Snapshots Archives

60 Seconds with Tracye McDaniel, CEO, Choose New Jersey

60 Seconds with Tracye McDaniel, CEO, Choose New Jersey

ZERO NO LONGER      On the first day of this month, a dark cloud that loomed over the 16-acre parcel in New York City known as Ground Zero evaporated with news from overseas that justice finally had been visited upon the perpetrator of the September 11 attacks.      We hope this long-awaited reckoning will enable the 10th anniversary ceremonies in New York this fall to mark the rebirth of the World Trade Center site.      Construction crews in downtown Manhattan are working 24/7 to make sure the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is ready for viewing on the anniversary. The footprints of the Twin Towers are being converted into recessed pools surrounded by trees; a glass-enclosed pavilion will welcome visitors.      Also rising on the World Trade Center site is a 1,776-ft. skyscraper, which upon completion will be the tallest building in New York, and a $2-billion transportation hub featuring a unique wingspan design by architect Santiago Calatrava.      The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built the original World Trade Center and owns the site, offers a website with a daily view of the construction progress at http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/index.html. Tracye McDaniel, CEO of Choose New Jersey; Don Slaght, Managing Director, Advance Real Estate Solutions; and Andrew Shapiro, Managing Director, Biggins, Lacy, Shapiro & Company, recently participated in a panel discussion on New Jersey’s economic development efforts. Here are excerpts: DS: Mr. Slaght noted that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority currently has more than thirty incentive programs designed to help bring businesses to New Jersey and assist businesses in the state with growth issues. The major negative, despite these initiatives, is the impact of the New Jersey tax profile on profitability and the regulatory requirements that force delays of years to put a shovel in the ground despite the financial incentive programs. Noting that Ms. McDaniel has relocated from Houston, TX, he pointed out that Texas serves as the national model of economic development initiatives. TM: Ms. McDaniel lauded Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno for the bold move in establishing ChooseNJ, an organization that will align business and political leaders to make progress on the issues that stymie business growth in the state. The main function of ChooseNJ will be to generate leads for business attraction and job growth. Ms. McDaniel noted ChooseNJ has commissioned a “Perception Study” of 4,000 CEO’s in and outside of New Jersey as a first step in determining the strategic initiatives to enhance business and job growth. The other major initiative is […]


60 Seconds with Tracye McDaniel, CEO, Choose New Jersey

60 Seconds with Tracye McDaniel, CEO, Choose New Jersey

ZERO NO LONGER      On the first day of this month, a dark cloud that loomed over the 16-acre parcel in New York City known as Ground Zero evaporated with news from overseas that justice finally had been visited upon the perpetrator of the September 11 attacks.      We hope this long-awaited reckoning will enable the 10th anniversary ceremonies in New York this fall to mark the rebirth of the World Trade Center site.      Construction crews in downtown Manhattan are working 24/7 to make sure the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is ready for viewing on the anniversary. The footprints of the Twin Towers are being converted into recessed pools surrounded by trees; a glass-enclosed pavilion will welcome visitors.      Also rising on the World Trade Center site is a 1,776-ft. skyscraper, which upon completion will be the tallest building in New York, and a $2-billion transportation hub featuring a unique wingspan design by architect Santiago Calatrava.      The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built the original World Trade Center and owns the site, offers a website with a daily view of the construction progress at http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/index.html. Tracye McDaniel, CEO of Choose New Jersey; Don Slaght, Managing Director, Advance Real Estate Solutions; and Andrew Shapiro, Managing Director, Biggins, Lacy, Shapiro & Company, recently participated in a panel discussion on New Jersey’s economic development efforts. Here are excerpts: DS: Mr. Slaght noted that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority currently has more than thirty incentive programs designed to help bring businesses to New Jersey and assist businesses in the state with growth issues. The major negative, despite these initiatives, is the impact of the New Jersey tax profile on profitability and the regulatory requirements that force delays of years to put a shovel in the ground despite the financial incentive programs. Noting that Ms. McDaniel has relocated from Houston, TX, he pointed out that Texas serves as the national model of economic development initiatives. TM: Ms. McDaniel lauded Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno for the bold move in establishing ChooseNJ, an organization that will align business and political leaders to make progress on the issues that stymie business growth in the state. The main function of ChooseNJ will be to generate leads for business attraction and job growth. Ms. McDaniel noted ChooseNJ has commissioned a “Perception Study” of 4,000 CEO’s in and outside of New Jersey as a first step in determining the strategic initiatives to enhance business and job growth. The other major initiative is […]


60 Seconds with Arnold Perl, Chairman of the Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority

60 Seconds with Arnold Perl, Chairman of the Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority

NUCLEAR RESET      The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has prompted several countries to rethink their plans for expanding nuclear power.      Three of the six reactor containment facilities at the Fukushima station were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami that took place in northeastern Japan on March 11. At press time, engineers at the plant were struggling to stabilize tons of spent reactor fuel at the crippled facility. The plant workers can only work in brief shifts due to intense radiation.      A few days after the crisis erupted, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would reconsider extending the lifespan of its nuclear power plants.      “The events in Japan have shown us that even things that seem all but impossible scientifically can in fact happen,” Chancellor Merkel said at a news conference held in Berlin.      Tennessee Valley Authority executives, meanwhile, reassured utility customers that TVA reactors in East Tennessee and North Alabama are in areas “not prone to frequent or extremely large earthquakes” and have numerous safety features.      Radiation that has seeped out of the Fukushima plant has been detected as far as Sweden. This month, Memphis is hosting the global Airport Cities Conference & Exhibition. We asked Mr. Perl about recent developments at the Memphis Aerotropolis. BF: Will the recent consolidation of Memphis economic development efforts under the EDGE program include the Memphis Aerotropolis? AP: The EDGE program is an umbrella organization where someone who is looking for economic development incentives for expansion or a new facility will go before a single board. Our Aerotropolis is not part of EDGE. BF: What are the latest developments at the Memphis Aerotropolis? AP: We recently received a seven-figure grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Part of the funding from that grant will be used to develop a formal master plan for the Aerotropolis that will embrace the transportation assets [of the area] and the connectivity of the multi-modal Aerotropolis hub. BF: Memphis is widely recognized as the leading Aerotropolis in North America. Was that achieved without a master plan? AP: We’ve never had a formal master plan for Aerotropolis. Everything was done rather independently, with expansion of the various entities including the airport, the rail, the river and the roads. There wasn’t a formal game plan linking to these different assets. Ever since the Aerotropolis steering committee was created, a need for a master plan was identified. This HUD grant will enable us to do that. BF: What is the timetable […]


60 Seconds with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.

60 Seconds with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.

CHARGING INTO AN ELECTRIC FUTURE A new era has dawned on U.S. streets. With the arrival of two all-electric vehicles, Chevy’s Volt and Nissan’s Leaf, the long-awaited conversion from fossil-fueled cars has begun in earnest.      Industry analysts predict as many as two million electric cars on the road in the U.S. by 2013. But the Volt comes with a hefty $40,000 sticker and only a handful of locations in the country have installed charging stations.      News from the oil capital of the universe should be enough to quiet skeptics: Starting this month, 150 charging stations for electric cars are now available to motorists in Houston, TX. The units were installed by NRG Energy. The public stations have been located at stores including Walgreens, Best Buy and HEB. NRG is offering three monthly plans, topping off at $89 to cover the electricity costs for charging both at home and at the public stations. Other companies are offering home charging units for a flat price of $2,000; it will cost about $1.50 to fully charge a vehicle, or roughly half the cost of a gallon of gas.      OPEC was not available for comment.   Memphis, TN and Shelby County are merging several agencies into an Economic Development and Growth Engine (EDGE). We asked Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. to explain the consolidation. BF: How will EDGE help the region attract new businesses and industrial projects? ACW: Our present system of economic development is chopped up among half a dozen or more agencies. In other words, it’s no system at all. Each of these entities is pursuing job growth and capital investment, but they’re not executing any kind of cohesive plan. Prospective employers or job-creators who want to come into our region have to navigate a complex web of bureaucracies. Bringing all these disconnected pieces together and making sure everybody is pursuing the same plan of attack just makes everything simpler—and therefore, more attractive to businesses. BF: Does the regional approach offered by EDGE maximize the opportunity to leverage the assets of the city and the county? ACW: Absolutely. The first item of business for the EDGE is to create a strategic plan that will summarize all of Memphis’ and Shelby County’s assets, and then start setting targets for companies that we want to bring to town. We’ve got an incredibly deep, talented workforce. We’ve got great infrastructure in rail and roadways. Our airport has some of the strongest cargo capacity on the planet. There is no reason that we shouldn’t be regarded […]


60 Seconds with Albert Chen, Chairman of the America China Society of Indiana

60 Seconds with Albert Chen, Chairman of the America China Society of Indiana

The America China Society of Indiana (ACSI) was recently formed as the trade organization that will promote cooperative business, trade and investment opportunities between the Hoosier State and the world’s most populous nation. The effort is headed by ACSI chairman Albert Chen, president and founder of Telamon. BF: How long has Telamon been involved in business ventures on mainland China? Do you have facilities in China? AC: Our firm has been in China since 1986. We operate three facilities there that repair and test wireless devices. We also are involved in IT software development in China and South Korea. BF: The announcement for the new trade initiative indicated that Indiana will be promoting agricultural products, advanced bioscience, automotive and IT technology for export to China. Do you expect this to be a two-way street, resulting in new jobs in Indiana? AC: The focus will be on both jobs and the exchange of goods. We are interested in selling Indiana’s products in China, which will create jobs here. We also want to help China understand the investment opportunity for Chinese firms here in Indiana. We aim to promote cooperative business, trade and investment opportunities between Indiana and China. BF: China has a huge, low-cost labor pool and a growing domestic market. Can U.S. producers compete with Chinese manufacturers in their home market? AC: Our exports to China will help meet the tremendous demand of the Chinese market. We also want to convince China that it can make a wise investment in Indiana in producing consumer goods here as well as industrial parts. BF: What will be one of the key attractions for Chinese businesses that may want to set up shop in Indiana? AC: Indiana is the Crossroads of America. We can offer tremendous logistics advantages for anyone locating their business in Indiana. BF: Currently, the U.S. balance of trade with China is widely skewed in China’s favor. Can this trend be reversed? AC: Sometimes these figures can be misleading. For example, custom touchscreen phone components that cost $178 to produce in the U.S. cost $6 to produce in China, but the value of the goods is usually stated based on the U.S. cost. BF: Many businesses like yours have forged their own ties with China. Why is a statewide trade organization needed? AC: A lot of small- to medium-sized businesses don’t have enough experience in dealing with China. We want to share our experience with them. BF: It took about 20 years to establish a significant number of Japanese business […]


60 Seconds with Neal Wade, Sr. Vice President for Economic Development, St. Joe Co.

60 Seconds with Neal Wade, Sr. Vice President for  Economic Development, St. Joe Co.

Neal Wade left St. Joe Co. eight years ago to become director of the Alabama Development Office. He is now returning to St. Joe to spearhead the West Bay development in northwest Florida. BF: What attracted you to this opportunity and what do you bring to the table? NW: I’m bringing a whole new set of values and experiences I didn’t have before. If you’ve only been on the corporate side, state government can be a shock. It’s really been an education to me to learn how to navigate through all levels of government. I’ve also made a tremendous amount of contacts internationally as well as here in the U.S., especially among projects that we’re going to be targeting and among site consultants throughout the country. BF: Are there specific lessons you’ve learned in your state post that you can apply to your new position? NW: Government does not operate at the same pace that the private sector does–you don’t have the same abilities to make decisions inside state government that you do on the private side. It’s much slower [at the state level]. So you really have to pick your battles and figure out how you’re going to work within the system. It’s also really brought into focus that to be successful, you have to have a team: not just St. Joe, but local and state government, the new governor, all of those elements have to be part of the success we’re going to have down there. BF: How challenging is the economic environment in northwest Florida today? NW: We’re seeing a lot more activity than we were seeing two years ago. We’re seeing a lot of projects right now. Companies are preparing for recovery and the opportunity for activity is good. BF: What are the biggest selling points for West Bay? NW: In northwest Florida what we have to offer is an unparalleled quality of life, a workforce that can be trained to fit the companies we’re going to be targeting and we’re going to have a new set of sites that we’re going to make available over the next three years that weren’t available seven years ago. There are 1900 aerospace and defense businesses in northwest Florida, and when you combine that with the type of sites we will have available we’ve got a tremendous selling point. We also are changing the perception that the region is strictly a tourist destination rather than a major business location. BF: How important is the new Northwest Florida Beaches International […]


60 Seconds with E. Mitchell Roob, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Indiana Economic Development Corp.

60 Seconds with E. Mitchell Roob, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Many states are considering replacing state economic development agencies with public-private partnerships. We asked IEDC’s chief executive to tell us how these partnerships work. BF: Is a public-private partnership a more effective vehicle for job creation than a state economic development agency or a Department of Commerce? MR: It certainly has worked for us in Indiana. If you look at the results, IEDC has been three- or four-fold more productive as a public-private partnership. Indiana is now leading the nation in per capita private-sector job growth. We are very responsive—we move at the speed of business. If you ask us for a site search and an offer on your project, we can get that accomplished in a week and often within three days. We are a transactional agency. BF: How does IEDC interact with the governor and other top state officials to execute Indiana’s overall economic development strategy? MR: What separates us from our predecessors is not only the structure of the public-private partnership, but the focus that Gov. Daniels has brought to economic development. The governor chairs the IEDC board of directors and he has made it clear to every member of his cabinet that job growth is the top priority in the state of Indiana. So across state government, everyone is working to expedite economic development needs, including permitting and building roads. We have a great espirit de corps across the state government. When we prepare to bring a project to Indiana, we can bring together any parts of the state government that are needed to close the deal, get them in the same room, and get a positive answer that will create new jobs in Indiana. BF: How does a public-private partnership like IEDC maintain the transparency of its development efforts? MR: We are audited routinely, these audits are made public, and all of our transactions and expenditures are public, even more so than our predecessor agency. BF: State economic development agencies and some public-private partnerships have been challenged recently about their claims of job growth. What is the best way to verify that projects actually are generating the jobs they have promised? MR: We are precluded by statute from indicating an exact number of jobs because these jobs are attached to taxpayer ID numbers, and that information cannot be released. Also, many companies prefer not to release precise job numbers or undertake the cost of capturing and providing that information. We make certain that our tax incentives are post-performance, meaning the jobs have been created first […]


60 Seconds with Stephen Moret, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development

60 Seconds with Stephen Moret, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development

BF: Louisiana has emerged as a national leader in workforce training with the Louisiana FastStart™ program. Is the availability of customized pre-employment training becoming a deciding factor in site selection decisions? SM: In less than two years, Louisiana FastStart™ definitely has become one of our most powerful and effective recruiting tools during site-selection competitions. As one of the nation’s top workforce development programs, FastStart offers companies world-class, customized employee recruitment, screening, training development and training delivery, and also can provide specialized solutions for companies in a wide variety of industry sectors—from automobile manufacturers to digital media firms to aerospace companies. All of these services come at no cost to the company. BF: The Deepwater Horizon disaster has caused disruptions in the oil drilling and fishing industries. Can FastStart play a role in retraining displaced workers from these sectors? SM: In certain situations, FastStart could definitely retrain displaced workers in the oil and natural gas industries as well as the commercial fishing industries. For example, if a company is expanding in Louisiana, FastStart could help the company hire employees seeking new opportunities due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the drilling moratorium imposed by President Obama. Moreover, this could be extremely valuable for a company because FastStart would be able to identify employees with transferable skills, then train them using customized programs created through FastStart. BF: How has Louisiana has positioned itself to be a major player in the revived nuclear power industry? SM: Louisiana is well positioned to be a leader in the global nuclear renaissance because we possess a highly skilled and productive manufacturing workforce, a world-class workforce solution in FastStart, deep-water shipping infrastructure and a healthy business climate. Based on these strengths and early success in developing the industry, over the next two decades, the nuclear energy sector could create up to 20,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana alone. The Shaw Group, is developing a $100-million facility in Lake Charles, LA that will employ up to 1,400 people focused on constructing modularized nuclear reactor components. This facility is the first of its kind in the U.S. BF: If you could change one perception about Louisiana, what would that be? SM: One of the greatest challenges facing our economic development efforts is more closely aligning the perception of Louisiana’s business climate with the actual business conditions available here. Fortunately, we have made significant advances in reversing outdated perceptions. Companies now see in Louisiana an attractive business climate, high-quality available labor, low energy and utility costs, excellent […]


60 Seconds with Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development

60 Seconds with Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development

Dennis Mullen recently was officially named chairman of New York’s Empire State Development agency, which has been actively involved in revamping the state’s incentives programs. BF: The elimination of the Empire Zones program on June 30 has generated a lot of controversy across New York. What will you replace it with? DM: Since its creation in 1986, the Empire Zones Program has gone through numerous revisions and lost its original focus of attracting new business and enabling existing businesses to expand and create more jobs in economically distressed areas of the state. The Governor’s decision to sunset the flawed Empire Zone program and implement a new economic development program addresses the need for accountability and administrative efficiency, while providing a strategic focus that more narrowly targets state incentives to key sectors of our struggling economy. BF: Will converting incentives from loans to grants if specified job targets are met generate more economic development activity in the state and more relocations of businesses to New York? DM: ESD’s assistance is typically provided in the form of a loan or a grant. Recently, ESD has been offering loans that convert to grants if certain investment and job creation milestones are met. While loans and convertible loans have the potential to return funds back to ESD, all of our products are deployed to “win the project” and each is considered equally effective, based on the situation, to induce the project and create economic activity. BF: The Tax Foundation ranks New York near the bottom of its annual Business Tax Climate index. What are the most important steps you can take to improve NY’s competitive position? DM: We’ve created an economic development plan we believe is tight and focused. It concentrates on both job development and capital investment. Our go-to market strategy is a balanced approach centered around four key pillars: partnering with business and academic leadership; supporting New Economy job growth and capital investment; maintaining our core competency in manufacturing; and providing access to capital for small business. We believe [with] this strategy we will make great strides towards a more business-friendly and competitive New York. BF: Is New York positioned to be a leader in alternative energy manufacturing and renewable energy generation? DM: Yes, definitely. New York has one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country: the “45 by 15” initiative. By 2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy. This initiative [will create] an estimated […]


60 Seconds with Hartley Powell, National Leader of KPMG’s Global Relocation & Expansion Services

60 Seconds with Hartley Powell, National Leader of KPMG’s Global Relocation & Expansion Services

KPMG recently released the results of its 2010 Competitive Alternatives study. We asked Hartley Powell to comment on major trends tracked by the study. BF: Do the 2010 results show an improvement or a decline in overall U.S. competitiveness? HP: My assessment is that the United States is holding its own in terms of cost-competitiveness relative to other industrialized nations. While the ranking of the United States in 2010 is somewhat lower than in 2008, this is due mainly to the shift in emphasis for the 2010 edition, which bases the comparison on the major cities within each country rather than one with a broader base of larger and smaller cities. Over the last few years, U.S. companies have achieved massive structural changes that have lowered the cost of production. BF: What is the biggest factor currently impacting U.S. competitiveness? HP: Productivity growth has clearly been a key factor in spurring U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Despite the impact of the recent financial crisis and increased competition from fast-growing economies, such as those in China and India, the U.S. economy has demonstrated its resiliency during the recent recession, and strong productivity performance has been an important contributor to that success. This improved productivity supports solid competitiveness for the U.S. for the near and longer term. BF: We were surprised to see Mexico get the top ranking for R&D cost-competitiveness. Is the skill-level there comparable to the United States and Europe? HP: R&D includes a wide range of activities, from scientific research to prototype manufacturing. Many companies have developed and expanded these types of operations in Mexico for many years, so it would be safe to assume that their needs are being met. BF: The study lists increased electricity rates as a cost trend in the U.S. Will this be a temporary disadvantage as more alternative energy comes online? HP: A number of industry studies are projecting strong growth in U.S. electricity demand over the next several years, leading to continued upward pressure on U.S. electricity rates. Clearly, electricity prices vary significantly across different regions of the United States. Renewable energy mandates can increase the cost of power since renewables are generally more expensive than traditional sources of energy. While future demand may be met from alternative or renewable sources, we still do not anticipate a decline in rates. BF: The study indicates that labor costs have the biggest impact on cost competitiveness. Can a location mitigate that impact if it has an available pool of skilled workers within proximity […]