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 Feature Industry Articles 
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.

Posted by: AT 09:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.

Posted by: AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.

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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.

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