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From Motown to TechTown

From Motown to TechTown Posted on:

Much has been made in recent months about the gloomy economic landscape in Detroit. Based on double-digit unemployment statistics, Michigan and its auto-based economy have been at the epicenter of the Great Recession. We are pleased to report that the denizens of Motown are not wasting time dwelling on the drumbeat of bad news. They are busy laying the foundation for a Renaissance of economic development. Nowhere is this trend more evident than at TechTown, a thriving research and technology park established by Wayne State University, General Motors and the Henry Ford Health System. TechTown, part of the Woodward Technology Corridor SmartZone, aims to become nothing less than the world’s foremost business incubator for emerging high-tech industries including advanced engineering, life sciences and alternative energy. Here are some highlights: — TechOne, the 100,000-square-foot business incubator facility, now hosts 70 growing companies. — More than 30 high-tech startups have enrolled in TechTown’s business accelerator programs. — NextEnergy, an alternative energy incubator founded to encourage the commercialization of emerging energy technologies, opened its $12-million research facility in TechTown. — Asterand, a biomaterials bank and TechTown’s first tenant, has become an international, publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange. What began as a 12-acre research park is now spread over 43 acres. Wayne State University has laid the groundwork for further expansion by purchasing the former Dalgleish Cadillac building on Cass Avenue for $1 million. The building was constructed in 1902 as the first Cadillac plant, and the Dalgleish family has been selling Cadillacs there since 1964. The dealership building, which was closed by General Motors is 30,000 square feet larger than TechOne, TechTown’s current business incubator facility at 440 Burroughs Street. TechTown deferred plans to renovate another large former Cadillac building just a block south of the Dalgleish Cadillac—the Cadillac sales headquarters, known more recently as the Wayne State University Criminal Justice Building. The building, originally planned to be TechTwo, would cost more than $10 million to renovate. “It’s a beautiful old building and it will be phenomenal when we ever get it finished, but we can’t do it now,” TechTown Executive Director Randal Charlton said. The 107-year-old, three-story former auto plant with a large basement will be made into office and lab space to meet the needs of both new and existing companies looking to set up shop in an affordable business environment. The TechOne facility has kept a waiting list of potential tenants, some of whom have taken FastTrac entrepreneurial training courses, which are the keystone of the FastTrac… …Read More…

ESolar to Build Solar Thermal Plants in China

ESolar to Build Solar Thermal Plants in China Posted on:

ESolar Inc., Pasadena, CA,  signed an agreement last week to build a series of solar thermal power plants in China with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts. ESolar’s deal, one of the largest renewable energy projects to date, comes a few months after an Arizona company, First Solar, secured a contract to build a huge photovoltaic power plant in China. China is emerging as a major market for renewable energy as well as a leading producer of alternative energy equipment and components. “They’re moving very fast, much faster than the state and U.S. governments are moving,” said Bill Gross, ESolar’s chairman, told the Los Angeles Times. Under the agreement, ESolar will provide China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. the technology to build solar “power tower” plants over the next decade. Those solar farms would generate a total of 2,000 megawatts of electricity; at peak output that would be equivalent to a large nuclear power plant. The initial project, which includes a 92-megawatt solar power plant to be built this year, will be located in the 66-square-mile Yulin Energy Park in the Mongolian desert in northern China. The ESolar announcement came at the same time that the Obama Administration announced it is awarding $2.3 billion in tax credits aimed at promoting green jobs. The funds from the 787-billion-dollar stimulus bill approved by Congress last year will provide credit for investments in manufacturing facilities for clean-energy technologies. Officials said the projects are expected to create more than 17,000 jobs. The awards will cover 183 manufacturing facilities for clean energy products across 43 states, officials said. They include aid for products ranging from solar energy technology and wind turbines to electrical grid improvements. Officials said some 30 percent of these projects would produce new products or services in 2010, and that must be placed in service by 2014. “Building a robust clean-energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” President Obama said. He added that the fund “will help close the clean-energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

Schulz Invests $300 Million in MS Pipe Plant

Schulz Invests $300 Million in MS Pipe Plant Posted on:

Wilh. Schulz GMBH has decided to locate a new $300-million seamless pipe manufacturing facility in Mississippi, Gov Haley Barbour and officials from Schulz announced on Monday. The company, a global supplier of piping components headquartered in Krefeld, Germany selected Tunica County, MS, as the location for its new pipe manufacturing plant. The company’s Mississippi division, which will be known as Schulz Xtruded Products (SXP) will create 500 new jobs at the facility over the next five years. The Tunica County operation will be the company’s first production facility in North America. Gov. Barbour welcomed the industry leader to Mississippi and commended company officials for their commitment to doing business in the state and for the jobs they are creating in the Mississippi Delta. Barbour reportedly asked the Mississippi state legislature to enact a special package of incentives to seal the deal with Schulz. MDA Executive Director Gray Swoope said the company’s new facility in Tunica County will employ state-of-the-art pipe manufacturing processes. The German company was attracted to Mississippi’s skilled and dedicated workforce, he added. Schulz produces and supplies stainless steel and alloy steel seamless pipe products, including seamless and welded pipes, fittings such as elbows, tees, reducers, caps, bends and flanges, and specialized pipe components. Established in 1945, the company is a recognized leader in the industry, specializing in serving the up- and downstream oil and gas sectors and the nuclear and fossil fuel power plant industry. The company also serves the water treatment industry, with a focus on desalination, as well as facilities in diverse areas of the chemical industry.

Dubai Reaches for the Sky

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Khalifa Bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, no doubt was honored when Dubai decided to put his name on the tallest skyscraper in the universe. But President Zayed can be forgiven if he was somewhat distracted as the 168-story Burj Khalifa tower officially was opened this week. That’s because he was busy averting a new international financial crisis by bailing out Dubai to the tune of $10 billion, the first installment of an estimated $60 billion in overdue bad paper the tiny emirate has piled up during the real estate boom. As the new decade arrived, Dubai unveiled it crown jewel of excess—all 828 meters (about 2,800 feet) of it, 319 meters higher than the previous record-holder, Taipei 101, and almost twice as tall as New York’s venerable Empire State Building. The $1.5-billion Burj Khalifa is the centerpiece of a decade-long construction boom that has transformed Dubai from a desert outpost to a futuristic city that sits like a luxury mirage amid the sand dunes. The mammoth structure, which looks a bit like a telescoping sewing needle, took six years to build. It can be seen for almost 100 miles, meaning oil workers in Abu Dhabi will have something to gape at as they put in overtime to pay off Dubai’s staggering debt. Late last year, Dubai sent shock waves through the world’s battered financial capitals by asking for a freeze on payments owed on $26 billion in debts. The skyscraper’s architects, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, have called the Burj Khalifa “a bold global icon that will serve as a model for future urban centers.” However, Dubai’s latest status symbol is getting some mixed reviews. Jim Krane, author of “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism” told CNN: “If you look at it, it’s a really bad idea. It uses as much electricity as an entire city. And every time the toilet is flushed they’ve got to pump water half a mile into the sky.” The telescopic shape also is problematic, Krane noted. “The upper 30 or 40 floors are so tiny that they’re useless, so they can’t use them for anything else apart from storage. They’ve built a small, not so useful storage warehouse half a mile in the sky,” he said. Sounds like a good place to put all those predictions from the early 2000s that the real estate boom would never end.

State of the Year Award

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The Volunteer State surges into a leadership position in green-collar job creation with an aggressive and innovative economic development strategy.

The New Incentives Guide

The New Incentives Guide Posted on:

Financial incentives to expand or relocate your business can make the difference in where you choose to grow. This year, we are zeroing in on the newest and most innovative incentives that have been introduced or expanded in the past year.

Alabama Corporate Moves

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Hanwha Expands, Creates Jobs in Opelika Hanwha L&C Alabama (formally known as Maxforma Plastics LLC) announced that the company will begin a second major expansion of their manufacturing facility in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park. Hanwha is a manufacturer of construction materials such as plastic floor materials, artificial marble, automotive components, interior decorations and other plastic products including packing materials and films. According to information provided by the city of Opelika, the company plans to invest another $11 million for a building expansion and equipment in the city. They will add approximately 25,000 square feet to the existing building for a total of 145,000 square feet. The expansion is expected to be completed by August 2010 and will create 25 new jobs. Hanwha L&C Alabama began operation in Opelika in 2005 and is part of the automotive division of Hanwha L&C Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea, a business averaging over $20 billion in annual revenue. Hanwha’s first Opelika expansion in 2008 was a $15 million investment that created 45 new jobs and 42,000 square feet. Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller stated, “We sincerely appreciate Hanwha’s investment in our community and pledge to continue to support their growth and success here in Opelika.” Northeast Opelika Industrial Park is located on 2,200 acres in the northern portion of Opelika along Interstate 85. Equipped to meet a wide variety of site needs, the largest contiguous parcel is 1,200 acres. The city’s large labor pool of over 440,000 within a 30-mile radius, a top community college within five minutes of the park, Auburn University fifteen minutes away, and transportation advantages that include rail service by CSX and close proximity to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, make Northeast Opelika Industrial Park attractive to the automotive industry. The new expansion will increase the company’s total investment in Opelika to approximately $43 million, according to the city. Hanwha L&C Alabama is a tier one supplier to Hyundai in Alabama and Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia. Industrial Park Planned for Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Site Northwest Alabama Regional Airport has submitted a pre-application for a $5 million Federal Aviation Administration discretionary grant that would pay for infrastructure development on about 90 acres of airport property adjacent to the Muscle Shoals Research Airpark. The idea is to develop an industrial park on airport property that would attract aviation-related businesses to Muscle Shoals, AL. The airport board of directors has agreed to provide a $125,000 match if the grant is approved. FAA discretionary money covers 95 percent of an airport improvement… …Read More…