Purdue University plans to get more involved in high-tech economic development efforts across the Northern Indiana Corridor, according to a report posted on SouthBendTribune.com. The effort, called the Northern Indiana Corridor effort, plans to make use of academics and research in high-tech ventures—including packaging, wireless technology, electric vehicles and other “new economy” efforts—to boost the economy, Purdue leaders announced Friday. The effort also will push more collaboration among the Purdue University North Central campus in Westville, the Purdue campus in Calumet, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and the main campus in West Lafayette. The collaboration will share faculty expertise, facilities and research activity across the four campuses, and involve work with Ivy Tech Community College and other colleges on job development and transfer programs. “We’re planning a concerted effort to grow the economy of northern Indiana through education, technology development and research that is specific to the economic strengths of those communities,” Purdue President France A. Córdova said. North Central has helped create a conservancy district to attract new businesses. The campus also has been active in fostering cooperative economic development efforts in LaPorte County among Michigan City, LaPorte and the county, according to the university. The move is spurred in part by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s goal of creating more effective roles for the state’s regional public university campuses.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has announced that the city has received $3.7 million in federal stimulus funds for solar panels at three locations. The solar panels will be located on buildings at the University of Texas at San Antonio and St. Philip’s College, as well as the city’s Mission Verde Center at Cooper. The three sites are expected to generate 600 kilowatts, nearly tripling the city’s large-scale solar-generation capacity. Currently, the city’s only large-scale solar-energy sources are the Pearl Brewery and a solar landfill cover at Republic Services Inc., a waste-management company. Castro hailed the grants, saying they will enable the city to make a “big step forward for sustainability.” The grants were awarded through the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, with UTSA, St. Philip’s, and the city each filing separate grant applications.
The House that Ruth Built is no more.
Gov. Bev Perdue has announced that Siemens Energy Inc. will expand its gas turbine operations in Charlotte, NC. The company plans to add 825 jobs and invest at least $135 million over the next five years, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. The expansion was supported by state grants from the Job Development Investment Grant program and One North Carolina Fund. “Creating jobs is my No. 1 priority and this expansion of hundreds of well-paying jobs for North Carolinians is a big win,” said Gov. Perdue. “Our knowledge-based workforce and our top business climate continue to be attractive to globally-competitive companies looking to expand and locate.” Siemens Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens AG , plans to expand its Westinghouse Boulevard campus and relocate gas turbine manufacturing operations from a plant in Ontario, Canada. The company also previously announced plans to add additional office space for new engineers in Charlotte as it creates a global production hub for manufacturing and related functions for the supply of its gas and steam turbines and generators to markets around the world. The overall average wage for the 825 new jobs will be almost $64,000 a year, not including benefits. That is higher than the Mecklenburg County average of $48,776. The company currently employs 777 workers at the Charlotte site, and more than 60,000 in the United States. “The U.S. is Siemens’ largest market, and this latest strategic business decision further emphasizes our commitment to expand and continue to invest in our U.S. presence. We already supply the power systems that provide one third of the nation’s electricity, and through this expansion in Charlotte, we will be able to continue bringing efficient and competitive power-generation options to customers around the world,” said Michael Suess, CEO of Siemens Energy’s Fossil Power Generation Division. “We’ve had a presence in the Charlotte area and in other areas in North Carolina for decades, and it was our first-hand knowledge of the excellent business environment here that convinced us to expand our investment further. We owe many thanks to the State of North Carolina for its ongoing dedication to our business success.” Other partners who assisted with this project include: the N.C. departments of Commerce and Transportation, N.C. Community Colleges, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, N.C. Employment Security Commission, Charlotte Chamber, Norfolk Southern and Duke Energy.
Pierre Foods, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of fully cooked meats and frozen sandwiches, has selected its existing manufacturing facility in Claremont, NC for a project that will maintain more than 700 and create 500 new jobs over the next three years with an investment of more than $16.8 million. While salaries will vary from position to position, the more than 500 jobs to be created will have an average salary of $26,461 a year, excluding the benefits package. A state grant from the One North Carolina Fund helped make the project possible and helped to retain the existing 717 employees. Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Pierre Foods was founded in 1946. Since 1979, Pierre Foods’ Claremont facility has used high quality USDA-inspected meats and hearth-baked breads to produce a wide variety of frozen sandwiches and other handheld products for the food service, school, military, warehouse club, vending and convenience store markets. The Claremont facility is one of Pierre’s most efficient and productive facilities. “Pierre Foods is thrilled at this opportunity to support both growth in our business and economic activity in the state of North Carolina,” said Bill Toler, CEO of Pierre Foods. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the State and thank all of our dedicated employees within the region for their contributions to our success.” “We’re very grateful that Pierre Foods has selected their Catawba County facility for this expansion. These jobs, both retained and new, will have a real and tangible impact on many families in our county that have been struggling in recent times. We congratulate Pierre Foods on their success and thank them for their faith in the hard-working people of Catawba County,” said Kitty Barnes, chair of the Catawba County Commissioners. “Pierre Foods has been an important member of the Claremont community for over 30 years,” said Claremont Mayor David Morrow. “We are excited to see them grow and become one of the top employers in Catawba County. We wish them continued success and look forward to working with them to keep making Claremont such a great place to live and work.” “It is always very encouraging to see an existing industry such as Pierre Foods grow and provide additional jobs for the citizens of Catawba County,” Tony Rose, chair of the Catawba County EDC Board, said. “We are committed to helping our existing industries thrive and will continue to be fully supportive of their efforts to grow. We look forward to working with Pierre to make this expansion successful.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has enacted deep budget cuts since taking office in January, is now taking aim at the Garden State’s highly touted Clean Energy Program. Gov. Christie notified the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which oversees the program, that he is diverting $158 million in clean energy funds to help offset a $2.2-billion state budget deficit. Environmentalists have expressed concern that dozens of clean energy programs may be scaled down, including a generous solar energy rebate program that has made New Jersey a leader in renewable energy. Another program facing the ax provides New Jersey residents with a $50 rebate for recycling their old refrigerators (the program includes free pickup). “If we take this money (out of the budget), we’re basically stopping clean energy projects for the next two years,” Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey told the Record newspaper. Established in 2003, the state’s Office of Clean Energy funds a diverse slate of renewable energy initiatives, including multimillion-dollar rebates to support offshore wind power production. New Jersey has established a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources by 2020. The BPU adopted a $269-million budget in December, of which $168 million was dedicated to rebate commitments for solar and other energy-efficient projects.
Wyoming will have more authority over the siting of wind farms and the state will begin taxing wind energy production under bills that Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed into law Friday, the Billings Gazette reported. The $1-per-megawatt-hour tax on wind energy generated in the state goes into effect in 2012. The wind industry fought the tax bill unsuccessfully this session. Industry lobbyists had urged lawmakers to study the issue more and warned that higher taxes would discourage development. The governor also signed a bill to extend the state’s permitting authority over wind farms and their related collector transmission lines. The third bill he signed sets a moratorium on the use of eminent domain powers to take private land for collector lines until June 30, 2011. A fourth bill was still pending Friday that would set minimum county standards and restrictions for wind developments. In his farewell address to the House and Senate, Freudenthal said passing the wind bills sends the message that while Wyoming welcomes the wind industry, it will only do so on terms that are good for its quality of life and economic development—and only if the industry pays its own way. “I believe that (a tax) should be applied, so all the economic activities in this state are on an equal footing,” Freudenthal said. Cheryl Riley, executive director of the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, said her group looks forward to working with the governor’s office and the Legislature over the interim to hash out issues related to wind development. Riley told the Gazette her organization supported the bills on the state’s permitting authority and industrial siting standards because they would create regulatory certainty. Riley said her group opposed the tax bill but regards what the Legislature passed as essentially a “placeholder” for the state while it works out details of how it intends to tax the industry in the future.
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.