Tag: NJ

Jersey City, NJ

Metro Spotlight

The Real State of Commercial Real Estate

In our fifth annual top executive interview, Ross Moore, executive vice president at Colliers International, answers some tough questions about one of the nation's hardest-hit markets: commercial real estate.

Just another word for nothin’ left to lose

Mike Bloomberg grew up in Boston, but he pretends to be a New Yorker.
The mayor of New York lives in a ritzy townhouse on the upper east side of Manhattan, but he pretends to be a man of the people and rides the subway down to City Hall every day. Bloomberg pretended to put his financial information empire into a blind trust when he became mayor, but then he put a deputy mayor in charge of it so he could keep a close eye on his billions. The mayor told us that maintaining law and order in the nation's largest city was one of his biggest priorities, then he financed a clumsy amendment to the city charter so he could run for a third term. Most of the people who were planning to run for the position dropped out when Mike started rattling his awesome money belt. Mike has palatial estates in several countries, including Bermuda and Switzerland, but as far as we know he still is an American citizen. Last week, Bloomberg put his imprimatur on the city's latest scheme to bail out the embarrassing mess it has made of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. For almost eight years now, since Osama bin Laden dispatched his suicide pilots to murder nearly 3,000 people in New York City, the 16-acre site in lower Manhattan has been an empty hole, a gaping wound in the national psyche. Within a few months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Bloomberg unveiled a grand design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. It included a bevy of modern skyscrapers, a soaring billion-dollar train station designed by Santiago Calatrava, and a somber memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack. The centerpiece of the planned WTC rebirth was a majestic, gleaming spire of a building that would rise a symbolic 1,776 feet, making it the tallest structure in New York. We were told it would be called the Freedom Tower. Last week, the city announced it finally has found a primary tenant for the Freedom Tower, for which about 10 stories of steel foundation work has been completed thus far. Some business entities controlled by the People's Republic of China will move into the new skyscraper, assuming it is completed on schedule on or about the tenth anniversary of the September 11 atrocities. An outfit called the Beijing Vantone Real Estate Company plans to build the ''China Center'', a combination chamber of commerce and cultural center, on floors 64 through 69 of the Freedom Tower, at the southeast corner of West and Vesey Streets. ''The China Center will be a gateway for Chinese corporations doing business in the U.S. or U.S. companies that want to understand the Chinese culture and do business there,'' said Xue Ya, project director for the China Center. At the same time that it announced the deal for the China Center, the Freedom Tower's landlord -- the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- also declared that the new building will not be called the Freedom Tower. Henceforth, the property will be known by its legal address, One World Trade Center, the Port Authority said. Of course, this is strictly a coincidence. Bloomberg and other city officials insist that erasing the word ''freedom'' from the name of the tower has nothing to do with the fact that its newest tenant represents an entity that continues to steadfastly deny any semblence of freedom to 1.3 billion people on this planet. They were applauded by The New York Times, which suggested on its editorial page that suitable tenants at the building formerly known as the Freedom Tower ''might balk at a name with such potent ideological symbolism.'' Besides, Bloomberg said, New Yorkers will call the building whatever they want. ''They don't call Sixth Avenue the Avenue of the Americas, do they?'' he helpfully pointed out. Is that a faint smile we see on the face of the wax dummy in the glass case in Lenin's Tomb? After he murdered the czar's family, Lenin famously said ''the capitalists will sell us the rope we hang them with.'' Since Mike says we can call the new building whatever we want, we're going to tip our hat to Chinese culture and the courageous city officials who felt free to desecrate the place in New York where so many people took their last breath of freedom. We'll call it ''The Kowtower.'' As in kowtow, an ancient Chinese word that, according to Mr. Webster, means: ''To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of submission, as formerly done in China.'' ''To show servile deference.'' ''An obsequious act.'' That about says it all.

Growth Magnets

In hard times, economic development specialists have created unique and innovative incentive packages to help ease the financial burden on existing companies and make it attractive for new ones to locate to their states.

60 Seconds with Steve McKenna, Allied Van Lines, Vice President of Pricing and Contracts

BF: What economic advantages does Texas offer that have kept the state atop Allied's relocation destination list for the last four years? SM: Texas is often at the top our list due to a number of factors. First, it's a large state with a large population; therefore, it's likely to have a greater percentage of activity. The large metropolitan areas in Texas have diversified their economies over the last 20 years so that they are not as dependent on oil, making Texas more attractive to corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations. Homeland security also has generated more economic opportunities in Texas and other border states. For the consumer, Texas offers no income tax, lower property costs, and a lower cost of living than northern and western regions of the United States. BF: What are some factors causing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania to experience the highest outbound relocation losses? SM: Michigan and Pennsylvania, like other areas dependent on heavy manufacturing and the auto industry, have been in decline for a number of years. With a push by retirees to head south and corporations looking south for lower costs, the Northeast and Midwest feel the negative effects of the migration patterns. BF: Based on Allied's survey, the top three US magnets (Texas, North Carolina and Virginia) are Southern states. If not coincidental, to what can you attribute this regional relocation trend? SM: The Southern economy offers a lower cost of living, a more temperate climate, and diversified metropolitan areas that have become more sophisticated.  Retirees are targeting the Carolinas as well as other non-traditional destinations such as Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama. The trend is real and is brought even more to light in the wake of the current economic condition.

Texas on Top

More people chose to relocate to Texas than any other state in 2008, according to Allied Van Lines' 41st Annual Magnet States Report released in January. The report tracks US migration patterns, and Texas snagged the top spot for the fourth consecutive year. Texas achieved the highest net relocation gain (inbound moves minus outbound moves performed by Allied) of 1,903 in 2008. Also for the fourth year in a row, North Carolina placed second on the list with a net relocation gain of 800, followed by Virginia in third place with a gain of 398. Colorado and Oregon placed fourth and fifth respectively for states with the largest net relocation gains. "Texas truly offers such a wide range of activities for its residents," says David King, general manager of Berger Transfer and Storage, Allied's largest booking and hauling agent, located in Houston. The largest net relocation losses (more outbound than inbound shipments) were experienced by Michigan. Auto industry difficulties most likely continued to hurt relocations to Michigan in 2008, as Allied's outbound shipments of 2,388 nearly doubled its inbound shipments of 1,181. Pennsylvania experienced the second largest net relocation loss with 855 more outbound than inbound moves, followed by New Jersey (738) and Illinois (551).

You’ve got a new partner, Bjorn

In the opening scene of one of our all-time favorite TV series, mob boss Tony Soprano is chasing a guy through a Jersey parking lot with a baseball bat. The guy owes Tony some vigorish.

Vigorish is local vernacular for the weekly interest payments that loan sharks charge to their borrower community. These payments don't actually reduce the amount owed, they are kind of an ''insurance policy'' -- as in, you pay the vig and you can keep your kneecaps for another week.

The global financial catastrophe took an interesting turn this week, when Iceland became the first country to officially go belly up. With the country's banks melting like salt in its famous volcanic hot springs and its currency, the krona, collapsing, Iceland sent out a financial 911 call to Europe's central bankers.

The Europeans, busy arguing over whether the continent's financial Maginot Line will be located in Britain or Germany, told their insolvent cousins in Iceland to call back later.

So the government of Iceland did what anyone desperate for cash might do. No, they didn't sell grandma's wedding ring to the local metals trader, now offering almost $900 an ounce for gold. They asked Boris and Natasha to give them Vladimir Putin's phone number.

After some brief consultations with their new friend in Moscow, Iceland's leaders hastily announced that oil-rich Russia had agreed to loan the country $5.4 billion, roughly the equivalent of a third of Iceland's GDP. Prime Minister Geir Haarde said he had no choice: Iceland's banks had run up debts that totaled 12 times the size of the country's economy.

Not so fast, said the Russians.

Deputy Finance Minister Dmitry Pankin cleared his throat in Moscow and informed the world that no decision has been taken on the loan to Iceland, though his government ''may consider one in theory.'' This requires ''the approval of many agencies [in the Russian government] and is not a decision that can be made quickly,'' Pankin added.

Here's a ''theory:'' the agencies that must approve this decision are all named Putin, and the decision will be made as fast as the Russian navy can open its new base in Reykjavik.

Boris gets the volcanic waste management franchise and Natasha will be the executive director of Iceland's new Museum of Trucking and Industry.

Garden State Uses New Initiatives to Grow City Centers

Governor Jon Corzine is making a major effort to turn urban blight into a "gold mine" for companies relocating to big cities.

Foreign-Trade Zones—Global Expansion at Reduced Cost

Economic developers can leverage the benefits of FTZs to attract jobs and investment, while facilitating maintenance and expansion of their industrial base.

Rebuilding of World Trade Center site is still years away

Within months of the hideous terrorist attack in 2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center, state and city officials in New York unveiled ambitious plans to build five new skyscrapers, a solemn memorial, and a gleaming new transit hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava at the 16-acre site that is known as Ground Zero. The plans called for two reflecting pools that would sit atop the Twin Tower footprints next to the entrance to a permanent memorial to the 2,751 victims of the September 11 atrocities in New York. The new Freedom Tower would rise a symbolic 1,776 feet over the Manhattan skyline. Calatrava's breathtaking design for the train station features the wings of a birdlike structure over a huge glass-covered portal. Seven years after the attack, while some foundation work has been started, the only things that seems to be rising at the mainly empty site are construction estimates for the project. City and state officials, meanwhile, continue to argue over who is to blame. Earlier this week, in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed scaling back the multibillion-dollar transit hub and abolishing the agency that approved the redevelopment plans for Ground Zero. Bloomberg wants to end the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.'s (LMDC) role at the World Trade Center site in order to ''eliminate one redundant layer of bureaucracy'' that has stalled rebuilding. The mayor also said that the underground mezzanine of the commuter transit hub, which overlaps with the Sept. 11 memorial, ''is too complicated to build.'' Bloomberg, who helped raise $350 million in private funds to build the memorial, said officials should commit to opening the memorial by the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in 2011. The city has been mud-wrestling for seven years with state development officials, a private developer and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over the WTC site. Three months ago, Gov. David Paterson of New York ordered the Port Authority to re-evaluate all the Ground Zero projects. His predecessor as governor, Eliot Spitzer, branded the LMDC ''an abject failure.'' According to the Port Authority, all of the projects are ''over budget and behind schedule,'' including the transit hub, now said to cost at least $1 billion more than its original $2.5 billion estimate. The only thing certain at this point is that in coming months there will be more official reports, dire predictions and finger-pointing from political leaders and developers. The people who died at the World Trade Center—and the rest of us, who all want to see a proper memorial and the symbolic and tangible rebirth that the site plans envision—deserve better.

Cali is Growing Smarter by the Mile

When I was an undergraduate student in Bethlehem, PA, I made a friend from California who told me something I still remember to this day: "You belong in Los Angeles." I didn't understand fully what she meant, and she didn't elaborate. I had always been an East Coast guy—raised at the Jersey shore, and spending a lot of my teenage years and early twenties in the glorious frenzy of Manhattan. But shortly after graduating from college, I boarded a jumbo jet in Newark and soon descended into LAX. I was awestruck by California's natural beauty—the tallest palm trees I had ever seen soared into the pink-tinged, dusky sky. My friend picked me up in an Infiniti, we opened the moonroof and windows, and hit the highway to Pasadena! We also hit traffic. A lot of traffic. My friend said, "There are more cars than people in LA." Impossible, I thought. But an hour later, I believed her. "You need a car to live in LA," she said. "Why don't people use public transportation?" I asked. My friend looked at me in incredulous horror. "There are buses," she admitted. "But no one would be caught dead in them." Turns out that I do love California. From the over-the-top glamor of Hollywood to the beaches and art of Laguna, way up to the vibrant hodgepodge of San Francisco, Cali is an amazing state. But the state of its traffic problem is dire (as is NYC/NJ at rush hour, admittedly). Fortunately, California is on the verge of passing a bill that will mandate "smart growth" throughout the state. This trailblazing land-use initiative of Sen. Darrell Steinberg will require each metro region to enact a "sustainable community strategy" that will encourage development of compact housing options closer to where people work. Shorter commutes equal less greenhouse gas emissions and less traffic. In the urban/suburban sprawls of Los Angeles County, this plan could make residents breathe much more easily—cleaner air and less road rage. For a more detailed explanation of the smart growth proposal, you can check out this article from the LA Times. Business Facilities LiveXchange conference, held in Huntington Beach, CA this November, also will address the topic of smart growth. Here's an inside peek at our expert speaker.

Editors’ Location Picks 2008

These gems didn't just catch our eye with a quick flash. Their consistent economic development sparkle earned them front-and-center display in our annual showcase.

Bioscience: Building Block for Growth

The biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors have become engines for economic development across the country.

Financial Centers: Critical Mass is Key

With so many new financial centers emerging in secondary cities around the U.S., where will your new location be?

2008 Mayors’ Report

Featuring reports from the Mayors of Jersey City, NJ, Decatur, IL, and New Lenox, IL

New Jersey Corporate Moves

Novo Opts to Grow in the Garden State

In March, health care company Novo Nordisk announced plans to expand its U.S. headquarters in Princeton, NJ to accommodate future growth. In the past five years, the company has experienced a 150% increase in workers at its headquarters, where around 700 people are employed. The new building will have the capacity for more than 400 employees and feature an in-house training facility capable of training 100 employees simultaneously. Novo had been considering sites in Pennsylvania, California, and Massachusetts for the project. Novo Nordisk was offered a Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Act Grant of $420,000 and an estimated sales tax exemption of $1.39 million to assist with its expansion. The company is also eligible for $5.4 million in Business Employment Incentive Program assistance. “We consider the state of New Jersey and our local community key contributors to our vision, as they have been exemplary partners and have supported and encouraged Novo Nordisk’s growth in the area,” says Jerzy Gruhn, president of Novo Nordisk, Inc. Novo Nordisk’s new facility is the first of five five-story buildings to be completed at the Princeton Corporate Campus, an 800,000-square-foot master-planned office development located in Plainsboro, NJ.

Tax-Exempt Bonds Yield New Jobs at Tris Pharma

Tris Pharma, Inc. revealed its plans late last year to ramp up its pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity with the help of $4.9 million in tax-exempt bonds issued under the state’s Edison Innovation Fund. The company anticipates that the resulting manufacturing expansion will result in more than 50 new jobs at the site. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) has supported the growth and development of Tris Pharma, Inc. since March 2002, and has helped the company grow from a staff of eight to more than 70 over the past five years. “The availability of low-cost capital in the form of tax-exempt bonds is a great opportunity for companies like us and helps add manufacturing capacity right here at home in New Jersey,” says Ketan Mehta, CEO of Tris Pharma, Inc. “This is the second time we have been a beneficiary of EDA’s bond program. Our continued investment in first-rate technology infrastructure is greatly facilitated by this bond-financing. The bonds, directly purchased by The Provident Bank, were issued for 10 years with a fixed, low-interest rate and interest-only payments due for the first three months. The EDA also provided a $1 million guarantee.”

Innovation Fund to Aid Tech Company Expansion

In April, the New Jersey EDA closed a $1 million Edison Innovation Fund investment to assist New Providence, NJ-based Elanti Systems, Inc., which offers management solutions to service providers. The financing from the EDA will enable Elanti to create 38 new jobs in New Jersey over the next two years. “New Jersey EDA’s commitment to innovative technology and Elanti Systems enables us to continue to grow and meet the needs of service providers around the world. Elanti’s growth will ensure new jobs for New Jersey,” says Elanti Systems, Inc. CEO Michael Jaschke. The Edison Innovation Fund, a key element of Governor Jon S. Corzine’s Economic Growth Strategy, was created to support technology and life sciences companies throughout their discovery, development, and commercialization stages. The fund will use $350 million in private capital for emerging companies, as well as existing mid- and large-sized technology and life science businesses.

Funding Allows DMD to Bring New Technologies to Market

In January, Franklin Township, NJ-based Dynamic Mobile Data Systems, Inc. (DMD), a technology company that develops mobile resource management solutions for mid-size to large enterprises, was approved for a $750,000 Edison Innovation Fund investment to help with its expansion project. The $750,000 will be used to supplement financing for development and marketing of a new enterprise software product suite that will permit users to customize wireless data communications to their individual needs. As a result of the Edison Innovation Fund investment, DMD estimates that 15 new jobs will be created during the next two years in the state. “We were delighted to work with the [New Jersey Economic Development Authority] to assist with our funding needs,” says Kim Mills, president and CEO of DMD. DMD is located within the Greater New Brunswick, NJ area’s Edison Innovation Zone, one of three “technology neighborhoods” in the state. In these zones, academic and research institutions can work with companies to develop and market new products or services while enjoying certain financial incentives and other benefits. The zones were created in 2004 within the cities of Camden and Newark as well as the greater New Brunswick area. Edison Innovation Zones are a joint effort between several state agencies, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology.

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 expanding companies looking for easy access to transport routes for their shipping and distribution centers, I found it troubling, though perhaps not surprising, that our major cities and ports are suffering from the severe congestion of their surrounding highways, many of which are operating at 90% or more of their traffic capacity. Almost the whole stretch of Interstate 95 from New York City to Richmond, VA is exceeding its capacity, as are highway connections snaking around Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta, among others. Road congestion is also slowing up port activity in New York, New Jersey, and southern California, according to the Walker report. Here is the kicker: in 2005, President Bush commissioned a team to examine the U.S. highway infrastructure problems. Three years later, the findings still have not been released—that's a long time to be sitting in gridlock!

60 Seconds with Mark O’Connell, CEO of OCO Global

Mark O'Connell is the CEO of OCO Global, a consulting firm he founded in 2001 that specializes in international investment and trade. O’Connell also oversees the operations of Mintel International Group in Ireland. BF: In 2007, the United States saw a 20% increase in FDI from 2006. Is this an unusually large increase and, if so, what factors do you think account for it? O'Connell: The United States currently offers a bargain to international investors; the weak dollar, combined with the slowdown in the U.S. economy, is creating a unique opportunity for foreign companies to establish a U.S. presence. Property is relatively cheap and investors can negotiate since it’s a buyer’s market. Skills are abundant since many U.S. firms are not hiring, and some in the financial services are shedding jobs, making labor costs more competitive. Economic development organizations in the worst-affected states will sell their grannies to get new jobs and investment, so big incentives are on the table. We expect 2008 to be another strong year for inbound FDI to the U.S. BF: California, New York, and Texas attract the most U.S. FDI. What other states can you identify as possible alternatives for foreign companies to consider? O'Connell: Arguably, some of these front runner states are over shopped and over heated from an FDI perspective. We are seeing shrewd investors look at overspill states like Arizona and Nevada, where you can still find skills and quality without paying California prices. Florida and Georgia also offer excellent gateways for investors to the wider Southeast U.S. and Latin America. Lastly, New York has some stiff competition in financial and business services from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England, which offer lower costs with often better operating environments and skills. BF: What can states with smaller economies do to lure foreign investment? O'Connell: The best advice here is to specialize—choose one or two sectors or activities where you can shine and demonstrate competitive advantage to investors. Get to know those sectors and the business issues that need to be addressed. Then prepare your short list of active companies and build relationships directly with these companies and their advisors. BF: Why do you think the Asia-Pacific region attracts 40% of the world's FDI? (I assume it's more complicated than just being the largest land mass.) O'Connell: Many commentators assume all the FDI flows to Asia are cost seeking projects. Undoubtedly, in the past much of the volumes of FDI flowing into China and India have been precisely that. However, we are increasingly seeing Asian regions at the table for much more sophisticated technology driven investment such as R&D, software development, regional headquarters and so forth. Indeed, Singapore is a world class region for biotech and is far from being a low cost economy, while Hong Kong would give New York and London a run for their money as a world city with first class infrastructure and a highly dynamic economy. And apart from relatively low cost, the growth rates of the APAC economies are a huge catalyst for consumer demand, so much investment is market led. BF: What countries are emerging as challengers to FDI-leading countries like China, India, and the United States? What are these emerging countries doing to attract investment? O'Connell: Russia has to be taken very seriously as a player, and the distracting political noises often get in the way of a rampant economic success story that is hugely attractive for investors both in energy and infrastructure, but equally in technology and consumer sectors. The Middle East continues to lure investors with the promise of petrodollars and sovereign wealth for spectacular infrastructure and tourism projects. In Europe, Germany and France have shown better form recently as important sources of outbound FDI. However, the world is specializing and investors are becoming increasingly savvy about the FDI landscape and what projects are suitable in which locations, so it is important for EDOs to figure out where they sit in the global value chain and compete accordingly.

Foreign Direct Investment Projects by Country, 2007

1. China (1,171) 2. USA (783) 3. India (676) 4. UK (622) 5. France (556) 6. Germany (432) 7. Spain (379) 8. Romania (364) 9. Russia (361) 10. Poland (330) 11. UAE (271) 12. Vietnam (260) 13. Singapore (239) 14. Hungary (217) 15. Mexico/Belgium (206) Source: OCO Global Ltd. Based on Greenfield FDI projects.

Investing Around the World

In March, OCO Global, an authority on foreign investment, released its 2007 global foreign direct investment (FDI) guide. (For a partial ranking of this data, entitled Most Foreign Direct Investment Projects by Country, see chart at bottom right.) Further analysis of the guide offers insight into how countries fared in other categories like jobs created and dollars invested. Global FDI grew by 5.1% in 2007, creating 2.9 million new jobs. Over 100,000 of these jobs were in the United States, representing $46.8 billion in investment, a 20% increase from 2006. California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania drew the most foreign investment. Japan, Germany, and the UK were the top investors in the U.S., bringing in companies like Toyota, Tesco, Vodafone, and BAE Systems. China led both the Asia-Pacific and world markets in 2007 by ranking first in number of total projects (1,171), new jobs (366,111), and investment ($90.4 billion). India lost the top spot to China in the jobs created category due to a 45% drop from its 2006 figures, but the subcontinent still attracted nearly 250,000 new jobs last year. Europe led the world with 5,384 total FDI deals in 2007, followed by the Asia-Pacific region with 3,402, and North America with 935. Latin America had 777 deals, while the Middle East landed 486 and Africa struck 380, a 16% drop from 2006.

Now, Only the Brownfields Remain

Saw this article in The New York Times today; it's about how New Jersey's brownfield redevelopment incentives didn't do much during the 1990s, but now that there's hardly any greenfield space left in the state, developers are giving them a shot. I think it's kind of unfortunate that the easiest way for a developer to earn back their 75% of cleanup cost is by putting retail on the site. I live in New Jersey, and let me tell you, we have enough retail. Can't they change the way the money is generated to give a boost to industrial or high-tech office work development? Companies that build a factory or research center on a brownfield site should be able to get their three-quarters cleanup reimbursement faster, not slower, than a speculative developer building yet another strip mall. Oh, and I should say (in defense of the Garden State) that when I wrote that there's no greenfield space left to develop on, that's not because we have no green space at all--it's just that so much of the prime stuff has been protected by law (hurray). As the most densely populated state in the country ("New Jersey's density is currently 1,165 people per square mile—denser than both India (at 914) and Japan (835). No other state even comes close." - NY Times), we could be at the forefront of what development along the Bos-Wash corridor is going to look like soon.

Jersey City, NJ

Metro Spotlight

60 Seconds with Ezra Green, CEO of Clear Skies Holdings, Inc.

Ezra Green has been involved with renewable energy companies for seven years and founded Clear Skies in 2003. Prior to Clear Skies, Green was a successful entrepreneur who founded TAL Design & Construction in 1990.

AMERICA'S 15 “GREENEST” STATES 2007-2008

1. Vermont 2. Oregon 3. Washington 4. Hawaii 5. Maryland 6. Connecticut 7. New Jersey 8. Rhode Island 9. New York 10. Arizona 11. Massachusetts 12. Idaho 13. Colorado 14. California 15. Minnesota Source: Forbes, October 2007 States were ranked in six equally weighted categories: carbon footprint, air quality, water quality, hazardous waste management, policy initiatives, and energy consumption.
BF: Besides being environmentally responsible, what are some reasons or incentives for businesses to go green? GREEN: Money is a huge factor. If someone is in business, you need to assume they are a capitalist of some sort. Solar energy, for example, saves large sums of money on monthly utility bills as time goes on, and it also adds to the value of the real estate. Furthermore, businesses can advertise that they are using solar energy, which is gaining respect and growing by leaps and bounds in the business arena. As such, companies receive recognition as being good corporate citizens and stewards of the environment. BF: How can businesses reduce their upfront costs when going green or, more specifically, installing solar energy systems? GREEN: Several forms of financing are available for businesses to install solar energy systems, making it so businesses incur little, if any, upfront costs for installing the system. These financing options are structured in accordance with businesses’ individual needs. If a business is very profitable, we recommend self-financing. If they have little or no profit, we suggest leasing, and in a few years they will start increasing their savings, which is as good as cash. The Power Purchase Agreement exists for non-profits who have a system installed at no cost and then purchase the electricity produced from the system at a predetermined discounted rate. The Clear Skies Group’s experts can help clients determine which form of financing will best suit their needs. BF: What advice would you give to a business that wants to go green, but doesn’t know where to start? GREEN: I suggest starting with solar and have a utility-provided efficiency person to inspect the premises for money-losing issues, such as poor insulation or window and door leaks. Since electricity is the most expensive form of energy that we use and cannot do without, why not make it yourself? With generous rebates available and high costs for traditional energy sources, there is no reason not to go solar.

Hawaii’s Clean-Up Act

By Bill Trüb

In January, Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a long-term partnership to make the Aloha State a “world model” for clean energy economies. Hawaii has set a goal of producing 70% of its energy needs through green methods—such as solar, water, wind, and geothermal power— by the year 2030. This shift would reduce the island state’s oil consumption by an estimated 70% and make it an exemplar of energy independence. With assistance from experts in clean energy technology development and partnerships in both the public and private sectors, Hawaii and the DOE plan to: • Design cost-effective ways to exclusively use renewable energy on smaller islands; • Design systems to improve the stability of electric grids operating with variable generating sources, such as wind power plants on the islands of Hawaii and Maui; • Minimize energy use while maximizing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at new military housing developments; • Expand Hawaii’s capability to use locally grown crops and byproducts for producing fuel and electricity; and • Assist in the development of a comprehensive energy regulatory and policy framework for promoting clean energy technology use.

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