If King Kong was the Eighth Wonder of the World, the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX surely is the Ninth. The Cowboys new home is the largest domed stadium in the world, measuring a whopping 2.3 million square feet. To get a sense of just how big this place is, consider this: its volume of 104 million cubic feet is large enough to fit the entire Empire State Building sideways (minus the antenna). The new $1.3-billion football palace, designed by Dallas architects HKS Inc., is capable of holding 111,000 fans, far more than any other venue in the NFL. This marvel of engineering includes a retractable roof, a retractable glass front entrance, and, most amazing of all, a seven-story-high, 11,520-square-foot, high-definition video screen that hangs directly over the middle of the playing field and stretches from 20-yard-line to 20-yard-line. The mammoth HD TV screen runs parallel to several tiers of luxury boxes in the stadium, but Cowboy loyalists in the end zone seats aren’t neglected. Two more giant HD screens are attached to either end of the video monster. The Cowboy’s new digs are so spacious each deck has its own set of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Construction was completed on the stadium in May. The Cowboys played their home opener against the New York Giants on Sunday night. Before the national anthem was played at the world’s largest domed field, the world’s largest American flag was unfurled over the entire playing field. We didn’t catch a glimpse of the concession stands, but we imagine the world’s largest chili-dogs are being consumed there. The eye-popping 160 x 72 ft. TV screen already has resulted in a hasty rule change by the NFL. Because the screen superstructure is hanging low enough over the field to make it a tempting target for punters (the big TV received its maiden deflection during an exhibition game), the lords of the NFL have ruled that any kicked ball that hits the structure will require a ”do-over.” There will be no do-over of the home opener at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. We’d tell you the score, but Jerry Jones just switched off the big TV set.
The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce joined Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, state and community leaders and company executives from Siemens Energy today to break ground on the new Siemens nacelle assembly facility being built in Hutchinson, KS. ”This will be the signature economic event for the Hutchinson community for a very long time,” noted Chamber President Dave Kerr. The 300,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to become operational in fall 2010 and will create an estimated 400 green-collar jobs. A 90,000 square-foot service and repair facility is planned to be built adjacent to the factory in the Salt City Business Park. The Hutchinson facility will allow Siemens to better meet strong demand for wind turbines in the Americas. ”This facility marks the next step in our plan to further expand our U.S. operations, and Kansas—especially Hutchinson —was the ideal location because of the state and local commitment to wind energy development. The support that we have received here has been overwhelming,” stated Kevin Hazel, head of Siemens Energy’s Americas Wind Power supply chain Management. ”The U.S. is and will continue to be one of the most important wind energy markets. As one of the largest suppliers of wind turbines in the U.S., we are proud to call Hutchinson, Kansas, the new home for our wind turbine nacelles in the U.S.” Over 250 attendees watched as Siemens executives, Gov. Mark Parkinson and state and local dignitaries ceremonially turned spades of dirt for the first major wind turbine equipment factory in Kansas. ”The nation’s energy challenge provides an opportunity for a ‘made in America’ energy program, and Kansas is ready to be a leader in that effort,” said Governor Mark Parkinson. ”Our state is the perfect place to start, expand or locate a business and we are very excited that Siemens is putting down roots in the Sunflower State.” Supervisor hiring for the facility is expected to begin early next year. Positions will be posted online at www.usa.siemens.com as they become available. Siemens representatives will be in Hutchinson to conduct a job fair for hourly hiring in spring
Everyone is familiar with those cheeky TV commercials with the tagline ”Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Well, we recently came across something that has created a lot of controversy since it came out of Vegas—a $1 million ad campaign from the Nevada Development Authority that aims to lure businesses to the Silver State by attacking its huge neighbor to the west, California. Some examples of this pitch can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pDKoX0uTwM Here’s a quick synopsis. One of the ads, entitled ”Apples 2 Apples,” shows two apples sitting side by side. One apple is labeled ”Nevada” and the other is labeled ”California.” While the announcer ticks off a list of tax benefits for people doing business in Nevada, the California apple shrivels up and goes rotten. Get the picture? Needless to say, our friends on the West Coast aren’t turning the other cheek. They’re filling the blogosphere with ripostes which point out that the economic crater in Nevada is as deep—or deeper—than the Golden State’s fiscal valley. California economic development agencies have been circulating this salvo from Jim Boren, a columnist for the Fresno Bee: ”You gotta love the sleight of hand Nevada economic development officials are using in their $1 million advertising plan to lure California businesses to their state. In ripping California, they suggest that all is well in the Silver State. So here’s what you won’t hear in those ads: Nevada has had the nation’s highest home foreclosure rate for 31 consecutive months. U-Haul dealerships in Nevada can hardly keep moving trucks on their lots as residents fishtail out of the once-booming state. Nevada casino revenues report double-digit declines…” When Nevada’s ad blitz against California was announced a couple of months ago, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman boasted to reporters ”It’s going to drive them bonkers. We’re going to crush them.” To which Mr. Boren responded: ”Nevada isn’t going to crush anyone right now, and this latest campaign has a feeling of desperation. Nothing worse than being a gambler and out of money. I’m almost feeling sorry for them, even though they were gloating when Nevada was riding the economic boom. But right now, Nevada is kissing its own assets goodbye.” And so, in the midst of the worst national economic calamity since the Great Depression, we now have two states with double-digit unemployment firing broadsides against each other.
Switzerland has scored first place in The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 issued by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum according to Mario Brossi, North American senior representative for Switzerland Trade and Investment Promotion. The alpine nation has switched places with the United States, which held first place since the WEF introduced the survey in its current form in 2004, Brossi said. The survey covers 133 countries with rankings calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey. The latter is a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the Forum together with its network of partner institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the surveyed countries. Earlier this year the 2009 World Competitiveness Yearbook published by the Institute for Management Development listed Switzerland as retaining its 4th place ranking globally and 1st in Europe among the world’s 57 most competitive countries. ”Switzerland has traditionally posted high marks in key FDI investment criteria,” Brossi commented, ”and these two studies are among the most important. Surveys on softer decision factors such as safety and lifestyle also place Switzerland in a favorable light, including the Mercer Human Resources 2009 Quality of Living Survey of 215 cities, where Zurich, Geneva and Berne are in the top 10.” Brossi noted that during 2008 Switzerland posted at least 37 new and 12 expanded projects from North America and an additional 76 new projects from other countries around the world. Among some of the significant investors where Blue Coat Systems, Disney Research, Ecolab, Kelly Services, Parker Hannifin, Swarmcast, Alcon, EBay, Microsoft and Yahoo!.
It has been exactly one year since Lehman Bros. vanished into a black hole and almost took the global financial system with it. The nightmare that followed is still hard to fathom. On the first anniversary of the Big Collapse, there’s good news, bad news, and, hopefully, really good news. First, some good news: The combined market capitalization of the 29 largest U.S. financial institutions, which shrank from $1.86 trillion in Oct. 2007 to a paltry $284 billion in March of this year, now stands at $947 billion. The fiscal behemoths are beginning to pay back billions in bailout bucks to the U.S. Treasury. Bad news: Only 22 of the 29 financial giants are still in business, and overall more than 90 banks have been shut down in the U.S. Credit still is not flowing, and about $2 trillion in shaky commercial real estate loans may be nearing default. Good news: The recapitalization of the large banks and the robust recovery in bank stocks have stabilized the financial system. The emerging recovery may permit banks to show forebearance on commercial real estate debt, rather than move to foreclosure, which would be another huge shock to the system. Bad news: At least 15 states are suffering from double-digit unemployment, and close to half the state budgets are facing huge deficits totaling nearly $300 billion (thanks in part to the failure of Congress to include state budget aid in the stimulus package). Unemployment in Vegas topped out at 18 percent, which disproves our theory that only the Apocalypse could prevent Americans from gambling. Good news: The U.S. auto industry has been rescued and the two former basket cases have emerged from bankruptcy restructuring in record time. And yes, that new Camaro looks really snazzy. Bad news: Not a single bank fraud has been arrested, much less convicted (Madoff doesn’t count because he confessed). The bonus-grabbing vampires on Wall Street who nearly destroyed the global economy are up to their old high-risk tricks: their latest scheme is bundles of securitized life insurance. They want to buy Grandma’s policy and then bet on how long she will live! No, we are not making this up. More bad news: The bogus credit rating agencies are still being paid by financial hustlers to give pristine grades to worthless junk. Tough new financial regulations and reforms are stalled in Congress and lobbyists are cooing that these are no longer needed since we are entering a recovery. Enough of that. Are we ready for some Really Good News? […]
Ever since the U.S. surgeon general warned in the early ’60s that cigarettes cause lung cancer, the tobacco industry has waged a fierce battle to water down warning labels the government mandated on the side of cigarette packages. As a result of this battle, it took nearly 40 years for the wording on these labels to morph from a gentle warning that smoking coffin nails ”may lead to” cancer, heart disease and an assortment of other deadly ailments to more direct declarations that cigarettes will, in fact, kill you. Today, the battleground over warning labels is focused on nutrition and environmental stewardship. The industries at the center of these battles appear to have hit upon a new strategy to avoid getting tagged with scarlet letters from the government—they are creating their own labeling systems. Pick up a box of Froot Loops at your local supermarket this week. Your eyes immediately will be drawn to the top of the box and a handsome new ”Smart Choices” label, created by the nation’s largest food manufacturers and ”designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.” The food manufacturers are hoping you won’t be smart enough to turn the box on its side and read the government’s official Nutrition Facts label, which will inform you that the breakfast of choice among five-year-olds is loaded with enough sugar to fuel an army of diabetics. Now comes news that a purportedly non-profit group backed by the paper and timber industries appears to have the upper hand in wresting the certification of ”green” wood products from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which for years has been the established judge of whether wood or paper products deserve to be labeled environmentally friendly. According to reports, an alternative label from the industry-backed Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is close to gaining acceptance from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which rates buildings as environmentally acceptable under its LEED certification system. This would permit wood products carrying the SFI label to be used in green buildings without jeopardizing LEED certification of the building. Public-interest lawyers for Forest Ethics, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting forests, have filed administrative complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service challenging the credibility of the SFI label and SFI’s nonprofit status. However, an FTC ruling on the complaint may not come before USGBC polls its membership on whether to accept the SFI certification. LEED officials reportedly are leaning towards accepting the SFI label because the SFI program certifies more […]
Hangar 17 at New York’s Kennedy Airport is large enough to accommodate several jumbo jets, but it is not used to house aircraft. Strewn across the hangar’s concrete floor are nearly 2,000 pieces of steel. Some are easily recognizable as I-beams used in the construction of a large building. Others have been twisted into contorted shapes impossible to reproduce by man or machine. Most are huge, weighing tons, but a few are slivers and sheets the size of a road sign. Here lies the remains of the World Trade Center, destroyed in the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001. Hangar 17 has been a busy place. According to a recent report in the New York Times, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—which owned the Twin Towers—has been fielding a steady stream of requests for pieces of WTC steel. These requests have come from all over the world: A 15-year-old Boy Scout in Windermere, FL, earned his Eagle rank by arranging for the town to receive the steel for the centerpiece of a 9/11 memorial. A fire department in Saint-Etienne, France, asked for the steel to memorialize the 2,752 victims, including 343 firefighters, who died at the World Trade Center. The Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas asked for a 79-inch piece to fit into a custom case. All who have asked for pieces of what used to be the tallest skyscrapers in New York City have treated these artifacts with respect and sensitivity, evidenced by the driver of a flatbed truck from York, PA, who placed a large American flag on the bed of his truck and then gently loaded a steel beam onto the flag before hauling it to York’s memorial. Unfortunately for all of us, this respect has been missing at the place where it is needed the most — at Ground Zero. In the eight years that have now elapsed since the 9/11 attacks, three New York governors, one New York City mayor, the Port Authority, and one very stubborn real estate developer have been mud-wrestling in public over the 16-acre World Trade Center site. We won’t recount in detail the internecine maneuverings of this group, which has been entrusted with rebuilding the WTC site, including a memorial to the victims of 9/11. Suffice it to say that the developer, who acquired the World Trade Center lease a few months before the attack, is collecting millions of dollars in penalties while he argues with state and city officials over who will finance some mediocre […]
Gov. Steve Beshear andrnEconomic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes have announced thatrnNational Office Furniture, a business unit of Kimball InternationalrnInc., will invest more than $4.5 million in its Fordsvillernmanufacturing plant in an effort to implement new ”green” technologyrnin its products and processes. Arnmanufacturer of wood casegoods products, National Office Furniturerncurrently employs 203 Kentuckians and has been a top performer amongrnKimball facilities in past years. In order to remain competitive andrnavoid consolidation into plants outside of Kentucky, National OfficernFurniture will retool the Fordsville operation to allow the company tornmeet more environmentally friendly product requirements. ”NationalrnOffice Furniture’s decision to reinvest in its Fordsville operation,rnmaking environmentally friendly improvements to its products andrnprocesses, is a fantastic success story,” said Gov. Beshear. ”Itrndemonstrates a perfect scenario where the state can assist existingrnbusinesses in its efforts to retool and become more globallyrncompetitive.” NationalrnOffice Furniture will implement an ultraviolet (UV) light cure finishrnprocess for the application of its water-based UV finish,rnIntegraClear™, which increases clarity and durability while enablingrnNational products to meet strict indoor air quality requirements. The project will also eliminate the use of solvent-borne coatings and manual application of clear coat finish materials. ”Thisrninvestment further strengthens our holistic approach to sustainabilityrnacross people, process and product,” said Don Van Winkle, vicernpresident and general manager for National Office Furniture. ”It’srnalso a testament to the excellent work and dedication of our employees,rnthe Fordsville community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We’re proudrnto invest financially and environmentally in the future of Fordsville.” ThernKentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarilyrnapproved Kimball Furniture Group for up to $615,000 in tax benefitsrnunder the recently expanded Kentucky Reinvestment Act (KRA). Thern10-year program was expanded during the 2009 Special Session of thernKentucky General Assembly in HB 3, also known as the Incentives for arnNew Kentucky bill, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Thompson, of Owensboro. Thernrevised legislation expands the KRA program to allow not onlyrnautomotive-related manufacturing companies, but all Kentuckyrnmanufacturing entities making a minimum investment of $2.5 millionrn(formerly $100 million) in a Kentucky facility to be eligible for taxrnbenefits. Thernlegislation also eliminates the requirement that the existing companyrnemploy 1,000 full-time employees to qualify for the program and allowsrnthe Cabinet for Economic Development to negotiate a full-timernemployment base the company must retain and maintain. ”OhiornCounty commends National Furniture Group in Fordsville for theirrnefforts to implement ‘green’ technology in its products andrnprocesses,” said Ohio County Judge-Executive David Jones. ”Thisrnclearly demonstrates their concern for the future welfare of ourrncounty, as well as their commitment to customers and support of theirrnemployees. We are proud to have National Furniture Group as a part of our corporate community.”
There is a fierce competition overseas for a better future through innovation. In our 15th annual Global Issue, we take a look at some of the leaders.
The Golden State has a proven ability to adapt. The difference is that California tends to change before its background, causing the state to stand out and lead rather than follow unnoticed.