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 Feature Industry Articles 
Thursday, November 30 2017
Energy: Enee...Meenie...Miney...Mo

By Michael D. White

Over the past decade, advances in energy generation and the technologies surrounding both its process and distribution have had a marked impact on the way both the public and industry view what keeps the lights on and the wheels of industry turning.

According to a recent report released by the Alexandria, Virginia-based American Geosciences Institute (AGI), “Increased publicity about the potential hazards and impacts of energy production and transport has led to conversations about energy and the environment that have grown louder and more fraught with emotion, giving the impression of an issue defined by strongly entrenched positions and with little opportunity to find common, or middle, ground.” 

But, the AGI says, the issue and its social, political, technical and environmental components has actually resulted in a growing interest in what the AGI calls the development of  “a methane economy” powered by a combination of its "cousins," natural gas and oil. 

Posted by: AT 08:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 30 2017
Digital Tech Trends and the Future of the Health Care Industry 

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President Camoin Associates, Alexandra Tranmer, Project Manager Camoin Associates, and Bethany Meys, Analyst Camoin Associates


Every single industry sector, and the U.S. economy as whole, is being transformed at a rapid pace by digital technologies. We can describe the next phase of each sector as simply, the “tech of everything.” The financial industry is progressing with the advancement of FinTech, in addition to agricultural-technology and manufacturing-technology, also known as “Industry 4.0.” Health care is no exception, as the field of health tech expands throughout the country.  

Have you ever thought of your phone as a medical device? What about that activity tracker that keeps beeping at you to get up from your desk and take a flight of stairs? Innovations in the field of health technology aim to use the codes, data and graphics that allow us to communicate across continents to better understand and predict vital health indicators. One of the primary functions of health technology is to harness the data available to many of us through objects that we already have, like phones, smart watches and even medical devices like pacemakers, to allow us to theoretically make smarter choices about what we eat, suggest how and when we exercise, and alert individuals to their predisposition to chronic ailments based on algorithms. For the broader health system, health technology has the potential to substantially decrease costs for hospitals and other medical facilities by diverting emergency room visits and inpatient admissions while improving patient outcomes. 

Posted by: AT 08:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, November 29 2017
 Emerging Trends in Back Office Competition

By Pete Mohan, Site Selection Consultant for Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting

Since 2014, back office employment growth has been modest at best. In light of the performance of the economy over that period, the concerns over that stagnation are justified, and multiple factors are to blame. For this article, “back office” is defined to encompass all administrative functions that don’t require a specialized four-year degree, including customer service, financial clerking, data entry, etc. 

As back office operations have evolved, two tiers of center have emerged; companies have opted to increase complexity of tasks and level of responsibility in some centers, oftentimes requiring a bachelor’s degree; for centers not requiring that level of education, finding cost-effective locations to train-up entry and experienced talent is the priority. Due to this bifurcation of back office labor needs, both high- and low-level operations face unique challenges, and each have opportunities for growth. Current State of Back Office Employment (see Table A) Back office employment in the U.S. has grown at less than half the rate of total employment since 2014 (2.8 percent vs. 5.9 percent). Back office employment in medium- and large-sized metros has grown more rapidly than smaller metros as well as the national rate. However, this trend seems to be driven primarily by general labor availability, as total employment growth still outpaces back office growth by at least 50 percent in each of the different metro area size groupings. Additionally, in the 160 metros with employment growing faster than the U.S. rate, back office employment has increased by 8.7 percent, whereas metros growing slower than 5.9 percent have lost 2.4 percent of back office employment over the past three years. 

Posted by: AT 10:12 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, November 29 2017
Looking Beyond the Site for Food and Beverage Expansion: How to Assess the Surrounding Community and Region

By Frank Spano, Managing Director and Susan Riffle, Manager of Communications, the Austin Company

The food and beverage industry is enjoying a healthy growth spurt; the food products sector is among the fastest-growing of U.S. manufacturing, adding 95,000 jobs so far in 2017, representing a seven percent increase over the past five years. The U.S. beverage sector is also growing substantially, adding 66,000 jobs so far in 2017, representing an impressive 39 percent growth over the past five years.1

Along with such growth comes the need for expansion by manufacturers. With that expansion comes new facilities located in new communities and the generation of incremental jobs for those communities. Undoubtedly, the food and beverage industry holds a great deal of promise for regions and municipalities lucky enough to attract them. The competition is fierce, especially since the industry has rigorous criteria when defining site suitability. Site and property criteria determined to be important for the food and beverage sector was explored by Austin Consulting and published in the September/October 2017 edition of Expansion Solutions ( 

Posted by: AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, November 29 2017
Building a Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Growth Strategy

By Amanda Taylor, Senior Consultant and Director of Research, and Kyle Neu, Consultant, McCallum Sweeney Consulting

There is renewed emphasis on manufacturing as the U.S. hinges its economic future on restoring robust and sustained economic growth. Economic developers at the local, regional, and state level know that impactful growth will come from the manufacturing industries engaged in innovative and technology-driven production, universally known as advanced manufacturing. An advanced manufacturing growth strategy is especially important for regions with tight labor markets since high-tech manufacturing operations generally require few workers while generating significant output. To build a sustainable advanced manufacturing growth strategy, regions can look to the metros with the largest advanced manufacturing gross domestic products (GDP), Houston and San Jose, and they will find that the most important elements of an advanced manufacturing strategy are continual innovation and diversification. 

According to the Brookings Institute, there are 35 manufacturing industries that constitute the advanced manufacturing sector. These 35 industries, combined with 15 services and energy generation industries, make up the advanced industries sector, which Brooking’s refers to as the nation’s “linchpin industries”. These are the high-tech industries leading U.S. economic growth and tackling objectives of national and global importance.

Regional economic activity in advanced manufacturing is measured by evaluating the GDP, or value of goods, originating from industries located within a metropolitan area. Nationwide, the advanced manufacturing economy accounted for approximately $1.37 trillion in GDP in 2016, about 7.5 percent of total U.S. GDP, and most of this activity took place in metropolitan areas.  

Posted by: AT 08:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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