a financial stake in its future, he said. That's why Lazar Anode Technologies is in Owensboro and Hawesville now.
The company, Lazarou said, has both financial and technology partners in the United States, Southeast Asia and Germany. "We will have a lot of visitors from other countries coming to Owensboro and Hawesville in the next few months," he said. The company has four employees today but expects to grow as the project develops, Lazarou said. He said he expects to have 15 employees by February.

Lazar Anode Technologies is already talking about diversifying into the petrochemical industry, he said.

The company has been approved for state incentives through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority and local incentives through the Hancock County Fiscal Court. They have also applied for funding through the state innovation and commercialization program as a client of the Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation in Owensboro.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

EDC and Murray State Partner to Create Owensboro Trade Office

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (GO-EDC) and Murray State University will announce an agreement to promote international trade among new and existing businesses in Greater Owensboro.

The announcement will take place at a news conference Wednesday at 10 am in the Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation and MSU Small Business Development Center located on the third floor of the Commerce Center.

The agreement between the EDC and Murray State University will create the Owensboro International Trade Office. The mission of the Owensboro International Trade Office will be to facilitate international business and stimulate economic development and investment in the Greater Owensboro region. The Owensboro International Trade Office will offer a one-stop-shop for information, education, technical assistance, and networking services that help regional firms succeed in the global market and bring new global business opportunities to the Greater Owensboro region.

Services will include market research and investment climate profiles, cultural orientation, consultation with international business planning, risk analysis, and orientation to international trade issues.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shared Investment Policy to Promote Regional Development

The EDC was asked by local government officials to provide an initial policy framework for local incentives or shared investments. The following is a brief summary. Click here to see the entire policy document.

The overriding objective of the local government shared investment policy is to foster the public benefits of economic development and placemaking that will enhance the overall quality of life of the region. Furthermore, in acting as an agent of the public interest to promote growth and economic development in the City of Owensboro and Daviess County, the local governments take it in their authority to offer inducements to projects and firms that promote the following economic development and sustainable growth objectives:
  • Create jobs, increase investment, enhance property values and tax base which increase the overall economic development of the region;

  • Promote development of venues and placemaking that makes the region attractive;

  • Leverage sustainable growth or redevelopment according to principles of sustainable development;

  • Stem retail leakage, which is a major competitive reality in the Owensboro market area.

  • Improve regional competitiveness;

  • Promote redevelopment and downtown development rather than unplanned suburban development (“urban sprawl”) that is not tied to placemaking.

The shared investment policy is designed to be flexible with the ability to negotiate each deal differently rather than according to a prescriptive program. Rather than a prescriptive approach, policy standards will guide the development of all shared investment agreements including an evaluation of the overall fiscal impact of the development, based on pro forma data submitted through an application process. A scoring mechanism will be used to determine the term and percentage of public investment. All inducements will use a “but for” provision indicating that the project would not take place without the inducement. All shared investments will be performance-based using a reimbursement rather than cash up front. The following types of shared investment inducements will be outlined:

Firm-Based Inducements-To protect, strengthen and expand the region’s economic base, the local governments rely upon the creation and/or retention of high quality, permanent fulltime “primary” jobs for its residents. As such, developments that have the greatest potential in producing these types of jobs shall be given priority when evaluating multiple funding requests.

Project-Based Inducements-While this proposal does not propose to offer inducements directly to retailers, there may be cases where projects that include a retail component should be considered. In particular, mixed-use projects that are "New Urbanist" in character may qualify. Known by a variety of names, the defining characteristics of new urbanist projects appear to be walkable neighborhoods, a mix of land uses that integrate housing, shops, civic facilities, and work places, and preservation and respect for the natural environment in the form of maintaining greenspace.

Current Option—City of Owensboro Annexation Ordinance -- Public infrastructure only, maximum five-year term with incentive parameters that are under the existing ordinance, the disadvantage of this plan is that it only incentivizes suburban development and, possibly, urban sprawl.

New Option 1— Project Redevelopment Financing (PRF)-- Redevelopment of the urban core/ urban central area, including downtown and adjacent downtown areas, the use of public funds are limited to infrastructure or public benefits. The development must conform to the Owensboro Urban Design Principles (see attachment A) and adopt a form-based code.

New Option 2—Project Development Financing (PDF)--Developments in the urban belt and urban growth areas according to the Comprehensive Plan; must conform to the Owensboro Urban Design Guidelines (see attachment A) and adopt a form-based code.

New Option 3—Project Based Financing Districts-- Local governments can opt to spur development in an area of land (district) targeted and identified for redevelopment or new development. Projects that develop within the district may be eligible to use the same guidelines for a PDF or a state blight area TIF (if eligible) as a source of financing. The local government would identify the district and term for which projects could qualify for local incentives.

The proposal also contains current inducements and incentives utilized for entrepreneurs and business startup and inducements specific to downtown redevelopment, many of which will be forthcoming with the downtown master plan being presented to the local governments in November 2008.

Project Evaluation Criteria- The primary consideration when evaluating whether or not to offer a given firm or project a package for relocation/expansion should be the potential economic and fiscal impact on Owensboro. At the same time, the “goodness of fit” of the firm or project with Owensboro should be reviewed, along with consideration of the potential impact on infrastructure and the environment. A scoring mechanism will be utilized by an Inducement Review Committee consisting of professional staff in economic development, planning and zoning, and the local governments. The committee, using the scoring mechanism, will rigorously evaluate the project pro forma based on the following criteria: 1) Overall Economic Impact, 2) Labor Force, 3) Linkage to the Regional Economy, 4) Cultural and Quality of Life, and 5) Environmental Track Record.

Friday, October 10, 2008

St. Louis Fed President to Headline Regional Summit

Business and government leaders from Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky will convene in Evansville Nov. 20-21, 2008, to study the new economic model of growth. The 2008 Regional Economic Summit will feature nationally-recognized business experts and economists who will discuss the current economic climate and realities facing a 26-county region and our nation, as well as outline the steps necessary for prosperity, wealth creation and economic vitality in the 21st Century. President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank James Bullard will serve as the keynote speaker. Bullard will discuss his view of the current economic environment. "We're incredibly fortunate to have a featured speaker of Mr. Bullard's caliber," said Old National President & CEO Bob Jones, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Board of Directors. "His knowledge and perspective pertaining to today's economy will be extremely beneficial as our region moves forward in working to realize sustainability and growth."

"Dr. Bullard joins an accomplished roster of presenters including Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, as well as experts on the economy, entrepreneurship, work force engagement and numerous other topics of critical interest to business and civic leaders," said President of Regency Properties and Chairperson Jim McKinney. "This timely event will be a guiding light to our region in its efforts toward enhanced economic growth and prosperity for its citizens."

Attendees will have the opportunity during the two-day summit to participate in general and break-out sessions dealing with entrepreneurialism, regional collaboration, building stronger economic development strategies and alignment with the emerging world economy. The final summit agenda is being developed in cooperation with regional advisory councils from each state. One breakout session will involve Kentucky BioProcessing Chairman and CEO Hugh Haydon and Dr. Cheryl King, President of Kentucky Wesleyan College.

Founding sponsors for the 2008 Regional Economic Summit are Old National Bank and Regency Properties. Lead sponsors of the event are the Richland County Development Corporation (Ill.), Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (Ky.), Northwest Kentucky Forward, Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana and the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana.

For registration information about the 2008 Regional Economic Summit log onto or call 812-463-6102.