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Thursday, May 21 2015

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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 08:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 21 2015

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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 08:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 21 2015

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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 08:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015

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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 11:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015

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 BastianPR.com). 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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 11:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 20 2015

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: Nicole@ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com AT 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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