Star of the Southwest Awardees
The Southwest Region Economic Development Association introduced the Star of the Southwest Awards at the 2017 conference in Baton Rouge. Projects were submitted to SWREDA for each of the five states in the southwest region of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the SWREDA board chose two from each state which are summarized below. SWREDA will be opening applications for 2018 awards in April; the conference will be held in Tulsa July 25-27, 2018.
Dassault-Falcon Jet, City of Little Rock, Central Arkansas Planning and Development District
EDA’s investment of $1.9 million and total project investment of $3.5 million funded a transportation project allowing the expansion of this jet facility and other new industries locating near the Little Rock airport. The project, which created 300 jobs and retained another 350, resulted in $40 million of private investment.
FutureFuel Chemical Company, Independence County, White River Planning and Development District
An EDA investment of $3.4 million (total project investment of $5.525 million) helped fund a rail switching station and rail car storage to accommodate this company’s expansion resulting in 95 new jobs and a total private investment of $75 million.
Lions Water Plant Expansion, St John the Baptist Parish, South Central Planning and Development Commission
With an EDA investment of $1 million and a total investment of $2.87 million, this project supported a rebound from losses, and new business expansion, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A new sugar refinery located in the parish as a result of this project bringing with it $140 million private investment and 120 jobs.
City of Pineville Sewer Expansion, City of Pineville, Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District
An EDA investment of $1.25 million with a total investment of $5 million helped save the area’s largest manufacturer and supported a manufacturing cluster development resulting in $301 million total private investment; 330 jobs were saved and 1,017 were created.
WESST Enterprise Center, Albuquerque, Mid-Region Council of Governments
EDA’s investment of $1.25 million and a total project investment of $2,952,860 was used to construct a business incubator in Albuquerque’s downtown serving mostly women, ethnic minorities, and low income residents. The center was completed in 2009 and resulted in 337 new jobs, $76.8 million in revenues, $12 million of equity investments, and a payroll of over $36 million.
San Juan College Enterprise Center, Farmington, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments
An EDA investment of $175,000 to expand and upgrade a 1999 investment of $1 million that built a mixed-use incubator on the San Juan College campus, resulting in 250 jobs and annual revenues from private investment exceeding $5 million.
City of Elk City, South Western Oklahoma Development Authority
EDA’s investment of $2.25 million, part of a $3 million effort, made possible structural improvements to the Elk City Industrial Park retaining 200 jobs and creating 150 additional jobs. Internal paving of streets with curb and gutter provided improved access to the businesses and were supportive to the overall development of the 160 acre industrial park. Other added improvements included all perimeter and access streets with paving, grading, drainage and intersection lighting. The businesses originally established in the industrial park had a combined $7,750,000 initial private investment. The project was made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
City of Miami, Grand Gateway Economic Development Association
An EDA investment of $500,000 for a total project investment of $1 million restored the historic Coleman Theater providing the downtown district with a conference complex center. The construction project also included restoration of the intersection of 1st and North Main Streets on Historic Route 66. Twenty-five jobs were retained as a result of the project investment.
Texas State Technical College, Waco, Heart of Texas Council of Governments
EDA’s investment of $1.5 million with a match from Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) of $9.6 million constructed an Aerospace Technology Center to support workforce training. The center has trained 3,500 students who typically follow this training with the FAA Academy. Currently, 325 students are in this training which covers pilot training, air traffic control, aircraft dispatch, and avionics.
City of Levelland, South Plains Association of Government
EDA invested $3.3 million, part of a $8.6 million total investment, to construct the first phase of the Levelland Industrial Rail Park to focus on rail-based businesses as part of diversifying the region’s economy. Five companies have located in the park and generated $25 million in private investments, 63 new jobs, and retained 73 jobs.
NADO Innovation Award
Economic Development Districts (EDDs) designated by the EDA, U.S. Department of Commerce, are an example of government working well. EDDs operate on a modest annual grant, leverage all of their own funding as well as the projects they help develop for their local governments and partners, and they have a continuous process for evaluating themselves against best practices for regional governments — the peer review.
The southwest region of EDA, through work of the SWREDA board, introduced a new approach to peer reviews in 2014 and have continued to perfect it. In 2015, National Associations of Development Organizations (NADO) recognized this work with an Innovation Award; NADO’s description of the process for which the award was given follows:
Through the SWREDA’s Southwest Peer Exchange, SWREDA has improved the peer review process and promoted more collaboration throughout the EDA Austin Region. SWREDA surveys economic development districts and matches them based on similarities of staff size, program areas and interests, and a region’s urban or rural focus. Required documents are submitted electronically in advance of the scheduled review. The setting provides for multiple reviews conducted at a central location, timed adjacent to training or other SWREDA or other related events. SWREDA’s Peer Coordinator and Peer Committee coordinate the exchanges, solicit survey responses, facilitate conversations, assess evaluations and share results of the peer exchange. This approach minimized costs and intrusions on time, reduced demands for travel, streamlined EDA coordination and logistics, formed peer learning environments and created capacity building opportunities.