Wednesday, August 22, 2007
More & More - This Feels Like a Correction - Aug 20, 2007
CNN Money reports on New York. “What could the collapse in the subprime mortgage market possibly have to do with whether Dr. Jeffrey and Madeline Stier get full price for their four-bedroom house in the wealthy New York City suburb of Larchmont? It’s clear that what’s happening in the subprime market…has for now prompted many high-end homebuyers to either trim their offers or stop shopping altogether. ‘It’s the hysteria on Wall Street,’ Jeffrey Stier says. ‘It’s frightening people.’”
The Times Herald Record from New York. “The subprime market crunch has hit home in the mid-Hudson Valley. Empty homes formerly occupied by subprime buyers already dot our region. Know this: The impact of living with a subprime mortgage is here and it’s real.”
The New York Times on Connecticut. “Three years ago, Martin and Jennifer Cossette bought into the dream of homeownership,— the quintessentially American ideal of personal striving and family stability celebrated by politicians, promoted by Madison Avenue and financed by Wall Street.”
read more on The Housing Bubble Blog
- 2:25 PM PDT Tuesday, August 21, 2007
California reported 39,013 foreclosure filings in July, the most of any state for the seventh month in a row and up 289 percent from the same period last year, according to a report released Tuesday.
Irvine-based RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, said that while 43 states experienced year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity, just five states -- California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Georgia -- accounted for more than half of the nation's total foreclosure filings.
Six California metropolitan areas reported foreclosure rates among the top 10 in July: Stockton at No. 2, Merced at No. 3, Modesto at No. 4, Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 5, Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 8, and Sacramento at No. 9.
Other states with foreclosure filing totals among the nation's 10 highest in July were Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Illinois and Nevada.
Lam Research Corp. is planning to move about 375 workers to Livermore in the next few months.
The Fremont-based chip equipment maker (NASDAQ:LRCX) said it intends to establish a "new primary manufacturing" operation and "volume production activities" .
Friday, August 17, 2007
- 9:20 AM PDT Thursday, August 16, 2007
" Molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Corp. said Thursday it entered a five-year agreement for up to $200 million in anthrax test cartridges for the U.S. Postal Service.
Sunnyvale-based Cepheid (NASDAQ:CPHD) said the cartridges are used in biohazard detection systems and installed at mail processing centers nationwide.
Cepheid said its system rapidly analyzes air samples taken from the mail sorting systems in order to detect any potential trace levels of DNA from anthrax spores as mail travels through the mail processing equipment. "
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Antero Resources Corp. received the massive equity infusion from private firms Warburg Pincus, Yorktown Energy Partners VII LP and Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Group.
" Countrywide Financial Corp., , the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, fell 13 percent, the most since the 1987 stock market crash, after Merrill Lynch & Co. raised the possibility of bankruptcy.
"Effective insolvency" would result if creditors force Countrywide to sell assets at depressed prices or investors lose confidence in its ability to raise cash, Kenneth Bruce, a Merrill analyst in San Francisco, said in a research note Wednesday.
Shareholders shouldn't "understate the importance of liquidity," Bruce wrote.
Countrywide's shares have lost almost half their value this year on concern a credit crunch in the mortgage industry will erode profit.
Last week, Countrywide said it had access to about $187 billion in credit. Chief Executive Officer Angelo Mozilo assured investors that the company has enough cash to cope with the market turmoil, and said it may even benefit as competitors are forced out of business. "
As seen in the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal
- 8:21 AM PDT Wednesday, August 15, 2007
" The San Jose City Council on Tuesday unanimously authorized Mineta San Jose International Airport to issue $825 million in general airport revenue bonds to continue funding of the airport's capital improvement program over the next three years.
Proceeds of the Series A & B bonds will finance a portion of the first phase of the airport's terminal area improvement program, which is estimated to cost about $1.3 billion and will be completed in 2010.
"Having a world-class, modern airport is critical to Silicon Valley's economy. With this funding, we can build an airport for the future and provide better service for our residents and businesses," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. ""
- August 1, 2007
" The nonprofit operator of a government group that hopes to spur economic development in the rural Triangle has bought land for three of its business hubs.
Officials for the Kerr-Tar Hub project said its nonprofit operator, the Kerr-Tar Regional Economic Development Corp., closed this week on 250 acres in Franklin County, 510 acres in Granville County and 350 acres in Warren County. The group is also in negotiations to buy 500 acres in Vance County.
Kerr-Tar is a partnership between the governments of the four counties.
Businesses that develop in any of the Kerr-Tar hubs will be eligible for Tier 1 tax credits worth $12,500 per job created.
The Kerr-Tar partnership began in 2003 as a result of a study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was formalized in 2005. . "
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
" While market turmoil and fallout from the subprime-mortgage crisis have fuelled worries about the health of Canada's largest trading partner, the effects on consumers in this country's economy are less clear.
"Any time the biggest economy in the world feels the pinch, the rest of the world economy feels it as well," said David Wolf, Canadian economist at Merrill Lynch. "Many Canadian consumers work at producing goods and services that U.S. consumers buy or use and if the U.S. consumer is less willing to spend, it can affect [Canadian businesses and products] but any impact would likely be minimal.
" We have a 33-year low on the unemployment rate and the U.S. does not.
We are seeing acceleration in wages and the U.S. has not.
Canada's housing market is in great shape, in contrast to the U.S.
It's like apples and oranges right now." "
" North American markets were slammed again yesterday on signs the American consumer -- perhaps the biggest driver of recent economic expansion in both the United States and Canada -- is getting much more cautious about spending.
Wal-Mart announced second-quarter profit below analysts' expectations and trimmed its earnings forecast. Shoppers remained conservative amid higher gasoline prices and housing costs.
"U.S. consumers continue to be under difficult pressure economically," said H. Lee Scott, Wal-Mart chief executive. "The top concerns among our customers are economic, money and finances, the increase in the cost of living, and gas prices."
Consumer spending, which makes up about 70% of the U.S. economy, slowed to a 1.3% annual growth rate in the second quarter, the weakest since 2005 "
As seen in the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal
- July 31, 2007
Technology Partners said Tuesday it formed a $300 million fund that will be equally directed toward cleantech and life science companies.
Palo Alto-based Technology Partners said Fund VIII follows the same strategy the firm used in previous investments.
Technology Partners said its cleantech investments primarily focus on energy technology, water technology and advanced materials. In life sciences, it looks for opportunities in neuroscience and lifestyle therapies in areas ranging from aesthetics to obesity to women's health.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
More tough times ahead for drillers
Wet weather, low gas prices blamed
As seen in the Calgary Herald
Friday, July 27, 2007
" The clouds got darker for Canada's drilling services sector Thursday after a leading industry group slashed its 2007 drilling forecast nearly 25 per cent -- and the country's biggest driller reported a dramatic drop in second quarter earnings.
The Canadian Petroleum Services Association (PSAC) now expects 17,650 wells will be drilled in 2007 from last year's record count of 23,306.
Alberta is expected to experience a 27 per cent drop, while gas-dominated British Columbia is expected to fall 42 per cent.
Soucy also indicated that "many areas in the western Canadian sedimentary basin now need natural gas prices of $8 to $10 (per thousand cubic feet) to attract new drilling."
In New York, oil closed at $74.95 US a barrel while natural gas finished at $5.94.
After a prolonged spring break-up, Canadian service outfits are already feeling the pain of what industry insiders say is shaping up to be the worst drilling year in a decade.
Wet weather and high levels of uncertainty stemming from falling natural gas prices combined to produce some of the lowest activity levels in 10 years, Precision said.
Precision, which operates about a third of all rigs in Canada, has seen its bottom line deteriorate as the big natural gas producers -- EnCana Corp., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Talisman Energy Inc. -- cut back spending in response to higher costs and lower commodity prices.
"As a result we do not see a material increase in rig count until the tail end of 2008," it said.
According to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, 42 per cent of 885 available units were working this week, down from 73 per cent at this time last year.
Some previously unarmed Canadian border guards held graduation ceremonies Friday after three weeks of firearms training and will return to work with sidearms on their hips.
"This is an ongoing step in equipping our border officers with the technology and the training to keep our border safe," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Friday in Chilliwack, B.C.
The plan is to eventually arm all 4,400 guards, a process that's expected to take a decade.
Twenty-four officers in Chilliwack and 28 in Ottawa went through three-week training programs on using Beretta PX4 Storm 9 mm pistols. The RCMP conducted the training, instructing the guards on the responses to threats allowed by the law.
"The work has gotten more dangerous," he said.
In January 2006, a U.S. police pursuit of two fugitives ended in a shootout only metres from the Canadian border at B.C.'s Peace Arch crossing .
If border guards think their safety is in jeopardy, they have the right to abandon their posts. The RCMP are expected to handle potentially violent situations.
The day after that Peace Arch incident, then-justice minister Vic Toews announced that border guards would be armed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made yet another announcement in September 2006.
The former Liberal government thought arming guards would be too expensive and that having armed guards greeting visitors would send the wrong message. However, a 2005 Senate report found that arming border guards was a good idea.
U.S. border guards have been armed for years.
Companies have global-level growth plans for Alberta's rich-making resource
As seen in the The Edmonton Journal
Aug 6, 2007
Edmonton / A year after former Shell Canada president Clive Mather gave out a hint, the scale of development on Alberta's horizon is coming into sharper focus.
"What we're saying is this is only the beginning," Mather said as he escorted U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on an oilsands tour north of Fort McMurray.
"There's an awful lot more to come," Mather said. Syncrude Canada chief executive Charles Ruigrok echoed his Shell peer, saying the province's 141,000-square-kilometre bitumen belt is catching and holding the attention of global industry and finance.
In January and last week, the Athabasca Oil Sands Project gave some answers in applications for regulatory approvals of its growth plans.
The Athabasca group alone -- led by 60-per-cent owner Shell and backed by Chevron Canada and Western Oil Sands with 20 per cent each -- has set its sights on achieving production of 770,000 barrels per day from its 1,200 square kilometres of Fort McMurray bitumen leases by about 2020.
It took the entire industry 67 years and 56,772 wells to build up Alberta output of conventional liquid oil into the 800,000-barrels-a-day range, from the first discovery at Waterton in 1902 until 1969, show records of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The oilsands are "world class," Texas giant Marathon Oil Corp. added in announcing its $6.5-billion takeover of Western.
Shell emphasized that all its majority share of the Athabasca reserves will be processed in Alberta, yielding maximum value to the firm's Canadian operations and the provincial economy.
Marathon, a 120-year-old American industry mainstay with few Canadian assets, will eventually export most of its minority of the Athabasca bitumen to its seven U.S. refineries and 5,700 service stations.
Chevron has yet to make known plans for all its share of Athabasca reserves, or for an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of bitumen in 730 square kilometres of leases known as Ells River that the firm bought west of Fort McMurray 16 months ago.
But the Shell program alone spells more than a decade of heavy industrial work in the Fort Saskatchewan area east of Edmonton. Forecast expenditures of $22 billion to $27 billion include nearly $8 billion in wages for local workers.
The Scotford mega-upgrader will be built as four 100,000-barrels-a-day plants. It will be a continuous construction project lasting about 13 years provided oil markets, government policies and economic conditions stay favourable.
Shell wrote an invitation to industrial housing builders into its construction applications to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and Alberta Environment.
The region could use the sprawling, hotel-like worker complexes known as "open camps" that have sprouted in the Fort McMurray region, the documents predict.
Building each of the four upgrader plants will require 3,000 to 4,000 trades personnel at construction activity peaks.
But the mega-upgrader is just the biggest of many large projects in the 310-square-kilometre Alberta Industrial Heartland district northeast of Edmonton.
Counting all currently known developments "the cumulative construction workforce is expected to remain high, at more than 8,000 workers, from mid-2008 to early 2013, with a peak of about 13,300 workers in late 2011," Shell forecasts.
"Based on an estimated 7,500 local trades people available, additional workers from outside the region or province will be needed."
In highly skilled occupations needed by industrial projects, Edmonton oilsands jobs will be more like careers than the traditional feast-or-famine pattern of construction contracting.
Shell vowed "to use the project's lengthy construction schedule to offer the opportunity of long-term, stable employment as a means of attracting and retaining industrial workers and potentially attracting out-of-region workers."
When finished, the chain of four upgrader plants is expected to create 1,438 permanent jobs including 1,138 full-time staff and 300 contractor positions.
Since the Edmonton area already has a population of more than a million, Shell predicts it will absorb the upgrader people without repeating the notorious boomtown trauma of Fort McMurray.
As seen in the National Post
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"" ALEXIS CREEK, B.C. -One of Canada's largest working ranches is up for sale, and folks in this dusty hamlet are guessing who might cough up the $24.8-million asking price. Best bet is a stranger, someone not from these parts. Someone with a private jet and cash to burn.
The attractions are obvious: The open range, vast forests, pristine rivers, glacier-fed lakes and crisp, starlit nights. Fishing and hunting at one's pleasure. A come-as-you-wish crack at the cowboy life. The high plains of the B.C. interior, north of Kamloops, are playgrounds for the moneyed set.
Attractive to a Saudi sheik, perhaps. An American celebrity or industrialist. A Euro-royal, romanced by silver screen images of the Old West. Or a reclusive eccentric, looking for refuge on what's left of the frontier. The locals are already familiar with these types; they are the new neighbours.
Ironically, the last person expected to buy the old Alexis Creek Ranch -- 4,000 hectares of deeded property, access to another 101,000 hectares of prime grazing land, and 1,000 head of hardy stock cows and 50 purebred Black Angus bulls -- is an honest-to-goodness cattleman: They are few and far between these days.
The current owner is Bruce Blakey, a septuagenarian marine electronics magnate from Seattle. He bought Alexis Creek 14 years ago from a German, one Richard Wittgenstein, a.k.a. HH Prince Richard Casimir Karl August Robert Konstantin of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, and son-in-law to the King and Queen of Denmark.
Prince Richard didn't amble about the ranch that much, apparently. Mr. Blakey snapped it up in 1993 when land prices were lower, but his primary motive was the improvement of his health. He wanted to take on something physical, and got his money's worth. Mr. Blakey began travelling to the ranch from his Seattle home every second week. He built a new irrigation system to pump water from the Chilcotin River and then over 725 hectares of hay and silage, perfect homegrown fodder for the cattle. He built a five-bedroom ranch house.
The new airport is his crowning touch. It comes with a paved runway and a massive hangar that easily accommodates Mr. Blakey's Citation jet. It also boasts private quarters for his own flight crew.
Mr. Blakey is an intensely private individual who would not participate in an interview for this story. Instead, he dispatched his Vancouver-based realtor to show me around the sprawling property, about an hour's drive west of Williams Lake.
"I'm selling a first-class airport with a ranch around it," declares Irv Ridd. A good line, made only half in jest. Without the modern airfield, he notes, Alexis Creek might not attract the right kind of buyer. "Qualified people," he calls them. "Persons of great wealth."
"Alexis Creek is a turnkey operation and everything is included in the price, down to the salt and pepper in the shakers," says Mr. Ridd, as we drive up to the ranch house. "But the person who will buy this ranch will do it because of the airport. And because he wants to do something interesting with [his] money. He probably already owns commercial real estate, like a shopping centre or something. But this is different."
The ranch went on the market three weeks ago, and while some potential buyers have expressed interest and have even flown in on their own aircraft to inspect the place, closing a deal could take many more months. The present owner is determined to sell to someone committed to maintaining the cattle operation, which requires at least four full-time cowboys plus farmers and mechanics.
And there's the rub: Running a large cattle ranch in B.C. is not exactly lucrative. Mr. Ridd says the Alexis Creek herd, while relatively small for a ranch this size, does generate an annual profit. But precise figures are closely guarded; financial statements are reserved for prospective buyers, who must sign off on confidentiality agreements before they see them.
Margins have to be slim. Beef prices have long been stagnant. Meanwhile, the cost of labour and fuel keeps rising. Doug Sinclair, a Vancouver architect who owns an organic cattle ranch nearby, says that "trophy ranches" such as Alexis Creek have trouble breaking even.
"Conventional cattle ranching in Canada cannot be sustained much longer," he says. "A calf sold for $500 in 1951. How much does a calf sell for in 2007? $500. Meanwhile, everything else has gone up in price."
Why, then, do people still get into ranching?
"I'm asking myself that every day," Mr. Sinclair says .
Some ranch owners rarely even visit. About 100 kilometres south of Alexis Creek sits the historic Gang Ranch. For reasons all his own, a billionaire industrialist from Saudi Arabia quietly bought the place in the late 1980s. Reportedly, Ibrahim Muhammad Afandi has set foot on his 15,000 hectares only twice. No one paid him much attention until 2002, when a list of alleged al-Qaeda benefactors surfaced in Bosnia. Mr. Afandi's name was on the list.
Further south, near the town of Merritt, lies the more famous Douglas Lake Ranch. A massive, 514,000-acre spread, it was once owned by Bernie Ebbers, the Edmonton-born co-founder of WorldCom Inc. Mr. Ebbers was convicted of fraud for his role in the WorldCom collapse and is serving a 25-year prison sentence in Louisiana.
The ranch was sold to U.S. billionaire Stanley Kroenke in 2004 for approximately $93-million. No one has ever suggested he bought the Douglas Lake Ranch because he loves the cattle business. Mr. Kroenke is a trophy hunter. He owns a handful of professional sports franchises, including the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and the NBA's Denver Nuggets.
"The real lift for big ranch owners is the appreciation in land prices," acknowledges Mr. Ridd. "The rest, including the cowboy lifestyle, is gravy." ""
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
As read in Daily Real Estate News
August 2, 2007
The annual growth rate in prices of existing single family homes across the United States continued to decline for the 18th consecutive month in May, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
Overall, the top 20 cities in the index declined 2.8 percent year-over-year, although five of the cities showed increases.
Cities measured by the index where values have increased in the 12 months are Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle.
Detroit continues to lead the metro areas in growth rate declines, down 11.1 percent from a year ago.
Here are the top 20 metropolitan areas and the percent of change in their real estate values over the last year:
Atlanta: 1.7 percent
Boston: -4.3 percent
Charlotte: 7 percent
Chicago: -0.6 percent
Cleveland: -2.8 percent
Dallas: 1.8 percent
Denver: -1.4 percent
Detroit: -11.1 percent
Las Vegas: -4.1 percent
Los Angeles: -3.3 percent
Miami: -3.3 percent
Minneapolis: -3.5 percent
New York: -2.3 percent
Phoenix: -5.5 percent
Portland: 5.7 percent
San Diego: -7 percent
San Francisco: -3.4 percent
Seattle: 9.1 percent
Tampa: -6.7 percent
Washington, D.C.: -6.3 percent
— REALTOR® Magazine Online
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Several U.S. states, particularly California and North Carolina, are using a variety of tactics -- from tax breaks to movie-star power -- to entice biotech firms to build and expand within their borders.
Robert Coughlin, Massachusetts undersecretary of business development, described the atmosphere as "hand-to-hand combat." But it may be more beauty pageant than bloody siege.
Consider California's sheer geographic size, and it makes sense that more than 5,000 biotech businesses are located there. Add to that a promise of $3 billion in state funds for stem-cell research and a body builder-turned-actor-turned-governor, and it's no wonder some executives could be seeing stars.
But local officials tout the Bay State's remarkable innovation, taking place at renowned medical centers and ivy-walled universities. Many leading biotech firms that focus on clinical diagnostics, medical therapy and cancer treatment are headquartered here.
Then again, when put on stage against, say, North Carolina -- where it costs much less to live or operate a business than in Massachusetts or California -- the Bay State has more work cut out for it than simply resting on its laurels and branding itself as having moved beyond its reputation as "Taxachusetts."
And while there are at least seven states heavily focused on biotech, including New Jersey and Texas, the three top biotech industry centers in the nation are California, Massachusetts and North Carolina, according to a 2006 biotech industry report by Ernst & Young Ltd.
In Massachusetts, biotech represents 727 companies that employ 50,000 people, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.
California's tactic to draw biotech is to invest heavily in the public university system, said David Crane, special adviser to the governor for jobs and economic growth. "The idea of drawing companies based (solely) on taxpayer funds is not attractive to me," said Crane.
Until these ideas and policies can clear a complex web of federal, state and local hurdles, however, too many alternative energy companies still won't benefit. At least not yet. While there is still work to be done, there's plenty of movement particularly in Massachusetts and Connecticut to help support fledgling alternative energy companies and keep them here in New England. Earlier this month, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell asked state officials to make recommendations by July 2007 about how to increase the state government's use of alternative energy vehicles and plan for an increased demand for alternative fuel pumping stations.
Both opportunities, however, may elude some alternative fuel companies, such as Easthampton-based Greasecar Inc. For Greasecar, which specializes in technology to adapt diesel fuel cars to accept vegetable oil as fuel, the higher demand could mean a boost in business. But vegetable oil is not a certified biofuel by the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Bay State energy regulatory agencies. Greasecar has begun lobbying federal and state officials to win approval for vegetable oil, said Jeremie Spitzer, Greasecar general manager. Without the certification, Greasecar would have difficulty competing for municipal contracts to convert government vehicle fleets because government contracts must adhere to federal and state guidelines regulating biofuels.
Greasecar, which was founded in 2000 and employs 11 people, has 3,500 customers in all 50 states, said Spitzer. Its technology is designed for use on diesel cars. Drivers must collect vegetable oil from, for instance, local restaurants and then process the oil at home using a Greasecar filtration system. The technology is a two-part system, which includes a heating and filtration kit to fit a 55-gallon drum. Once the oil is cleaned it is pumped into the car. A separate device, which includes a digital display, is installed on the car to filter the oil further and monitor fuel levels and temperature.
The bill includes $250 million to fund seven tax incentives for life sciences companies over the next decade. The incentives include refundable U.S. Food and Drug Administration user fees, an extension to 15 years of the net operating loss exemption and a variety of sales tax exemptions.
In addition, the bill sets aside $500 million in bond funding for capital projects, including the construction of a new stem cell bank planned for the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. The bank would house stem cell lines from other area universities including Harvard University.
The targeted state investments are meant to stave off what Patrick called a "threat" to the Bay State life sciences industry from worldwide competition.
"We will lose if we don't take these steps," said Patrick, during a news conference at the Statehouse yesterday.
Meanwhile, Patrick's proposal awaits action by the state Legislature.
Massachusetts Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston, called Patrick's plan ambitious.
Mass. $1B bio plan includes tax breaks, stem cell bank
Mass High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology - July 20, 2007
by Catherine Williams
Mass High Tech
Officials have said they wanted to move quickly to establish the state-funded center as the funnel for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed $1 billion state investment in the life sciences, which is earmarked for a wide spectrum of life sciences-related research grants, capital projects, academic fellowships, and business loans.
The center's director, one of its two employees, is expected to play a more significant role in the development of the Bay State's life sciences industry. The center, established in 2006 with a budget of $10 million, is governed by a five-member board, including permanent seats for the president of the University of Massachusetts and two state officials.
July 21, 2007
- How states can boost business innovation and economic growth ?
Two titans of the high-tech economy told the nation's governors on Saturday that their states are not doing enough to educate students for technology-heavy jobs or to clear the way for investment by their companies.
"We're not competitive in our education programs,"
Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive of AT&T, told the National Governors Association annual meeting at Grand Traverse Resort in northern Michigan.
"Our education system is falling flat."
Stephenson, who has held the top job at AT&T for less than two months, had the toughest words for the more than 30 state chief executives in attendance. He said that an AT&T agreement with its largest union to bring back 4,000 jobs that had been outsourced to India was struggling because of faulty U.S. education standards.
"We're struggling to find qualified candidates to fill those 4,000 jobs."
Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google , encouraged states to show more daring in looking for better ways to increase student performance in public schools.
"Almost anything we try is going to give us more information," Schmidt said. "Why not simply try five different things and see what kind of results you get?"
The AT&T chief and Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google, spoke to the opening business session of the governors' 99th annual meeting at Grand Traverse Resort in northern Michigan, a session focused on how states can boost business innovation and economic growth. Both had plenty of advice, suggesting that governors' most important role was to boost education and knock down regulatory walls.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
North Carolina's Roy Cooper is one of several attorneys general who recently demanded the News Corp.-owned Web site provide data on how many registered sex offenders were using the site, along with information about where they live.
After initially withholding the information, citing federal privacy laws, MySpace began sharing the information in May after the states filed formal legal requests.
At the time, MySpace said it had already used a database it helped create to remove about 7,000 profiles of sex offenders, out of a total of about 180 million profiles on the site.
"We're making history with this debate," Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa says in his own video posted on the military school's website.
"For the first time you'll be able to submit questions through YouTube directly to the candidates. Technology is changing the way we do business in our lives every day and it's certainly going to change the way we elect public officials."
The debate format is the latest in the candidates' battle to keep up with the fast-paced changes the Internet has brought to politics.
YouTube has already made its mark. Former Virginia Republican senator George Allen was fatally wounded last year when he was shown referring to a South Asian man as "macaca."
There have been attack ads aimed at Obama -- and a very attractive young woman proclaiming her crush on him. Hillary and her ex-husband Bill can also be found spoofing the Sopranos' finale.
Edwards tried to deflect snarky remarks about his well-coiffed hair. One message ends with "What really matters? You Choose."
The loonie hasn't closed above 96 cents US since early 1977. The sharp increase came after Statistics Canada reported that retail sales jumped 2.8 per cent in May.
This was the best showing in a decade and far ahead of the modest 0.4 per cent rise that economists were forecasting.
Barring the auto segment, sales jumped 2.3 per cent. Retail sales saw gains in every province and territory and Quebec led the way with an increase of 4.9 per cent.
"This massive gain confirms that the Canadian consumer is on a roll, backstopping evidence from soaring home and auto sales,'' said BMO Nesbitt Burns chief economist Doug Porter.
"Perhaps most notably, the gains are fanning out from Alberta, with almost all provinces posting impressive growth. This clearly puts additional Bank of Canada tightening in play, above and beyond a second quarter-point rate hike in September.''
The retail sales report also heightened expectations of higher interest rates.
Desjardins forecasts that the central bank's overnight rate will hit 5 per cent by the end of the year, from its current rate of 4.5 per cent.
Weakness in the U.S. dollar, amid concerns over the fallout from subprime mortgage loans, was also supporting the Canadian currency.
Fears grew after Countrywide Financial Corp. -- the largest U.S. mortgage lender -- reported a steep drop in profit as mortgage banking earnings were cut in half.
With files from The Canadian Press
The 0530 GMT blast was caused by a truck bomb and the eight dead and 23 injured were soldiers, the official APS news agency reported security sources as saying. Residents, citing unconfirmed reports, said the assault was carried out by a suicide bomber.
The survey, which was conducted last month and released today just before the launch of Dubai’s new road toll system (Salik), found that professionals working in Dubai spend on average 1 hour and 45 minutes each day in total commuting time to and from their place of work, the highest figure in the region.
The recent oil-driven economic boom, combined with greater availability of auto financing and the lack of a modern public transport network, have led to greater demand for private transport and a sharp rise in car ownership across the region. At the same time, spiraling rents have forced many residents to seek cheaper accommodation in more distant locations, further adding to the traffic problem.
Average Commute Time Per day: Total Return Journey (To and From work)
- Dubai 1 hour 45 minutes
- Cairo 1 hour 33 minutes
- Sharjah 1 hour 8 minutes
- Doha 56 minutes
- Dammam 55 minutes
- Beirut 55 minutes
- Kuwait 55 minutes
- Amman 53 minutes
- Riyadh 49 minutes
- Abu Dhabi 48 minutes
- Muscat 48 minutes
- Manama 48 minutes
- Khobar 47 minutes
- Jeddah 46 minutes
TOP 10 U.S. Life Science R and D Locations
- San Diego
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Research Triangle, NC
- Denver, CO
- St Louis
Source: Panel of site selection
consultants and corporate real estate
executives polled by Site Selection May 2007
By 2020, the Dubai Waterfront area combined with The Palm Jebel Ali will comprise a city of 1.7 million. “ It will have all the elements --- shopping centers, community facilities , marinas and many other attractions ,” says Chris O’Donnell, CEO of Nakheel.
A recent change -- Dubai offers freehold titles, giving foreigners the right to own property outright and buyers get title to their real estate.
Nakheel is the Dubai based developer that is rebuilding the image of Dubai. Whether it is the massive man-made palm-shaped islands ( nakheel means “palm tree: in Arabic) or developing an archipelago of 300 islands in the Arabian Gulf ( called The World ) that appear, when seen from above, as a map of the world, Nakheel is where the vision of Dubai gets built. Ireland is the latest island to have been sold to a developer, raising the percentage of islands sold to over 40 %.
“ Dubai had positioned itself as the commercial hub of the Middle East and Africa. There are about 1.7 billion people within a 4 hour flying radius of Dubai, and it is one of the most attractive cities in the Middle East to live and work, “ says O’Donnell.
Monday, July 23, 2007
"Our success in diversifying our sources of income has compensated for low oil reserves, and economic growth now depends on an infrastructure not directly affected by the oil sector.
"We have come a long way towards achieving the objectives of an economy independent of oil. Indeed we have exceeded all expectations and predictions. "When I announced my Vision for Dubai, in the year 2000, I spoke of economic aims for the year 2010. The reality is that not only have these aims been realized but they have been realized in half the time
"Our success in diversifying our sources of income has compensated for low oil reserves, and economic growth now depends on an infrastructure not directly affected by the oil sector. .
read more - Forbes Special Section - July 2007
The nation's governors will focus on innovative steps states can take to remain competitive .
National Governors Association (NGA) Annual Meeting,
July 20-23 in Traverse City, Michigan.
The discussion, entitled "Productivity and Competitiveness: Creating Conditions in the States for Global Success,"
How states can respond to changing international market conditions and policy tools they may have available to help create conditions for people to achieve economic success?
"In an era where business transcends national borders, the companies that reach new levels of success will be those who are actively engaged in developing products and services for consumers here at home and around the world," said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, chair of the committee. "We need to step up our efforts to encourage businesses to prepare for this changing marketplace, and this session is an opportunity for governors and industry leaders to discuss ways states can help companies expand their horizons."
"States have a unique opportunity to bring together private businesses, academic institutions, and the public sector to foster innovation to grow and diversify our economies," said Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, host governor and committee vice chair. "As a state utilizing innovation to address our unique economic challenges, Michigan is the perfect place to discuss steps states can take to encourage innovation to make their economies competitive in today's global economy."
Within the next few decades, the world will face serious energy challenges.
At present, world oil production is in the order of 85 million barrels per day.
Another concern is that the world’s conventional oil production is expected to peak over the next 20 to 30 years and will enter a period of decline. This will place enormous pressures to development non-conventional oil resources including the Alberta oilsands. Deep offshore exploration is expected to be an important source of future oil, but these resources must be found and developed at high cost. Energy conservation and use of alternative sources of energy are expected to help significantly, but will not eliminate the need for additional energy resources.
The Alberta oilsands are expected to make a significant contribution to future energy supplies. The key advantages of the oilsands is that they are secure, safe and proven, and -- they can be profitably produced at existing and projected world oil prices.
Within the next twelve years, oilsands production is expected to increase to three million barrels a day.
The Alberta oilsands are contained in 140,800 square kilometres in northern Alberta. It is estimated there are between 1.7 and 2.5 trillion barrels of oil contained in the oilsands.
While the Alberta oilsands were discovered more than 100 years ago, it is only in the past thirty years they have become economically viable. In 1985 the cost of producing a barrel of oil was in the order of $40 a barrel. Through extensive research and development efforts, these costs were reduced to about $20 per barrel in 2000. However, because of ongoing shortages in labour and industrial capacity in Alberta, these prices have begun to increase appreciably.
The lack of resources has led to significant cost over-runs within several oilsands projects and may threaten to delay future oilsands projects.
The first oilsands plant, Great Canadian Oil Sands, opened in 1969. A second major plant, Syncrude Canada Ltd, began operations in 1978.
The Vision 2020 video shown in this website provides an important insight into the magnitude and scope of the Alberta oilsands.
State officials said that the planned 175,000-square-foot laboratory would be among a cluster of medical research and treatment centers to spring up around a newly approved medical school at the University of Central Florida. The University of Florida, based in Gainesville, has also announced plans to open a biotechnology research facility in the Orlando area.
The Burnham center will open within the next two years and will eventually employ 300 people within a decade,.
Construction of the center will cost $70 million, and Orange County and Orlando will pay for it, a Burnham spokeswoman said.
The governor, who will leave office in January because of term limits, has made a priority in his final term of luring biotech institutes to Florida, a tourism-dependent state with few research universities and scientific centers.
This announcement follows a similar move in 2003, when the Scripps Research Institute, also based in San Diego, was offered more than $500 million in economic incentives to open a biomedical research facility in Palm Beach County.
Research at the Orlando facility will focus on diabetes and obesity.
Tavistock Group Gives More Than $20.5 Million in Cash, Land to Help Establish UCF Med School
LAKE NONA MEDICAL CITY power point presentation
Nestled in the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 70 miles (113 km.) northwest of Charlotte, Lenoir has a population of about 18,000. The electrical and water infrastructure installed for the furniture industry made it an attractive location for Google. The company chose Lenoir after considering other North Carolina sites and locations in New York and South Carolina.
The process began in November 2005 when a consultant working for Google contacted the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and culminated with the official announcement of Lenoir as the choice 13 months and five days later.
John C. Howard, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, Tthe local effort employed the "power team" concept with a select group of local officials empowered to act as needed. Howard and Sanders give that strategy much of the credit in landing the Google project.
One of the challenges along the way was assembling the 41 parcels of land that comprise the 220- acre (89- hectare) site. That involved negotiating with about 20 homeowners, many of whom had lived there for decades. and Caldwell County on the economic development map. Howard says his office has fielded numerous calls from companies inquiring about supplying Google.
Founded by California billionaire David H. Murdock, chairman, CEO and owner of Dole Foods, the 350- acre (142- hectare) campus about 30 miles (48 km.) north of Charlotte is envisioned as a "biopolis" that may one day create 35,000 jobs (see Site Selection cover story, November 2005).
On April 18, the NCRC celebrated its rapid progress by topping off its new 125,000- sq.- ft. (11,613- sq.- m.) Nutrition Research Facility, the result of a unique partnership between UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, UNC A&T and UNC Central.
The centerpiece of the project – the 311,000- sq.- ft. (28,892- sq.- m.) Core Lab Facility – is mostly bricked in now and will be finished by November.
Duke, UNC, UNC Charlotte and N.C. State together will occupy more than 350,000 sq. ft.
Angiogen, a small biotech firm that makes a new cancer therapeutic, announced in March that it would make NCRC its home. "
"It was the culmination of a lot of hard work," says the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. "It was not a sure thing by any means."
In the end, Tampa beat out Pennsylvania and other Florida locations to land the crown jewel of research facilities:
teaming the world's second- largest drug maker with the renowned cancer hospital to develop customized treatments for patients.
The 50,000- sq.- ft. facility will create 165 jobs averaging $80,000 in annual wages. The project will receive $43.5 million in state and local incentives. In addition, at least six biotech firms have expressed interest in moving to the Tampa Bay Area to work with the project, bringing an estimated 140 additional jobs.
The story of how Merck and Moffitt came together to form a groundbreaking partnership parallels the story of how second- and third- tier communities are emerging as competitive locations for top- dollar R&D projects in the life sciences sector.
As drug and biotech companies look for new solutions to humanity's health problems, communities around North America are stepping up to provide innovative ideas and new alliances.
Ten years ago, top R D facility projects would consider perhaps a handful of locations:
San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland or the Research Triangle in North Carolina.
Today, armed with new sources of venture capital and government incentives, other locations are emerging to compete with the "gold- standard" locations. Places like Tampa, Kannapolis, N.C., and West Lafayette, Ind., are competing for – and winning – some of the biggest projects in biomedical R&D.
- Oklahoma City;
- Denver; Kansas City;
- Edmonton, Alberta;
- Blacksburg, Va.;
- Athens, Ga.;
- Auburn, Ala.;
- State College, Pa.; and
- Gainesville, Fla.
Betty McIntosh, site consultant with Cushman & Wakefield in Atlanta, says that the usual locations – like Boston, New Jersey and San Francisco – are "getting saturated." As a result, she notes, "the two most important criteria for these operations are quality and availability of labor, which is driven significantly by quality of life, and university research availability."
read more in Site Selection
The seven states comprising the southeastern corner of the United States already are home to 30 of the nation's 103 nuclear power reactors.
The relatively clean and inexpensive power they produce has played a key part in the region's industrial development prowess.
Today the South is preparing to play an even greater role in the nuclear power industry's resurgence – and is willing to pay for the privilege. Of the 28 new nuclear reactor units expected to file applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission through 2009, half are in the Southeast.
The late May restart of Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry 1 reactor makes it 15 of 29. According to interviews conducted by Site Selection, the horizon is aglow with opportunity.
read more from Site Selection
Even more to the point, nuclear plant development continues apace in many countries, putting other projects ahead of U.S. projects in the queue for components and services.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Who will take their place?
There is ample evidence, documented in detail in our new state-by-state report card on educational effectiveness, that too many of our nation’s schools and students are unprepared for the demands of the 21st century’s knowledge-based economy.
Report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for American Progress addresses a looming educational crisis that—if not addressed promptly and effectively—risks undermining the economic prosperity of future generations of Americans.
read the report here
We need to fundamentally rethink how we provide education in the U.S.
Nationwide, only about one-third of 4th and 8th graders— and well less than 20 percent of low-income and minority children—are proficient in reading and math.
Traditional approaches to education reform have done little to improve overall academic performance in our nation’s public schools. Despite steps to increase per pupil spending, decrease student-teacher ratios, and recruit a better-prepared teaching force, student test scores have remained stubbornly flat over the past 35 years.
Seventy-seven million baby boomers will begin to leave the workforce over the next 10 years. Who will take their place?
There is ample evidence, documented in detail in our new state-by-state report card on educational effectiveness, that too many of our nation’s schools and students are unprepared for the demands of the 21st century’s knowledge-based economy
But without action the alternative will be deteriorating schools, undereducated children, broken communities, and declining economic fortune for this country.
We have focused on the core structural changes that follow most directly from the findings in our report card
Our goal is straightforward: to create the opportunity for every child to achieve the American dream. We seek to develop an educated citizenry of self-sufficient, lifelong learners who have the skills needed to thrive in the workplace, today and in the future.
But by focusing on our four core goals—better teaching, more innovation, better data, and better management—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for American Progress will devote our energies to key reforms that our organizations are well positioned to champion.
We believe that the following reforms are urgently needed:
- Better Teaching
- More Innovation
- Better Data
- Better Management
Interactive materials: Interactive map showing state-by-state grades
A Joint Platform for Education Reform
read more link