Daily News Archives
ConAgra says it is going to shut its Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, NC within 15 to 18 months. The company says it will cost too much to rebuild the portion of plant damaged in last June’s explosion; compared to what it costs to make Slim Jims in Troy, Ohio. “Our facility in Troy is larger, more modern and is more conducive to the expansion we need for this product line,” said ConAgra’s Greg Smith. Before the plant closes, the company says it will do what it can to help it’s 400 or so employees find work at other ConAgra facilities or elsewhere. In addition, it will give the town $3-million to help build a community center, and donate both its manufacturing plant and land to the town so that it may use it to attract a new business. “When they leave, what we will have is an excellent shell facility that can be easily adapted for other businesses,” said Garner Economic Development Director Tony Beasley. Officials say not only will the facility be tenant ready; but it will offer other advantages to a potential employer. “The facility has a pre-treatment plant on-site that will be a part of the facility when ConAgra vacates,” said Ken Atkins, who is the Executive Director of Economic Development for Wake County. “That’s very attractive to companies that use those processes such as biotechnology or pharmaceutical or a foods related company,’’ claims Atkins.
Dow AgroSciences has announced plans for a $340 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters that is expected to create 577 high-paying jobs over the next five years. The investment will greatly expand the company’s research and development capacity. The company expects most of the positions to pay between $65,000 and $95,000 annually. Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Midland, MI-based giant Dow Chemical Co., produces agricultural products including seeds and pesticides. It has made a major push into biotechnology, and plans to roll out five products by 2012 that could generate $800 million annually in new sales. The first phase of Dow AgroSciences’ expansion will be the addition of a 14,000-square-foot greenhouse and a 175,000-square-foot research and development facility at its corporate campus on the city’s northwest side. The greenhouse should be finished by year’s end, according to the company, while the R&D facility slated to open in early 2012. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. gave Dow AgroSciences $12.5 million in performance-based tax credits and another $205,000 in training grants to encourage the company’s expansion. The city of Indianapolis will kick in another $500,000 from its Industrial Development Grant Fund to help pay for road, sewer and water improvements related to the project. Indianapolis has also committed to establish a property tax increment financing, or TIF, district to help Dow AgroSciences defer $20 million in project costs. The TIF district must be approved by city and state officials. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard joined Dow AgroSciences CEO Antonio Galindez on Thursday morning to announce the expansion. “R&D leadership in the life sciences is a dream of every state in the union,” Daniels said in a press release. “Here in Indiana, it’s not a dream, but a vibrant reality, and Dow AgroSciences’ steady growth is a major reason why. This expansion makes Indiana a true world capital of agricultural science.” Dow AgroSciences’ expansion announcement follows two expansions last year. In July, the company signed a 15-year lease resulting in construction of an 80,000-square-foot R&D building adjacent to its headquarters. In September, Dow AgroSciences said it will expand its presence in Purdue University’s West Lafayette Research Park, adding up to 30 jobs.
Top business leaders from Pueblo and Colorado Springs have formed a new partnership to champion Southern Colorado’s economy. The region’s chambers of commerce and economic development agencies will participate in a regional group called the Southern Colorado Business Partnership, the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reports. A regional group already exists in Northern Colorado, linking the Fort Collins and Greeley areas. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other groups play a similar role in the Denver area. “There’s strength in numbers,” Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce President Rod Slyhoff told the Chieftain. The organizations that currently participate represent more than 4,000 businesses and 140,000 workers, group members said. Pueblo Economic Development Corp. Chair Ken Conyers likened the group to a business version of Action 22, the 22-county lobbying group that monitors a wide range of issues in the region. Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce President David Csintyan noted heavy competition for jobs from Denver and Northern Colorado and said the new group puts the southern region “on a level playing field” with the other alliances in the state. The regional group is an outgrowth of the former Pikes Peak Regional Business Partnership in Colorado Springs, members said. The Pikes Peak group recently extended an invitation to Pueblo’s business community, including the Latino Chamber of Commerce, to team together and change the group’s name to reflect a more regional scope. The group also added the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. The group will host periodic meetings and forums on business issues, conduct joint studies on economic development and join on lobbying initiatives. Other plans include a possible regional summit on business and economic development.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the expansion in Princeton, KY of Bremner Food Group, the nation’s largest supplier of private label cookies and crackers. Bremner Food Group, a subsidiary of Ralcorp Holdings, will install new production lines, relocate production lines from other facilities and increase its warehouse space to handle increased capacity. The expansion project will result in 111 new full-time jobs and represents an investment of $62.1 million in the Commonwealth. “Kentucky is delighted that Bremner Food Group has chosen Princeton as the site of this major expansion, creating 111 new employment opportunities and investing more than $62 million in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Bremner Food Group has been an outstanding corporate citizen since opening its doors in Princeton in 1993. We will continue to work with Bremner Food Corp. and other existing Kentucky companies to partner on future expansion opportunities.” Bremner Food Group will increase the size of its existing facility, located at 1476 U.S. 62 West in Princeton, by approximately 200,000 square foot for a total of 900,000 square feet. Additionally, the company has acquired another 32 acres to accommodate the expansion for a total of 65 acres. The Princeton plant currently employs 600 team members in numerous production and support functions. Products range from Saltines and Graham Crackers to Fig Bars and Animal Crackers. The plant also produces Shredded Wheat and a private label version of Triscuit. “We would like to thank Gov. Beshear and the Cabinet for Economic Development for their support and are very excited to once again work with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on expanding the Princeton manufacturing plant,” said Steven Smith, vice president of Human Resources for Bremner Food Group. “They made our decision to invest in Princeton and expand the operation a very easy one. This expansion is also further validation of our commitment to the Princeton team members and our community. We also want to thank Mayor Gale Cherry and the civic leaders of Princeton and Caldwell County who helped make this happen. We look forward to a long and prosperous future in this community.” The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Bremner Food Group for tax benefits up to $5 million under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The incentive can be earned over a 10-year period through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments. The maximum annual approved amount to be earned by Bremner Food Group is $500,000. “Bremner Food Group Inc. has been an outstanding community partner for nearly 20 years. In addition to employing over 660 […]
Ontario will more than quadruple its promised support to help keep Ford’s Windsor engine plant working, according to a report in the Toronto Sun. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Economic Development Minister Sandra Pupatello – both Windsor-area MPPs—made the $81 million funding announcement in Windsor Friday. “This investment reaffirms our government’s commitment to strengthening our local economy and will get Windsor families back to work,” Duncan said in a statement. Ontario had pledged $17 million to the plant in March 2008 but said Friday’s money will build on that support. The money — along with up to $736.4 million being invested by Ford itself—will help keep or create 757 jobs at the plant, the government said. “To be truly competitive at a world-class level we have to work together—we have to build partnerships between business, labor and government,” Jim Tetrault, Ford’s vice-president of North American manufacturing, said. “And it’s that spirit of collaboration combined with a willingness to innovate that has breathed new life into the operations at the Essex Engine Plant.” Ford was the only one of North America’s Big 3 automakers that did not need government money to keep it from going out of business in 2008. Its Project Renaissance refurbishment will retool the engine plant so it can produce 5.0-litre V-8 engines for use in the Ford Mustang.
There are some things we assumed we never would see in our lifetime: The melting of the polar ice caps; a car that runs on electricity; the ocean running out of fish; a labor shortage in China; the Mets winning back-to-back championships. Well, with the exception of the item relating to the long-suffering denizens of Flushing Meadow, you can throw that list out the window. From Saturday’s front page of The New York Times comes a startling report that unskilled factory workers in China’s industrial heartland are being offered “signing bonuses” and 20-percent salary increases. The world’s most populous nation – at least 1.3 billion people call it home—apparently is suffering from an acute labor shortage. “Cheap labor” and China no longer are synonymous. The Times reports that some Chinese manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they can’t find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices. Telemarketers in China are turning away potential customers because recruiters have fully booked them to cold-call people and offer them jobs. The immediate cause of the labor crunch in China is said to be a shift in worker relocations that resulted from the massive stimulus package China enacted during the global economic crisis. Millions of migrant workers employed in coastal cities returned to their rural homes for the long Lunar New Year last month, but these workers are not planning to go back to their jobs in the cities because the government’s half-trillion-dollar stimulus program has created plenty of work where they live. However, economists also see a longer-term trend: after two decades of unparalleled growth, China is simply running out of workers. This trend was masked last year by massive layoffs at the nadir of the downturn, but now it has emerged with a roar as China resumes its double-digit growth. The impact of this unexpected labor shortage likely will be measured soon in price increases for American consumers who are addicted to low-cost goods made in China. It also may spawn inflation in China as wages there rise. The average wage rate for factory workers in Guangzhou was 80 cents an hour two years ago. Today, it is $1.17 and moving higher every month. “You can walk into any factory and get a job,” a 22-year-old plastics worker told the Times. While this is not good news for U.S. consumers, it may prove to be a blessing for U.S. manufacturers. Rising prices on Chinese goods, accompanied by rising wages for Chinese workers, may be a more effective brake on […]
A pair of initiatives by Dow Chemical Co. will bring hundreds of green jobs to the state, Michigan Economic Development Corp. confirmed to the Detroit News this week. Dow Kokam MI LLC, a joint venture formed last year between Dow Chemical Co and South Korean partner TK Advanced Battery LLC, will construct a manufacturing facility in Midland for its lithium-polymer batteries for electric vehicles. The project will operate for at least the next 15 years. The facility entails a $294 million investment from Dow Kokam MI over the next three years and will create at least 320 full-time jobs by February 2014. The average weekly wage will be $730, with an additional $85 in weekly health care benefits. Construction on the 400,000-square-foot structure is expected to begin in May. The project’s second phase will construct an identical facility, allowing the venture to power 60,000 electric vehicles. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded the project an estimated $3.4 million in annual Michigan Business Tax abatements. Dow Kokam MI also will receive an estimated $4.3 million in annual property tax breaks. The MEDC’s decision “is a very critical milestone,” said Dow Kokam MI spokeswoman Kristina Schnepf. “This puts us a step closer to being the first advanced battery facility to break ground in the state.” Dow Chemical will partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is involved in producing carbon fibers, in a separate venture to develop a facility focused on low-cost carbon fiber for wind turbine blades and other projects. The project, valued at $20 million, will receive $10 million from Dow and $5 million from the Department of Energy. Dow has requested an additional $5 million from the Center of Energy Excellence, a statewide program to join companies, educational institutions and the state in developing alternative energy technology.
A consortium of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley organizations, regional planners, and the Department of Energy have formed the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor, an initiative to promote alternative-energy-based mass transit and a network of recharging facilities for electric and hybrid vehicles. Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley organizations participating in the effort include the National Transportation Research Center, City of Oak Ridge, Metropolitan Knoxville Municipal Airport Authority, Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Y-12 National Security Complex and UT-Battelle, the partnership which manages ORNL. The goal of the corridor group is make it clear that public and private sectors support for an alternative energy transportation system can greatly reduce the region’s carbon footprint. The Oak Ridge Energy Corridor demonstration project will include alternatively fueled mass transit vehicles, integrated recharging and parking facilities for electric and hybrid vehicles, and intelligent transportation technology. In addition, interconnected bike and pedestrian paths will terminate at key parking and destination locations. The initiative is intended to accomplish four goals. — Enhance electric vehicle use, minimize carbon footprint, and emissions reductions in a region that experiences non-attainment challenges; — Serve as a platform to test, demonstrate, and evaluate intelligent transportation technology utilizing the expertise in the area; — Serve as a public transportation opportunity for an underserved population in a community with a high influx of commuter traffic; — Provide an education opportunity for other regional transportation planning organizations during implementation of energy and environmentally sound transportation projects. Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley has become a hub for alternative energy manufacturers. A major new ethanol facility is under construction by Genera Energy, an arm of the University of Tennessee. Confluence Solar decided last month to build a $200 million manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facility in Clinton, TN, near ORNL, creating 300 jobs. Confluence creates mono-crystal silicon ingots that lower the cost of solar photovoltaic solar power generation. Both Wacker Chemie and Hemlock Semiconductor are building $1 billion-plus plants in Tennessee to produce high quality polysilicon used in solar panels and computers.
The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), a subsidiary of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) was awarded a $22.3 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the US Department of Transportation, Governor Donald L. Carcieri has announced. According to a report on the Gov Monitor Web site, the grant will support wind energy manufacturing and logistical operations and improve marine highway infrastructure at the Quonset Business Park. The QDC is just one of 45 TIGER grant recipients from more than 1,500 applications. “This is a tremendous boost to our ongoing efforts to make Quonset the nation’s hub in renewable energy and offshore wind industries, and to achieve our goal of 20 percent of energy use from renewable sources by 2020,” said Gov. Carcieri. “The $22.3 million TIGER grant will expedite much needed infrastructure improvements to the Quonset pier to support Deepwater Wind’s plans to construct the nation’s first offshore, deepwater wind project.” The grant includes infrastructure improvements to the Port of Davisville piers and terminals in the Business Park. The projects are designed to further support Quonset’s role as a hub for the emerging wind energy industry, with Deepwater Wind already on track to create regional off-shore wind farm manufacturing. The federal funding will support a staging and launching facility at the Business Park. Infrastructure improvements requested to support the offshore wind project and short sea shipping initiative include: funding for a pier repairs, deck surfacing and marine hardware, rebuilding of rail tracks in the port area, terminal improvements, crane platforms and a crane suitable to load and off load windmill components as well as containers. Its purchase would also enable Quonset to take advantage of short sea shipping opportunities and participate in the U.S. Maritime Administration Marine Highway Northeast Corridor. It’s estimated the TIGER grant will aid in the creation of 500—800 jobs. Deepwater Wind is actively planning two Rhode Island offshore wind projects: The Block Island Wind Farm, with up to eight wind turbines located three miles off the coast of Block Island, and the Rhode Island Offshore Wind Farm, a project that will be located 15 to 20 miles offshore. The Block Island Wind Farm is on target to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Together, the wind farms are expected to produce 15 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity needs. Deepwater Wind has leased 117 acres at Quonset Point for the development of its two proposed wind farms.
We’ll be the first to admit that as we have tracked the burgeoning implementation of wind-powered energy in the past two years, our attention has been focused on the “wind corridor” that stretches through the middle of the country from the upper Great Plains down into Texas. Frankly, New York City and suburban New Jersey do not readily come to mind when the subject is wind power. But innovators based in the nation’s largest city are aiming to change that perception, and the results of their efforts may be coming soon to a street near us. Last month, a New Jersey law was enacted regulating small wind energy projects. The measure is designed to facilitate wind energy without interfering with aviation. New Jersey Assembly Bill 3740, which became law Jan. 16, prohibits municipalities from enacting ordinances that “unreasonably limit or hinder” the performance of small wind energy systems. The bill does require those systems to comply with all applicable FAA requirements, including regulations regarding installations close to airports. The New Jersey law prohibits ordinances such as those that restrict overall height or noise level, require tower setback from neighboring properties, or prohibit such systems entirely in the municipality. It limits the development of small wind energy systems as they relate to aviation by requiring compliance with FAA regulations and all applicable airport zoning regulations. This protects airports and airspace from encroachment. Across the Hudson on 48th Street in New York City, a firm that bills itself as “a world leader in small wind energy” is gearing up put the New Jersey wind energy statute to the test. Their product offering may literally change the landscape in the Garden State in a unique way that harkens back to a golden era when everyone had a huge TV antenna attached to the roof of every house in the neighborhood. Urban Green Energy manufactures a home-sized vertical axis wind turbine, which looks a bit like an oversized street light with a fan attached to it. The UGE-4KW is an 18-foot unit that can generate up to 4 kilowatts of power. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the average household runs on about 1.3 kilowatts of power. UGE says the turbine is “quieter than a human whisper,” which makes it more suitable for residential use in suburban areas. Homeowners may emit more than a whisper when they hear the price tag: currently a hefty $17,000 per turbine. But UGE is quick to point out that each turbine qualified the owner for a 30% federal tax credit; and […]