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Happy Birthday, Spike

On May 1, 1931, President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C. and the lights went on in the Empire State Building for the first time. For a nation mired in the depths of a Great Depression, the world's tallest building was much more than an engineering marvel. It was a 1,472-foot-high beacon of hope. Even before the remains of the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel were completely cleared from the 83 ...

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Recession What?

These days it's hard to stay up on the news without being subjected to talk of recession this and recession that. Now, there's no arguing that the U.S. economy has fallen on trying times, but it's nice to temper the bad with the good for some perspective. So in the spirit of optimism, I thought it would be a refreshing change of pace to veer away from talk of our "doomed" economy and highlight two recent ma ...

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A river runs through it

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 started a national conversation about levees. Suddenly, a lot of people who couldn't tell the difference between a levee and a highway berm wanted to know if these manmade barriers were high enough and strong enough to withstand the next big wave from Mother Nature. While most of the attention focused on the plight of New Orleans, levees along the flood-pr ...

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The Hopeful Hopi Tribe

Today, an article out of Arizona caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, I don't often come across economic development news stories that highlight the great plans and ideas of Native Americans. Secondly, when I do come across such news, it usually details the construction of a casino on an American Indian reservation. That's why this article about the Hopi tribe's ambitious and inspiring develo ...

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A breath of fresh air from coal country

Earth Day has everyone thinking "green" this week, so we thought this would be the perfect time to talk about a coal mine in Wales. No, we're not going to dig up the tired old "canary in a coal mine" analogy to underline the dire environmental condition of our planet. In this case, the coal mine is the canary, and it's singing a happy tune. The last active deep coal mine in Wales shut down recently. This ma ...

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U.S. Bumper to Bumper Blues

With the familiar dread of my 5pm drive home on the New Jersey Garden State Parkway hovering, I have decided to blog about the state of U.S. highway infrastructure. A gloomy topic on a sunny day. Yesterday, I received Walker Industrial's spring newsletter called "Outlook," which provides a brief, but potent picture of the traffic and roadway problems facing the nation right now. With so many relocating and ...

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Will Minnesota’s JOBZ be AXED . . . for good?

It was about this time last year that I blogged about Minnesota's economic development golden child—JOBZ—which was on the legislative chopping block last year--largely criticized for the wage requirement attached to tax incentives offered. The JOBZ program, which was implemented in 2004 and offers tax breaks to businesses in designated zones, survived another year. However, after a not-so-great run in 2007, ...

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Brother, can you spare a tank of Exxon Supreme?

Do you have a tough time deciding whether to order that side of fries with lunch or put those nickels aside in case gas prices rise before your evening commute? Well, if your name was Rex Tillerson, you'd have a much wider range of choices. Rex is the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., now the largest U.S. company based on its market capitalization of $479 billion. If Exxon Mobil were a country, it woul ...

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Beijing drivers carry a torch for Detroit

The biggest status symbol in China isn't a Mercedes, it's a roomy, six-passenger Buick. That's right, General Motors' venerable sedan is the most sought-after vehicle for the rising middle class in the world's most populous nation. If Detroit's downtrodden automakers have their way, this will not prove to be a fluke - say, like the French having a peculiar fondness for old Jerry Lewis movies - but rather wi ...

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Maybe they should put a high-tech door in that big border fence

With the U.S. economy on life support -- in the form of regular transfusions of cash from the FED -- and jobs disappearing in epidemic proportions, this may seem an odd time to talk about a red-hot employment sector. Well, it appears that there is one type of worker who is in short supply in almost every major enterprise in America: highly educated people with superior technical skills. You know the type we ...

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