February, 2010 Archives
A pair of initiatives by Dow Chemical Co. will bring hundreds of green jobs to the state, Michigan Economic Development Corp. confirmed to the Detroit News this week. Dow Kokam MI LLC, a joint venture formed last year between Dow Chemical Co and South Korean partner TK Advanced Battery LLC, will construct a manufacturing facility in Midland for its lithium-polymer batteries for electric vehicles. The project will operate for at least the next 15 years. The facility entails a $294 million investment from Dow Kokam MI over the next three years and will create at least 320 full-time jobs by February 2014. The average weekly wage will be $730, with an additional $85 in weekly health care benefits. Construction on the 400,000-square-foot structure is expected to begin in May. The project’s second phase will construct an identical facility, allowing the venture to power 60,000 electric vehicles. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded the project an estimated $3.4 million in annual Michigan Business Tax abatements. Dow Kokam MI also will receive an estimated $4.3 million in annual property tax breaks. The MEDC’s decision “is a very critical milestone,” said Dow Kokam MI spokeswoman Kristina Schnepf. “This puts us a step closer to being the first advanced battery facility to break ground in the state.” Dow Chemical will partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is involved in producing carbon fibers, in a separate venture to develop a facility focused on low-cost carbon fiber for wind turbine blades and other projects. The project, valued at $20 million, will receive $10 million from Dow and $5 million from the Department of Energy. Dow has requested an additional $5 million from the Center of Energy Excellence, a statewide program to join companies, educational institutions and the state in developing alternative energy technology.
A consortium of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley organizations, regional planners, and the Department of Energy have formed the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor, an initiative to promote alternative-energy-based mass transit and a network of recharging facilities for electric and hybrid vehicles. Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley organizations participating in the effort include the National Transportation Research Center, City of Oak Ridge, Metropolitan Knoxville Municipal Airport Authority, Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Y-12 National Security Complex and UT-Battelle, the partnership which manages ORNL. The goal of the corridor group is make it clear that public and private sectors support for an alternative energy transportation system can greatly reduce the region’s carbon footprint. The Oak Ridge Energy Corridor demonstration project will include alternatively fueled mass transit vehicles, integrated recharging and parking facilities for electric and hybrid vehicles, and intelligent transportation technology. In addition, interconnected bike and pedestrian paths will terminate at key parking and destination locations. The initiative is intended to accomplish four goals. — Enhance electric vehicle use, minimize carbon footprint, and emissions reductions in a region that experiences non-attainment challenges; — Serve as a platform to test, demonstrate, and evaluate intelligent transportation technology utilizing the expertise in the area; — Serve as a public transportation opportunity for an underserved population in a community with a high influx of commuter traffic; — Provide an education opportunity for other regional transportation planning organizations during implementation of energy and environmentally sound transportation projects. Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley has become a hub for alternative energy manufacturers. A major new ethanol facility is under construction by Genera Energy, an arm of the University of Tennessee. Confluence Solar decided last month to build a $200 million manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facility in Clinton, TN, near ORNL, creating 300 jobs. Confluence creates mono-crystal silicon ingots that lower the cost of solar photovoltaic solar power generation. Both Wacker Chemie and Hemlock Semiconductor are building $1 billion-plus plants in Tennessee to produce high quality polysilicon used in solar panels and computers.
The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), a subsidiary of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) was awarded a $22.3 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the US Department of Transportation, Governor Donald L. Carcieri has announced. According to a report on the Gov Monitor Web site, the grant will support wind energy manufacturing and logistical operations and improve marine highway infrastructure at the Quonset Business Park. The QDC is just one of 45 TIGER grant recipients from more than 1,500 applications. “This is a tremendous boost to our ongoing efforts to make Quonset the nation’s hub in renewable energy and offshore wind industries, and to achieve our goal of 20 percent of energy use from renewable sources by 2020,” said Gov. Carcieri. “The $22.3 million TIGER grant will expedite much needed infrastructure improvements to the Quonset pier to support Deepwater Wind’s plans to construct the nation’s first offshore, deepwater wind project.” The grant includes infrastructure improvements to the Port of Davisville piers and terminals in the Business Park. The projects are designed to further support Quonset’s role as a hub for the emerging wind energy industry, with Deepwater Wind already on track to create regional off-shore wind farm manufacturing. The federal funding will support a staging and launching facility at the Business Park. Infrastructure improvements requested to support the offshore wind project and short sea shipping initiative include: funding for a pier repairs, deck surfacing and marine hardware, rebuilding of rail tracks in the port area, terminal improvements, crane platforms and a crane suitable to load and off load windmill components as well as containers. Its purchase would also enable Quonset to take advantage of short sea shipping opportunities and participate in the U.S. Maritime Administration Marine Highway Northeast Corridor. It’s estimated the TIGER grant will aid in the creation of 500—800 jobs. Deepwater Wind is actively planning two Rhode Island offshore wind projects: The Block Island Wind Farm, with up to eight wind turbines located three miles off the coast of Block Island, and the Rhode Island Offshore Wind Farm, a project that will be located 15 to 20 miles offshore. The Block Island Wind Farm is on target to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Together, the wind farms are expected to produce 15 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity needs. Deepwater Wind has leased 117 acres at Quonset Point for the development of its two proposed wind farms.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the selection of community based organizations in 18 states to receive funding to promote economic growth. USDA Rural Development Rural Housing Administrator Tammy Trevino made the announcement on Vilsack’s behalf while attending an event with Senator Blanche Lincoln at the Arkansas Studies Institute in Little Rock. The organizations will receive more than $6.5 million in total grants to support rural economic development efforts. “These funds support USDA’s partnership with rural America to bring increased economic opportunity to rural citizens and communities,” Vilsack said. “They will serve as investments that will help organizations build the capacity and expertise of local nonprofit groups.” For example, in Little Rock, Ark., Winrock International was selected to receive a $251,706 grant to help local groups establish economic development projects, and deliver services including energy audits, teach sustainable business practices and management. In Bozeman, Mont., Rural Community Innovations, d/b/a National Enterprise, was selected to receive a $251,706 grant to develop a program that provides technical assistance to two non-profit tribal entities and three federally recognized tribes. Rural Community Innovations will help organizations develop community facilities and housing for low-income and elderly residents along with at-risk and homeless youth in rural communities. Land-of-Sky Regional Council, in Asheville, N.C., was selected to receive a $50,700 grant to provide technical assistance to help local organizations deliver housing assistance services. Training and technical assistance efforts involve financial planning and management; strategic planning; personnel selection; and sustainability. The funding announced today is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Community Development Initiative Program which helps community based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, increasing the value of the grants. The grants are awarded to public or nonprofit intermediary organizations. The funds are then provided to recipients, which must be located in eligible rural areas. Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. The grant awards announced today are not provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The complete list of the RCDI grant recipients is below. Arkansas — Winrock International: $251,706 California — Self-Help Enterprises: $251,706 — Walking Shield, Inc.: $251, 706 Colorado — Colorado Community Revitalization Association: $136, 268 Delaware — National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research: $66,800 Georgia — Georgia Legal Services Program: $150,000 — Southwest Georgia United Empowerment Zone, Inc.: $251,706 Idaho — University of Idaho: $163, 846 Iowa — Iowa League of RC &Ds: […]
We’ll be the first to admit that as we have tracked the burgeoning implementation of wind-powered energy in the past two years, our attention has been focused on the “wind corridor” that stretches through the middle of the country from the upper Great Plains down into Texas. Frankly, New York City and suburban New Jersey do not readily come to mind when the subject is wind power. But innovators based in the nation’s largest city are aiming to change that perception, and the results of their efforts may be coming soon to a street near us. Last month, a New Jersey law was enacted regulating small wind energy projects. The measure is designed to facilitate wind energy without interfering with aviation. New Jersey Assembly Bill 3740, which became law Jan. 16, prohibits municipalities from enacting ordinances that “unreasonably limit or hinder” the performance of small wind energy systems. The bill does require those systems to comply with all applicable FAA requirements, including regulations regarding installations close to airports. The New Jersey law prohibits ordinances such as those that restrict overall height or noise level, require tower setback from neighboring properties, or prohibit such systems entirely in the municipality. It limits the development of small wind energy systems as they relate to aviation by requiring compliance with FAA regulations and all applicable airport zoning regulations. This protects airports and airspace from encroachment. Across the Hudson on 48th Street in New York City, a firm that bills itself as “a world leader in small wind energy” is gearing up put the New Jersey wind energy statute to the test. Their product offering may literally change the landscape in the Garden State in a unique way that harkens back to a golden era when everyone had a huge TV antenna attached to the roof of every house in the neighborhood. Urban Green Energy manufactures a home-sized vertical axis wind turbine, which looks a bit like an oversized street light with a fan attached to it. The UGE-4KW is an 18-foot unit that can generate up to 4 kilowatts of power. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the average household runs on about 1.3 kilowatts of power. UGE says the turbine is “quieter than a human whisper,” which makes it more suitable for residential use in suburban areas. Homeowners may emit more than a whisper when they hear the price tag: currently a hefty $17,000 per turbine. But UGE is quick to point out that each turbine qualified the owner for a 30% federal tax credit; and […]
Macon, GA Mayor Robert Reichert and Macon Bibb County Industrial Authority Chairman Cliff Whitby have announced that Bombardier Aerospace will open a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operation at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. The Canadian-based transportation giant will invest $2 million, employ 180 maintenance and support personnel and occupy the former Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) building, a 91,808-square-foot facility. “As Georgia continues to pursue excellence in the aerospace sector, the relocation of Bombardier to the state is a great step in that direction,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “I join with the Macon community and the Middle Georgia region in welcoming yet another aerospace industry leader to the state.” The facility will be operated by Bombardier Customer Service and will complement the two Bombardier-owned commercial aircraft service centers in Bridgeport, WV and Tucson, AZ. “The investment in the Macon service center, as well as the new one at Schiphol (Airport in Amsterdam), is evidence of Bombardier’s ongoing commitment to improve the maintenance support we offer our customers, and the 10-year contract with ASA is a testament to the quality we provide throughout our service centers,” said James Hoblyn, president, Bombardier Customer Services & Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Customer Services has signed a 10-year exclusive agreement with Georgia-based ASA, becoming the exclusive provider of heavy maintenance services for ASA’s fleet of 150 CRJ aircraft (including 108 CRJ200, 38 CRJ700 and 10 CRJ900 models). “Bombardier Customer Services has proven to be a reliable heavy maintenance provider for ASA’s Bombardier fleet and we are pleased to be extending our well-established partnership with Bombardier Customer Services in Macon,” said Ken Ashworth, Vice President, Maintenance, Atlantic Southeast Airlines. “Macon and Middle Georgia is a strategic location for aerospace and aviation businesses and the state of Georgia is home to more than 500 firms that perform all facets of work in the aircraft maintenance industry.”Commissioner Ken Stewart, Georgia Department of Economic Development said, “We have worked hard to maintain and expand industry in the Macon-Bibb County community and are therefore very pleased to have Bombardier conduct its operations here in conjunction with ASA,” said Cliffard Whitby, Chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. “This success reflects the quality of our skilled workforce and training and the cooperation and collaboration among community leaders.” Bombardier joins Boeing, Timco, Vought, Northrop Grumman and Robins Air Force Base, the largest industrial complex in the state, in Georgia’s Aerospace Corridor. “We are delighted that Bombardier has made the decision to locate at Middle Georgia Regional Airport; not […]
President Obama put his stamp of approval this week on the reemergence of nuclear power in the United States, announcing that the Energy Department will back the construction of two reactors in Georgia with $8.3 billion in loan guarantees. The Southern Company and two partners will build the twin reactors, which will be located in Burke County. If it is completed, the project will be the first successful nuclear power initiative in the U.S. since 1973. The 1979 radiation leak at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, PA, and an explosion in building costs for reactors put the nuclear power industry in mothballs for the past three decades. A few years after the scare in Pennsylvania, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo ordered Long Island Lighting Co.’s Shoreham nuke plant dismantled when LILCO failed to produce an evacuation plan for the New York metropolitan area. The Shoreham plant, about 20 miles east of the nation’s largest city and costing nearly $5 billion, was essentially complete and within weeks of loading in fuel rods when the project was canceled. Globally, the nuclear power industry also took a major hit when a Russian reactor blew up in 1986 in Chernobyl, rendering the surrounding area a wasteland and sending a plume of radioactive gas as far as the Arctic. However, several nations, most notably France, forged ahead and constructed dozens of reactors that today provide a majority of their electricity generation. In a speech in Lanham, MD, President Obama hailed the Georgia project as a major clean energy initiative that would eliminate the 16 million tons of carbon emissions a comparable coal-burning plant would produce, the equivalent of taking more than 3 million cars off American roads. The Obama Administration has adopted a more favorable view of nuclear power in an effort to win bipartisan support for its sweeping energy legislation, which includes a controversial cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Despite the promised financing from the federal government, the Georgia reactors still must win design approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose staff reportedly has raised questions about whether changes made to harden the reactor containment vessels against aircraft attack might make them more vulnerable to earthquakes. The builders hope to have a license to construct and run the plants by the end of next year, under a process that is geared to avoid the huge cost overruns that plagued and ultimately doomed nuclear power initiatives in the 1970s and ‘80s. The Southern Company applied two years ago to the NRC for permission to build and operate the reactors […]
The 2010 Index of Silicon Valley paints a gloomy picture of California’s recession-battered high-tech hub and warns that rapid economic growth in other countries coupled with the Golden State’s legislative gridlock is “draining the lifeblood of funding and foreign talent” from the Valley. Reclaiming Silicon Valley’s prosperity and prominence as a technology leader is not a given, argues the report released this month by Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The comprehensive yearly study, which tracks economic and social trends in the region, concludes that Silicon Valley’s vibrant innovation economy is “stalled” and a recovery is shrouded in “a new phase of uncertainty.” The 76-page 2010 Index reports the latest data and trends in economic development, workforce, housing, education, public health, land use, environment, governance, arts and culture and other sectors throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and portions of Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties. An accompanying Special Analysis section of the report each year takes a closer look at a particularly significant topic. The region known for decades as Silicon Valley is centered in the San Jose/Mountain View, CA area, home to a large number of tech giants. The Valley has been clobbered by more than 90,000 in job cuts since the recession cratered in 2008. “Silicon Valley’s innovation engine has driven the region’s prosperity for 60 years, but at the moment we’re stalled,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture. “What’s hard to say is whether we’re stuck in neutral, which has happened before, or whether it’s time now for a complete overhaul.” “This year’s Special Analysis is a call to action for all of us,” said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. “On the heels of the worst economic year since the Great Depression, our region has entered a new era of uncertainty in which our ability to attract top talent, fund innovation and preserve a decent quality of life is no longer guaranteed.” The Index is published in conjunction with the annual “State of the Valley” conference, a town hall-style gathering of regional leaders, elected officials and citizens in a daylong discussion of Silicon Valley’s economic opportunities, challenges and future. Joint Venture presents the conference with the Community Foundation as lead sponsor. The 2010 conference took place on Feb. 12 at the McEnery San Jose Convention Center. Highlights of the 2010 Index and Special Analysis include: Foreign Talent – With increasing global partnerships, Silicon Valley grows ever more dependent on foreign talent – particularly […]
As the winter Olympics unfold in Vancouver, B.C., the quadrennial guessing game has begun. Speculation is rampant, but not about which competitors will take home the most medals. Possibly the biggest question mark hanging over western Canada right now is whether the Games will turn a profit. Even before the festivities of the opening ceremonies began, Canadian newspapers were debating the accuracy of official cost estimates and calculating “hidden costs” that could send the overall price tag for the global event into the stratosphere. A report in the Vancouver Sun newspaper pegged the bill for the 2010 Olympics at an astounding $6 billion, including at least $900 million in security to protect the participants from terrorists. According to the Sun, much of the actual cost is being hidden from the public. British Columbia’s auditor-general, John Doyle, has complained that improvements that should be counted as Olympic expenses—including a $1-billion Sea-To-Sky Highway upgrading, a $1-billion trade and convention center, and $2 billion in improvements to the Canada Line—have not been included in the province’s official estimates. Doyle “can’t dig out the province’s costs and he has all but thrown in the towel,” the Sun reported. In addition to obvious infrastructure expenditures, there also were some “coincidental” outlays, the Sun says, including a $300-million “Olympic bonus” that unionized government employees got for signing a four-year contract that ends after the Games, and the cost incurred by the Canadian Education Ministry to develop an “Olympic curriculum.” While the immediate economic benefits from the Olympics are relatively easy to add up—including nearly 200,000 Olympics-related jobs and a huge boost in tourist dollars and image-building for the Olympic venue and surrounding environs—the long-term impact is harder to gauge. If recent history is a guide, the outlook is not bright. Former Olympic sites have left behind a staggering legacy of debt that has nearly sunk host cities financially, brought a nation or two to its fiscal knees, and even threatened an entire global currency. The bills are still be paid for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, which virtually bankrupted the city. Barcelona and Sydney also took huge financial hits. The frontrunner for Olympic disaster stories appears to be Greece, which ponied up an estimated $14 billion to stage the Summer Games in 2004. Greece’s Olympian tab currently is being cited as a major factor in that nation’s financial collapse this year, which is threatening to brink down the Euro, the EU’s unified currency. London, which is set to host the Summer Games in 2012, also may have bitten off […]
Wisconsin is moving to make use of $238 million in economic development bonding provided under the federal stimulus program. Gov. Jim Doyle recently signed legislation enabling the state to pool its federal recovery zone bonds to fund job-creation projects statewide. “By pooling these resources together, we will make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity and move forward job-creating projects across the state,” Gov. Doyle said. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, counties and local governments are authorized to issue tax-exempt conduit bonds, known as Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, for private-sector economic development projects. However, since the funds allocated to Wisconsin were divided among the state’s 72 counties (as well as the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay), most counties did not have a large enough allocation to make tax-exempt financing for economic development cost effective. The legislation enacted in Wisconsin automatically waives unobligated Recovery Zone Facility Bonds into one statewide pool. Authorization for the bonds expires Dec. 31, 2010. “It was vital that this provision become law quickly so that shovel-ready projects can move forward and the bond allocations won’t go to waste,” state Sen. Julie Lassa, a co-author of the bill, told the Business Journal of Milwaukee. The signing of the bill will fund projects like Energy Composite Corp.’s proposed wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Wisconsin Rapids, projected to create 600 jobs. Under the new law, Energy Composite will be able to apply for bonds from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for the multi-million dollar expansion. Gov. Doyle signed the legislation in a ceremony in Wisconsin Rapids.