BF: Louisiana has emerged as a national leader in workforce training with the Louisiana FastStart™ program. Is the availability of customized pre-employment training becoming a deciding factor in site selection decisions? SM: In less than two years, Louisiana FastStart™ definitely has become one of our most powerful and effective recruiting tools during site-selection competitions. As one of the nation’s top workforce development programs, FastStart offers companies world-class, customized employee recruitment, screening, training development and training delivery, and also can provide specialized solutions for companies in a wide variety of industry sectors—from automobile manufacturers to digital media firms to aerospace companies. All of these services come at no cost to the company. BF: The Deepwater Horizon disaster has caused disruptions in the oil drilling and fishing industries. Can FastStart play a role in retraining displaced workers from these sectors? SM: In certain situations, FastStart could definitely retrain displaced workers in the oil and natural gas industries as well as the commercial fishing industries. For example, if a company is expanding in Louisiana, FastStart could help the company hire employees seeking new opportunities due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the drilling moratorium imposed by President Obama. Moreover, this could be extremely valuable for a company because FastStart would be able to identify employees with transferable skills, then train them using customized programs created through FastStart. BF: How has Louisiana has positioned itself to be a major player in the revived nuclear power industry? SM: Louisiana is well positioned to be a leader in the global nuclear renaissance because we possess a highly skilled and productive manufacturing workforce, a world-class workforce solution in FastStart, deep-water shipping infrastructure and a healthy business climate. Based on these strengths and early success in developing the industry, over the next two decades, the nuclear energy sector could create up to 20,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana alone. The Shaw Group, is developing a $100-million facility in Lake Charles, LA that will employ up to 1,400 people focused on constructing modularized nuclear reactor components. This facility is the first of its kind in the U.S. BF: If you could change one perception about Louisiana, what would that be? SM: One of the greatest challenges facing our economic development efforts is more closely aligning the perception of Louisiana’s business climate with the actual business conditions available here. Fortunately, we have made significant advances in reversing outdated perceptions. Companies now see in Louisiana an attractive business climate, high-quality available labor, low energy and utility costs, excellent […]
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
Perhaps the biggest eyebrow-raiser in Business Facilities’ 2010 Global Rankings is China’s astonishing rise to the top of the list of Alternative Energy Investment Leaders. It seemed like only yesterday that everyone on the Western side of the globe was tut-tutting about the PRC surpassing the United States as the world’s leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. We all assumed that with double-digit growth fueled by hundreds of coal-fired power plants, China would need a couple of decades of retooling before it appeared on anybody’s list of alternative energy leaders. Well, we all need to think again. China’s investments in renewable energy in 2009 exceeded those made by the previous global leader, the United States, for the first time, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. With its investments growing 50 percent in 2009, China committed $34.6 billion to wind power, solar energy and other forms of renewable energy, making it the word’s biggest investor in such projects. China invested nearly double the United States’ $18.6 billion, while the United Kingdom, which has a much smaller population, was the third-largest investor with $11.2 billion in 2009. The study of investments by G-20 nations also found that China’s installed renewable energy capacity surged to 52.5 gigawatts, putting it just behind the United Ststes, which had 53.4 gigawatts of capacity in 2009. “China is emerging as the world’s clean energy powerhouse,” wrote the report’s authors. “Having built a strong manufacturing base and export markets, China is working now to meet domestic demand by installing substantial new clean energy-generating capacity to meet ambitious renewable energy targets.” Over the past six months alone, China has signed deals with American solar companies to build solar power plants that would generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity.
For the second year in a row, Texas has taken the top prize in Business Facilities’ coveted Best Business Climate ranking. There are more than 20 input factors that helped determine the final outcome in Business Facilities’ assessment of this flagship category, including its rankings for Cost of Labor, Business Tax Climate, Quality of Life, Transportation Infrastructure, Educated Workforce and Economic Growth Potential. The magazine also took a close look at per capita GDP, population growth and energy costs/energy efficiency. The Lone Star State continues to match its surging population with a solid strategy for attracting and expanding new business. The list of recent facilities announcements is far too long to reproduce; suffice it to say that Texas is maximizing its return from an unbeatable combination of low taxes, strong incentives, low energy costs, a relatively low cost of labor and solid infrastructure. Texas also continues to rule the roost in state-by-state comparisons of employment rates, GDP growth and personal income growth. A healthy number of the metros ranked in the top 15 for the nation’s biggest gains in private-sector employment are deep in the heart of Texas. Virginia blasted its way into the top 10 in Best Business Climate with a second-place finish that was nailed down with a first-rate focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Immediately after taking office in January, Gov. Bob McDonnell issued an executive order creating a state Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission. McDonnell identified an improved business climate as a top priority for the new unit. “We must be aggressive in putting in place the policies that will improve our business climate and make Virginia a global job magnet,” he said. “This Commission will be identifying new ideas and initiatives to make the Commonwealth even more competitive in the global marketplace.” Virginia’s effort already is bearing fruit, most recently with an announcement from defense giant Northrop Grumman that it is relocating its corporate headquarters from the West Coast to northern Virginia.
Louisiana has come out on top of Business Facilities’ new ranking of state workforce traning programs, released today. The Bayou State grabbed the top slot in this new rankings category with its FastStart program. “Louisiana has established the gold standard for workforce training solutions with its innovative FastStart program,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers. “The availability of customized workforce recruitment, screening and training rapidly is becoming a requirement for success in the competition for new business.” Rogers noted. “Louisiana is far ahead of the curve with a fully integrated program that works in partnership with higher education in a coordinated economic development strategy that targets growth sectors. We are pleased to reward this effort with the top ranking in our Workforce Training Leaders category.” Tax credits and similar traditional incentives often are the first tool in the box that is put to use in sealing the deal for a relocation or new facility. However, many states now recognize that providing targeted workforce training potentially is the most valuable and productive incentive they can put on the table. FastStart provides workforce recruitment, screening and training to new and expanding companies—all at no cost. Louisiana’s innovative and customized programs are available to companies that meet eligibility requirements and are aligned with the state’s economic development targets, including digital media, headquarters and business operations, service industries, advanced and traditional manufacturing, warehouse and distribution, and research and development. To qualify, a facility must first commit to creating a net of at least 15 new, permanent manufacturing jobs, or a net of at least 50 new, permanent service-related jobs. Service industries, headquarters and business operations, and warehouse and distribution companies also must have a majority of sales out of state. Each request is evaluated prior to project commencement to ensure all eligibility requirements are met. Louisiana FastStart’s partners include the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and local colleges and universities—a unique model that enables streamlined, efficient pre-employment training, and access to a network of adult education resources. Also in the top tier in Business Facilities’ new workforce training ranking is Florida’s Quick Response Training Program (QRT), which provides grant funding for customized training for new or expanding businesses. Workforce Florida, Inc. administers the program. An employer-driven training program, QRT has provided customized training for well over 100,000 employees for more than 300 businesses throughout the state, jump-starting new ventures and easing the way for expansions. Here are the full results for Business Facilities’ Workforce Training Leaders ranking: – 1. […]
Arizona, Iowa and Michigan took the top three positions in Business Facilities’ new ranking for Alternative Energy Industry Leaders, released today. The alternative energy leadership ranking is a new category in the magazine’s annual Rankings Report, assessing to top alternative energy manufacturers and leaders in renewable power generation in solar, wind, biofuels and advanced battery development. According to Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers, Business Facilities decided to create an omnibus ranking for alternative energy, in addition to individual categories tied to energy type, due to the diversification of state efforts in this dynamic growth sector. “As we delved deeper into the data, we realized that all of the major alternative energy players are not putting their eggs in one basket: they are aggressively moving to stake a leadership position in an entire menu of renewable energy industries,” Rogers said. “Therefore, we took the plunge and decided to create a ranking category for overall alternative energy industry leadership.” Arizona, the established solar energy king, easily took the top ranking. As detailed in Business Facilities’ April cover story, Arizona’s robust solar panel industry is a global as well as national leader, befitting the sunniest state in the country. Arizona’s vast desert areas offer the highest solar power potential in the nation, and the state is by far the leading producer of equipment to capture these rays. Tucson, AZ is home to some of the world’s largest photovoltaic manufacturers, including Schletter, Inc., Global Solar Energy, and SOLON. Iowa snared second place in the Alternative Energy Industry Leaders category with its ongoing success as the primary wind-turbine manufacturing center and its natural position as a major ethanol producer. Iowa is home to six wind-turbine manufacturing companies: Acciona, Siemens, Clipper, Hendricks, TPI and Trinity, representing thousands of green-collar jobs and an investment of almost $250 million in the state. The Hawkeye State is one of only two states to make three component parts of a modern windmill— turbine, blades and tower. Michigan vaulted into third place in the alternative energy ranking with torrent of announcements that have been coming out of the glove-shaped state in recent months. “Michigan is far too busy reinventing itself as a hub for alternative energy manufacturing to wallow in despair over last year’s tough sledding in the auto sector,” Rogers said. “Hardly a week goes by without a major piece of ‘green’ news from the Wolverine State, whether it’s Dow Chemical’s commercialization of solar shingles in Midland, MI or President Obama’s recent visit to the groundbreaking for an advanced lithium battery plant in Holland, MI.” […]
Kansas and Texas flexed their biotech muscles in Business Facilities’ annual Rankings Report, released today. Kansas has been ranked the #5 state in the nation in Biotechnology Strength. The 2010 ranking is a major leap forward for the Sunflower State, which ranked ninth in the biotech category last year and tied for 10th in 2008. Texas surged from sixth place to second place in the Biotechnology Strength ranking, firmly establishing the Lone Star State as a major national hub for bioscience-related industries. According to Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers, the upward movement by Kansas in biotech was one of the most significant improvements measured in the national publication’s annual rankings this year. “Biotechnology Strength is one of our most important and fiercely competitive rankings categories,” Rogers said. “Kansas clearly has shown that it is a biotech force to be reckoned with, and it has staked a claim to a leadership position for years to come.” Business Facilities factors more than two dozen criteria into its annual biotechnology ranking, including an assessment of state-funded research and development programs, interaction with institutions of higher education, and major projects announced within the past year. Perennial biotech king California, which boasts the strongest university-based biotech research network, repeated as the top ranked state in this year’s biotech ranking. Pennsylvania, which topped this category in BF’s 2008 rankings, placed third, followed by Massachusetts. Texas has continued to build its biotech industry, notching a 35 percent increase in biotech-related facilities and an 11 percent increase in total bioscience employment, according to the 2010 Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Initiatives report. Battelle reported that Texas now has nearly 3,000 biotech facilities and about 65,000 bioscience workers. “We were particularly impressed by the amount of R&D funding for biotech in Texas (approx. $2.5 million) and the number of higher education degrees in bioscience, which exceeded 10,000,” Rogers said. “Texas not only is building a biotech manufacturing base, it is growing a skilled workforce to support it.” Rogers cited the Kansas Bioscience Authority as a key driver in the Sunflower State’s remarkable progress in moving up the national biotech ladder. “Kansas has an impressive and expanding program, spearheaded by the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA), that brings together industry, higher education and government in a coordinated, targeted effort,” Rogers said. Rogers called KBA’s stewardship of a $581-million biotech investment fund “a uniquely focused and highly successful effort” that has made Kansas a national center for animal health research, a leader in pharmaceuticals and an emerging player in bioenergy. Already established as the epicenter of a […]
Ohio’s Controlling Board recently approved nearly $1.2 million in economic development grants, which will help a number of manufacturers expand or upgrade their operations. The grants, which leverage more than $110 million in investment by the companies and agencies that will receive them, are expected to create 703 jobs and retain 1,783 positions, according to the state. In addition to several cities that will receive money for road improvement projects, according to the state: — ConAgra Foods LLC will receive a $400,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for the acquisition of new machinery and equipment at its Troy, Ohio facility. The company will expand an existing 215,000-square-foot building by an additional 75,000 square feet, allowing for increased manufacturing capabilities and the ability to introduce new products to the market. The more than $46 million project is expected to create 191 jobs and retain 457 positions. — NCI Group Inc., a manufacturer of metal products for the nonresidential building industry, will receive a $100,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for infrastructure improvements at its newly acquired Middletown, Ohio, facility. The company will upgrade the facility to accommodate metal coating manufacturing operations. The more than $12.7 million project is expected to create 74 jobs. — Nissin Brake Ohio Inc., a joint venture between American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Nissin Kogyo Co. Ltd. of Japan, will receive a $20,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for the acquisition of new machinery and equipment at its Findlay, Ohio, facility. The more than $36 million project is expected to create 37 jobs and retain 643 positions. — Silgan Plastics Corp. will receive a $75,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for the acquisition and installation of new machinery and equipment at its facility in the Village of Ottawa, Ohio. In addition, the company will renovate and convert a portion of the existing 270,000-square-foot building from a distribution center to a manufacturing center, construct a new distribution facility and rail spur, and make infrastructure improvements. The more than $13.2 million project is expected to create 30 jobs and retain 146 positions. The Rapid Outreach Grant is a grant program to assist companies and communities that are creating or retaining jobs in Ohio.
Raytheon Missile Systems has announced it will build a new $75-million missile factory in Huntsville, AL. The plant will be used for final assembly and testing of Standard Missile-3 Block IB, a sea-based missile interceptor, and the Standard Missile-6, an advanced ship-defense weapon, the Tucson, AZ-based company said. The Alabama site will employ an estimated 300 workers at an annual average wage of $60,000. Several Raytheon divisions already employ about 600 people in the Huntsville area. Raytheon said it expects to break ground on the 200-acre Huntsville plant site later this year and build it in two phases over three years. Initial production is planned to begin in January 2013. Workers at the new, 70,000-square-foot plant – on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal site and close to major NASA and U.S. Missile Defense Agency facilities – will perform SM-3 and SM-6 final assembly, integration, testing and life-cycle support, or ongoing maintenance. Section-level assembly, integration and testing for the missiles will remain at the Tucson and supplier sites, the company said. The agreement to build the plant was announced by company officials, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Bob Riley at the Farnborough International Air Show in England. Alabama offers job training and a variety of tax breaks to companies building new facilities in the state, including abatement of sales taxes on construction and income-tax credits for capital costs of qualifying projects. Raytheon said Huntsville was picked over finalists Tucson and Camden, AR, where the company also has facilities. In a prepared statement, Raytheon said the company “conducted a rigorous site selection process for 18 months, investigating more than 80 locations.” In a statement on its website, the company said was unable to build the missile plant within Raytheon’s current Standard Missile final assembly compound at Tucson International Airport because of explosive facility siting regulations covering airports adjacent to industrial or residential areas. “Raytheon continues to have a long-term, strategic commitment to Tucson,” the company said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to make public a plan today that could bring Atlantic City’s casino district under state control, according to a report in pressofAtlanticCity.com . Sources said a key a key recommendation would turn over the tourism district of Atlantic City to state oversight, primarily in order to give the state an active role over the gambling mecca’s tourism and to make sure casino revenues are invested in local projects. According to the report, Christie’s proposal would create a state-run city within the city, with State Police taking over from municipal officers, and the state providing other services such as trash collection in the sections of the city containing the casinos and convention and entertainment centers. Additional proposals are expected to include: — Not expanding gaming—specifically slot machine-style video lottery terminals, or VLTs—at least until investment has had a chance to return to Atlantic City; — Closing the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, which handles marketing for the resort; — Keeping all casino revenue invested by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for projects in Atlantic City; — Selling or shuttering Meadowlands Racetrack and disbanding the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which also runs the Wildwood Convention Center. Christie is expected to release a report by an advisory commission on gaming, sports and entertainment, which lays out recommendations on how to boost the state’s gambling revenue, wean state-owned racetracks off subsidies from casinos and revive the state-owned sports and entertainment complex at the Meadowlands.