Daily News Articles
A new era has dawned on the streets and highways of the United States. 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 are predicting that as many as two million electric cars may be on the road in the U.S. by 2013, with almost a dozen automotive manufacturers expected to introduce plug-in models. However, a few naysayers have pointed out that the Volt comes with a sticker that may give customers a shock–a hefty price tag of nearly $40,000. Besides, the skeptics say, only a handful of locations in the country have installed charging stations. News from the oil capital of the universe—none other than Houston, TX—should be enough to change the mind of anyone who doesn’t believe that our electric-car future has truly arrived. Starting this month, 150 charging stations for electric cars are now available to motorists on the streets of Houston. The units were installed by power plant operator NRG Energy, which is also offering home charging units. 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 said to be offering home charging units for a flat price of $2,000. Once you buy the unit, it will cost about $1.50 to fully charge a vehicle, or roughly half the current cost of a gallon of gasoline. OPEC was not available for comment.
Amtrak has announced plans for a $13.5-billion rail tunnel project to connect New York City and New Jersey. The rail giant said it would spend $50 million on preliminary engineering and design work on two tunnels under the Hudson River. New York and New Jersey state governments, as well as local authorities, could contribute further funds, Amtrak said. The project is expected to be completed by 2020. A similar project was cancelled by NJ Gov. Chris Christie last year for being too expensive. Gov. Christie’s decision stunned federal officials, who had designated the Hudson project to receive one of the largest single national allocations of federal stimulus funds. Christie said estimates for the project had increased by almost one-third since it was announced. “The two new trans-Hudson tunnels envisioned under this plan will provide long-sought, peak period operational capacity and is an investment that will improve transportation flexibility and reliability for decades to come,” Amtrak said. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said: “The Gateway Project is a vision for our future that will shorten commutes, create jobs, increase property values and grow New Jersey’s economy.” Currently, there is one century-old rail tunnel servicing the Hudson crossing.
NHK of America Suspension Components (NASCO) will invest more than $10 million, receive $2.5 million in tax incentives to upgrade its Bowling Green facility and maintain 206 employees. “NASCO’s decision to make additional investments in its Bowling Green facility is a strong indication of its confidence in the Bowling Green community and its existing workforce,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Kentucky is proud to assist in making this project possible and looks forward to a long and successful partnership.” Established in 1986, NASCO manufactures suspension coil springs and truck lid torsion bars. The company sells its products, along with stabilizer bars, to various automotive manufacturers in North America. NASCO currently manufactures about 10 million coil springs per year on five production lines and about two million trunk lid torsion bars. Due to recent industry trends toward sophisticated spring designs requiring new technologies, a $10 million investment in equipment upgrades is necessary for NASCO to remain competitive, maintain output and retain its employment levels. “The demand for suspension coil springs in the automotive industry is shifting toward highly engineered, complex shapes where our capabilities on our older lines are insufficient,” said Jeff Johnson, plant manager of NASCO. “This upgrade will allow us to maintain our current volume in this challenging market and build market share in the years to come.” Beate Bachmann, controller for NASCO, added, “The KRA tax incentive is an important factor in transforming our plant. This incentive makes it easier to finance the capital spending needed to remain competitive and build for the future. It’s an excellent program for keeping jobs in Kentucky.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved NASCO for tax incentives up to $2.5 million through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act, a program that was expanded in the Governor’s Incentives for a New Kentucky bill last summer to assist companies that need to make significant capital investment in Kentucky facilities in order to remain competitive. “Congratulations to NASCO on their new expansion, and our thanks to them for their newest investment in our community,” said Warren County Judge Executive Michael Buchanon. “We appreciate their continued commitment to the people of South Central Kentucky, and the additional job opportunities they are extending to the hardworking folks of this area.” “We congratulate NASCO on this announcement and thank the company for continuing to invest in Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky. We look forward to watching NASCO grow,” said Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker.
Groundbreaking is planned Saturday for a $60 million stadium for the Houston Dynamo soccer team after city leaders approved an economic development tax zone deal. The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance for development, construction, operation and maintenance of the sports and entertainment facility. The Harris County Houston Sports Authority in December approved an agreement to build the proposed soccer stadium. The venue is scheduled to open in April 2012. The stadium would also be the site for Texas Southern University football games. The Dynamo currently play at Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston.
The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission have approved a new structure for economic development for Memphis and Shelby County, Business Journal reports. The Economic Development and Growth Engine, or EDGE, is a newly chartered industrial development board that will eventually consolidate a number of economic development agencies and functions of both governments. Those include the Office of Economic Development, the existing Industrial Development Board, the Port Commission, the Depot Redevelopment Authority, Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, the City of Memphis Foreign Trade Zone 77 program and the City of Memphis Renewal Community program. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell issued a joint statement today commending approval of the EDGE. “Momentum for economic development and job growth in our community has been building steadily over the last year, and this will only accelerate that forward progress,” Wharton said. “The function of the EDGE will be to strategically target great companies who are a good fit for Memphis and Shelby County’s unique assets and do what it takes to bring them here. We will also be able to provide new levels of support and assistance to start-up companies and small and medium-sized businesses. The competition for great jobs and great businesses in a global economy becomes more and more intense all the time. We need an edge to maintain our advantage.”
Pfizer Inc. has announced will add 350 jobs in the Boston area and look for a new site to house a pair of research operations it will move from southeastern Connecticut, the Boston Globe reports. The pharmaceutical giant also unveiled a restructuring plan that will cut global R&D by $1.5 billion, eliminating thousands of jobs around the world. However, despite these cutbacks, Pfizer will grow in Massachusetts, where it currently employs 2,300 workers at two research labs in Cambridge and a former Wyeth biotechnology plant in Andover. “We have recognized that we want to have a very significant footprint in Massachusetts,” said J.C. Gutierrez Ramos, the Cambridge-based Pfizer senior vice president of biotherapeutics research and development. “This emphasizes Pfizer’s commitment to increase our interactions with the academic medical centers, our interactions with the biotechnology companies and entrepreneurs, with all of the stakeholders in biomedical research.” Pfizer said it will 1,100 jobs in Groton, CN, about a quarter of its workforce there, and consolidate its neuroscience and cardiovascular metabolic research operations in the Boston area.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has launched “Business in Maryland Made Easy,” an economic development initiative and part of the governor’s ongoing efforts to improve the conditions that allow businesses to grow and create jobs. “Maryland Made Easy”includes specific strategies for state agencies to help improve Maryland’s business environment by streamlining processes, simplifying regulations and improving communication. In making the announcement, Gov. O’Malley outlined recently adopted improvements to the State Highway Administration’s access permit review. He introduced members of the newly formed Maryland Small Business Commission and charged them with identifying other permitting, licensing and regulatory areas for review. “As we transition our state into the new economy, we have to listen to the men and women on the front line of job creation on how to improve infrastructure, support our innovation economy, enhance the skills and talents of our people and improve our business environment,” said Gov. O’Malley. “In the past two years, we worked to unlock credit through the Maryland Small Business Credit Recovery Program and increase access to financial resources through Credit Connections. And just five weeks ago, at our first Maryland Forward forum on jobs and the economy, people told me that we needed to do a better job marketing those resources and I’m pleased to announce that we’ve heeded the call, and today, we’re releasing a new financing guide.” Joining the governor were John McLaughlin, CEO of DAP and a member of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, Ackneil Muldrow, Small Business Commission Chair, Jay Steinmetz, CEO of Barcoding and Manuel Hidalgo, executive director of Latino Economic Development Corporation. “One of the most effective roles my colleagues – such as secretaries Swaim-Staley and Sanchez who are here today – and I can perform is to be advocates for transparency, predictability and accountability in government,” said Christian Johansson, Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. With stakeholder process reviews, we’re working across state agencies to identify and remove barriers to business success.” In addition to stakeholder process reviews, Maryland Made Easy includes a planned Central Business Licensing (CBL) system, an initiative of the DBED and the Department of Information Technology to create a centralized, online system for all business licenses and permits. The CBL will eventually provide businesses with a one-stop shop to complete and submit various applications and permits regardless of agency or type of business. The governor will soon sign an Executive Order on Expedited Project Review to increase cooperation and communication in resolving cross-agency issues to facilitate major development projects and reduce delays. Gov. O’Malley also […]
Anyone who thought state budget deficits were confined to one or two regions of the United States had a sobering wake-up call in the form of a report issued this month by the Center on Budget and Policy. The report indicates that the sea of red ink has now washed over no less than 44 states. Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and California lead the list of states in arrears, each compiling current deficits that amount to roughly one-third of their budgets. Nevada currently is facing a $1.5-billion deficit that is equivalent to 45.2 percent of the state budget; Illinois’s deficit is about $15 billion, or 44.9 percent of its budget; New Jersey weighs in at $10.5 billion, or 37.4 percent of its budget; Texas is facing a $13.4 billion gap, 31.5 of its budget total; and California, despite draconian budget cuts in the past two years, still has a $25.4-billion gap to close. States that are closest to making ends, according to the center’s report, are Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, Iowa, and Massachusetts, which range from the Hoosier State’s 2 percent shortfall (approximately $270 million) to Massachusetts’ $1.8-billion deficit (5.7 percent of budget). Proposed remedies include a bill reportedly circulating in Congress that will enable states to file for bankruptcy so they can renegotiate obligations like pension payments. However, a less-painful cure can be found in the 2010 census results: the Census Bureau reports that the fastest growth was achieved by states without a state income tax.
Gov. Terry Branstad plans to unveil details Monday about a new economic development authority that would replace the existing agency, according to a report in the Des Moines Register. Gov. Branstad is expected to introduce the new Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress at his weekly press conference. He campaigned on a plan to scrap the existing Iowa Department of Economic Development, saying it was dysfunctional, citing mismanagement of the state’s film tax credit program, which resulted in the dismissal of several top economic development administrators. Gov. Branstad has said he wants a new public-private agency that’s more responsive to business needs. Debi Durham, the new economic development director, told lawmakers last week that she believes an authority gives the state greater flexibility to help expanding businesses. According to Durham, a partnership may make it easier for Iowa businesses to access federal industrial revenue bonds. Gov. Branstad also plans to cut corporate income taxes by half and would reduce commercial property taxes by 40 percent over five years. He want to maintain a pared-down Iowa Values Fund for business incentives, but is eliminating the Iowa Power Fund, designed to spark renewable energy development.
Automotive parts supplier ArvinMeritor will invest $23 million in facility and equipment upgrades to its headquarters in Troy, MI. The company got approval from the Troy City Council this week for personal and real property tax abatements that will total $2.4 million, $454,457 which will be city taxes, over a 12-year period. ArvinMeritor, which specializes in heavy duty truck, defense and industrial drive train components, will invest $10.7 million in new equipment and $6.4 million in facilities upgrades within the next five years. The upgrades are part of ArvinMeritor’s plans expand its output of hybrid drive train systems and enhanced safety features on defense vehicles, and re-enter the off-highway axle and brake markets. The upgrades will allow ArvinMeritor to add 125 engineers, designers and technicians to its current staff of 749. The average salary of these new jobs will be $1,185 per week.