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Business Facilities magazine has selected Louisiana as its 2010 State of the Year. “The diversity and growth potential of Louisiana’s top projects in both high-tech and traditional manufacturing, as well as healthy total investments, overall job creation and innovative incentives made Louisiana a clear winner of our annual State of the Year Award,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers. Runners-up in the annual State of the Year contest included Texas, Tennessee, Utah and South Carolina. Texas was Business Facilities’ 2007 State of the Year award winner; Tennessee snared the magazine’s top honor in 2009. To determine the winner, Business Facilities reviews each state’s top five projects in terms of overall investment and job creation. The magazine also evaluates the state’s execution of its economic development strategy, and the diversity and growth potential of its target industries. “We were particularly impressed with the diversity of Louisiana’s strategy for developing high-growth sectors, including digital media, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and modular nuclear power plant components,” Rogers said. The Business Facilities editor noted that Louisiana “has emerged unbowed from a series of disasters that would have brought less-determined locations to their knees—including a major hurricane, an oil spill and the national economic downturn—and charted a course for the future that positions the state to be a national leader for years to come.” “This is a remarkable achievement,” he added. “Well done, Louisiana!” Gov. Bobby Jindal hailed the State of the Year Award as “yet another example of the better Louisiana we are building for our children.” “Since day one, we have made economic development our top priority by cutting taxes, revamping workforce training, and reforming our ethics code,” Gov. Jindal said. “We’ve made incredible progress and fostered an economic environment that is creating opportunity for our people, but we will not rest until all of our sons and daughters can pursue their dreams right here at home.” Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Stephen Moret said the State of the Year Award is proof that Louisiana is “closing the gap between the perception and reality of [its] business climate.” “This terrific news is a reflection of Louisiana’s continued economic progress during a difficult national economic period,” Moret said. “This recognition is in large part the result of recent economic competitiveness improvements in Louisiana, including business tax cuts, governmental ethics reform, the creation of LED FastStart and our focus on business retention and expansion.” Louisiana’s FastStart program was cited by Business Facilities in its annual State Rankings earlier this year, earning the Bayou State the […]
Amazon.com Inc. will build two new distribution centers in Chattanooga and neighboring Bradley County. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Seattle-based online company plans to spend up to $139 million on the projects that will create up to 1,400 jobs in the next three years, in addition to hundreds of other peak season positions. Amazon.com’s North American Operations vice president Dave Clark said in the statement that the new facilities in Tennessee will allow the Seattle-based online company to “serve customers more quickly and efficiently.” The distribution centers are expected to be in operation before the 2011 holiday season at Enterprise South Industrial Park in Chattanooga and on State Route 308 in Bradley County. Attracting Amazon was a team effort from jurisdictions representing Cleveland, Chattanooga, Bradley County, Hamilton County, the chambers of commerce in both Cleveland and Chattanooga, and the state of Tennessee, including the Office of Economic and Community Development and Gov. Phil Bredesen. In addition to state funding for roads and other infrastructure upgrades, Amazon.com negotiated local tax incentives for both locations. In Chattanooga, the company’s local property tax abatement totals about $10 million over 11 years, while Amazon.com has committed to investing about $91 million and spending about $488 million in payroll. “Amazon.com’s investment is good for the people of our region not only because it represents new jobs, but also because it is a major investment by a world-class company that stretches across county lines,” Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said in the statement. In Bradley County, Amazon.com is receiving a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years that totals about $2.4 million while making a $48 million investment. With 226 full-time employees and hundreds more seasonally, the new center is expected to generate an annual payroll of about $10.3 million. Doug Berry, the Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development, said there will be “about $800,000 a year of tax gain from this operation.” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out that although the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Bradley County will be located outside the Cleveland city limits, the residents of Cleveland will still benefit along with all residents of the county.
WebFilings LLC has announced plans to bring 250 jobs to Ames, Iowa. Created in 2008, the software company that helps customers file electronic documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission has received a $2.26 million grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The expansion will include constructing a 51,000-square-foot building to house offices, common meeting and gathering spaces and exercise and culinary facilities. Company managing director and CEO Matt Rizai said that with the grant in place along with about $12.5 million in additional financing, WebFilings can ramp up to serve a burgeoning market of customers. He said that since WebFilings launched its service in March, they “…did not expect near the kind of demand” they are experiencing. A requirement of the package was that the minimum hourly wage of the new jobs be at least $20.84. The high-tech, Web-based technical support, software writing, and sales and marketing positions are expected to be added in the next four years. Rizai said “…these are high-paying jobs that require people with a lot of talent and a lot of experience, and we plan to (hire people) who live both in and out of Iowa.” Six of the WebFilings’ founders were part of a group that started Engineering Animation Inc. in Ames in 1989, which grew to a public company and was then sold to EDS, now part of Siemens, in 2000. “Because we’d been involved in Engineering Animation, we knew the kind of talent that was here in Ames, and that’s a big reason why we came here,” Rizai said. “We’re also here to perform, grow jobs and build a great company.” The sheer size of the project was a challenge, said Steve Carter, director of the Iowa State University Research Park Corporation. “[WebFilings] started with about 20 employees. Now they have somewhere north of 150 paying customers and about 70 employees. This kind of growth is unprecedented here.” Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Ames Economic Development Commission, said WebFilings’ potential for job creation is among the biggest ever announced by an Ames company. He added that the prospect of additional related development is exciting as well. Carter said the biggest issue was to “get everybody involved to get their heads wrapped around what kind of project this is and the scope of what it is they were dealing with.” He said that to its credit, the state economic development office worked to understand the proposal and become part of a team effort to […]
A $1.3 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy helps back what will be one of the world’s largest wind farms, the U.S. Energy Secretary has confirmed. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the loan would finance the construction of the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind farm in Oregon. Chu said investing in renewable energy projects like the Oregon wind farm would give the United States an advantage in a clean energy economy. “By leveraging our nation’s vast natural resources, we can help provide alternative sources of energy and stimulate economic growth and job creation,” he said in a statement. The wind farm will be situated on 32,000 acres south of the Columbia River. More than 330 wind turbines will spin to generate 845 megawatts of electricity. The wind farm will avoid more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is the same as pulling 200,000 cars off the road, the Energy Department said. “When it is completed, Shepherds Flat will be one of the largest windmill farms in the world and will put Oregon on the map as a leader in green energy,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The project will sell 100 percent of the power from the wind farm to utility Southern California Edison under a 20-year contract. Neither the Energy Department nor the project company, Caithness Development, LLC, offered a timeline for the project in their announcements.
Ford Motor Co. has announced it will produce the next generation of its Escape SUV in Louisville, KY, investing $600 million in its Louisville Assembly Plant, according to a report in Kansas City Business Journal. The move is a setback for Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, MO, which now produces the midsized SUV. The loss of the Escape, without another line to take its place, could affect half of the local plant’s 3,700 employees. However, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans told Business Journal that Ford doesn’t plan to abandon Kansas City. “We will be building a new product in Kansas City, but it’s too early for us to say what that product will be,” Evans said. David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said he remains “extremely optimistic” about the KC plant’s future. Ford said its investment in the Louisville Assembly Plant will make it the company’s most flexible, high-volume plant in the world. Its initial product will be the next-generation Ford Escape, and the plant will complete its transformation in time to restart production in 2011, the company said. Retooling and construction will begin in mid-December. Ford plans to hire an additional 1,800 employees and add an extra shift of production in Louisville. “The 1,800 additional jobs are expected to be filled through a combination of transferring employees from other facilities, re-activating workers on indefinite layoff at the time of launch and hiring new workers,” the company said in the release. In June 2010, the United Auto Workers posted an online newsletter voicing its concern that the Missouri General Assembly killed the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act in May because Ford was planning to move Escape production to Louisville. Gov. Jay Nixon called the General Assembly into special sections and passed the Jobs Act, which included as much as $100 million for Ford if it would reinvest in the Kansas City Assembly Plant and maintain or add jobs there. Ford started an application for the Jobs Act funds in November, but indicated that its application did not signify a commitment to invest in the plant, but rather the company wanted to make certain that it is eligible to receive tax credits for a future investment.
Chicago-based Klein Tools Inc. will invest $76 million into developing an advanced manufacturing technology center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The new facility will create 585 jobs in Mansfield, TX and have a projected net economic impact $4.5 billion to the state for the first 10 years of the center’s operation. Klein received $2.8 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, which bases its awards on job creation and the recipient’s ability to meet employment goals. The 153-year-old company will focus on development of cutting edge manufacturing processes. Klein produces professional hand tools and is a leader in areas such as forging, automation and machining and grinding.
Twenty million years ago, the oceans covered the area now known as Panama, flowing through a large gap in the continents of North and South America. Beneath the surface, two plates of the Earth’s crust were slowly colliding with each other, forcing the Pacific plate to slide under the Caribbean plate. The pressure and heat produced by this collision spawned underwater volcanoes. About 15 million years ago, some of these volcanoes grew tall enough to break the surface, forming a chain of islands. The islands gradually filled out as the two tectonic plates pushed up the sea floor, and, about three million years ago, the Isthmus of Panama emerged from the sea, a narrow strip of land dividing the two great oceans. According to scientists, the formation of the Isthmus of Panama was one of the most important geologic events on Earth in the past 60 million years, with great impact on the planet’s climate and environment. The sliver of land re-routed the currents of the great oceans, creating the Gulf Stream and warming the denizens of northwestern Europe. Biodiversity on the continents increased exponentially, as animals were able to migrate on land to all corners of the world. Nobody complained about this magnificently unfolding ecosystem until the guys with boats arrived. In the late 19th century, global commerce was carried on ships. Because there was no easy way to get from the Pacific to the Atlantic and vice versa, these ships had to travel thousands of miles out of their way to reach their destinations, through treacherous waters at the bottom of South America near Antarctica. This nagging problem was solved by one of the greatest feats in the history of human engineering, with a big assist from a political force of nature named Theodore Roosevelt. On August 14, 1914, the Panama Canal was completed, opening a 48-mile waterway between the two oceans and revolutionizing international commerce. Over the past century, the waterway cutting through the Isthmus has been a reliable and indispensable artery for the world’s goods. But, like all arteries, it became clogged as traffic–and, more importantly, the size of ships–increased. Today, this problem is being addressed with a $5.25-billion expansion of the Panama Canal that is scheduled to be completed on the Canal’s 100th anniversary in August 2014. The expansion will permit large ships from Asia to travel directly to East Coast destinations instead of offloading their goods on the West Coast and shipping them across the country by rail and road. The impending unveiling […]
HFL Sport Science Inc. has cut the ribbon on a new laboratory in Lexington, KY that will provide drug surveillance, doping control and research to equine and other sports industries. The lab, which represents a more than $4 million investment, will create 48 new jobs, including 25 high-tech positions, paying an average salary of over $47,000, exclusive of benefits. “HFL is establishing a world-class bioanalytical laboratory to deliver doping control and associated research for horseracing in Kentucky and nationwide,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Their testing services for various sport science activities, such as checking horse feed and sport supplements for banned substances, will help ensure the equine industry remains healthy, while also helping preserve and create high-paying, high-tech jobs for Kentucky residents.” In March 2010, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission selected HFL to provide drug testing for Kentucky race tracks. The lab will begin processing samples in February 2011. In addition to developing laboratory screening tests for fitness and nutritional health, HFL plans to provide services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. The company also anticipates research collaborations with the University of Kentucky, which will improve the basic understanding of issues relating to doping control in equine, canine and human sports. “We at HFL are truly delighted to be partnering with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in creating a world class Racing Chemistry Laboratory in Lexington,” said Dr. David Hall, CEO of HFL Sport Science Ltd in the United Kingdom, and HFL Sport Science Inc. in Kentucky. “We anticipate that our partnership and research-led approach will quickly bring benefits to racing in Kentucky, and are eager to investigate the benefits of forging the transatlantic link with racing in the United Kingdom. It must be noted that the support that we have received from the Cabinet for Economic Development, Commerce Lexington and the wider community has been tremendous, making the start up in Lexington a remarkably smooth process.” HFL’s parent company, HFL Sport Science Ltd, is based in Fordham, near Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, and has more than 40 years of continuous experience in the science of sports doping control. This includes experience testing within the framework of the World Anti-Doping Agency and testing human and animal food supplements for substances prohibited in sports. The company also delivers both operational screening services and innovative research into prohibited substance detection. “This announcement once again illustrates the power of the horse industry and of University of Kentucky brainpower to attract good jobs to Lexington,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. “After all, we […]
Utah-based Internet retailer Overstock.com Inc. says it plans to double its software engineering staff by hiring 150 people. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development says the new jobs will bring Overstock a tax credit worth more than $1 million over 10 years. Overstock says it will hire most of the Java software engineers in the next 12 months. Provo Mayor John R. Curtis says he’s delighted Overstock chose his city to expand the software operation. Overstock and officials made the announcement Thursday.
A Mississippi-based chicken processing company plans to open a plant in Bastrop, LA that will create 317 jobs. Hazlehurst-based DG Foods Ltd. said it will spend $9.7 million for the plant, the second recent chicken processing project to receive state economic incentives to operate in northeastern Louisiana. DG Foods plans to renovate an 88,000-square-foot building with full operations beginning in July 2011. The project will provide a needed boost to Morehouse Parish following the 2008 closure of an International Paper mill that had been the parish’s largest employer with 550 jobs, Kay King, head of the parish’s economic development agency, told Bloomberg News. DG Foods is receiving a $700,000 state loan for the building and a forgivable $2.85 million loan for building improvements and is eligible for state industrial tax exemptions and work force training programs. State officials said both loans are based on the company following through on its plan and reaching hiring goals. The city of Bastrop has committed to infrastructure improvements and sewer upgrades. Earlier this year, DG Foods announced a $2.78 million expansion of its plant south of Jackson, Miss., adding 200 jobs to a payroll of 350 employees with an incentive package from state and local governments. The company was founded in 2004 by three veteran poultry executives and currently processes about 250 million tons annually.