June, 2008 Archives

Ahnold terminates the competition at BIO

Ahnold terminates the competition at BIO

About two dozen state economic development programs were showcased at last week’s BIO conference in San Diego, but for at least one afternoon the show floor belonged to a megastar from the host state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took center stage at the huge international biotech meeting, first during a laugh-laden keynote address and then at a walk-through and press conference in the California booth. In his keynote, the Governator bragged about California’s impressive leadership in biotech, including 3,000 companies generating more than $73 billion in revenue and a $3 billion initiative to fund stem cell research. ”And that’s without counting the sales of botox to Joan Rivers,” Arnold quipped, flashing a large grin that strangely did not produce any wrinkles on his famous visage. You have to admire a guy—known throughout the world for getting his face blown off by a shotgun, being dipped in a vat of molten metal, and then emerging brand-new in the sequel—making fun of plastic surgery. Arnold also revealed a heretofore secret prowess for osmosis. ”This room is sizzling with brain power and creativity,” he said. ”I will walk out of here with a 10% increase in my IQ just for being here.” Schwarzenegger was smart enough to couple his Hollywood sizzle with plenty of substance. He was accompanied at BIO by Robert Klein, chairman of the state-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Health. At a press conference in the California booth, the trio announced a three-year, $100 million agreement between California and Canada to collaborate on stem cell research. Hewing to his reputation as a bridge-building political leader who gets things done, Arnold deftly avoided comparing California’s bold leadership in stem cell research to the continuing failure of the federal government to allocate any funds for such research, which may unlock treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, among other deadly ailments. He diplomatically pronounced that ”no one state or nation should do this alone.” Schwarzenegger was far less diplomatic during a brief Q&A with the press when asked about President Bush’s demand that Congress immediately authorize offshore drilling for oil on the California coast. ”They have done nothing in Washington about an energy policy for 10 years and now they want to drill here,” he declared. ”It is not going to happen.” For a brief moment, we envisioned the 43rd president looking up from his desk at Arnold and asking, with a sheepish grin on his face, ”Hey Terminator dude, mind if we mess up your coastal waters […]


Business Aviation Rapidly Expands in the United States

Business Aviation Rapidly Expands in the United States

Today, we open our blog to Mr. Frederick Metz Shepperd of Switzerland-based Quadral Group (www.quadralgroup.com). Frederick is also a member of Business Facilities’ Editorial Advisory Board. If I told you there was a North American-based industry that is undertaking facilities expansions of 50% to increase production, has delivery times for products extending into 2012 and 2013, and is receiving bonuses of $10 million for earlier delivery times, you would probably think I was crazy. Yet this is all happening right now, in the midst of the doom and gloom on Wall Street. Smaller airports are finding new roles as economic drivers as European companies look for new production facilities and expand existing ones. Evidence of this trend was abundant at the European Business Aviation Association’s recent annual convention in Geneva, Switzerland, attended by more than 14,000 industry executives. Here are some of the players and some of the highlights: Embraer announced a new assembly facility for its Phenom jet at Melbourne International Airport in Florida. The total investment is $50 million, and the 150,000-square-foot-facility will employ 200 workers and will be completed by 2011. Outsourcing done by Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas is helping to grow suppliers like Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins, to name a few. Despite some outsourcing, Cessna plans to add 1,000 workers at its Kansas plant, on top of the 1,500 hired within the last 12 months. Bombardier, maker of Learjets in Georgia, in addition to the Challenger spacecraft and other business jets built near Montreal, announced a backlog of 30 months, representing the production of 2,571 new aircraft worth $63 billion. Honda Jet, based in the southeast United States, is in the final approval stages for European deliveries. Charter companies based in North America and abroad are racing to expand. For example, XOJet in California recently received $2.4 billion in financing to fund its global growth. Growth is affecting all sorts of support industries and economic sectors related to business aviation. And what about all the suppliers to these companies? They are growing and moving too! Take a closer look at that airport on the outskirts of a city. It may have the potential to be its own economic stimulus. Those big empty hangars? They can be new production centers for business aviation. Runway too short? Add some concrete and you may very well add some jobs. It is the closest thing you can get to jobs dropping from the sky.


Not the Sheriff of Nottingham

Not the Sheriff of Nottingham

Until recently, everyone in the current fiscal debacle has been playing their parts in a predictable manner. Top banking execs who presided over multi-billion-dollar losses have parachuted out of the wreckage of their financial institutions clutching hideous ”retirement” bonuses without a shred of shame. Federal lawmakers who blissfully deregulated the banking industry and permitted it to morph into a Jupiter-sized Three Card Monte scam have expressed outrage over the scope of the disaster and sympathy for the victims, but have done virtually nothing to mitigate the damage or to prevent it from happening again. TV talking heads have monotonously droned about the latest surge in foreclosures and the bloodless announcements of staggering losses reported by international banking giants. These depressing fiscal bulletins usually are sandwiched between breathless coverage of the latest American Idol casualty and speculation about whether Brad and Angelina will stay together long enough to name their twins. Nameless bewildered homeowners have publicly expressed shock at the ”unfairness” of losing a $2 million property for which they had put down $20,000 and signed a mortgage with interest rates that jumped from 5% to 500% after 24 months. Washed-up celebrities like Ed McMahon and Evander Holyfield get 15 minutes of crocodile tears from Larry King over the impending loss of their 50-acre mansions. And, in cities and towns across the county, local law enforcement officers are executing court orders to seize foreclosed properties and auction them off. Except, that is, in Philadelphia, because Sheriff John Green stood up in court and said ”no.” According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, Sheriff Green, who has worn a badge for 37 years, astounded the legal and financial movers-and-shakers in Philly when he refused to hold court-ordered foreclosure auctions, telling the judge he no longer has the stomach to take houses away from his friends and neighbors. Without the sheriff and his 241-person department on board to enforce the court’s action, foreclosures in Philadelphia ground to a halt. Then something interesting happened: — The City Council opened a legal umbrella over the sheriff’s unilateral (and illegal) action by unanimously enacting a moratorium on foreclosures. — The judge who ordered the auctions asked civic leaders, lenders’ attorneys and housing advocates to form a committee to determine which homeowners deserved a delay, aid through government programs, or at least a ”graceful exit” from their house. The committee developed a streamlined process to make loans more affordable for delinquent homeowners who still live in their houses. — Homeowners were offered free lawyers for […]


The Greening of America

The Greening of America

Cities large and small are racing to mandate sustainable building practices, while developers and property owners are discovering that “going green” makes good business sense.