There’s strength in numbers. That’s why many communities are tying their growth strategies to the development of synergistic research/tech parks and business parks.
Locations across the country have made renewable energy central to their economic recovery strategies. The race is on to claim a leadership position in solar, wind, geothermal and biofuel generation and manufacturing.
Alternative Energy Park Planned in Norfolk The former Ford Norfolk Assembly Plant location will become one of the country’s next alternative energy plants, according to the Jacoby Group in Atlanta. The plant has a total land area of 109 acres of industrially-zoned waterfront and rail-served land with approximately 2.6 million square feet of manufacturing facilities and convenient access to I-464 and I-64. The plant has 1,500 feet fronting the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River and a 450-foot concrete pier has been constructed to the barge-depth channel. Norfolk is also moving forward in the development of offshore wind energy. The Virginia city is a member of VOW, Virginia’s Offshore Wind Coalition. Our shipbuilders, fabricators, distributors and integrated electronic system providers are representative of the supply chain resources that will be needed to make offshore wind energy a reality. Proponents of commercial wind power 12 miles or beyond Virginia’s coast believe the giant turbines could ultimately provide 10 percent of the state’s annual electricity demand and operate without incident in the military’s busy seas. The Department of Defense is studying 25 tracts identified for optimum winds. A recent report identifies 18 tracts as compatible with military needs and rules as long as certain guidelines are met. They were not detailed in the report. Scientists, engineers and geographers at Virginia Tech—ARI, Old Dominion University, Science Applications International Corp., Paliria Energy, Norfolk State University and James Madison University—are researching offshore wind power, mapping offshore areas and economic development impact. Download several presentations from the vcerc.org site. Norfolk Southern: Riding the Rails to Growth Norfolk Southern Corp. participated in the location of 70 new industries and the expansion of 23 existing industries along its rail lines in 2009, according to figures released by the company. Norfolk Southern assisted state and local government and economic development officials throughout 19 states in helping customers identify ideal locations for new and expanded facilities. New plants and expansions represented an investment of more than $3.1 billion by Norfolk Southern customers and are expected to create 3,000 jobs in the railroad’s territory, eventually generating more than 138,500 carloads of new rail traffic annually. The energy sector anchored our results during 2009,” said Newell Baker, assistant vice president industrial development. “Our group assisted in the location or expansion of 24 energy related facilities in 12 states across our service area. Ethanol production and distribution accounted for the lion’s share of energy projects, with 11 new and expanded facilities that began to receive NS rail service in 2009.” The balance of […]
Wind turbine manufacturing facilities present huge opportunities in a developing market, but also large challenges due to the size of the components. Make sure you can meet them.
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.