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 Feature Industry Articles 
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
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