ConAgra says it is going to shut its Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, NC within 15 to 18 months. The company says it will cost too much to rebuild the portion of plant damaged in last June’s explosion; compared to what it costs to make Slim Jims in Troy, Ohio. “Our facility in Troy is larger, more modern and is more conducive to the expansion we need for this product line,” said ConAgra’s Greg Smith. Before the plant closes, the company says it will do what it can to help it’s 400 or so employees find work at other ConAgra facilities or elsewhere. In addition, it will give the town $3-million to help build a community center, and donate both its manufacturing plant and land to the town so that it may use it to attract a new business. “When they leave, what we will have is an excellent shell facility that can be easily adapted for other businesses,” said Garner Economic Development Director Tony Beasley. Officials say not only will the facility be tenant ready; but it will offer other advantages to a potential employer. “The facility has a pre-treatment plant on-site that will be a part of the facility when ConAgra vacates,” said Ken Atkins, who is the Executive Director of Economic Development for Wake County. “That’s very attractive to companies that use those processes such as biotechnology or pharmaceutical or a foods related company,’’ claims Atkins.
Dow AgroSciences has announced plans for a $340 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters that is expected to create 577 high-paying jobs over the next five years. The investment will greatly expand the company’s research and development capacity. The company expects most of the positions to pay between $65,000 and $95,000 annually. Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Midland, MI-based giant Dow Chemical Co., produces agricultural products including seeds and pesticides. It has made a major push into biotechnology, and plans to roll out five products by 2012 that could generate $800 million annually in new sales. The first phase of Dow AgroSciences’ expansion will be the addition of a 14,000-square-foot greenhouse and a 175,000-square-foot research and development facility at its corporate campus on the city’s northwest side. The greenhouse should be finished by year’s end, according to the company, while the R&D facility slated to open in early 2012. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. gave Dow AgroSciences $12.5 million in performance-based tax credits and another $205,000 in training grants to encourage the company’s expansion. The city of Indianapolis will kick in another $500,000 from its Industrial Development Grant Fund to help pay for road, sewer and water improvements related to the project. Indianapolis has also committed to establish a property tax increment financing, or TIF, district to help Dow AgroSciences defer $20 million in project costs. The TIF district must be approved by city and state officials. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard joined Dow AgroSciences CEO Antonio Galindez on Thursday morning to announce the expansion. “R&D leadership in the life sciences is a dream of every state in the union,” Daniels said in a press release. “Here in Indiana, it’s not a dream, but a vibrant reality, and Dow AgroSciences’ steady growth is a major reason why. This expansion makes Indiana a true world capital of agricultural science.” Dow AgroSciences’ expansion announcement follows two expansions last year. In July, the company signed a 15-year lease resulting in construction of an 80,000-square-foot R&D building adjacent to its headquarters. In September, Dow AgroSciences said it will expand its presence in Purdue University’s West Lafayette Research Park, adding up to 30 jobs.
Top business leaders from Pueblo and Colorado Springs have formed a new partnership to champion Southern Colorado’s economy. The region’s chambers of commerce and economic development agencies will participate in a regional group called the Southern Colorado Business Partnership, the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reports. A regional group already exists in Northern Colorado, linking the Fort Collins and Greeley areas. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other groups play a similar role in the Denver area. “There’s strength in numbers,” Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce President Rod Slyhoff told the Chieftain. The organizations that currently participate represent more than 4,000 businesses and 140,000 workers, group members said. Pueblo Economic Development Corp. Chair Ken Conyers likened the group to a business version of Action 22, the 22-county lobbying group that monitors a wide range of issues in the region. Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce President David Csintyan noted heavy competition for jobs from Denver and Northern Colorado and said the new group puts the southern region “on a level playing field” with the other alliances in the state. The regional group is an outgrowth of the former Pikes Peak Regional Business Partnership in Colorado Springs, members said. The Pikes Peak group recently extended an invitation to Pueblo’s business community, including the Latino Chamber of Commerce, to team together and change the group’s name to reflect a more regional scope. The group also added the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. The group will host periodic meetings and forums on business issues, conduct joint studies on economic development and join on lobbying initiatives. Other plans include a possible regional summit on business and economic development.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the expansion in Princeton, KY of Bremner Food Group, the nation’s largest supplier of private label cookies and crackers. Bremner Food Group, a subsidiary of Ralcorp Holdings, will install new production lines, relocate production lines from other facilities and increase its warehouse space to handle increased capacity. The expansion project will result in 111 new full-time jobs and represents an investment of $62.1 million in the Commonwealth. “Kentucky is delighted that Bremner Food Group has chosen Princeton as the site of this major expansion, creating 111 new employment opportunities and investing more than $62 million in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Bremner Food Group has been an outstanding corporate citizen since opening its doors in Princeton in 1993. We will continue to work with Bremner Food Corp. and other existing Kentucky companies to partner on future expansion opportunities.” Bremner Food Group will increase the size of its existing facility, located at 1476 U.S. 62 West in Princeton, by approximately 200,000 square foot for a total of 900,000 square feet. Additionally, the company has acquired another 32 acres to accommodate the expansion for a total of 65 acres. The Princeton plant currently employs 600 team members in numerous production and support functions. Products range from Saltines and Graham Crackers to Fig Bars and Animal Crackers. The plant also produces Shredded Wheat and a private label version of Triscuit. “We would like to thank Gov. Beshear and the Cabinet for Economic Development for their support and are very excited to once again work with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on expanding the Princeton manufacturing plant,” said Steven Smith, vice president of Human Resources for Bremner Food Group. “They made our decision to invest in Princeton and expand the operation a very easy one. This expansion is also further validation of our commitment to the Princeton team members and our community. We also want to thank Mayor Gale Cherry and the civic leaders of Princeton and Caldwell County who helped make this happen. We look forward to a long and prosperous future in this community.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Bremner Food Group for tax benefits up to $5 million under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The incentive can be earned over a 10-year period through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments. The maximum annual approved amount to be earned by Bremner Food Group is $500,000. “Bremner Food Group Inc. has been an outstanding community partner for nearly 20 years. In addition to employing over 660 […]
Ontario will more than quadruple its promised support to help keep Ford’s Windsor engine plant working, according to a report in the Toronto Sun. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Economic Development Minister Sandra Pupatello – both Windsor-area MPPs—made the $81 million funding announcement in Windsor Friday. “This investment reaffirms our government’s commitment to strengthening our local economy and will get Windsor families back to work,” Duncan said in a statement. Ontario had pledged $17 million to the plant in March 2008 but said Friday’s money will build on that support. The money — along with up to $736.4 million being invested by Ford itself—will help keep or create 757 jobs at the plant, the government said. “To be truly competitive at a world-class level we have to work together—we have to build partnerships between business, labor and government,” Jim Tetrault, Ford’s vice-president of North American manufacturing, said. “And it’s that spirit of collaboration combined with a willingness to innovate that has breathed new life into the operations at the Essex Engine Plant.” Ford was the only one of North America’s Big 3 automakers that did not need government money to keep it from going out of business in 2008. Its Project Renaissance refurbishment will retool the engine plant so it can produce 5.0-litre V-8 engines for use in the Ford Mustang.
There are some things we assumed we never would see in our lifetime: The melting of the polar ice caps; a car that runs on electricity; the ocean running out of fish; a labor shortage in China; the Mets winning back-to-back championships. Well, with the exception of the item relating to the long-suffering denizens of Flushing Meadow, you can throw that list out the window. From Saturday’s front page of The New York Times comes a startling report that unskilled factory workers in China’s industrial heartland are being offered “signing bonuses” and 20-percent salary increases. The world’s most populous nation – at least 1.3 billion people call it home—apparently is suffering from an acute labor shortage. “Cheap labor” and China no longer are synonymous. The Times reports that some Chinese manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they can’t find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices. Telemarketers in China are turning away potential customers because recruiters have fully booked them to cold-call people and offer them jobs. The immediate cause of the labor crunch in China is said to be a shift in worker relocations that resulted from the massive stimulus package China enacted during the global economic crisis. Millions of migrant workers employed in coastal cities returned to their rural homes for the long Lunar New Year last month, but these workers are not planning to go back to their jobs in the cities because the government’s half-trillion-dollar stimulus program has created plenty of work where they live. However, economists also see a longer-term trend: after two decades of unparalleled growth, China is simply running out of workers. This trend was masked last year by massive layoffs at the nadir of the downturn, but now it has emerged with a roar as China resumes its double-digit growth. The impact of this unexpected labor shortage likely will be measured soon in price increases for American consumers who are addicted to low-cost goods made in China. It also may spawn inflation in China as wages there rise. The average wage rate for factory workers in Guangzhou was 80 cents an hour two years ago. Today, it is $1.17 and moving higher every month. “You can walk into any factory and get a job,” a 22-year-old plastics worker told the Times. While this is not good news for U.S. consumers, it may prove to be a blessing for U.S. manufacturers. Rising prices on Chinese goods, accompanied by rising wages for Chinese workers, may be a more effective brake on […]
The state government and legislature in New York is preparing to end the Empire Zone incentives program in July and replace it with a more cost-effective program that has stringent job-creation requirements. We asked Greater Rochester Enterprise President Mark Peterson for his thoughts on this controversial move, and invited him to comment on proposals to have Empire Zone incentives convert from loans to grants if recipients are able to meet specified job targets. BF: Has the Empire Zone incentives program been effective as a job-creation tool in New York State? Can you tell us how many jobs have been created with the assistance of the program? MP: The Empire Zone incentives program has been effective at creating jobs in New York State. Since its inception in 2000, it has certified more than 8,000 businesses that employ more than 350,000 people. However, companies who have been helped by the Empire Zone program need to do a better job of meeting their investment goals. BF: Do you think the program should be replaced? MP: I don’t have any reservations to doing away with Empire Zones, as long as it’s replaced with a program that allows us to be competitive. The devil is in the details of providing incentives to companies wishing to expand or move here. For example, tax credits are fine provided they can be monetized over time so a company can take advantage of the full financial benefit through either utilization or by receiving a refund. BF: What would be the economic impact on your region if current plans to replace the Empire Zone program are enacted in July? Do you think the changes may have a negative effect? MP: The economic impact on the Greater Rochester Region will be positive as long as the Empire Zone is replaced with an affordable, sustainable program that makes it worthwhile for businesses to expand or relocate here. BF: How would you like to see the state incentives program adjusted, or do you think it should remain identical to the current structure? MP: I would like to see it adjusted. Most companies are challenged with what they can do at the front end, because there is usually capital expenditure going on to build a new plant. One way the state could help companies deal with those challenges —and create jobs—would be to offer loans. The loans would turn into grants under the right circumstances. If you make your job target, we’ll convert the loan to a grant. If not, the state would demand […]
Don’t let your project get detoured or end up on the wrong development track by ignoring the factors that make transportation a critical consideration in site selection decisions. Q As we consider locations for a new facility, we are finding that transportation issues present a lot of uncertainty in terms of our logistics strategy. How do we manage this in order to get to the best location for our project? The Expert Says: Transportation issues impact most every location decision. Transportation issues can be associated with infrastructure (availability and capacity) and with service (time and cost). And for every project, some consideration should be given to all modes of transportation—air (passenger and cargo), rail (transit and product movement), road (employee and product), and water. Other related issues such as mass transit availability, fuel tax policy, toll road presence, etc. may also be important to particular projects. In this column, we focus on road and rail transportation. If your project is one in an office environment, you are likely most concerned with road and air travel. If your project is industrial (distribution or manufacturing), then road and rail may be the most critical elements of transportation. Many industrial clients are now favoring locations with good access to all modes. There are a number of trends that should drive you to consider all modes of transportation, including quality of rail access, competition, and dynamic global supply chains, all of which will impact your transportation costs. In assessing rail service at your site, do not assume that because there is a rail line along side your property that it is rail served. You should receive direct confirmation of service, and any limitations to service, from the rail carrier. If the site can be served, do not assume that you can do your operational run around using the carrier’s tracks—restrictions on these activities are common, implying that your site plan needs to accommodate all rail movement on-site. This in turn may impact site size, layout, product and people flow, etc. Rail competition can be difficult to find and manage. While truck and rail directly compete more often than they did in the past, most rail oriented operations find advantages in using rail services. You may consider multiple locations each with different carriers, but ultimately you will likely wind up on a site that offers a single provider of rail service. First, see if the owner of the line shares trackage rights with other carriers enabling other carriers to bid for your business. Second, you […]
V&M Star Expands in Youngstown V&M Star is investing $650 million in an expansion of its Youngstown, OH facility that is projected to create more than 350 new full-time jobs, and retain more than 400 jobs. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher lauded the announcement at a press conference in Youngstown. V&M Star, a leading producer of seamless oil country tubular goods, line and standard pipe, coupling stock and mechanical tube headquartered in Houston, TX, confirmed that it will build a new state-of-the-art rolling mill expansion project in Youngstown in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The state has been working with V&M Star over the past year to make this investment possible. Gov. Strickland met with V&M officials in Youngstown to discuss the company’s plans moving forward. “We commend V&M Star and its parent company, Vallourec, for their continued commitment to grow here in Ohio, an affirmation of Ohio’s strengths in manufacturing, our dedicated workforce and the state’s extensive logistics network,” Gov. Strickland said. “We also congratulate and thank the leadership in both Trumbull and Mahoning counties for their collaborative work in meeting the goals of the company, especially Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, Girard Mayor James Melfi, and Congressman Tim Ryan for their diligent efforts and support of V&M’s continued investment in northeast Ohio.” The state of Ohio’s early commitment of $20 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for road improvements and the relocation of rail lines near the current property of the V&M Star Steel Pipe Production Facility helped significantly to make these new jobs for Ohioans possible. Ohio Gets $30 Million Grant for CSX National Gateway Gov. Ted Strickland recently announced that Ohio has been awarded $30 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for the CSX National Gateway project. The National Gateway is an $842 million, multi-state infrastructure freight project aimed at reducing congestion on roads and highways, lowering emissions, and conserving energy. The TIGER Discretionary Grant program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “The National Gateway will improve the movement of freight and give Ohio even more opportunities to deliver goods to markets across our region and country,” Gov. Strickland said. A total of $98 million was awarded in TIGER grants to cover the federal portion of National Gateway clearance projects in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Ohio served as the lead sponsor of the National Gateway TIGER application. Ohio already has committed $20 million in targeted ARRA resources from the Federal Highway Administration to […]
QUALITY COUNTS Topeka is the capital city of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It has a population of 123,446 (Shawnee’s population is 174,709) and consistently ranks eight to ten percent below the national average for cost of living, making for a comfortable quality of life. The City shows active pride and investment in healthcare, education and community development, turning out a highly educated workforce. The Topeka Public School District earned the U.S. Department of Education National Schools of Excellence Award and approximately 85 percent of Shawnee county residents age 25 and older are high school graduates or have completed an equivalency, with 36 percent of residents holding a bachelors or higher. Two nationally acclaimed research universities (University of Kansas and Kansas State University) are adjacent to the community and Topeka’s own Washburn University is top 10-rated in the Midwest. The City has a lively performing arts scene, recreation facilities for nature lovers, as well as activities and attractions for every taste. Topeka, Not Business as Usual With the cost of doing business and energy costs lower than the national average, Topeka is headquarters to national and international companies that include Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and Security Benefit. The City encourages new direction and growth and offers solutions to help business with customer retention, development of a more efficient supply chain and finding new profit opportunities. Topeka’s target industries include heavy manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, animal sciences and food processing. Emerging targets include robotics manufacturing and data centers. Topeka encourages a return on investment by offering state and local incentives for conducting business in the City: • Free land and cash based on the quality of jobs created • Machinery and equipment exemption from personal property taxes • Funding for bioscience • State and Local taxes that are 11 percent lower than the national average • Office rentals 26 percent lower than national average • NaviGate, to help maximize resources, assess entrepreneurs’ needs and standardize progress with partner organizations The Central Park Connection Topeka has a central location with prime highway and rail transportation networks (BNSF and Union Pacific). It is within one hour of Kansas City International airport and Topeka’s own Forbes Field airport offers admission to a Foreign Trade Zone and direct access to two runways (12,800′ and 7,000′). The City provides close proximity to intermodal facilities, telecommunications services and high speed Internet, ranking with New York City and San Francisco for fiber optic cable per square mile. Topeka capitalized on its location with the 500-acre […]