Developers rushing to Opportunity Zones for tax break, but is it helping Louisiana’s low-income areas?

A new federal program pitched as a way to aid low-income communities is ramping up across Louisiana, but after a political scramble to make various struggling areas eligible for the tax break, it’s investors and real estate developers who are starting to reap the benefits. Last year, more than 150 census tracts in Louisiana were designated as Opportunity Zones under a provision in the 2017 tax-cut bill designed to encourage investment in economically hard-hit areas. With Gov. John Bel Edwards responsible for selecting from the nearly 600 eligible census tracts in Louisiana, public records show local officials, small-town mayors, businesspeople and even U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond lobbied the governor via the state’s economic development office on which areas should be chosen. Baton Rouge Advocate

As Port of New Orleans thrives, Baton Rouge and elsewhere will see benefits

The port of New Orleans was the reason that Thomas Jefferson wanted Louisiana a couple of centuries ago, and since the famous land deal of the early 19th-century America has benefited enormously. But the Port of New Orleans — capital P — is also a continuing and tremendous contributor to the economic health of both the state and the nation. All are aware of the immense amount of shipping of goods down the Mississippi River and importing the same from around the world. The port is also a significant contributor to tourism. The Port of New Orleans set a record for cruise ship passengers in 2018, with more than 1 million travelers. Baton Rouge Advocate

Tire maker highlights worker training start in Mississippi

CLINTON — Continental AG is beginning to gear up worker training at the $1.4 billion tire-making complex that it’s building in central Mississippi, as it aims to start producing truck tires by next January. Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta toured the German conglomerate’s job training facility Friday, where Continental will train the 2,500 workers it says it will hire by 2028. So far, 83 workers have been hired, with Continental spokeswoman Quita Bride saying the company will have 250 workers by the start of next year. That’s when the company will open a roughly 1 million square foot facility that will eventually make 750,000 tires for large trucks and buses. The company plans to add about 250 employees a year until it reaches its full employment goal in 2028. Production employees are supposed to make $40,000 a year, on average. Columbus Dispatch

Mayor Briley makes Nashville first Southern city to recognize LGBT-owned businesses

Today, Mayor David Briley signed an executive order to build more pathways for the city’s LGBT-owned businesses to work with Metro, making Nashville the first Southern city to adopt such policy. Briley’s order does four things: allows companies to self-identify as an LGBT-owned business during the procurement process; develops a way to recognize companies with an LGBT business enterprise certification, as spearheaded by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce; creates a way for Metro to track how many LGBT-owned businesses are getting city contracts; and extends the programs and services offered to the city’s minority or women-owned businesses to Nashville’s LGBT-owned businesses. Nashville Business Journal

Electrolux re-examined: ‘Our incentive package would look very different’

State and local economic development officials say the nearly $200 million deal that brought Electrolux to Memphis wouldn’t get done today — at least not the same way. In Feb. 1 interview, Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD) commissioner Bob Rolfe said the 2010 Electrolux deal would not have included the $97 million in guaranteed, unprotected state incentives if done in the present climate. The company also received $40 million in Memphis and Shelby County bonds and a PILOT (payments-in-lieu-of-taxes) projected to be worth $38 million. Electrolux announced it would close its Memphis plant last week, moving operations to Springfield, Tennessee, in 2020. Memphis Business Journal

Electrolux plant in Memphis to shut down

Swedish appliance maker Electrolux says it will close a manufacturing plant in Memphis, as the household appliance business contends with higher steel prices and Sears’ bankruptcy. The Memphis factory, which builds Frigidaire and Electrolux ovens and employs about 530 people, will shut down by 2020, according to Electrolux. The company said the closure is part of a $110.5 million plan to streamline manufacturing that includes shuttering a second plant in Santiago, Chile and upgrading a facility in Springfield, Tennessee. Electrolux, which owns Frigidaire, said in a press release that it is rethinking its strategy “in light of changing market dynamics, increased raw material costs and current trade policy.” CNN Money

Office tower, hotel pitched next to FedEx Logistics HQ at Gibson

A New York developer and Memphis’ Orgel family are preparing to develop an eight-story office building and 250-room hotel across MLK Jr. Avenue from the Gibson Guitar Factory building. New York-based Somera Road Inc. and Billy and Benjamin Orgel announced the towers hours after FedEx Logistics announced it was locating more than 660 jobs in the former factory. FedEx Logistics CEO Richard Smith said his company will occupy part of the new office building, as well, creating an “office campus” that Smith expects would eventually host at least 1,000 employees of the operating company. Memphis Business Journal

FedEx Logistics moving global HQ to downtown Memphis in $47M project

About 660 FedEx Logistics employees will soon occupy the Gibson Guitar Factory building in Downtown Memphis. The large FedEx subsidiary, run by Greater Memphis Chamber chairman Richard Smith, announced the expansion Tuesday morning, alongside state and local officials. The move comes as part of an overall investment of more than $40 million and represents a massive increase in FedEx’s Downtown presence, which had been quite light compared to the company’s size. FedEx Logistics has 19,000 employees; of those, 323 current, Shelby County employees will move to the new office, and 339 will be new hires or employees relocated here from another state over a five-year period, according to the company’s application with the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County. Memphis Business Journal

Thousands of NASA contractors in Florida still without pay after 5-week shutdown. Will Congress step in?

CAPE CANAVERAL — For the first time in 29 years, and when it mattered most, Dan Faden wasn’t paid after a government shutdown. For five weeks beginning Dec. 22 the NASA contractor languished at home, opting to let his younger coworkers with small children go back to work in shifts on an as-needed basis so they, at least, could get some pay during the longest shutdown in U.S. history: 35 days that spanned the holidays, the start of 2019 and two paychecks. The contractor, a safety specialist for engineering firm AECOM, always got back pay following previous shutdowns, but none were as long or hurt as much as the most recent. And this time, the money likely won’t come. Orlando Sentinel

Lockheed’s $50M R&D building to bring in more defense work, jobs in Central Florida

Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) has 900 job openings throughout Central Florida, but there is one local division that is out-hiring everyone else. The defense contractor’s Missiles & Fire Control facility in southwest Orlando has nearly 600 job openings for various engineers. The location already has nearly 5,000 workers at its 267-acre campus, but as more defense work is added, the need for workers and space is becoming a necessity. The firm, which has outgrown its current facility, recently completed and is slated to open a new $50 million, 255,000-square-foot research and development building at its southwest Orlando campus on Feb. 13. The company broke ground for the building last year, stating that it would help support 500 new jobs paying an average annual salary of $87,000. Orlando Business Journal