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 Feature Industry Articles 
Tuesday, January 07 2020
Economic Trends in the Plastics and Related Industries

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President, Camoin 310

Stop. Look around you. Somewhere very near you right now is plastic. It could be a piece in your computer or phone, on your desk or chair, or within your flooring.  Simply said, plastic is part of the many products we see and use every day and therefore critical to our economy.

In this article we examine plastics and plastic-related industries. First, we provide an overview of key economic performance data and trends for the industries and examine how plastics connects with and impact other industries through supply chains. We then present key factors that impact growth and investment in plastics.  Finally using a case example in Northwest Pennsylvania, we provide guidance to business and economic developers on how they can support and attract investment, businesses, and employment in their region.

Posted by: AT 11:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 07 2020
The Ideal Location? Options Vastly Vary for Medical Device Manufacturers

By Mark R. Smith, Contributing Writer

For medical device manufacturers, deciding where to locate may be relatively easy. Or it may be require an especially deep dive into the worlds of workforce, access, suppliers and tax breaks.

Or it could be somewhere in between; generally speaking, they might locate just about anywhere. They could mean nestling nicely within a sparsely populated rural county with interstate or port access; or perhaps settling within a dynamic cluster in a region where the companies and other entities feed off of each other.

For a lower tech operation, that can simply mean locating where it can easily obtain basic materials, like wood or plastic, for low cost; another firm may make acutely refined high tech devices and need to locate near the company’s research and development facility or a major medical center. Then comes the angle of what state tax advantages may be available.

In the end, figuring out why exactly where in the U.S. one of the 6,500 medical device manufacturers sets up shop in a $380 billion industry (both figures according to can be a fascinating aspect of a complicated yet, sometimes not sector of the manufacturing industry.  

Posted by: AT 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 07 2020
The State of Logistics Management

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

With advancing demands of consumers and the steady growth of eCommerce, shippers and carriers are working to build better relationships and optimize operations. Unfortunately, the modern supply chain remains brittle, subject to the slightest of changes that could spell its doom.

While that paints a dire picture, supply chain leaders have another option; they can turn to tactical logistics management and develop responsive, adaptive processes. Of course, tactical logistics management is difficult at best, so let’s take a closer look at its challenges and opportunities.  

With that in mind, shippers need to understand the problems arising within the industry, particularly increasing demand and strained capacity, as well as why tactical management holds the answer.

Posted by: AT 10:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 07 2020
Don't Shrug It Off

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

Cyberattacks have become an almost daily occurrence affecting a broad spectrum of businesses and industries from healthcare and finance to aerospace and manufacturing with threats such as so-called phishing and malware attacks serving as the weapon-of-choice for cyber criminals seeking access to steal and misuse valuable and sensitive data. Merely having a presence online potentially puts a ‘welcome’ sign in your shop window for those who are up to no good.

In fact, according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, while it takes an average of $2.4 million and 50 days to repair a cyberattack for a large company, a small or medium-sized business could, quite literally, with costs of repair topping $200,000 and an equal amount of time, be wiped out.

Posted by: AT 10:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 07 2020
Increasing the Economy by an Average of $32.5 Million Per Data Center

A data center is a secure facility that hosts a multitude of servers, routers, switches, and other computing equipment used in high volume data storage and processing. Data centers are the heart of today's online services including apps, emails, streaming, online shopping, banking and much more. Data centers are providing highly reliable and secure cloud hosting solutions 24 hours per day, seven days a week and 365 days a year - simultaneously to thousands of global customers and should be designed with the highest uptime and efficiency possible. Data centers help their customers maximize availability, performance and security as well as comply with strict security and compliance requirements. Located in highly secure, not easily visible or accessible locations, data centers are a critical part of our society, business and the world.

As the consumption and the creation of data multiplies at exponential rates, so does the demand for data centers and colocation facilities. These data centers provide critical network connectivity points, provide hosting services for private and public cloud options, or host variations of enterprise data.

Posted by: AT 09:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 29 2019
Economic Trends in the Oil, Gas and Coal Industries

By Jim Damicis and Bethany Meys, Camoin 310


Oil, gas and coal have been drivers of the U.S. economy from the beginning stages of the industrial economy and have continued through the transition to the high-tech, knowledgeable economy. They are also key parts of emerging industry trends impacting the economy of tomorrow. In this article we examine the oil, gas, and coal industries and first provide an overview of key economic performance data and trends. We also examine how these three industries impact other industries through supply and value chains. We conclude with what all this means for economic and business developers including for those within communities that do not have extraction related or even process related concentrations in these industries.

Oil, gas, and coal are significant to the economy on two fronts. On their own they create direct economic output. This includes direct jobs, sales, and exports. They also create impact by providing the resources to generate energy used by other industries, as well as an input to downstream markets including distributors, processors, and manufacturers. In the case of manufacturers, oil, gas, and coal are used for both energy and as an input to manufacturing of plastics, rubber, chemicals, as well as other products. This further contributes to job, sales and exports.

Posted by: AT 12:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 29 2019
 U.S. Healthcare: The Century's Newest Economic Leader 

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

Among old-guard and emerging U.S. economic development clusters, the mammoth, ever-changing healthcare industry is one of the “healthiest” of them all. 

While it doesn’t generate the same media buzz as the private space exploration, cryptocurrency or AI industries, it does do one thing they won’t ever do: reflect a community’s genuine level of quality of life. Since wellness and health are central to human happiness, the availability of good healthcare promotes populations of people who are more productive, live longer, and contribute to society. 

Moreover, as the healthcare industry’s above-average wages affect how other industries keep and attract high-wage workers, it’s clear why healthcare is a sought-after economic development “anchor” by community and business leaders alike nationwide. 

Posted by: AT 08:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 28 2019
The Evolution of Site Readiness Programs

By Phil Schneider, President, Schneider Strategy Consulting LLC

Site readiness programs have steadily progressed over the 20 years since their debut on the economic development and site selection stage, evolving from a unique competitive advantage to nearly an expectation. Programs of one type or another have been established in 36 states as a response to site selector’s ever-increasing need for speed, data accuracy/transparency, and gaining early insight into a potential site’s strengths and challenges. Greenfield sites with little or no previously completed due diligence require an increasingly unacceptable amount of time, effort and expense for companies in the site selection process.  Therefore, the growing expectation is that properties submitted as potential candidates for a site selection project will come complete with a full set of site and supporting infrastructure data.  

But as site readiness programs have become more ubiquitous, so has the discussion and debate amongst site selectors with regard to these programs’ effectiveness and even their meaning.  What does “certified” or “shovel-ready” actually mean for any particular site selection project (spoiler alert: sometimes not much) and why does the meaning of certified or shovel-ready vary so much from program to program?  Site selectors want to know: how will any given site readiness program actually apply to my project, its industry or function, or even within the geography where we are searching? 

Posted by: AT 11:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 28 2019
A Site Selector's Perspective on Offshore Investment in the U.S. for the Food and Beverage Industry

By Frank Spano, Managing Director and, Kyle Johnson, Location Consultant, the Austin Company

In recent years, Austin Consulting (Austin) has seen a change in offshore investment for the food and beverage industry. Although there is still strong investment into the U.S. by European and Asian food and beverage companies, there has been growing investment by firms from Central and South America as well. There are countless reasons why companies in Central and South America would choose the U.S. for a new plant location, but recent client feedback states that growing consumer demand for diverse food products, changes to trade agreements, and a large consumer base rank highly as driving factors for a U.S. location.

Among the offshore food and beverage companies Austin works with, many are entering the U.S. for the first time and require assistance to become more familiar with the level of effort and analysis required for finding a new location in the U.S. Typically, offshore food and beverage companies establish their presence in the U.S. market by first importing their products and when product demand reaches a high enough level, then interest in a permanent U.S. location naturally follows. At this point, the search for a suitable location begins and Austin works with clients, so they become familiar with rules, regulations, costs, processes, and other necessary components to locate a property and successfully operate a facility in the U.S.

Posted by: AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 28 2019
Advanced Manufacturing: The New 'Industrial Revolution'

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

There is an old adage that nothing is really new. And, in fact, it really isn’t.

The screw, the wheel, the inclined plane, the stirrup, movable type, the assembly line were all lauded as “uses of innovative technology to improve products or processes.”

What were then seen as innovations, we see today as the cutting-edge integration of new technologies, processes and methods into the production and design of products in an effort to remain competitive and add value. We call it advanced manufacturing.

Generally speaking, organizations across a wide spectrum of industries are implementing advanced manufacturing processes into innovative, affordable, and reliable products with technologically complex levels of design.

Posted by: AT 10:01 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
How Rapidly Changing Technology is Impacting Location Decisions in the Logistics Industry

By Jeannette T. Goldsmith,  Vice President, Strategic Development Group

“Every company is a technology company.”  I can’t remember who said this first or where I heard it, but there is no doubt that this statement is true. Even with the inevitability of it, we continue our collective hand-wringing about the move to greater automation and artificial intelligence on the manufacturing floor. There can be little doubt, however, that technology has already resulted in dramatic shifts in the transportation and logistics industry. These shifts have affected all facets of the industry including warehousing, distribution channels, fleets, and workforce. Strategic Development Group has seen how these changes are impacting the way in which companies select new locations for their logistics business.

Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Delivery
Perhaps the “sexiest” technology trend in the logistics industry is the use of autonomous vehicles and drones in the movement of products. While I am fascinated by the potential for autonomous vehicles, I have my doubts about how fast this technology will be adapted. There are two reasons for my hypothesis.  

Posted by: AT 11:34 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
Ports Take Advantage of FTZ Alternative Site Framework for Economic Development

By Meredith Martino, AAPA

A consumer in the market for new pair of eyeglasses might find interesting a banner ad on a website touting designer eyewear at a discounted price. The promise might sound too good to be true to the average shopper, but the reality is one that is not only possible but actually is encouraged by a growingly popular new option under a decades-old U.S. government program. By utilizing some of the benefits of a FTZ and taking advantage of the program’s Alternative Site Framework (ASF), a U.S.-based producer could incorporate well-known designer frames and cases manufactured overseas into a finished product that could be passed onto a U.S. consumer at a lower cost.

Vision care products manufacturer is doing just that. Founder and CEO Roger Hardy saw a business opportunity in the markups charged by opticians and optical stores and passed onto consumers. He created a business-to-consumer model that would keep costs down for the end user of the vision products. The Canadian-based company continues to grow, reaching consumers throughout the world.

Posted by: AT 11:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
Outdoor Recreation Tourism - The Motor Driving Rural Economies of the Future?

By Rachel Selsky, AICP, Camoin310

Many medical experts tout the benefits of getting outside on a regular, but have you ever considered the potential benefits of focusing your economic development efforts outside as well? It may not be a bad idea considering that the United States has seen an increase in overall participation in outdoor recreation activities, typically categorized as motorized or non-motorized, over the past few decades. 

While non-motorized outdoor recreation activities like hiking and biking are well documented and studied in relation to growth, economic impact, attraction strategies and the benefits to communities, motorized outdoor recreation activities are generally thought of as a smaller component of the overall industry and are somewhat less studied. As more rural communities begin to promote outdoor recreation tourism as a component of their economic development strategies, it is increasingly important to understand the full spectrum of opportunities related to outdoor tourism, including those within the motorized recreation sectors and how to best encourage and support their growth. 

Posted by: AT 11:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
The Right Location for Metal Fabrication? Near You

By Mark R. Smith, Contributing Writer

The fabricated metal industry is, in a way, similar to other industries, perhaps like the printing industry. That’s to say, the products each produces seem ubiquitous.

During the average person’s stops during the day, you may well see printed items: books, publications, brochures, folders, bills, mail, business cards, labels, etc. That list could go on, as it can for metal fabrication. Think about desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, door latches and handles, screws and nails, faucets, railings, hangers, etc.

You get it.

The point is in both industries, raw materials, software, equipment, deep thought and some elbow grease are required to create an infinite amount of finished products that many of we human beings use daily.

Posted by: AT 11:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
The Next Digital Economy

By Don A. Holbrook

Economic development has traditionally been slow to respond to trends and then when they do they are usually behind the wave. The same could be said of the approach by in large for attracting investment into the Digital Media Age. Too many of the legislated programs in the USA, this vision is Films and Digital Productions of Film based industries in the world of the silver screen old school images of Hollywood productions.

George Gilder recently wrote his latest prediction on this real topic of Digital Media and/or the Digital Economy, called “Life After Google.” States such as Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas and New Jersey pop up on the first page of Google searches under this subject, but the links lead to film credits for the most part. This old school vision is not where the hotbed of growth is occurring and/or going to continue to grow.

Posted by: AT 10:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
​​​​​​​Making Your Next Back Office Location a Success

By Dennis J. Donovan, Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting


Back offices comprise an agglomeration of support activities that are pivotal to successful operation of corporate (and not-for-profit) enterprises. These business units typically support c-suite and client interfacing operations.  Among functions usually associated with a back office are accounting, payroll, recruiting, planning, inventory management, procurement, regulatory compliance, supply chain management, market research, document management, transaction processing, inside sales, customer service, and IT help desk.

This article addresses the keys to optimal geographic deployment for back office entities. Up first is a brief discussion on strategic considerations that proceed an initiative to uncover the ultimate location. Then we outline the key elements involved in establishing the framework for a back-office location analysis. Subsequently, the multi-phase process that should be followed to land in the best spot is outlined.

Posted by: AT 10:44 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 30 2019
Business Aviation Embraces Technologies for Cleaner, More Efficient Travel

By Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

Business aviation has long been a valuable tool for connecting companies and communities of all sizes across the nation and throughout the world. The industry also continues to embrace new technologies offering the potential to not only increase the level of productivity that business aviation may provide, but also to perform these roles with an even greater emphasis on sustainability.

This is a very exciting time, and not only for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and members that already utilize business aviation to increase their efficiency and competitiveness. Citizens, service providers and urban planners in communities large and small also stand to benefit, as these developments offer the promise to advance metropolitan transportation infrastructure, emergency response and quality of life considerations across the country and around the world. Urban Air Mobility May Revolutionize Intercity Transportation Over the past few years, a new transportation segment has emerged alongside more traditional business aircraft and rotorcraft seen at NBAA-sponsored events. Urban air mobility (UAM) aims to revolutionize travel across large metroplexes, utilizing optionally piloted and even fully autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles to transport on-demand passengers and cargo.

Posted by: AT 10:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 29 2019
Putting Down Roots In the Ag Industry

By Mark R. Smith, Contributing Writer, Expansion Solutions Magazine

Site selection professionals and their clients who are working to locate a growing agriculture-based business know making that major move dictates understanding a few facts before key decisions are made.

Since an agriculture businesses might need land, and lots of it − or at least be in a market with a multitude of farms − they’ll see that land is cheaper in less-densely populated areas, for a reason: perhaps the lack a strong workforce and relatively few educational opportunities, or connectivity problems and a lack of amenities in a given locales. Or a combination thereof.

Then comes the more recent but growing issue of climate change, which can work for or against a company.

Posted by: AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 29 2019
Locating High Technology Operations

By Dennis J. Donovan, Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting (WDGC)

This article addresses location dynamics within the high technology sector. The term high-tech is rather amorphous. Broadly speaking it can apply to any industry wherein advanced technology (such as Industry 4.0) is widely utilized. To provide a pragmatic framework for illuminating site selection strategy and trends we will adopt a more nuanced definition of high technology. Essentially high tech embraces a group of industries characterized by a rapid pace of innovation. These industries typically involve a high concentration of workers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). For purposes of this article high-technology industries include the following:

Posted by: AT 05:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, July 28 2019
It's Not Your Dad's Logistics Anymore

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

Confined to non-descript, drab buildings clustered in unappealing urban backwaters, warehouse and distribution operations once considered a straight-forward and relatively simple activity involving nothing more complicated than a hand truck or a forklift have evolved into petri dishes for new technologies that have revolutionized the task of moving a product from Point A to Point B economically and efficiently in the least amount of time.   

According to a recent study of the distribution/warehouse sector commissioned by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, the demand for distribution centers and other industrial real estate is expected to grow by 850 million square feet from 2019 to 2023, to 14.8 billion square feet, compared with demand growth of 870 million square feet from 2014 to 2018.

Deloitte said availability of warehouse space is likely to rise to 10.3 percent by 2023, compared with seven percent in 2018, as changes in the way people shop have reshaped distribution networks with retailers and logistics providers racing to compete with Amazon, open distribution warehouses and sprawling online fulfillment centers, strategically sited near major population centers and transportation hubs.

Posted by: AT 03:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, July 28 2019
Solar: A Prime Opportunity for Commercial and Industrial Real Estate

By Dan Whitten, Vice President of Communications, Solar Energy Industries Association

Prominent announcements from companies such as Apple, Walmart and Target of installing solar on their facilities has made the rest of the commercial and industrial sector take notice. And the message is that, in many places, solar is now a cheaper way to power buildings than the alternatives. That’s why we are seeing broad investment from companies large and small.

Solar has grown by leaps and bounds  in the last decade. Initially a solution for select homeowners, and later a low-cost option for utility-scale projects, solar energy is now coming to a commercial facility near you. And if you look closely enough at the opportunities, it may very well be a solution for your own company. 

Posted by: AT 01:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, July 28 2019
Workforce Development: Finding Talent in Today's Hyper-Competitive Labor Shortage

By Chris Engle, Vice President, Avalanche Consulting

This article discusses the realities and response to the labor environment seen across the U.S. today. Companies can sharpen their toolkit in evaluating labor markets and finding a current and future workforce. Educators can better understand the needs of companies, particularly in hard-to-fill positions requiring technical or specialized skills. Economic and workforce developers can deploy new attention to the development of talent from within their communities in addition to attracting workers. Collectively, we can all learn how a high-performing economy must be continually supplied with a labor force that is dynamic, responsive, and innovative despite the challenges brought on by technology, demographic change, and uncertainty.

First, let’s take a closer look at today’s labor environment. We have written several articles in recent years about the declining unemployment rate and its impact on industries. Today’s unemployment rate now stands at 3.6 percent, the lowest registered rate in 50 years. We now consistently hear across every part of the country and economy, from highly skilled industries to entry level hospitality, that employers can’t find the workers they need. The low unemployment rate is a function of labor participation, i.e. the number of people seeking work.

Posted by: AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 03 2019
The Transforming World of Science and Technology Parks

By Don Holbrook, Site Location Advisor

The original concept of Science and Technology parks has been going through a frantic evolution just like the field of technology and knowledge-based products and services that underpin the entire foundation of this area of economic development.

We as individuals are becoming ubiquitously interconnected to everything – work, friends, family and our entire activity and consumption based agenda, whether for our career, relaxation and entertainment or just daily choices in lifestyle through our preferred networks of information suppliers. Science and Technology Parks are also evolving away from simply places for place-based investment that marries academic culture to corporate culture. These locales have traditionally been tasked with assisting innovation and high tech entrepreneurs with federal policies so that funding can be achieved by overcoming barriers to compliance regulations. According to Brian Darmody, Associate Vice President of Research and Economic Development, for the University of Maryland’s technology development initiative, “Entrepreneurs tend to be non-compliant people, which is why they are innovators.” 

Posted by: AT 11:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 03 2019
The Nation's Steel Arteries

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

Now spanning a staggering total of more than 140,000 miles of trackage, the network of steel veins and capillaries crisscross the U.S. connecting 49 of the country’s 50 states with each other, as well as Canada and Mexico, carrying the very life’s blood of its vast and complex economy, and, in turn, linking virtually every point in the nation with deep-water ports on four coasts and, thence, with markets and suppliers across the globe. 

According to the Washington, D.C.-headquartered American Association of Railroads (AAR), U.S. freight railroads annually carry nearly 54 tons of freight per American—a staggeringly vast assortment of goods from bananas, steel wire, and automobiles to soybeans, sporting goods and home appliances.

Posted by: AT 11:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 03 2019
Ports Large and Small Initiating Workforce Development Programs

By Aaron Ellis, APR, Fellow PRSA, Public Affairs Director, American Association of Port Authorities

Seaports, large and small, are developing programs to introduce their community’s youth, together with new and transitioning job seekers, to the diverse, technology-focused and family-sustaining career opportunities available in the maritime and seaport environment. 

A just-released economic impacts analysis of the U.S. coastal port system by Martin Associates (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), cites the average annual salary for those employed at America’s seaports has risen to $62,800 from $53,723 just five years ago. The number of jobs that seaport activities support also jumped from 23.3 million to 30.8 million in the same time frame. 

The Port of Los Angeles, America’s largest-volume container port, cites numerous reasons why it has chosen to focus time and resources on creating a world-class workforce development program.  

Posted by: AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 03 2019
Food and Beverage Processing Trends in 2019

By Jay Garner, CEcD, President, Garner Economics LLC

Much is changing in the food and beverage (F&B) processing sector. Yet, much has stayed the same from previous years. What’s changing and why? First, consumer preferences always dictate how food manufacturers create new products, which often times results in new production facilities, or at the very least, a shift in production lines (which is a significant equipment expense). And with millennials and Generation Z consumers driving much of the product changes, expect even more product evolution for healthier, better-for-you foods.

But first, let’s go through the numbers. Nearly two million people across the United States work in the F&B sectors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Combined from both sectors (food processing and beverage processing), there are about 43,000 companies that are defined as F&B facilities in the United States (this does not include cold storage establishments). California leads the way with nearly 6,500 facilities employing more than 220,000 workers, followed by New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New Jersey and Michigan rounding out the top 10. Growth in the F&B sector is rising more rapidly in beverages, but with continued changes to a healthier diet, evidence is pointing to new growth in the food sector.  

Posted by: AT 09:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 03 2019
Life Science's Changing Landscape and the Rise of the Underdogs

By Mackenzie Hastings, Business Development Manager, InSyBio,; Angelos Angelou, Founder & CEO, AngelouEconomics,

It is no surprise we are seeing a renewed investment in the Life Sciences industry along with an accelerated growth plan. Tech has been slowly creeping its way into the circle for years and has enabled – through AI and machine learning – the fast-tracked optimization of analysis and the exponential expansion of application areas in both pharma and biotech.

Although many look to foresee the future and divine the most profitable answers, the trend of innovation through technology has been the steady, safe route and those who search without tunnel vision are likely to find treasure in the many upcoming disruptors to the industry and more importantly, the cities that entice them.

You might ask “Are start-ups really becoming so powerful?” and “Is this shift in the industry truly significant?” The short answer is yes, although for multiple dynamic reasons. Innovation is, in essence, a new method or idea so it is only fitting that the upper hand on that front lie in the young companies fighting for a niche advantage in the market and that the underdog cities in which they choose to establish be technologically noteworthy themselves. They must foster environments for innovation and collaboration while also offering competitive benefits when it comes to quality of life and how far the investment money can propel these companies toward profitability.

Posted by: AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 02 2019
Food and Beverage Processing Trends In 2019: So Much is Changing - So Much Has Stayed the Same

By Jay Garner, CEcD, President, Garner Economics LLC

Much is changing in the food and beverage (F&B) processing sector. Yet, much has stayed the same from previous years. What’s changing and why? First, consumer preferences always dictate how food manufacturers create new products, which often times results in new production facilities, or at the very least, a shift in production lines (which is a significant equipment expense). And with millennials and Generation Z consumers driving much of the product changes, expect even more product evolution for healthier, better-for-you foods.

But first, let’s go through the numbers. Nearly two million people across the United States work in the F&B sectors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Combined from both sectors (food processing and beverage processing), there are about 43,000 companies that are defined as F&B facilities in the United States (this does not include cold storage establishments). California leads the way with nearly 6,500 facilities employing more than 220,000 workers, followed by New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New Jersey and Michigan rounding out the top 10. Growth in the F&B sector is rising more rapidly in beverages, but with continued changes to a healthier diet, evidence is pointing to new growth in the food sector.

What’s Not Changed?

  1. Food safety is of paramount importance to the health of consumers, and the financial health of F&B companies. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011 and gives the FDA authority to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. The law grants the FDA a number of new powers, including mandatory recall authority. The law was prompted after many reported incidents of foodborne illnesses during the first decade of the 2000’s and was largely crafted by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.
  2. Health and wellness foods. Though this trend began in the first part of the 2000’s, it continues to transform and evolve - significantly. Though all age demographics are causing this, including an aging baby boomer population that is health conscious, the millennial and Generation Z age groups are driving the push. Companies like Hershey and General Foods have announced plans to expand their portfolios to appeal to younger consumers who want healthier snacks. Probiotics are attractive to food companies and are making their way into a variety of foods, not just yogurt. Again, not new since the trend has been around for at least 10 years, but clearly adapting and evolving.
  3. Beverages. Sugar is the devil and conventional sugar soft drinks have been on a downward spiral with sales for several years. There is an  increased and still growing demand for energy drinks and beverages infused with nutraceuticals, e.g. vitamin water, green teas and fruit drinks. This has an impact on product lines and beverage processing facilities as companies either re-tool the lines or build new facilities.
  4. Sustainability first got its legs in the 1990’s with environmental activists as a way for the populous to understand how what we eat, how it’s grown and packaged, have an effect on the environment. Over time and through significant media attention sustainability has garnered over the years, shoppers have been willing to pay more for sustainable practices as a way to feel they are helping the environment. Many large F&B companies, including Walmart, have announced sustainability efforts from processing to packaging. Compostable packaging is getting more shelf space, which means that this packaging sub-sector offers promise for economic development practitioners looking for new target industry opportunities.

What’s New or on the Horizon?

  1. Cannabis. Yes, weed. The Farm Bill of 2018 legalizes the cultivation of hemp, a plant in the cannabis family. Derivatives of hemp such as CBD (cannabinoid), is known as an aid for relaxation, anxiety and pain. It is no longer illegal, but the FDA still prohibits food and beverage products with CBD ingredients from crossing state lines. As soon as that prohibition ends, and it will eventually, there will be a rush for companies to incorporate ingredients of CBD into food products. Marijuana is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Industry watchers and government lobbyists believe it will receive full federal legalization by 2021. That also depends on elections.
  2. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are new and old. During the Great Recession of 2009, many mid to small sized F&B companies were bought out by larger companies, or they went out of business. With the hot economy we are now experiencing, M&A activity is at a feverish pace.  Companies like Conagra, General Mills, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, and Nutella have all made recent acquisitions. Those that were sold or acquired include Blue Buffalo Pet Foods, Pinnacle Foods, Snyders/Lance, Costa Coffee, and on and on.  These acquisitions may mean that new product lines are being considered and new locations. Any time there is an M&A, it opens the possible door for a new location for an F&B facility. Economic developers, take note!
  3. Plant-based meat is a new phenomenon. The days of the veggie burger are gone. This new process and science combine aminos, minerals, lipids and water and give it a meat texture and taste. Hamburger chains have latched on to it, including White Castle. Fish is next. New product lines equal new locations. Check out The Beyond Burger by Beyond Meat at your favorite grocer.

What About Cold Storage Facilities (Refrigerated Storage)?
Cold storage units are not technically part of the food and beverage family and have a different NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code (49312). But cold storage facilities are an integral and necessary part of the F&B supply chain. At the end of 2018, cold storage facilities employed 56,000 people with over 1,600 businesses in the U.S. Wages for this industry are over $2.6bn and annual revenue is in excess of $5.9bn. Is there any wonder why economic developers, communities and electric utility providers don’t have these companies on their radar as a targeted industry sector? A “typical” new cold storage facility investment may have a capital outlay of over $60mm and 50-75 jobs. In a very tight labor market, this type of project is ideal for communities.

Site Selection Requirements: What does all of this mean for your community and economic development professionals working to attract F&B and cold storage facilities to a locality? New trends, processes and products typically mean new opportunities. Often a new product line could mean a new facility, based on an existing facility’s footprint. So, what are the key factors needed in attracting F&B companies?

  • Water and wastewater treatment capacity. Simply put, no water, no project. Water is the most important ingredient in the site selection process for F&B companies. If it’s not used as an ingredient, it is always used for sanitation. Having excess water capacity of 500,000 MGD is a start.
  • Low or competitive energy rates. F&B companies and cold storage facilities are big users of energy. Having competitive electric and gas rates are important.
  • Access to four-lane roads. An interstate location will trump a non-interstate location. Four-lane access roads will always trump two-lane roads. Gas and diesel are big components of energy costs, and accessibility has a direct impact on operating costs.
  • “No product – No Project.” Shovel ready sites are needed for speed to market.  An existing USDA/FDA grade building is a benefit, depending on the size, but hard to find. Eighty-five percent of all new F&B site searches start with a desire to find an existing facility. It’s rare that one is found, so those searches turn into a greenfield project.
  • A workforce within a 45-minute drive time of those key occupations that F&B companies consider necessary is a  benefit. Talent is always important.

These are the essential ingredients that will allow communities to compete effectively in this constantly growing sector.

Food and beverage company executives consider the factors listed below as what’s on their mind most days, and in this order (according to, 2016):

  • Food safety
  • Cost control
  • Automation
  • Worker safety
  • Capacity expansion (that’s a direct impact for economic developers)
  • Environmental/sustainability issues
  • Training
  • Sourcing (where is the commodity coming from?)

Understanding what drives these decision makers of food and beverage companies will help economic developers craft the narrative and value proposition for your community. Good hunting!

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Food Dive;; Ibisworld

About the Author:
About Jay Garner: Jay A. Garner, CEcD, CCE is the president and founder of Garner Economics LLC, an economic development and site location consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with representative offices in North Carolina; Berlin, Germany; and Seoul, Korea. Jay often lectures and provides counsel on creating and implementing proactive global business development strategies and tactics. His firm is also a leader in assisting corporate clients such as Anchor Glass, Academy Sports, Hatfield Quality Meats, Hill’s Pet Foods, Stork Food Systems, Future Pipe Industries, and others in their site selection process.

Garner Economics and Primus Builders have partnered to create one of the most extensive site certification initiatives in the economic development and Food & Beverage sector. Their goal is to help communities prepare for the location of F&B projects, which also helps companies in that industry sector (many of whom are our current clients) understand that a community’s site or building has met Primus/Garner's rigorous review requirements. To learn more about the Primus/Garner Food Site Certification designation, see the link at

About Garner Economics LLC:
About Garner Economics LLC: We are data driven strategists helping companies, communities and organizations, large and small, urban and rural, achieve success. The firm offers location advisory analysis, analytical research, industry targeting, strategic planning and organizational assessments with a wealth of expertise to companies, communities, and organizations globally.

Posted by: AT 11:21 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019
Three Macro Trends Driving the Automotive Aftermarket Industry

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

The automotive industry and automotive aftermarket industry has recovered, and as new light vehicle registrations continue to grow, it is important for the aftermarket to be aware of emerging trends happening on the roads today that will affect repair opportunities for years to come. Here are some quick insights into the trends driving the automotive aftermarket industry.

One: The Average Age of Vehicles Continues to Climb—At Least for Now

The increasing age of the vehicle population has been a positive aftermarket trend for a long time, and the trend has accelerated greatly over the past six years. Today, it stands at a record-high 11.3 years for passenger cars and light trucks combined, representing a 14 percent increase since 2007. For the five years prior to the recession, average age rose only four percent.

Some wonder why pickup trucks tend to lag behind cars in average age. Light trucks are more likely to accumulate wear and tear than are passenger cars. Individual owners use them for towing, transporting heavy loads, and off-road fun. Many more pickups are also used in commercial situations and get exposed to high levels of use and abuse.

Over the next several years, however, the rise in average age will slow down again. The market will begin to feel the impact of the 40 percent drop in new registrations when the industry bottomed out at 10.3 million units in 2009. We see average age reaching nearly 11.4 years by 2015, and then the rate of growth will taper off. The acceleration in average age will slow to levels not seen since before the recession. Average age will not reach 11.5 years until 2018—as the vehicle population adjusts to the low number of 2008–12 model year vehicles.

New to five-year-old vehicles will grow 41 percent over the next five years. Six to 11-year-old vehicles will decline 22 percent.

While not an encouraging trend for the aftermarket, there are definite positive signs. The overall vehicle population continues to grow. We see the U.S. light vehicles in operation (VIO) growing by five percent over the next five years—hitting 260 million vehicles by 2018. Vehicles are also lasting longer. Over the next five years, vehicles 12 years and older will increase nearly 12 percent. Vehicle quality continues to improve, people are keeping their vehicles longer, and the scrappage rate continues to decline.

The aftermarket must be aware of the potential impact to the type of repairs it will see over the coming years. In general, 6 to 11-year-old vehicles represent more do-it-for-me (DIFM) type repairs. Older vehicles may drive more do-it-yourself (DIY) and routine maintenance, but also require larger powertrain and suspension repairs.

Two: OEM Globalization is Quickly Becoming the New Norm
Growing global vehicle registrations continue to pressure OEMs to accelerate the need for utilizing global platforms and modular architecture. Global new registrations will set a record in 2013 at just over 74 million units. In 2014, the number will be over 77 million. Looking at total global vehicles in operation, the number broke one billion units in 2010. By 2020, the world will stand at 1.3–1.5 billion vehicles.

This rate of growth translates into expanded global production and a need for OEMs to manage costs. They are accelerating the use of global platforms and looking to produce more units per platform. Among the top-12 global manufacturers, the number of platforms will drop from 212 in 2012 to 147 by 2020. As a result, the number of vehicles produced per platform will grow. Across the same 12 OEMs, it will increase 81 percent. OEMs have also been introducing modular architecture. By standardizing the architecture of the engine compartment, underbodies, and driver cockpit, manufacturers achieve greater flexibility and can utilize standardized components.

Fewer platforms, more vehicles per platform, and the increasing use of modular architecture will lead to the use of similar components and the ability to market the same aftermarket product in various regions around the world—a major opportunity for the global aftermarket supplier.

Three: OEM Technology Advances Continue to Provide the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Both Challenges and Opportunity
These advances are coming in several different ways. Gas and Hybrid Cars Continue to increase Market Share. Through August, gas and electric hybrids represent 3.6 percent of all new registrations—an all-time high. Diesels were right behind at 2.9 percent. Electric vehicles, while on the rise, still represent only 0.3 percent. Over the past five years, however, diesel registrations have remained flat while hybrids have increased their share by 64 percent. One reason for this is simply the number of hybrid models now available. The consumer has 45 different hybrid models to choose from today. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of models with diesel engines increased 21 percent while the number of hybrid models increased 125 percent. Because not all makes and models offer these powertrain options in every vehicle and trim level, their popularity may be limited because of the lack of universal availability. Nonetheless, while OEMs are investing in various options, the internal combustion engine remains the leading candidate for clean, efficient propulsion for at least another decade. However, the automotive aftermarket industry must prepare for new technology surrounding this traditional powertrain. There will be increased use of gasoline direct injection and turbochargers. Start-stop capability, cylinder deactivation, and all-wheel drive disconnect are all coming on strong.

OEMs continue to increase the interval between recommended oil changes.

They are using technology—the oil service indicator light—to replace standard recommended maintenance intervals.

While most vehicles on the road have some type of oil service indicator light, the issue is how often OEMs are using the light as the only means of recommended service. Today, 52 million vehicles in the U.S. use the oil service indicator light as the recommendation for when to change the oil. This represents 21 percent of the total VIO and has grown at a compounded annual rate of 14 percent over the past five years. New powertrain technology and the growing use of synthetic oils have extended oil change intervals as well. The average recommended interval for all light vehicles now stands at over 7,500 miles.

What does this mean to the independent aftermarket? Most repair opportunities are discovered during routine maintenance. Oil changes are, by far, the most common service opportunity for vehicles of all ages. This lengthening of intervals has the potential to affect repair opportunities in two ways.

By recognizing these trends early, the aftermarket can innovate and develop ways to communicate with the driver in much the same way the OEMs are planning.

The aftermarket certainly has what it takes to not only adjust to these coming trends, but take advantage of them as well. This industry has always proven its ability to react and innovate in the face of change. Leverage those strengths to their fullest, and the automotive aftermarket industry will continue its legacy of success.

Issues Facing Automotive Aftermarket Industry in 2020
Of the many insights in AASA’s recent landmark study, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Outlook 2020, the biggest issue identified facing aftermarket suppliers – and their ability to survive and thrive in the future – was the lack of a level playing field along the aftermarket value chain. Key findings of Aftermarket Outlook 2020 included that, though the market itself isn’t expected to see radical changes, business and relationships along the value chain have and will continue to change dramatically.

Full service automotive aftermarket suppliers have seen low-cost country competition, incredible concentration among our customers, eroding margins and a shift of power downstream to the channels – as have manufacturers in many other industries in the post-Walmart era. Many aftermarket manufacturers have not responded effectively to these shifts and need to find new ways to create value in order to be able to deal with changed channel partners as peers. The alternative is a decline in relevance and returns for aftermarket suppliers, analogous to the devastation seen among OE suppliers in the last decade.

As the Aftermarket Outlook 2020 study found, aftermarket suppliers face many issues in the next decade. The graphic below captures just some of the many dynamics and change agents at play in the aftermarket industry. These include:

  • the impact of the Internet,
  • manufacturer versus channel brands,
  • OES versus independent repair shops, especially in an era of increasingly complex vehicles, and
  • new regulations, including fuel economy and safety.

The Aftermarket Outlook 2020 study covers each of the issues in more detail. However, as the study progressed, three key trends “popped” as the most important ones facing manufacturer executives:

  1. Parts complexity – The industry is seeing a massive increase in parts complexity, both in the number of vehicles and parts and the technical sophistication of those parts.
  2. Channel consolidation – During the last 10-15 years, channel partners have responded to market pressures and consolidated massively, changing the balance of power in the industry.
  3. Low-cost countries – Low-cost country imports have had a tremendous impact on traditional North American suppliers, eroding the addressable market; conversely, the emerging markets these parts come from represent a tremendous growth opportunity.

As AASA and Booz & Co. discussed these findings at the 2011 AASA VisCon with aftermarket executives, it became clear that there was a single overarching issue that tied the other issues together of most importance to manufacturers: the lack of a level playing field across the aftermarket value chain.

A Winning Aftermarket Aftermarket Industry Model
So what does all of this add up to in the automotive aftermarket industry? What does Aftermarket Outlook 2020 and follow-up analysis in the industry reveal as a winning automotive aftermarket industry model? A summary of key elements is seen in here:

Those in the Automotive aftermarket industry will know they’ve arrived when they experience:

  • Discussions with retailers as equals
  • Improved profits across the aftermarket value chain through value creation, not value migration
  • Halt or reversal of the erosion of full-service suppliers’ market share by low cost country competitors

Achieving these objectives is not only necessary, but possible for the automotive aftermarket industry. 

Bio: Adam Robinson oversees the overall marketing strategy for Cerasis including website development, social media and content marketing, trade show marketing, email campaigns, and webinar marketing. Mr. Robinson works with the business development department to create messaging that attracts the right decision makers, gaining inbound leads and increasing brand awareness - all while shortening sales cycles, the time it takes to gain sales appointments and set proper sales and execution expectations.

Posted by: AT 11:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019
Wind Energy Powers Through a Successful 2018

By Celeste Wanner, Senior Analyst, Research and Analytics, American Wind Energy Association

Innovation and Enthusiasm Spur a Year of Significant Wind Gains

2018 was a monumental year for wind power in the United States, with exciting growth, demand from new customers, and continued technological advances. The fourth quarter alone was the third strongest quarter ever for capacity installations with 5,944 megawatts (MW) added, more than all the wind installed in Kansas, the country’s fifth largest wind state. In total, the industry commissioned 7,588 MW of new wind capacity in 2018, bumping the U.S.’s installed capacity to 96,488 MW. More wind deployment and innovations continue to drive costs lower, attracting the attention of new corporate buyers, while new horizons offshore present lucrative opportunities for American businesses.

Among the many innovations making debut appearances in the American market was the introduction of the first four MW land-based wind turbines with orders announced by both Senvion and Vestas. This is nearly twice the capacity of the average turbine installed in 2017. It’s a notable stride in achieving great scale and efficiency by offering developers more options for customizing wind farms to match the unique wind resources of their project site.

As the U.S. wind industry continues to grow and mature, wind increasingly delivers enormous benefits to every state across the country. U.S. wind projects offer low-cost, reliable electricity, new manufacturing and technician jobs, plus millions of dollars in land lease payments and investment in communities nationwide.

Posted by: AT 11:20 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019
Shovel Ready and Certified Sites Add Long-Term Success for Companies

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

As time slices through 2019, shovel-ready or "certified" site programs of all kinds continue to be key economic development tools fast-tracking the creation (or expansion) of manufacturing or industrial facilities for America's corporate citizens. When done right, these programs don't discriminate by size, but have proven to add long-term value and an attractiveness cachet to both communities large and small.

Typically these sites are certified by either their home states and/or by an outside consulting firm retained by the states and the communities housing the sites. They are prepared and marketed to be either an industrial site ready for a distribution, warehousing or manufacturing or a research/technology park site, suitable for R&D science and technology type organizations and related support companies.

While factors vary, in general shovel-ready properties are promoted as land that has had its planning, surveys, zoning, title work, soil analysis, public infrastructure engineering and related work completed before becoming officially certified. Environmental clearance is especially vital to this process. Before that can be achieved, usually studies are conducted to focus on archeological, geotechnical, endangered species, wetlands, historical and/or other related environmental concerns.

Posted by: AT 11:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019
Reframing Retail as a Community Asset, Not a Liability

By Alexandra Tranmer, Project Manager, Camoin Associates

The transformation of the retail industry continues into 2019. Beta-testing drone deliveries, cashier-less grocery stores and sampling new paint colors through augmented reality are just a few of the strategies that retailers are using to expand their market share and reach their coveted consumers. Yet, beyond using tactics like experiential retail and re-evaluating consumers’ purchasing preferences, retailers, and perhaps community builders at large, continue to grapple with how the right retail mix can be leveraged as a complementary asset to residents and other businesses. Although Credit Suisse predicted that 20-25 percdnt of U.S. malls will close between 2017-2022, the demand for retail as an amenity that contributes to the development and competitiveness of other markets is strong. While retail is certainly still a challenging sector for small business operators, chances for success are greatly improved when retail is integrated into the fabric of our commutes, daily lives and work patterns. This article will explore how retail is positioned as a critical component of development in large metro areas and smaller cities, and the role of the economic developer in coordinating the multi-disciplinary teams that are necessary to lay the groundwork for retail success. 

Yes, retail remains in a transformative state. Yes, eCommerce has redefined the public’s expectations of how and where they can purchase everyday goods. Ecommerce sales however only comprise about 10 percent of total retail sales. The 2018 3rd Quarter U.S. Retail Sales report from the U.S. Census reports that total retail sales reached $1,340.2 billion, an increase of 0.9 percent from the 2nd quarter of 2018.

Posted by: AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019
A Retrospect and Forward-Thinking Overview of Freight & Transportation Trends in 2019

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

Understanding the state of overall supply chain management is a massive undertaking. It involves countless hours of research, continuous review of leading supply chain experts, consideration of technologies, capabilities from around the globe and much more. The internet is an invaluable resource for shippers and carriers, especially those of smaller size, looking to make a splash in the global supply chain. Unfortunately, the path to understanding this behemoth of information is riddled with rabbit holes, thorns, and even sharp objects. Instead of trying to make sense of the lot by yourself, we’ve taken the initiative to put together these freight and transportation trends to know and use in making supply chain management decisions throughout the coming year.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the end of 2018 and move forward into 2019 with general trends affecting the freight and transportation industry. 

Posted by: AT 09:13 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 01 2019
Aerospace and Defense: A Billion Here, A Billion There

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

Like industrial fraternal twins, the aerospace/defense industries are related, yet, as the name suggests, serve two separate and distinct markets − aerospace, which largely comprises the production, sale, and service of commercial aircraft, and defense, which supplies the nation with the military land, sea and air systems critical for its well being. 

Falling in the narrow crack between the two are the space vehicles, mainly satellites and drones, utilized for both military and commercial use. 

A&D is the leading net exporting industry in the U.S., generating a net trade surplus of $86 billion in 2017, according to the Virginia-based Aerospace Industries Association. 

Posted by: AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 01 2019
The Workplace Reimagined: Autonomous Vehicles Poised to Reshape U.S. Office Market by 2030

By Mike Consol, Editor, Real Assets Adviser

By disrupting the way employees commute to work, autonomous vehicles are expected to fundamentally reshape the U.S. office market by 2030, according to a report from CBRE. Most significant, the primacy of commercial real estate’s traditional decision drivers—geographic location and access to talent—may decrease as the importance placed on the workplace experience and building amenities grows.

Based on extensive and proprietary research, including interviews with leading experts in the autonomous-vehicle space, CBRE’s report predicts autonomous vehicles could account for between 11 percent and 27 percent of vehicle miles traveled by 2030. Factors considered in CBRE’s analysis include the rate at which the cost per mile for self-driving cars decreases compared with personal cars, the time it takes to develop software capable of navigating both inclement weather and complex urban roadway layouts, and advances in vehicle manufacturing capacity.

Posted by: AT 08:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
Green Renewable Economy, Boom or Boondoggle?

By Don Holbrook, Site Location & Economic Incentives Consultant

The economy has been on a rabid growth spurt since 2012 or 2013 depending on your outlook on net job growth. In fact, 2018 has seen some of the best GDP in decades. But, all this could be coming to an end soon. Why? Another perfect storm has built up just over the horizon and is about to make landfall in the U.S. shortly.

The ingredients for this slow down or recession involve some major shortsighted blunders and some transitional timing as well.

The rising interest rates are putting pressure on over-leveraged companies, tied to a trade war threat, a major shortage of talented high tech and skilled workers buoyed by rising fossil fuel prices, and now you have our current chaotic economy.

Now along comes the renewable clean energy expansion, which is highly supported by the general public as the wave of ballot initiatives continued in 2018 to ratchet up conversion to clean energy benchmarks. 

Posted by: AT 01:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
Recent and Emerging Trends in Cybersecurity for Economic and Business Development

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President, Camoin Associates

What is Cybersecurity?
Hardly a day goes by with without news regarding cybersecurity threats. Whether it is about elections, eCommerce, business, or social media threats – digital systems are growing and creating both challenges and opportunities for business development. There are many definitions of cybersecurity. One I like to use is from computer systems leader, Cisco: “Cybersecurity is the convergence of people, processes and technology that come together to protect organizations, individuals or networks from digital attacks.
1” I like this definition because like it goes beyond technology to include people and processes. This aligns well with how I view economic development as operating within a dynamic system of people, organizations and networks.

Why is Cybersecurity Such a Big Deal?
So why such a big deal about cybersecurity? The answer: it is increasingly impacting our ability to conduct business from communications and networking, to markets, trade, logistics, and transactions. Additionally, our response to such threats to develop systems, services, and products that detect, correct, and protect is creating economic and business development opportunities. 

Posted by: AT 12:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
A Site Selector's Perspective to Profit from Your Data Center!

By Angelos Angelou, Founder & CEO, AngelouEconomics,

In real estate, it’s about: “Location, Location, Location!” Location matters – no really, it does!  When the data amount is region-specific, it is important to have data centers off-site in the areas when needed. It is also a great option for driving down costs coming from being away from a major data hub such as those in cities. This is more than just choosing a data center closest to the customer’s business operations. Additionally, communities looking to recruit a data center operation should look at their commercial energy costs, talent pool and potential underdeveloped areas to place a data center. Connectivity will be a key consideration for a data center and is a key consideration for data center customers.

Both technological advances and companies adapting to industry changes contributed to the growth in number of data centers and data center expansions. A significant amount of the IT budget is spent on maintenance to keep up with the updates from growing customer demand.

Posted by: AT 12:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
Plastics: Global Rankings and Industry Report

The 2018 Global Trends report, published by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), depicts a global plastics industry that is thriving despite numerous political and societal threats to the continued, unfettered operation of its supply chain.

At the time of this writing, the U.S. has attempted to rectify its trade imbalance with its trading partners. Existing free trade agreements have been updated and higher import tariffs have been imposed on a broad range of products—from aluminum and steel to other products vital to U.S. manufacturing, including plastics materials, machinery, products and molds.

Meanwhile, in the last 12 months, anti-plastics sentiment has grown as concerns about marine litter and waste have gripped the public consciousness. This has given proponents of material deselection a much greater audience for their arguments, and the introduction of bills that ban products like straws, bags and plastic foodservice packaging has continued, mainly in the U.S. and mainly in coastal states and communities.

Posted by: AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
Medical Device Manufacturing: A Growth Industry Healing the World

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

The U.S. medical device industry holds the title as the world's largest medical device market, boasting a market size of around $156 billion. In 2017, the industry represented nearly 40 percent of the global medical device market.

Highly competitive and driven by heavily-funded R&D initiatives, its universe of diverse products prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses or diseases, or are used to detect, measure, restore, correct and modify a bodily function or structure for health reasons. Industry players create everything from dental equipment/supplies, electro-medical equipment and in-vitro diagnostics, to irradiation apparatuses, surgical appliances and medical instruments.

Posted by: AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019
Technology in Key Supply Chains is Evolving Supply Chain and Logistics Planning

By Adam Wasserman, Managing Partner and Lois C. Yates, CEcD, GLDPartners

In one way or another, advances in product or business model technology has created quite significant changes in how companies are managing and planning their supply chains. Evolving corporate requirements have cascaded a wide range of new requirements to corporate supply chain managers and their external logistics partners. This dynamic has created a panoply of new challenges to what has been largely quite established and stabled supply chain environments.

To some in the logistics industry, these dynamics are creating new business opportunities, while to others these new requirements are producing challenges to legacy supply chain business. Generally speaking, these kinds of corporate requirement changes are causing upheaval and new logistics complexity – creating new opportunities for a number of logistics companies who are able to provide new service offerings and appropriate levels of product and customer care.

Posted by: AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 20 2018
Oil and Gas Production at Record Highs and Fossil Fuels Continue to Play a Major Role in the U.S. Economy

By Angelos Angelou, Founder & CEO, AngelouEconomics,

Fossil fuels—love them or hate them, they’re the backbone upon which modern civilization was built. They’ve made nations. They’ve sparked wars. And, most importantly, they’ve provided the key ingredient for the most rapid and sustained economic expansion in human history.

Yes, it’s true that fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—are by their nature finite resources. It’s also true that their use releases climate-impacting carbon emissions into the atmosphere. These considerations, as well as the rise of a new generation of renewable energy technologies, all but guarantee that fossil fuels will largely go by the wayside at some point in the future. Maybe it will be in our lifetime. Maybe it will be in our children’s lifetime, or their children’s. Given the constantly evolving trends, tech, and geopolitics influencing the global energy sector, it’s hard to make long-term prognostications with any certainty.

Posted by: AT 10:38 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 20 2018
Profiling the Food and Beverage Industry: Trends In Baking And Snack Foods

By Frank Spano, Managing Director and Kyle Johnson, Location Consultant, The Austin Company

The food and beverage industry in the United States has shown positive signs of expansion over the past ten years. Forecasts and growth models indicate this expansion will continue into the future, though possibly at a slower rate. The following factors may assist in explaining this upward trend:

  1. Major plant upgrades at existing operations or replacement of older, outdated facilities. Continued plant upgrades and existing plant expansions may result in more automation and less job growth.
  2. New product innovation based on changing consumer demands.
  3. Continued market entry into the U.S. from smaller and medium-sized European and Asian operations, along with continued growth from established foreign-owned operations located in the U.S.

One notable portion of the food and beverage industry, the baking and snack food industry, shines as an important segment of the U.S. economy with nine percent growth from 2007 to 2017. The following discussion examines this industry over the past ten years and makes general conclusions on its projected growth.

Posted by: AT 10:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 20 2018
3D Printing Finds a Custom Foothold in Manufacturing

From rocket thrusters to shoe soles, additive technologies expand their sights
By M. Mitchell Waldrop - Originally published in Knowable Magazine

Since May 2015, in a portion of its WorldPort distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, United Parcel Service has been operating a spare parts warehouse with no spare parts. Instead, the facility is stocked with ultrafast 3D printers that can build up almost any plastic part that’s required, layer by layer by layer—and have it ready for UPS to deliver anywhere in the United States by morning.

“It was a no-brainer,” says Alan Amling, UPS’s vice president for corporate strategy. Storing spare parts for quick delivery was already a big moneymaker for the company, he says. UPS operates more than a thousand field stocking locations worldwide—all full of items that somebody might need someday, maybe. The industrial customers who pay for that service have to keep the parts available because of warranty contracts, says Amling. But they hate it. “Inventory storage costs are massive,” he says. “So we started to see 3D printing as a solution.”

Posted by: AT 09:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 19 2018
Reshoring: Changing Conditions Impact Location Decisions

By Harry Moser, Founder/President, Reshoring Initiative

For decades companies have been chasing cheap labor offshore and then importing products to sell in the U.S. market. The impact of offshoring on the U.S. economy has been significant. Offshoring to China and elsewhere have cost about five million U.S. manufacturing jobs, helped contribute to wage erosion and had a dramatic and negative effect on workers and the economy in every state. Communities have lost, on average, 27 percent of their manufacturing workforce since 2000. About 63 percent of the job loss is due to offshoring of jobs.

Companies have also been impacted, since their largest market, the U.S., has experienced flat or declining real personal incomes and thousands of business customers have disappeared. In view of the current strong surge of jobs back from offshore, understanding the reasons for the losses and the current opportunities to bring millions of jobs back can help site selection consultants and corporate real estate brokers succeed. Knowing what drives reshoring and FDI can help identify siting solutions that overcome the problems experienced offshore.

Posted by: AT 09:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 19 2018
The Healthcare Industry as a Critical Driver of Cluster Development

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President Camoin Associates, Alexandra Tranmer, Project Manager Camoin Associates

In previous research articles on healthcare, we have considered digital technology trends, the changing dynamics of real estate and retailization of the healthcare industry, and why healthcare should be a consideration in a community’s economic development strategic planning. This time around, our research examines the critical role that healthcare plays in supporting and growing industry clusters, specifically, Life Sciences, Information Communications Technology (ICT), and Medical Device Manufacturing. These clusters are producing significant contributions to the nation’s economy and creating high wage jobs.

While healthcare is often deemed too difficult to manage at a local level due to the federal involvement in regulations or overlooked as a non-export industry, local and regional economic developers can harness the workforce, technology, and sheer size of the healthcare industry to further support job growth in their communities. Furthermore, the number of projected openings in the healthcare field continue to rise and supporting and training the workforce for these positions will be crucial to ensuring the stability and growth of healthcare networks across the country, while providing significant employment and career opportunities.

Posted by: AT 08:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 19 2018
The Value and Challenges of Certified and Shovel Ready Sites in the Site Selection Process

By Phil Schneider, President, Schneider Strategy Consulting LLC

In 20 years, certified and shovel ready site programs have evolved from a unique tool and competitive advantage to economic development table stakes. Site readiness programs in one form or another have become an established part of many, if not most, economic developers’ tool kits. Site readiness programs are established in over 30 states, developed and managed by state and local economic development organizations – both public and private – chambers of commerce, electric power utilities, railroads, port authorities, and other industrial development entities.  

The reasons for their increasing popularity and ubiquity are clear: speed to market is increasingly critical in the site selection process, companies are no longer willing to bear the cost of extensive due diligence for multiple sites on their own, and the risk of site timing and condition unknowns has become unacceptable in the location process.

Posted by: AT 08:34 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 18 2018
Foreign Trade Zones: A Valuable Tool for Local and Regional Economic Development

By Greg Jones, Vice-President, FTZC™ (Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation)

In his Magnum Opus commonly known as “The Wealth of Nations,” 18th century Enlightenment philosopher and economist Adam Smith noted, “Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society.” If one were to update this observation, one might say that every man and woman’s livelihood depends on the exchange or trade of goods, services, and every form of property. Since ancient times, trade in goods has fueled the growth of cities, the construction of roads, ports, and other infrastructure, and indeed, nations and empires. In those days the trade of goods was – literally – a pedestrian affair. Merchants loaded goods and commodities on a beast of burden and hoofed-it to the village, town, or city where the goods would be sold. Today, trade ranges across the globe, with raw materials, parts and components, and finished products being produced, marketed and transported in every country, city, town, and household via multiple modes of transportation: ocean, air, rail, and highway.

As trade has expanded and become more complex, competition has become global. The competition to attract and retain value-added business operations, and thereby reap investment, employment and prosperity is also global in scope.

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Tuesday, September 18 2018
Trends in the Disruptive Digital Media Industry

By Christa Ouderkirk Franzi, CEcD, Senior Project Manager, Camoin Associates, Inc.

Digital media is arguably the most disruptive industry across the economy. Beyond completely transforming the way we watch movies, play video games, and receive news within just a few years, businesses that do any sort of online marketing are in a constant battle to keep up with the perpetual onslaught of new channels, applications, technology, and tactics to reach targeted audiences.  

The digital media industry is just as hard to define as it is to stay on top of. When broken down, ‘digital’ means anything related to using a computer and ‘media’ are the tools used to communicate across space and time such as books, radio, television, etc. While streaming radio over the internet is a form of digital media, the use of computers to communicate allows something that traditional broadcast media does not: interaction across networks. Consumers of digital media engage with content with a simple ‘like’ or ‘share’ to their personal online network, or they can create an online group to identify others interested in the same type of content. All these actions by consumers are a way of communicating preferences back to content producers and providers who use this information to better their offerings and the user experience. 

Posted by: AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 17 2018
Metal Fabrication: Bending, Shaping and Molding Its Future Growth 

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

It really isn’t too much of a stretch to say that metal fabrication is a lot like the musical score to a great film—you don’t realize how important it is until it isn’t there. 

Close your eyes and imagine Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Cast Away, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan or The Magnificent Seven without the music that lifts them to the level of masterpiece. Imagine, then, going about your business every day, or at least trying to, without refrigerators, washing machines, thumbtacks, air conditioners, automobiles, wire, bridge spans, locomotives, lap tops, knives and forks, airplanes, nuts and bolts, agricultural machinery, watches, window frames, hand tools, nails, and the humble ‘tin’ cans that contain everything from brake fluid to creme soda. Good luck. 

Ubiquitous metal fabricators across the country cut, bend, roll, punch, forge, turn, stamp, cut, shape and form metal–primarily steel and aluminum rods, bars and sheets-for virtually every ancillary industry one can conceive, from manufacturing, construction, aerospace, automotive, architecture, and electronics, to food processing, telecommunications, medical, energy and power generation, just to name a few. 

Posted by: AT 10:26 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 24 2018
The Next Recruiting Challenge - Filling the Workforce Gap by Filling Workforce Development Programs

By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting

We are living in a time when frustrated employers facing shortages of qualified job applicants co-exist with both young and experienced workers experiencing persistent challenges in finding opportunities to create a sustainable career. In response, an impressive amount of work is being done across the country to boost the short and long-term workforce pipeline at all levels.

A lot of progress has been made connecting educational institutions and workforce agencies to existing and new businesses so that training program are well aligned to job opportunities. The job is never really done, and funding is always a challenge, but in many cases the questions of what needs to be done has been answered, at least in theory.  

Posted by: AT 01:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 23 2018
High-Technology/Information Technology Location Dynamics

By Dennis J. Donovan, Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting


This article focuses on one large and rapidly-growing segment of high-tech. That is information technology. The sector consists of systems and operation software (including web and mobile), infrastructure support (e.g., network enablement), and customer support (e.g., help desk). 

Before proceeding it should be noted that most industries that traditionally considered high-tech have been locationally active. Such industries include biopharma, medical devices, scientific instruments, micro-electronics, robotics, 3-D manufacturing, aerospace, autonomous vehicles, optics, photonics, telecommunications, and mobile devices. Location activity has been strong across key functions including R&D, manufacturing, and distribution. 

These industries (list is not all-inclusive) have a significant dependence on science and technology innovation, which leads to new or improved products/services. In addition, high-tech industries have an above-average concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers.

Posted by: AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 23 2018
Regional Growth Drives the U.S. Lumber, Timber Industry

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

No pun intended, the story of America’s timber and logging industry goes deep with roots that weave all the way back to the early 17th Century when the settlers of the early colonies in present-day New England and Virginia built their beleaguered settlements from timber harvested from the vast forest that loomed around them. 

Over the past four centuries, amidst economic ups and downs, depressions and recessions, the labor-intensive work of felling trees and fashioning them into the lumber and wood products used across the nation and around the world has grown into a multi-faceted business generating billions of dollars annually from much of the country’s 751 million acres of public- and privately-owned forests. 

Currently, paper and wood products exports account for about 15 percent of the industry’s annual total sales. In 2017, the industry’s global exports totaled $30.9 billion, of which $21.4 billion were exports of pulp, paper and packaging materials, while some $9.5 billion were exports of wood products. 

Posted by: AT 01:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 23 2018
Rise of Rural America: Opportunity in Agtech

By Carter Williams, CEO and Managing Director of iSelect

Author J.D. Vance made the case for rural America in his 2016 book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” sparking a months-long debate about the role of city vs. country in our economy, our lifestyles and our politics that’s still ongoing.

We learned the full scope of that debate on Election Day 2016.

But the fact remains, rural America is a key part of American society and of the nation’s economy, encompassing the vast majority of our landmass as well as millions of individual people. That role looks to only increase in the coming years.

Why? Because rural America remains primarily focused on one industry: agriculture. And that industry has been getting chopped to pieces in recent years.

Posted by: AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
Two Trends to Watch in the Tourism Industry

By Dina DeCarlo and Christa Ouderkirk Franzi, Camoin Associates, Inc.

The travel industry is continuously evolving and responding to technological advancements and changes in consumer preferences. When thinking about trends affecting the travel industry, companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb come to mind; and in terms of preferences, discovering “how to reach millennials” is always a hot topic. We have all heard about these, but, what are some other less obvious trends affecting change in the travel industry? And how can communities and businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry harness these trends to stay on the cutting edge of travel?

Economics of Travel and Tourism by the Numbers
Before diving into trends, it is important to understand the industry overall, how it operates, and its place in the greater economy. Broadly, tourism can be defined by the activities engaged in by people while visiting an area located outside of their typical geographic environment. To economic analysists, the hospitality and tourism industry consists of economic activity within four industry categories: 1. accommodations and services, 2. transportation, 3. food services and drinking places, and 4. recreation, entertainment, and shopping.

Posted by: AT 03:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
Science/Tech Parks: Converting Dreams to Growth

By Angelos Angelou, CEO, Angelou Economics

For those so inclined, a quick glance at any scientific journal or publication reveals a community of discovery that is exciting, complicated, and, frankly speaking, bizarre. Recent breakthroughs include, but are by no means limited to: the observation of a neutron star collision that gave birth to an unfathomable amount of deep-space gold; the growing of a premature lamb in a plastic bag; and continued development of the CRISPR gene-editing technique. Researcher’s at the University of Cambridge even taught sheep to recognize Emma Watson’s face.  

Source: The Times

Alright, so all of that is…interesting. But it also raises an important question: why? What’s the point? How do we get from a celebrity-enamored sheep to a practical, commercialized good or service? The fact is, while discovery for discovery’s sake is great, it’s also expensive. Framing it another way, if research is to remain viable in the long-run, the knowledge gained must at some point make it out of scientists’ imaginations and into the hands of consumers. Unfortunately, the road from discovery to dollars is not always an easy one.

Posted by: AT 03:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
Railroad Trends

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

Fueled by new technologies and deep-pocket investments, today's modern railways are transforming how commodities and people move around the globe, and supporting overall economic growth at breakneck speeds. Here are just a few of the many exciting ways the rail industry has been evolving to offer innovative transportation solutions while remaining extremely relevant to our mobile society.

The Continual Greening of the Rail Sector
The rail sector already has impressive "green credentials" in the world of transportation. On average, railroads are four times more fuel-efficient than trucks in moving things and comprise less than one percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Today, railroads are researching and using more "green" programs than ever before to increase energy efficiencies, lower operational costs and meet/exceed tightening environmental regulations.

Slowly but surely, solar energy is being developed as an energy source for passenger transportation. Last December, the Bryon Bay Railroad Company in New South Wales, Australia, debuted the world's first all-solar-powered, 100-passenger train. It makes a round-trip run once an hour. (Batteries and an electric motor are present as back-ups.) Solar power also is being explored as a means to power up its stations and other facilities.

Posted by: AT 02:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
ONE-SIDED INVESTMENTS - U.S. Ports Call for Federal Support of Long-Term Infrastructure Development

By Sarah B. Hood

In January, Port of Cleveland President and CEO William Friedman spoke on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the sector’s critical infrastructure issues.

“It’s imperative that related infrastructure be a part of any broad infrastructure investment legislation the committee develops,” he told the Committee. “AAPA has identified $66 billion in potential waterside and landside investments over the next decade that will help assure the benefits from an anticipated $155 billion in port-related capital infrastructure investments.”

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle points out that “seaport cargo activity accounts for 26 percent of U.S. GDP and over 23 million American jobs, and generates over $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”

Posted by: AT 02:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
Domestic Call Center Industry Continues to Grow Despite Increasing Labor Challenges

By  King R. White, CEO, Site Selection Group, LLC

The domestic call center industry has gone through many cycles over the last couple of decades but continues to find its place within the U.S. economy as a critical part of a balanced workforce in communities across the country. Site selection strategies continue to evolve as companies seek to find the optimal location for their call centers. Similarly, call centers have expanded into omni-channel environments doing far more than what they did when the industry first gained a foothold in the 1990s. As a result, companies need to understand the latest trends and challenges faced by call centers and related back office operations within the United States.

The Evolution of the Call Center Industry
Call centers really began to emerge in the early ’90s as advances in telecommunication technologies enabled companies to route calls to various locations. This allowed companies to centralize where calls were routed in an effort to improve service levels and corporate efficiencies. The equipment was expensive but declined in price as cloud-based technologies took off. The industry rapidly matured and created countless jobs across the United States in both large and small communities.

Posted by: AT 02:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
The Lists: Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters

Despite consolidation of capital and talent in the nation’s two largest biopharma clusters, all 10 regions ranked by GEN have significant assets that make them attractive to biopharma researchers, executives, and investors. [Wsvan/Wikimedia]

Bruce Booth, D.Phil., a partner at Atlas Venture, astutely observed earlier this year that two key resources fueling the growth of biopharma were, until recently, somewhat geographically spread among the ten or so regions of the nation where the industry began to arise a generation ago.

“In recent years, this has changed—Boston and San Francisco are now the preeminent biotech clusters.  And their gravity in the ecosystem is only getting stronger,” Dr. Booth concluded in a March 21 post on his Life Sci VC blog. “Beyond having great science and the right ‘pixie dust’ in the local environment, two fundamentally important ingredients to the success of any cluster are capital and talent—and both are aggregating into the two key clusters.”

Posted by: AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 29 2018
Food, Glorious Food!

By Jay Garner, President, Garner Economics LLC & Cyndi Dancy, director of research, Garner Economics LLC

Top Areas for the Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry
The food and beverage industry remains a generous slice of the nation’s manufacturing sector with steadily increasing employment. Consumers drive trends on what is being produced, how it is packaged, and the industry continues to adapt and thrive. Metro areas with large populations have a foothold on food productions, while other areas have found their specialties driving employment.

More than 1.8 million people across the United States work in food and beverage manufacturing sectors as of June 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These two sectors show continual employment growth since 2010 with strong advancement in the past five years.  

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Friday, March 23 2018
American Wind Power Booms through 2020

By Hannah Hunt, Senior Research Analyst, American Wind Energy Association

You might not realize it, but the days of wind power occupying a niche space in the American electricity market are long gone. Today wind is a mainstream, integral part of our energy economy. 

Forty-one states now boast utility-scale wind farms, and the U.S. has enough installed wind capacity to power over 26 million American homes. Last year, wind passed hydropower dams to become America’s largest source of renewable energy by installed capacity, and it is expected that wind will surpass conventional hydropower in generation this year too. Utilities and Fortune 500 companies alike increasingly turn to wind to meet their energy needs, which translates to job creation and economic investment for communities across the country.

Posted by: AT 08:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 23 2018
Not Your Grandparent's Shopping Center

A Look at Expansion, Disruption, Trends, Evolution, Innovation but not Extinction in Retail Development

By Shawn Massey, CCIM, CRX, CLS, ALC

Retail has constantly transformed and evolved from the first general store to a town square/main street format to the neighborhood strip center, to the first suburban shopping center in 1949, to the mall evolution that started in the early 1950’s, to the big box era of that began in the early 1980’s, to the lifestyle centers that followed shortly afterwards, to mixed-use projects providing a live, work and play experience that are prevalent today. We have really come full circle in retail development as we look back to the integrated residential, retail, play and work environments that existed from the turn of the century.  

We are not, by any stretch, facing a “Retail Apocalypse.” Restaurants are booming. Grocery anchored malls remain steady.  The trend toward transforming retail into “experiences” continues to drive customer traffic to an environment targeted to a variety of age groups and interests. “Omni Channel” platforms encompass eCommerce and a host of spaces, physical and virtual. And, as retailers refine inventories, distribution methods, and fulfillment models, the retail market will survive even prosper in fresh, new ways.  --  Peter C. Burley, CRE

Posted by: AT 08:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 22 2018
Automotive's Amazing Race

By Dawn Baetsen, president of D.E. Baetsen & Associates LLC

The race for automotive market share is intense, while the race for mobility dominance is inspiring and spectacular. The mobility culture disrupts the automotive industry in every aspect. We are at a crossroads where the world needs efficient, safety-first movement by land as we travel increasingly more miles to transport people, goods, and services. The automotive industry is finding the paths where it can make a difference as new vehicle sales growth narrows. OEMs seeking to survive are leaping to further identify with, and reside in, the mobility economy where service revenues will be critical for survival. The genesis of the mobility economy evolves and transportation’s emerging alternatives away from personal ownership to mobility as a service (MaaS), rises demand for drivetrain fueling alternatives and movement to autonomous vehicles impact the industry and how it will operate in the future. Countless new, competing entrants bringing innovative technologies or providing service alternatives to traditional automobile ownership challenge the conventional industry business model.

Posted by: AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 22 2018
Reevaluation of Transportation Strategy

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

With the rise of eCommerce, the value of transportation has grown. Logistics professionals can no longer simply go about standard operations, and the days of peaks and lulls have ended. Yet, some may be asking, “why has demand increased so much?” To answer that question, let us turn our attention to some of the key top transportation trends we will see over the next 12 months, in part as a response to the growing customer experience movement.

The transportation industry faces a huge battle in 2018. Demand is increasing faster than anyone could have predicted, and new technologies are disrupting the market. The transportation industry will be shaped by these 10 top transportation trends as a response to the growing customer experience movement many industries are responding to.

Posted by: AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 10 2018
The Benefits of a

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

In this brave new world of two-day delivery being the norm for online purchases, it seems people expect speedy delivery of just about everything that affects their personal and professional lives. 

In the economic development world, that idea is somewhat embodied in the increasingly popular concept of "shovel-ready" sites available to relocating and expanding businesses. After all, time is money. And if a site is ready to roll now for development to meet production timelines, without the need to wait months for loads of research, what's not to love about that?

But the devil is in the details. The definition of what makes one site "ready to go" in one state can differ in another state. Typically a shovel-ready site is one whose ownership is clearly established and is ready for development, and is currently – or could be quickly – serviced by local utilities and infrastructure. 

Posted by: AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 10 2018
Plastics, A Continuing Success Story

By James R. Kinnett II, CEcD, The Kinnett Consulting Group

In the words of Mr. McGuire from the movie the Graduate (some of you may remember it, 1967) “There’s a great future in Plastics. Think about it.”  Plastics continue to thrive and grow in spite of the press it periodically receives. With the coming changes that the Plastics industry is beginning to experience, growth and expansion are the future of the business. Due to the emergence of new stock sources, the industry is finding new opportunities in creating new and broadening products that it will produce.

Emerging trends are crossing a number of activities and are quickly changing the playing field when it comes to an ever-expanding industry. Some of the more salient trends that are and will be affecting not only the Plastics industry but industry as a whole are:

  • New Materials
  • Lightweighting and Small Parts
  • Recycling, Reclaiming and Renewable
  • Near Shoring
  • Automation and Customization
  • Connected Factories

But first let’s take a look at the industry as a whole. According to a recent survey of corporate plastics executives by the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors (MAPP), 90 percent of executives anticipate a steady or increased business activity in 2017-18; 34 percent of these executives reported an increase in fourth- quarter profits up nearly 10 percent from the previous year.

Posted by: AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 10 2018
Medical Device Manufacturing: Challenges, Potential and Prospects

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

It’s virtually impossible to take an analytical look at the medical device manufacturing sector without first looking at the 500-pound gorilla in the room the federal government’s medical device tax.

Originally included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the tax imposed a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices and supplies including pacemakers, optical diagnostic equipment, syringes, artificial joints, surgical gloves, ultrasound devices, and dental instruments that has proven to be “a severe drag on companies' ability to invest in and grow their businesses, whether in new facilities, infrastructure improvements, R&D or new hires,” says Mark Brager, vice president of communications at the Advanced Medical Technology Association in Washington, D.C.

According to industry analysts, the industry's federal income tax liability would be approximately $8.7 billion for 2013, the first year the tax was in effect a 30 percent increase in the industry's total tax burden, solely due to the device tax. 

Posted by: AT 08:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 09 2018
Recent and Emerging Trends in Transportation and Logistics

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President Camoin Associates

Transportation and Logistics is a central component of the economy. It not only supports numerous jobs and output within its own sector, but also enables other sectors, namely manufacturing and retail, to generate and distribute supplies and products nationally and globally creating new wealth through exports. This article will focus on the Transportation and Logistics Sector and related subsectors providing an understanding of economic performance, recent and emerging trends, and how to consider within economic and business development. While transportation of people via rail, air, bus, water, etc.… is a form of transportation, this article will focus on the warehousing and movement of supplies and products along supply chains – from inputs, to production, to end markets and directly related support activities such as freight arrangement, equipment repair. A full list of the subsectors, and their North American Industry Classification System Codes is listed in Appendix 1.

Economic Trends – Employment, Output, Earnings, and Occupations
The Transportation and Logistics Sector is an important and growing part of the U.S. economy. In 2017, there were 3.7 million jobs in the U.S. within the Transportation and Logistics Sector, representing 2.3 percent of total U.S. employment. This Sector has experienced significant growth in the past ten years as the country has emerged from the recension. Between 2008 and 2017 the Transportation and Logistics Sector experienced 12.7 percent growth adding 416,316 jobs.

Posted by: AT 08:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 09 2018
Alignment of Corporate and Community Sustainability Strategies

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

Corporate sustainability strategies have become common at companies large and small, establishing initiatives and targets for economic, environmental, and social performance of the company. Sustainability is about taking a long-term view when making corporate investments, which can be difficult in a competitive economic environment that rewards short-term gains. To meet sustainability targets, sustainability-driven companies take a systems approach, meaning all material inputs and outputs are elements in an ecosystem that are continually put back into service. Companies with sustainability strategies are driven not only by economic gains, but environmental and social principles. Sustainability-driven manufacturers will place importance on the selection of production locations that will align with and support their corporate performance targets. Companies will invest in locations where the community is a willing partner towards achieving sustainability targets. Communities that are prepared to be a partner are best poised to benefit from the sustainability movement. 

Sustainability, as with all social movements, has gone through natural stages of maturation, from initial conception derived from grassroots activism, to the identification of a shared vision, and then formalization through public awareness and acceptance. The sustainability movement’s roots began with the environmental movement of the 1960s and 70s, when passage of substantial regulations such as the Clean Air Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, Clean Water Act, and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency solidified public sentiment toward protecting human health and the environment. Sustainable development was formalized in 1987 when the Brundtland Commission Report defined it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Posted by: AT 08:31 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 09 2018
Data Center Site Selection: Mitigating Risk and Maximizing Connectivity

By Tim Kittila, Director, Data Center Strategy, Parallel Technologies,

As the consumption and the creation of data multiplies at exponential rates, so does the demand for data centers and colocation facilities. These data centers provide critical network connectivity points, provide hosting services for private and public cloud options, or host variations of enterprise data. 

Some would argue that as a result of this current “outsource” swing in the market place, additional data centers are being added to accommodate the growth in colocation and cloud options. Others see shift in the market place as network demands are forcing our data to be close to the end-user, calling for the growth of new “edge” data centers. The various demands and growth of IoT (Internet of Things), data availability, data storage, data processing, etc., is pushing the consumption of data center space. As a result, we see new data centers being required as the commodity of “data” becomes more valuable than the commodity of oil. 

Posted by: AT 08:24 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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
Sunday, October 01 2017
Finding Fertile Ground for Agribusiness Innovation

By Don Schjeldahl, Principal, DSG Advisors

Agribusiness/food processing, like many industries, is no stranger to shifting economies forcing the repurposing or closing of facilities. Aging production technologies, volatile raw material supplies, and shifting consumer preferences and markets are among the many factors that propel the industry. The ability of a company to adapt to change means producers can extend the life of facilities and protect market share. 

There are obvious advantages for corporate managers to carefully consider the attributes of candidate locations when deciding where to invest in new or expanding facilities. Increasingly important is the need for decision makers to identify communities that track the changing needs of niche sectors, and adjust offerings accordingly. A facility located in one of these communities is more likely to achieve long-term success by reducing risk from swings in technology, markets, raw materials, and other forces.

Posted by: AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, October 01 2017
Be in the Zone

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

A Promising Future for American Foreign Trade Zones

America's Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) program is stronger than ever and continues to be a high-value asset for U.S. exports activity and re-shoring of manufacturing efforts. 

Every zone is an economic development tool giving competitive advantages to U.S. firms representing myriad industries. By reducing costs, zones not only "level the playing field" but help companies keep their manufacturing or distribution operations in America. While not all participating companies are large, many which utilize FTZs are global giants, including General Electric, Dell, Intell, Merck, General Motors, BMW and ExxonMobil.

Posted by: AT 10:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, October 01 2017
3D Printing's Impact on the Metal Fabrication Industry

Article contributed by, All Metals Fabrication,

The potential for technology to change the way the metal fabrication industry operates is ongoing and enormous. We’ve already benefited from laser technology with faster, more accurate metal fabrication. As 3D printing evolves, it will also have a big impact on how things are manufactured.

Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is changing the face of manufacturing and production when it comes to just about every industry: automotive, electronics, military, even food. Originally used with plastics and polymers, recent innovations include a type of 3D metal printing as an additive process that uses a laser beam to melt micron layers of metal powder instead of plastic filament. New 3D printing machines will allow for using a wider variety of metals, which will simplify the printing process.

Posted by: AT 09:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 29 2017
Digital Media & Gaming: A Winning Combo

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

Two seemingly disparate, though increasingly related, industry sectors –digital media and gaming – have seen an explosive surge in activity over the past several years that continues to serve as major engines of both regional and state economic growth and job creation, particularly in the south and southeastern U.S.

Digital Media

In 2015, McKinsey & Company published a report after investing three years in gathering research on the impact of digital media’s far-reaching influence on and varied applications for industries from print publishing to digital advertising, from video games to the box office.

According to the report, by 2019, “digital spending will account for more than 50 percent of overall media spend” as ongoing developments in digital media continue to foster “healthy economic expansion and increasing household incomes.”

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Friday, September 29 2017
ATC Privatization: NBAA Speaks Out

By Ed Bolen, President and CEO, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

The business aviation community consists of companies of all sizes that rely on many different types of aircraft – from single-pilot airplanes, to turbine aircraft that fly internationally, to helicopters that survey rush-hour traffic – and the fixed-base operations and many other services that support flight operations at the nation’s 5,000 public-use airports. 

The majority of these businesses – an overwhelming  97 percent – are small- to mid-size companies, and other entities such as nonprofit organizations. No matter how large or small, these companies all depend upon business aviation to provide flexibility and security that are increasingly necessary to compete in the global marketplace. 

That said, business aviation's contributions extend beyond the direct benefits to U.S. companies. This industry helps generate $219 billion annually in economic activity, and supports 1.1 million stable, high-wage jobs in this country alone.

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Friday, September 29 2017
U.S. Economy Growth Depends on Multimodal Transportation Funding

By Kurt Nagle, AAPA President/CEO

At a time when the United States government is focused on creating American jobs, propelling the economy and modernizing infrastructure, the role played by the nation’s freight transportation system is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, transportation infrastructure investment in the U.S. has lagged, impacting the flow of goods to farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers who must have access to the global marketplace. 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in its 2017 “Infrastructure Report Card,” America can no longer afford to defer investment into its infrastructure. To close the current $2 trillion, 10-year investment gap, meet future needs, and restore the nation’s global competitive advantage, an increase in investment from all levels of government and the private sector is needed - from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product by 2025. 

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Friday, September 29 2017
Metal Fabrication and its Role in the Overall Economy

By Dr. Chris Kuehl, the economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) and managing partner of Armada Corporate Intelligence

To the majority of the population, manufacturing itself is pretty mysterious. We know that everything we touch and use is manufactured in some way, but the process is something that takes place behind closed doors, and when people are asked to describe manufacturing they usually describe assembly rather than actual manufacturing. The fabrication sector is that much more mysterious to most. The classic definition of metal fabrication is producing the component metal parts that combine with other metal parts to form larger machines. By its very nature, the metal fabrication business is made up of smaller specialty companies that can do this kind of detailed work. The world of manufacturing tends to be divided between the large companies which essentially assemble components and the small and medium-sized companies that make them.

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Friday, September 01 2017
Survey Shows U.S. Ports Plan Big Investments In Capital Projects

Anticipated federal under-investment in port-related infrastructure could dampen job and economic prospects

In its just-released 2016-2020 Port Planned Infrastructure Investment Survey, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas – asked its U.S. member ports how much they and their private-sector partners plan to spend on port-related freight and passenger infrastructure over the next five years. The answer was a whopping $154.8 billion.

AAPA then contrasted that number with what it believes is the “best-case” scenario for investments by the federal government into U.S. ports, including their land- and water-side connections, through 2020. The answer was just $24.825 billion.

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Wednesday, July 26 2017
Warehousing and Distribution, Moving to New Heights

Warehousing and distribution oriented operations are experiencing an incredible transformation that is impacting different operating characteristics and pushing the envelope of overall facility utilization. Perhaps the greatest impacts and changing characteristics of the warehousing and distribution industry are the predominance of eCommerce business models and the modern-day expectations of businesses and consumers for next-day delivery service for most everything. In many of the traditional large distribution hubs around the U.S., buildings are getting bigger, staffing requirements are generally going up, and the need to be close to either major population centers or an air cargo hub are critical. While many traditional warehousing operations continue to operate with perhaps little change, a smaller but highly-disruptive segment focused on eCommerce and customer fulfillment needs is driving huge change into the market, from both a design and operational perspective, and major implications of these changes are the focus of this article.

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Tuesday, July 25 2017
Workforce Development - Taking a Holistic Approach to Grow Local and Regional Economies

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President, Camoin Associates 

The Challenge
What keeps you up at night? When I ask that to business leaders in the context of economic and business growth, the answer is often “finding and retaining skilled and talented workers.” Within my work as an economic development consultant I have interviewed thousands of business leaders across multiple settings: rural to urban, small to large, tourism to high tech, and workforce issues consistently rank at the top of the list. Is this surprising? While it is true that there is an ample number of people searching for a better job, or even a job in general, a serious talent and skills gap exists, making it challenging for employers to find the right individual for a specific position. If this skills gap is not rectified by economic development, workforce, and educational partners, it will stifle economic growth and prosperity at all levels.

What is causing this skills gap and related inability for businesses to find workers with the appropriate skills and training? While there is not one easy answer, several factors, which are highlighted below, are commonly identified based on research, analysis, and on-the-ground reporting.

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Tuesday, July 25 2017
Tech Talent: How to Find, Grow, and Retain Your Next-Generation Technology Workforce

By Chris Engle, Vice President, Avalanche Consulting

After nine years of economic expansion this summer, the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 4.3 percent, a 16-year low. Labor shortages throughout many parts of the U.S. are significant and affecting all sectors of the economy. Few industries, however, are more adversely impacted by the tight labor market than the IT sector. Technology workers are among the most difficult-to-find, and IT wage levels among the fastest growing. With digital technologies filtering throughout all aspects of life and business, the lack of available IT workers will ultimately impact a host of other industries. 

Concern over availability of tech workers has spread throughout the U.S., from major markets to small midwestern regions. In a recent survey by Avalanche Consulting, 90 percent of local economic development leaders across the U.S. reported that finding a skilled workforce is the top growing concern for companies. The availability of a talented labor force has become more important than more traditional site selection criteria such as business climate and infrastructure. In fact, we believe that the changing nature of the workforce will be the defining theme of the U.S. economy over the next decade.

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Monday, July 24 2017
Let the Sun Shine In

By Michael D. White

The quest to harness the power of the sun is nothing new. 

Greek mythology tells the epic tale of Icarus and his close encounter with Helios, perhaps as much an object lesson in solar power as it is one of hubris.

In the 1830s, British astronomer John Herschel reportedly used a solar oven to cook food during an expedition to Africa, and, some 40 years later, the English scientist William Grylls Adams determined that when a small cell of selenium was simply exposed to sunlight, it produced electricity without heat or any moving parts.

Adams’ discovery, according to one observer was “of the most far-reaching importance,” but almost a century would pass before what we now know as the silicon solar cell was first produced in 1953 by Calvin Fuller and a team of fellow researchers at the AT&T Bell Laboratory in New Jersey. 

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Monday, July 24 2017

By Michael Langley, Chair of the International Economic Development Council

Many companies with overseas facilities would prefer to have those operations in the United States – as long as the numbers work. But for many firms, the concept of reshoring, or returning manufacturing and services operations to the United States from overseas, is a daunting one. 

Yet it doesn’t have to be. At the national, regional, and local levels, there are tools to help with this process, as well as organizations that would like nothing more than to help site selectors and companies work through some of the issues that come with “domesticating” their supply chains.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) – the world’s largest membership association serving the economic development profession – has been conducting research on the reshoring trend for three years. In that time, we have interviewed dozens of companies that have returned operations to the United States (or turned to domestic suppliers), and learned a tremendous amount about why companies are reshoring and the challenges and opportunities they face. 

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Monday, July 24 2017
Thriving Outdoor Recreation Economy Generates $887 Billion in Consumer Spending Annually and Supports $7.6 Million American Jobs

By the Outdoor Industry Association

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) released The Outdoor Recreation Economy report, the largest and most comprehensive report of its kind that captures the power of a vast economic engine that creates billions in consumer spending and millions of good-paying American jobs.

A sector woven deep into the fabric of local communities across the country, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, sustains $7.6 million American jobs and generates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue each year. With more Americans employed as part of the outdoor recreation economy than in food and beverage service, or in construction and computer technology, this report shows that when our nation’s leaders invest in outdoor recreation, the result is healthier economies and healthier communities.

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Thursday, June 01 2017
A Research Park's Secret Weapon -  The Community College as a Tenant and Partner

By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting

When we hear the term research park, the automatic tendency is to think of our largest private and state institutions, those that receive major research grants.

It has now become almost the standard for major universities to create parks to foster technology transfer and economic development initiatives, not to mention the benefits they bring to the university in attracting gifted faculty and students.

Just as research parks are usually associated with institutions offering four-year and graduate programs, the discussions about the need for an increase in the STEM workforce also tends to focus on boosting the number of individuals with bachelors, masters, or doctorate degrees.

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Thursday, June 01 2017
Change: A Constant in the Food and Beverage Processing Sector

By Jay Garner, President, Garner Economics LLC

One thing is for certain, you can count on change being a dynamic influence in how food and beverage processors operate. Why? Because consumer preferences constantly evolve, and consumers drive food and beverage output.

Food and Beverage Facilities and Jobs by the Numbers
First, let’s look at the statistics of where these companies are located and how many people they employ.

Food processing is defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code of 311. Beverage manufacturing is comprised of code 312.  Combined, this sector in 2016 had 41,046 processing facilities, employing 1,748,503 people in the U.S. (BLS).

California leads the U.S. with the most facilities and employment, primarily because of its strong farming output in the Central Valley.

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Tuesday, May 30 2017
The Rebirth of the American-Based Contact Center

By Lisa A. Bastian

Shortly after the presidential Oval Office change in January, the almost-forgotten trumpet call of "Buy American, Hire American" is heard once again heard across the land after years of muffling. But this time, an added message is resonating with the citizenry; one that demands the  end of job offshoring whenever and wherever possible.

Yes, U.S. manufacturing suffered great losses in recent years due to overseas moves. But so did the contact center industry. Sadly, between 2006 and 2014, the U.S. lost more than 200,000 contact center positions; many of which turned up in offshore centers grabbing the lion's share of industry jobs. However, nationalist and globalist forces in play for years are changing this scenario for the better. The industry's health is steadily improving as it finds new and innovative ways to help businesses become leading-edge providers of quality customer satisfaction.

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Tuesday, May 30 2017
Changing the Formula? The Future of American Pharmaceuticals is Both Promising and Uncertain

By Angelos Angelou, Founder & CEO, AngelouEconomics

It’s back. With the introduction (and subsequent retraction) of the American Health Care Act, health policy is once again at the forefront of political discourse within the United States. Who should pay? How much should they pay? How should they pay? These are just some of the questions being asked in this most recent round of what is one of America’s most consistent—and contentious—political and social debates.

But even within the emotionally-charged, high-stakes arena of health care, few topics stir passions as much as the pharmaceutical industry. Amalgamated within the collective American psyche as the so-called “Big Pharma,” the industry is frequently the source of polarization and debate. As much as pharmaceutical companies undoubtedly split opinions, though, the fact remains that these companies play an instrumental role in the lives of many Americans.

A 2015 study published by the American Medical Association found that nearly three out of every five adults in the U.S. were regularly taking at least one prescription medication. Whether it’s a preventative statin regimen, a life-saving cancer treatment, or just something to enhance quality of life—think sildenafil—pharmaceuticals have become synonymous with improving and maintaining health.

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Tuesday, March 28 2017
Retail's Real Estate Renaissance

By Hrishue Mahalaha, Managing Partner, Innovation Economy Partners; Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President and Alexandra Tranmer, Economic Development Specialist of Camoin Associates 

  Jim Damicis and Alex Tranmer of Camoin Associates, along with their colleague, Hrishue Mahalaha of Innovation Economy Partners, write this month about the evolving retail industry. Shopping malls have ruled the retail real estate market for the last two decades, but changing consumer preferences, technological advances and eCommerce have significant implications on real estate markets and economic development efforts in communities across the country. Retail stores, including restaurants and bars, are often the hub of the community, a communal commerce center where people come to buy goods, interact with other community members and support local businesses. Yet, there is news of establishments, large and small, going out of business appearing on an almost daily basis. What does this mean for the future of community’s who have relied on retail for economic activity in the past? 

  To answer this key question, we first consider why economic developers should consider a retail strategy as part of a wider economic development strategy. We will then explore the changing nature of retail, current trends and projections for the future. We will close with recommendations for how economic developers can mitigate some of the changes and work collaboratively within a changing retail landscape.

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Monday, March 27 2017
Wind Powers the U.S. Economy Forward

By John Hensley, Deputy Director of Industry Data Analysis, AWEA

  American wind power has reached a historic milestone: it is now the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S. by installed generating capacity, with enough nameplate capacity to power 24 million American homes. Wind’s growth has brought enormous benefits to the economy, sped up the path to energy independence and revitalized U.S. manufacturing. Here’s a look at how we got here.

Wind Power Drives Job Growth
  Over 100,000 American workers now have wind energy jobs. These well-paying positions are spread across all 50 states, meaning your state has wind energy jobs even if it doesn’t have a wind farm. That’s because over 25,000 workers at more than 500 U.S. factories build wind turbines and related parts.

  Many of these jobs are in the Rust Belt and interior of the country, bringing new opportunities to the areas where they are needed most. For example, Ohio leads the nation in wind manufacturing with over 60 plants, while Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan boast 26 a piece. Meanwhile, in Texas, the country’s leader in installed wind capacity with over 20,000 megawatts (MW), 38 factories churn out wind parts and there are over 22,000 wind jobs.

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Monday, March 27 2017
Reducing Costs in Transportation Starts with Understanding the Role of Transportation Management in the Supply Chain and Having a Strategic Approach

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

  To avoid incidents of mismatch between supply and demand, establish more efficient manufacturing and lower costs, it is necessary to establish an environment of consistent supply chain visibility. To implement this visibility, it is crucial that companies take into consideration many elements. Everything from sourcing raw materials, manufacturing, to the sales channels which feed supply for a finished product are essential factors. One of the often-missing links, however, in supply chain visibility, is transportation management. Basically, the act of getting the needed finished goods from start location to destination. We call this the transportation supply chain.

What is the Transportation Supply Chain?
  Transportation refers to the movement of product from one location to another as it makes its way from the beginning of a supply chain to the customer’s handle. This requires a new broad look at the business of transportation supply chain, including supply chain management, logistics, and procurement. Freight transportation costs in the United States amount to about six percent of the GDP, which means that a large portion of a company's supply chain costs come from transportation. As we have stated in blogs posts about understanding how transportation costs fit into the business, the more you think more holistically as a logistics or transportation manager about the role of transportation in the overall supply chain and business, and less about the tactics of transportation (technology now is the business process enablement tool), you can strategically work with other players in the supply chain in order to more effectively reach the corporate and business vision your organization has set out to reach.

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Friday, March 24 2017
Driving the Future of Automotive - Update 2017

By Dawn Baetsen, president of D.E. Baetsen & Associates LLC

  The automotive industry enjoyed another year of growth; yet, the industry may face its most arduous task of effectively fusing rapidly-changing technology while providing product that satisfies the consumer experience, is built with the highest standards of safety and security, meets government standards, and is built to last while maintaining affordability for consumers. Government is in the driver’s seat regarding taxation, regulation, and protectionist policies all having tremendous long term effects on the industry. Relaxed regulatory standards and reduced corporate taxes encourage the industry; however, trade agreements and border taxes will have an impact and will increase the cost of automobiles. On the minds of all automotive executives is the effects of emerging political risks in the major markets of North America, the European Union, China, and Brazil. Social and economic disorder follows and regional market economies will significantly impact the global industry now and in the future. Despite overarching macro-economic risks, the industry is focused on the consumer driving markets while a new culture of vehicle access versus vehicle ownership emerges.

  The three major markets for automakers grew during 2016 with China sales growing by 15 percent or to 24 million units. The United States grew by 0.2 percent or 17.9 million units, while Europe posted an 7 percent increase to 15 million units. The Japanese market for a second consecutive year declined -1.5 percent largely due to a sluggish economy while emerging markets of Brazil and Russia continued to fall off -21  and -11 percent, respectively, as reported by Euler Hermes Economic Research. India’s demonetization policy took a toll on vehicle purchases declining 50 percent during 2016. Most automotive research groups suggest maintaining a global presence is critical to sustaining growth as shifts to a mobility culture, particularly in urban areas, will impact light vehicle demand for size and type depending on the market and regional demographic nuances. 

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Friday, March 24 2017
Evolving Strategies To Plan For The Commercial Aerospace Factories of The Future

By Ben Harper, Director and Co-founder,  Fairmont Consulting Group LLC

  State and regional development organizations have placed a strong emphasis on commercial aerospace in recent years – decisions that have been very well justified by the growth the industry has seen. Commercial aerospace has proven very attractive to economies by virtue of its utilization of skilled manufacturing workers and the current “super cycle” that has provided steady and stable growth of aircraft deliveries since 2003 despite broader economic cycles. Combined with other secular trends within the commercial aerospace market, such as shifts towards composites materials and a desire for more significantly dollar-denominated supply base from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the United States has seen significant new investment over the past decade and a half.

The Shifting Commercial Aerospace Outlook
  Total commercial aircraft order backlogs are near record levels, representing nearly eight years of production at 2017 rates. But, the industry outlook for the aerospace industry is beginning to shift, driving an important inflection point that demands review of strategies built on the continued growth of the aerospace industry. In 2016 book-to-bill ratios, the measure of new aircraft orders placed in a year to the number of aircraft delivered, fell below one for Boeing. Airbus surprised the market by managing to achieve a 1.06 ratio. In contrast to prior years, overall order backlogs are flattening or modestly declining, and OEMs have announced that they anticipate further erosion of the backlog through the end of the decade. Further, the historic visibility provided by the order backlog is not evenly distributed across the industry – narrow body production rates are likely to grow by nearly 20 percent between 2017 and 2020 with the underpinning of substantial backlog, while a dearth of new widebody orders may lead to reductions below current OEM guidance which has already seen progressive downward revisions. An increasing OEM focus on cost reduction programs is challenging current investments, and giving suppliers pause as the contemplate the investments required to support OEM growth targets. Prior assumptions of continuing long term growth are no longer accurate, and that the commercial aerospace cycle is turning. The large order backlog should support a soft correction rather than a steep cyclic downturn, but the inflection point has arrived. 

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Friday, March 24 2017
Tourism 2017 - The Booming Growth of Defining Places of Interest

By Don A. Holbrook, Site Location Consultant Managing Partner, Vercitas Group

  It’s time for community leaders and economic developers to take an entire new view of tourism. In the past tourism has been more of a secondary thought that is built around festivals and conferences for most cities and towns. Today tourism deserves a seat at the big table. It has proven to be a sustainable and home grown industry with far reaching appeal. 

  In 2016 the World Travel and Tourism Council reported that tourism has experienced seven consecutive years of growth and 2017 looks like another great year. It represents 9.8 percent of the world’s GDP ($7.2 trillion USD) and 284 million jobs (one out of every eleven jobs). Tourism has a sustained average growth of four percent annually.

  The United Nations World Trade Organization has even gone on a mission of spreading the gospel of “Why Tourism? Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries. This growth goes hand in hand with an increasing diversification and competition among destinations.”

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Thursday, January 12 2017
Seven Major Trends Influencing the Logistics Industry in the Future

By Kevin Hill, Online Marketing Manager at Quality Scales Unlimited


Emerging, mature and international markets are now part of the growth strategy of a vast number of companies. It is now the standard to go ‘international,’ and logistic solution providers have a role to play in enabling this trend through a transportation network. 

A Workforce that is Technologically Savvy 

Mobile technology has made people comfortable with technology since they are familiar with it. The current generation expects to have equipment in the workplace that can provide the same engagement using technology that they enjoy on their smartphones and cars.   

The millennials, those born in the 80s and 90s, are coming into the workforce and bringing traits that are bound to influence how technology is used. They are confident, able to multi-task, tech savvy and expect instant gratification. It is these factors that must be considered in with regards to this group and how you present information to them. With such a workforce, the next ten years will experience changes that will prove disruptive. 

In America today, 76 percent of the teenagers are on social media, 78 percent carry a cell phone, and 93 percent can access a computer at home. They spend most of their time engaging in computer games, and by the time they turn 21, they will have spent an average of ten thousand hours gaming.  This is now becoming a global trend. Equipment in the work place as well as management techniques will need to adapt to these workers.  

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Thursday, January 12 2017
The Future and Financial Incentives for Green Development

By Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel

We can all agree that the face of environmental protection and green development has changed dramatically over the past decade. What once used to be a small faction of the population is now a booming voice that is crying for change, and many across the political aisle have recognized the importance of action. From innovation strategies to technological advancements to incentive-based government programs, going green is now a talking point in almost every home and office across the country. 

In fact, it is in these markets that some of the best strides are happening. Energy efficient appliances, solar photovoltaics, and eco-friendly construction materials are now common phrases to be heard at dinner tables and conference tables alike. Demand for green development is at an all time high, with many in the industry feeling like it has nowhere to go but up, even if the road gets a bit rockier in the coming year. 

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Thursday, January 12 2017
Medical Device Manufacturing: Current Trends and Existing Opportunities

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


Medical device manufacturing is a dynamic industry, holding the attention of nearly every economic development agency in the country. However, with only about 300,000 employed in the industry nationwide, there are certainly limited opportunities to secure such operations. To help understand the direction that business is heading, a closer look at the prevailing trends is necessary. As saturation in traditional MedTech markets begins to push activity to other parts of the U.S. and the globe, new growth opportunities emerge for the burgeoning industry. 

National Trends

Throughout the nation, manufacturing employment faces the growing headwinds of automation and process improvement. Despite a growing economy since the end of the Great Recession that has seen a 6.9 percent increase in overall employment since 2012, manufacturing employment growth was less than half that rate (3.3 percent). The highly-technical nature of most medical device manufacturing operations makes the industry even more susceptible to technological forces, resulting in decreased employment but increased efficiency and profitability. This is corroborated by a decrease in employment of a half percent over the same period, while simultaneously growing gross wages by 11.3 percent, a truly impressive increase in the face of employment loss. See Table A.

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Wednesday, January 11 2017
Plastic Resins Continued Its U.S. Renaissance in 2016

By Woody Hydrick, Managing Principal and partner in Global Location Strategies

The growth in plastics resins production in the U.S. is continuing full steam. The American Chemical Council (ACC) reported in 2015 that $137 billion in capital investments in new plastic resins production operations had been announced in 225 projects with the investments predicted to come on line through 2023. The ACC also reported that these projects are expected to directly generate 127,500 jobs.

In the United States, plastic resins are primarily produced using natural gas liquids (ethane, propane, etc.) as their feedstock. In Asia and other parts of the world, plastic resins are normally produced using the crude oil derivative naptha as their raw material. Pricing for plastics resins is global, meaning the price paid for them is roughly the same wherever the buyer is in the world. Therefore, costs savings on raw materials, as well as the cost of the energy required to run the production operations, can be of great benefit to the manufacturers. The low cost of natural gas liquids (compared to crude oil) due to the large shale gas reserves in the U.S. give domestic producers a competitive advantage versus their foreign competition. Add in the low domestic cost of natural gas and electricity to power these production operations, and the result is clear: the United States is an advantaged position to produce plastic resins. 

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Wednesday, January 11 2017
The Data Center Revolution  - Who are Gordon Moore and Robert Dennard, and What Do They Mean to Me?

By Angelos Angelou, CEO, Angelou Economics, and Allan Paddack

“There were five exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every two days.” Eric Schmidt of Google (2010)

Information has been called the oil of the 21st century, and managing it is big business. There are approximately three million data centers in the U.S. That’s about one for every 100 of its citizens. They contribute, either directly or indirectly, $1 trillion or more, to the economy each year, which is over seven percent of the nation’s GDP. Given the relationship of information to the economy, it is not surprising that nearly every community across the country is actively seeking to attract one to their location. Sure, there are jobs associated with a data center, but as has often been noted by data center critics that there aren’t many direct jobs in an automated facility. The real benefit to a community of a data center is the indirect economic impact of technology investment. That investment attracts other high tech businesses, raises the quality of jobs and wages in the area and, of course, the tax base. And, at the rate of data center expansion seen in the first decade of the 21st century, every city and town could expect to have one by 2020.

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Wednesday, January 11 2017
16 eCommerce Logistics and Warehousing Best Practices to Follow

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

There is nothing quite like the ease of ordering things online. The holidays are around the corner, and millions of Americans will turn to their phones, computers and tablets to get the gifts they need. Unfortunately, millions more will still go to brick-and-mortar stores to find those special items, and the push toward online and omnichannel ordering will continue grow, which is why it is increasingly important to invest in eCommerce Warehousing.

In your organization, the ability to adapt to the changes in demand of your direct consumers and business-to-business (B2B) partners will strain even last year’s technologies. However, if you can leverage these “best practices,” you can create an eCommerce warehousing solution ideal for both holiday and year-round scalability and growth.

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Wednesday, November 23 2016
Oil, Gas, Coal & Shale Energy Outlook

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Shale in the United States 2016
Over the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has provided access to large volumes of oil and natural gas that were previously uneconomic to produce from low permeability geological formations composed of shale, sandstone, and carbonate (e.g., limestone). Shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from the compaction of silt and clay-size mineral particles. Black shale contains organic material that can generate oil and natural gas, and that can also trap the generated oil and natural gas within its pores.

Where are shale gas and oil resources found?
Shale oil and natural gas resources are found in shale formations that contain significant accumulations of natural gas and/or oil. The Barnett Shale in Texas has been producing natural gas for more than a decade. Information gained from developing the Barnett Shale provided the initial technology template for developing other shale plays in the United States. Another important shale gas play is the Marcellus Shale in the eastern United States. While the Barnett and Marcellus formations are well-known shale gas plays in the United States, more than thirty U.S. states overlie shale formations.

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Wednesday, November 23 2016
Health Care and Real Estate Development Trends in the U.S.

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President and Alexandra Tranmer, Economic Development Specialist of Camoin Associates

It has been a year since Alex Tranmer and Jim Damicis of Camoin Associates profiled the health care industry and made the case for why it is important to consider the industry in community economic development plans. This month, Alex and Jim are back to discuss the real estate implications of the changing health care landscape. They find that real estate management is a key component to a health care network’s portfolio and more health care providers are devoting budget and resources to understanding how to strategically position themselves in communities. This requires an understanding of emerging trends driving the industry as well as local and regional economies. Between the shift to a value-based reimbursement system and an increasing number of individuals with access to health insurance, providers have been driven to explore different ways to cut costs and bring in additional revenue-all while still providing high quality care at competitive rates. The answer for many provider networks has been two-fold: revisiting the management of their real estate portfolios and branching out of typical locations to expand how and where they are able to reach a wider patient market – sometimes in unlikely spaces.

It is no secret that health care costs are rising for all parties involved: insurance companies, doctors and patients. For health care consumers (or patients), premiums for health insurance plans have been decreasing, while deductibles, the portion of the procedure that the consumer must pay for out-of-pocket, are simultaneously increasing. In the last five years, the average deductible for a single coverage plan was up $486, or 49 percent to $1,478.

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Tuesday, November 22 2016
Back Office Relocation Trends

By John Boyd, Jr., Principal of The Boyd Co., Inc., Location Consultants of Princeton, New Jersey

Corporate Headquarters Mobility
Back office migration is one of the hottest sectors of the corporate relocation industry today. While back office moves to cities where operating costs are a fraction of head office capitals like New York, San Francisco and Boston is not entirely new, the pace is at an unprecedented level and is putting new office markets nationwide in play for relocating back office jobs.

What's driving this new wave of back office relocations is the heightened mobility of the corporate headquarters itself and the realization by many corporations – faced with global competition and an uncertain economy - that improving the bottom line on the cost side of the ledger is far easier than on the revenue side.

Historically untouchable in corporate restructuring programs, the corporate headquarters office is now in play like never before. Just ask Omaha, still reeling from ConAgra’s relocation of its headquarters from Omaha to downtown Chicago and its jettisoning of some 1,500 jobs. Or ask Bergen County, NJ, after losing the Mercedes-Benz North American headquarters and some 2,000 jobs to Atlanta. Fortune 500 food giant ConAgra had called Omaha home for almost a 100 years and Mercedes-Benz has been a fixture in Bergen County for half a century.

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Tuesday, November 22 2016
Advance Manufacturing or Bust?

By Kevin Hively and Ariana McBride, Ninigret Partners LLC

State of Manufacturing in the U.S.
Manufacturing remains an important part of the U.S. economy representing approximately 19 percent of the nation’s gross economic output and 10 percent of the employment base. 
U.S. manufacturing employment has not recovered since the start of the Great Recession. According to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (BEA), the Great Recession began in December 2007.  At that time manufacturing accounted for 13.8 million jobs in the U.S. In 2015,  manufacturing included 12.3 million jobs representing a decline of 11 percent from 2007 numbers. However, it’s worth noting that, while Great Recession ran from late 2007 to June 2009, manufacturing employment reached its lowest point in 2010.  If we measure from the trough in manufacturing employment, total manufacturing jobs have increased by 7 percent.

However, manufacturing is not a monolithic economic sector.  There is little similarity in making shoes compared to manufacturing biotherapeutics as an example.  Accordingly, within manufacturing there can be wide variation in economic performance.  Understanding the differences in sector activity is critical to explaining manufacturing’s economic performance.

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Thursday, September 15 2016
Student Engagement Essential to Drive Interest in Manufacturing Careers

Savvy Teaching Strategies, Manufacturing Day Initiative Can Play Key Roles

By Edward Youdell, President, Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl.

Teachers, professors and other academic leaders often emphasize that among the greatest challenges in education and training is getting students engaged. This theory holds true regardless of the age of students, the school they attend or the subject they study. It has been a challenge for some time in the manufacturing discipline. 

One effective strategy for engagement, according to many experts, is creating classroom environments that offer hands-on experiences, passionate instructors and clear connections to real-world applications.

This approach is particularly vital to spark interest from young people to consider a career in manufacturing, often maligned by negative perceptions from parents, the media and even some educators. This occurs despite the fact that the sector has numerous positions available for skilled, trained workers. Shop classes, which were once seen as a precursor to the work environment of manufacturing, started disappearing in the 1970’s. And the manufacturing world today bears little resemblance to that of an earlier time or those earlier shop classes.

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Thursday, September 15 2016
Gaming, and Filming, and Apps - Oh My!

By Tim Shea, General Manager of Product Development, and Angelos Angelou, CEO, Angelou Economics, 512-658-8400,

This past July brought the closest thing to the “Zombie Apocalypse” any of us will (hopefully) see in our lifetimes. In an almost inexplicable display, thousands of men, women, and children spent the summer’s hottest month wandering streets and parks across the globe, eyes glazed over with a single minded purpose. Fortunately, that purpose was relatively benign: to find and catch Pokémon. 

The craze was brought about by the release of Pokémon Go, a unique, if not entirely, novel app that blended the real world with Nintendo’s popular gaming franchise in the greatest manifestation of augmented reality to date. The app’s launch was a wild success—it attracted millions of users and doubled the company’s stock practically overnight—but it hasn’t come entirely without controversy. 

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Wednesday, September 14 2016
Marketing Your Certified Site

By Beth Land, Consultant and Mark Sweeney, Senior Principal of McCallum Sweeney Consulting

Companies continue to put pressure on the time allowed to make a location decision and get their product to market. At the same time, a pervasive problem across the country in economic development is a shortage in available quality industrial sites and buildings. The combination of these two problems have increased the importance for communities to be prepared with fully-vetted, fully-served, available industrial properties. By completing substantial amounts of due diligence and prep work ahead of time, it puts the community at a competitive advantage to meet a company’s demanding schedule and land a project. 

This concept is not new. Roughly half of the states have some level of a site certification program. In addition, rail and utility providers have created programs to produce more competitive properties in their service territory. Communities and individual property owners are seeing the value in completing certification to attract prospects. However, the era of ‘build it and they will come’ is over. Ten years ago, having a certified property was an anomaly and enough to set a community apart from the competition. Now communities everywhere are actively developing a portfolio of industrial properties. Certified sites that can be given at little to no costs to companies have almost become expected in the site selection process. So the question no longer is, should I prepare a certified site? The question should be, now that I have a certified site, what should I do to actively market the property? Before marketing is addressed, we will try to define a certified site.  

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Wednesday, September 14 2016
sUAS: One Tool, Many Uses

By Ed Bolen, President and CEO, NBAA

Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) represent tremendous potential for a wide range of municipal planning, maintenance, and developmental uses. As more communities explore possible uses for UAS operations, it seems more jobs become apparent for them to fill. 

Until recently, however, large-scale efforts to deploy sUAS within the United States were stymied by a lack of defined regulations for the commercial operation of those vehicles. That changed this in June, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the newly-created Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 14 CFR Part 107, applying to commercial use of any UAS weighing less than 55 lbs. 

Among the requirements under Part 107 include a maximum sUAS operating altitude of 400' above ground level in daytime VFR conditions, within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) of the operator or observers. Unmanned aircraft may not be operated over people on the ground not involved in the UAS flight, and all UAS must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft.

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Wednesday, September 14 2016
Food for Thought: How to Capture Your Share of the Agribusiness Pie

By Janet Ady, president and CEO, Ady Advantage

Everybody’s got to eat. That’s one of the few things in life you can count on, and a fact that makes agriculture and food processing (which is also known as “agribusiness”) a steady player among industries. Just about every other aspect of agribusiness has been impacted by change, many of them seismic. Most of these changes have had an impact on how companies make expansion and relocation decisions, and in turn, how communities, regions and states retain and grow investments in their areas.

Trends Impacting Agribusiness
The agribusiness industry is a very complex value chain, with lots of moving pieces. It ranges from multi-billion dollar multinationals to the smallest artisanal operations. Unlike other industries, production and distribution can be limited by seasonality and perishability. Weather and other natural disasters can roil markets overnight. Let’s look at the some of the key trends impacting the agribusiness industry.

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Tuesday, July 26 2016
The Thrilling But Troubled March of American High Tech

By Tim Shea, General Manager of Product Development, Angelou Economics

As far as economic buzz words go, few rival the boundlessness of “High Technology.” Since the New York Times first invoked the term in 1958, those two words have captured the elusive mysteries of science and retained that meaning even as progress turned those mysteries into the mundane. To this day, “High Tech” remains a phrase that conjures dreams of hover boards and talking robots, of flying cars and impossible futures. But what does it really mean? More importantly, what does it mean for today’s economy?

The potential answers to that question are as boundless as the phrase itself. The modern realm of High Tech touches on a diversity of fields, from life-saving medical technology to escapist virtual entertainment and everything in between. What those varied fields do have in common is that they’ve all been immensely important to the country’s economic growth over the past several decades, and will continue to play a significant role for the foreseeable future. 

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Tuesday, July 26 2016
Cashing In on the Latest Logistics Trends

By Michael D. White, author and freelance writer

For any company wanting to remain stable and competitive in the ever-morphing world of global business, it’s absolutely critical to grasp how fluctuations in the economy impact the supply chain and what trends are developing that impact the efficiencies and costs of moving products to market. 

In the “macro,” says Rosalyn Wilson, president of Freight Matters, a Maryland-based logistics consultancy, the global and U.S. economies “may well get worse before they get better, which doesn't bode well for trade and logistics activity over the near term,” says Wilson.

“Retail sales have risen, but they’ve risen far less than everybody expected them to,” she says. “Consumer sentiment is really hot and real wages are going up, so it would be natural to expect consumers to begin spending, but what we’re seeing is that consumers are willing to spend on services rather than goods.”

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Tuesday, July 26 2016
The Outdoor Recreation Industry -Business Plus Environment Equals a Win for Everyone

By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting

The Outdoor Recreation industry isn’t often cited as a top target industry for economic developers, but it can occupy a very interesting place in the economy of a state, a region, or a locality. The most recent figures from the Outdoor Recreation Industry Association report that businesses in this sector, which encompasses a wide variety of NAICS codes, account for 6.1 million jobs in the United States with consumers spending more every year on apparel, gear, and experiences, than on pharmaceuticals and cars combined. So why don’t we see this industry cited more often as a target of opportunity for states and regions interested in recruiting high growth, green job and investment opportunities?  Perhaps it’s because to appreciate the full impact of this sector at the state and local level requires tracking jobs and investments that fall under the separate missions of departments of tourism, economic development, and natural resources.

Most states have tourism efforts dedicated to bringing in visitors and their dollars, and programs to protect their natural assets within their departments of natural resources, but some have decided to link these missions to the more traditional goal of attracting companies that manufacture products and offer services to the users of those recreational assets.

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Monday, July 25 2016
Solar Power is Booming - Making the Current Energy Policy Situation Very Complicated Across America!

By Don A. Holbrook, Site Location Consultant Managing Partner, Vercitas Group

For the first time ever, more solar was added in the United States than natural gas. By the end of 2015, solar supplied nearly thirty percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. Not only was this good news for the solar industry, but it was good news for anyone who made the investment into solar as it validates the legitimacy of Solar as a staying power that is no longer a fringe and/or environmental prerogative statement, but a bona fide smart investment for financial and business reasons.

2015 now represents a pivotal turning point in the energy economy that was outlined and espoused by so many and the target of ridicule by many more, especially the media and lobbying groups behind big oil. Natural gas and coal still maintaining the lion's share of electricity generation today, the fastest-growing energy sector is now solar. Not coal, not natural gas, and not nuclear. Even more important the cost to purchase and operate for homeowners is now down below the average length of ownership average of 7.5 years to break even. The average length of time of a new homeowner investment is the same. This now makes the purchase of a solar energy investment and the investment to purchase a home a singularly good financial move by homeowners.1

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Monday, July 25 2016
Workforce Today: Locate, Cultivate, and Communicate to Find Your Future Workforce

By John Rees and Chris Engle of Avalanche Consulting

The labor market is tighter than it has been in years. Unemployment is less than five percent. The difficulty of securing talent is a growing concern for companies and communities alike. In a recent survey by Avalanche Consulting, nearly 90 percent of economic developers reported that finding a skilled workforce has become ever-more important to expanding firms during the past year. No company can afford to invest millions of dollars in a new or expanded facility only to find its operations hampered by a lack of available labor. 

In an economy that increasingly rewards firms that can most effectively acquire and manage human capital, how can companies looking to expand or relocate their operations identify communities rich in talent? What actions can employers take to ensure they have access to a sustained pipeline of trained workers? What resources are available to make workforce training more cost-effective? How do companies increase awareness of opportunities available within their industry?

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Monday, July 25 2016
7 Reasons Why 2016 is the Year of Warehouse Robots

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

The benefits to the use of warehouse robots, loading, unloading and delivery are evident. Robots do not sleep. They do not drink. They do not complain, and they do not need a paycheck.

Robots are rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent enterprises within the logistics industry. As explained by Steve Banker of Forbes magazine, Amazon has unleashed an army of robots in their distribution centers for picking and packaging. Around the globe, different companies and organizations are continually looking for ways to design, build, and sell robots for the logistics industry that do not impinge upon the Kiva hat. However, a particular set of driving forces is growing to propel the use of robotics in the logistics industry, and robots will provide one of the greatest surpluses and expansion of services for the logistics industry in history. Let’s take a closer look at these factors now.

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Tuesday, May 24 2016
Biotechnology Market Trends: What Economic Developers Need to Know

By Alexandra Tranmer, Economic Development Specialist of Camoin Associates

Biotechnology is a dynamic industry that spans multiple sectors, weaving its way through many aspects of our lives. This month, Jim Damicis and Alex Tranmer of Camoin Associates explore the human health subsectors of the Biotechnology industry and show how this competitive and fast-changing field can drive innovation-led economic development in communities and regions throughout the U.S. The Biotechnology industry in the U.S. generated $111.2 billion in annual revenue in 2015 with growth projected for the upcoming four years. One of the greatest factors in the future of the industry is its relationship to the U.S. health care system, which has recently undergone notable changes due to the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, producing ripple effects throughout the Biotechnology field. Read on to learn more about current trends in different subsectors, emerging markets, and how economic developers can incorporate Biotechnology into their work.

Defining Biotechnology
How do we define biotechnology in terms of the economy?
Biotechnology industries cover a wide array of activities, ranging from biofuel production to medical device manufacturing. Battelle, a leading science and technology development institute, acknowledges that defining the Biotechnology field is difficult due to the breadth of subjects that it covers.

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Monday, May 23 2016
Medical Devices Give New Life to American Manufacturing

By Tim Shea, General Manager of Product Development and Angelos Angelou, Principal Executive Officer, Chief Strategist, Angelou Economics

New Brighton, Minnesota. It’s the quintessential Middle American town, cold in the winter, humid in the summer. The people are friendly year round. Children play in the creek running through the neighborhood park, and the Dairy Queen across the street is ready to make them Blizzards when they’re done. A few miles down the road, though, is something rarely seen in America, at least not anymore: a factory.

A medical device factory, to be exact, Donatelle Medical. In operation since 1967, Donatelle is a staple of both the Minneapolis suburb and the healthcare industry alike. Cochlear implants, pacemakers, medication pumps, they make it all. They also employ hundreds of workers and inject millions of dollars into the local economy every year.

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Monday, May 23 2016
U.S. Ports Planning Huge Investments Into Infrastructure

By Kurt Nagle, President and CEO, American Association of Port Authorities

Most economists and politicians agree: infrastructure investments, particularly in transportation, benefit the economy, boost jobs and aid in business development.

As the primary gateway for overseas trade, U.S. seaports are essential for economic prosperity, and federal funding for transportation infrastructure in and around ports pays enormous dividends for the country. Deep-draft coastal and Great Lakes ports are the nexus of critical goods movement infrastructure that connects America’s exporters with markets overseas. They also provide access for imports of raw materials, components, and consumer goods that are a key part of U.S. manufacturing and standards of living.

Given this, it’s no wonder that infrastructure spending at U.S. ports is on the rise.

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Monday, May 23 2016
Food Processing Today: Organics (and Beer) Win!

Have there been any changes in food processing lately? Yes there has, big time!

Let’s look at my morning so far. After my walk, I prepared some green juice for my wife and me using our Breville juicer, as I do every day that I’m not traveling.

It makes about 12 ounces of delicious green juice that will absorb into your cells and become “life force energy” within about 15 minutes. It makes you feel energized and ready for the day!

I next had a bowl of cereal. I had recently bought some new gluten free multigrain Cheerios and low sugar Grape Nuts. I chose the Grape Nuts today and added some organic raspberries and blackberries followed by organic hemp milk. Delicious and healthy!

I started to think about shopping for these breakfast items. We recently shopped at:

  • Costco – they now post many green signs and the signs mean organic items.
  • Sprouts – a new lower priced supermarket similar to Whole Foods with a gigantic organics produce section. They started here in Phoenix and are expanding east, now in Nashville and Atlanta.
Posted by: AT 10:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 23 2016
Urban Agriculture And Sustainable Economic Development - Planting Seeds which can Transform Land Uses, Economies, Communities and Lives

By Kenneth E. Dobson; Economic Development Administrator; Fulton County, Georgia

The level and rate of economic growth varies evenly throughout most urbanregional jurisdictions. There are areas of accelerated fiscal revenue growth, moderate growth, stagnant growth and low to no growth. While each geographic area may produce different levels of economic output to the local tax base, they all, nevertheless, require certain acceptable levels of fiscal revenue to support delivery of essential services. These essential services include police, fire, library, parks and recreation and other forms of public, human and social services.

The jurisdictions with the highest economic development competitiveness and growth performance are usually those that have specific, carefully crafted policies, programs and resource allocations to address the business, jobs and quality of life needs and opportunities within each of these areas.  Such specific geographic sector strategies are capable of facilitating increased economic opportunities, all while also generating increased and sustainable revenue growth to meet future tax base growth requirements that will be driven by a highly-demanding 21st century marketplace. The highest levels of performance can most often be achieved when implemented within the context of an overall economic development plan and comprehensive economic development growth strategies.

Posted by: AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 23 2016
A Vital Piece of the Global Customer Service Industry

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

The ever-expanding call center industry remains a vital piece of the global customer service industry. Contributing to its growth is a greater emphasis on customer satisfaction, new developments in information technology, and overall cost reductions in operating modern facilities.

Of course, the real reason they are so popular is that decades of experience have proven call centers are the hallmark of successful organizations seeking to give customers the highest quality of assistance when needed. Even better news: Whether it's for inbound or outbound calls, these days retaining the services of a call center can be affordable for small businesses as well as the larger multinationals.

However, while the merits of call centers are many, debates are now flaring about whether a firm should outsource part of their customer service jobs overseas or use a domestic provider right here in America.

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Wednesday, March 16 2016
Top Trends in Tourism and What They Mean for Your Community

By Tom Dworetsky, Analyst at Camoin Associates

Tourism is big business worldwide, and communities of all sizes want in on the action. Understanding the key trends that are reshaping the industry can give your community a boost in transforming from unknown to unequaled.

Tourism Defined
In its broadest sense, tourism is defined as the collection of activities engaged in by visitors to a destination that is located outside of their usual environment. The reasons for a visitor’s travel may consist of those activities most traditionally thought of as tourism-related, such as leisure, a vacation, or visiting friends and relatives, but they may also encompass employment-related travel, attending a convention or conference, or other business reasons. The tourism industry, therefore, can be defined as consisting of any establishments that cater to visitors and directly benefit from visitor expenditure. The Bureau of Economic Analysis divides visitor spending into four main categories:

  • Recreation, Entertainment, and Shopping – performing arts, museums, sporting events, casinos, other visitor attractions, souvenirs and other retail purchases
  • Accommodations – hotels, motels, resorts, guest houses, RV parks, campgrounds
  • Food Services – quick and full service eating establishments, coffee shops, bars
  • Transportation – air, ground, and water travel; car rental; fuel; parking
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Wednesday, March 16 2016
Six Trends to Keep an Eye Out for in Logistics and Transportation Management

By Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant at Cerasis

2016 will be a defining year for the logistics industry, and transportation management practices must adapt to these changes. Some of these transportation management trends reflect real worries for the logistics industry. However, logistics providers and shippers are starting to understand how to combat each of these problems best through the application of transportation management technologies. But, first, so we are all on the same page, let’s define transportation and logistics management and how they compare. Then, we will discuss the top trends we see in transportation and logistics for 2016.

What is Transportation and Logistics Management?
According to Wikipedia, transportation is defined as the movement of people, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles and operations. Transport is important since it enables trade between people, which in turn establishes civilizations.

I find it an interesting point that transportation is an enabler of civilization, but this makes sense, as it enables the ability to trade and communicate.

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Wednesday, March 16 2016
U.S. Wind Poised to Reach New Heights in 2016 and Beyond

By Tom Kiernan, CEO AWEA

Falling costs, favorable long-term policy certainty and a diverse group of customers are creating a watershed moment for U.S. wind energy. Wind is rapidly becoming America’s fastest-growing source of electricity, acting as a leading carbon-cutting solution for our nation’s power grid.

The five-year extension in December of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and alternative Investment Tax Credit will allow American wind power to continue its recent record of success. The incentives have spurred technological advances and improved domestic manufacturing, so wind-generated electricity now costs two-thirds less than it did  just six years ago. The renewal of the tax credits means U.S. wind now has a business environment primed for expansion through the 2020s, when the new Clean Power Plan will kick in and require further carbon cutting, for which wind is the low-cost solution.

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Tuesday, March 15 2016
Understanding the Aerospace Industry Workforce: How Communities Can Attract This Industry Through Smart and Strategic Workforce Practices

By Frank Spano, Managing Director; Bianca Holtier Coury, Project Purchasing Agent; and Susan Riffle, Commuications Specialist of The Austin Company

There is an interesting and dynamic shift occurring within the aerospace industry as it relates to integrating the workforce and communities at the local level. By way of innovative techniques, along with suitable grants, assistance and training programs, the atmosphere is ripe for launching a successful campaign to support the expanding needs of a dramatically growing vertical marketplace. Boost local economic development by tending to the workforce needs of the multi-faceted aerospace industry.
Assessing the challenges that exist today has led to identifying opportunities that will positively influence communities and aerospace companies. Through a combination of educational institutions, workforce development and talent-recruiting efforts, the results can have lasting affects socially and economically.  

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Tuesday, March 15 2016
Automotive Industry In Overdrive

By Dawn Baetsen, president of D.E. Baetsen & Associates LLC

The automotive industry is in a revolution that will change the traditional business model and industry structure as we know it. Despite global economic unrest, low oil prices, and stock market contraction, the automotive market is speeding forward, designing and producing cars that appeal to the masses, which are safer and increasingly safer for the environment. This movement is not without flaws as tensions intensified between automakers and government with unprecedented recalls and the fallout of “dieselgate.”

The automotive industry enjoyed a 6th straight year of growth in 2015, despite unruly economies and governmental stress. The major markets of North America, Asia/China and Western Europe fueled 2015 global sales growth for light trucks and cars. Scotiabank reports purchases in North America rose above 20 million units. The United States auto industry alone accounted for a sales record in excess of 17.4 million units contributing to the longest streak of annual gains since the 1920s and demonstrating an impressive come back. The Asian markets posted sales in excess of 33 million with China, the world’s largest automotive market posting sales of 19.75 units. Western Europe posted 5.6 percent growth in sales predominantly from Germany. India also saw an increase in sales by over six percent. Two of the BRIC markets, Russia and Brazil, experienced weakening economies resulting in declining sales. Russia in particular experienced nearly a 40 percent decline in sales. Brazil also had a decline in sales which is expected to persist into 2016. 

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Tuesday, March 15 2016
ICSC's Tom McGee: The Evolution of Retail Real Estate

By Thomas McGee, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Council of Shopping Centers

The U.S. shopping center industry is at its strongest in years, due in part to an improving economic picture, especially as it pertains to consumer spending possibilities. This is seen through robust growth within the industry, which saw year-over-year indicators reach historically-strong growth rates by the end of 2015.

This past year saw an improved job market, rising consumer confidence, and healthy fundamentals. The U.S. National Home Price Index has also seen a nice uptick, gas prices have remained low for a sustained period of time, and wage growth is slowly increasing—leaving consumers with more discretionary income to spend.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) reported strong property data results for year-end 2015. Metrics across the board increased nicely:

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Thursday, January 14 2016
Are Innovation Districts Remaking or Obsoleting University Research Parks?

By Catherine Searle Renault, principal and owner of Innovation Policyworks, LLC

When the grandfather of university research parks, the Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh, NC, is making major changes, you know something is afoot. After nearly 50 years, RTP is changing its approach, modifying its suburban campus’ auto-accessible layout to include a centralized “downtown.” Adding a new 400 acre new development will make RTP more like a city: stores, restaurants, condos and apartments "for a variety of incomes"—and of course, tech companies.

The motivation for this change is the rise of innovation districts across the country that are offering a new vision where anchor institutions like universities, large and small companies and the resources of the broader ecosystem co-exist to produce economic vitality and growth. And, these innovation districts are largely thriving in large metropolitan areas, challenging the suburban office park model.

What’s driving innovation districts? Millennials and Baby Boomers. The demographic shift, driven by aging Baby Boomers and Millennials, is causing population growth in metro areas after decades of flight to the suburbs.  Both older workers and the youngest workers want to live, work and play in the same place, have lower car ownership levels and value an environmentally-friendly, low carbon footprint lifestyle.

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Thursday, January 14 2016
Plastics: The Next Growth Industry

By James R. Kinnett II, CEcD, EDFP, The Kinnett Consulting Group and Partner in CKK-Group, LLC

Industry Outlook
There is both abundant good news and limited bad news for the continuously evolving Plastics Industry. First the bad news, with the unstable situations in Europe and the Middle East, and the declining economy in China the world wide growth is basically stuck in neutral. As noted by HIS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh at the Global Plastics Summit 2015 in October, “We’ve seen slowdowns in labor force growth and productivity, and global economic growth of 2.5-2.8 percent annually since 2011 is well below the average of the previous two decades.”  He also added that austerity and debt have been “major headwinds” to economic growth. 

These factors, along with monetary issues from around the world, are making the playing field for plastics a somewhat difficult industry to maneuver. An example is the trouble being experienced in Mexico. Since the beginning of 2015 the Mexican peso has dropped 25 percent against the U.S. Dollar and this has created a serious concern in the Mexican plastics industry. The industry currently imports approximately 60 percent of the polymers being processed there, and the currency fluctuation is having a large impact on the costs of these raw materials. Another international factor that is looming in the future is the African marketplace. While relatively small at this time, the fact that world exports of plastics and rubber machinery to Africa have gone up from about $719.4 million in 2009 to $971.2 million in 2014. This has been a continuous trend, actually since 2004, and there have been very few, if any, fluctuations in this trend in the last ten-year period. Africa could become the next largest producer of plastic products in the world.

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Wednesday, January 13 2016
Flexibility in DC Design and Material Handling Systems a Must

By Allan Kohl, president and senior partner at KOM International

As we saw in the September 2015 Industry Feature story of Expansion Magazine, with rising global trade volumes and increasing imports to the U.S., inland ports are becoming a critical component in the global supply chain.

The inland port, or intermodal distribution centers that make-up these inland ports or hubs are connected directly to major seaports, and help retailers and manufacturers with cost-effective import distribution to consumers. 

This is particularly so for West-to-East movement of product, where an inland port can help to speed the flow of cargo between ships and major land transportation networks, creating a more central distribution point.  Another advantage is improving the speed of getting imports and exports across the country at least cost to DCs or customers by providing value added services such as: container de-stuffing; product re-boxing; segregation and redirection of West/East coasts volumes, and preparation of truckloads for Eastern destinations only.

Posted by: AT 09:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 13 2016
Green Development - A New Consideration in Corporate Location Decisions

By Don Schjeldahl, Principal, DSG Advisors

Every generation or so since the dawn of the industrial age, game-changing ideas and technologies have transformed both the way corporations operate and society itself.  Introduction of the electric grid, rail networks, public sanitation and education are among the innovations that reshaped America in the early years of the 20th century.  Then, as now, with each innovation, corporate location decisions were altered, at least by adept organizations, to reflect a new reality.  

The business world is on the verge of adopting another corporate best practice – green development, a concept that lean and malleable corporate operations do better in communities that manage themselves to region-wide and site-specific considerations in mind.  And like previous advances, green development is beginning to dictate best locations for corporate investment.  This article offers corporate executives an outline of green development factors to consider in future investment decisions.

Posted by: AT 09:05 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 13 2016
Data Center Site Selection

By Dennis J. Donovan, principal of Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting and Joe Suppers, president of Node Com

Data Centers have been proliferating due to several forces including the economic recovery, cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, insatiable demand for real-time information, mobile communications, and risk minimization.

The proliferation of data centers has occurred in nearly all industries.  Perhaps the biggest growth has transpired in the technology industry (from Google to Facebook).

Scale still matters in data centers.  Reports on the demise of “big box” operations have been exaggerated.  In fact, many of the data centers established in the last couple of years have been well in excess of 500,000 sq. ft.

Posted by: AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 01 2015
The Oil and Gas Industry - Technological Advancements that Minimize Pollution

By Yannis Gatsiounis, General Manager, Economic Development Strategy, AngelouEconomics

The conventional wisdom has it – has had it for 20-plus years – that renewable energies will soon replace fossil fuels.

In fact, fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, will remain central to our energy future, with heavily-subsidized renewables unable to overcome the forces of economic nature to drastically increase their market share.

Congress, for one, is inching closer to lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil exports, as fracking unlocks the potential of oil and gas wells, while the U.S. economy – valued at $17 trillion – is once again on the upswing, boosting energy production along with it.

Wind and solar account for a mere 8 percent of our energy supply. Even in global capitals for wind, like Denmark and Germany, are powered by some of the world’s finest engineers-residential power rates are among the highest in the world, at 42 cents/kWh in Denmark, and 39 in Germany. According to Bloomberg, Denmark intends to retract its lofty CO2 emission targets and scrap plans to become fossil-fuel free by 2050

Posted by: AT 01:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 01 2015
Trends in Health Care Industries and Why the Health Care Sector Should be Included in Your Economic Development Strategy

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President Camoin Associates, and Alexandra Tranmer, Economic Development Specialist Camoin Associates

Conventional thinking about the health care industry in economic development circles dictates that it is an industry bogged down in federal and state bureaucracy, with little room for employment or growth opportunities. Yet, Jim Damicis and Alex Tranmer explore industry and market data to demonstrate the valuable role that health care and related subsectors can have on a community, proving it is a vital component of any economic development strategy. 

The health care industry1 is diverse, consisting of many subindustries including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and Residential Care
  • Facilities
  • Social Assistance
  • Ambulatory Health Care Services, outpatient procedures, generally procedures that do not require an overnight stay in a hospital.

Examples include: blood tests, X-rays, or rehabilitation treatment. 

Posted by: AT 12:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 30 2015
Determining if an Existing Building is Compatible for a Food Processing Operation

By Frank Spano, Managing Director and Susan Riffle, Communications Specialist of Austin Consulting

Food processors planning to expand or construct new processing facilities do so for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Increasing market share
  • Penetrating new geographic areas
  • Replacing outdated, inefficient operations
  • Introducing new product lines

Once the decision is made to construct a facility, the company must determine the geography where operating costs are minimized for the new operation. Important considerations include labor and utility costs and availability, taxation policies, community characteristics, and potential assistance programs at the state and local level.

Considering an Existing Building
Real estate, by nature, is equally important. Manufacturing operations, including food processers, are continually trying to overcome high start-up costs in new plant construction. Food processors are concerned with speed of entry to market and will explore opportunities to reduce time and transportation costs. One important variable to consider is utilizing an existing building versus constructing a new facility on a greenfield site.

Posted by: AT 10:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 30 2015
A Rose By Any Other Name

By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting

Writing an article about call centers is always a tougher assignment than it may seem; not because there is nothing to talk about, but because it is hard to decide exactly how to interpret what this term “call center” really encompasses and how to focus a discussion accordingly. In fact, it’s become so complicated that it is hard to even know what term to use in this article to talk about operations that are called call centers but are really something else, and operations that are called something else but are really call centers. So, for the sake of brevity and clarity in this article, let’s settle for the moment on “call center” to cover all of the infinite variety of operations like these.

 The term “call centers” first came into use at a time when the options for businesses to connect with one another or with customers were moving from face to face contact and snail mail to the new model of interacting over the phone. The call center was the new, cost effective option intended to replace at least a part of the more costly face-to-face connections. Very quickly, however, the functions of this type of operation came to include many types of interactions with internal or external customers that did not fall into the face-to-face category. In many cases these functions were being moved from decentralized to centralized models, which may explain why so many of them still include the word “center” as new names are coined. Whether their evolution has a positive or negative net impact on customers and employees remains controversial. For those who were performing their jobs in a decentralized environment such as power company counter reps who accepted payments in most towns in the country, this trend caused a great deal of disruption to relationships, job locations, and work environment and processes. From the company perspective, however processes were standardized and money was saved. In most cases this change was driven or at least enabled by a shift away from paper records to computer systems. On the plus side for employees, call centers created entire new categories of jobs that provided many people with better jobs, better career prospects and better benefits than they may have had in a retail setting, for example, or as an entry level position. Nevertheless, in many places they developed a reputation for being stressful, regimented places to work with a broader image as being the source of annoying phone calls at home.

Posted by: AT 10:04 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, November 30 2015
Powering Advanced Manufacturing

By Dawn Baetsen, president of  D.E. Baetsen & Associates LLC

There is no argument-developments in advanced manufacturing  positively impact manufacturing  in many ways such as cost efficiencies, quality, consistency, and speed to market to name of few. Manufacturing still helps drive economies and advanced manufacturing in making developments happen at a rapid pace to fuel strategic growth and competition. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every dollar spent in manufacturing another $1.37 is added to the U.S. national economy, the largest of any industry. Manufacturing in the U.S. contributes over $2 trillion to the economy, provides good jobs and fuels the middle class. However, our economy is not out of the woods from the recession. Maintaining the momentum to keep manufacturing moving in the right direction and to exceed pre-recession levels will take considerable effort. Roadblocks remain in skilled labor, energy costs, location, innovation to commercialization, and the ability for the small to mid-size manufacturer to identify with the benefits of, and embrace, advanced manufacturing.

Since the recession, government initiatives in many countries identified the need to provide support to the manufacturing base in order to remain competitive, to support research and development and move it to the shop floor. The United States also moved in the same direction and answered with the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The goal of NNMI is to work with newly-organized and monetarily-supported institutes to create a research-to-manufacturing infrastructure, which can be shared to support U.S. manufacturers and shift the competitive advantage back to the United States with advanced manufacturing as a critical tool. This new initiative recognizes the need for communities, educators, workers, businesses and government to work together to achieve these goals.

Posted by: AT 09:56 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2015
The Benefits of a Shovel Ready Site

Shovel ready sites can give communities seeking to attract distributors and manufacturers a strong competitive advantage. Shovel ready sites are designated locations primed for economic development, allowing companies to break ground rather than first having to address planning, zoning, infrastructural engineering, and other regulations that typically must be checked off before labor can be deployed on the site. 

Iowa is turning into a leader for shovel ready sites, with seven counties participating in a Shovel Ready Certification Program that certifies projects as shovel ready and puts them into a local, regional and statewide inventory that is strongly marketed to prospective clients. In July, the state’s governor, Terry Branstad, announced six new shovel ready sites. One of the sites, the Marion Enterprise Center, received $5.5 million from Marion to build roads, sewers and other infrastructural shovel-ready amenities. The state of Iowa recently certified a yet unnamed “super park” of 582 acres shovel ready for agriculture, aviation, industrial and public projects in Cedar Rapids. 

What qualifies as a shovel ready can vary by jurisdiction, but if standards are too low and in the end inconvenience or delay the aims of businesses, it can damage a community’s ability to attract future capital investment. In Tennessee, a site must have at least 20 acres ready for development, adhere to zoning standards that allow for straightforward development, have utilities that extend to the site and road access of a quality that can handle trucks. Many states observe similar standards. 

Posted by: AT 12:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2015
Inland Ports - Booting The Logistics Market

Port activity is expanding and many ports, especially on the west coast, are overcrowded and offering slower and more expensive service. The country's major ports are facing congestion as the inbound volume of goods manufactured abroad continues to rise. Projections for the next five years indicate that some ports will triple their containership capacity and freight throughput. 

The recent congestion at LA/Long Beach, the country’s largest container port gateway, is due to equipment shortages (e.g., chassis), labor shortages and labor contract negotiations, and the challenge of adjusting terminal operations to larger container ships deployed in the transpacific trade. Ongoing congestion has raised the issue of shifting some cargo to alternate gateways. Options for available for importers and exporters to use other U.S. West Coast ports, Mexican ports, and all-water services via the Panama Canal to Houston and other Gulf ports. However, all these options would likely be more costly and less timely and have their own challenges. 

To accommodate the rise in global imports, the industry is shifting more to an "inland port" model, where inbound goods are quickly off-loaded from ships and moved to inland distribution centers for subsequent handling and redistribution within the country.

Posted by: AT 12:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2015
Taking It to the Schools

The manufacturing industry works on the infrastructure to boost the manufacturing talent pipeline

As economists dial back U.S. gross domestic product forecasts for 2015, you’d probably think that manufacturers would be less concerned about filling key job openings within the manufacturing ranks. You’d be wrong.

The economy may be performing at an uneven pace, but the baby boomers remain confident enough in their financial future to move toward the exits on their way to retirement. These boomers, roughly defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, are said to be retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day, and that is leaving plenty of job vacancies in the front office and on the shop floor of manufacturing companies.

Over the next several years about 3.5 million manufacturing jobs are going to be made available, with an estimated 2.7 million of those jobs likely the result of retirements of the existing workforce, according to a 2015 study from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. The same study suggests that the lack of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills among workers and a general dearth of graduates from vocational schools will result in two million of those jobs going unfilled. 

Posted by: AT 12:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 21 2015
The Changing Face of the Gaming Industry

Gambling and/or the term Gaming has  distinct, different meanings depending on where you are. If you are in Nevada or New Jersey it means gambling. If you are in Silicon Valley or Boston’s Digital Corridor it means video gaming. But the biggest change in the traditional gambling industry is going to be the merger of both these concepts. Mobile apps for gaming are rapidly becoming the norm. The biggest hurdle is the Internet Gaming Act of 2006. But with the intense pressure on cities and states to meet ever-increasing costs of operating their budgets without raising taxes the onslaught to allow and legalize gambling has been on a tear this past decade, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The estimated revenue on mobile gambling or video gambling is estimated to represent about $30B USD annually and if those funds are allowed to flow legally within the United States and into the United States (tourism impact without actual in market visitation) the taxes and fees that locales and states can generate are very tempting. Since the mid-1970s, gambling has been America's fastest-growing industry. Wagers in the U.S. are currently approaching half a trillion dollars annually! In the 20 years from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, gambling revenues increased by an incredible 2,000 percent, according to a report created by US News & World Report magazine in 2014.

Posted by: AT 10:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 21 2015
Business Aviation: A Success Story Everywhere

Business aviation offers many important contributions to citizens, companies and communities across the United States. In fact, the nation’s general aviation (GA) industry – which includes business aviation – contributes $219 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and supports more than one million stable, high-wage jobs in this country.

The vast majority of companies relying on business aviation are small and medium size companies, and it has been consistently demonstrated that companies using aviation outperform their competitors that do not. Despite these benefits, however, this proud American industry continually faces regulatory and legislative challenges on the national, state and local levels. 

Potential obstacles to the freedom and mobility provided through business aviation include threats to close valued and historic airports; potential limits on GA operations within the national airspace system (NAS); and constant legislative pressure to implement onerous user fees. 

Posted by: AT 10:20 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 21 2015
Take a Shot at Supporting the Distilling Industry

Following in the wake of the growing popularity of the craft wine and beer industries, spirits are the latest adult beverage to see increased interest by small, local producers looking to create unique products for a niche market. The surge in demand for locally produced alcohol aligns with the recent increase in demand for artisanal goods, the local foods movements, and the growing interest of consumers’ in where and how their food and drinks are made. 

The recent uptick in the number of craft distilleries in the United States has created unique opportunities for communities and economic developers looking to support this industry. The increase in distilling also impacts other regional economic engines, such as the agriculture, bottling, transportation, and hospitality industries, among others. The following article outlines the history of the distilling industry, including recent trends, two case studies, workforce considerations, and some information for economic developers looking to help encourage economic activity related to distilling.

Posted by: AT 10:07 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 03 2015
High Technology Location Trends

By Dennis J. Donovan, Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting

This article addresses the locational dynamics associated with high technology. While the focus is on the U.S., observations for the global scene are provided as well.  At the outset, a definition of the classic high-tech sector is provided. This includes strategic drivers that shape site searches for high-tech. Next we look at geographic concentrations of high technology. This is followed by a listing of factors of importance to high technology operations.

There is no widely accepted definition of the term. But drawing from several sources, one or a combination of the following would comprise a high-tech entity:

  • Manufacturing process involving either a heavy engineering content or an above average proportion of revenue devoted to R&D
  • R&D labs/centers of excellence
  • Any business that employs an above average proportion of scientists and engineering (including IT)
Posted by: AT 02:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 03 2015
How the Location Selection Process Works

Communities that want to attract freight facilities should examine themselves as corporate site selectors do before engaging in a full-scale business recruitment process. If a community is going to successfully compete in attracting a freight facility, it is to its advantage to understand what needs a company is seeking to satisfy and what kind of criteria they will use to select a site. What are the key things a planner, economic development strategist, or elected official should know to develop potential or develop competitive advantage for a good freight facility project?

Freight facilities will only consider locations that fulfill the primary objective of moving goods in the most efficient manner from point of origin to destination. This trumps most other considerations. Companies and carriers rarely base location decisions on personal relationships, government incentives, or regional promotions. These factors are only a consideration after a location meets the required criteria for the business to be successful. Local officials can make their communities more attractive to freight facilities by providing a hospitable climate through appropriate zoning, compatible land use, transportation infrastructure, and community support. When companies evaluate sites, some criteria are far more important than others. The ability to access key markets, availability of efficient transportation, sufficient qualified labor, and total costs are considered key criteria. Proximity and/or access to markets is the most important driving factor that determines the region or community in which a freight facility will locate.

Posted by: AT 11:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, July 29 2015
Ten Ideas for More Efficient and Productive Warehouse Operations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - tripping, falling, and slipping account for the majority of “general industry accidents.”  In fact, statistics show slip and fall accidents make up 15 percent of all accidental deaths, 25 percent of all injury claims and – shockingly – 95 million lost work days each year.

It goes without saying that warehouses need to find ways to prioritize workplace safety for the health and productivity of the workforce. But what are some ways organizations can streamline operations for improved results overall?

The following is our top ten list of ways warehouses can drive more efficient and productive warehouse operations:

1. Consider Automation
Boston Consulting Group research shows 1.2 million robots are expected to be deployed across manufacturing facilities in the U.S. by the year 2025. Why? Not only can robotic automation help manufacturers achieve greater warehouse productivity, but it can also drive significant cost savings as compared to employing workers.

Posted by: AT 10:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, July 29 2015
Solar's Cross-Country Growth

In this year’s first quarter, renewable energy led the way for newly installed electric generation, and solar energy contributed a strong 214 megawatts (MW) from 30 units, second only to wind within the clean-energy category, according to a report coming out of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

That’s just one quarter, of course, but it nevertheless is emblematic of solar energy’s rising presence on the U.S. energy landscape. To be sure, solar projects of varying sizes are popping up around the country. The age of utility-scale solar as a mainstream energy source is well underway.

Here are just a few notable indicators from the Solar Energy Industries Association:

  • In 2016, 16 states will install more than 100 MW of solar. That compares to only two states back in 2010.
  • California is expected to install as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2016 as the entire country did in 2014.All solar market sectors – residential, non-residential and utility scale – are expected to grow by 25 to 50 percent over the next two years.
Posted by: AT 09:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 28 2015
Workforce Development: An Essential Collaboration for Economic Growth

Economic developers from across the country hear the same chorus again and again from their major employers: “We are hiring and we can’t find the people we need!” Indeed, the lack of sufficient quantities of skilled workers is a real brake on economic growth that appears likely to worsen as skilled baby-boomers begin to retire in greater numbers. This workforce gap is particularly puzzling when juxtaposed with the number of unemployed and under-employed people seeking better wages.

In part, to deal with this human and economic problem, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law in 2014. WIOA is the replacement to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and is meant to better “match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.”  We believe that WIOA offers a real platform to allow economic developers to engage with their local Workforce Investment Boards in a new and more comprehensive way. Below we describe two case studies where just such a collaboration has yielded fruit in the form of a more integrated economic developer-workforce development system. We also provide recommendations for others wishing to build this economic-workforce bridge in their own communities.

Posted by: AT 02:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 28 2015
Outdoor Recreation Expansions Explode Across U.S.

“Hey! That boat sounds like it’s going to hit the dike!” I yelled the warning to Phil Broussard, as we struggled to pull his jonboat across a hump of land deep in the wilds of Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Louisiana.

“It just did,“ Phil, laughed as a terrific pounding noise came from the yon side of the embankment only a few feet away.
With a terrific clanging and banging, one of the most wrinkled aluminum jonboats I have seen, suddenly fishtailed across the four-foot rise of land. A 10 horsepower Mercury outboard screamed in protest as the whirling prop flew up then bounced hard against the earthen dike, causing the skidding boat to thrash like a fish out of the water! A second later, the boat, with a man holding on to the tiller with both hands, plowed headlong into the water, the motor fell down and the beat-up watercraft streaked away as if nothing happened.

“That’s just a local Coonass making his rounds,“ Phil chuckled, noting the look of astonishment on my face. He explained the Cajuns who live, fish, hunt and trap in this remote, but the amazingly-rich outdoor treasury, dislike dikes, rule and laws made by people rarely every go to the trouble of pulling a boat over the designed boat crossing.

Posted by: AT 01:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 21 2015
The State of Freight - Port Surface Transportation Infrastructure Survey

Seaports are the backbone of a thriving 21st century global economy. Yet, a nation’s freight transportation system is only as good as its underlying infrastructure. In the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) 2015 Surface Transportation Infrastructure Survey - The State of Freight, results indicate that the nation’s unsurpassed goods movement network needs immediate and significant investment in the arteries that carry freight to and from its seaports.  Without that investment, the American economy, the jobs it produces and the international competitiveness it offers will erode and suffer, creating predictable and oftentimes severe hardships to the individuals who live and businesses that operate within its borders.

In 2013 alone, some 1.3 billion metric tons of imported and exported cargo, worth nearly $1.75 trillion, moved through America’s seaports, while an estimated 900 million metric tons of domestic cargo with a market value of over $400 billion was also handled through these international gateways.

Posted by: AT 08:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 21 2015
Expansion Opportunities Abound for Industry Amid Shifting Trade Lanes

Growing markets, shifting manufacturing centers and major infrastructure projects keep global trade lanes in flux

Nine years ago, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) hosted a workshop in partnership with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) designed to give attendees a look at “Shifting International Trade Routes,” especially those anticipated to occur because of the newly-begun expansion of the Panama Canal. The program proved extremely popular, and AAPA has repeated the program in Tampa, Fla., each January since then. It has become a staple in AAPA’s training offerings each year, though the agenda has grown to look more broadly at what’s happening in global trade patterns and market shifts.

Even with the 2015 program, which was held January 29-30, the subject matter remains evergreen – what is happening with the global market? What’s changed since last year? How are trade lanes shifting throughout the world? And – perhaps most importantly – what does this information mean for public ports?

While mainstream media has focused a great deal on the Panama Canal expansion – and certainly the expansion is a newsworthy item and will likely significantly affect global trade – there are many other factors currently driving worldwide trade trends. One critical factor is the location of manufacturing centers within Asia.

Posted by: AT 08:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 21 2015
Motorsports - A Diversified Economic Impact

By Yannis Gatsiounis, associate project manager of Angelou Economics

Four years ago, the announcement that Austin would get a Formula One (F1) track was met with much fanfare. It would further put Austin on the map and boost the local economy. Three years after opening, however, the track’s economic benefits are still being debated.

The track, known as Circuit of the Americas (COTA), was constructed at a cost of $300-450 million. The value has since dropped to $271 million, say government officials, and the track started paying $22 million a year for 10 years to Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One and controls the commercial rights to the sport, according to the Austin American Statesman. The Statesman notes that COTA covers that and other costs – totaling $29 million – with state incentives.

Posted by: AT 08:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015
Fostering Green Development at the Local Level

By JoAnn Crary, Chair, International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and President, Saginaw Future Inc.

The movement towards a green economy has been transforming the economic development profession and the businesses and communities they support. Energy related issues are usually among the top site-selection factors for any relocation project, and increasingly real estate developers and investors are drawn to places with a green infrastructure and culture for relocations and expansions. Results from a 2011 IEDC survey of state economic development leaders demonstrated that the relationship between renewable energy and economic development was robust and would continue to grow. And today, more communities across the U.S. are tapping into energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.

However, despite the ostensible benefits of developing a renewable energy scheme – from enhancing the energy efficiency of manufacturing facilities and commercial buildings, to driving business competitiveness, to creating jobs, to improving grid reliability, and saving consumers money on energy bills -  it does not come without challenges. Lack of investment capital and financing was cited as a top concern for economic development professionals for renewable energy policies in the above mentioned survey, and remains so today. With some cities, counties, and states now enacting mandatory reporting of energy consumption - notably in California and the City of Seattle - more expectations will be placed on builders nationwide.

Posted by: AT 11:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015
Elements to Success: Discoveries, Clusters, and Incentives in the Biotech/Pharma Industry

By Lisa A. Bastian

Much progress continues to be made worldwide in the biotech areas of food, feed, energy - and especially the life sciences - using pioneering research platforms. Advances in areas such as immuno-oncology, personalized medicine and infectious disease solutions easily grab the media's attention - and often the funding as well. According to Dow Jones VentureSource, biopharmaceutical venture capital investment alone rose 17 percent, from $4.52 billion in 2013 to $5.29 billion in 2014.

Every other day it seems a biotechnology company is publicizing a new planet-shifting concept or beyond-blockbuster drug destined to shake up medical science - or at least garner some investor attention. Sometimes the euphoria is justified; sadly, sometimes not.

Exciting World-Class Bio-Pharma Discoveries
It's so true: People don't seem to appreciate what they have until it's gone - or no longer useful.  Scientists are working feverishly to ensure that does not apply to antibiotics.

Last year, a World Health Organization (WHO) report warned a "post-antibiotic era" is near due to the increasing ineffectiveness of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents in every region of the planet. The culprit? The report cites overuse of antibiotics by practitioners and hospitals, and overuse in agriculture/livestock growth programs, has supported the growth and spread of drug-resistant bacteria. It's been found that drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands of people a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could top 10 million and cost the world economy $100 trillion. Moreover, in July 2014 a U.K.-government report stated 700,000 deaths worldwide are due to resistance to antimicrobials, the class of drugs that includes antibiotics, antivirals, antiparasitics and antifungals.

But medical miracles are here or on the horizon.

In January, the amazing discovery of Teixobactin was announced in Nature. NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals of Massachusetts owns the patent rights to this new "game-changer" class of antibiotic, yet to be tested on humans, which destroys a wide range of drug-resistant bacteria including MRSA, tuberculosis and countless other life-threatening infections.  Then there's community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP), the number one cause of death from an infection. Each year five to 10 million Americans get CABP.  To the rescue is Austria's Nabriva Therapeutics AG, which has attracted $120 million in funding commitments (led by U.S.-based investors Vivo Capital and OrbiMed), much of which will push its unique bacterial-pneumonia therapy toward regulatory approval. Later this year the firm expects to start Phase III clinical trials for CABP patients with Lefamulin, its drug in the new class of antibiotics called pleuromutilins. Another dog in the fight is Cempra of North Carolina, a pharma company developing new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant diseases, too. Its two lead product candidates in advanced clinical development include Solithromycin (for CABP), and Taksta (for refractory staphylococcal infections in bones and joints).  

"Personalized medicine" is often defined as “the right treatment for the right person at the right time," but it's actually a layman's phrase used to describe pharmacogenomics, a science exploring the relationships between a person's genetics and targeted, individualized diagnostics/therapies resulting in better patient outcomes. In the past decade apprehensions about it have been fading, as more and more pharma companies implement some aspect of it in clinical trials of promising drugs.

Personalized medicine in particular is redefining the fight against cancer as many but not all cancer tumors can be battled with this treatment approach. New centers focused on personalized cancer care are popping up every year; most are at major cancer facilities. A renowned one is MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, which employs T-200 (an “ultra-deep research platform”) to analyze a patient’s tumor against 200 different genetic aberrations. The Center also created a public website for doctors to search to find out if there is an approved drug or clinical trial in existence that can be used to target a patient's unique genetic mutations causing a health problem.

Finding the right cancer drug (from among up to 100 or so options) to kill an individual's tumor has always been tricky - until now. Earlier this year it was reported that chemical engineers at MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, have invented a rice-sized implantable device used to deliver small doses of up to 30 different drugs into a tumor. Researchers then monitor the tumor to find out which drugs are most effective at treating the cancer cells, and then select the one (or ones) that work best for that patient.

Immunotherapy is an innovative treatment using certain parts of a person's immune system to fight diseases, such as cancer, by targeting and destroying the rogue cells. New "checkpoint inhibitors" are drugs that prevents cancer from putting on an "invisibility cloak" that shields it from the body's immune system. For some people they seem to work well against multiple cancer types, including cancers of the kidneys, bladder, head and neck, and even the breast.

For example, Merck's new Keytruda (pembrolizumab) drug was approved by the FDA last September to treat metastatic melanoma. But it's also being studied for its impact on over 30 types of cancers, so more good news may be in the future. Dendreon's Provenge is the first and only FDA-approved immunotherapy for advanced prostate cancer. And in Iowa State University Research Park, NewLink Genetics has a promising pipeline of immunotherapies as well as pathway inhibitors (they work similar to immune checkpoint inhibitors) to help kill tumors associated with pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, renal and/or metastatic breast cancers, among others.

GEN'S Top 10 Biotech Clusters
In March, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) announced its 2015 "Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters List."  The publication noted NIH's fiscal year-to-date funding has increased by one-third ($312.797 million vs. the previous year's $201.4 million), and that "nearly all regions saw significant increases" in a post-Sequestration reality. Another observation: The VC vmarket seems to be recovering, but not all regions are benefitting.

Here's a summary of GEN comments about the winners:

  • #10. Chicagoland:  In 2014 garnered $146.608 million of VC in six deals, and at least one significant VC award already this year.
  • #9. Los Angeles: LA and nearby Orange County make up California’s third biotech cluster, after the Bay Area and San Diego. A new “Biotech Master Plan” will identify biotech opportunities at all five LA County medical campuses.
  • #8. Raleigh-Durham, NC (includes Research Triangle Park, NC):  Big Pharma as well as contract research organizations and biotechs have expanded here in recent years.
  • #7. Seattle:  Attracted more than $300 million in private capital since 2013; lags a bit in lab space. #6. Greater Philadelphia:  Enjoyed a VC financing boost of nearly 30 percent over 2013 to $211.376 million in 23 deals made last year.
  • #5. Maryland/D.C. Metro: Home of the NIH, FDA and CDC can claim #3 ranking in patents (3,531), of which 51 percent (1,798) are held by the parent of all three agencies, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • #4. San Diego:  Scored well in VC funding (#3 with $494.46 million in 42 deals), and also did well in patents (2,644) compared to three much larger regions.
  • #3. New York/New Jersey:  Best for jobs (77,645 estimate) and lab space (20.6 million sq. ft.); prized as America's largest region with many research institutions and a sizable "heritage" pharma industry.
  • #2. San Francisco Bay Area:  Boasts the most patents (8,851); finishes a very close second to Boston-Cambridge in 2014 VC ($1.816 billion in 110 deals), and fourth in NIH funding ($143.9 million) and jobs (50,038).  Another lab space leader with 20 million sq. ft.
  • #1. Boston-Cambridge: Second in patents (5,002) but tops in 2014 VC ($1.82 billion in 88 deals), NIH funding ($312.797 million) and lab space (21.204 million s.f.).

Biotech Incentives of Note
About 400 partners from the worlds of academia, government, industry, nonprofits and investment converged at the first Maryland Regional Biotech Forum in April 2015. Organizers expect the event will help the region become one of the nation's top three biotech hubs by 2023. Already ranked among the top 10 U.S. biotech clusters, the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. area is home to over 800 life sciences companies, 70 federal labs, and many world-class academic and research institutions.

After the forum, conference-goer Ellen Harpel, Ph.D., wrote a recent blog post on smart incentives needed to grow a successful "biotech ecosystem."  (This founder of Smart Incentives is also president of Business Development Advisors, an economic development and market intelligence consulting firm.)  Harpel cited a few incentives tips shared by conference participants:

  • Hubs need "top talent with the right skills, values and experience, linked through a strong networked community."
  • Critical to hub development are "collaboration and strategic partnerships among industry, academia and federal institutions [requiring] both broad cultural change and high-quality programmatic initiatives to identify and develop commercial opportunities." Harpel cited a few examples:  the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation funds, the BioHealth Innovation Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, and programs at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination.
  • Even when the aforementioned factors are in place, economic development incentives for biotech and life sciences firms may be necessary "to generate a thriving set of companies to propel economic growth in that hub...ranging from start-ups to well-established industry leaders."
  • It's important to make Investments "in assets that can be used by both academia and industry, such as the UMBC High Performance Computing Facility."
  • Other smart incentives: "Free, inexpensive or discounted land and facilities" which may include subsidized lab space, incubator or accelerator facilities, "or even land for facilities"; and tax credits/grants "designed for the needs and characteristics of the industry, such as Maryland’s Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit and the Montgomery County Biotechnology Investor Incentive Program

"Our [company's] takeaway is that while incentives can’t create the essential elements of a successful biotech cluster," noted Harpel, "they do play an important role in facilitating company formation and expansion in the ecosystem."

Bio: Veteran business communicator Lisa A. Bastian is an award-winning journalist and editor who has authored well over 500 articles for national magazines focused on economic development, global trade and related industries. Since 1986 she has served clients nationwide with her editorial and copy writing skills (see Lisa lives in San Antonio, TX, with her family, and is a former president/board member of the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Posted by: AT 11:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015
Site Selection Trends and Factors in the Food Processing Industry

By Jay Garner, CEcD, CCE, FM, HLM,
President, Garner Economics, LLC

If there is such a thing as a recession-proof industry, the Food and Beverage (F&B) Industry is it. During good times and bad times, people eat and drink. Whether the economy is experiencing unprecedented growth or recession, folks continue to consume food and drink products.  Some eat to live, while others live to eat. Some eat in, while others eat out. Today, the F&B Industry continues to expand and to evolve in order to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

In the United States 30,135 companies are defined as F&B process manufacturers (up by more than 1,500 companies since 2010). These businesses employ more than 1.4 million employees. However, a 47,000 decrease in employees since 2010 demonstrates how innovative manufacturing processes and automation can mean fewer jobs.

Posted by: AT 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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
Wednesday, January 14 2015
A Renaissance for the Plastics Industry: The Upside and Challenge

By K. John Gutshaw & David S. Laszlo, Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting

    Plastics production is essentially a two-phased process that begins with the raw material preparation and manufacturing of polymer resins. This product, typically in the form of pellets or beads, is then shipped to fabrication sites where the material is formed into final plastic products. Several processing methods are utilized depending on the type of product, i.e. extrusion (film), injection molding (containers), blow molding (bottles) or rotational molding (hollow plastic items).

    The industry’s significant global economic influence is undeniable – with annual plastics production reaching 288 million metric tons. The same holds true in the U.S., where we see an extraordinary impact on the economy. Consider: Plastics is the third largest industry within the manufacturing sector, employing 892,000 people (or 6.7 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs); reported annual shipments of $373 billion and capital investment expenditures of $9.6 billion; and, 15,949 manufacturing facilities spread across all 50 states.

Posted by: Expansion Solutions Magazine AT 11:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 14 2015
The U.S. Medical Device Industry

By SelectUSA

    The United States remains the largest medical device market in the world with a market size of around $110 billion, and it is expected to reach $133 billion by 2016.  The U.S. market value represented about 38 percent of the global medical device market in 2012.  U.S. exports of medical devices in key product categories identified by the Department of Commerce (DOC) exceeded $44 billion in 2012, a more than seven percent increase from the previous year.

    There are more than 6,500 medical device companies in the U.S., mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  More than 80 percent of medical device companies have fewer than 50 employees, and many (notably innovative start-up companies) have little or no sales revenue.  Medical device companies are located throughout the country, but are mainly concentrated in regions known for other high-technology industries, such as microelectronics and biotechnology.  The states with the highest number of medical device companies include California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota and Georgia.  Other states with significant sector employment include Washington, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Posted by: Expansion Solutions Magazine AT 10:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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