BF Staff Archives

Luxembourg: Dynamic Country, Grand Impact

Research and innovation are key drivers in modern industry. Luxembourg has unveiled new initiatives that are attracting investors and creating a dynamic environment for existing industries to grow. Luxembourg, officially called the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is located in one of the most dynamic regions of the EU at the heart of northwestern Europe where France, Germany and Belgium meet. Luxembourg is unique in that it is the world’s only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy—a territory whose head of state is a monarch. These and other factors have contributed to Luxembourg’s strong political, economic and social stability. In addition, its multiculturalism and multilingualism, with English, French and German being widely spoken, make Luxembourg a very attractive location for investors. In fact, the Grand Duchy’s international community has grown so much that it now represents about 42 percent of the population. In addition, around 150,000 non-residents commute to Luxembourg to work each day, representing about 44 percent of the total workforce. Over the years, Luxembourg has risen out of the shadows of its bordering countries to emerge as a strong player in the global marketplace. According to the Institute FERI, Luxembourg ranks number 1 in a survey analyzing European cities and ranking them according to their economic performance, the purchasing power of its citizens, the unemployment rate and its population until 2015. About half a million inhabitants live in Luxembourg (an area of land about the size of Rhode Island) and enjoy the highest GDP per capita in the world. Luxembourg is a gateway to the European market, giving companies access to some 500 million consumers. However, according to Francois Knaff, executive director of Luxembourg’s Office of Economic Development in New York, Luxembourg offers some unique advantages. “Luxembourg offers not only a central access, but unlike some other surrounding countries, we also offer the advantage of political, economic and social stability, as well as a strong fiscal environment with competitive salaries and lower tax rates and social taxes.” Luxembourg has risen to become one of the top locations for leading-edge communications infrastructure and is home to a host of Internet firms including Amazon, Apple, eBay and Skype. In March 2010, Luxembourg ranked second worldwide in mobile, fixed, and Internet connectivity, and has Europe’s lowest ICT costs, according to a new International Telecommunication Union survey of 159 nations. Luxembourg’s logistics sector is also ahead of the curve, rating above other European countries the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, and France. In January 2010, it ranked fifth in the world in ease of importing and […]


Changing Demographics Drive Medical Demand

Our aging population has expectations for healthcare and a sustainable quality of life that those before could have only dreamed of—prospects that innovation supported by plastic medical devices can afford them. Rising healthcare spending, higher life expectancy and innovation all have fueled growth in the plastics and medical device industries. A strong focus on research and development has led to numerous scientific and technological breakthroughs with no end in sight. In the past few decades, plastics have made healthcare simpler and less painful, and new techniques possible. Plastic medical devices have reduced contamination, relieved pain and cut medical costs. They have prolonged, improved and saved lives. “From blood bags and examination gloves to glucose meters and heart valves, vinyl, polyurethane and other plastics have traditionally been the healthcare industry’s materials of choice,” says Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “The materials’ strength and versatility will continue to be in demand as medical discoveries and treatment breakthroughs create a need for new medical tools that only plastics can deliver.” Be it tamper-evident seals, child-resistant caps or Petri dishes, plastics continue to permeate medicine. Home healthcare products—including assistive devices, therapeutic devices, monitors, sensors and telemetry devices—are expected to become one of the fastest- growing segments of the medical device industry. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that as the U.S. population ages, healthcare will be increasingly delivered in alternative settings, such as nursing homes, hospices and patient homes. As a result, BCC Research & Consulting, a company that does economic, market and policy research, projects a $20-billion global market for home medical equipment in 2012. Another market tipping the scale is the plastic medical device packaging sector. Plastics packaging has proven indispensable in modern medical care, providing products such as see-through intravenous bags and break-resistant containers. According to a recent study by the firm Frost and Sullivan, this sector is expected to earn $920 million by 2013. U.S. Census data shows that by 2030 there will be 71.5 million adults age 65 and over—up from 35 million in 2000. The older population is influencing the direction of the medical device industry due to its changing health needs and an accompanying shift in thinking on how and where seniors will be treated. Polymer-containing devices such as artery-opening stents, heart pacemakers, and hip replacements will help save and improve life for this rising figure—demonstrating that as our population ages, the need for plastics will grow. As important a role as plastics may play in medical devices, there is an […]


Race to the Bottom

KPMG’s 2010 Competitive Alternatives study reveals that the push to be the location with the lowest cost of manufacturing is heating up around the world. In a recovering economy, every major business expansion, relocation or new facility is the focus of intense competition. With fewer projects to zero in on, every location is vying to offer the lowest overall manufacturing costs. One of the most coveted measures of cost competitiveness is found in KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives study, which is conducted every two years. The 2010 Competitive Alternatives survey examined 112 cities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The KPMG study measured 26 significant cost components most likely to vary by location, including: labor, taxes, real estate and utilities, as they applied to 17 business sectors over a 10-year planning horizon. A range of non-cost competitiveness factors also were considered, as were currency exchange rates. The 2010 study was revamped to include a new focus on the largest cities in each country, and it includes a number of major cities not included in the 2008 survey, such as Berlin, Los Angeles, Lyon, Miami, Osaka, Rome and Tokyo. The results, released at the end of March, revealed some bad news for the U.S.—the United States dropped from third place in the 2008 KPMG study to seventh place in the 2010 survey. Mexico and Canada continued to hold onto the first- and second-place rankings, respectively, while the Netherlands surged from number seven to number three. “The global recession has not been the only factor impacting international business over the last two years,” explains Simon Harding, associate partner in KPMG’s Advisory Service practice and head of its Canadian Strategic & Commercial Intelligence practice. “Divergent trends in exchange rates, utility and transportation costs, taxes and incentives all helped to shape the international competitiveness environment in 2010,” Harding noted. “The degree of variation in business costs between major cities in some countries also is quite remarkable. All of these factors highlight the importance of having access to up-to-date intelligence on international business competitiveness issues for both businesses and governments.”   TAMPA AND ATLANTA LEADING LOW-COST LARGE U.S. CITIES Harding told Business Facilities that this year’s emphasis on the largest cities in each country was a primary factor in the downward shift in the U.S. competitiveness ranking. The change in focus impacted on the U.S. ranking due to the greater variation in costs between the largest cities and regional cities in the U. S. The cost […]


Race to the Bottom

From the Desk of the Editor in Chief Several times a year, Business Facilities strives to tell you who is at the top of the heap in the never-ending competition between locations. In most cases, those who reach the highest get the most attention. This month, we turn that focus upside down. Our cover story identifies the leading low-cost manufacturing centers. When it comes to the cost of doing business, nobody wants to come out on the high end. We want to give special thanks to our friends at KPMG, who gave us an early look at their 2010 Competitive Alternatives analysis, which forms the heart of our cover feature. KPMG’s survey is issued every two years and it is without a doubt the most comprehensive cost analysis undertaken. The scope of the 2010 report requires a deep breath just to recite: KPMG examined 112 cities in 10 countries and compared 26 cost components as they applied to 17 business sectors over a 10-year planning horizon. Some of the results are surprising; all are informative. Mexico continues to be a low-cost leader, primarily due to inexpensive labor; Canada fared well, in part due to currency fluctuations in its favor. Japan got clobbered by the rising yen, and the U.S. slipped a bit because the analysis formula gave greater weight to the largest cities. To come out on top in this heated competition, you have to hit bottom. Congratulations to all of the low-cost manufacturing centers. Keep up—or, rather, down—the good work!


Turbine Parts Plant to Open in Junction City, KS

Turbine Parts Plant to Open in Junction City, KS

Jupiter Group, a Danish maker of wind turbine components, has agreed to build a plant in Junction City. The plant will have 120 jobs and $2.4 million in capital investment. The new plant, in two adjacent buildings, will total 41,000 square feet. The plant will start producing components by Aug. 1. The company makes composite nacelle covers and spinners, as well as wooden kit structures for wind turbine blades. The company is also a substantial provider of interior and exterior parts, floors and toilet cabins for the train industry. Jupiter received incentives from the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission. The Danish firm will open the facility with 15 to 30 employees and will add more employees over the next few years.


Nashville Medical Trade Center Lands First Tenant

Nashville Medical Trade Center Lands First Tenant

The nation’s largest health-care technology trade group has agreed to lease 25,000 square feet or more in a proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center downtown, giving a major boost to the project’s credibility. The 28,000-member Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society plans to use its space, part of an eventual 15-story medical trade center, as a showroom to demonstrate high- tech clinical systems and other products. “Right now, if you look at health-care information technology, that’s really the sweet spot of growth in the health-care industry,” said Bill Winsor, chief executive officer of Market Center Management, the Dallas developer of the planned $250-million building. The lease gives the Nashville Medical Trade Center—to be built in and atop the existing Nashville Convention Center— a solid starting point, Sean Jackson, an industry analyst at Avondale Partners LLC in Nashville, told the Tennessean.com. With 490 corporate members, including Microsoft and Google, Healthcare Information (based in Chicago) is the largest association of its kind focused exclusively on information technology for health care. Signing a major new tenant may give the proposed Nashville center an edge in a three-way race with two other medical trade centers in the planning stages for New York and Cleveland. Such centers showcase a variety of medical products from hospital beds and imaging equipment to computer software. Market Center Management is negotiating a master lease with Nashville officials to take over the current convention center space after the new Music City Center convention hall gets built. The developer wants to expand the 22-year-old convention center to about 1.5 million square feet by adding 12 new floors above the current building. Plans call for the medical trade center to open in early 2013.


U.S. Approves First Offshore Wind Farm

U.S. Approves First Offshore Wind Farm

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first U.S. offshore wind farm, giving the green light to the controversial Cape Wind project, which will place 130 huge wind turbines in the waters of Nantucket Sound. Proposed nine years ago, Cape Wind has been a controversial subject in Massachusetts, stirring opposition from prominent residents of Cape Cod. Opponents included the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who loved to sail the waters that will now be dotted with 400-foot-tall wind turbines. Kennedy led the fight against Cape Wind until he succumbed to cancer last year. In announcing his approval of the first U.S. offshore wind farm, Salazar called Cape Wind the start of a “new energy frontier.” “The United States is leading a clean energy revolution that is reshaping our future,” Salazar told reporters in Boston. “Cape Wind is an opening of a new chapter in that future, and we are all part of that history.” “Cape Wind will be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, supplying clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts, plus creating good jobs here in America,” Salazar added. “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.” MA Gov. Deval Patrick praised the federal government’s decision. “Thank you for this decision,” said Gov. Patrick said. “With this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation. This day has been a long time coming.” Seventeen state and federal agencies weighed in on Cape Wind, reviewing everything from its impact on shipping, aviation and fisheries. Salazar visited the Cape earlier this year and pledged to make a final decision by the end of April. While the decision on issuing a federal permit was still pending last month, Boston-based Cape Wind signed an agreement to buy 130 wind turbines for the project from Siemens Energy Inc. Siemens concurrently announced it will open an office in Boston for U.S. offshore wind projects. Asked why Cape Wind made the agreement before the federal government’s permitting decision, spokesman Mark Rodgers told Boston.com: “We’ve been working hard for the last year to make our selection, and now that we’ve made it, we thought, why wait?’’ Siemens Energy’s parent company, Siemens AG, based in Munich, has a U.S. headquarters in Orlando, Fla. The company’s U.S. Wind Power division has grown from one employee in December 2004 to more than 1,000 employees today. Gov. Patrick hailed the agreement with Siemens. “The opening of a local Siemens offshore wind energy office is another significant step forward for the clean energy industry we have growing in […]


Northrop Grumman Picks Northern VA for New Headquarters

Northrop Grumman Picks Northern VA for New Headquarters

VA Gov. Bob McDonnell announced today that Northrop Grumman Corp. has officially selecting Northern Virginia over Maryland and Washington, D.C., for its headquarters site, a move that will create 300 jobs. “The foremost priority of our administration is creating new jobs and getting our economy back on track. Today’s announcement that Northrop Grumman, a Fortune 100 company, is moving to Virginia is a major step forward in this effort,” McDonnell said. Northrop Grumman is a defense giant with 120,000 employees in aerospace, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. In a close contest since the company announced in January that it was moving its headquarters from Los Angeles, Loudoun County, MD was briefly considered as was Washington D.C., and other counties in Maryland. After a four-month search, Falls Church, Arlington and Alexandria reportedly are the remaining contenders for the headquarters facility. All of the sites under consideration would place the corporation close to the Pentagon. “Virginia, Maryland and the District put forward compelling, competitive offers,” said Wes Bush, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman.  “Our final decision was driven largely by facility considerations, proximity to our customers, and overall economics.” Gov. McDonnell told WTOP radio that Virginia will give Northrop Grumman about $14 million in grants and cash incentives.


New Facilities to Create 857 Jobs in Georgia

New Facilities to Create 857 Jobs in Georgia

A German company plans to build a wind energy plant and bring 215 new jobs to Gainesville, GA. ZF Group, an automotive industry supplier, said the plant will make wind turbine gearboxes for systems that convert wind energy into electricity. The company will invest $90 million in the project. The news from ZF Group was the third job-creation announcement in the Atlanta area in the past week. On Thursday, an Arkansas frozen baked goods maker, De Wafelbakkers, said it will take over an abandoned bakery in Henry County and hire 242 workers over the next three years to make waffles, pancakes and French toast. A day earlier, word came that General Electric will create 400 new jobs in Cobb County when it opens its futuristic Smart Grid Center of Excellence this year. As for the wind energy plant, it will be built in the Gainesville Business Park, near an existing ZF facility that makes axle drives and transmissions for passenger vehicles and heavy construction equipment. That facility has been in operation about 20 years, state officials said. “There is a heightened global focus on renewable energy production, and we believe there is an opportunity to leverage our automotive driveline and chassis technology leadership in this exciting and growing alternative energy sector,” ZF executive Elizabeth Umberson said in a statement. Construction is scheduled to begin immediately, with the plant to open in February 2011. Production is set to start January 2012. The company will receive economic incentives for the project including tax credits, as well as free, customized employee training assistance from the Quick Start program, state officials said.


St. Joe Launches 1,000-acre Development in NW Florida

St. Joe Launches 1,000-acre Development in NW Florida

The St. Joe Company has launched VentureCrossings Enterprise Centre at West Bay, Florida. VentureCrossings, one of the nation’s largest, most unique office, retail, hotel and industrial developments, encompasses the first 1,000 acres to be developed by St. Joe within the 75,000-acre West Bay Sector Plan adjacent to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport opening in May. The new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is the first international airport built in the United States in the last 15 years, replacing the existing Panama City – Bay County International Airport. St. Joe donated 4,000 acres within its West Bay Sector Plan for the construction of the new airport. VentureCrossings includes approximately 100 acres designated for retail, office and hotel uses, approximately 300 acres for light industrial uses, and approximately 600 acres for manufacturing, distribution and logistics companies seeking “through the fence” access to the new airport’s 10,000-foot runway. Within VentureCrossings, St. Joe is developing an approximately 50,000 square foot Class A multi-tenant office building with construction beginning later this year. The Company is relocating its corporate headquarters, currently in Jacksonville, Florida, to this multi-tenant building by the summer of 2011. The new offices will provide St. Joe with a location central to its numerous residential communities and commercial properties, as well as its lands slated for new business and development opportunities in the region. “VentureCrossings is an unparalleled greenfield site and a unique multi-modal opportunity for expanding businesses interested in air, land and sea access,” said Kevin Johnson, St. Joe’s Vice President of Economic Development. “Because of our region’s strong military presence and transportation assets, West Bay is an ideal growth area for industries including aerospace, defense, renewable energy and logistics services.” Northwest Florida already has seven military installations and research institutions, including Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases. The region is also home to over 1,900 aerospace and defense businesses, in addition to a well-trained workforce that includes military personnel, veterans and retirees. St. Joe has engaged CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc., the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, to help attract VentureCrossings’ first retail, office and industrial occupants for this prime development location. “VentureCrossings is an exceptional location for companies requiring large capacity and room for expansion with proximity to the new international airport, the deepwater port at Port Panama City, rail and highway connections, and an attractive quality of life,” said Robert McFarlane, Senior Vice President, CB Richard Ellis Global Corporate Services. “We believe VentureCrossings will attract companies seeking to benefit from the ‘blank canvas’ this major new […]