2009 Archives

Talk to the hand

Talk to the hand

The fiscal calamity in California moved closer to the brink of total collapse this week, as the state —which has yet to pass a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1—printed up nearly $600-million worth of IOUs. Unless Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger manages to miraculously find a way to close a mammoth $24-billion budget gap during the holiday weekend, the first wave of 30,000 promissory notes will start flowing out to recipients, including residents awaiting their income tax rebates from the state. The IOUs will require California to repay the owed amounts, along with substantial interest. The Governator thought he had a deal with the state legislature to approve a budget and stop the fiscal bleeding, cobbled together after months of arm-wrestling, but this package fell apart when voters decisively rejected a referendum authorizing new taxes. Without a budget deal, state officials have confirmed that California will run out of money by the end of this month. The Golden State was among several states, mainly in the West and Southeast, that were clobbered by the collapse of the real estate market. Unemployment in California currently stands at close to 12 percent. In the desperate scramble to avoid a default by the nation’s largest state, which could further drag down the struggling U.S. economy, Arnold has proposed everything from selling the L.A. Coliseum to releasing thousands of prisoners from state penitentiaries. As far as we know, the Golden Gate Bridge is not on the auction block yet, but there are some unconfirmed reports that several Terminator costumes and a Mr. Universe belt have turned up on Ebay. Of the 46 U.S. states that have fiscal years ending on June 30, Illinois and Pennsylvania also have failed to pass balanced budgets while Arizona has passed a partial budget. Connecticut, North Carolina and Ohio have measures in place to keep their governments running until they pass full budgets. So as California residents prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July — which marks, among other things, a declaration that taxation without representation is not acceptable in America — they may find an IOU in their mailbox instead of a tax refund. We’re guessing these notices feature a picture of Arnold over the caption, ”Refund? Talk to the hand. I’ll get back to you.” Which raises some interesting questions: If the citizens of California had simply written ”IOU” on their state income tax returns when they sent them in, would Arnold still be proposing to reduce the state’s prison population? Or would the Governator […]

2009 Business Facilities Rankings Report

The ongoing economic downturn is putting every state to the test, intensifying the competition for a dwindling number of new projects and development initiatives. Our annual look at the top-ranked localities reveals those that are thriving as well as surviving.

New England Corporate Moves

MASCOMA OPENING HEADQUARTERS Mascoma Corporation is moving the company’s corporate headquarters from Boston into a new research laboratory and office building in Lebanon, NH. Construction of the new building will be completed in August, with occupancy by September. The producer of low carbon, advanced biofuels was founded in 2006 in nearby Hanover, NH by two Dartmouth College professors, Drs. Lee Lynd and Charles Wyman. The company has operated a research and development lab in Lebanon since that time. Today, the majority of Mascoma’s employees are based in Lebanon. The headquarters move will allow R&D, engineering and commercial development staff to work together under one roof—providing smooth technology transfer from the lab to operating facilities. It will eliminate travel between offices and decrease the company’s carbon footprint. Corporate administrative and operating costs also will be reduced. “The move will provide three things: it will make our production process scale-up easier, provide operating efficiencies, and lower costs”, said Bruce Jamerson, Mascoma chairman and CEO. Mascoma owns and operates a large-scale demonstration facility in Rome, NY that produces cellulosic ethanol from non-food biomass feedstocks such as wood chips. Mascoma’s affiliate Frontier Renewable Resources is actively developing a commercial scale production facility in Kinross, MI, expected to begin construction in 2010. The corporate office move will involve a reduction of 12-15 positions due to elimination of redundant functions and inability of some staff to relocate. However, some new positions will be created in Lebanon, and Rome staffing will be unaffected. Mascoma recently announced that the company has made major research advances in consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), a low-cost processing strategy for production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass. CBP avoids the need for the costly production of cellulose enzymes by using engineered microorganisms that produce celluloses and ethanol at high yield in a single step. “This is a true breakthrough that takes us much, much closer to billions of gallons of low-cost cellulosic biofuels,” said Michigan State University’s Dr. Bruce Dale, editor of the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefineries. In a recent Forbes article, biofuels expert Helena Chum of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, commented on CBP. “This is the golden dream. All of the processes in one super-organism. That would be the lowest cost possible,” she said. CBP is widely considered to be the ultimate low-cost configuration for cellulose hydrolysis and fermentation. Multiple research advances presented by Mascoma at the 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in San Francisco provided proof of concept for CBP. These include advances with both […]

Indiana Corporate Moves

BERRY PLASTICS INVESTS $150 MILLION IN EVANSVILLE FACILITY Berry Plastics Corporation has announced plans to expand its Evansville, IN operations, creating 360 new jobs by 2015. The plastics packaging company, which employs more than 1,200 people in Evansville and more than 13,500 worldwide, will invest $150 million to expand its thermoform operations and build an additional facility to their existing campus. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel recently joined executives from Berry Plastics to announce the expansion. “Berry Plastics” continued growth is a great sign that the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in our state,” said Skillman. “We are pleased they have recognized Indiana as the location to grow their global operations.” Berry Plastics’ expansion plans include the addition of a new 375,800-square-foot facility to increase the capacity of drink cup manufacturing. The company also produces containers, bottles, closures, prescription vials, trash bags, duct tape and other packaging materials. “We’re excited to continue our long history of growth in Evansville where we have enjoyed a terrific relationship with our community, government and employees since 1967. We are pleased to build on our outstanding workforce in Evansville which serves as the foundation for Berry to continue to strengthen our position as a leading plastic packaging supplier,” said Bill Norman, executive vice-president of strategic planning at Berry. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Berry Plastics up to $4.9 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The City of Evansville will provide additional tax phase-in at the request of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. “This is such great news for Evansville. In these tough economic times, it’s truly an encouraging sign to see hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in new investment coming to our community,” said Weinzapfel. “I would like to once again thank Berry Plastics for its continued partnership with the people of Evansville.” Berry Plastics’ announced expansion in Evansville is the fourth investment in four years from the plastic packaging giant. In 2005, the company expanded its existing facilities and support staff that included a 170,000-square-foot addition and 64 new jobs. In 2007, the company made two separate announcements totaling 300 jobs and more than $63 million in capital investment. Berry Plastics is a leading manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging products. Berry Plastics is a major producer of a wide range of products, including open top and closed top packaging, polyethylene-based […]