H&A releases February 2013 Legislative Update

feb 2013 picToday, H&A released their quarterly legislative update, a comprehensive review of new federal and state laws and regulations regarding public incentives and economic development. For a copy of the H&A Legislative Update – February 2013 Edition, please click on the following link: H&A Legislative Update – February 2013 Edition.

H&A also hosted a live, complimentary webinar covering the details of the H&A Legislative Update – February 2013 Edition on February 7, 2013. To view the free webinar, please view the video below or visit the following link: H&A Legislative Update – February 2013 Edition Webinar.

H&A Principal set to headline TeamCalifornia’s Annual Meet the Consultants Forum

H&A Principal Mark Beattie is set to be a headline speaker at TeamCalifornia’s upcoming Meet the Consultants Forum on February 20th and 21st. Bringing together leaders from across the country, the annual event presents an opportunity to hear from the nation’s top Site Selectors – an important dialogue to better understand what it takes to generate new jobs and projects in California.

Beattie, nationally recognized as a top Site Selector, will be providing forum attendees with critical anecdotes about the current environment facing economic development and public incentives. Beattie will also address how the industry has developed during his thirty five years of experience in the corporate sector managing real estate and facilities.

“With nearly four decades of experience in real estate and site selection, I’m very much looking forward to the dynamic dialogue at the Forum. I hope that I can help other economic development leaders see the full potential in California, but I’m also excited to hear from attendees on what they’re witnessing in their communities,” Beattie said about the upcoming event.

For more details and registration information, please visit TeamCalifornia’s Meet the Consultants Forum website.

TeamCalifornia’s Meet the Consultants Forum

    Start – Feb 20th, 2013, 5:30 PM
    End – Feb 21st, 2013, 3:00 PM
    Monterey Bay, California

H&A President Jason Hickey spotlighted in article on Michigan labor laws

A Watershed Moment
A right-to-work law puts Michigan on the short list
for more projects, site selectors say.

Ford Motor Co. opened a new era at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant on Sept. 10 by announcing that it will add 1,200 hourly jobs there. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

The ink from Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature on House Bill 4003 and Senate Bill 116 was barely dry when reaction started pouring in to the legislation that will make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state on April 1, 2013.

Nationally prominent site selection consultants who advise Fortune 500 companies on where to locate their largest operations call the governor’s Dec. 11 action a decisive moment for Michigan.

“We believe there will be an enormous impact, especially for medium-tier companies who are poised to grow,” says Jason Hickey, principal of Hickey & Associates in Washington, D.C. “Regionally, greater competition with Ohio will be inevitable.”

Tracey Hyatt Bosman of BLS & Company in Chicago calls Michigan’s sudden change “a dramatic demonstration of the state’s commitment to the transformation of their business environment. It also will shine a big spotlight on all of the other work they have been doing, including overhauling their corporate tax structure, simplifying regulatory processes and bringing innovative approaches to economic development.”

Bosman echoes other site consultants when she adds, “Some companies simply insist on locating in a right-to-work state. Michigan’s new legislation removes a roadblock and will bring the state’s extremely skilled work force into consideration for more projects.”

Snyder himself noted, in signing the legislation, that the change was needed to improve Michigan’s business climate. “We must make Michigan more inviting to job providers so our families can enjoy more and better jobs,” the governor said on Dec. 11. “Introducing freedom-to-work in Michigan will contribute to our state’s economic comeback while preserving the roles of unions and collective bargaining … We will be a stronger, more vibrant state because of freedom-to-work, our improved tax structure, the balanced budget and other reforms that have put Michigan on the path to prosperity.”

United Auto Workers, the state’s largest industrial union, immediately put out a press release threatening countermeasures in upcoming elections and legislative sessions and signaled that the union would work to unseat Snyder in 2014.

Still, it was hard to find anyone in the site selection profession who saw a downside to Michigan’s swift reversal of decades of labor law.

“Where it will have an effect is when there are companies who are looking for locations, Michigan will no longer be eliminated because they are not a right-to-work state,” says Brent Pollina of Pollina Corporate Real Estate in Chicago. “As a result, there should be a significant increase in the number of projects that Michigan receives because they are no longer being eliminated at the early stages of searches.”

The change also sends a strong signal to business and industry, adds Pollina. “Michigan has had a bad reputation for business for a long time, and in the last year or so they have reformed their corporate taxes and passed right-to-work. This gives the appearance of a state that knows what their problems are and is actively trying to turn things around,” he says. “If they can capitalize on the press they have received, this could be a great marketing opportunity for the state to attract business.”

‘We Aren’t Done Yet’

The business climate reforms enacted by Snyder over the past two years have been credited with making Michigan more attractive to growing industrial firms.

One executive who’s noticed these changes is David Cataldi, president of Janesville Acoustics in Southfield. One of the world’s largest producers of acoustical and thermal fiber insulation and a major automotive supplier, Janesville Acoustics recently announced a $10-million investment to open a new 250,000-sq.-ft. (23,225-sq.-m.) manufacturing plant in Battle Creek for the making of felt parts for cars and trucks. The plant will create 225 jobs.

“We needed to be closer to our customers to have the pulse of the industry,” says Cataldi. “We are familiar with Michigan. When we started the site selection process, we looked at sites in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The types of parts we make are large, so we needed to be in close proximity to our customers — the large auto plants and the large auto suppliers.”

The impetus for the project was a plant fire that destroyed all of the company’s assets at its factory in Newcomers Town, Ohio, about 50 miles (80 km.) south of Canton. “We had an immediate need to get back in operation as quickly as we could,” says Cataldi. “We needed to find an existing building, and the building had to be the right size to house our equipment. The other critical component was the work force. We needed to find the right level of technical resources with the skills required to keep our equipment working on the shop floor.”

Cataldi says he found everything he needed in Battle Creek. “The building there fit our layout. And its technical college is superb,” he says. “We heard nothing but rave reviews from local employers on how the college develops specific training programs for businesses.”

Cataldi says he expects his new plant in Battle Creek to open this month, with full operations set for fall. “We started the hiring process this past fall and began bringing in our initial work crews in November,” he adds. “The folks at Battle Creek Unlimited were great people to work with too. They answered all of our questions and helped us by working with the labor group for the state.”

The project received a $1.5-million Michigan Business Development Program incentive through the Michigan Strategic Fund, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Mike Finney, president and CEO of MEDC, says that Michigan is on a roll now, thanks to the many business climate reforms signed into law by the governor.

“The right-to-work legislation really complements all the ongoing reforms and reinvention that Michigan has been going through since Gov. Snyder came into office,” says Finney. “Regulatory reform, tax reform, workers’ compensation reform — this is just another significant reinvention tool. And we aren’t done yet.”

On Dec. 12, the Senate approved several bills aimed at phasing out the personal property tax on business. As of press time, more votes were needed in the Legislature before a complete tax reform package would be ready for the governor’s signature.

“We tax the personal property of businesses and it discourages companies from investing in operations here,” says Finney. “It can be onerous enough to encourage them to make investments elsewhere. That is why we want to pass this legislation. It is a significant pushback mechanism, especially for C-corporations in the state, and they all say it needs to be fixed.”

For more information on this story, as well as, additional insights and expertise on the industry of site selection, please visit Site Selection Magazine.

H&A Report: Key Economic Development Programs in Fiscal Cliff Legislation

report imageIn a last-minute effort to avoid going over the “Fiscal Cliff”, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). Not only did this legislation address a number of individual and business tax issues, the bill also extended an array of critical tax credits and programs facing expiration. Many of these expiring credits and programs were directly linked to efforts in economic development, renewable energy and workforce incentives.

To continue providing first-class service for their clients, Hickey & Associates, LLC (H&A), assembled a brief summary on a number of these critical provisions signed into law under ATRA. Among the high-profile issues like the Bush-era tax cuts and extension of expiring unemployment benefits, the legislation also included these critical provisions:

Work Opportunity Tax Credit extended through 2013;
Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Work Opportunity Tax Credits extended through 2013;
New Markets Tax Credit extended through 2014;
Empowerment Zone Tax Incentives extended through 2013;
Wind Production Tax Credit extended through 2013;
Biofuel Incentive Tax Credit and Biodiesel Tax Credit extended through 2013;
Film Tax Credit extended through 2014.
For more details on these provisions, and information on how to find insight on many more, please download the report below titled: H&A Fiscal Cliff Legislation Report – Jan 2013.

H&A Principal Jim Kemp participates in major Metro Denver site selection conference

Eight national site selection consultants attended the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s (Metro Denver EDC) annual Site Selection Conference Sept. 19-21, 2012. The event was coordinated in partnership with the Metro Denver EDC’s investors and economic development partners throughout the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region.

Over the three-day familiarization tour, the site selectors experienced the region’s business assets first-hand with the area’s top business and economic development leaders as their guides.

The first item on their agenda included a private meeting at the Governor’s Mansion with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, where the group discussed the advantages of doing business in Colorado. The following morning at the Pepsi Center, the site selectors listened to a regional briefing and an infrastructure panel with leaders from Xcel Energy, Denver International Airport, the Regional Transportation District, and Denver Union Station Project Authority.

The consultants also toured the region by helicopter, making stops for an aerospace panel at Lockheed Martin Space Systems with members of the state’s space companies and an innovation discussion at the University of Colorado’s BioFrontiers Institute with speakers from Google, Level 3 Communications, Sharklet, Siemens, and the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. They also experienced Metro Denver’s cultural scene when dining with area companies at the Denver Art Museum.

In the conference’s final event, site selectors participated in a panel discussion about site selection trends, Making the Cut: Factors Driving Today’s Site Selection Decisions. Moderated by Jim Mulligan, partner with Snell & Wilmer and presenting sponsor for the breakfast, the guests spoke about their perceptions since getting an in depth look at the region. Mulligan asked the site selectors how Metro Denver stacks up against its other competitor regions.

“From a global perspective, Denver is in an outstanding position to compete,” noted Atlanta-based Will Hearn, senior technologist for CH2M HILL. “Universally and across industries, Denver has assets that would be attractive to anyone; especially in high-tech. You also have the magic mix. You can recruit here and you can relocate people here.”

The panel shared information on the most current trends in the corporate site selection process. Several site selectors noted the prominence of emerging technologies and globalization as critical factors affecting today’s site selection. Daniel Kah, a partner at Greyhill Advisors, pointed out the importance of global nonstop flights and international accessibility.

“A nonstop to Asia and nonstop flights to Europe means a lot in the site selection decision,” Kah said. “It gives Denver a leg up compared to other markets without that access and allows Denver to compete at the same level with other large cities–such as Dallas-Fort Worth–that also have international flights.”

Colorado has never been a “high-incentive” state and Mulligan questioned the value of incentives in site selection decisions today. The site selectors mentioned the importance of incentives, but also emphasized that incentives aren’t everything, and that factors like workforce and accessibility are often more imperative.

“If you are number one, two, or three on the list for incentives offered, you’re probably covering up for lacking something else,” said Jim Kemp, a principal with Hickey and Associates. “You don’t have to be the top on incentives.”

The Metro Denver EDC’s regional economic development partners served as hosts to the visiting consultants. Conference sponsors for each event included:

– Dinner at the Governor’s Mansion – Co-sponsored by Associated General Contractors of Colorado and the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors.
– Regional Briefing and Infrastructure Panel – Presenting Sponsor, Xcel Energy. Gold Sponsor, Hensel Phelps Construction.
– Dinner at the Denver Art Museum – Presenting Sponsor, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Gold Sponsors, Forest City Development and ProLogis.
– Breakfast and Panel Discussion – Presenting Sponsor, Snell & Wilmer. Gold Sponsor, US Bank. Silver Sponsors, Mortenson Construction, Intermountain Electric, Newmark Knight Frank Frederick Ross, OfficeScapes, PCL Construction, SAIC, and SOS Employment Group. Media Sponsor, the Colorado Real Estate Journal. Travel Sponsor, Southwest Airlines.
– Vail Golf Outing – Sponsor, Intermountain Electric

For more information on the conference and the Metro Denver EDC, please visit their website.