The winds blowing across the Illinois plains are now powering clean, renewable energy into the Tennessee Valley Authority service region. On May 11, TVA began transmitting to its customers 300 megawatts of renewable wind power received from Iberdrola Renewables Inc.’s Streator Cayuga Ridge wind park in Livingston County, IL. This marks the first delivery under seven contracts TVA recently signed to purchase up to 1,380 megawatts of renewable wind energy from the Midwest. “Activation of this new wind-power source is an important milestone in our plans to expand TVA’s clean and renewable energy options,” said John Trawick, TVA senior vice president of Commercial Operations and Pricing. “We anticipate a long and productive working relationship with Iberdrola Renewables as we continue to grow our alternative energy portfolio.” The Iberdrola Renewables purchase agreement is the largest of TVA’s wind-power contracts, which altogether may provide enough electricity for about 325,000 average-size homes in the TVA service region. “Iberdrola Renewables will begin delivering power to TVA under our largest single power purchase agreement to date,” said Ralph Currey, CEO of Iberdrola Renewables. “TVA is an important new customer for us, and we look forward to supplying clean, renewable energy for years to come.” The next purchased wind addition to the TVA power grid will be 115 megawatts scheduled to arrive this fall from Horizon Wind Energy LLC’s Pioneer Prairie wind farm in Howard and Mitchell counties in Iowa. Because inconsistent and generally lower-speed winds in the Southeast make local wind-power projects less reliable and feasible than in other parts of the nation, TVA is contracting for electricity from wind-energy projects in regions such as the Midwest and Great Plains, where winds are generally stronger and more consistent. The contracts result from a request for proposals in December 2008 to purchase up to 2,000 megawatts of new renewable or clean energy for TVA’s generating system. TVA’s current renewable energy portfolio includes about 4,800 megawatts from hydro, wind, solar and methane sources. In addition, TVA’s nuclear plants contribute 6,900 megawatts of low-or-no-emission electricity to the power grid.
Prince George’s County in Virginia has been awarded $41.5 million in stimulus recovery bond financing for private economic development projects and is looking for private developers and bankers with projects in need of the funds. Part of the Recovery Zone Facility Bond program, the financing extends tax-exempt status to private development activities, targeting areas with declines in employment. The bonds aim to allow businesses to borrow at lower costs with fewer use restrictions. The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. will hold a pre-application information session for businesses interested in the tax-exempt bonds May 18.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez presented city officials in Dubuque, IA today with the highest national award for economic development excellence. The Iowa city was awarded the 2009 Economic Development Administration’s Excellence in Economic Development in Historic Preservation-led Strategies citation for the redevelopment of the Roshek Building as a new home for IBM’s Global Information Technology Service Delivery Center. Mayor Roy Buol accepted the award in the lobby of the historic Roshek Building. The $100-million IBM project also received an Honorable Mention in Business Facilities’ 2009 Economic Development of the Year awards. The new IT center is expected to create up to 1,300 high-tech jobs by the end of 2010. It will generate an estimated $189 million in direct economic impact and more than $70 million in direct personal income (wages). “[IBM’s choice of Dubuque] is one more sign that people around the country are discovering what we have known all along—that with our highly skilled workforce, inviting business climate and quality of life, Iowa is a great place for business,” said Iowa Gov. John Culver. Working together, the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the City of Dubuque, Dubuque Initiatives, and the Greater Dubuque Development Corp. reached an agreement with IBM on a 10-year lease to occupy the historic Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque. IBM plans to upgrade the building with energy-efficient technology to make it a green facility. “We selected Dubuque for our new delivery center based on several criteria, including strong positive public-partnership within the city, its competitive business model, and the talent and skills that Iowa has to offer,” said Mike Daniels, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services. According to Mayor Buol, Dubuque’s sustainability initiative played an important role in IBM’s selection of the Iowa site. “The adaptive reuse of a historic structure in the heart of our downtown illustrates our shared commitment to sustainable development, historic preservation and community revitalization,” Buol said. The IBM announcement followed the addition by Microsoft of a large server farm in West Des Moines and Google’s $600-million data center in Council Bluffs.
They’re cleaning up another mess on Wall Street today, but this time it’s not Goldman Sachs’ fault. The center of the financial universe served up another heart-attack special yesterday, but the usual suspects were blameless. That’s not to say that a Himalayan-sized mountain range of debt in Greece, Portugal and Spain is no longer casting a shadow over the global recovery. The Euro-contagion and its evil twin, the chronic (and still not cured) malady of synthetic collateralized debt obligations, still may kill the patient. But, for one day at least, the world was treated to a comedy of errors that had even the most jaded economists slapping their foreheads in amazement. Think Fellini meets the Marx Brothers (Groucho, not Karl). Here’s what apparently happened: At approximately 2:42 p.m. on Thursday, a trader manning one of the futures exchange desktops issued a sell order on a contract worth $16 million. Instead of hitting the “M” tab on his keyboard, the poor fellow—who forevermore will be known as “The Fat-Fingered Trader”—hit the “B” button. That’s B as in Billion. The overly computerized market reacted instantly. Within five minutes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 1,000 points, wiping out more than 9 percent of equity, the equivalent of the combined GDPs of….well, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Some individual stocks went into jaw-dropping minute-by-minute gyrations: Boston Beer Co., parent of Sam Adams beer, lost 100 percent of its value. Also plunging all the way down to zero was Accenture PLC, formerly touted by Tiger Woods. Here’s our favorite: auction house Sotheby’s saw its shares inexplicably skyrocket to $100,000 a pop, the same price it reportedly was asking for an autographed Michael Jordan jersey on Thursday afternoon. The late Brewer-Patriot Sam Adams could not be reached for comment. Presumably he was pleased that beer-lovers were suddenly granted a revolutionary discount on his namesake. We have it on good authority that Woods interrupted his tee shot at the Players PGA tournament and declared “It wasn’t me!” Jordan is said to have grumbled that his jersey “is worth a lot more than 100 Gs, man.” Watching the turmoil on Wall Street during a live broadcast on MSNBC, TV trading guru and Vladimir Lenin doppleganger Jim Kramer started hyperventilating and screamed “Buy, Buy, Buy!” to anyone within shouting distance. Red-faced stock exchange managers wisely called a halt to the action at 2:47 p.m. When trading resumed a few minutes later, the meltdown was over and all of the affected stocks suddenly sprang back to their early-morning values. Perhaps […]
Phoenix Packaging Operations, LLC, a subsidiary of Phoenix Packaging Group, will invest more than $20 million to establish its first U.S. operation in Pulaski County, VA. The company will manufacture thermoformed rigid plastic packaging for customers in the U.S., and also establish its North American headquarters in Pulaski. The project will create 240 new jobs. Virginia successfully competed against Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. “This manufacturing and U.S. headquarters operation is tremendous news for the New River Valley and Virginia. Phoenix Packaging is an international company that produces the packaging for many major companies and household names. I applaud everyone involved in winning a highly competitive project that involves a significant investment and 240 new jobs for the Commonwealth,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in announcing the project. Phoenix Packaging Group, is a family owned Latin American manufacturer of plastic packaging and food service disposable products, with sales in more than 30 countries. Customers include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Keurig, Van Houtte, Agro-Farma, General Mills, Sturm Foods and Colgate, for products such as ice cream and other dairy products, margarine, desserts, and soaps, as well as single-serve products such as yogurt and coffee. “Phoenix Packaging chose the Commonwealth of Virginia to be the home of its U.S. operations after analyzing more than 40 possible locations in six states from the standpoint of geographical location, availability of qualified workforce, energy costs and state and local incentives, among others,” said Alberto Peisach, president and CEO, Phoenix Packaging Operations. “We found that state and local authorities in Virginia were seriously committed to helping new companies set up their manufacturing facilities and bring in high-paying jobs. The state government’s proactive attitude in finding ways to meet our needs, and their flexibility in creating a program to help us find and train the right workforce, was far more forward-thinking than any competing states. With three major higher education institutions in the area, and the government officials’ unwavering interest in creating jobs, Pulaski County was hard to beat.” The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Pulaski County and the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Gov. McDonnell approved an $850,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Pulaski County with the project. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide training assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. The company is eligible to receive rail access funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The company also is eligible to participate in the Virginia Enterprise […]
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced its selection of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley as Governor of the Year this week in recognition of his leadership and support of the biosciences industry. Gov. O’Malley received the award during the Wednesday Keynote Luncheon at the 2010 BIO International Convention in Chicago, IL. “Governor O’Malley has done an exemplary job enhancing and expanding Maryland’s stature as one of the nation’s most vibrant biotech clusters. His funding and support of biotech tax credits is a model for federal legislation that supports critical early-stage capital formation. His leadership in this field will continue to benefit his state, in terms of jobs and innovation, for years to come,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO. “The Governor has done an exemplary job in expanding Maryland’s traditional role as a home to innovation,” said Renée M. Winsky, Chief Executive Officer of the Technology Council of Maryland. “He has defined himself as a national leader in terms of building the framework for a business environment that is conducive to expansive and collaborative research institutions. His leadership has led to significant growth of major research parks and attracted more than 50 bioscience companies in the last two years.” Governor O’Malley launched his Maryland BIO 2020 Initiative at the 2008 BIO International Convention in San Diego. The initiative pledges more than $1.3 billion in biotechnology investment over a ten year period. Highlights of the plan include the establishment of the Maryland Biotechnology Center, growing Maryland’s technology incubator network, increasing technology transfer, increasing intellectual property valuation and protection services, and funding increases for numerous biotech-related incentives and programs.
Former Vice President Al Gore directly challenged his critics and threw down a moral gauntlet on the issue of climate change in a keynote address to the BIO 2010 convention in Chicago this week. “What we are facing is unprecedented in human history,” Gore said. “If you confuse unprecedented with improbable, the exceptions can kill you—and climate change is one of those exceptions.” The former U.S. vice president, a Nobel laureate, painted a stark picture of a civilization on a collision course with a fragile ecosystem. He described the Earth’s atmosphere as a thin shell that sits like a coat of paint on a huge globe. “If you could drive a car straight up, it would only take you 10 minutes to pass through the atmosphere,” Gore said. Gore noted that 90 million tons of carbon dioxide are being pumped into the atmosphere each day, with 30 million tons of that going into the world’s oceans. “This has already changed the ph level of the ocean, making it more acidic,” he said. The Nobel prize-winner said that 40 percent of the Earth’s ice cap already has disappeared, critical sources of drinking water are threatened, and the average global humidity has increased by 4 percent. He predicted that continued reliance on fossil fuels will result in an increase in global temperatures by up to 11 degrees F. by the end of this century. “The ice is melting everywhere in the world,” he said. Gore warned that it will take only a one meter increase in sea levels to create more than 100 million “climate change refugees” in coming decades. Climate change also will spawn destructive storms and droughts that will make it impossible to feed the estimated 9.5-bilion inhabitants of Earth by mid-century, and it will accelerate mass extinctions not seen since an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, he said. “Only this time it’s not an asteroid—it’s us,” Gore added. The former VP said the U.S. dependence on foreign oil, currently costing $300 billion annually, soon will exact an even greater price on the U.S. economy and national security, as the oil supply rapidly depletes while worldwide demand increases.“The roller coaster on oil prices is going to speed up. It is headed for a crash and we are in the front car,” Gore said. Gore directly challenged his critics, who in recent months have become more vocal in questioning the science behind climate change. “We have seen attacks designed to confuse people, and some of this propaganda […]
The BIO 2010 International Convention was kicked off this week in Chicago with the release of the BIO/Battelle State Biosciences Initiatives report. The report, which is issued every two years, indicates that total employment in the U.S. bioscience sector has exceeded 1.42 million, with another 6.5 million jobs indirectly supported by biotech. The annual growth in the biotech sector registered a healthy 1.4 percent during the first year of the recession, despite a decline in total private sector employment of 0.7 percent. The BIO/Battelle report cites Bureau of Labor Statistics projections forecasting sustained annual growth of 1.5 percent in biotech through 2018. Research, testing and medical labs added 11,670 jobs, a 2.1 percent increase, from 2007 to 2008. Medical devices and equipment added 10,140 jobs, a rise of 2.4 percent , for the same period; agricultural feedstock and chemicals added 5,021 jobs, a jump of 4.6 percent. Since 2001, more than 176,000 jobs have been added in the research, testing and medical lab sector, with total employment in the sector now topping 558,000. According to the report, only the drugs and pharmaceuticals sector shed jobs, with a decrease of 7,445 positions from 2007 – 2008. Average annual wages in the U.S. biotech sector were tallied at $77,595, compared to the $45,229 average for total private sector employment. California once again reigned supreme in the BIO/Battelle report as the biotech employment leader, far outpacing the competition. The Golden State is home to 221,096 biotech workers, followed by New Jersey with 88,854, Pennsylvania with 80,929, Massachusetts with 72,627, and Texas with 64,964.
UAL Corp.’s United Airlines announced on Monday it will merge with Continental Airlines in a deal worth $3.2 billion, creating the world’s largest airline. The combined company, which will fly under the United name and Continental logo, is now larger than Delta Air Lines which became the country’s largest airline when it merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008. It is expected to serve more than 144 million passengers per year and fly to 370 destinations in 59 countries. “Combining these two companies is the best way to position ourselves … to thrive in the changing and competitive airline [industry,]” said Jeff Smisek, chief executive of Continental, in a press conference with Glenn Tilton, chief executive of UAL Corp. “Continental is strong where United is weak; United is strong where Continental is weak. Putting these two carriers together is a match made in heaven.” Under the terms of the deal, Continental shareholders will receive 1.05 shares of United common stock for each Continental common share they own, the companies said in a statement. United shareholders would own approximately 55% of the combined company and Continental shareholders would own approximately 45%. As a result of the merger, the companies expect to have annual revenues of $29 billion and save between $1 billion and $1.2 billion over the next three years. United and Continental discussed combining in 2008 and Houston-based Continental backed out, according to CNN.com. United boasts a stronger financial position this time around though. Last week, the Chicago-based company reported a first-quarter loss of $82 million, much narrower than the $382 million loss posted a year earlier. And revenue jumped 15% to $4.2 billion. The proposed mega-merger is subject to antitrust approval.
KPMG recently released the results of its 2010 Competitive Alternatives study. We asked Hartley Powell to comment on major trends tracked by the study. BF: Do the 2010 results show an improvement or a decline in overall U.S. competitiveness? HP: My assessment is that the United States is holding its own in terms of cost-competitiveness relative to other industrialized nations. While the ranking of the United States in 2010 is somewhat lower than in 2008, this is due mainly to the shift in emphasis for the 2010 edition, which bases the comparison on the major cities within each country rather than one with a broader base of larger and smaller cities. Over the last few years, U.S. companies have achieved massive structural changes that have lowered the cost of production. BF: What is the biggest factor currently impacting U.S. competitiveness? HP: Productivity growth has clearly been a key factor in spurring U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Despite the impact of the recent financial crisis and increased competition from fast-growing economies, such as those in China and India, the U.S. economy has demonstrated its resiliency during the recent recession, and strong productivity performance has been an important contributor to that success. This improved productivity supports solid competitiveness for the U.S. for the near and longer term. BF: We were surprised to see Mexico get the top ranking for R&D cost-competitiveness. Is the skill-level there comparable to the United States and Europe? HP: R&D includes a wide range of activities, from scientific research to prototype manufacturing. Many companies have developed and expanded these types of operations in Mexico for many years, so it would be safe to assume that their needs are being met. BF: The study lists increased electricity rates as a cost trend in the U.S. Will this be a temporary disadvantage as more alternative energy comes online? HP: A number of industry studies are projecting strong growth in U.S. electricity demand over the next several years, leading to continued upward pressure on U.S. electricity rates. Clearly, electricity prices vary significantly across different regions of the United States. Renewable energy mandates can increase the cost of power since renewables are generally more expensive than traditional sources of energy. While future demand may be met from alternative or renewable sources, we still do not anticipate a decline in rates. BF: The study indicates that labor costs have the biggest impact on cost competitiveness. Can a location mitigate that impact if it has an available pool of skilled workers within proximity […]