2009 Archives

Owens Corning Expands in N. Memphis

Owens Corning Expands in N. Memphis

The company is investing $22 million in its Tennessee laminates facility. Owens Corning is investing $22 million in an expansion of its North Memphis, TN, facility. The site currently produces residential and commercial roofing strip shingles, and employs 92 people. The investment will create 15 new jobs, and allow Owens Corning to expand the site’s manufacturing capability to include aesthetically pleasing, higher-style laminates. Company officials said the expansion will be completed early next year, at which time its Memphis site will produce Owens Corning’s Classic, Supreme, Oakridge, Duration and Duration Premium shingles. The company announced the expansion in coordination with the Greater Memphis Chamber and the State of Tennessee. Owens Corning is a leading global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass-fiber reinforcements and engineered materials for composite systems. A Fortune 500 Company for 55 consecutive years, Owens Corning is committed to driving sustainability by delivering solutions, transforming markets and enhancing lives. Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is a market-leading innovator of glass-fiber technology with sales of $6 billion in 2008 and about 16,000 employees in 30 countries on five continents.


Blackhawk Composites to Open Plant in KY

Blackhawk Composites to Open Plant in KY

Governor Steve Beshear and Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes announced Blackhawk Composites, Inc., a start-up manufacturer of advanced aerospace composite parts, will begin manufacturing operations in Butler County. The project entails the creation of 20 new jobs initially, growing to 30 within the first year, and a more than $1.5 million investment in the Commonwealth. “The start-up of Blackhawk Composites in Butler County will provide dozens of high-quality, well-paying jobs – the kind of jobs Kentucky seeks to create,” said Gov. Beshear. “We’re proud to be the home of Blackhawk Composites and will continue to partner with them on future opportunities.” Established in September 2009, the newly formed Blackhawk Composites will lease a 40,000 square-foot facility to manufacture advanced aerospace composite parts for Cessna Caravan aircraft cowls, the part of the aircraft that covers the engine. The Cessna Caravan is a large single engine turboprop used for executive and cargo transport, as well as other commercial uses such as a jump platform for skydiving. These aircraft are found in increasing numbers worldwide. “We are very pleased that we were able to establish this venture in Kentucky,” said Gary Smrtic, president of Blackhawk Composites. “It has been the goal of our core team to bring aerospace work into south central Kentucky for some time, and this is the fruit of that labor.” “While Blackhawk Composites Inc is technically a start-up, our management team is certainly not new to business,” added Smrtic. “Unlike most start-ups, we will begin with a long-term tooling and production contract for one type of aircraft already in place, as well as several other prospects we are discussing with other aircraft companies.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Blackhawk Composites for tax benefits up to $750,000 under Kentucky’s new incentive program, the Kentucky Business Investment Program. The incentive can be earned over a 10-year period through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments. The maximum annual approved amount to be earned by Blackhawk Composites is $50,000. “We are truly thrilled to have Blackhawk Composites starting their business in Morgantown,” said Morgantown Mayor Eva Hawes. “We’re grateful they have decided to invest in our community.” “We’re very excited Blackhawk Composites selected Morgantown and Butler County for their home,” said Butler County Judge Executive David Fields. “The 30 jobs they plan to create will be a welcome addition to our community.”


High-Tech Worker Visas Still Available

We have been reporting for some time in this space that the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. has been exacerbated in recent years by the government’s decision to cut back on H-1B visas. The quota of H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly trained technology professionals, was reduced to 65,000 due to mounting security concerns after the 9/11 attacks. In 2007 and 2008, applications for H-1B visas exceeded this quota on the first day the visas became available. Not this year. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, thus far—more than six months after the U.S. government began accepting applications for 2010 H-1B visas—only 46,700 visa petitions have been filed. Analysts are attributing this shortfall to a combination of the economic downturn, immigration security concerns, and the rising costs associated with hiring foreign-born workers. An overall U.S. unemployment rate approaching 10 percent and double-digit unemployment in more than a dozen states has dramatically slowed expansion in the technology sector, the Journal reports. According to the Journal, conditions attached to federal bailout funds also have deterred bailout recipients from recruiting foreign workers. Companies that receive federal bailout money must prove that they tried to recruit American workers at prevailing wages and that foreigners aren’t replacing U.S. citizens. This restriction reportedly caused Bank of America and others to rescind numerous job offers to foreigners. Crackdowns on illegal immigration also have had a dampening effect on visa applications. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the H-1B program, has been sending inspectors to visit companies without warning to verify that H-1B employees are performing the jobs on the terms specified. Up to 20,000 companies have been targeted for these inspections. The restrictive climate on immigration apparently is leading some foreign students to reconsider whether they want to pursue careers in the United States.”The best and the brightest who would normally come here are saying, why do we need to go to a country where we are not welcome,” a University of California scholar who has studied H-1B visas told the Journal.



New South Lumber Co. Expanding

New South Lumber Co. Expanding

Gov. Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership this week joined New South Lumber Company, a member of the Canfor group of companies, at a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the company’s expansion in Darlington County. The company invested $7 million to make upgrades and additions to its facility. “These additions to our Darlington County plant were an important modernization to make it more competitive. Darlington County has been a perfect fit for our company, providing us with an excellent business environment. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Steve Singleton, vice president of New South Lumber Company.  New South Lumber manufactures Southern Pine dimension lumber, a wide variety of specialty lumber products and treated lumber. The company has replaced and updated equipment at the Darlington County facility to increase its efficiency and productivity.  “Making sure existing businesses in our state have the fundamental tools to grow and prosper is increasingly important, especially given today’s global competition for new investment. This expansion is a reminder of the importance to improve South Carolina’s business soil conditions in order to encourage economic growth in both larger cities and smaller communities alike across the state.  I’d thank the state and local economic development community for their efforts, as well as – and most importantly – New South Lumber for choosing to reinvest in South Carolina,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.  Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor added, “New South Lumber Company has a long history in South Carolina and is a leading supplier of specialty lumber products. This investment reinforces the company’s commitment to our state and is a strong reflection that South Carolina’s workforce, market access and business-friendly environment are working to encourage new investment and help our existing businesses grow.  We congratulate New South Lumber on their success and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with them in the years ahead.”  “New South Lumber and their predecessor have been a valued member of our community since 1939,” said Wesley Blackwell, chairman, Darlington County Council.  “Their improvements will keep their Darlington mill competitive and employment stable.” “It is important for our existing industry to continual reinvest in new technologies to increase efficiencies,” said Jim Ramsey, chairman, Darlington County Economic Development Partnership.  “As the housing sector begins to recover, New South Lumber will be well-positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities.” New South Lumber Company is a subsidiary of Canfor, which acquired the company in 2006. In addition to Southern Pine […]


LiveXchange Keynote: Carbon Credits Will Shape the New Economy

The shape of the new economy is going to be defined by an emerging $3-trillion global market in carbon emissions credits, attendees at the fifth annual Business Facilities LiveXchange were told Monday. In a keynote address entitled “Contemplating Carbon: How Climate Change Regulation May Effect Business Facility Decisions,” San Francisco-based attorney William Sloan predicted that a cap-and-trade system of carbon credits will assign a value to carbon emissions that will broadly impact energy use, transportation, economic development and site selection. Sloan, of counsel with the law firm Morrison & Foerster and a recognized expert on climate change issues, said the creation of a global carbon credit market has reached a critical mass with the establishment last year of $118 billion in carbon trading in Europe. Sloan predicted that, within the next 10 years, more than $3 trillion in carbon credits may be exchanged worldwide. “We have crossed the rubicon and reached the point of no return. Carbon will be the largest physically traded commodity in the U.S., surpassing oil, “Sloan said in his keynote address. Sloan, who serves on his firm’s Cleantech Steering Committee and has previously held positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, began his presentation with a graph dramatically depicting the increase in metric tons of carbon dioxide pouring in to the atmosphere in the past 50 years. In 1952, CO2 emissions totaled approximately 40 million metric tons annually. In 2000, the amount of greenhouse gases spewing into the atmosphere was a staggering 25 billion metric tons. With world leaders preparing to discuss a successor to the Kyoto Treaty and set strict new carbon emission reduction targets at a summit meeting in Copenhagen in December, a global mechanism for monetizing the cost of carbon emissions has moved front-and-center as an international priority. According to Sloan, the choice comes down to a broad-based carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system of carbon credits. “The government will decide who will be regulated, what the cap will be, how allowances will be regulated, and whether to permit offset trading,” he said. Sloan predicted that locations that emit less than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases may be exempted from the system. But he warned that the cost of capping larger emissions likely will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher costs for fuel and electricity. Two bills currently are moving through Congress that would establish a cap-and-trade carbon credit system in the U.S. The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey […]


Dell Shutting Computer Plant in NC

Dell Shutting Computer Plant in NC

Dell announced this week it will close its desktop computer manufacturing plant near Winston-Salem, NC by the end of January. The plant, which employs 905 workers and produced units mainly for business customers opened four years ago. The Dell facility was showered with a state incentives package worth an estimated $318 million, primarily tax breaks and grants, when the computer firm decided to locate the plant in North Carolina. The state created the generous package after projecting that the Dell plant would have an overall economic impact on the region of $24.5 billion over 20 years, and create more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. However, consumer preferences rapidly shifted to laptops and handheld devices during the past four years. The combination of the shrinking market for desktops and the deep recession appear to have doomed the Winston-Salem plant. “Given the dynamics at play across the landscape, we made the difficult decision to shut this down,” Dell spokesman Venancio Figueroa told the Associated Press. Dell, based in Round Rock, TX, said the decision was part of an effort to simplify operations and improve efficiency, while retaining U.S. plants in Miami, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Austin, Texas. The company had announced a drive to save $4 billion a year by 2011. Dell previously sold its Lebanon, Tenn., remanufacturing plant in June and is moving its Ireland manufacturing operations to Poland. Dell is also moving away from hardware and into more profitable technology services. Dell said last month it will spend $3.9 billion for Perot Systems Corp., adding consulting and computing services like systems integration to Dell’s offerings. Assistant state Commerce Secretary Kathy Neal said it was not immediately known how much in state tax breaks or outright grants Dell received and how much they would be asked to repay.


Michigan Fund Aids Diversification

Michigan Fund Aids Diversification

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO Greg Main have announced that the Michigan Supplier Diversification Fund will help two companies -Maverick Industries Inc. and Wolverine Metal Stamping Inc. – expand operations and create jobs. The program addresses the current lack of bank financing available to companies that are attempting to diversify. The fund is a multi-faceted initiative designed to help Michigan manufacturers and auto suppliers diversify into new emerging sectors. “We are using every economic development tool we can to help Michigan companies expand into new sectors and find new growth opportunities,” Granholm said. “These two companies are the latest examples of our ongoing efforts to diversify Michigan’s economy and create new jobs.” With Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approval, the two companies will receive assistance through the Collateral Support Program that was recently launched under the Michigan Supplier Diversification Fund. The program addresses the shortage of bank financing available to companies that are attempting to diversify. Under the program, the MEDC was able to partner with the companies, U.S. Small Business Administration, Michigan Certified Development Corporation and banks to provide the necessary liquidity to ensure the company could purchase fixed assets and expand its working capital. The projects approved are: Maverick Industries Inc.: The manufacturer will design and manufacture environmentally- friendly packaging. MBC Loans LLC plans to fast-track a loan for approximately $4 million for the former Kaneka facility in Jackson. The MSF approved allocation of $1.9 million to be used as a collateral deposit. Maverick Industries also received a Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) tax credit in February to support the project valued at $1.2 million over seven years. The project is expected to create up to 90 new direct jobs. Wolverine Metal Stamping Inc.: The St. Joseph-based diversified metal stamping company is pursuing opportunities in the solar-power sector, including large orders from Whirlpool and Emerson that are coming back to Michigan from Mexico and China. Omni Credit Union has agreed to fast-track a consideration of the loan request for $2.5 million to assist in a significant expansion. The MSF approved allocation of up to $1 million to be used as a collateral deposit. The project is expected to create up to 30 new direct jobs. To be eligible for the program, a company must fall under the definition of a firm eligible to receive a MEGA tax credit. A business must also be engaged with a private lender for the purpose of acquiring a commercial loan for a diversification project and […]


Is your roofing cool?

As sustainable development has quickly moved from an admirable goal to a requirement, everyone needs to get up to speed on the terminology of green building. Just in time comes a high-quality online dictionary of Green Industry Definitions, compiled by the Glenview, IL-based Metal Construction Association. This comprehensive, easy-to-understand list fills a need for companies who want to appropriately market products for the sustainable design movement, those trying to gather a better understanding of the terms, and building owners who want to be sure they use the right language in developing or marketing a high performance building. For example, do you know what a bioswale is? (A landscape element designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. It is also known as rain gardens or constructed wetlands). How about BEES? No, this is not a species of pollinating insects outfitted in Sting’s favorite sweater. BEES stands for Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability. This software tool, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, measures the environmental performance of building products by using the life-cycle assessment approach specified in the ISO 14040 series of standards. Here’s one of our personal favorites: cool roofing. No, this isn’t a set of shingles that likes to chill with some jazz CDs. It’s a roof that reflects and emits a large percentage of the sun’s energy heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the structure below. MCA’s compilation of Green Industry Definitions is accessible in the Sustainable Design section of the association’s Web site, www.metalconstruction.org. Everyone needs to get up to speed on the terminology of green building. Just in time comes a high-quality online dictionary of Green Industry Definitions, compiled by the Glenview, IL-based Metal Construction Association. This comprehensive, easy-to-understand list fills a need for companies who want to appropriately market products for the sustainable design movement, those trying to gather a better understanding of the terms, and building owners who want to be sure they use the right language in developing or marketing a high performance building. For example, do you know what a bioswale is? (A landscape element designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. It is also known as rain gardens or constructed wetlands). How about BEES? No, this is not a species of pollinating insects outfitted in Sting’s favorite sweater. BEES stands for Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability. This software tool, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, measures the environmental performance of building products by using […]


Editors’ Location Picks

In a tough year, we were tempted to use “survival of the fittest” as the criteria for our annual location showcase. However, this year’s selections not only are surviving—they’re thriving!