Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rules of Attraction: Policy

Gov. Deval Patrick's fledgling administration is up against some formidable competition in the battle to attract and keep biotech companies in Massachusetts.

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."

The stakes are high. For instance, job rates for biological technicians and scientists are expected to grow by 19 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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.

Biotechnology is big business in California, which has 5,400 biotech businesses and institutions and 236,000 workers in the field, according to California state officials.

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.

Perhaps the most sought-after commodity by biotech companies is quality of life, according to industry insiders including Carl Lawson of the University of Massachusetts Lowell -- who was part of the team that helped win a $600 million expansion deal from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. last year -- and California's Crane. "What matters to life sciences executives the most is the quality of life and labor pool," said Crane

Biofuel boost: Efforts under way to promote alternative fuels in New England

New England policymakers are floating ideas such as tax incentives to help boost alternative energy business in the region, and even committing to the use of biofuels-based state vehicles to lead by green example.

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.

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More High Tech news from Massachusetts

Massachusetts officials have offered a $300,000 loan to a Florida-based renewable-energy company that, if it were to accept the offer, would be the first......

Boston Microfluidics Inc. is seeking $2 million in investment to develop a device designed to cut the time it takes to detect sexually transmitted.

The state of Massachusetts has proposed the approval of a Microsoft Corp. tool designed to comply with the Bay State's open-document mandate. The tool,......

Massachusetts life sciences business leaders are advocating a global search for new leadership to head the newly created Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
A group of state officials from nine states -- including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut -- have forged a coalition to help establish national......

A Norwell-based company focused on the research and development of biofuels is expanding its Bay State operations and hiring new employees, with the help of a $2.1 million investment from the state of Massachusetts.....

MIT reports it has signed two separate technology-licensing agreements including one with GMZ Energy Inc., a Newton-based startup. Newton-based GMZ Energy is licensing four......

Geoff McKay, CEO of regenerative technology company Organogenesis Inc., said Gov. Deval Patrick's recent $1 billion pledge of support for life sciences was a......

Legislation for $ 1 billion in state funds for life sciences

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked state legislators to pass a bill offering tax incentives benefitting life sciences companies as part of larger legislation, introduced yesterday, to invest $1 billion in state funds in the life sciences industry.

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

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State of Massachusetts to shake up life sciences group

As of mid-June, State officials are reshuffling the make-up of the Massachusetts Life Science Center, the quasi-public agency created to dole out state investments in biotechnology, a move that includes the role of its director.

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.

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CEOs to governors: Schools don't make the grade

Session at National Governor's Association Annual Meeting
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.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

MySpace finds 29,000 registered sex offenders has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking website -- more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, North Carolina officials said Tuesday.

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.

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Democratic hopefuls deal with first YouTube debate

The debate format is the latest in the candidates' battle to keep up with the fast-paced changes the Internet has brought to politics.

"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 questions were first submitted to YouTube, the online video community. More than 2,300 videos had been submitted hours before Sunday night's deadline. CNN, the cable TV news network, screened the questions.

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."

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor, said, "Whether it's in the form of a traditional broadcast ad or on YouTube, that potentially can shape perceptions, and perceptions can shape votes."

CNN and YouTube will join forces again on Sept. 17 for a Republican debate.

Canadian Dollar soars to 96.46 US after report on strong retail sales

The Canadian dollar climbed nearly a full U.S. cent on Tuesday to reach 96.46 cents US, pushed higher by the release of a blowout May retail sales report.

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

Saudi King: Middle East problems can spread worldwide

The Middle East conflict can take "worldwide dimensions," Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud warned Monday. The monarch gave this warning in an interview published by the daily El Pais ahead of his arrival to Spain for a three-day visi.

Algeria: Al Qaeda attack kills eight troops

A truck bomb went off at an Algerian army barracks on Wednesday, July 11th, killing eight troops in an attack claimed by al Qaeda's north Africa wing. The attack in Lakhdaria village 120 km east of the capital in the Kabylie region reported hours before the opening in Algiers of the All Africa Games.

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.

Algeria's Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni declared in Algiers that the fight against the armed groups "will continue with the same determination" and that measures have been taken to reinforce counterterrorism.

Long Surburban Commutes to work in the Middle East

Dubai is officially the most congested city in the Middle East, according to the latest survey by, the region’s leading online recruitment portal.

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)

by Place of 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

TOP 10 U.S. Life Science R and D Locations

  1. San Diego
  2. Boston
  3. San Francisco Bay Area
  4. Research Triangle, NC
  5. Denver, CO
  6. Maryland
  7. Florida
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Indianapolis
  10. St Louis

Source: Panel of site selection

consultants and corporate real estate

executives polled by Site Selection May 2007

Atlantis Resort & Trump Tower on new island in Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah, shown in this aerial photograph, is one of three man-made palm shaped islands. Palm Jumeirah is planned to have over 30 hotels.

The Trump International Hotel & Tower is expected to begin construction at the end of 2007.

The Atlantis Resort and Palm Monorail are expected to be open by December 2008. Palm Jebel Ali will be the largest and final island.

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 %.

The portfolio includes 16 projects totaling $ 30 billion over a land area of 2 billion S.F. ( that’s 45,913 acres , or 71 sections of land)

“ 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.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Dubai economic diversification - 95% from non-oil sector

The Dubai Strategic Plan - 2015 (DSP), is set to maintain double-digit economic growth, achieve a GDP of $108 billion and increase real per capita GDP to $44,000 by 2011, stated Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister and Vice President, and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed continued: "Over the last few years another very important achievement has been economic restructuring. In 2005, the non-oil sector played a major role, contributing 95% to GDP, as compared to 90% in 2000, and approximately 46% in 1975. The services sector was the driving force behind Dubai's economic growth, contributing 74% of GNP, mirroring the economies of the developed world".

"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.

The plan, launched under the theme "Dubai: Where The Future Begins", sets out a strategic approach that focuses on developing the emirate's most dynamic economic sectors that have been the key contributors to Dubai's annual real GDP growth rate of 13% since 2000.

The plan will not be affected by oil price fluctuations. Dubai has succeeded in diversifying its sources of income, and reducing its dependence on oil, so that, today, oil's contribution to GNP is a mere 3%", Sheikh Mohammed said.

"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

The services sector was the driving force behind Dubai's economic growth, contributing 74% of GNP, mirroring the economies of the developed world".

"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

National Governor's Association - Creating Conditions Global Success

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."

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Vision 2020 video - Building the Alberta Energy Hub

click on picture for video
Alberta Oil Sands

Building the Alberta Energy Hub
Vision 2020 video
Alberta Government
Alberta Economic Development

Why are the Alberta oilsands important?

Within the next few decades, the world will face serious energy challenges.

According to international forecasts, the world economy is projected to grow from $47.2 trillion in 2002, to $112.7 trillion in 2025, representing an increase of 138.7 percent.

This level of growth will require a 50.5 percent increase in energy consumption. Oil is the world’s primary source of energy, followed by coal and natural gas. In 2025, oil will remain the world’s primary source of energy.

At present, world oil production is in the order of 85 million barrels per day.

By 2025, it is projected the world will need 119.5 million barrels a day. This level of increase ( 34 million barrels per day ) exceeds OPEC’s total current production.

Where will this oil come from?

Clearly, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and South America will need to increase production. However, as evident in media reports, these regions may not provide a secure, safe and reliable source of future energy to meet international needs.

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.

Alberta Oil Sands 1 million barrells day - Significant -Strategic - Secure - Scalable

The Alberta oilsands are expected to make a significant contribution to future energy supplies.
One of the key advantages of the oilsands is that they are secure, safe and proven. As well, they can be profitably produced at existing and projected world oil prices.

Currently, oilsands production averages more than a million barrels a day.

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.
There are 178 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia), with potential reserves of 335 billion barrels.

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.
Today, there are more than 50 oilsands projects with investments valued at more than $104 billion.
Oilsands projects require additional investments in upgraders, infrastructure, pipelines, urban development and utility services. Currently, the Government of Alberta reports a total of $169 billion of announced investments within Alberta.

The Vision 2020 video shown in this website provides an important insight into the magnitude and scope of the Alberta oilsands.

This development has now become the world’s largest industrial complex, using the world’s biggest trucks and shovels.
Tied to the development of the oilsands is a massive expansion of upgraders and infrastructure support systems in the Edmonton region. Not only does Alberta wish to develop its oilsands potential, it needs to develop its downstream, value-added industry potential.

Burnham Institute for Medical Research accepting $ 300 million to open in Orlando

Tthe Burnham Institute for Medical Research, based in San Diego, had accepted more than $300 million in state and local incentives to open a research center in Orlando.

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.

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Tavistock Group Gives More Than $20.5 Million in Cash, Land to Help Establish UCF Med School

LAKE NONA MEDICAL CITY power point presentation

North Carolina Ranks as Top Business Climate in 2006

Governor's Easley's thoughts on why North Carolina is attracting industry -- Quality of the work force is foremost on potential investors' minds.

"Providing a work force with the knowledge, talent and skill employers need to compete in the global economy brings high quality jobs to hard working North Carolina families," noted the governor at the announcement of other business-climate accolades on September 28th. "

"It is no surprise that since 2001, our state has successfully recruited more than 163,400 jobs and $26.2 billion in investment."

Among the highlights of the governor's September announcement were these:

• The Milken Institute of Santa Monica, Calif., listed three North Carolina public and two private universities among the top 100 in the world in ability to move biotech research into business start-up. The public universities and rank are North Carolina State University (20th), UNC-Chapel Hill (25th) and East Carolina University (81st); the private schools are Duke University (38th) and Wake Forest (59th).

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy advocacy organization in San Jose, Calif., named the Raleigh-Durham area as the top technology hub in the nation in its annual ranking. The report noted the area's affordable housing and thriving job market as well as local student performance on eighth-grade math tests, comparatively low taxes and affordable utilities.

• Raleigh placed fifth in's list of Most Wired Cities; Charlotte ranked 10th. The two cities received high marks for the number of companies providing high-speed Internet access and the percentage of homes with high-speed Internet connections.

• Entrepreneur magazine listed the Charlotte-Gastonia and Raleigh-Durham metros as two of the best locations for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business, ranking them second and third respectively. Only the Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., area ranked higher.

Google building $ 600 million server farm in North Carolina

Google is building a US$ 600- million server farm in Lenoir, NC directly across from a row of furniture factories.

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.

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$ 750- million North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis

The $750- million North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis is under construction.

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. "

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New winning cities for biomedical

Merck & Co. are investing $95 million into a new cancer research venture in Tampa.

"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.

read more in Site Selection

Rising biomedical R&D centers

Among other rising communities in this sector, Rhodes says, are
  • Oklahoma City;
  • Seattle;
  • Phoenix;
  • 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

South-east states plan to file for 14 nuclear reactors

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

Seventy-seven million baby boomers will leave workforce in the next 10 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.

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

A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for American Progress have come together for the first time with a shared sense of urgency to address a looming educational crisis that—if not addressed promptly and effectively—risks undermining the economic prosperity of future generations of Americans.

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:

  1. Better Teaching
  2. More Innovation
  3. Better Data
  4. Better Management

Interactive materials: Interactive map showing state-by-state grades
A Joint Platform for Education Reform

View the full joint platform (PDF)

read more link

Dubai based Emaar buys John Laing Homes

In June 2006 Emaar announced that it had acquired John Laing Homes, the second largest privately held homebuilder in the US, creating on of the world's leading real estate developers in residential homebuilding.

The AED 3.856 billion (US$1.050 billion) all cash transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

Partnering with John Laing Homes is consistent with Emaar's strategy of expanding its business on a global basis beyond Dubai. This agreement provides Emaar with an important gateway into the US real estate market.

John Laing Homes a highly respected partner with more than 150 years of homebuilding experience and boasts a strong knowledgeable management team. Emaar will leverage John Laing's industry and management expertise and export it into markets around the world, while providing John Laing Homes with additional resources to grow.

John Laing Homes will operate as a division of Emaar from their headquarters in Newport Beach, CA, and continue to be operated by Larry Webb, CEO, who, along with the senior management team, agreed to to multiyear contracts.

read more

Emaar's 20,000 residential unit development in Jeddah, KSA

Jeddah Hills is the flagship project of Emaar Middle East, the joint venture between Emaar and Saudi-based real estate company Al Oula Development.

Emaar’s second foray into Saudi Arabia, the SR42 billion (US$11.2 billion) Jeddah Hills community project comprises over 20,000 residential units as a combo of townhouses and single homes alongside commercial and retail facilities. The spacious homes – of 500 to 1,500 sq. m – will go on sale in the first quarter of 2007.

Jeddah Hills extends over 5,314 acres of land with a built-up area of 3,768 acres. Set between 70 and 90 meters on a hill top, Jeddah Hills offers spectacular views over the surrounding landscape towards the Red Sea, North Jeddah and the Mountains in the East.

The project features 24 residential villages, each of area 465,000 sq. m, offering a board spectrum of community amenities arranged in a hub-and-spoke model. Large parks, recreation areas, schools, mosques, healthcare services and village squares will add to the allure of a self-contained community living environment.

read more

Saudi Arabia's bold new new economic development

Rapid progress on ground and site work for, the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC)-- the flagship development in Saudi Arabia by EMAAR Properties

At US $ 26 billion, it is the largest private sector initiative in the Kingdom.

KAEC is a mega multi-stage development which will closely integrate itself into the Kingdom’s on-going drive to expand the economy, create employment opportunities for its youthful population and function as a catalyst to attract foreign investment, global trade, commerce and industry.

Based on initial forecasts, the project and its several components will create up to 500,000 employment opportunities.

The City will be a mixed-use development located north of the commercial hub of Jeddah A massive 55 million square meters of greenfield land with a 35 km shoreline close to the industrial city of Rabegh has been earmarked for the master development.

The City will have six distinct components – a modern world-class Seaport, Industrial District, Financial Island, Education Zone, Resorts and The Residential Area.

Work is underway on the project’s first boulevard – a 15 km long stretch that features over 3,000 palm trees. Excavation work for the first city canal to run through the Red Sea Village has started

During the first three years, construction will be focused on four major areas: the Port, Industrial areas, the Resort District comprising two major beachfront hotels, the first golf course and associated villas, and several apartments and office buildings in the Town Center.

read more

interactive master plan

see web site for KAEC


At 512.1 metres (1,680 ft), Burj Dubai is the tallest building in the world.

The achievement once again puts Dubai in the international spotlight and underlines Emaar’s arrival as a global developerEmaar Properties has partnered with best-in-class consultants such as South Korean construction major Samsung Corporation and New York-based Project Manager Turner Construction to realise the design of internationally admired architect Adrian Smith and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago.

Burj Dubai will be at the centre of Downtown Burj Dubai, a US $20 billion, 500-acre downtown development billed as the most prestigious square kilometre on earth.

Burj Dubai will feature residential, commercial and retail components including the world’s first Armani Hotel & Residences, exclusive corporate suites, a business centre, four luxurious pools and spas, an observation platform on Level 124 and 150,000 sq ft of fitness facilities

read more

10 Riskiest housing markets in U.S.

Forbes Magazine Listing of the 10 Riskiest Housing Markets in the U.S.

See Slideshow of the 10 riskest U.S. housing markets

  1. Miami
  2. Orlando
  3. Sacramento
  4. San Francisco
  5. San Diego
  6. Phoenix
  7. Kansa City, MO
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Chicago
  10. Denver

Google's $ 4.6 Billion commitment - Internet for ALL all Americans

Our Commitment to open broadband platforms

7/20/2007 06:07:00 AM
Posted by Chris Sacca, Head of Special Initiatives Google

" For now, and for all of us, the issue is simple: this is one of the best opportunities we will have to bring the Internet to all Americans. Let's seize that opportunity. "

For several years now, many Googlers have been working to identify the obstacles that prevent the Internet from being available to everyone on the planet. It strikes us as unfair that some people should enjoy such abundant access to this rich resource while billions of others aren't so lucky. Though the technology exists today to provide access on a global scale, often we have learned technology isn't the problem.

In this context, we have worked hard to advance a set of principles that will make Internet access for all a priority.For instance, we wrote last week on our Public Policy Blog about Google's interest in promoting competition in the broadband market here in the U.S., to help ensure that as many Americans as possible can access the Internet.

However, it takes more than just ideas and rhetoric if you want to help bring the Internet to everyone.So today, we're putting consumers' interests first, and putting our money where our principles are -- to the tune of $4.6 billion. Let me explain.

Read more here

Fannie Mae Economist Stays Cautious on Housing Turnaround

Fannie Mae Economist Stays Cautious on Housing Turnaround

Daily Real Estate News July 19, 2007

The U.S. housing market isn’t going to get any better this year, says David Berson, vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.Berson expects new and existing home sales to decline by 10.2 percent in 2007 to the lowest level since 2002.

Single-family starts are expected to fall 21.7 percent.He predicts that 2006 and 2007 will together show the largest drop in sales since the housing slowdown of 1989-1991.

Berson says it will take until 2008 before unsold inventories have fallen enough to relieve downward pressure on house prices.

Source: Reuters News (07/18/2007)

read more

Friday, July 20, 2007

Florida delegates see vision for their city's future in Atlanta @ Georgia Tech

Officials from the University of Florida along with developers and representatives from the City of Gainesville, Florida recently visited The Georgia Institute of Technology ( Georgia Tech) . The Florida delegation wanted to learn how Georgia Tech had been successful in the development of Technology Square. Technology Square is adjacent to Georgia Tech and is where companies that spun off from research at the school take their first steps.

Located in midtown Atlanta, just north of downtown , Technology Square includes research labs, offices, restaurants, shops and a conference center. Technology Square offers a mix of restaurants and shops that provide an important environment for networking and deal-making. The downtown ambiance was a factor early on in attracting firms and remains a key component to the on-going success.

Expanding on the success of Technology Square will be Technology Enterprise Park, a new research park being built about 10 minutes from the school's campus.

Technology Square has been the launching pad for successful companies. In addition to the technology transfer from Georgia Tech, access to capital and commercialization expertise are also vital to the success of these new companies. To that end, venture capitalists and other investors who provide the backing for research projects also office in Technology Square.

Georgia Tech advised the Florida delegation that developing a successful research center has not been easy process. It took proactive efforts from Georgia Tech and partnerships with the City of Atlanta in order to generate the resulting economic development for Atlanta and profits for Georgia Tech.

The delegation from Florida was aware of the task ahead of them to develop a research park in Gainesville. They pointed out they could possibly leverage millions in state funds that were recently made available as matching grants for this type of investment in Florida.

read more link

U.S Sees Drop in Homes Deemed Overvalued

U.S Sees Drop in Homes Deemed Overvalued

House Prices America
— a joint effort by Global Insight, a global forecasting firm, and National City Corp

read more about the study

The number of single-family homes considered to be overvalued continues to drop as cooling markets bring prices back to historic norms, according to the first-quarter update to Global Insight’s House Prices America study.

The study examined the top 317 U.S. real estate markets, which represent 92 percent of single family housing.

The analysis determines what home prices should be and how much current prices deviate from that norm.

Nearly half of the 317 metros experienced a decline in single family home prices in Q1 - overvalued metros number 54 out of the 317 studied.

The 2 most overvalued markets were Bend, OR , and Prescott, AZ - while Houston and Dallas are the 2 most undervalued markets according to the study.

Overall, the study says the Pacific and Mountain Northwest, most of Texas and the Carolina's have been the most resilient to the softening trend in the real estate markets.


The price declines we are seeing today in California, Florida, and New England were predicted two years ago when we identified them as the most extremely overvalued markets in the nation,” says Diffley.

The report also warns of further declines around the U.S. following the price declines in the central valley of California.

" Widespread weakness across the country is a reflection of the dramatic swing in sentiment and bargaining power between buyers and sellers,” says James Diffley, managing director of Global Insight’s Regional Services Group.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New bioenergy research center in Bay area

BERKELEY, CA — Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has announced that a partnership of three national laboratories and three research universities in the San Francisco Bay Area has been chosen to host one of three bioenergy research centers, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).. This new center will be known as the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and is expected to receive $125 million in DOE funding over five years.

The six partners are the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the University of California (UC) campuses of Berkeley and Davis, and Stanford University.

“These centers will provide the transformational science needed for bioenergy breakthroughs to advance President Bush’s goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012, and assist in reducing America’s gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years,” Secretary Bodman said. "

Research at the DOE JBEI will focus on biofuels – liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass. Harnessing even a tiny fraction of the total solar energy available each year could meet most if not all of the nation’s annual transportation energy needs.

Scientific studies have consistently ranked biofuels among the top candidates for meeting large-scale energy needs, particularly in the transportation sector. However, the commercial-scale production of clean, efficient, cost-effective biofuels will require technology-transforming scientific breakthroughs.

read more

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Texas rolls out new bioenergy strategy

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas introduced his Bioenergy Strategy for Texas that focuses on technological advances that will lead to sustainability in this emerging market.

Key points are ------ read more

  • "As a state that grows by 1,000 new residents each day, Texas must take a more innovative approach to developing new methods and research in the field of energy,"
  • $5 million grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to Texas A&M University for recruiting faculty that are not only able to research biofuels but also successfully market them.
  • Texas Bioproducts Industry Council, has been formed to work in the private and public sectors to plot the future of bioproducts in Texas.

Globalization widens gap among Americans

Globalization widens gap among Americans

There has been a shift in how and where big US corporations make their money, which could create investment opportunities at home

" Another divide that seems to be widening is between those Americans whose investments capture international growth opportunities and those whose portfolios don't.

In short, the economic divisions created by globalization are becoming ever sharper.
On the financial side, increasing globalization of US corporate profits may mean, for example, that US stock markets can retain their lofty elevations even if domestic growth continues to prove tepid -- because leading companies are earning so much abroad.

Even if the impact on the American worker is mixed, increasing international sales benefits investors, including working people saving for retirement, said Jeff Tyler, senior vice president of American Century Investments in Mountain View, California. "

By William Holstein NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE, NEW YORK Wednesday, Jul 11, 2007, Page 9

Introduction to the Compelling Insight blog

The COMPELLING INSIGHT Blog will provide insights and perspectives on compelling news, events and trends in business, finance and quality of life in the U.S. and around the world.