Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ports-to-Plains Coalition

The Ports-to-Plains project is a multi-modal transportation and trade corridor designed to facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services from Mexico through West Texas and ultimately on into Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

Extending from the most active U.S.-Mexico border port, Laredo, through Lubbock and West Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado, the Ports-to-Plains Corridor links the plains of the United States to the border centers of commerce.

Its primary purpose is to create a modern trade corridor benefiting the public by enhancing freight movement and promoting economic development.

Learn more: www.portstoplains.com

Friday, September 21, 2007

Arizona Counties Lead Nation's Home-Building

With the national housing market in the dumper, here is what the latest Census report says about housing construction markets across the U.S.

Pinal County, Ariz., part of the Phoenix metro area, had the highest growth rate of housing units of any county in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Meanwhile, neighboring Maricopa County was the biggest numerical gainer.

Pinal’s housing increased by 16.6 percent, or more than 18,000 units, from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006. Maricopa gained 43,000 units. A housing unit can be a house, an apartment or even a single room intended as separate living quarters with direct access from outside.

Flagler County, Fla., north of Daytona Beach on the Atlantic coast, had the highest growth rate of housing stock the previous two years but slipped to fifth place in 2006. Two other Florida counties among the top five were second-place Sumter (west of Orlando) and fourth-place Lee (southwestern Florida). Kendall, Ill., near Chicago, was third. (See Table 1 Excel PDF.)

Maricopa was followed in numerical growth by Harris County (Houston), Texas, which added 39,000 units; Clark County (Las Vegas), Nev., with 38,000; Riverside County (east of Los Angeles), Calif., with 33,000; and Lee County (Fort Myers), Fla., with 28,000. (See Table 2 Excel PDF.)

Among all counties and county equivalents, Orleans Parish, La., experienced the largest numerical decline in housing units between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006, losing 107,000, or slightly more than half its housing stock. Neighboring St. Bernard Parish, had the highest rate of decline, losing 76.2 percent of its homes. Both parishes suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina early in the period. (See Tables 3 Excel PDF and 4 Excel PDF.)

At the state level, four of the five states with the most rapid housing growth are in the West: Nevada (with a growth rate of 4.5 percent), Arizona (3.5 percent), Idaho (3.4 percent), Florida (3.3 percent) and Utah (3.1 percent). Nevada’s rate of growth was more than triple the national average. (See Table 5 Excel PDF.)

The South dominated the states adding the highest number of housing units. Florida gained 273,000 homes during the period to lead all states, followed by Texas (198,000), California (181,000), Georgia (101,000) and North Carolina (89,000). Louisiana was the only state to experience a decline, with the number of housing units falling by 110,000, or 5.7 percent.

The United States had an estimated 126.3 million housing units as of July 1, 2006, representing an increase of 1.8 million, or 1.4 percent, since July 1, 2005.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Business and Industry Intelligence: Capital Goods

Overview

Demand for industrial machinery in the US has fallen in recent years, reflecting the decline of domestic manufacturing industries, as the country becomes more reliant on cheap imports. Throughout this decade, the miscellaneous capital goods industry has faced stagnation and decline. The outlook for this mature and saturated industry is no less bleak, with no growth predicted in future years.

Electrical equipment, including switches, circuit breakers and tools, continues to account for the majority of the markets revenues, although the demand for pumping equipment is rising following the introduction of federal clean air legislation. This has created a shift towards gas-powered energy generators in the US, driving demand for the necessary pumping technology to extract methane, and boosting revenues for equipment manufacturers.

Many end-markets served by this industry, such as construction, are cyclical, accounting for the markets current stagnation. Further, margins have been compromised by expenditure on meeting environmental legislation and increasing raw material and energy costs; these have led to price increases, causing consumers to become dependent on cheaper imports, further damaging margins. Counterfeits and cheap imports are another threat to the markets revenues moving forward.

Leading companies include Hitachi, which dominates the market, Wolseley, Illinois Tool Works, and Eaton Corporation. Companies are expanding through merger and acquisition activity but are neglecting developing regions, such as China, which pose significant growth potential; nor are companies investing heavily in research and development to provide increasingly sophisticated equipment to satisfy demand.

Key Issues

Increasing Costs - High crude oil prices have forced up the price of raw materials and energy, increasing costs and degrading margins. The reliance of several major players on steel is a problem; the continuing steel shortage has further increased the materials fluctuations in price, threatening margins.

Weak Dollar - The current weak dollar has increased the cost of imported materials, which have become more important in view of the current production deficits in a number of key US sectors such as the steel industry. However, the dollars weakness has increased exports, which will become increasingly important in view of Chinas new position as the worlds leading consumer of machinery.

Legislation - The Clean Skies Act (2005) increased the need for extraction of coal bed methane (CBM), driving consumer demand for pumping and extraction equipment and providing a lucrative growth sector within the market. However, expenditure on strict federal, state, and local laws regarding emissions increases manufacturers costs.

Significant Trends

Combating Counterfeits - The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made more than 14,000 seizures of counterfeit goods of all types, worth in excess of $155 million in 2006, which represents a 67% increase on the previous year. Companies are working with customs officials to reduce the influx of counterfeit goods that reduce sales volumes and lower consumer confidence.

Inorganic Growth - Several industrial equipment manufacturers in the US have attempted to insulate against volatile economic conditions through acquisitions and a focus on higher-margin, higher-growth sectors. This has allowed them to capture benefits of scale, strength, and scope to improve profitability.

Foreign Investment - US manufacturers are making fewer direct investments in low-wage locations such as China. Instead, there has been a tendency in recent years to outsource to local companies in these regions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Phoenix Working to Compete Based Upon Skilled and Educated Workers

The United States, including metropolitan Phoenix, must develop a better-educated, more innovative workforce in order to compete in an ever increasingly global economy, experts told attendees at the International Economic Development Council conference on Monday.

Without a change, America's "standard of living will decrease, our way of life will be threatened, our opportunities for success for future generations will diminish," ASU President Michael Crow said in a keynote address.

Crow and others envision a future where companies have access to a steady stream of college graduates across all subjects to quickly put new products on the world market, particularly to compete with China, India, Brazil and Russia. advertisement

"These new economies will be heavy-weight competitors," he said, adding the economies "will not be burdened by 200 years of success as we are."

Universities will be more critical in this knowledge-driven, science-driven economy. "A well-performing university in a region that you can actually speak to, actively communicate with and actually work with is a very, very valuable asset," Crow said.

The event, which attracted an estimated 1,300, is being held through Wednesday at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale.

Gov. Janet Napolitano told the audience that Arizona's public and private sector has worked to position the economy to try and increase the number of high-quality, high-wage jobs.

It is a critical challenge as the state's current population of 6.4 million is predicted to soar to 12 million by 2030.

Attendees at the conference piled onto buses for the "Phoenix Rises - Again and Again" tour, which promised to show "the city has once again redefined its downtown."

It featured more than $3 billion worth of new construction, including the light rail system, the downtown ASU campus and the Translational Genomic Research Institute.

While those long-held dreams are becoming reality and the population boom continues, the Valley remains heavily addicted to the housing industry and continues to take its lumps in the current mortgage crisis.

Job growth is projected to slow from 6 percent in 2006 to 1.8 percent in 2008, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Average wage and income levels remain behind peer cities - and in many cases behind the national average, according to federal data.

"Phoenix is driven by social mobility growth. It's not being driven by innovation-based growth," said Crow. "This is a region of the United States that's benefiting from the lack of performance in other regions."

Meanwhile, economic development experts and business leaders said they are having a tougher and tougher time attracting and keeping educated workers.

That could lead to high profile, local companies moving outside of the U.S. to find talent.

"We need to have the ability to keep students here as opposed to educating them here and then they go somewhere else," said Bruce Coomer, executive director of the Arizona Association for Economic Development.

"Our highly educated students are going to California or the East Coast because they can offer more than Arizona can."

Source article.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rochester Area ED Groups Look to Unite

Monroe County, NY Executive Maggie Brooks announced today a new collaborative initiative to create more jobs, better align resources and make it easier for businesses to locate and grow in Monroe County and the Greater Rochester area.

The plan, the Partnership for Economic Growth, would streamline economic development in the community by centrally locating public and private resources under one roof.

Brooks said this one-stop shopping office would be located in downtown Rochester at street level. A location for the office has not been selected.

Representatives from various city, county and private groups would work in this office providing assistance to companies already here and those considering coming to the area.

The partners in the initiative are Greater Rochester Enterprise, Rochester Business Alliance, RochesterWorks!, Rochester Downtown Development Corp., Infotonics Technology Center, Excell Partners, Trillium Group, High Tech Rochester and Rochester Gas & Electric.

Source article.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kansas City Area ED Initiative Honored

The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and its program, KCSourceLink, were honored by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with its Multi-Year Economic Development Programs Award.

The award will be presented at an awards ceremony during IEDC’s annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and will be accepted by Cary Clark, market development director for KCSourceLink and IEI.

IEI and KCSourceLink competed in a category that included organizations serving areas with populations exceeding 200,000. UMKC’s IEI and the KCSourceLink program were a clear standout, according to IEDC chairman Ronnie L. Bryant, who noted that “the award serves as a salute to pacesetting organizations like IEI for leading the charge.”

Founded in June, 2003, KCSourceLink connects small businesses and entrepreneurs in the 18-county, bi-state Kansas City region to more than 140 business-building non-profit resource organizations. Its mission is to help small business grow and prosper by providing business owners easy access to needed services. Entrepreneurs and business owners can access the entire network by making one phone call, e-mailing or using a search tool, The Resource Navigator®, on the Web site at ww.kcsourcelink.com.

“This award goes to KCSourceLink’s network partners,” says Maria Meyers, Network Builder for KCSourceLink. “These organizations work hard to grow business in the Kansas City region every day. It is an example of how communities can merge nonprofit, private and university resources to create an economic development environment that encourages small business success.”

Between June, 2003 and May, 2007 more than 2,600 aspiring and existing business owners have accessed this network via telephone hotline or e-mail, and 5,400 client referrals have been made to network resource organizations. Over 6,700 online searches have been made on The Resource Navigator® since its activation in January, 2004. An average of 7,000 visitors per month access www.kcsourcelink.com.

IEI at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at UMKC includes innovative programs, innovative faculty, and innovative curriculum. At IEI, entrepreneurship is a mainstream field of study based on solid research and offered to students from all disciplines.

KCSourceLink was founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the SBA and the Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at UMKC.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kentucky & Six Other States Set to Collaborate on ED Strategy Study

The National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices has chosen Kentucky and six other states to participate in a year-long policy academy to learn how to improve economic development strategies.

At the academy, a team selected by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher will work to identify economic policies that can help improve the state's competitiveness in the global economy, particularly policies that will improve work-force education and encourage entrepreneurship.

The research will focus on policy options related to cluster-based economic development, according to a news release. Clusters are groups of businesses and institutions that derive economic advantages from being near one another.

Kentucky's team will include: Keith Bird, chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System; Deborah Clayton, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Commercialization and Innovation; Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp.; Beth Smith, commissioner of work-force development for the Kentucky Education Cabinet; and Libby Milligan, Fletcher's special assistant for administration and legislation.

"The NGA Center's policy academy will facilitate open discussion across state agencies to help better align economic development with state resources and advocate for a unified economic development plan," Kentucky Economic Development Secretary John Hindman said in the release. "NGA's experts will assist in synthesizing a wide array of studies and reports, while helping identify common themes and overarching recommendations to help guide Kentucky in developing economic development policies."

The other participating states are Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon and West Virginia.

Source article.