September, 2010 Archives

Baltek Relocates to High Point, NC

Baltek Relocates to High Point, NC

Materials manufacturer Baltek Inc. will invest $3.5 million and bring 68 jobs to High Point over the next three years, Gov. Bev Perdue has announced. Baltek Inc., a manufacturer of core materials for the wind energy, mass transit, marine and military markets, will relocate to a new manufacturing facility in Guilford County. The New Jersey-based core materials manufacturer Baltek will relocate its operations to High Point. The company plans to create 68 jobs and invest $3.5 million over the next three years. Approximately 56 of the jobs will be newly-created local positions and approximately 12 employees will be transferred to High Point from out of state. The average annual wage for the new jobs by the end of 2011 will be $43,544, not including benefits. The average annual wage in Guilford County is $38,116. The project was made possible in part by a $204,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. The company’s materials are used by manufacturers to make lightweight sandwich structures that enable end products to become lighter and thus more energy efficient. Baltek is a member company of 3A Composites, headquartered in Switzerland with 3,000 employees in Europe, the Americas and Asia.


Nucor Plans $4.3-Billion Steel Plant in LA

Nucor Plans $4.3-Billion Steel Plant in LA

Nucor Corp., the nation’s largest steelmaker plans to build a multi-phased $3.4 billion iron and steel production complex in Convent, LA that that eventually could employ 1,250 workers, Nucor and Gov. Bobby Jindal have announced. The jobs are projected to pay an average of $75,000 per year plus benefits. “This is a huge win for our state and will ultimately be one of the largest industrial projects in Louisiana history,” Jindal said. Nucor has acquired 4,000 acres for the project on the east bank of the Mississippi River in St. James Parish. The first phase of what is planned to be a five-phase project is a $750 million “direct reduced iron” plant employing 150 people. Construction will begin once the company receives a new air quality permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Nucor Chief Operating Officer John Ferriola told the New-Orleans Times-Picayune he hopes that goal can be reached this year. The plant would be completed two years after receiving the permit, Ferriola said. The building of the first phase will create 500 construction jobs.
The additional phases of the project, if Nucor decides to pursue them, could come in any order. The other phases are: a second direct reduced iron facility costing $400 million and employing 100 workers; a $500 million pellet plant with 200 jobs; a $1 billion blast furnace and coke ovens with 300 jobs; and a $750 million steel mill employing 500. An economic impact analysis by Louisiana State University estimates the overall project would generate $563.5 million in new state tax revenue and $122.6 million for St. James Parish through 2033. The Nucor complex would have a ripple effect of 4,800 indirect jobs, the LSU study said. The core of the state incentive package to lure the Nucor project is a pledge of $160 million in grants and forgivable loans that would be spread over the five phases. That pledge includes $30 million drawn from the state capital outlay budget that would be awarded to Nucor to cover some of the company’s costs in buying 4,000 acres of land for the site. The plan is for the parish eventually to hold title to the land and lease it at nominal cost to the company. The Legislature already has approved up to $65 million in capital outlay spending for the project. Another $30 million would come from the state’s mega-projects fund in the form of a loan that would be turned into a grant if Nucor builds a second phase of the complex. The rest […]


Developers Named for Lake Erie Wind Farm

Developers Named for Lake Erie Wind Farm

Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) announced today that it has selected a team of three companies to develop an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie, the first project of its kind in North America. The three partner companies are Bechtel Development Company, Inc. (Bechtel), Cavallo Great Lakes Ohio Wind, LLC (Cavallo) and Great Lakes Wind Energy, LLC (GLWEnergy). The announcement was made by LEEDCo President Dr. Lorry Wagner, who called the developer selection a major step forward in the process of establishing an offshore wind industry which began with a feasibility analysis and study, initiated nearly four years ago. “Our ambitious goals demand a world-class execution team,” said Dr. Wagner. “With these three major contributors in place as the developer, we now have the talent and broad range of expertise necessary to start this exciting endeavor.” Bechtel, Cavallo and GLWEnergy have formed Great Lakes Ohio Wind, LLC (GLOW), the company that will own and develop the project.  Speaking on behalf of the developer team, GLWEnergy Managing Director Chris Wissemann said, “We are looking forward to collaborating with all partners, and providing our combined expertise to help bring Northeast Ohio an exciting project and significant alternative source of energy.” “This is historic. This is the first fresh water off-shore wind project in North America,” said Bill Mason, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor and Chair of Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, a unit, created by Cuyahoga County, for the purpose of exploring the legal, technical, environmental, economic, and financial aspects of developing and implementing advanced energy technologies in the county. “I believe it will be the catalyst to drive economic development in our region and create the next generation of jobs for our children.” The initial project will be a five-turbine, 20 megawatt (MW) pilot wind farm five to ten miles offshore of Cleveland.  Construction on the initial phase is tentatively scheduled to commence in late 2012. By 2020, LEEDCo aims to see 1,000 MW of renewable electricity being generated from lake winds and believes the economies of scale that can be obtained when building such large projects will reduce the cost of that energy to attractive levels. The selection of the developer follows LEEDCo’s May 2010 announcement that General Electric (GE) is the intended supplier of the project’s direct-drive offshore wind turbines and maintenance. “We want Northern Ohio to be the epicenter of a new freshwater offshore wind power industry with associated manufacturing, shipping, and construction jobs,” said Dr. Wagner. “Today’s milestone will position our region as a model for innovation […]


Dialing Up in D.C.

This week comes news from Chattanooga that the mid-sized Tennessee city is preparing to activate the fastest broadband service in the world. That’s 1 gigabit per second, ten times faster than the high-speed digital goal the U.S. government recently declared for the nation. The Feds say we must achieve the puny standard of 100 megabits per second by 2020. South Korea, with an economy less than one-tenth the size of the GDP of the United States, plans to offer 1 gigabit per second service nationally by 2012. Chattanooga, best known for its lumbering choo-choo, says it will have 1 gig service available to all businesses and residents by the end of the year. Do we detect a pattern here? Yes, the federal government moves with the speed of a large dinosaur trapped in a tar pit. If our fast-as-molasses national broadband upgrade doesn’t prove this to you, here are some other recent showstoppers from the goliath in Washington: — Two years after the global financial meltdown, the Securities and Exchange Commission says it finally is “narrowing the focus” of its investigation of accounting practices at Lehman Brothers. However, the SEC admits it is not close to determining whether anything unusual was going on at the defunct nexus of the fiscal calamity in the days leading up to Sept. 15, 2008. — Two weeks after the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released its first comprehensive housing survey of New Orleans since Katrina struck. HUD says it has “discovered” a 13 percent drop in housing units in the Big Easy. Perhaps HUD and FEMA can now join forces to conduct a secondary investigation to determine if the loss of 75,000 housing units in New Orleans was caused by an act of nature. Must have been something really big, like maybe a monster hurricane that everyone watched on TV five years ago. But here’s our favorite: The federal Bureau of Land Management held a week of hearings last month to consider the “artist” Christo’s proposal to drape a 42-mile-long strip of fabric over the Arkansas River in Colorado. Christo says he has spent 18 years working on the logistics of this project. The logistics go something like this: put up poles on both sides of river, attach fabric. Perhaps Christo had trouble choosing a color. The Bureau of Land Management says it will spend at least six more months studying this important concept before rendering a decision. Trivial stuff like exploding oil pipelines, mine disasters […]


Chattanooga Aims to Win Digital Dash

Chattanooga Aims to Win Digital Dash

EPB, a city-owned utility, is expected to announce an initiative that will make Chattanooga, TN one of the world’s leading cities in digital speed. According to a report in today’s New York Times, EPB at the end of this year will begin offering ultra-high-speed Internet service of up to 1 gigabit a second, about 200 times faster than the average broadband speed in America and ten times faster than the national goal recently set by the Obama Administration. Chattanooga will be the first U.S. city to enter the warp-speed broadband sweepstakes, joining a handful of cities worldwide, including Hong Kong. “This makes Chattanooga — a mid-sized city in the South — one of the leading cities in the world in its digital capabilities,” said Ron Littlefield, the city’s mayor. According to the Times, the highest-speed service will be priced at $350/month, which will likely appeal to businesses but may prove a bit steep for residences. The 1 gigabit service will be offered to all of the 170,000 homes and businesses EPB serves. EPB CEO Harold DePriest termed the price point “experimental” because no current business model exists for pricing lightning-fast broadband. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration set a national goal of bringing broadband to 100 million homes at speeds of at least 100 megabits a second by 2020, about a tenth of the speed Chattanooga says it will have up and running by the end of the year. Google, which pledged to supply service of 1 gigabit a second to 500,000 people in the U.S., currently is evaluating applications from about 1,100 communities, including Topeka, KS, which changed its name to Google, KS for the month of March to draw attention to its interest in the program. The Internet search giant is expected to select one or two of these locations later this year. Chattanooga’s move is part of the Tennessee city’s push for high-tech economic development, assisted by federal stimulus funds. Previously, the city won an $11-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate its smart-grid project.


Decision Delayed on SSA Data Center Site

Decision Delayed on SSA Data Center Site

More than $500 million in stimulus funding has been earmarked for a new data center for the Social Security Administration, but the project is six months behind schedule due to debates about the site selection process the agency has used to choose between two candidate sites in Maryland for the 300,000- square-foot facility, NextGov reports. The SSA is seeking a large parcel of land within 40 miles of Baltimore for the new data center, which will replace the agency’s National Computer Center, which is 30 years old and has limited capacity. The facility maintains earnings and benefits information for American workers and processes 75 million transactions per day. In April, government auditors expressed concern that the site selection process had not given enough consideration to the cost of electric power. By August, it appeared choices had been narrowed to Urbana, MD and Woodlawn, MD, not far from the existing site for the agency’s primary data center on a campus in Woodlawn. A decision on a location was scheduled to be made this month. But NextGov reports that Sen. Charles Grassley, a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has raised questions about the SSA’s decision to buy new land for the facility rather than finding space for it on the agency’s existing Woodlawn campus. SSA says the agency “remains troubled about the growing risk of structural problems in its old building,” and continues to work closely with GSA, Congress and the administration to move the project forward. Barring a reveral, the agency hopes to buy land for the new facility by December.


CA OKs $1.25-Billion Mojave Solar Project

CA OKs $1.25-Billion Mojave Solar Project

California energy officials have approved the first large-scale solar project in San Bernardino or Riverside counties since the state adopted mandates to reduce global warming, according to a report in the Press-Enterprise. The 250-megawatt Abengoa Mojave Solar Project will provide clean energy for as many as 100,000 homes and brings in a $1.25 billion investment without using pristine desert lands. It is expected to start construction as early as mid-December on 1,765 acres of privately owned, abandoned farmland about 17 miles northwest of Barstow. Scott Frier, chief operating officer of Abengoa Solar Inc., said the project still needs to obtain federal permits. The company is in line for federal stimulus incentives that would cover 30 percent of the project’s cost. “You can’t break ground until you have your federal environmental permitting in place,” he told the Press-Enterprise. “You also have to get groundbreaking activities going to qualify for federal treasury grants.” The development is expected to employ up to 1,250 people over more than two years of construction, with an average workforce of 830. Once the plant is complete, an estimated 68 people will work there. It would be a huge boost to the communities of Barstow, Hinkley and Victorville, said San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.


Navistar HQ to Remain in Illinois

Navistar HQ to Remain in Illinois

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has announced that Navistar International Corporation will keep its headquarters in Illinois and is moving forward with its plans to expand its Illinois operations, which will create and retain 3,000 permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs over the next several years. Governor Quinn proposed, helped to pass and signed legislation into law in June to expand the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit that specifically benefits Navistar, which was the company’s determining factor to stay in Illinois. “Navistar knows that there is no better place to expand its operations than Illinois, and we tailored a targeted investment package to meet the company’s needs and keep thousands of people working,” said Governor Quinn. “By being innovative and aggressive, we’re seeing significant investment in Illinois, which is creating more jobs and moving our economic recovery forward.” Navistar’s $205 million investment will help the truck and diesel engine manufacturer relocate its headquarters from Warrenville to Lisle and assist with upgrades to an existing manufacturing and research and development facility. In addition, Navistar will make a significant investment to relocate its parts distribution center, currently located in West Chicago, to Joliet. The announcement comes following the company’s decision to terminate its initial plans to open a new headquarters in Lisle after meeting local opposition. Governor Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan immediately stepped in to help resolve those issues, and the reconfigured project is now moving forward. “At Navistar, we like to say that we always want to stand up and stand tall for what we believe, we’re here today because Gov. Quinn did just that,” said Navistar Chairman, President and CEO Dan Ustian. “He stood up for good paying jobs, for economic development and for Lisle and Navistar. We are grateful to his administration and to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for her leadership.” The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the state’s $64.7 million business investment package. The package includes EDGE tax credits and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of Navistar’s workforce. The enhanced EDGE tax credit enables companies in the auto manufacturing industry, which is among Illinois’ largest employers, to retain employee income tax withholdings as an alternative to the current EDGE corporate tax credit and reinvest those funds into operations that create more jobs. “We’re giving companies like Navistar the tools they need to increase their competitiveness and keep this economy moving forward,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “This project is […]


Iowa Gov Wants to End Film, TV Tax Credit

Iowa Gov Wants to End Film, TV Tax Credit

Governor Chet Culver says once the existing state commitments are met, the state tax credit program for film and TV productions in Iowa should be shut down, according to a report on radioiowa.com “We’re not going to be taken for suckers,” Culver told reporters late this morning during a statehouse news conference. “People, unfortunately, exploited that program.” Culver ordered the program suspended nearly a year ago when problems were publicly disclosed. Last week, the Iowa Department of Economic Development issued state tax credits to two Iowa-based productions that had received initial approval from state officials before Culver suspended the program in mid-September of 2009. A handful of state officials connected to the film office have been fired or have resigned and charges have been filed against the former film office manager and against filmmakers who sought tax credits for questionable expenditures. The tax credits were created during former Governor Tom Vilsack’s tenure; earlier this year, the Iowa legislature voted to suspend the program until July 1, 2013. Culver today suggested the jobs created by the film and TV productions weren’t the kind of “permanent” jobs Iowa needs. “Unfortunately, with respect to the film program, people exploited it. They took advantage of it. I’ve had enough of that,” Culver said. “And we need to target our state resources in a way that helps create long-term jobs and we have all sorts of opportunities to do that in the biofuels industry, in the wind energy industry, solar. And that’s where I’m going to make sure we target those investments.” The  Iowa Motion Picture Association has said the state tax credits for movie and TV productions in Iowa had a “positive economic impact” on the state and the group has called for the program to continue.


SAATI Brings Composites Operation to Upstate SC

SAATI Brings Composites Operation to Upstate SC

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and Greenville Area Development Corporation have announced that SAATI Americas Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Italy’s SAATI Group S.p.A., will establish its new U.S. Composites and Protection division operations and certain distribution operations in Greenville County.  SAATI’s investment is expected to generate more than 80 new jobs within the next few years. The company has purchased and plans to immediately begin renovations to a formerly vacant 260,000-square-foot facility, located at 201 Fairview Street Ext. in Fountain Inn, which was formerly owned by KEMET Electronics.  Renovations will include extensive facility modifications and installation of new production and R&D equipment. “This expansion is a critical component of SAATI’s global corporate strategy and symbolizes our commitment to bring SAATI’s world-class engineered materials and technical support to structural composite and protective armor product manufacturers in the Americas,” said Alberto Novarese, president of SAATI Group S.p.A.  “Greenville County offers us a robust business environment and talented workforce to draw on, and Fountain Inn is a receptive community with a readily available building that is well suited to our needs. We look forward to beginning operations in the Upstate, and thank Greenville County, the Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC), the city of Fountain Inn, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce.  Their support helped make this important SAATI expansion in North America possible.” “SAATI Americas is a global leader in the advanced materials sector specializing in producing materials used in a wide range of applications from medical to ballistic protection.  This announcement strengthens our state’s reputation as a leader in attracting advanced manufacturing and serves as a testament that our skilled workforce and business-friendly climate are working to attract new investment and jobs for South Carolinians. We congratulate SAATI on its investment in South Carolina and wish the company much success in its endeavors here,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.