The largest public transit project in the nation—which was earmarked to receive the largest single allocation of federal stimulus dollars—apparently has been killed by a slash from the relentless budget-cutting sword wielded by New Jersey’s governor. Gov. Chris Christie abruptly announced this week that New Jersey is pulling out of an $8.7-billion project to construct a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Ground already had been broken for the rail tunnel and more than $3 billion in federal financing (with an additional $2 billion from the Port Authority of NY/NJ) had been arranged. More than 6,000 construction jobs were in the process of being filled for the shovel-ready project. The rail tunnel has been in the planning stages for decades as an alternative route into New York City for NJ Transit’s northern rail hub, which serves the most densely populated region of the United States. The Garden State’s commuter rail giant currently relies on two tracks that travel across the Hudson through a single, century-old tunnel which rapidly is approaching its capacity limit. After learning that original estimates for the rail tunnel project had ballooned by at least $2.5 billion, Gov. Christie said New Jersey could not afford its one-third share of the project’s cost. The decision shocked federal officials, who viewed the tunnel project as a crown jewel of the federal stimulus program. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is seeking an emergency meeting with Christie to try to get the governor to reverse course. The state’s portion of the rail tunnel funds reportedly will be reallocated to fill a yawning deficit in NJ’s highway and bridge repair fund. Despite slashing New Jersey’s bloated state budget by nearly $3 billion since taking office in January, Gov. Christie recently discovered that the state’s dedicated fund for bridge repair and roadwork has run out of money after years of underfunding by the state Legislature. The governor previously indicated that an increase in the state tax on gasoline, currently one of the lowest in the nation, is not an option to close the fiscal gap. We give Gov. Christie kudos for boldness. Let’s face it, it’s not every day that a state chief executive turns down more than $5 billion in ready cash from the Feds and a regional agency. We will reserve judgment on the wisdom of Gov. Christie’s decision. There are some nagging questions about the long-term impact of this action, and a few doomsayers are imagining a worst-case scenario that might confront future rail commuters in the Garden State. […]
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, has announced it has approved the first large-scale solar-energy projects to ever be built on public land. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved for two solar installations, both on public lands in California. One of the alternative-energy projects approved was proposed by a subsidiary of the oil giant Chevron. The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, which will be overseen by the Chevron subsidiary Chevron Energy Solutions of California, was granted use of 422 acres of public land in San Bernardino County, Calif., for the purpose of building a 45-megawatt solar plant consisting of 40,500 solar panels. The land is located near California State Route 247 north of San Bernardino National Forest and abuts an existing transmission line. When complete it’s expected to generate enough electricity to power between 13,500 and 33,750 homes at any given time. (The range takes into consideration the natural fluctuation in available solar power.) Another project, the Imperial Valley Solar Project, which will be overseen by Tessera Solar of Texas, was granted use of 6,360 acres of public lands in Imperial County, Calif. It’s desert land located along Interstate 8 near Plaster City, Calif., just north of the California-Mexico border. That plant will consist of 28,360 parabolic solar dishes estimated to produce about 709 megawatts worth of energy annually. Once up and running, that plant is expected to provide enough energy to power between 212,700 and 531,750 homes at any given time.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation, together with automotive supplier Magna Powertrain, an operating group of Magna International, have announced the company’s plans to expand its transmission components manufacturing operations in Muncie, IN, creating approximately 50 new jobs through 2011. The company, which produces powertrain systems and components for the global automotive industry, will invest $14 million to relocate service-part operations to Delaware County. To accommodate the new business, Magna Powertrain will lease a 100,000 square-foot facility located at 1400 West Fuson Road and add more than 180 new assets including two assembly lines. “Magna Powertrain is the latest in a long list of companies to choose Indiana over competing locations thanks to our low-cost, low-tax business environment and highly productive workforce,” said Mitch Roob, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “With a world of options available, we are pleased to see Indiana continue to win new investment.” The Troy, Mich.-headquartered company, which employs approximately 9,000 associates worldwide, will begin adding engineers, operators and maintenance personnel early next year to accommodate the facility’s new operations. The building will be ready to accept equipment by December, with occupancy expected early first quarter. “On this project we have been fortunate to collaborate with many talented and committed people in Delaware County and the state of Indiana, people who understand our business and help us achieve common goals,” said Tom Rucker, vice president, stampings group for Magna Powertrain. “The county and state both recognize the need for business-friendly programs, and as a result we’re pleased to be able to bring additional jobs and investment to the Muncie area.” The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Magna Powertrain of America up to $275,000 in performance-based tax credits and up to $40,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. Delaware County is providing property tax abatement at the request of the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance. “Magna’s announcement today is very positive news for Muncie-Delaware County in terms of jobs and investment,” said Todd Donati, president of the Delaware County Commissioners. “This announcement not only shows that we can continue to expand our local footprint but also signals to the international community that Delaware County is a great place to do business.” Magna Powertrain’s decision to relocate additional work to Indiana comes just days after Area Development magazine named Indiana the top state in the Midwest and 6th best in the nation for business, according to a survey of national site selection consultants.
Perpetual Recycling Solutions has chosen Richmond, Indiana as the site of its next plant, bringing a $25 million investment and 55 new jobs to the city by the start of 2012. The Chicago-based plastics recycling company is purchasing the former Amcast and General Aluminum manufacturing building at 1561 N.W. 11th St and plans a 20,000-square-foot addition to the 100,000-square-foot building. Kevin Ahaus, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board chairman, said Richmond competed with sites in Missouri and Iowa and another site in Indiana for the project. The EDC of Wayne County approved a $350,000 grant that will go to the Wayne County Commissioners for final consideration today. Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton has also committed $125,000 in EDIT funds to the plant. In addition, the deal to bring Perpetual Recycling Solutions to Richmond is contingent upon RP&L granting the company about 15 acres; RP&L owns the land and prepared it for development years ago. Perpetual Recycling Solutions will also ask the Richmond Common Council to approve a 10-year tax abatement on new machinery, equipment and real estate improvements and will ask council to serve as a conduit for $25 million in bonds related to the tax-exempt Heartland Disaster Relief Act of 2008. EDC president Tim Rogers said Perpetual Recycling Solutions will have an annual payroll of $2 million with an average wage of $18 per hour. He said some workers will come to Richmond from Chicago but that the vast majority would be hired locally. Rogers also said the company will be a large electric consumer, purchasing close to $1 million in electricity from Richmond Power & Light each year. When completed, the Perpetual Recycling Solutions plant will be capable of converting more than 130 million pounds of plastic food and beverage containers—the equivalent of 1 billion plastic bottles—into plastic flake and resin pellets used to make other plastic containers.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, an industry leading lawn and garden supplies manufacturer, will invest approximately $17 million to open a plant in Pearl, MS. The 292,000-square foot Gulf Line Road facility will create 95 full-time and 50 seasonal jobs. Expected to open in January 2011, the 64-acre site—formerly owned by Clorox Company—will produce lawn and garden products, including Scotts, Ortho and Roundup. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and Rankin County worked closely with Scotts Miracle-Gro and local officials to help facilitate the project and provided assistance through the Jobs Tax Credit program and other tax incentives. Tom Troxler, Executive Director of Rankin First Economic Development Authority, said the county and city of Pearl courted Columbus, Ohio-based Scotts for a long time. Both local governments tossed in 10-year tax exemptions and the MDA added funding for training. “The support of state and local leaders played a critical role in our decision to come to Pearl,” said Scotts Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain Dave Swihart. “We are very excited to come to Pearl and to the Greater Jackson area…locating production closer to where our products are consumed will help us maximize transportation efficiencies for both raw materials and finished product and will let us respond rapidly to customer and consumer needs.”
Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company and leader in diabetes care, today announced a $73 million expansion of its Clayton, NC manufacturing facility to accommodate increased production capacity for the company’s insulin delivery devices. The initial expansion will create 205 new jobs, including 85 in the Novo Nordisk Clayton facility, which currently produces a number of products, including the Levemir® FlexPen® (insulin detemir [rDNA origin] injection) and other products for the entire diabetes portfolio. Novo Nordisk currently has more than 420 employees in Clayton who oversee the full production process for six different diabetes treatment products, from formulation through packaging and distribution. The expansion will include the addition of two final assembly lines, two packing lines and building refurbishment. “The investment to expand our Clayton facility is another example of our commitment to improving diabetes treatment options in the U.S. by ensuring patients have access to the latest advances in treatment,” said Jerzy Gruhn, president of Novo Nordisk Inc. “Insulin delivery devices give people with diabetes a convenient way to manage their health and engage in a productive lifestyle. As patients in the U.S. continue to move from administering insulin with a conventional vial and syringe to using a pen device, Novo Nordisk will be prepared to meet growing market demand.” Novo Nordisk, which created the first insulin pen device in 1985, is a world leader in producing and delivering innovative insulin delivery systems. The company has been working with physicians and patients to demonstrate the many benefits of modern delivery devices over vials and syringes, including adherence, ease of use and dosing accuracy. Since their launch 25 years ago, devices have become the dominant form of insulin delivery in most markets outside the U.S. and are gaining share domestically. Novo Nordisk selected the Clayton site for expansion after an evaluation of both domestic and international facilities. Cost and productivity factors, including the levels of incentive support from local and state resources, were taken into consideration. The Clayton expansion project is approved to receive incentive support from a Job Development Investment Grant and a One North Carolina Fund grant. The company’s final decision is contingent upon final approval of local government incentives by Johnston County and Buncombe County.
Coping with job losses and working to strengthen their economy, states have turned up the heat on business incentives geared to stimulate growth.
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
A skilled workforce is a prerequisite for many of today’s projects. Here’s a handy guide that will help you sort out the bevy of training programs that now are being offered.