Daily News Archives
Throughout the economic downturn that plagued the nation during the past two years, North Dakota has been immune to the catastrophic loss of jobs afflicting the rest of the U.S. This can be explained in one word: Oil. The explosive growth of the oil-drilling industry in the Peace Garden State (yes, that’s its official nickname) has given it the lowest unemployment rate in the country. While population centers like California and Michigan still are grappling with double-digit joblessness, North Dakota’s unemployment level has not exceeded 4 percent. However, according to a front-page report this week in The New York Times, the robust employment news in the northern Plains has been accompanied by an unexpected down side. The Times reports that laid-off workers from states across the country who have flocked to North Dakota have had little trouble getting hired—but they have been having a difficult time finding a place to live. Joey Scott drove from Montana in his pickup truck to Williston, ND. He found work in the oil fields a few weeks ago—but he is spending his nights sleeping in the truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot. “It’s hard to know where this might end,” Williston Mayor E. Ward Koesler told the Times. “It’s the one thing that sometimes wakes me up in the morning and doesn’t let me go to sleep.” Mayor Koesler has been asking the state for emergency housing aid for Williston after watching his town’s population grow to 15,000 from 12,000 in a fortnight. We’ve got a better idea. When the economic collapse hit bottom, Elkhart, Indiana was cited as a symbol of the national malaise because it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. The Indiana town got a special visit from President Obama, who gave the workers at one of its manufacturing plants a pep talk. The facility the 44th president visited makes huge RVs—as in recreational vehicles, the kind that are big enough to live in. So here’s a helpful suggestion: If President Obama isn’t too busy rounding up loose nukes and reining in Wall Street fat cats, perhaps he could scoop up some federal stimulus bucks and arrange to purchase a fleet of Elkhart’s finest RVs and send them up to Mayor Koesler. More jobs for Elkhart. More beds for Williston. Problem solved. Pleasant dreams, mayor.
Marking the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Major League Baseball has become to first professional sports league to put its stadium operations under a green microspcope. MLB is collaborating with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to develop a comprehensive software system to collect and analyze stadium operations data. The analysis of operations at 30 baseball stadiums marks the first time a professional sports league will implement a software program throughout the league to collect data for the purpose of documenting environmental practices and for sharing information about environmental best practices at stadiums. Initially, four categories of environmental data will be collected and calculated: — Energy use, including total energy used, sources of energy, and use of renewable energy — Waste generation, including total waste generated, materials diverted for recycling and composting, and cost of disposal — Water use, including amount of water used, water conserved, and cost of water use, — Paper procurement, including the amount of recycled paper used in club offices, in stadium restrooms and for yearbooks, game-day programs and media guides “Major League Baseball has responsibilities to our fans and society at large that go beyond the playing field,” said Baseball Commissioner, Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “Our Clubs have made a commitment to sustainability and are leaders in their communities raising awareness and educating fans not just on Earth Day, but everyday about environmental stewardship.” MLB Clubs have worked with the NRDC during the past few years to develop recycling programs, reduce their energy use, purchase renewable energy and educate fans about what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet. “The commitment by our national pastime to enhance its ecological profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of the environmental movement,” said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council. “No other sporting institution has influenced American culture as much as baseball and MLB is once again putting that influence to very good use. Baseball is a game of statistics and the League’s commitment to systematically document and measure environmental practices of all Clubs at all stadiums underscores the leadership and commitment of MLB to make environmental progress. All professional leagues should follow this important example.”
Iberdrola SA has won approval to build the world’s largest onshore wind-energy project in Romania, requiring at least $2 billion in investment through 2017, Bloomberg.com reports. The Spanish utility said it acquired rights from the Romanian government to build 1,500 megawatts of capacity, almost five times the power coming from Europe’s largest wind complex and triple the output of the controversial Cape Wind project under consideration off the coast of Massachusetts. Iberdrola, which charges above-market electricity rates for clean energy, now operates in 10 markets including the U.S. and U.K. The Romanian mega-park, near its operations in neighboring Hungary, may extend the Spanish company’s lead over second-ranked wind producer FPL Group Inc. of Florida. Romania currently generates much of its electricity by burning oil and gas. The Romanian government is considering a law to double the number of “green certificates” eligible for wind power and boost the total price per megawatt-hour by 25 percent,. The Iberdrola Renovables SA renewable-energy unit plans 50 Romanian wind parks that would supply the equivalent of almost 1 million homes. The project amounts to a third of the new wind power Iberdrola plans for Eastern Europe, after investing 100 million euros there in 2009. The average cost to buy and install wind turbines around the world is about 1.3 million euros ($1.75 million) a megawatt, according to New Energy Finance. Using those figures, Iberdrola’s Dobrogea project in southeastern Romania on the Black Sea would cost more than $2 billion, Bloomberg reports.
Gov. Ed Rendell has announced that Pennsylvania is investing $2.2 million to assist Unilife Medical Solutions, an Australian medical supply company, to transfer its headquarters to Lewisberry to bring 241 new jobs to York County. Unilife received the loan as part of the state’s efforts to fund job-creating economic development projects. More than $6.7 million in loans were approved for various business ventures in several counties, including York, Allegheny, Berks, Philadelphia and Washington counties. Gov. Rendell said the projects approved for the loans—anging from $30,000 to $2.2 million—will create more than 10,000 new jobs in the state, according to the Department of Community and Economic Development. Unilife’s $2.2-million loan was approved by the state’s Commonwealth Financing Authority, according to a press release from the state’s DCED. The new jobs will range from engineering and automated assembly to quality control and testing. Rendell said the $2.2 million the state is investing in Unilife also will serve as crucial gap financing to help it finish building a $27 million corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility, according to a report at yorkdispatch.com. “Unilife made a commitment to Pennsylvania when it decided to move its global headquarters from Australia,” Rendell said in a statement. “We’re keeping our commitment by providing financial resources that will ensure this vital project is completed.” Keystone Redevelopment Group LLC received the $2.2 million loan on behalf of Unilife Medical Solutions through the state’s Building PA Program, according to the DCED. Unilife makes medical safety products such as pre-filled syringes to prevent accidental needle wounds. Last year, the company moved its headquarters into a 50,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by its subsidiary, Integrated BioSciences Inc., at 633 Lowther Road, but the projected increase in demand for its products has prompted the company to build a larger facility.
Qiagen has plans to invest around $52 million in expanding its operations at its North American headquarters in Germantown, Md., according to a statement released by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. The firm intends to add 90 full-time positions in connection with the expansion by 2015, as well as 117,000 square feet of new manufacturing and office space. The State of Maryland will aid the expansion with a $700,000 loan provided by the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund. In addition, Montgomery County, in which Qiagen is located, will provide a $300,000 grant through its Montgomery County Economic Development Fund. Qiagen also is eligible for Maryland’s job creation tax credit, as well as local property tax credits and workforce and training programs. “We are experiencing rapid growth of our global business, and are pleased to expand our operations and employee base here in Maryland, a region that is an epicenter of bioscience and genomics research, discovery, manufacturing and commercialization,” Sean Augerson, senior director of Qiagen’s North American Operations, said in a statement. Qiagen currently employs around 3,500 people worldwide, with 1,150 of those positions in the US. It employs 580 individuals in Montgomery County and nearly 700 employees state-wide, according to the statement. Qiagen established its U.S. headquarters in Germantown 10 years ago. It expanded its operations in Maryland through its acquisitions of Digene and SABiosciences.
The Pentagon is threatening to block a project in eastern Oregon planned as the world’s largest wind farm, claiming that the giant turbines could interfere with an Air Force radar system, according to a report in today’s Washington Post. Caithness Energy had planned to break ground two weeks from now on the 845-megawatt, $2 billion Shepherds Flat wind farm near Arlington, OR. But last month, Pentagon officials moved to deny the developer its final Federal Aviation Administration permit. The move has sparked an intense lobbying battle and threatened 16,000 new jobs. The Pentagon’s objections could put at risk three other major wind projects in the same region, along with proposed farms in states from Illinois to Texas. Sen. Ron Wyden told the Post the dispute “is not about one project. It’s about the future of renewable, domestic, clean power.” The standoff centers on whether the blades of the Shepherds Flat project’s 338 turbines would interfere with a radar system in Fossil, OR because radar signals reflect off the blades when they’re in certain positions.
We just got word the Pentagon is addressing a major new threat to U.S. national security—wind-energy farms. That’s right, those bucolic turbines popping up across the rolling hills and plains of America are really designed to render us defenseless to an airborne invasion of the Homeland. According to the experts in the world’s largest five-sided building, the huge turbine blades planned for the largest U.S. wind farms can deflect Air Force radar. Presumably, this means that when another Northwest Airlines pilot flies past the Minneapolis airport because the crew is busy playing Scrabble, the F-16s the Pentagon orders up to intercept the commercial jet won’t be able to find it. Even worse, the bad guys overseas no longer have to spend billions to try to match our Stealth technology. Apparently, they can render their airspace invisible simply by putting up dozens of big windmills. This probably explains why Holland has such a meager defense budget. Of course, now that the U.S. Air Force has spilled the beans that turbines trump radar, it won’t be long before the Mexican drug lords build a bunch of wind farms along their favorite smuggling routes into the U.S. There is no reason to believe the Pentagon’s move to block the $2-billion Shepherd’s Flat wind-energy project in Oregon is part of some secret global strategy to keep the U.S. addicted to fossil fuels. The military has supported alternative energy for more than 60 years: it currently is sitting on enough plutonium to power the U.S. electric grid for the next two centuries. Unfortunately, thus far the emphasis has been on megatons instead of megawatts. We suspect today’s dire warning about the ominous turbine radar threat soon will be followed by a proactive and can-do solution from the Air Force. Before the end of the year, the Pentagon will unveil a new-generation radar system called the Clustered Array Sonar Holographic Weapons Alert Defense network. Like other complex weapons systems, this one will become known by its acronym: CASH-WAD. It will cost $500 billion, consist of components built in 18 states, spend 10 years in development and be canceled when a prototype deployed at the former site of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island mistakes a flock of seagulls for a fleet of North Korean ICBMs.
San Diego-based TailGate Beer plans to open a beer production, packaging and distribution facility south of Indianapolis, creating as many as 150 jobs over the next three years, state economic development officials have announced. The company said it will invest millions of dollars in machinery, equipment and energy-efficiency upgrades to establish operations in an existing 48,000-square-foot building in Franklin Business Park. The company plans to begin hiring in 2011 after it upgrades the facility and acquires permits and licenses. TailGate Beer was founded two years ago in San Diego and distributes six varieties of craft beer to bars, groceries, restaurants and liquor stores. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered TailGate Beer up to $1.85 million in performance-based tax credits and $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans, according to wire service reports. The city of Franklin will consider additional incentives at the request of the Johnson County Development Corp. TailGate Owner Wesley Keegan, a 24-year-old who founded the company right after graduating from San Diego State University, said Tailgate considered numerous sites in a dozen states before deciding on Indiana for expansion.
Sage Automotive Interiors and the Greenville Area Development Corporation have announced the company’s investment and expansion plans for its Gayley manufacturing facility in Greenville County, S.C. The plan includes portions of Sage’s initial business and operating plan to grow with the automotive industry and includes an estimated $10 million investment by the company, including the addition of about 80 new positions, over the next five years. Sage Automotive Interiors is one of the world’s leading providers of automotive bodycloth—seating, door panel surfaces, and headliners—to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Global offices and manufacturing locations include the U.S., Japan, China, Brazil, Korea and Europe. The company is a portfolio company of Azalea Capital, a South Carolina based investment company, and recently announced plans to move its international headquarters into a newly-constructed facility on Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) campus in Greenville. “This initiative, already partially implemented, will markedly improve and expand our manufacturing capabilities in Greenville County,” said Dirk Pieper, Sage Chief Executive Officer. “It will extend our capacity to serve OEMs the world over as both the domestic and international markets improve during the next several years.” The Gayley plant is among Sage’s most modern and technologically advanced manufacturing facilities, producing highly innovative products including its YES Essentials line of performance branded automotive fabrics which are used by such automotive manufacturers as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Hyundai. The products provide durability, stain resistance and odor elimination that manufacturers demand and consumers crave, noted Pieper. Sage currently employs about 1,000 associates around the world, including more than 400 in Greenville County and over 200 at the Gayley facility. While the enhancements and expansion will also better position the plant for potential future growth, the Sage team began the investments in the first few months of operations and will continue to make physical improvements as well as adding new equipment to the Gayley facility, added Pieper. Sage may begin hiring for the new positions by year-end 2010. When hiring begins, persons interested in job opportunities can visit their local employment office for more information. “Sage would like to thank Greenville County and the Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC) for their support in helping plan and execute this initiative,” Pieper added. “The GADC was particularly instrumental in helping us realize the value of investing and growing within the county.” Sage officials also cited the Upstate’s strong technology and innovation resources as a contributing factor in deciding to locate the expansion and new positions in Greenville County. “From CU-ICAR and Clemson University […]
The U.S. Economic Development Administration is providing a $330,000 grant to the city of Fremont, CA to study how to reuse the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant, which shut down on April 1 after operating for 25 years. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Brian McGowan said in a statement, “The NUMMI site closure in Fremont is representative of the need to diversity and strengthen the San Francisco Bay area economy by developing new investment and job growth opportunities in emerging high growth industries with global markets. This grant will help develop a strategy to create employment opportunities for the workers displaced as a result of the auto plant shutdown.” The plant employed more than 5,000 people directly and indirectly created about 25,000 jobs at suppliers throughout California. “I am encouraged by the federal government’s action today. As with all the other auto plant closings around the country, the federal government has a central role to play in helping affected communities find alternative uses for abandoned facilities,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after the grant was announced last week. NUMMI was a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. However, when GM was bailed out by the federal government last year, the Japanese automaker withdrew from the facility and GM decided to close it.