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Eagle Bend Manufacturing will expand its current operations in Clinton, TN, investing $54.9 million and creating 127 new jobs. The company produces major body structures and assemblies for the automotive industry. This expansion will allow the company to add a new building to its Anderson County facility, making room for additional equipment to meet demand.
Eagle Bend Manufacturing, a Tier 1 automotive parts supplier for cars and light truck OEMs (original equipment manufacturer), has been based in Clinton since it opened in 1987. This is the second expansion for the company in just over three years. In 2012, it announced a $64 million expansion plan and added 100,000 square feet to its facility. Along with this project, the company will create more than 300 new jobs in Tennessee.
“We want to thank Eagle Bend Manufacturing for choosing to reinvest in Tennessee and creating these new jobs in Anderson County,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “Tennessee continues to be a global leader in automotive manufacturing, thanks in large part to the strong network of suppliers located around the state, and today’s announcement supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
“TVA and Clinton Utilities Board congratulate Eagle Bend Manufacturing on its latest plans to expand and create new jobs in Clinton, Tennessee,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley. “It’s always an exciting day when an existing company is committed to continued growth in our communities, and we are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, Anderson County Economic Development Association, and the city of Clinton to celebrate this announcement.”
Eagle Bend Manufacturing is a division of Cosma International, an operating unit of Magna International Inc. Cosma is one of the world’s premier global automotive suppliers providing a comprehensive range of body, chassis and engineering solutions to OEM customers around the world.
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Small and mid-sized business owners nationwide are increasingly optimistic about the prospects for their own businesses and more expect to increase hiring and wages for their employees over the next six months, according to the latest PNC Economic Outlook Survey findings.
One in four (26 percent) expect to hire additional full-time employees, the most since 2012 and second highest since 2007, according to the fall findings of PNC’s biannual telephone survey. Forty-two percent, meanwhile, intend to increase employees’ pay, the most since 2007. One in four businesses (26 percent) also say they have hired in the last six months — a significant increase over the 18 percent in the spring.
This positive outlook is bolstered by a decline in pricing pressure, in part due to the sharp drop in energy prices. Twenty-eight percent plan to charge higher prices this year, down from 38 percent one year ago. For prices charged by suppliers, 50 percent expect price hikes this year compared to 62 percent last year.
“Small businesses are like the economy’s grass roots based on the employment and economic activity they create,” said PNC’s Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman. “These encouraging results demonstrate the job market will continue to grow for at least six more months and also strongly support PNC’s forecast for real GDP growth of 2.5 percent – comparing fourth quarter this year to 2014.”
Owners, however, are also finding it increasingly difficult to hire qualified workers. The survey shows that 34 percent say it has become harder to hire qualified employees than it was a year ago. One in 10 (11 percent) who are not hiring say they it is because they cannot find the right skilled workers.
Optimistic Outlook, Profitable Year
Nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) owners are optimistic about their company’s overall prospects – an increase from 83 percent in the spring. At the same time, 76 percent are optimistic about their local economy, the highest number since 2007, and 67 percent are optimistic about the U.S. economy.
Ninety percent of business owners say they will at least break even this year, including 70 percent who believe they will make a profit. Only six percent expect a loss. Of those expecting to make a profit this year, 36 percent say they intend to invest in business operations followed by: add to cash reserves (29 percent); distribute money to owners (27 percent); and pay off debts and liabilities (25 percent).
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By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2015 Issue
Accessibility, vibrancy and top-tier talent. From high-tech manufacturing to software startups, data centers to biotech and health care, Greater Phoenix, Arizona has emerged as a top region as companies look to expand and relocate their operations.
Representing 76 percent of Arizona’s economy, Greater Phoenix is well positioned to provide unparalleled access to the Mountain and Western regions. Major employers such as Intel, General Dynamics, Apple and Avnet, and international companies like Henkel, Siemens and SAP are taking advantage of the abundance of skilled talent and the region’s competitive operating environment.
With operating costs up to 40 percent lower than California, aggressive tax credits and incentives and programs designed to increase access to capital, Greater Phoenix has become one of the nation’s most robust and pro-business metro regions. With a 6-hour drive to Los Angeles and less than a four hour drive to the U.S./Mexico border, Phoenix, Arizona provides companies with access to the world’s 8th largest economy—California—without having to pay for California. As the 6th most populous U.S. city and Arizona’s capital, Phoenix offers a competitive, low-cost operating environment and the young, diverse and talented workforce for which today’s businesses are looking.
Building on legacy industries that have anchored the region for decades—including the aerospace and defense (5th largest defense contracts in the U.S.) and semiconductor and electronics industries (4th largest in the U.S.)—there is an emergence of innovative and tech-based companies that are driving growth. The information and communication technology sector is accelerating, and employment growth in the software industry is projected to outpace all other markets in the Mountain west region, including Denver and Austin, over the next five years. With a current population of 4.4 million, the Greater Phoenix population is expected to grow more than 20 percent within the next two decades to 5.4 million. And as the nation’s 6th youngest market, there is a higher percentage of millennials working in financial services, IT and healthcare than in most major metros, including New York, Denver and Seattle.
Feeding the talent pipeline, Greater Phoenix has two of the largest higher education institutions in the country. Arizona State University provides a skilled, diverse workforce with a student population of 86,000, with 70 percent of those students remaining in state post-graduation. Additionally, the Maricopa County Community College District serves more than 260,000 students each year with a variety of two-year technical and career-ready programs.
Greater Phoenix features more than 100 public and private airports, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport—which offers more than 1,200 domestic and international flights daily. Two major interstates and five freeways, along with two transcontinental railroads and 10 interstate railways provide additional access. Dedication from the region’s leaders, such as the commitment to transit and transportation from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, has provided robust infrastructure, including a $1.3 billion Metro light rail system. And with one of the lowest weekly work and commute times of major metropolitan regions, residents of Greater Phoenix are able to spend time enjoying the incredible communities.
People visiting the market for the first time are welcomed by a vibrancy that exists within the cities and towns that make up the Greater Phoenix region. All across the Valley, residents and visitors are able to explore a strong arts culture, festivals and music concerts, innumerous outdoor activities and a world-class food scene—from food trucks to five star dining. Home to much more than a thriving business environment and a deep talent base, Greater Phoenix is the place to live, work and play. For more information, contact the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a public-private partnership focused on building a sustainable, transformative economy.
The Smart Move: Peoria, Arizona
Every business needs to start with an address. More and more people are deciding to make Peoria their home base. At the heart of the city of Peoria is its business core. A city can’t thrive or flourish without its core businesses and a solid economic development plan. When a community commits to working with prospective firms, it commits to working with a sector that is critical to the future of the local economy. The city of Peoria is known for its quality of life and this is what is leading new investment and development into the core districts of the city. However, it starts with a vision. Currently, Peoria is updating its successfully implemented 2010 Economic Development Implementation Strategy (EDIS), which helped the community designate targeted industries, create investment zones, establish a smart economic incentive policy and ultimately attract several wins to the community, such as two new universities, new high-tech employers and a new biomedical incubator called BioInspire. The EDIS Part Two has just started and the City of Peoria is interested in a refreshed look at the community’s economic base and potential for new industries and tactics, post-recession.
The Peoria Economic Development Implementation Strategy outlined several targeted industries to meet Peoria’s existing assets and potential for supporting these targeted sectors. Sectors in Peoria, which offer excellent potential for inward investment include:
Health/Biomedical/Medical Device industry: Peoria is at the center of six major regional hospitals, and, borders the largest medical school in Arizona, (Midwestern University with 3,000 students). Peoria has a workforce skilled in healthcare professions; 19 percent of the Peoria workforce has healthcare education. Recognizing its prime competitive potential for the devices industry, Peoria entered a highly unique partnership with a local bioindustry commercialization company called BioAccel and created Arizona’s first biomedical business incubator, called BioInspire. Similar to a typical business incubator, BioInspire offers first-class working space, technical business assistance and collaborative opportunities.
In addition, Peoria recently attracted two nationally recognized universities. Trine University and Huntington University, both from Indiana, opened campuses in Peoria with an eye towards expanding to meet the high-tech employment needs of area industry.
Advanced Business Services: Peoria has existing class-A office sites as well as established investment zones for office space development for premiere employers who want to take advantage of the city’s highly educated population in business and management professions. Peoria residents are educated in occupations that exceed national norms, including engineering, computers, mathematics and finance, as well as healthcare and health technicians.
Advanced Manufacturing: Given Peoria’s recent attraction of global and high-tech manufacturers—AVIAGE SYSTEMS (a Chinese based company), Maxwell Technologies and GEPACK (from Portugal)—the market has tremendous potential to assist manufacturing companies worldwide looking to grow in a stable, talented Southwest US corridor, with access to dozens of existing buildings and shovel-ready sites along highways and major arterials, as well as two mega-sites that are prime locations for corporate and industrial projects.
Peoria, Arizona’s best approach for investor engagement is preparedness. On an annual basis, the city publishes a comprehensive community investment Development Prospectus, outlining its investment zones, targeted industries and demographics. This information provides a guideline for any investor, developer or end-user considering an expansion or relocation to the Greater Phoenix market.
Peoria’s investment zones provide a diverse array of market opportunities for any investor to take advantage of:
The Peoria Eighty-Three (P83) Entertainment District is the location of the Peoria Sports Complex, which is the home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres Spring Training and Player Development. The area boasts a host of quality restaurants, dinner theaters and other entertainment opportunities. An Urban Design Master Plan for the 570-acre District was adopted to enhance this strong community asset by increasing density, creating destination mixed-use opportunities, establishing a distinct identity, improving pedestrian connectivity and creating a sense of place. In the heart of the Entertainment District is a proposed redevelopment project called The Avenue Shoppes at P83, which will convert the 17-acre parking lot west of the Peoria Sports Complex into a destination with 400,000 square feet of shopping, dining and a hotel with an onsite parking garage.
Peoria’s Old Town District has been the heart and soul of the city since its earliest days. The city has been focusing on a proactive revitalization effort to enhance Old Town to attract new businesses and people to the area. Peoria takes pride in the physical attributes and qualities that make a city unique, which is why the Old Town Area is an economic development investment zone as part of the EDIS. The City developed a Commercial Revitalization Program for businesses who are seeking funding support for exterior facade, parking lot and other eligible improvements to eligible properties in the Program area. The city will provide up to 50 percent reimbursement to eligible private property owners for improvements associated with properties located in the designated area.
The Rovey Industrial Park, located in southern Peoria, offers 328 acres of prime industrial real estate in an area that is well developed and with strong infrastructure and transportation corridors. This mega site sits along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad into Phoenix and is adjacent to the Peoria Industrial Park, the Butler Water Reclamation Facility and the SRP Agua Fria Electric Generating Station. Water is in abundant supply throughout the site.
The Vistancia Commercial Core Mega Site is at the start of future growth in Northern Peoria. It is 500 acres of privately-owned, commercially zoned land that is fully entitled and shovel ready with build-to-suit options for business, and will ultimately encompass up to 4 million square feet of mixed-use space. The Vistancia Commercial Core is located at the center of the 7,100-acre master planned community of Vistancia, offering an abundance of skilled labor and executive housing options.
Peoria is moving forward aggressively and strategically to develop its local economy to compete on a global scale. The community is increasingly recognized for its high-knowledge and technically skilled workforce. Peoria is the smart choice. Visit www.peoriaed.com for more information.
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It looks like size counts when it comes to the quest for offshore wind power in the United States, but maybe not the way you think it does. In this case, smaller appears to better in terms of getting the job done.
Thus far, offshore wind energy has been the neglected stepchild of the alternative energy revolution that has been sweeping across the nation for the past five years. Massive solar-power facilities have come online in the California desert; forests of wind turbines have been hooked up to grids in Iowa and West Texas. But thus far some of the windiest environs we know of—the coastal U.S. waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific—have been off-limits to wind-energy installations.
The BF Blog has chronicled this glaring anomaly for several years, most recently when we updated you on the spectacular collapse of one of the largest planned offshore wind projects, the $2.6-billion Cape Wind installation that aimed to install 130 mammoth turbines in the waters of Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts.
Announced with great fanfare by state and federal officials in 2010, Cape Wind was set to be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, generating an estimated 360-million megawatts of clean energy at full capacity. Two major utilities–NSTAR and National Grid–agreed to purchase 80 percent of the electricity produced by Cape Wind’s turbines. The U.S. Department of Energy earmarked $130 million in stimulus funding to jump-start the project; the Interior Department fast-tracked approvals.
But when the project failed to meet a critical year-end deadline to secure federal tax credits, its backers pulled out, leaving Cape Wind dead in the water. The final nail in the project’s coffin was a decision by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to terminate its $4.5-million, two-year contract with Cape Wind to rent a 28-acre New Bedford terminal as a construction staging area for the project.
But now comes good news from Rhode Island: a small-scale project under construction in the waters off Block Island is poised to become the first operational offshore wind power facility in the United States.
According to a report in The Brown Daily Herald, five turbines planned for a project called Deep Water Wind are expected to begin producing electricity by fall 2016. According to Deep Water Wind’s website, the turbines—located three miles off the coast of Block Island–will be connected to the mainland by an underwater cable.
“We know the world is watching closely what we do here, and we’re incredibly proud to be at the forefront of a new American clean-tech industry launching right here in the Ocean State,” said Deep Water Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski in a company press release.
The project received $290 million in private funds from French bank Societe Generale and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, according to a Deep Water Wind press release. Because construction of the wind turbines began before the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline that sank the Cape Wind initiative, Deep Water Wind will be eligible for federal tax credits (assessed on every hour of kilowatt-hour of wind energy produced).
According to Deep Water Wind, energy costs on Block Island could decrease by as much as 40 percent after the turbines are hooked up to the local grid. Residents currently face some of the highest electricity rates in the country, ranging from 37 to 50 cents per kilowatt hour this past year, in comparison to the average mainland cost of 14-15 cents per kilowatt-hour. The turbines will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 40,000 tons each year and have created 300 temporary local construction jobs.
Barring any last-minute snafus, a small-scale project from Rhode Island will succeed where it’s big brother to the Northeast failed—executing a giant leap forward in the quest for America’s green-energy future.
Bravo, Block Island!
Companies in high-risk U.S. regions need to start planning now for deep and long-lasting labor shortages, according to a new Executive Action report published by The Conference Board. “The US Labor Supply Problem: Which States are Most at Risk?” is the latest piece in a major research series tracing the global impact of aging populations and shrinking workforces over the next decade and beyond.
“We are now in a period of unusually slow working-age population growth—nearly zero through 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board and a co-author of the report. “The underlying demographic trends mean even delayed retirement and higher participation rates will do little to stop labor demand from far outstripping labor-force growth. But while adjusting to this reality will require national thinking and perhaps a federal policy response, the onset and impact of the worker shortage will vary widely across the U.S. For many places in the Northeast and Midwest, the time is now.”
Synthesizing the latest data, “The US Labor Supply Problem” breaks down the 2015–30 labor-market outlook for each of the 50 states. Among the key findings:
- Immigration may be a wildcard—and game-changer—for expanding labor supply to meet expected demand. While factors like birth and death rates, population distribution, and retirement expectations are only bent—if at all—over decades and generations, net migration can be increased considerably in the relatively short term. While unlikely in the current political climate, reform that boosts visas for skilled workers and regularizes the status of undocumented residents could substantially mitigate projected labor shortages across the country.
- The size and shape of working-age populations vary widely across states, and will diverge further. To calculate where they are headed, the report compares the current size of two age groups as a proportion of the working-age population: 3–17 year olds, whom will be entering the workforce over the next 15 years; and 50–64 year olds, whom be will be leaving. With its unusually high fertility rate, the younger group in Utah outnumbers the older by over 18 percentage points. Texas (+7.77 points), Idaho (+6.36), and Arizona (+3.94) also have large rising cohorts of young workers. Throughout the Northeast, by contrast, 3–17 year olds are substantially outnumbered as a proportion of the population by 50–64 year olds, with the problem most acute in Maine (−10.91), Vermont (−10.35), and New Hampshire (−8.81).
- The combined effects of age distribution and migration will mean serious labor-force contraction in some states, relatively healthy growth in others. Nationwide, the working-age population is projected to grow 5.2 percent between 2015 and 2030. However, while states like Nevada, Arizona, and Texas may see their working-age populations grow by over 20 percent, others—largely in the Northeast and Midwest—could see contraction approaching 10 percent. (These projections are based on historical trends and will likely be counteracted somewhat by worker movements adjusting to demand.)
- States at the highest risk of labor shortages are those that both have relatively low unemployment rates now and projected weak labor force growth in the future. These states are concentrated in the Midwest and New England, but also include Montana, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Oregon. By contrast, favorable demographic trends and relatively high unemployment remaining from the Great Recession reduce the likelihood of serious shortages in California, Arizona, Nevada, and other Southwest states. A unique case, Texas has extremely tight labor markets now, but a long-term outlook moderated by high numbers of youth and migrants entering the workforce.
- Effects of a tightening labor markets are already being felt in many locales, even as others continue to struggle with high unemployment. Businesses must take these forces into account in their planning, and work with policymakers to improve job skills and labor-force participation in the areas in which they operate. Given sufficient private- and public-sector attention, the size of the labor market and its low barriers to worker movement may ultimately help the U.S. weather the challenge of aging populations better than other advanced economies like Europe and Japan.
Rural Sourcing Inc. (RSI), a domestic IT sourcing company focused on cost-effective onshore software development and support, will open its fourth Software Development Center in Albuquerque, NM. With the addition of this center, RSI will be adding 125 new jobs to the local economy.
RSI’s mission is to be the onshore alternative for software development and support that might traditionally be sent off shore to countries such as India and China. By opening these technology hubs in low-cost of living, high-quality of life U.S. cities, RSI helps clients lower their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for IT. Furthermore, by having development centers in the U.S., RSI’s clients benefit from common language, culture alignment and time zone compatibility.
“We’re excited to be a part of a growing Albuquerque technology community, and we hope to be a catalyst for further growth and investment both in jobs and in the digital economy,” said Monty Hamilton, chief executive officer at Rural Sourcing Inc. “We believe Rural Sourcing will flourish, given the city’s availability of skilled workers and outstanding quality of life. Albuquerque is a strategic city for us in that it enables us to better serve our existing West Coast clients, and expand our client base across the western United States.”
The Atlanta-based company chose Albuquerque due to its talented workforce, high quality of life and low cost of living. The permanent location of the center is still being determined.
“Building New Mexico into a high-tech jobs leader is a core piece of continuing to grow and diversify our economy,” said New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. “We’re proud to welcome Rural Sourcing to New Mexico, and looking forward to their partnership as we keep growing our high-tech sector.”
“We are thrilled that RSI has selected Albuquerque for their newest Development Center. They will be a tremendous addition to our business community,” said Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry. “In Albuquerque, RSI will find a supportive, cooperative business environment and an amazing, well trained talent pool.”
Rideshare service Lyft will locate its customer experience operations in Nashville, TN. The San Francisco-based mobile app and transportation company will invest $5.1 million and create 380 new jobs in Davidson County.
“On top of the incredible statewide leadership and support of innovation, Nashville is a city whose welcoming, creative culture and values mirror our own,” said Lyft COO Rex Tibbens. “Our history in Nashville coupled with our admiration for the community is why we’re so excited to make downtown Nashville the home of our newest Lyft office, and will be investing in our growth there for years to come.”
Lyft’s customer experience team will be housed in the historic Sash & Door building in downtown Nashville and will support drivers and passengers with timely answers to their questions. With more than one million rides per week, Lyft has become the fastest-growing transportation app in the United States and is the only ridesharing service with a 24/7 critical response line.
“We want to thank Lyft for investing in Nashville and the significant jobs the company will generate in Middle Tennessee,” said Tennessee Governr Bill Haslam. “We know companies have a choice in where they do business, and this announcement supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
“I am happy to welcome Lyft to our fine mix of corporate citizens,” said Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd. “Tennessee is committed to helping innovative companies like Lyft grow and thrive in a business-friendly environment, and I am thankful for the new jobs and investment Lyft brings to our state.”
“Lyft’s announcement today highlights the fact that Nashville is rapidly becoming known as a center for innovation and technology,” commented Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “We’ve worked to embrace the ride-sharing economy as an important component of a diverse and robust transportation system that increases options for residents and tourists alike. I thank Lyft for their investment in Nashville and for bringing more high-quality tech jobs to our city.”
As the primary economic development organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance focuses on creating, attracting, expanding and retaining high-wage jobs and capital investment in high value targeted industries, developing more vibrant communities, and improving the quality of life for the area’s citizens.
The organization provides leadership and excellence in delivering economic development services for clients, prospects, investors and partners.
From 2007 to 2014, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and its partners helped create or retain 20,288 direct jobs that are estimated to generate total employment of approximately 44,600 jobs in Broward County and 7,987 jobs elsewhere in Florida.
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Indorama Ventures will invest $175 million to renovate and restart a dormant ethane cracker west of Lake Charles, LA. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. (IVL) has through its U.S. subsidiary, Indorama Ventures Olefins LLC, acquired the dormant ethane cracker facility and approximately 250 acres.
With the project, IVL will create 125 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $50,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 481 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 600 new jobs in Southwest Louisiana. The company estimates the project will generate up to 600 construction jobs at peak building activity.
“With our world-scale infrastructure and outstanding workforce talent, Louisiana is leading the industrial renaissance in the U.S., with record levels of new petrochemical, processing and energy projects underway in our state,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal. “Increasingly, we are witnessing the arrival of more international investors to our state because they recognize Louisiana offers the perfect blend of workforce, logistics and business climate advantages. Because we have made our state more attractive and competitive, Indorama Ventures and other investors are helping our state create record levels of employment that will benefit Louisiana families for generations to come.”
IVL already produces purified ethylene oxide and mono ethylene glycol in the U.S., with ethylene being the primary feedstock. The project in Carlyss will generate a production capacity of 370,000 metric tons of ethylene and 30,000 metric tons of propylene per year, with the facility capable of processing both ethane and propane. IVL currently runs intermediate petrochemical manufacturing sites located in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“This acquisition will make us well-placed to receive cost-advantaged ethane and propane feedstock,” said Group CEO Aloke Lohia. “We are targeting a commercial startup before the end of 2017, which will make us the first Thai company to take advantage of the shale gas revolution in the United States and ahead of the greenfield crackers being constructed. We are excited for this opportunity to join the Louisiana business community.”
Indorama Ventures is acquiring the ethane cracker site and facilities as a joint investment with Singapore-based Indorama Corporation. IVL considered options in other states, including Texas, but chose Louisiana for the availability of an existing cracker facility and the strength of the state’s workforce training programs and other incentives.
LED began project discussions with Indorama Ventures in April 2015. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a $1.5 million performance-based grant to offset site infrastructure costs. IVL also will receive the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart® workforce development program. In addition, the company is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“We are pleased to welcome Indorama to Southwest Louisiana,” said President and CEO George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “This is another example of an international company investing in our industrial complex. Indorama will renovate a closed plant into a modern state-of-the-art production facility and bring new jobs to our region.”
Michigan’s gateway port to Lake Erie and St. Lawrence Seaway will undergo a broad range of major improvements and alterations expected to transform the city of Monroe’s harbor into a leading cargo transportation center on the Great Lakes. The Michigan Strategic Fund approved up to $3 million in repayable funds from the MSF Investment Fund for the city of Monroe to make improvements to the Port of Monroe.
“These improvements will transform the Port of Monroe into a center of economic activity and a premier general cargo handling facility on the Great Lakes,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood. “The project will promote further growth and investment in the Port and the region, and will lead to new jobs for Michigan residents.”
The project expands trade routes and cargo opportunities, and calls for dredging the River Raisin and a range of other improvements to increase accessibility to the port. The impact is expected to cause fewer cargo delays, and accommodate larger vessels with increased shipping capacity. The dramatic improvements in shipping efficiency is expected to generate a major economic impact to the Monroe region.
In addition to the MSF funds, the City of Monroe Brownfield Redevelopment Authority submitted an Act 381 Brownfield Work Plan for the approval of $3,643,225 in local and school tax capture for brownfield activities related to the project. The tax income revenue captured as a result of the approved work plan will be used to repay the Investment Fund within approximately eight years.
“The Port of Monroe’s recent cargo growth is proof positive that Michigan’s ports play a vital role in the State’s economic viability,” said Port of Monroe Director Paul C. LaMarre III.
“This project will provide for foundational infrastructure that will ensure the Port of Monroe’s continued growth and sustainability for years to come,” he said. “The Port and community are humbly appreciative for the support of Governor Snyder and his team, Steve Arwood and the MEDC, as well as the Michigan Strategic Fund Board itself.”
Located in Monroe on the western edge of Lake Erie, the port provides direct access to all five of the Great Lakes and serves 17 states. The improvements will not only promote new cargo opportunities, but will serve to ship and receive materials for the port’s existing tenants, including DTE Energy, Michigan Paving & Materials, Gerdau MACSTEEL, Ford Motor Company, and Ventower.