State-by-state comparisons still put Texas at the top of the list in employment and growth indicators.
An aggressive state economic stimulus program, lower cost of living, and a strong university system boost the Keystone State.
Rapid growth continues in this seemingly recession-proof industry, spurring regions to keep creating innovative initiatives and incentives.
As the fastest growing city in northwest Ohio, the City of Findlay embodies the concept of a micropolitan community.
World’s Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Facility to be Built in Highlands County Highlands County, FL, soon will be home to the world’s largest facility to make biofuels from inedible plants, including grasses, according to an announcement from BP PLC and Verenium Corp. The British energy giant is investing $112.5 million in Verenium and received a 50% stake in licensing the company’s technology as part of the project. The new facility, which will cost an estimated $300 million, will be 25 times larger than Verenium’s pilot biofuels project with BP in Mermentau, LA, which was commissioned early this year and currently is the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol operation. Verenium, based in Cambridge, MA, said the Florida facility will make 36 millions of gallons of fuel a year and is aiming for a cost of $2 a gallon, roughly on par with gasoline. The plant will use Verenium’s specialty enzymes to turn renewable grasses grown adjacent to the plant site into cellulosic ethanol, the company said. The project has received a $7-million grant awarded under the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commission’s $25-million “Farm to Fuel” initiative. The rapid move from a demonstration-scale refinery to a full-scale biofuels facility reflects the growing interest in cellulosic ethanol, which comes from breaking down plant material and turning it into ethanol that can be used to displace crude-oil-based fuels in cars and trucks. The joint venture between BP and Verenium also is planning to build a second full-scale facility on the Gulf Coast. Other oil giants, including Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are believed to be aggressively pursuing development of next-generation biofuels. The push for biofuels also is expected to get a big boost from the Economic Recovery stimulus bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The bill allocates more than $12 billion to fund grants and loans for alternative energy projects. There has been increased interest in recent months on cellulosic ethanol, made from inedible grasses and leftovers from agricultural production, after the growing use of corn-based ethanol was blamed last year for using up crops and driving food costs higher. Verenium’s Louisiana plant uses crushed sugar-cane stalks, and the Florida facility will use grasses. The U.S. government mandates requiring big increases in the amounts of renewable fuels to be used in the nation’s gasoline tanks—at least 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022, representing about 7% of total transportation-fuel consumption, up from a negligible amount today, according to industry analysts. Abengoa SA, a Spanish company, is building cellulosic ethanol […]
German Chemical Giant to Build $1-Billion Polysilicon Plant in Tennessee Wacker Chemie AG, the Munich-based chemical company, has announced plans to build a $1-billion polysilicon plant in Bradley County, Tennessee. The new chemical facility, expected to create more than 500 new jobs in the region, is the third mega-project landed by Tennessee in the past eight months. Earlier this year, Hemlock Semiconductor announced that it would invest $2.5 billion in a new semiconductor plant near Clarksville, TN, and last summer Volkswagon chose a site just north of Chattanooga for its return to car manufacturing in the U.S. The new Wacker plant will manufacture hyperpure polycrystalline silicon, a primary component used in the manufacture of solar panels and semiconductors. The development announcement was jointly made by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, Dr. Rudolph Staudigl, president and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, and Dr. Ingomar Kovar, president of Wacker Chemical Corporation, Adrian, MI. “This announcement further enhances Tennessee’s growing reputation as an innovation center in the development and manufacture of clean energy technologies,” said Bredesen. “I appreciate Wacker Chemie’s investment in Tennessee and its recognition of the productivity of Tennessee workers, and I’m very pleased the company believes this is the best place to enhance its position in this growing economic sector.” “We expect polysilicon demand from the solar and semiconductor industries to further increase in the coming years,” said Dr. Staudigl. “Purchasing this site is an essential prerequisite to quickly build up additional production capacities outside the euro zone in line with projected market trends and growth in demand.” The facility will be located in southeastern Tennessee on a 550-acre greenfield site near the Hiwassee Industrial Park in the Charleston community of Bradley County. “Under Governor Bredesen’s leadership, we’ve developed a strategy for the creation of ‘green collar’ jobs in Tennessee,” said Kisber. “That strategy has resulted in more than $2.5 billion dollars in capital investment and over a thousand new jobs being announced in the past year and we truly believe Tennessee is well-positioned for the growth of a sustainable economy in the U.S.” In addition to the state’s strong business climate, Wacker officials cited Tennessee’s well-developed infrastructure and the cooperative partnership of state agencies, local government, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the local chamber of commerce. As part of its investment, Wacker will qualify for statutory incentives on the state and local level, including the FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program, the FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program and the Super Jobs Tax Credit. The strong […]
When comparing incentives offered by two competing locations in different states, it is important to assess the actual value of the packages that are on the table.
BF: When analyzing a company’s expenditures, in which utility charges can Advantage IQ find the most significant savings opportunities? RS: Focus on the areas where you have the greatest expense and hence the greatest opportunity for cost savings. If you spend the most on electricity, look closely at your electricity costs and consumption. If you have a high natural gas requirement, you may want to look more closely at your natural gas bills. Your type of business will determine where your greatest energy efficiency opportunities reside. An office building has the greatest opportunities in the areas of lighting and heating, ventilating and air conditioning. A restaurant has greater opportunity in the cooking area. A convenience store should look at the energy consumed by their freezer/refrigeration equipment. BF: What are common causes for overcharges by utility providers, and how can a company recover overpayments? RS: Meter malfunctions, being placed on a utility rate that is less than optimal, being billed for service for a facility that was closed or sold or receiving duplicate bills for the same facility or period are common errors found by Advantage IQ for our clients. Recovering utility billing errors requires that you identify the problem quickly and contact the utility provider to identify the problem as soon as possible. Comparing your monthly utility costs and consumption to prior periods is the best way to monitor your bills and identify errors. Identifying the problem prior to payment of the bill improves your chances of paying the correct amount. If you find an error after you have paid the bill, contacting the utility and documenting the error quickly will improve your chance of refund. Many utilities have limits on the amount of time for which a refund can be claimed. BF: What solutions can a company employ to reduce energy expenditures and become more sustainable? RS: Communicate with your employees about the impact energy has on the bottom line and enlist their support in cutting energy waste. Turn off lights when conference rooms, offices and restrooms are not in use and turn off office equipment when employees go home for the day. Utilizing building automation systems where available and not over-riding equipment designed to maximize energy efficiency are further ways to save. U.S. Energy Outlook In February, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced some short-term energy outlook projections. • U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline by at least 2.7% in 2009, triggering decreases in domestic energy consumption for all major fuels. Economic recovery is […]
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
A $700-million infrastructure initiative, national leadership in IT services and wind-power manufacturing give the Hawkeye State plenty of reasons to be bullish about the future.