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 Feature Industry Articles 
Thursday, March 19 2015
How to Transform Tourism into a Major Economic Development Growth Engine

By Don A. Holbrook, Las Vegas, Nevada

Tourism has been long overlooked by economic developers as an industry that should be left to the chamber of commerce or tourism bureau folks in most locales. This is, in my opinion, a major oversight in any community’s long-term economic growth strategy. Economic development at its core is simply the attraction of capital that will be spent in the represented locales economy. This of course is then used for all the various goods and services that the constituents need and want in that local economy. Herein lies the major oversight. For many decades local economies have been event driven in their approach to drawing these dollars to their economy. This creates a short-term spike in their economic impact, but nothing as sexy as a real permanent physical asset that employs folks and pays taxes, while also generating additional monies that get spent many times over in the local economy by those that support such enterprises.

A recent study by Deloitte Consulting “Hospitality 2015” points out that over half of humanity is now considered middle class and thus their appetite to find leisure outlets is driving ever-increasing demand for things to do and places to visit and hospitality infrastructure to accommodate their desires, tastes and interests. The World Economic Data report shows that tourism accounts for 8.5 percent of USA total GDP and increasing rather than decreasing in value and contribution to our overall economy. It is going to reach nearly 12 percent of GDP by 2030 according to their forecasts. This can be a double-edge sword; it is a mature industry that is growing rapidly and adding value and reinventing itself constantly.  These are not low-paying jobs as many have depicted them in the past. According to Payscale Human Capital Associates, the average tourism industry job is still about $10,000 to $12,000 higher than the U.S. average wage earner.

Posted by: AT 09:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 19 2015
The Global Automotive Industry - Driven by Flexibility, Geographic Transition, and the Global Economy

By Dr. C. R. (Buzz) Canup, President, Canup & Associates

The final sales and production numbers are in for the global automotive industry for CY 2014, and, for the most part, the numbers look very good. As a matter of fact, many of the automotive  brands reached record breaking levels for both production and sales on both a regional and a global basis. Looking back for a moment to the crisis of CY 2009, the automotive industry has made a remarkable recovery. In CY 2009, the world was in the middle of the worst recession in history. Every business and industry was being impacted. Every country was being impacted. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs. Thousands of businesses closed their doors, many to never open again.

The automotive industry went through an unbelievable transition during and after the Great Recession. Ford sold off almost all of its portfolio of companies, including Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, and down-sized or stopped production at many of its plants. General Motors down-sized its portfolio of brand names eliminating Oldsmobile and Pontiac, selling Saab, and closing the Hummer manufacturing plant and name plate. General Motors and Ford had both initiated plans to spin off their parts manufacturing companies of Delphi and Visteon respectively prior to the recession, and both continued with those plans. Daimler-Benz shed itself of the Chrysler acquisition. Thirty-percent of Chrysler was almost immediately acquired by Fiat with no upfront cash transactions (subsequently 100 percent of Chrysler was acquired by Fiat in 2014, and the merger has become known as Fiat Chrysler Automotive or FCA).  Additional domestic assembly plants had production levels decreased with associated layoffs for both full-time and contract employees. Toyota delayed the completion and opening of its new assembly plant in Tupelo, MS. 

Posted by: AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 18 2015
Competitive Prices - Benefits Behind Strong Wind Power Numbers

By Carl Levesque, Clean Energy Communications Consultant

Wind energy, mainstream in the United States for many years and still on a steep growth curve, has a new source of appeal. Over the past five years, its cost has dropped an impressive 58 percent, according to the September 2014 report, “Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis.” 

As a result of continued technological improvement and domestic manufacturing, Wind has become one of the most affordable sources of electricity today in the U.S., and one of utilities’ leading choices for new generation. Since 2008, over $100 billion in private investment has flowed into the U.S. Wind industry making it a major economic contributor.

Strong Numbers
In 2014, the U.S. Wind industry installed over four-times-more new wind energy than in 2013 across 19 states. The new installations mean that there is now enough wind power installed to power about 18 million average American homes.

Posted by: AT 11:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 18 2015
Transportation Trends Round-Up

By Lisa A. Bastian, Veteran Business Writer, Bastian Public Relations

Exciting if not challenging developments in the fluid transportation sector are expected for the remainder of 2015, and beyond. What follows are some fascinating trends impacting logistics and global supply chain industry players of all sizes.

The Rise of “Zombie” Vehicles 
Autonomous vehicles are no longer science fiction. They exist, but are certainly not commonplace—yet.  This year, R&D will continue full-blast on the whole “zombie” car and truck concept at public and private research centers. Many experts believe a limited but growing number of safety-tested vehicles could own the roads by the end of this decade.

Posted by: AT 10:54 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 17 2015
2015 GFTC Conference Recap

The 47th Annual Georgia Foreign Trade Conference (GFTC) was held in Sea Island, Georgia on February 1-3, 2015. Master of ceremony, Cliff Pyron, CCO for Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), opened this year’s conference. The conference opened with keynote addresses which included insight from federal and state leaders. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was proud to announce over $1 billion has been invested for transportation and infrastructure by the State of Georgia in preparation for the future Panama Canal project. According to Governor Deal, GPA, the State of Georgia and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have partnered together in the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP.) The state has allocated $266 million in bond money to proceed with the project. Georgia leaders were excited at the passage of federal legislation and the signing of a cost-sharing agreement with the Corps of Engineers – the final hurdles before construction could begin. Deal said, “We’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s pertaining to the $706 million Savannah Harbor deepening project.”

Deal said, “Georgia is creating an atmosphere using policies and laws in a focused effort to attract manufacturers to the state. The removal of the energy tax has been very enticing for manufacturers. The most recent announcement of automotive giant Mercedes Benz selecting Georgia to relocate its headquarters is proof that economic development is a priority in Georgia. Mercedes Benz is a symbol of excellence around the world.”

Posted by: AT 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 17 2015
Shopping Center Technological Innovation and Progress in 2015

By Mike Kercheval, President and CEO, International Council of Shopping Centers

2015 is slated to be an excellent year for the shopping center and retail industry. Not only are key U.S. metrics on the upswing, but shopping centers and retailers are continuously adapting to new trends and technologies that are making the consumer experience more efficient and enjoyable. Omni-channel solutions are allowing consumers to shop when, where and how they want, with the store remaining in its pivotal role, and shopping centers and retailers are adapting themselves to become experience centers that offer much more than just shopping.

Strong Industry Indicators
Although there is constant chatter about the growth of online retailing and its effect on brick-and-mortar stores, there is no evidence traditional retailers are losing out. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 94 percent of retail sales occur in-store and 87 percent of consumer purchases are made at the shopping center. Of course e-commerce sales are growing (at about five times the rate of in-store growth) but if you dive deeper, you can see that the amount of e-commerce sales growth is dwarfed by sales growth increases in stores. E-commerce grew by $38 billion in sales versus $144 billion in stores. 

Posted by: AT 10:09 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 17 2015
Growing Trends in the Data Center World

By Yannis Gatsiounis, Associate Project Manager, AngelouEconomics

As companies grow, their data centers often follow – turning into enormous, expensive operations harnessing massive amounts of energy to operate. But advances in technology and business modeling are altering the data center landscape.

A data center is a centralized computer repository for a business’s IT operations and equipment. Data centers prevent disruption to a system’s IT infrastructure by providing backup communications connections, power supplies, data storage and security devices.

Cloud technology is the most talked about change to data centers in recent years. Transferring data centers to the cloud allows companies to scrap the on-premise hardware by storing the data on the Internet instead. The process also usually involves outsourcing operations including updates and maintenance to a third party, reducing the burden on in-house, IT staff and overall operational costs. Cloud data centers involve fewer applications – sometimes as few as one – a single hardware environment and software architecture, and less application patching and updating than traditional data centers.  Lower costs and fewer infrastructural demands means clouds are easier to initiate.

Posted by: AT 09:48 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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