Content related to ‘NJ’

Just another word for nothin’ left to lose

Just another word for nothin’ left to lose Posted on:

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… …Read More…

Growth Magnets

Growth Magnets Posted on:

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

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

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… …Read More…

You’ve got a new partner, Bjorn

You’ve got a new partner, Bjorn Posted on:

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.

Rebuilding of World Trade Center site is still years away

Rebuilding of World Trade Center site is still years away Posted on:

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… …Read More…

Cali is Growing Smarter by the Mile

Cali is Growing Smarter by the Mile Posted on:

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.