As the world prepares for a global summit meeting this month in Denmark to meet the challenge of climate change, New York City has sounded a retreat on its most ambitious effort to reduce greenhouse gases emanating from the Big Apple. After intense opposition from building owners, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has backed away from a proposed mandate that would have forced the retrofitting of all structures 50,000 square feet or larger to make them more energy efficient, according to a report in Sunday’s New York Times. Bloomberg announced the plan with great fanfare on Earth Day in April. In New York City, buildings account for an estimated 80 percent of total carbon emissions. Mayor Bloomberg has pledged to reduce the city’s total emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Bloomberg’s original plan would have put the nation’s largest city in the forefront of efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of U.S. metropolitan areas. The plan, which building owners said was too costly, called for all buildings of 50,000 square feet or more to undergo audits to determine which renovations would make them more energy efficient, and for owners to then pay for many of those changes. The mayor wants to go forward with the proposal to require energy audits, but now is leaving it up to the building owners whether to undertake the changes called for by those audits, the Times reported. Many cities require that newly constructed buildings be energy efficient, but do not impose those standards on existing properties. About 22,000 buildings, together accounting for nearly half the square footage in the city, would have been affected. According to estimates, Bloomberg’s original plan would have created 19,000 construction jobs. Without a mandated retrofit requirement, Louis J. Colletti, president and chief executive of the Building Trades Association told the Times he doubts that many of these jobs will materialize. “I’d be shocked if 5,000 of those jobs were created,” he said.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has been awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. The state of Missouri, through the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), has been awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant for $1,227,192 in the area of “green” jobs training. DED’s key partners in receiving the State Labor Market Information Improvement Grant are the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), Regional Workforce Investment Boards, the State Workforce Investment Board, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The grant proposal seeks to inform training providers of the critical skills that job seekers need to be successful in green industry careers. Product will include a green industry demand survey and report, green occupation projections, training provider survey and report, green pathways competency model, rapid response career guidance publications, and enhanced career exploration tools. “This grant program will allow us to analyze labor market data to assess economic activity in green industries and identify occupations and skill requirements within those industries,” said Governor Jay Nixon. “Our state workforce agencies can then use this information as the foundation on which to build and implement effective workforce development strategies, so we meet our goal of having a skilled workforce that is ready to fill the next-generation, green jobs of the 21st Century.” Under the grant, MERIC will use the funding to collect, analyze and disseminate labor market information to assess its impact in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. The research compiled by MERIC will be utilized to guide worker training and retraining efforts in Missouri’s 43 Career Centers, administered by the DED’s Division of Workforce Development. “A skilled, trained workforce is absolutely critical to the wellbeing of our economy, and the states that best address their workforce issues will always be the best position to move forward,” said David Kerr, Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “The State Labor Market Information grant will help us take cutting edge research performed by MERIC and apply it to the training programs through our state’s Career Centers, so that our workforce is ahead of the curve in getting trained in the next-generation jobs crucial to our future economy.” The grant is designed to achieve the following outcomes: · The development of effective methods for estimating the impact on industry and occupational employment resulting from implementation of green technologies; · The dissemination of data through outreach strategies that inform job seekers, the public workforce system, education and training providers, and other organizations of the occupational skills and […]
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that sent shock waves through everyone who assumed that the government could not seize private property without a very good reason, usually involving a public use like a new highway or other critical infrastructure project. In a highly controversial 5-4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, CT, the High Court upheld the condemnation of several private homes to make way for an expansion of Pfizer’s huge research facility on an adjacent property. To our knowledge, this was the first time the Court had affirmed that eminent domain could be invoked to transfer property from one private owner to another to facilitate a commercial real estate project. The razor-thin Supreme Court majority said the ”general benefits” to the community from the economic growth promised by the development outweighed the traditional prohibition against the use of eminent domain to force people out of their homes for anything other than a crucial public project. Well, now comes news from Connecticut that Pfizer not only has abandoned its expansion plans, but the pharmaceuticals giant will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton. So much for ”general benefits.” OK, we know what you’re thinking: the homeowners get their houses back, right? Oops. Pfizer—which paid next to nothing for the condemned property—already tore them down, leaving nothing but a wasteland of fields full of weeds. Suzette Kelo, a homeowner who fought the seizure all the way to the Supreme Court, said through her legal counsel, Scott Bullock: “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.” Memo to Chief Justice Roberts and the Supremes: Perhaps you should revisit this issue and rethink your decision, if you are not too busy deciding weighty matters like whether the Washington Redskins should keep their name. If Justice Roberts and his colleagues don’t want to give this questionable ruling another look-see, there is another course of action that can rectify the situation. Constitutional amendment, anyone?
The company is investing $22 million in its Tennessee laminates facility. Owens Corning is investing $22 million in an expansion of its North Memphis, TN, facility. The site currently produces residential and commercial roofing strip shingles, and employs 92 people. The investment will create 15 new jobs, and allow Owens Corning to expand the site’s manufacturing capability to include aesthetically pleasing, higher-style laminates. Company officials said the expansion will be completed early next year, at which time its Memphis site will produce Owens Corning’s Classic, Supreme, Oakridge, Duration and Duration Premium shingles. The company announced the expansion in coordination with the Greater Memphis Chamber and the State of Tennessee. Owens Corning is a leading global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass-fiber reinforcements and engineered materials for composite systems. A Fortune 500 Company for 55 consecutive years, Owens Corning is committed to driving sustainability by delivering solutions, transforming markets and enhancing lives. Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is a market-leading innovator of glass-fiber technology with sales of $6 billion in 2008 and about 16,000 employees in 30 countries on five continents.
Governor Steve Beshear and Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes announced Blackhawk Composites, Inc., a start-up manufacturer of advanced aerospace composite parts, will begin manufacturing operations in Butler County. The project entails the creation of 20 new jobs initially, growing to 30 within the first year, and a more than $1.5 million investment in the Commonwealth. “The start-up of Blackhawk Composites in Butler County will provide dozens of high-quality, well-paying jobs – the kind of jobs Kentucky seeks to create,” said Gov. Beshear. “We’re proud to be the home of Blackhawk Composites and will continue to partner with them on future opportunities.” Established in September 2009, the newly formed Blackhawk Composites will lease a 40,000 square-foot facility to manufacture advanced aerospace composite parts for Cessna Caravan aircraft cowls, the part of the aircraft that covers the engine. The Cessna Caravan is a large single engine turboprop used for executive and cargo transport, as well as other commercial uses such as a jump platform for skydiving. These aircraft are found in increasing numbers worldwide. “We are very pleased that we were able to establish this venture in Kentucky,” said Gary Smrtic, president of Blackhawk Composites. “It has been the goal of our core team to bring aerospace work into south central Kentucky for some time, and this is the fruit of that labor.” “While Blackhawk Composites Inc is technically a start-up, our management team is certainly not new to business,” added Smrtic. “Unlike most start-ups, we will begin with a long-term tooling and production contract for one type of aircraft already in place, as well as several other prospects we are discussing with other aircraft companies.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Blackhawk Composites for tax benefits up to $750,000 under Kentucky’s new incentive program, 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 Blackhawk Composites is $50,000. “We are truly thrilled to have Blackhawk Composites starting their business in Morgantown,” said Morgantown Mayor Eva Hawes. “We’re grateful they have decided to invest in our community.” “We’re very excited Blackhawk Composites selected Morgantown and Butler County for their home,” said Butler County Judge Executive David Fields. “The 30 jobs they plan to create will be a welcome addition to our community.”
We have been reporting for some time in this space that the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. has been exacerbated in recent years by the government’s decision to cut back on H-1B visas. The quota of H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly trained technology professionals, was reduced to 65,000 due to mounting security concerns after the 9/11 attacks. In 2007 and 2008, applications for H-1B visas exceeded this quota on the first day the visas became available. Not this year. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, thus far—more than six months after the U.S. government began accepting applications for 2010 H-1B visas—only 46,700 visa petitions have been filed. Analysts are attributing this shortfall to a combination of the economic downturn, immigration security concerns, and the rising costs associated with hiring foreign-born workers. An overall U.S. unemployment rate approaching 10 percent and double-digit unemployment in more than a dozen states has dramatically slowed expansion in the technology sector, the Journal reports. According to the Journal, conditions attached to federal bailout funds also have deterred bailout recipients from recruiting foreign workers. Companies that receive federal bailout money must prove that they tried to recruit American workers at prevailing wages and that foreigners aren’t replacing U.S. citizens. This restriction reportedly caused Bank of America and others to rescind numerous job offers to foreigners. Crackdowns on illegal immigration also have had a dampening effect on visa applications. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the H-1B program, has been sending inspectors to visit companies without warning to verify that H-1B employees are performing the jobs on the terms specified. Up to 20,000 companies have been targeted for these inspections. The restrictive climate on immigration apparently is leading some foreign students to reconsider whether they want to pursue careers in the United States.”The best and the brightest who would normally come here are saying, why do we need to go to a country where we are not welcome,” a University of California scholar who has studied H-1B visas told the Journal.
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
Gov. Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership this week joined New South Lumber Company, a member of the Canfor group of companies, at a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the company’s expansion in Darlington County. The company invested $7 million to make upgrades and additions to its facility. “These additions to our Darlington County plant were an important modernization to make it more competitive. Darlington County has been a perfect fit for our company, providing us with an excellent business environment. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Steve Singleton, vice president of New South Lumber Company. New South Lumber manufactures Southern Pine dimension lumber, a wide variety of specialty lumber products and treated lumber. The company has replaced and updated equipment at the Darlington County facility to increase its efficiency and productivity. “Making sure existing businesses in our state have the fundamental tools to grow and prosper is increasingly important, especially given today’s global competition for new investment. This expansion is a reminder of the importance to improve South Carolina’s business soil conditions in order to encourage economic growth in both larger cities and smaller communities alike across the state. I’d thank the state and local economic development community for their efforts, as well as – and most importantly – New South Lumber for choosing to reinvest in South Carolina,” said Gov. Mark Sanford. Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor added, “New South Lumber Company has a long history in South Carolina and is a leading supplier of specialty lumber products. This investment reinforces the company’s commitment to our state and is a strong reflection that South Carolina’s workforce, market access and business-friendly environment are working to encourage new investment and help our existing businesses grow. We congratulate New South Lumber on their success and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with them in the years ahead.” “New South Lumber and their predecessor have been a valued member of our community since 1939,” said Wesley Blackwell, chairman, Darlington County Council. “Their improvements will keep their Darlington mill competitive and employment stable.” “It is important for our existing industry to continual reinvest in new technologies to increase efficiencies,” said Jim Ramsey, chairman, Darlington County Economic Development Partnership. “As the housing sector begins to recover, New South Lumber will be well-positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities.” New South Lumber Company is a subsidiary of Canfor, which acquired the company in 2006. In addition to Southern Pine […]
The shape of the new economy is going to be defined by an emerging $3-trillion global market in carbon emissions credits, attendees at the fifth annual Business Facilities LiveXchange were told Monday. In a keynote address entitled “Contemplating Carbon: How Climate Change Regulation May Effect Business Facility Decisions,” San Francisco-based attorney William Sloan predicted that a cap-and-trade system of carbon credits will assign a value to carbon emissions that will broadly impact energy use, transportation, economic development and site selection. Sloan, of counsel with the law firm Morrison & Foerster and a recognized expert on climate change issues, said the creation of a global carbon credit market has reached a critical mass with the establishment last year of $118 billion in carbon trading in Europe. Sloan predicted that, within the next 10 years, more than $3 trillion in carbon credits may be exchanged worldwide. “We have crossed the rubicon and reached the point of no return. Carbon will be the largest physically traded commodity in the U.S., surpassing oil, “Sloan said in his keynote address. Sloan, who serves on his firm’s Cleantech Steering Committee and has previously held positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, began his presentation with a graph dramatically depicting the increase in metric tons of carbon dioxide pouring in to the atmosphere in the past 50 years. In 1952, CO2 emissions totaled approximately 40 million metric tons annually. In 2000, the amount of greenhouse gases spewing into the atmosphere was a staggering 25 billion metric tons. With world leaders preparing to discuss a successor to the Kyoto Treaty and set strict new carbon emission reduction targets at a summit meeting in Copenhagen in December, a global mechanism for monetizing the cost of carbon emissions has moved front-and-center as an international priority. According to Sloan, the choice comes down to a broad-based carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system of carbon credits. “The government will decide who will be regulated, what the cap will be, how allowances will be regulated, and whether to permit offset trading,” he said. Sloan predicted that locations that emit less than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases may be exempted from the system. But he warned that the cost of capping larger emissions likely will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher costs for fuel and electricity. Two bills currently are moving through Congress that would establish a cap-and-trade carbon credit system in the U.S. The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey […]
Dell announced this week it will close its desktop computer manufacturing plant near Winston-Salem, NC by the end of January. The plant, which employs 905 workers and produced units mainly for business customers opened four years ago. The Dell facility was showered with a state incentives package worth an estimated $318 million, primarily tax breaks and grants, when the computer firm decided to locate the plant in North Carolina. The state created the generous package after projecting that the Dell plant would have an overall economic impact on the region of $24.5 billion over 20 years, and create more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. However, consumer preferences rapidly shifted to laptops and handheld devices during the past four years. The combination of the shrinking market for desktops and the deep recession appear to have doomed the Winston-Salem plant. “Given the dynamics at play across the landscape, we made the difficult decision to shut this down,” Dell spokesman Venancio Figueroa told the Associated Press. Dell, based in Round Rock, TX, said the decision was part of an effort to simplify operations and improve efficiency, while retaining U.S. plants in Miami, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Austin, Texas. The company had announced a drive to save $4 billion a year by 2011. Dell previously sold its Lebanon, Tenn., remanufacturing plant in June and is moving its Ireland manufacturing operations to Poland. Dell is also moving away from hardware and into more profitable technology services. Dell said last month it will spend $3.9 billion for Perot Systems Corp., adding consulting and computing services like systems integration to Dell’s offerings. Assistant state Commerce Secretary Kathy Neal said it was not immediately known how much in state tax breaks or outright grants Dell received and how much they would be asked to repay.