November, 2010 Archives
While we were visiting New Orleans this week for Business Facilities’ annual LiveXchange event, we came across an article in Sunday’s edition of the Times-Picayune detailing an interesting quandary confronting historic preservation districts when they try to address the need to convert to alternative energy. According to the New Orleans daily, Big Easy resident Glade Bilby ran head-on into this quandary when he was proceeding with renovations on his three-story brick townhouse on Esplanade Ave. in the French Quarter. Bilby had no problems when he installed a rainwater collection system and added a foil radiant barrier in his attic to cut down on heat loss in the winter and provide insulation from the summer’s brutal heat. But Bilby apparently crossed an invisible line when he tried to take advantage of state and federal tax credits being offered to homeowners this year for energy efficiency improvements. Bilby wanted to place about $50,000 worth of photovotaic solar panels on the roof of his house, something that thousands of homeowners across the country are doing to generate an alternative source of electricity. Although local housing officials boast that solar and other energy-efficient technologies are beginning to take hold in New Orleans as it continues to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Bilby’s project would be the first of its kind in the French Quarter, which maintains as its top priority the preservation of its old-timey, wrought iron authenticity. Despite a staff recommendation to approve the project, the Vieux Carre Commission, the city’s regulatory agency for the French Quarter, denied Bilby’s application for the work in a close vote on Oct. 19. According to the Times-Picayune report, preservationists have struggled to set standards for incorporating new technologies and energy-efficiency improvements into historic buildings in an area populated by homes that in many cases were built before electricity was available. Ironically, the newspaper notes, the French Quarter was green before it was cool to be green. A French Quarter resident for more than three decades, Bilby plans to appeal the ruling to the New Orleans City Council this month. Bilby noted that actor Brad Pitt has made green building features central to his redevelopment effort in the city’s battered Lower 9th Ward, which was almost wiped out by Katrina. Many of the new structures put up in the 9th Ward in Pitt’s Make It Right campaign have been loaded with features geared to attaining net-zero electric use. Commission members who backed Bilby cited “a myriad of preservation organizations…[which] have recognized the synergy between preservation […]
Less than one year after breaking ground, Levelland City and Economic Development officials will get engines on track for an $8.6 million industrial rail park in the 12,866 population town. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17. “We’ve come a long way in 11 months,” said Dave Quinn, executive director of the Levelland Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). “We’ve used the tagline, ‘Progressive on Purpose,’ here in Levelland for quite some time, and this ribbon-cutting is the culmination of our work — not only for our city, but for the entire West Texas region.” The entire rail portion—which includes a 300-acre development for new businesses—received $3.3 million in federal stimulus funds along with $1.5 million of the LEDC’s cash reserves. The remaining $3.8 million came in the form of a loan through bonds sold by the city and repaid with LEDC sales tax revenues and Tax Increment Financing District Funds. “We are thankful to have received this $3.3 million in stimulus funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act,” said Elgin Conner, LEDC chairman. “This is one of the nation’s largest grants in size and scope. And that says a lot for a town our size to receive recognition for a project such as this.” Quinn said he anticipates the industrial rail park to create 1,000 jobs and $100 million in new capital investment over its first 10 years. “We’re proud the public can now see evidence of the time and effort put in by our engineers, public officials and utility providers,” Conner said. “Chi Energy Inc. relocated flow lines and tank batteries, Xcel and Lamb County Electric completed overhead power lines, while Atmos and Lubbock Gas gathering moved underground gas lines.” In coordinated efforts, utility companies also made way for Railroad Specialties, Inc., out of Littleton, Colorado, to install more than 21,000 track feet of 132# rail and concrete crossties that make up the rail infrastructure of the industrial rail park. Aside from the rail line, the project also includes the addition of water, sewer and street improvements. Now complete, the industrial rail park encompasses 18 total lots, ranging in size from five to 65 acres. Each lot, Quinn explained, has direct access to the rail line.
AREZ LLC will locate its U.S. headquarters and a new manufacturing facility in Crossett, Arizona; their first location in North America. The Irish company will invest approximately $6.8 million in the facility and create 121 new jobs. AREZ will begin construction immediately and hopes to begin initial production by October 2011. The 270,000-square-foot facility on a six-acre site will produce rosin-based resins for the printing ink industry with the capacity to produce 25 million pounds of resin annually. The primary supplier of rosin to AREZ will be Georgia Pacific in Crossett. AREZ Crossett will also provide tolling services for production of resin solutions. John L. Smith, chief operating officer of AREZ LLC, remarked that he has never worked with state and local government officials who have shown such attitudes of “how can we help” and “let’s get it done”. “We at AREZ are thankful for these attitudes because we saw the local manufacturing infrastructure, talent pool, and quality of life as very desirable for us to place our facilities in Crossett,” said Smith. “The government streamlined the process whereby we can get into operation much faster than we would have ever thought possible.” In addition to its headquarters in Ireland, AREZ International also has locations in mainland Europe and China. With the China manufacturing facility at capacity, the company chose to locate in Crossett to better meet the needs of clients in the U.S. “AREZ choosing Crossett is a statement about the quality of life and the resiliency of this community,” said Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced today that ICF International, a global professional services firm, will expand its corporate headquarters in Fairfax County. According to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), ICF is expanding its leased office space to 300,000 square feet for the next 12 years. ICF’s commitment to Fairfax County will result in the investment of $20 million to improve and re-equip its headquarters. The company also plans to create at least 400 jobs over the next three years in Virginia, a majority of them in Fairfax. ICF already has more than 2,500 employees in the region. “Fairfax County is one of the nation’s most dynamic business communities, which makes it a highly desirable location for ICF’s headquarters. Its proximity to Washington, D.C., available transportation infrastructure and well-educated workforce are key determining factors in ICF’s decision to extend its office lease in the county,” said Sudhakar Kesavan, chairman and CEO of ICF International. “ICF International is a major employer in Fairfax County and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the company as it grows,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA. “Professional services companies such as ICF can tap into one of the best-skilled workforces in the world, and their growth here adds to the momentum of business activity we enjoy in Fairfax County.” The FCEDA worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. The Commonwealth of Virginia has provided up to $1 million through incentives programs to ICF to retain its headquarters in Fairfax County. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide training assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. The company is also eligible to receive a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit.
NEW ORLEANS – Nov. 8 – Author and economist Dr. Ronald R. Pollina brought his clarion call for a drastic change in U.S. trade policies to Business Facilities LiveXchange event here today, telling attendees that our leaders must reverse a steep decline in the nation’s ability to compete with emerging global powerhouse China “before it’s too late.” In his keynote address at LiveXchange, held this week at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans’ French Quarter, Dr. Pollina warned that global companies and foreign governments are systematically wiping out what is left of the U.S. manufacturing base, with U.S. government acquiescence bought and paid for by special interests determined to ship jobs offshore. “The line between domestic and foreign companies is blurring,” Dr. Pollina said. “Our trade policy lacks balance and can be bought.” In his talk, the noted geoeconomist and president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., summarized a series of dire statistics and trends that are included in his recently published book, Selling Out a Superpower: Where the U.S. Economy Went Wrong and How We Can Turn It Around. In addition to the outsourcing of jobs to China, Dr. Pollina said the U.S. is losing high-paying engineering, medical, business, technology and manufacturing jobs to its free-trade partners and gaining low-pay service jobs, a trend that will lead to a decline in living standards in the United States. “We are becoming a nation that makes nothing,” Dr. Pollina declared. “Growth has been occurring at the expense of Americans, not for Americans.” Dr. Pollina cited a Goldman Sachs analysis that predicts China’s economy will surpass the U.S. economy as the world’s largest economic superpower by 2025, and will be nearly twice as large by 2050. “When I started writing my book, the prediction was that they wouldn’t pass us until 2045,” he said, noting that some analysts are projecting that the U.S. may even be overtaken by China in this decade. The author also cited a McKinsey Global Institute study indicating the number of researchers in China and India rose 35% to 1.6 million in 2008, while at the same time the number of researchers in the U.S. decreased 11% to 760,000. According to Forrester Research, he said, by 2011 10% of all the associates hired by large U.S. law firms will work overseas; and Nasscom-KPMG predicts that information technology revenues in India will jump from 2004’s level of $22 billion to $148 billion by 2012. Dr. Pollina also gave some stark figures to confirm that the North American Free Trade […]
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and state officials announced that Mountaire Farms will invest approximately $34.5 million to expand its poultry complex in Millsboro. The plant will add 31 new jobs by December 2011for a total of 3600 Mountaire employees in Sussex County. The new state-of-the-art Resource Recovery Center will convert waste into products for the poultry and commercial pet food industries, recycling feathers, carcasses and other processing leftovers. The company received an industrial expansion permit to build in the protected Coastal Zone. In exchange, Mountaire Farms says it will convert boilers from oil to natural gas, install odor controls and make wastewater treatment plant upgrades to cut pollution releases. “Support for the Resource Recovery Plant project is paramount in solidifying Mountaire’s total integration poultry business in Delaware,” said Paul Downes, president of Mountaire Farms. The Delaware Economic Development Office has offered a $787,500 grant from the Delaware Strategic Fund to assist with the development and construction of the new facility, a grant that must also be approved by the Council on Development Finance. “The state’s support of this expansion would continue our commitment to this important sector of our economy, while helping to create jobs and make improvements to the environment. It is a solid investment in the future of our state,” said Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary, Alan Levin.
Clean-tech company Exergonix has agreed to locate a $90 million headquarters in the Kansas City area. Exergonix will produce one-megawatt batteries capable of storing solar or wind energy, supplying it to the power grid during peak times. The producer of energy storage systems will bring 275 new jobs to the metro, according to CEO Don Nissanka. The expansion was made public at the annual luncheon of the Kansas City Area Development Council on Friday.
i/o Data Centers is planning to build a huge data center in New Jersey to serve as the East Coast hub for its growing colocation business. The company is in the late stages of site selection for a modular data center that will occupy 550,000 square feet of space, which would make the center one of the largest in the country. “We’re expanding to the East Coast,” said George Slessman, CEO of i/o Data Centers told Data Centers Knowledge. “We really think it’s critical for our customers to have both East coast and West coast options. We think it’s a natural progression.” The company currently operates two data centers in the Phoenix market , including i/o Phoenix, which at 538,000 square feet is among the world’s largest data centers. Last month, the company acquired a $130-million line of credit facility to finance growth, including the New Jersey data center and additional deployments in Phase II of its Phoenix site. Slessman said the company has narrowed its site search to two locations in New Jersey, including a greenfield site and a retrofit of an existing facility. Either site would be developed using the company’s i/o Anywhere modular data center as the deployment model. The New Jersey market already has seen several new providers open facilities this year. Earlier this month, DuPont Fabros Technology opened a data center in Piscataway; Senitinel Data Centers is in Somerset; and NYSE Euronext recently opened a colocation center in Mahwah.
For some time now, growing numbers of aging Baby Boomers (and some of their offspring) have been beating the drum for legalization of marijuana, arguing that decriminalizing what may be America’s largest “cash crop” could fill depleted state tax revenue coffers and even spur economic development. Voters in four states have spoken this week and they beg to differ. Weed afficionados believed they had their best chance of outright legalization of pot this year in California, home of Haight-Ashbury, birthplace of the late ‘60s hippie phenomenon. California’s Proposition 19 on the Nov. 3 ballot would have allowed the legal cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana for “recreational” as well as medical use. Unfortunately for the Left Coast pothead community, an overwhelming majority of California voters rejected Proposition 19. So much for “California dreaming.” Perhaps even more surprising was the negative vote in three other states to legalize the sale and use of medical marijuana, which already has been embraced by 14 states in the U.S. Arizona, South Dakota and Oregon all decided they don’t want to be number 15 on the medical marijuana bandwagon. Arizona’s Proposition 203 nearly squeaked in, failing by 50.25 percent to 49.25 percent, or less than 6,000 votes. Oregon’s Measure 74 to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries also went down to defeat, by a healthier margin. South Dakota voters trounced a measure to allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions legal access to marijuana—nearly 65 percent of voters opposed the measure, while 35 percent supported it. A similar effort went up in smoke in South Dakota four years ago, but the margin in favor at that time reached 48 percent. Supporters of Initiated Measure 13 argued in vain that legalization for medical use was an issue of compassion for those dealing with the pain and muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis or the debilitating nausea that can accompany chemotherapy for cancer. It is not known at this time whether the surge of voter opposition to decriminalization of even small amounts of medical marijuana also will put the brakes on partial legalization initiatives currently moving through state legislatures in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We suspect this backlash is a reaction to the explosion of marijuana cultivation in California since medical marijuana was legalized there more than a decade ago and the fact that more than 200,000 Californians currently are walking around with “prescriptions” for the herb, which can be obtained for just about any medical excuse, including stress. City officials in Denver, CO recently […]
Economic development officials in Conway say Kimberly-Clark Corp. is moving up its plans for expansion at its plant in Conway, AR. A news release from the Conway Development Corporation the company will add about 100 new full-time positions and invest about $65 million in the plan during the next three years. The company had said it July it would invest about $25 million and add about 40 jobs during the next 18 months. The CDC said the new plans are due to improved business conditions. Kimberly-Clark produces feminine and adult-care products at the Conway plant and currently has about 450 employees.