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Pierre Foods, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of fully cooked meats and frozen sandwiches, has selected its existing manufacturing facility in Claremont, NC for a project that will maintain more than 700 and create 500 new jobs over the next three years with an investment of more than $16.8 million. While salaries will vary from position to position, the more than 500 jobs to be created will have an average salary of $26,461 a year, excluding the benefits package. A state grant from the One North Carolina Fund helped make the project possible and helped to retain the existing 717 employees. Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Pierre Foods was founded in 1946. Since 1979, Pierre Foods’ Claremont facility has used high quality USDA-inspected meats and hearth-baked breads to produce a wide variety of frozen sandwiches and other handheld products for the food service, school, military, warehouse club, vending and convenience store markets. The Claremont facility is one of Pierre’s most efficient and productive facilities. “Pierre Foods is thrilled at this opportunity to support both growth in our business and economic activity in the state of North Carolina,” said Bill Toler, CEO of Pierre Foods. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the State and thank all of our dedicated employees within the region for their contributions to our success.” “We’re very grateful that Pierre Foods has selected their Catawba County facility for this expansion. These jobs, both retained and new, will have a real and tangible impact on many families in our county that have been struggling in recent times. We congratulate Pierre Foods on their success and thank them for their faith in the hard-working people of Catawba County,” said Kitty Barnes, chair of the Catawba County Commissioners. “Pierre Foods has been an important member of the Claremont community for over 30 years,” said Claremont Mayor David Morrow. “We are excited to see them grow and become one of the top employers in Catawba County. We wish them continued success and look forward to working with them to keep making Claremont such a great place to live and work.” “It is always very encouraging to see an existing industry such as Pierre Foods grow and provide additional jobs for the citizens of Catawba County,” Tony Rose, chair of the Catawba County EDC Board, said. “We are committed to helping our existing industries thrive and will continue to be fully supportive of their efforts to grow. We look forward to working with Pierre to make this expansion successful.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has enacted deep budget cuts since taking office in January, is now taking aim at the Garden State’s highly touted Clean Energy Program. Gov. Christie notified the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which oversees the program, that he is diverting $158 million in clean energy funds to help offset a $2.2-billion state budget deficit. Environmentalists have expressed concern that dozens of clean energy programs may be scaled down, including a generous solar energy rebate program that has made New Jersey a leader in renewable energy. Another program facing the ax provides New Jersey residents with a $50 rebate for recycling their old refrigerators (the program includes free pickup). “If we take this money (out of the budget), we’re basically stopping clean energy projects for the next two years,” Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey told the Record newspaper. Established in 2003, the state’s Office of Clean Energy funds a diverse slate of renewable energy initiatives, including multimillion-dollar rebates to support offshore wind power production. New Jersey has established a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources by 2020. The BPU adopted a $269-million budget in December, of which $168 million was dedicated to rebate commitments for solar and other energy-efficient projects.
Wyoming will have more authority over the siting of wind farms and the state will begin taxing wind energy production under bills that Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed into law Friday, the Billings Gazette reported. The $1-per-megawatt-hour tax on wind energy generated in the state goes into effect in 2012. The wind industry fought the tax bill unsuccessfully this session. Industry lobbyists had urged lawmakers to study the issue more and warned that higher taxes would discourage development. The governor also signed a bill to extend the state’s permitting authority over wind farms and their related collector transmission lines. The third bill he signed sets a moratorium on the use of eminent domain powers to take private land for collector lines until June 30, 2011. A fourth bill was still pending Friday that would set minimum county standards and restrictions for wind developments. In his farewell address to the House and Senate, Freudenthal said passing the wind bills sends the message that while Wyoming welcomes the wind industry, it will only do so on terms that are good for its quality of life and economic development—and only if the industry pays its own way. “I believe that (a tax) should be applied, so all the economic activities in this state are on an equal footing,” Freudenthal said. Cheryl Riley, executive director of the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, said her group looks forward to working with the governor’s office and the Legislature over the interim to hash out issues related to wind development. Riley told the Gazette her organization supported the bills on the state’s permitting authority and industrial siting standards because they would create regulatory certainty. Riley said her group opposed the tax bill but regards what the Legislature passed as essentially a “placeholder” for the state while it works out details of how it intends to tax the industry in the future.
ConAgra says it is going to shut its Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, NC within 15 to 18 months. The company says it will cost too much to rebuild the portion of plant damaged in last June’s explosion; compared to what it costs to make Slim Jims in Troy, Ohio. “Our facility in Troy is larger, more modern and is more conducive to the expansion we need for this product line,” said ConAgra’s Greg Smith. Before the plant closes, the company says it will do what it can to help it’s 400 or so employees find work at other ConAgra facilities or elsewhere. In addition, it will give the town $3-million to help build a community center, and donate both its manufacturing plant and land to the town so that it may use it to attract a new business. “When they leave, what we will have is an excellent shell facility that can be easily adapted for other businesses,” said Garner Economic Development Director Tony Beasley. Officials say not only will the facility be tenant ready; but it will offer other advantages to a potential employer. “The facility has a pre-treatment plant on-site that will be a part of the facility when ConAgra vacates,” said Ken Atkins, who is the Executive Director of Economic Development for Wake County. “That’s very attractive to companies that use those processes such as biotechnology or pharmaceutical or a foods related company,’’ claims Atkins.
Dow AgroSciences has announced plans for a $340 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters that is expected to create 577 high-paying jobs over the next five years. The investment will greatly expand the company’s research and development capacity. The company expects most of the positions to pay between $65,000 and $95,000 annually. Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Midland, MI-based giant Dow Chemical Co., produces agricultural products including seeds and pesticides. It has made a major push into biotechnology, and plans to roll out five products by 2012 that could generate $800 million annually in new sales. The first phase of Dow AgroSciences’ expansion will be the addition of a 14,000-square-foot greenhouse and a 175,000-square-foot research and development facility at its corporate campus on the city’s northwest side. The greenhouse should be finished by year’s end, according to the company, while the R&D facility slated to open in early 2012. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. gave Dow AgroSciences $12.5 million in performance-based tax credits and another $205,000 in training grants to encourage the company’s expansion. The city of Indianapolis will kick in another $500,000 from its Industrial Development Grant Fund to help pay for road, sewer and water improvements related to the project. Indianapolis has also committed to establish a property tax increment financing, or TIF, district to help Dow AgroSciences defer $20 million in project costs. The TIF district must be approved by city and state officials. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard joined Dow AgroSciences CEO Antonio Galindez on Thursday morning to announce the expansion. “R&D leadership in the life sciences is a dream of every state in the union,” Daniels said in a press release. “Here in Indiana, it’s not a dream, but a vibrant reality, and Dow AgroSciences’ steady growth is a major reason why. This expansion makes Indiana a true world capital of agricultural science.” Dow AgroSciences’ expansion announcement follows two expansions last year. In July, the company signed a 15-year lease resulting in construction of an 80,000-square-foot R&D building adjacent to its headquarters. In September, Dow AgroSciences said it will expand its presence in Purdue University’s West Lafayette Research Park, adding up to 30 jobs.
Top business leaders from Pueblo and Colorado Springs have formed a new partnership to champion Southern Colorado’s economy. The region’s chambers of commerce and economic development agencies will participate in a regional group called the Southern Colorado Business Partnership, the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reports. A regional group already exists in Northern Colorado, linking the Fort Collins and Greeley areas. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other groups play a similar role in the Denver area. “There’s strength in numbers,” Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce President Rod Slyhoff told the Chieftain. The organizations that currently participate represent more than 4,000 businesses and 140,000 workers, group members said. Pueblo Economic Development Corp. Chair Ken Conyers likened the group to a business version of Action 22, the 22-county lobbying group that monitors a wide range of issues in the region. Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce President David Csintyan noted heavy competition for jobs from Denver and Northern Colorado and said the new group puts the southern region “on a level playing field” with the other alliances in the state. The regional group is an outgrowth of the former Pikes Peak Regional Business Partnership in Colorado Springs, members said. The Pikes Peak group recently extended an invitation to Pueblo’s business community, including the Latino Chamber of Commerce, to team together and change the group’s name to reflect a more regional scope. The group also added the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. The group will host periodic meetings and forums on business issues, conduct joint studies on economic development and join on lobbying initiatives. Other plans include a possible regional summit on business and economic development.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the expansion in Princeton, KY of Bremner Food Group, the nation’s largest supplier of private label cookies and crackers. Bremner Food Group, a subsidiary of Ralcorp Holdings, will install new production lines, relocate production lines from other facilities and increase its warehouse space to handle increased capacity. The expansion project will result in 111 new full-time jobs and represents an investment of $62.1 million in the Commonwealth. “Kentucky is delighted that Bremner Food Group has chosen Princeton as the site of this major expansion, creating 111 new employment opportunities and investing more than $62 million in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Bremner Food Group has been an outstanding corporate citizen since opening its doors in Princeton in 1993. We will continue to work with Bremner Food Corp. and other existing Kentucky companies to partner on future expansion opportunities.” Bremner Food Group will increase the size of its existing facility, located at 1476 U.S. 62 West in Princeton, by approximately 200,000 square foot for a total of 900,000 square feet. Additionally, the company has acquired another 32 acres to accommodate the expansion for a total of 65 acres. The Princeton plant currently employs 600 team members in numerous production and support functions. Products range from Saltines and Graham Crackers to Fig Bars and Animal Crackers. The plant also produces Shredded Wheat and a private label version of Triscuit. “We would like to thank Gov. Beshear and the Cabinet for Economic Development for their support and are very excited to once again work with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on expanding the Princeton manufacturing plant,” said Steven Smith, vice president of Human Resources for Bremner Food Group. “They made our decision to invest in Princeton and expand the operation a very easy one. This expansion is also further validation of our commitment to the Princeton team members and our community. We also want to thank Mayor Gale Cherry and the civic leaders of Princeton and Caldwell County who helped make this happen. We look forward to a long and prosperous future in this community.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Bremner Food Group for tax benefits up to $5 million under 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 Bremner Food Group is $500,000. “Bremner Food Group Inc. has been an outstanding community partner for nearly 20 years. In addition to employing over 660 […]
Industry-specific clusters are thriving along I-90 in northern Illinois due to close collaboration and proximity. One of the most successful industry-specific manufacturing hubs in the United States is located in an area known as the Golden Corridor, which stretches along I-90 in northern Illinois. In 2009, business and financial services employed 31,758 in the Golden Corridor; information technology and telecommunications, 17,185; biomedical and biotech, 12,009; defense and security, 10,191; advanced materials manufacturing, 7,320; and computer and electronics manufacturing, 4,186. A burgeoning cluster of precision machine tool producers and their suppliers has taken root in the Corridor, centered on several locations—Schaumburg, Elgin, Rolling Meadows, and Hoffman Estates. Among the major precision tool makers to establish operations in the Golden Corridor are industry giants Mori Seiki, FANUC Robotics, Amada, BIG Kaiser and Mazak Optonics. Amada decided to place its Amada Solution Center in Schaumburg because it was impressed with the Golden Corridor’s reputation for fostering an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, key factors in attracting highly skilled workers, a company spokesman said. The 133,000-square-foot Solution Center, the design of which was inspired by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, provides access to technological expertise and research, real-time demonstrations of metal fabrication systems, and advanced training and development to companies throughout North America. Amada America Inc. produces sheet metal fabrication equipment, including CNC turret punch presses, laser-cutting systems, press brakes, robotic bending systems, flexible manufacturing systems and software. According to several toolmakers, close proximity to suppliers and access to a huge market also were major attractions for locating within the Golden Corridor. “They all work together on various aspects of toolmaking. One may make a material holder while another performs a lathe process or another supplies the robotics to implement the cutting of the tool,” explains Gary Skoog, Hoffman Estates economic development manager. Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows currently are spearheading an effort to create the Golden Corridor Innovation and Science Park. Unlike a traditional science and technology business park, this entity is planned as more of a “virtual” park that will enable companies to network with each other to promote innovation. Such a network—using International Association of Science Parks guidelines–would facilitate communications and collaboration regarding supply chain management, cooperative outsourcing, and available labor pool, among other issues. Formative plans for the Innovation and Science Park envision a “three-legged stool:” the first leg is the network; the second leg consists of institutions of higher education in the area, many of whom have licenses for patented processes, are growing entrepreneurship programs, and […]
Sectors of the call center industry did more than show surprising resilience in the downturn—they actually thrived and added job growth across the economy. As with many of the industrial sectors in the U.S. today, economic news about the call center/IT/data center industry is a mixed bag in terms of growth. The good news is that according to the National Association of Call Centers (NACC), which tracks the call center industry globally, more call center jobs were gained in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2009 than lost. This news also was bolstered by the fact that it was a part of a three-quarter-long recovery. The bad news was that the number of call center openings versus closings was down. According to the NACC, the largest growth in call center jobs came from the Financial Services Sector. King White, president of Site Selection Group, a location consulting firm that focuses on call center and back office site selection globally, reported in July, 2009 that unlike other sectors of the economy, certain sectors of the call center labor market were flourishing; what’s driving them is a demand for business process outsourcing (BPO) and accounts receivable management (ARM) services. “This [was] probably the strongest month we’ve had in 12 to 18 months,” White said of the jump in June. “We had huge numbers, 20,000 total jobs created, which is what it was during the peak of the economy two years ago.” According to Site Selection Group’s research, 20,485 new jobs were created in the industry worldwide with 56% of those jobs located in the U.S., and the BPO industry led the way with 15,560 jobs. The financial services industry and debt collection services industry also added jobs at this time. The economic downturn also shifted the way call center site selection has been occurring. Many large corporations laid off employees and closed divisions such as customer service, financing and collections, preferring to outsource these functions instead. However all of these functions still must be performed for customers. This is what’s provided the growth in BPO and ARM call centers, according to Susan Arledge, president/CEO of Arledge Partners Real Estate Group. It creates a specific necessity for “plug and play” properties where companies can be operational quickly without a large capital outlay. Arledge says her company tracks several million square feet of these types of locations. “There are many former contact center properties that had been operational or had been built but never occupied when corporate plans changed or client contracts fell […]
QUALITY COUNTS Topeka is the capital city of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It has a population of 123,446 (Shawnee’s population is 174,709) and consistently ranks eight to ten percent below the national average for cost of living, making for a comfortable quality of life. The City shows active pride and investment in healthcare, education and community development, turning out a highly educated workforce. The Topeka Public School District earned the U.S. Department of Education National Schools of Excellence Award and approximately 85 percent of Shawnee county residents age 25 and older are high school graduates or have completed an equivalency, with 36 percent of residents holding a bachelors or higher. Two nationally acclaimed research universities (University of Kansas and Kansas State University) are adjacent to the community and Topeka’s own Washburn University is top 10-rated in the Midwest. The City has a lively performing arts scene, recreation facilities for nature lovers, as well as activities and attractions for every taste. Topeka, Not Business as Usual With the cost of doing business and energy costs lower than the national average, Topeka is headquarters to national and international companies that include Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and Security Benefit. The City encourages new direction and growth and offers solutions to help business with customer retention, development of a more efficient supply chain and finding new profit opportunities. Topeka’s target industries include heavy manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, animal sciences and food processing. Emerging targets include robotics manufacturing and data centers. Topeka encourages a return on investment by offering state and local incentives for conducting business in the City: • Free land and cash based on the quality of jobs created • Machinery and equipment exemption from personal property taxes • Funding for bioscience • State and Local taxes that are 11 percent lower than the national average • Office rentals 26 percent lower than national average • NaviGate, to help maximize resources, assess entrepreneurs’ needs and standardize progress with partner organizations The Central Park Connection Topeka has a central location with prime highway and rail transportation networks (BNSF and Union Pacific). It is within one hour of Kansas City International airport and Topeka’s own Forbes Field airport offers admission to a Foreign Trade Zone and direct access to two runways (12,800′ and 7,000′). The City provides close proximity to intermodal facilities, telecommunications services and high speed Internet, ranking with New York City and San Francisco for fiber optic cable per square mile. Topeka capitalized on its location with the 500-acre […]