Thursday, April 30, 2009

Midwest Still Tops in Trade

Ball State report card gives the Great Lakes region an 'A' for its global position.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By Jonathan Katz

Despite the downfall of the U.S. auto industry, the Midwest remains the nation's top region for imports and exports, say Ball State University researchers in the "Manufacturing and Logistics 2009" report card.

The study ranks Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio as the top five states for international trade. Although the data are not recent enough to capture the most current restructuring efforts by the Detroit Three automakers, the region should remain a key player for global activity in the years to come, says Michael Hicks, director for Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research, which conducted the report. "The Midwest is still the place where automobiles and parts are going to be manufactured," he says. "Even a retooled auto industry is still going to be making automobiles."

The report graded each state in six areas of the economy, including logistics health, human capital, the cost of benefits, the global position of manufacturers, state-level productivity and innovation, and the tax climate.

The researchers determined global reach by collecting data from the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration. Some of the data included measures of per-capita exported manufacturing goods, manufacturing income received from foreign-owned firms in a state and the reach of foreign direct investment.

The top-ranked states for human capital, defined as the quality and availability of labor, were widely dispersed nationwide. Minnesota, New York, Utah, Washington and Wyoming led the way. States receiving "F" grades in the area of employment include Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and West Virginia.

The human capital rankings are based on educational levels, attainment rates of adults in community colleges, the number of associate degrees awarded annually on a per-capita basis and the share of adults 25 years or older enrolled in basic adult education.

As for the benefits and wages costs, Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota and Utah provide the best environment for manufacturers. The benefits measured range from a variety of healthcare issues to liability and casualty insurance, workers' compensation costs and fringe benefits.

The areas of productivity and innovation and tax climate could see some dramatic shifts in the near future, says Hicks. The recession should prompt many states to re-evaluate their tax environment, and statewide policies aimed at creating venture capital could create new business opportunities, Hicks says.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NYPA Eyeing Lake for Wind Power

Chris Caya

BUFFALO, NY (2009-04-23) Nearly 40 wind turbines could dot the horizon of Lake Erie,or Lake Ontario, in the not too distant future, if an initiative by the New York Power Authority takes flight.

NYPA is requesting developers to provide data so it can guage whether a large-scale, off-shore wind farm, could be built on the Great Lakes, in western New York. NYPA President,and Chief Executive Officer, Richard Kessel says,the facility would generate at least 120-megawatts of electricity - or about 6-times the amount of power produced by the Steel Winds facility in Lackawanna.

Kessel says,"it's important to point out,this is not just a wind project. This is also an economic development project for [the region]. And, I believe,that if this project goes forward,the potential here,is to make western New York one of the centers for wind manufacturing in the country."

Federal and state lawmakers have blasted NYPA recently for not using un-allocated power from the Niagara Power Project to boost the local economy. Kessel,who has been on the job about 6-months says,"NYPA has not done enough[in the past]to help western New York." And, in the next few months, "I am committed to come up with a plan" for [returning] a "significant portion" of the "un-allocated megawatts" to the [region] for economic development.

According to the Power Authority president,the large-scale,off-shore wind farm,and the manufacturing industry it could spin-off, "could be the biggest boon" for the region in its history. Buffalo Audubon Society, Executive Director, Bill Hudson says, [his organization] "enthusiastically supports the development of wind energy," if it's done right. "At Audubon, we realize there will be some impact to wildlife. But we have to think about how this clean energy can off-set the terrible impact to our climate from global warming," Hudson said.

Developers have until June 15th to formally submit an interest in the project,which the Authority estimates could cost as much as $1-billion. If approved,the wind farm, could be operational in about 5-years.

© Copyright 2009, wned

Protecting waterways fuels Michigan's job growth

by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry Jr.

Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes and has the longest freshwater coast in the United States. That means we have a special obligation to protect our waterways, and it also positions us at the global center of transformative economic possibilities.

So while every day in Michigan should be Earth Day, every day must also be focused on our economy and jobs. Fortunately, in Michigan, protecting our freshwater resources and growing our economy are two sides of the same coin.

Protecting our waterways and the singular economic potential of Michigan's unique geography are two fundamental elements of the MI Great Lakes Plan, released in January by the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and developed with the input of thousands of Michigan citizens.

With the MI Great Lakes Plan as a blueprint, we are aggressively taking advantage of new federal recovery dollars to help achieve our goals of protecting habitat and coastal areas, and upgrading local drinking water and wastewater systems. These on-the-ground projects will create new jobs today and will further support the creation of tourism-related jobs that have already increased by 33 percent in our coastal communities between 2001 and 2007.

The MI Great Lakes Plan also points out the new economic opportunities that arise in the water technology sector, estimated to generate $500 billion worldwide annually. Water will be the world's next oil, and with that comes a need for new freshwater management technologies and expertise. More here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Granholm hails battery projects

LANSING – Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today the commitment of four companies to produce advanced automotive batteries in Michigan – aided by up to $100 million each in extra state tax credits – strengthens the state’s stature as a future automotive leader.

“Michigan has planted its flag,” she said. “Michigan will be the place where the electric vehicle, and the batteries that power that vehicle, will be researched, developed, manufactured and assembled.”

Hours earlier, the four companies -- one more than expected – were granted the generous tax credits, in addition to standard tax breaks from the Michigan Economic Development Authority (MEGA).

The MEGA board also approved a $2.8-million tax credit over 12 years for a planned $146-million film and TV studio in Allen Park, to be built by a Burbank, Calif.-based enterprise.

The battery-maker deals could help General Motors and Chrysler win support from President Barack Obama in their quest for government assistance to head off financial collapse. Granholm said Obama has made energy independence a U.S. priority. More here.