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A state-by-state breakdown of unemployment, budget deficit and foreclosure statistics, jointly produced by CNN, Fortune and Money magazines, clearly illustrates which states are getting hit the hardest by the recession. Here are the states that appear to be in the worst shape, economically, according to an aggregate of these indicators: California — 8.4 percent unemployment, $14 billion deficit, 3.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Florida –7.3 percent unemployment, $2.3 billion deficit, 7.3 percent of homes in foreclosure Michigan — 9.6 percent unemployment, $145 million deficit, 3.5 percent of homes in foreclosure Georgia — 7.5 percent unemployment, $2.5 billion deficit, 2.3 percent of homes in foreclosure Nevada — 8 percent unemployment, $536 million deficit, 5.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Illinois — 7.3 percent unemployment, $2 billion deficit, 3.5 percent of homes in foreclosure Arizona — 6.3 percent unemployment, $1.2 billion deficit, 3.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Ohio — 7.3 percent unemployment, $1.2 billion deficit, 3.4 percent of homes in foreclosure Those on the brighter side (below the national average in negatives) of the economic ledger include: Nebraska — 3.7 percent unemployment, no deficit, 1.6 percent of homes in foreclosure North Dakota — 3.3 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.9 percent of homes in foreclosure Wyoming — 3.2 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.6 percent of homes in foreclosure Montana — 4.9 percent unemployment, no deficit, 0.6 percent of homes in foreclosure Texas — 5.3 percent unemployment, no deficit, 1.43 homes in foreclosure The full state-by-state breakdown can be viewed at http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/gapmap/index.htm.
Valero Energy Corporation, one of the largest oil and gas refiners in North America, has begun its Phase I operation of a 50-megawatt (MW) windfarm located in McKee, TX. Just north of Amarillo, the McKee Windfarm will be constructed in two phases. Initiated in December 2008, energy production from six General Electric (GE) 1.5-MW wind turbines of Phase I has been commissioned for startup. Phase II will consist of 27 GE 1.5-MW wind turbines expected to be erected and ready before the end of June 2009. Though Texas has the largest installed capacity of wind power in the United States, Iowa also is a recognized leader in the development of wind-generated electricity. By successfully attracting such top turbine manufacturers as Siemens, Clipper and TPI Composites, Iowa has established itself as the major wind-turbine manufacturing hub in North America. Acciona, a Spanish turbine manufacturer with operations in Iowa, awaits environmental approval for a 103.5-MW windfarm to be built in the Coquimbo region of Chile. And while Acciona lies in wait, construction has already been completed on two other windfarms in North America. Central Plains Power LLC is in the commissioning stages of the Central Plains windfarm project, which broke ground in June 2008. Located in Marienthal, Kansas, the project consists of a 99-megawatt farm developed by RES and owned and operated by Westar. Also, Cartier Wind Energy LLC has begun full commercial operation of the $110 million, 110-MW Carleton Windfarm in Québec, Canada. Comprised of 73 wind turbines, the farm should generate 340,000 MW per hour of energy per year.
With its stock price plunging more than 60 percent in the past year, its print advertising sales collapsing, and a reported $1 billion in debt, The New York Times Co. is urgently trying to raise $225 million by offering a sale-leaseback deal on its new 52-story headquarters building in midtown Manhattan. The move to sell a portion of its gleaming new skyscraper, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is the latest in a series of cost-cutting steps by the newspaper giant, according to Crain’s New York Business. Previously, The New York Times Co. has slashed its dividend for investors by 75 percent, cut companywide staff by 8 percent, and raised its newsstand price while merging sections of the newspaper, Crain’s reports. However, the publishing conglomerate still is grappling with a 92-percent plunge in net income in the first nine months of 2008, and is in the midst of negotiations with lenders regarding more than $600 million in loans that are coming due this year and next. The Times parent company also is trying to sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. Industry analysts expect the Times to survive any consolidation of the newspaper business during the current global recession, but some real estate specialists believe the company may have waited too long to try to sell off a piece of its headquarters building. While the current credit squeeze generally makes leaseback deals an attractive option, the overall unavailability of financing limits the number of potential players, analysts told Bloomberg News.
Iowa recently announced that IBM will open a new technology service delivery center in Dubuque, IA. It is expected that the $100-million project will create up to 1,300 high-quality jobs. IBM has signed a 10-year lease, with optional extension years, to occupy a historic building in downtown Dubuque. The City of Dubuque, Dubuque Initiatives and IBM plan to upgrade the facility to make it a “green” building. The renovation of the building will utilize industry-leading energy-efficient technology. “We selected the City of Dubuque for our new delivery center based on several criteria, including the strong positive public-private partnership within the city, its competitive business model and the talent and skills that Iowa and the Midwest have to offer,” says Mike Daniels, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services. The IBM announcement follows the addition of Microsoft building a large server farm in West Des Moines and Google’s $600-million data center in Council Bluffs; both centers are slated to be completed in the spring of 2009. IBM intends to employ several hundred people in the new facility by the end of this year and up to 1,300 by the end of 2010. IBM will work with institutions of higher learning in the tri-state area of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin for recruitment and training of potential employees. The technical service delivery center in Dubuque will primarily support IBM’s U.S. strategic outsourcing clients, providing server systems operations, security services and end-user services, including maintenance and monitoring of computer hardware and software systems. Employees will manage IBM’s world-class servers and storage systems that are critical for assuring optimal IT infrastructure performance. IBM’s global delivery network incorporates more than 80 strategic centers around the world and serves thousands of clients.
The people who brought us the Great Bank Robbery of 2008 are back at work, and this time they’re doing something for which they are uniquely qualified: shoveling tons of pork back to the folks in their home districts. An armada of Brinks trucks, their engines still hot from a breakneck midnight run to deliver $350 billion in ”bailout” funds to the nation’s banks, are being reloaded with cash at the U.S. Treasury for the next episode of our ongoing cliffhanger, ”Rescuing the U.S. Economy.” When we last left this soap opera, we were digesting the distressing news as reported on page one of Sunday’s New York Times that thus far the ”no strings attached” bank bailout moolah has been pocketed by the banks without any noticeable effect on the credit freeze it was supposed to remedy. Undeterred by the apparent failure of its last fiscal magic trick, Congress is moving full speed ahead to push all of its chips into the middle of the table. The majority party in the House of Representatives has unveiled an $825 billion spending orgy it is calling an ”economic recovery” bill. President Obama says he want this stimulus mega-package ready for his signature within the next three weeks, so no doubt it will move through Congress at warp-speed. (Warning to readers who resolved to go on a fat-free diet for the new year: you might want to stop here.) This is what’s on the menu in Washington: — $275 billion: Tax cuts Includes a tax cut of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples by reducing payroll tax withholdings, and a proposal that would allow businesses to cut taxes by writing off current losses against profits earned in the past five years (instead of the usual two years). — $119 billion: Aid to states for health care and other essentials Includes $87 billion to temporarily increase aid to states for Medicaid costs; $25 billion for high priority needs like public safety and other critical services; and $7 billion to help needy families. — $117 billion: Education Includes $41 billion to local school districts for schools serving impoverished and disabled students, and for school construction costs; $39 billion to local school districts, public colleges, and universities; $15 billion to states for meeting key performance measures; and $22 billion for higher education, including increased funding for Pell grants. — $106 billion: Aid for unemployed and the needy Includes $43 billion to extend jobless benefits and provide training services; $39 billion to help unemployed extend medical […]
The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority has approved two low-interest loans totaling $1.36 million to fund Philadelphia-area projects, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development said Wednesday. The PIDC Financing Corp. will receive a $680,000 loan to acquire and renovate an existing facility on East Hunting Park Avenue in Philadelphia. The site contains eight buildings totaling 45,000 square feet and has three tenants: Beletz Brothers Glass Co. Inc., a glass and metal fabricator; R&M Supply Co., an industrial-welding company; and Tasty Way Inc., an industrial bakery. The tenants are expected to create 25 jobs at the facility. Sealstrip Corp., which makes easy-opening and resealable consumer packaging, will get a $680,000 loan to acquire and renovate the building it leases in Gilbertsville, Montgomery County, Pa. The company’s $1.7-million project, sponsored by the Montgomery County Industrial Development Corp., will create 16 jobs and retain 39 existing ones.
Kuwait’s government decided on December 28 to cancel a $17.4 billion joint venture with U.S. petrochemical giant Dow Chemical. The venture, known as K-Dow, was announced with great fanfare in July as the crown jewel of economic development initiatives in Michigan. Michigan, already home to Dow Chemical’s headquarters in Midland, had been slated to become the home as well to the new K-Dow Petrochemicals, a partnership between Dow and Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC), a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. According to the Associated Press, the venture became a political football in oil-rich Kuwait after the dual collapse of the global financial system and the price of oil during the fall. In a statement carried by the state-owned Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the Kuwaiti government said the K-Dow venture was ”very risky” in the wake of the financial meltdown and cratering oil prices. The K-Dow contract was canceled just a few days before a planned Jan. 1 startup date by the Supreme Petroleum Council, Kuwait’s highest oil authority, according to the statement from KUNA. The project, in which Kuwait was to hold a $7.5 billion stake, reportedly had been criticized in Kuwait as ”a ”waste of public funds” and Kuwaiti lawmakers threatened to question the prime minister in parliament if it was launched. Such a move could have led to Sheik Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah’s impeachment, sparking a new political row in the country just weeks after the Cabinet resigned in protest after an effort by a group of Islamist lawmakers to question the premier over corruption allegations within the government, AP reported. Sheik Nasser was reappointed to his post though he has yet to form a new Cabinet. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Mohammed al-Eleim defended the venture as profitable, saying it was carefully studied by international consultants for over two years. But Kuwait’s Cabinet said in its Sunday statement that it ”rejected” politicizing the issue. The venture between chemical giant Dow and PIC was designed to enable the partners to snare the lion’s ‘hare of the global chemicals market. The new company was to be headquartered in the Detroit area. Crude oil prices have plunged from mid-July highs of nearly $150 per barrel to a current level of under $40. The Kuwaiti stock exchange also has fallen by about 35 percent since the beginning of 2008. Dow announced in early December that it was cutting about 11 percent of its work force, closing 20 plants and selling off several businesses to cut costs amid the financial downturn.
A new year is always a good time for resolutions. Here’s a few we’d like to see in 2009: — Anyone who has borrowed money from Citigroup, GMAC or the two dozen other bankrupt financial entities that have been bailed out with federal funds can deduct the balance of their monthly loan payments from their income tax. — Bernie must spell his last name phonetically, which would make it Made-off, as in ”made off with $50 billion.” — Alan Greenspan must wear an orange robe and serve as translator for the Dalai Lama at all of his press conferences for the next 10 years. — Any major league baseball franchise playing in a stadium still named after a bankrupt financial institution automatically finishes the season in last place. — Hank Paulson must reimburse anyone who possesses a dollar bill that bears his signature for the difference between the actual and face value of this currency. — The U.S. Treasury will cut exorbitant printing costs by outsourcing production of new Benjamins to North Korean counterfeiters, whose low-cost photocopies look better than the originals anyway. — Foreclosed properties in the Hamptons and Beverly Hills will be awarded to homeless families by lottery. — Any Congressional bailout of state governments will require the Dakotas, Virginias and Carolinas to merge to cut costs. — New York City will rezone Wall Street to make it part of the Garment District to accommodate impending transfer of sock production back to the U.S. from China. — Chrysler will offer free Corinthian leather to anyone who buys a new Dodge. — The Securities and Exchange Commission will relocate to Baghdad, where it will be responsible for guarding the Green Zone. — The price of a barrel of oil will be pegged to the price of two corned beef sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli. — Ponzi’s heirs will receive royalties every time his name is mentioned. — Ponzi’s heirs will be permitted to sell shares to investors of future royalty revenue. New global derivatives market will be created by bundling risk management instruments guaranteeing debt of Ponzi investors. Ponzi credit swaps will be quietly spread throughout the global financial system, backed by World Bank. — Ponzi Bubble will fuel Great Economic Recovery of ’09. Wall Street will be rezoned as financial center. Sock production will return to China. — Statue of Ponzi will be erected on Wall Street. Ponzi will be standing behind the bronze bull, holding a broom.
ABMyr Industries recently announced it is expanding its Belleville, MI operation, which will create 38 new jobs by 2011. The family-owned company invested more than $2 million to build and equip a 50,000-square-foot metal fabrication, prototyping and production center within its current facility. ABMyr Industries’ new services utilize a state-of-the-art Mitsubishi Laser Cutter, which produces computer-precision cuts, sealed edges and improved appearance. Combined with their full service metal fabrication and welding shop, ABMyr can provide metal parts assembly, rapid prototyping and production. “Entrepreneurial firms like ABMyr Industries are diversifying and strengthening our economy,” said Van Buren Township Supervisor Cindy King. “We are very excited about ABMyr’s continued growth and creation of new job opportunities. Their expanded presence in the Belleville area is another sign that Belleville continues to be a viable place to live and do business,” added Belleville Mayor Richard Smith. “For over 80 years ABMyr Industries has delivered precision machined products for the automotive, agriculture, appliance, aerospace, and general manufacturing industries. We are proud to leverage this vast experience to provide custom metal fabrication services for small and large product design and manufacturing firms,” said Shane Gerkin, senior vice president of ABMyr Industries.
As the U.S. retail industry suffers some of the most severe sales declines in history, stores are taking drastic measures to help boost some last-minute holiday sales. An article in The Wall Street Journal highlights an all-hours free-for-all in New York City’s retail mecca, Times Square. Toys “R” Us opened as normal on Friday, December 19th, but it will not close until 8pm on Christmas Eve—a run of 134 consecutive hours. This allows people, whether mere night owls or those that simply fear mobs of shoppers, to shop for the season’s hottest toys in the middle of the night in less hectic aisles. Other retailers such as Macy’s, L.L. Bean, H&M and Wal-Mart also have adopted marathon open hours in an effort to salvage their industry’s crucial fourth quarter returns. “In this kind of environment, you do whatever it takes,” says Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers. Some industry analysts don’t report a lack in mall traffic this year, but rather a significant decline in actual purchases. As for me, I haven’t bought one single holiday gift yet. This has less to do with the slowing economy or my hesitancy to engage in battles for parking spots and elbow room, but rather with my family’s and friends’ reluctance to express what they want. (And I have some difficult people to shop for!) It seems that the best gift this December would be more jobs for Americans, a raise for the employed but underpaid, and health coverage for the sick and uninsured.