New economic development initiatives attracting great interest

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New economic development initiatives attracting great interest

The year’s gotten off to a good start with businesses filing applications for the new Talent & Innovation Initiative (TI2), passed by the Legislature last May, and other new economic development initiatives, administered through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

The year’s gotten off to a good start with businesses filing applications for the new Talent & Innovation Initiative (TI2), passed by the Legislature last May, and other new economic development initiatives, administered through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

“The TI2 was developed to enhance momentum in Nebraska’s fastest growing industries, maintain Nebraska’s world-class workforce, and leverage private sector innovation,” said Catherine Lang, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. “Interest in these programs has proven the need and success of providing such funding to enhance innovation, and Nebraska industries and workforce.”

The four-part TI2 includes the InternNE program, Business Innovation Act, Site and Building Development Fund, and the Angel Investment Tax Credit.

InternNE is a partnership with Nebraska businesses to create new, quality paid internships for college and university students. To date, 169 applications have been received with 130 companies approved (38 percent from rural Nebraska) adding 381 new intern positions. So far, 110 intern positions have been filled (33 percent in rural Nebraska) and of the $1.641 million allocated, $469,500 has been committed.

The Business Innovation Act (BIA) is experiencing a flux of activity. BIA helps businesses develop new technologies and leverage innovation to enhance quality job opportunities in Nebraska. BIA is expected to distribute $9 million during Fiscal Year 2011-2012, and another $9 million during Fiscal Year 2012-2013 to small business owners and entrepreneurs in the form of competitive matching grants for research, development and innovation, and outreach services.

Included within the BIA is:

The Nebraska Innovation Fund-Prototyping (pre-seed stage) provides grants up to $50,000 per project for creating a prototype of a product stemming from research and development at a business operating in Nebraska, or research at an in-state public or private college or university.  So far 27 applications (three in distressed areas) have been received and twelve (two in distressed areas) are approved for a total funding allocation of $648,125, with $351,875 still remaining.

The Nebraska Innovation Fund-Commercialization takes it one step further with seed stage investments being awarded $500,000 per project for commercialization of a prototype or process from a business or individual operating here in the state. Two applications received are pending for some of the $3 million in available funding.

The Nebraska Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) Initiative establishes a financial assistance program to individuals and businesses with a principal place of business in Nebraska to support applications to the Federal SBIR Program (Phase 0) and the matching of successful applications (Phase 1 and 2) by the state of Nebraska. The total funds available through this initiative will be a maximum of $1 million.

Currently, three businesses have applied for Phase 0 and two are approved for a total $10,000. Phase 1’s two applicants have been approved and allocated a total $195,000. Three applications approved for Phase 2 have received a total of $300,000.

The Microenterprise Technical assistance fund provides financial packaging assistance, including resource identification and determining the programs of best fit, to grow microenterprise businesses located in Nebraska. One application has been received and approved for $300,000 to be used during the next two years.

The objective of the Microenterprise Lending Program (Micro-lending) is to encourage and support the transfer of Nebraska-based technology and innovation in rural and urban areas of Nebraska in order to create high-growth, high technology businesses and to enhance creation of wealth and quality jobs. No applications have been received for the $700,000 available.

The two-phase Research & Development fund has received two applications under Phase 1, approving one for $100,000 and leaving $900,000 remaining. No applications have yet been received for Phase 2 for the $2 million available.

Another TI2 fund, the Site and Building Development Fund aims to increase industrial sites and buildings available for business attraction and expansion.

The Angel Investment Tax Credit encourages investment in high-tech startup Nebraska enterprises providing 35-40 percent refundable state income tax credits to qualified Nebraska investors. In 2011, $4.898 million in credits were requested with $3.078 million approved. To date in 2012, $1.477 million in credits have been requested with $927,166 approved.

Other new economic development initiatives include:  

The Small Business Innovation Economic Gardening Program has received 13 applications (five from distressed areas), and approved four (two from distressed areas) for a total allocation of $130,000. This program provides $200,000 for FY 2011-2012 and $200,000 for FY 2012-2013 to eligible Nebraska service providers and nonprofit organizations to offer technical assistance to eligible Nebraska-based growth businesses.

Gallup’s Entrepreneurial Acceleration System, a mentorship program that strengthens existing, new and future small Nebraska business owners by matching them with trained and certified mentor guides, had 26 guides in 2011, assisting 124 companies and 556 individuals. For 2012, 46 guides recently became certified through an intensive six-month Gallup training program, and they will assist 160 companies and 746 managers, which will impact 4,939 employees in Nebraska.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative includes the Nebraska Progress Loan Fund and Invest Nebraska Angel Sidecar Fund.

To date, the Nebraska Progress Loan Fund, which provides loans to qualifying small businesses, has received seven applications (six in distressed areas). One business, in a distressed area, has been awarded $300,000, with $8.7 million in available funding.

The Invest Nebraska Angel Sidecar Fund, providing early investment capital matching private angel fund investment in start-up businesses developing, modifying or employing new technology, has received no applications at this time for $3.86 million in available funding. This seed capital may be used for advanced intellectual property development and evaluation, advanced proof of concept work for scientific discovery, advanced prototype design and development, hiring key personnel, and related activities.

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