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In a major step forward for U.S. transportation policy and the nation’s goods movement industry, the Obama Administration, in its 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation Budget Recommendations, calls for the creation of a new national freight plan and policy. The document recommends that Congress instruct the Secretary to “establish a National Freight Transportation Policy and designate a National Freight Transportation System, which would include the designation of multimodal national freight corridors…and issue a triennial National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan.” Members of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) commend the Administration for its proposal, long a tenet of CAGTC policy, which the organization believes is vital to fully addressing the needs of the nation’s multimodal goods movement network. “A truly strategic freight mobility program would serve the economic needs of our country in the near term and for generations to come by investment decisions that optimize freight mobility and support economic expansion and continually improving standards of living,” stated Mortimer L. Downey, III, CAGTC Chairman, Senior Advisor at Parsons Brinckerhoff, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation. Downey’s remarks appear today in testimony before the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. Downey reiterated the call for federal leadership and guidance on freight policy and stressed the importance for Congress to make a functioning, efficient, multimodal freight system a high priority in the next surface transportation authorization bill. As part of its Freight 21 proposal, CAGTC recommends that Congress consider including the following elements in legislation addressing America’s freight needs: • Establishment of a new USDOT Office of Multimodal Freight to develop a national freight plan and achieve greater efficiency and coherence among surface transportation programs and other federal agencies • Creation of a dedicated freight program that would provide an adequate, stable funding stream – most likely from a new freight user fee • Partnership with the private sector to find ways to leverage public funds and encourage private participation in project financing and development. “Federal investment in freight infrastructure is firmly supported in the mandates of own Constitution,” Mr. Downey added. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides to Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, as well as the authority over that which is “necessary and proper” to carry out these obligations.”
Firestone Building Products Company is celebrating the expansion of its Prescott manufacturing facility, which will result in 100 new jobs, along with 418 jobs retained. The company will invest $20 million in the expansion, which was announced in January 2011. In addition to the expansion celebration, which was held at Prescott Elementary School, Firestone Building Products officials also joined local and state leaders at the event to celebrate the opening of the Firestone Science Center at the school. Firestone donated $100,000.00 toward the development of the center, a state-of-the-art facility that will engage and educate elementary school students in the fields of biology, physics, chemistry and other areas of scientific research. “We have been a proud member of this community for 40 years, and are pleased to be investing in and expanding our plant here in Prescott,” said Ken Weaver, President of Firestone Building Products, and Chairman, CEO and President of Firestone Diversified Products. “We want to be more than a great employer. We want to be an outstanding corporate citizen, and this new Firestone Science Center should be a great enhancement to the school and contribute to the future success of our local students in this community.” Firestone produces ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), a commercial roofing membrane, at the Prescott facility. “Firestone’s commitment to this center shows they know the importance of science education and the value of reaching out to students early,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “The Firestone Science Center represents the company’s continued dedication to Prescott and Nevada County, both as an employer and as a corporate citizen.” “The Firestone Science Center is an innovative and valuable addition to Prescott’s school system, hopefully inspiring a new generation of young scientists,” said U.S. Congressman Mike Ross. “But, today’s dedication celebrates much more than the opening of an important education resource. Today, we celebrate the renewal of a partnership between Firestone and the community of Prescott who have had a long, successful relationship over the past few decades. Firestone has come to realize firsthand what we’ve known all along – that the people and leaders here in Prescott are some of most dedicated, hardest working people around. I’m proud of Firestone for recognizing them by choosing to stay in Prescott, creating new jobs and investing in our children’s education by helping build this science center.” “The City of Prescott and Nevada County are thankful that Firestone Building Products will continue to expand its operations in our community,” said Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver. “This Expansion and Retention project is… …Read More…
World leaders are struggling to reach a consensus on how to deal with the upheaval in Libya. Many questions remain unanswered: Will NATO’s no-fly zone be enough to convince Muammar to head for Club Fled? Will Angela Merkel ever speak to Nicholas Sarkozy again? Will Muammar’s wardrobe changes keep pace with Hillary’s hairdos? Will President Obama’s brackets prevail in the White House March Madness pool? But these weighty matters pale in comparison to the quandary now confronting copy editors throughout the world, who have utterly failed to address a central issue in this crisis: Does anybody know how to spell Muammar’s last name? The New York Times prefers the formal Mr. El Qaddafi. The Wall Street Journal opts for the Brooklyn-style Gaddafi. We’ve seen at least six other permutations in leading publications recently. The New York Post chose Khadhafi, which they famously immortalized years ago when they doctored a picture of Muammar, putting a dress on him and running the photo on the front page under the unforgettable headline: KHADHAFI GOES DAFFY! Since Business Facilities is an international publication, we believe we have the standing to settle this matter once and for all. We propose to apply what we are now calling the Lady Gaga Rule, also known as the Saddam Protocol. The premise is simple: when an international figure manages to irritate everybody on the planet at the same time, we always will refer to this person by their first name or a handy nickname. So from now on, it’s Muammar, as in HELLFIRE MISSILE ACCIDENTALLY HITS MUAMMAR or MUAMMAR ACCIDENTALLY FALLS DOWN STAIRWELL WEARING NOOSE. Now that we’ve settled this matter, we can move on to another nagging question provoked by the events in Libya: If Muammar has been running the country for 42 years, why is he still a colonel?
Store fixture firm idX Corp. will receive $360,000 from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) for expansion of its recently acquired manufacturing facility in Cuero. “This investment in idX will create 125 jobs for Texans, and pump $5.1 million in capital investment into the City of Cuero’s local economy,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry. St. Louis-based idX, a privately held store fixtures manufactuing giant, announced in early March it acquired the assets of Lancaster Industries, a maker of retail display fixtures and wood furnishings based in Cuero. idX Corp. specializes in retail fixture manufacturing for leading national brands vendors around the world to develop ideal retail store environments using wood, metal, glass, laminate, veneer and acrylic. The Cuero facility will manufacture custom wood and metal display fixtures for idX sister companies. “idX continues to build its position as the industry’s leading fixture supplier, and our new Texas division expands our geographic footprint in North America, which is important to us and to our customers,” idX CEO Terry Schultz said.
Advanced Materials Development, LLC, a manufacturer of premium metal alloys and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corporation, announced today that it will locate a new operation in Columbia City, creating up to 68 new jobs by 2014. Advanced Materials Development, LLC plans to invest $12.9 million to renovate the 115,000 square-foot former Fort Wayne Foundry building and purchase production equipment that will enhance capabilities and increase capacity in support of current operations. The facility will process stainless steel, nickel, cobalt and titanium alloys that are used in the company’s products. “Fort Wayne Metals planted its roots in Northeast Indiana more than 60 years ago and continues to create new opportunities for hundreds of Hoosiers in its home region. We are happy to see the company continue to make Indiana a central part of its future,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. Established in Fort Wayne in 1946 by founder Ardelle Glaze, Fort Wayne Metals Inc. pioneered many new applications for stainless steel wire. In 1970, Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corporation began operations and has evolved into one of the nation’s top suppliers of high-quality precision wire, strands and cables and component assemblies. The company’s products are used in various medical device markets including vascular therapy, cardiac rhythm management, endoscopy, orthopedics, dental, neuromodulation and neurostimulation, as well as in other industries where demanding applications are a necessity. “Fort Wayne Metals continues to see growing demand for our products, both domestically and internationally. Our investment is intended to meet the anticipated needs of our customer base. We believe Indiana, more specifically Whitley County, provides us an excellent opportunity to meet those needs,” said Troy Linder, chief financial officer. Fort Wayne Metals currently employs 570 team members throughout its seven Allen County locations. The newly established subsidiary plans to begin hiring production workers in Columbia City in August. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corporation up to $700,000 in performance-based tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. Whitley County provided additional property tax abatement at the request of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation. “Our entire community extends a warm welcome to Advanced Materials Development,” said County Commissioner Tom Rethlake, “We look forward to promoting a business climate that will encourage the company’s success in the years ahead.”
First Solar Inc., one of the world’s top solar-panel makers, has announced that it plans to begin work next month on a $300-million, 600-employee factory on the former site of the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Mesa, AZ. First Solar, based in Tempe, AZ, expects annual output of photovoltaic panels at the new plant to have a total generating capacity of more than 250 million watts of electricity. About 400 to 500 people will be employed during construction of the plant, which will rely on solar power for electricity. The factory’s panels, which transform sunlight into electricity, will be produced primarily for power plants. The factory will open next year and employ approximately 600 workers, earning an average annual wage of $48,000. First Solar is buying 135 acres from Scottsdale-based DMB Associates and has an option on an additional 100 acres. According to Mesa City Manager Chris Brady, the company will have the space to add more assembly lines that could create up to 4,800 jobs in the future. The Mesa plant will be First Solar’s second manufacturing facility in the United States. Company officials expect this expansion to continue as the demand for solar power grows. “Solar power still makes up only a tiny fraction of the world’s energy,” company CEO Robert Gillette said during the announcement at company headquarters. “Our goal is to compete with fossil-fuel power on a sustainable basis.”
The U.S. military is considering the mandatory evacuation of thousands of American troops and their families in Japan out of concern over rising radiation levels, a senior defense official has told CNN. The official, who did not want to be on the record talking about ongoing deliberations, says there are no discussions to evacuate all U.S. troops across the country. The talks have focused exclusively on U.S. troops in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo, the official said. Yokosuka is home to America’s largest naval base in Japan. The military is monitoring radiation levels on a constant basis. As of Monday, the U.S. Navy had no more warships in port at the base. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which had been undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka, left port Monday to get away from the plume of radioactive particles that could blow over the base. Because it left port with a much smaller than normal crew, the George Washington will not take part in the Japanese relief effort. The official said the talks originated with Pacific Command, the military authority that directly oversees U.S. troops in the region, but “discussions have since taken place here in Washington as well.”
Japan’s nuclear safety agency has raised the assessment of the severity of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power station to 5 from 4 on a 7-level international scale. Level 4 is for incidents with local consequences while level 5 — the rating used for crisis at Three Mile Island in 1979 — indicates the spread of radiation. International nuclear experts, meanwhile, suggested that Japan should have pegged the crisis at level 5 days ago. They warned that Japanese authorities still seem to be underestimating the impact of the partial meltdowns at Fukushima. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear calamity, was rated a 7. Japan plans to import about 150 tons of boron from South Korea and France to mix with water to be sprayed onto damaged reactors, French and South Korean officials said Friday. Boron absorbs neutrons during a nuclear reaction and can be used in an effort to stop a meltdown if the zirconium cladding on uranium fuel rods is compromised. Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, has admitted there is a possibility of recriticality developing in more than 11,000 spent fuel rods that are stored in unprotected pools near the Fukushima reactors. They say fission in the tons of spent fuel could resume if fuel rods melted and their uranium pellets formed a radioactive puddle on the floor of a storage pool or reactor core. Spraying pure water on the uranium under these conditions can actually accelerate fission, nuclear engineer Robert Albrecht told the New York Times.
The effort to contain the release of radiation at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has been stymied because radiation levels at the facility are so high that workers have been unable to successfully deploy police water cannons in a last-ditch effort to cool piles of melting reactor fuel. In the United States, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Congress the U.S. believes that Japanese officials are understating the level of radiation released at the Fukushima complex. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko warned any Americans still in Japan to leave an area within a 50-mile radius of the nuclear power plant. Thus far, Japan’s exclusionary zone has been set at a 20-mile radius, with a warning that people living between 20 and 30 miles of the power station should stay indoors and seal their windows and doors. Two of the six reactors at the Fukushima complex are believed to be in a state of meltdown. Concrete and steel containment vessels encasing the two reactors most likely have been breached, experts say. Of even greater concern, in terms of the release of high-level radiation are piles of spent reactor fuel rods that are stored in pools located directly under damaged outer containment structures of the reactors at Fukushima. Aerial photos of reactor no. 4 appear to show about 80 tons of smoldering fuel rods exposed directly to the air. Workers attempting to use police water cannons to spray the spent fuel piles could not get within 50 yards of the reactors due to severe radiation. Radiation also inhibited efforts to use helicopters to dump water on the crippled reactors from the air, as pilots could not fly low enough to hit the target. Under pressure from the global news media, Japanese officials released information regarding the amount of enrich uranium and plutonium nuclear fuel at the Fukushima complex. Counting fuel rods installed in the six reactors and several piles of spent fuel rods, the total comes to more than 300 tons, nearly twice the amount that was onsite at the Chernobyl nuclear plant when it exploded in 1986.
Federal officials found traces of radiation on a United Airlines jet that arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Tokyo Wednesday but determined that the plane’s cargo and passengers were safe, Chicago Breaking Business reports. Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged Thursday that passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at O’Hare, but he offered no details and said federal officials will be handling the situation. “Of course the protection of the person coming off the plane is very important in regards to any radiation, especially within their families and anything else,” Daley said at a downtown news conference to discuss his trip to China this week. Federal officials inspected two United Airlines jets with Geiger counters after they arrived in Chicago from Narita International Airport Wednesday, sources told the Tribune. A person familiar with the search said it was conducted by Customs and Border Patrol agents in the “guise of a random inspection.” Though officials detected trace elements of radiation on two cargo containers on one of the planes, they later determined that the packages were safe, sources said. Officials also determined the jets were safe after inspecting for radiation. The radiation plume forming over the Pacific from Japan’s nuclear crisis is a growing concern for U.S. carriers, who want to avoid contaminating aircraft surfaces and exposing passengers and employees to harmful radioactive isotopes.