BF Staff Archives
Hemlock Semiconductor to Build $2.5 Billion Plant in Clarksville The Hemlock Semiconductor Group will invest up to $2.5 billion to locate a polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) manufacturing operation in Clarksville, TN at the Commerce Park megasite in the northeastern edge of the city. If plans are fully implemented, it will be the largest corporate capital investment in Tennessee history. After a two-year global search of more than two dozen sites, The Hemlock Semiconductor Group, which includes two Dow Corning Corporation joint ventures, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor LLC, finally decided on a location. “Tennessee’s business climate coupled with a superb site in Clarksville, a strong, productive workforce and an excellent location in proximity to our supply chain and customers made this the right decision,” said Hemlock Semiconductor President and CEO Rick Doornbos. “This investment will allow us to meet growing customer demand in both the near term and in the decades ahead.” The Clarksville facility will produce polycrystalline silicon, a primary component used to manufacture solar cells and semiconductor devices. While most of the polysilicon will be consumed by firms in the solar industry, the site also will have the capability to make ultra-pure silicon for the electronics industry as well as solar-grade material. Upon completion, the new facility will have the capacity to manufacture up to 10,000 metric tons of polysilicon annually with the potential to expand to a production level of 21,000 metric tons. Groundbreaking on the new plant is expected in March 2009 and will create up to 1,000 jobs in construction and related crafts during the building phase. Projected to open in 2012, the Clarksville facility itself will create 500 jobs with the potential of employing up to 900 people within five to seven years. The plant will occupy the entire 1,215-acre Commerce Park megasite and the company plans to acquire an additional 947 acres adjacent to the site for additional build-out and buffer space. “The exact scale of this investment will be determined by market conditions. Making this investment in today’s volatile economic climate is a testament to both the long term outlook of the solar industry as well as Hemlock Semiconductor’s ability to add capacity to meet the needs of customers,” said Doornbos. In conjunction with this new industrial development, Austin Peay State University has received a $6.4-million grant to develop and train a workforce for the incoming Hemlock Semiconductor Plant. This includes a new campus building, six new chemical technology professors and about eleven new professors for other core credit requirements toward the […]
Zoning, mineral rights and water rights move to the forefront in a regional relocation.
BF: What economic advantages does Texas offer that have kept the state atop Allied’s relocation destination list for the last four years? SM: Texas is often at the top our list due to a number of factors. First, it’s a large state with a large population; therefore, it’s likely to have a greater percentage of activity. The large metropolitan areas in Texas have diversified their economies over the last 20 years so that they are not as dependent on oil, making Texas more attractive to corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations. Homeland security also has generated more economic opportunities in Texas and other border states. For the consumer, Texas offers no income tax, lower property costs, and a lower cost of living than northern and western regions of the United States. BF: What are some factors causing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania to experience the highest outbound relocation losses? SM: Michigan and Pennsylvania, like other areas dependent on heavy manufacturing and the auto industry, have been in decline for a number of years. With a push by retirees to head south and corporations looking south for lower costs, the Northeast and Midwest feel the negative effects of the migration patterns. BF: Based on Allied’s survey, the top three US magnets (Texas, North Carolina and Virginia) are Southern states. If not coincidental, to what can you attribute this regional relocation trend? SM: The Southern economy offers a lower cost of living, a more temperate climate, and diversified metropolitan areas that have become more sophisticated. Retirees are targeting the Carolinas as well as other non-traditional destinations such as Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama. The trend is real and is brought even more to light in the wake of the current economic condition. Texas on Top More people chose to relocate to Texas than any other state in 2008, according to Allied Van Lines’ 41st Annual Magnet States Report released in January. The report tracks US migration patterns, and Texas snagged the top spot for the fourth consecutive year. Texas achieved the highest net relocation gain (inbound moves minus outbound moves performed by Allied) of 1,903 in 2008. Also for the fourth year in a row, North Carolina placed second on the list with a net relocation gain of 800, followed by Virginia in third place with a gain of 398. Colorado and Oregon placed fourth and fifth respectively for states with the largest net relocation gains. “Texas truly offers such a wide range of activities for its residents,” says David King, general manager […]
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
The California Enterprise Development Authority (CEDA) has praised the State Treasurer’s office for increasing the funding allocation from approximately $120 million to $150 million for the 2009 Industrial Development Bond (IDB) program. This annual IDB issuing volume, which funds projects for California manufacturers, is established by the State Treasurer and represents a $30-million, or a 25%, increase, over the IDB limit set in January 2008. Through the program’s small-issue IDBs, CEDA can access the increased funding limit of $150 million to finance projects statewide to support expansions of existing manufacturers as well as create much needed jobs in today’s economy. Manufacturers can use these tax-exempt, private-activity bonds, which are issued through state and local governmental agencies like CEDA, to assist in purchasing facilities and financing capital expenditures. Wayne Schell, president of the California Association for Local Economic Development and Chairman of the CEDA Board of Directors, praised the Treasurer’s Office for “gearing up to help small- to mid-sized manufacturers in California in a difficult lending environment. This shows the state is working proactively to continue its support of California manufacturers, despite the current economy. The IDB program is an excellent economic development financing tool.” Manufacturers interested in tapping these funds must be credit worthy and meet other state and federal requirements. However, according to Dan Bronfman, president of Growth Capital Associates, Inc., “In most cases, the approval process is worth the effort when you realize how much a business owner can save with an IDB versus a conventional loan. Since this program is aimed at helping mid-sized manufacturers, it supports a critical segment of California businesses.”
The tawdry saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich concluded on schedule this week, when the Illinois State Senate unanimously ousted the helmet-haired governor after a brief trial in which Blagojevich was the most damning witness against himself, courtesy of wiretaps provided by a federal prosecutor. U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s impulsive decision two months ago to publicly reveal Hot Rod’s efforts to peddle Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder provided a much-needed distraction — and yes, comic relief — to a shell-shocked nation battered by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. The country was so hungry for an opportunity to express its righteous indignation that it turned a blind eye to the rather odd legal logic employed by Fitzgerald, who didn’t bother to wait for the crime to be consummated before he dragged Blago into the public square for tarring and feathering. The stampede for justice was spontaneous, trampling any annoying doubts that might have arisen if we had stopped to consider the fact that the type of horse-trading at the center of this scandal too often is, behind closed doors and hidden from the public view, a sordid staple of American politics. Blago was stupid enough to do it with a federal prosecutor listening in. Let’s face it: we needed this. It was the perfect scandal for the perfect storm, perfectly tailored for our media-driven celebrity culture and exceedingly short attention span in an age of instant communications. Everyone played their roles perfectly in this national ritual of condemnation and redemption. Straight out of central casting came Fitzgerald as an over-caffeinated, 21st-century version of Eliot Ness, and Sen. Harry Reid as a stuffy blunderbuss of high moral dudgeon. The lead actors were accompanied by a bevy of celebrity cameos worthy of an Irwin Allen disaster movie. The only thing missing was O.J. and a cat. And let’s not forget the star of this eight-week miniseries, Hot Rod himself, who served up an unforgettable deep-dish pizza of lunacy and ensured himself a place in Chicago infamy right up there with Al Capone. Although there was never any doubt that Blago would be voted off the island after the transcripts of his profane machinations were read on national television by Fitzgerald, Illinois’ chief executive helpfully kept the story line moving by refusing to resign, provoking an impeachment and trial, which he then refused to attend until the final scene. The Blagojevich scandal is a gift that will keep on giving. The merits of the perfectly teased wisp […]
After yesterday’s employment massacre–more than 70,000 job cuts announced across various U.S. industries–the role of economic development and the importance of economic developers, have reached new heights. Before slumping my shoulders in response to the crush of job losses, I was emboldened by news out of North Carolina. EDGE4, a five-year economic development program designed to benefit Raleigh, Wake County and the Research Triangle region, announced an ambitious campaign that aims to raise $12 million for local business development and bring a unfathomable (in today’s world) 50,000 jobs to the Triangle. EDGE4 will host a breakfast tomorrow morning at the Raleigh Convention Center to announce the details of their stimulus program (for more information, contact Vernessa Roberts at 919.664.7080.) EDGE4 Co-Chairs Scott Custer of RBC Bank and Bill Johnson of Progress Energy will discuss the goals of the five-year plan and announce the campaign’s current status. As an American and as a journalist focused on the economy, I am curious to see what innovative ideas are being churned out of the Research Triangle. This announcement from North Carolina follows a promising plan that came out of Missouri on Friday. Governor Jay Nixon, in his first month at the helm, announced his Show-Me JOBS initiative, a bipartisan effort to move Missourians back into the workforce and support small-business growth. Gov. Nixon signed three executive orders, creating the Missouri Automotive Jobs Task Force, the Governor’s Economic Stimulus Coordination Council, and a $2-million pool of funds for small business loans. While corporate America and small town businesses alike are struggling, there has never been a more crucial time for our brightest economic minds to continue doing what they do best: creating opportunities.
A state-by-state breakdown of unemployment, budget deficit and foreclosure statistics, jointly produced by CNN, Fortune and Money magazines, clearly illustrates which states are getting hit the hardest by the recession. Here are the states that appear to be in the worst shape, economically, according to an aggregate of these indicators: California — 8.4 percent unemployment, $14 billion deficit, 3.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Florida –7.3 percent unemployment, $2.3 billion deficit, 7.3 percent of homes in foreclosure Michigan — 9.6 percent unemployment, $145 million deficit, 3.5 percent of homes in foreclosure Georgia — 7.5 percent unemployment, $2.5 billion deficit, 2.3 percent of homes in foreclosure Nevada — 8 percent unemployment, $536 million deficit, 5.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Illinois — 7.3 percent unemployment, $2 billion deficit, 3.5 percent of homes in foreclosure Arizona — 6.3 percent unemployment, $1.2 billion deficit, 3.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Ohio — 7.3 percent unemployment, $1.2 billion deficit, 3.4 percent of homes in foreclosure Those on the brighter side (below the national average in negatives) of the economic ledger include: Nebraska — 3.7 percent unemployment, no deficit, 1.6 percent of homes in foreclosure North Dakota — 3.3 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Wyoming — 3.2 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.6 percent of homes in foreclosure Montana — 4.9 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.6 percent of homes in foreclosure Texas — 5.3 percent unemployment, no deficit, 1.43 homes in foreclosure The full state-by-state breakdown can be viewed at http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/gapmap/index.htm.
Valero Energy Corporation, one of the largest oil and gas refiners in North America, has begun its Phase I operation of a 50-megawatt (MW) windfarm located in McKee, TX. Just north of Amarillo, the McKee Windfarm will be constructed in two phases. Initiated in December 2008, energy production from six General Electric (GE) 1.5-MW wind turbines of Phase I has been commissioned for startup. Phase II will consist of 27 GE 1.5-MW wind turbines expected to be erected and ready before the end of June 2009. Though Texas has the largest installed capacity of wind power in the United States, Iowa also is a recognized leader in the development of wind-generated electricity. By successfully attracting such top turbine manufacturers as Siemens, Clipper and TPI Composites, Iowa has established itself as the major wind-turbine manufacturing hub in North America. Acciona, a Spanish turbine manufacturer with operations in Iowa, awaits environmental approval for a 103.5-MW windfarm to be built in the Coquimbo region of Chile. And while Acciona lies in wait, construction has already been completed on two other windfarms in North America. Central Plains Power LLC is in the commissioning stages of the Central Plains windfarm project, which broke ground in June 2008. Located in Marienthal, Kansas, the project consists of a 99-megawatt farm developed by RES and owned and operated by Westar. Also, Cartier Wind Energy LLC has begun full commercial operation of the $110 million, 110-MW Carleton Windfarm in Québec, Canada. Comprised of 73 wind turbines, the farm should generate 340,000 MW per hour of energy per year.
With its stock price plunging more than 60 percent in the past year, its print advertising sales collapsing, and a reported $1 billion in debt, The New York Times Co. is urgently trying to raise $225 million by offering a sale-leaseback deal on its new 52-story headquarters building in midtown Manhattan. The move to sell a portion of its gleaming new skyscraper, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is the latest in a series of cost-cutting steps by the newspaper giant, according to Crain’s New York Business. Previously, The New York Times Co. has slashed its dividend for investors by 75 percent, cut companywide staff by 8 percent, and raised its newsstand price while merging sections of the newspaper, Crain’s reports. However, the publishing conglomerate still is grappling with a 92-percent plunge in net income in the first nine months of 2008, and is in the midst of negotiations with lenders regarding more than $600 million in loans that are coming due this year and next. The Times parent company also is trying to sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. Industry analysts expect the Times to survive any consolidation of the newspaper business during the current global recession, but some real estate specialists believe the company may have waited too long to try to sell off a piece of its headquarters building. While the current credit squeeze generally makes leaseback deals an attractive option, the overall unavailability of financing limits the number of potential players, analysts told Bloomberg News.