Clemson Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility Brings Business to North Charleston, SC

The new Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) has already started bringing new jobs and investments to North Charleston, South Carolina.

Clemson Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility in North Charleston, South Carolina

Clemson Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility in North Charleston, South Carolina (photo – clemson.edu)

A few days ago, the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center was inaugurated as the nation’s largest wind energy testing facility that will assist in testing and validating new turbines.

The facility will allow testing of turbines used for both onshore and offshore wind projects, and will help simulate 20 years’ worth of wear and tear on drivetrains.

The location on the coast makes it ideal for testing large offshore wind turbines. The Center is housed in a former Navy warehouse that is easily accessible via both rail and water.

The Center has testing bays for 7.5MW and 15MW drivetrains, and a grid simulator that allows testing in real-life conditions.

The Duke Energy eGRID (Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development) at the Center will support education and research related to power grid integration with wind energy technologies, and will promote economic development by speeding up new electrical technologies to market.

Curtiss Fox, the former Clemson student who came up with the simulator concept, has been made the director of operations of the eGRID Center.

Duke Energy is making a $5 million contribution for laboratory infrastructure, development of an educational program, and the funding of a Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair. Duke employees will additionally support the center by offering technical expertise and use of resources.

Jim Rogers, chairman of the board for Duke Energy, said it was an exciting day for South Carolina, Duke Energy and the industry.

SCE&G shelled out $3.5 million to support the center. The project was supported by a $47 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy and around $60 million in outside funding.

The SCE&G Center’s opening was attended by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, who said the testing facility represents a critical investment for ensuring that America leads in this fast-growing global industry by helping to make sure that the most efficient and best wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the U.S.

The Innovation Center already has its first testing client in GE Power and Wind, who announced they will be using the 7.5MW testing rig starting from spring 2014.

Two partner companies will be housing engineers at the Center. Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) is planning to conduct grid resilience and security research.

The second one is advanced powertrain and vehicle systems technology developer FEV, Inc., a subsidiary of Germany-based, FEV GmbH. The company plans to establish operations at the Energy Center and is making an undisclosed investment that will lead to the creation of at least seven new jobs in South Carolina.

Boeing Launches 777X, Casts Wide Net For Site Selection

The Boeing Company’s (NYSE:BA) launch of the 777X jetliner is coming along very nicely on several fronts, including site selection, newly cooperative unions, and orders for the 777X worth $95 billion.

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney at 777X launch in Dubai

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney at 777X launch in Dubai (photo – Boeing Co)

Boeing officially launched the 777X jetliner at the 2013 Dubai Airshow with 259 orders worth $95 billion based on the list price – the largest ever product launch in the history of commercial jet airliners.

Boeing also signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company. As a Tier 1 Supplier to Boeing, Mubadala will now have an opportunity to supply as much as $2.5 billion in machined metals and advanced composites for Boeing programs such as the 777X and 787.

On the labor front, Boeing can now expect a much smoother ride in Washington and their other legacy locations, regardless of which one they choose for the 777X project.

The Coalition of Labor Unions at Boeing (CLUB), which represents more than 60,000 Boeing workers, issued a statement assuring Boeing customers, investors and passengers that Boeing workers would meet the challenge of designing and manufacturing the 777X without any growing pains, on time and within budget.

The statement was issued jointly by the Teamsters (Local 174); Industrial Fire Fighters (IAFF, Local I-66); Operating Engineers (IUOE, Local 286); Professional Engineering Employees (SPEEA-IFPTE, Local 2001); Security, Police And Fire Professionals (SPFPA Local 5); and IAM District 751 – the machinists union which rejected Boeing’s new contract offer, leading to Boeing rescinding their offer to build the 777X project in Puget Sound and opening up the process for a wider site selection process.

Boeing is now looking at more than a dozen locations for the 777X assembly and composite wing facilities. Boeing executives have been meeting with top state officials of the sites being considered to gauge their interest in the project.

Apart from Puget Sound in Washington, other U.S. sites that are seriously competing for the project include North Charleston, South Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; Long Beach, California; Huntsville, Alabama; San Antonio, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Wichita, Kansas.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon met Boeing executives last week on Thursday, and assured them that his administration would move quickly and aggressively to meet Boeing’s accelerated timeline for the 777X project.

Gov. Nixon said the meeting was extremely productive and added that he was committed to competing for and winning the game-changing project. Boeing already has some 15,000 employees in Missouri, including thousands of machinists in the St. Louis area.

A couple of days before that on Tuesday, Boeing executives met with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert met with Boeing executives on Nov 14.

Boeing is expected to make a final decision on their choice for both the 777X final assembly and composite wing assembly facilities by January 2014.

Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act Moves to Senate

With the U.S. House of Representatives having approved the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 with a 228 – 192 vote, the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act

Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (photo – Congressman Rich Hudson)

This bill (H.R.1965) aims to streamline the permitting process and expand energy production on federal lands, thereby creating new jobs for the oil and gas industry.

Highlights from the bill:-

– The Dept. of the Interior has to respond within 30 days to an application for a drilling permit on federal lands. The Department may delay the process for two more 15-day periods, provided the applicant is given written notice of each delay and given a reason for it.

If the applicant is not given a response by the Interior Department within this 60-day period, the application for the permit will automatically be deemed approved.

РThe Mineral Leasing Act will be amended to include a “documentation fee” of $5,000 to be paid by anyone who wants to protest a federal lands lease, application for a permit to drill, or right of way.

– The Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management budgets for solar and wind permitting is reduced 50 percent from $10 million to $5 million.

The $10 million permitting budget comes from fees collected each year for wind energy and solar energy right-of-way authorization fees, but the budget was cut in half through a last-minute amendment that was not in the original bill text.

– H.R.1965 also removes barriers to energy developments on Native American lands, including waivers on appraisals.

Congressman Doug Lamborn from Colorado, who introduced the bill in the House, said this legislation puts the country on the path towards energy independence by reducing federal red-tape and streamlining government regulations hindering onshore energy production.

He said the legislation will create new American jobs, increase revenues to the federal government as well as for states, and will promote economic development.

Earthworks, a non-profit dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from irresponsible energy and mineral developments, put out a statement which labels the bill as “Christmas gifts come early for fracking industry.”

GE To Relocate Fort Edward Plant to Clearwater, FL

GE announced its final decision to shutter an electric capacitor manufacturing facility in Fort Edward, New York due to an inability to reach an agreement with workers represented by Local 332 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE).

Union members protest GE Ford Edward

Union members protest GE Ford Edward (photo – ueunion.org)

GE will now move its entire Ford Edward operations to Clearwater, Florida which stands to gain a $49 million GE expansion and 263 new jobs.

A GE subsidiary called Instrument Transformers, Inc. is already located in Clearwater, and this facility will be expanded to house GE’s relocated operations from Fort Edward.

On Sept 18, 2013, GE had given the union the one-year notice to close the plant, as required under the existing contract. This triggered a 60-day decision bargaining, also mandated under the UE-GE national contract.

During this period, the two parties held 17 bargaining sessions, ending with the union agreeing to a 10 percent cut in the workforce to allow for plant modernization and automation. GE would also get the benefit of $22 million in government financing.

However, GE additionally demanded a wage cut of $17.88/hour for the 163 workers who would still have their jobs, effectively reducing their hourly wage to $11.12/hour, and only $8/hour for contingent employees.

The union refused, and GE then refused the union’s demand to continue the negotiations for another 30 days. GE has now announced that it is closing the plant and moving the jobs to Clearwater, where the new hires will get wages in between $8 to $12 per hour.

Local 332 President Scott Gates said taxpayers in Florida and the U.S. will be paying for subsidizing the profits of GE, a company which he claimed pays next to nothing in taxes.

The union claims GE “poisoned the well” even before the bargaining discussions began by telling NY State officials that their plan to relocate to Clearwater was a done deal, which the union says prevented officials from trying to keep the company in-state and prevent the relocation.

Clearwater and Florida, on the other hand, secured the relocation project by offering a big tax exemption. GE asked for a 75 percent tax break on the assessment for new additions to the existing Instrument Transformers facility.

This tax break was made possible after a Nov 2012 referendum in which voters in Clearwater approved a measure to grant the City Council authority to offer tax exemptions for projects that would create jobs. The City Council is expected to approve the GE tax exemption at a meeting on Dec 5, 2013.

FoxConn Setting Up Manufacturing Facility in PA

Taipei -based Foxconn, which makes iPhones and iPads for Apple, is planning to open new manufacturing and research facilities in Pennsylvania.

FoxConn

FoxConn (photo – mattsches/flickr)

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., which trades publicly as Foxconn Technology Group (TWSE: 2317), will invest $30 million to establish a machine-tool automation manufacturing facility in an as yet undisclosed site in Pennsylvania.

The project is expected to create around 500 jobs. FoxConn already has an existing facility in Harrisburg.

The company also plans to invest another $10 million for funding research and development in robotics at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University

Hon Hai/FoxConn Chairman Terry Gou is visiting the U.S. as part of a Taiwanese business delegation led by former vice president Vincent Siew. The delegation spent two days in New York, and is now in Washington D.C., to be followed by a stop in San Francisco as their third and final destination before returning back to Taiwan on Nov 27.

Gou reportedly had a meeting with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett before deciding on selecting the state for the investment and signing an MOU with Pennsylvania for the project. FoxConn is not asking for any state incentives. Terry Gou also had discussions with Arizona about setting up FoxConn’s machinery manufacturing headquarters in Arizona.

FoxConn is one of the world’s biggest private sector employers with more than a million workers in China. A large part of this workforce in China is employed at the company’s ¬†giant flagship manufacturing factory in Shenzhen which makes Apple’s iPads and iPhones, FoxConn has more than 1.2 million employees overall at facilities around the world. The company is a contract manufacturer for server parts and consumer and telecom electronics goods.

They make everything from the iPod, iPad and iPhone to the Kindle, PlayStation, Wii and PCs. Their clients include Apple, HP, Amazon, Sony, Nintendo, Acer, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Dell, among others.

Apart from its facility in Harrisburg, PA, FoxConn also has existing U.S. facilities in Texas and Indiana under a subsidiary called Q-Edge. Another FoxConn company called NWE Technology, Inc. is located in Santa Clara, California.

NY Announces Clean Energy Campus in Buffalo With 850 Jobs

In an event at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Buffalo, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state’s investment of $225 million for redevelopment of a Brownfield site into a 90-acre hi-tech manufacturing and clean energy research campus.

Gov. Cuomo announces Riverbend redevelopment in Buffalo, NY

Gov. Cuomo announces Riverbend redevelopment in Buffalo, NY (photo – ny.gov)

The 200-acre Riverbend site falls within the South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA). It was formerly a steel plant operated by Republic Steel.

As anchor tenants for the Riverbend project, New York has recruited two Fremont, California-based tech companies that will invest a combined $1.5 billion and create 850 tech jobs in the first phase, and plan to create another 1,200 jobs subsequently.

One of the companies is Silevo, a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell technology innovator that manufactures high efficiency solar modules. Their corporate headquarters and R&D center is located in California, but their manufacturing facility is in Hangzhou, China.

Silevo plans to invest a $750 million in Riverbend on what will be their first North American manufacturing facility, and will create at least 475 jobs.

The other one is SORAA, which is doing pioneering work on high-efficiency LEDs to be used in lamps. SORAA is relocating its corporate R&D and manufacturing setup to Riverbend, and will be investing $750 million and creating 375 jobs.

New York State is providing $225 million for the project through Empire State Development for water, sewer, utility and roads; for constructing 275,000 square feet of facilities for the two companies; and for buying equipment for the research projects.

The Riverbend clean energy R &D project will be managed by the Albany, NY-based SUNY Research Foundation, which will own the facilities and equipment.

The contaminated site along the banks of the Buffalo River had been vacant after Republic Steel shut down the plant. It took $75 million in federal and private funding to clean up the river and the shoreline through a habitat restoration project.

The subsequent redevelopment plan, which includes the Riverbend Commercial Park, has been led by the Buffalo Urban Redevelopment Corp.

Gov. Cuomo said that two of the world’s most renowned high-tech companies are choosing to call Buffalo their home, which he said was an affirmation that Buffalo was on the move.

Austin Considering Incentives for eBay Expansion

The City of Austin, Texas is considering approving a package of state and local incentives for an expansion by eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY).

eBay

eBay (photo – Coolcaesar./wikipedia)

eBay is planning to take up a long term lease on a 66,000-square-foot office space and investing $8.4 million to renovate and equip the place.

This includes $3.33 million on construction, another $3.87 million on machinery and equipment, and $1.27 million for furnishings and fixtures.

They plan to create 400 new jobs by 2017. The 400 jobs being created will include 133 entry level jobs with average annual wages of $27,040 to $28,662, and another 267 high-paying staff jobs with average annual wages of $100,000 to $112,500.

eBay has 651 employees at their current facility in Austin, which houses customer support and client services for the company’s PayPal Data Services, Inc. and Marketplaces business units.

The Austin City Council is meeting on Thursday to conduct a public hearing and consider approving a resolution nominating eBay Inc. as a single Texas Enterprise Zone Project.

Being nominated for this designation by a county or municipality makes the project eligible for state sales and use tax refunds under the Texas Enterprise Zone Program.

Based on eBay’s plans for investment and job creation and the five year designation as a Texas Enterprise Zone Project, the company qualifies for a maximum of $1.25 million in sales and use tax refunds.

This will be the second such agreement between eBay and Austin. Back in April 2011, eBay committed to creating 1,050 new jobs in Austin by 2020 and was approved for $2.8 million in state incentives through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).

The City of Austin additionally approved local incentives of $250 per job created, or a total of $1,206,250 over the 10-year agreement period.

eBay cancelled this 2011 agreement earlier this year in May. The new agreement under consideration calls for eBay to create only 400 new jobs in Texas by 2017, instead of 1,050 new jobs by 2020. However, the total number of jobs they are committing to (651 existing and 400 new jobs) does add up to 1,051.

Pitney Bowes Signs Up For CT First Five Program

Stamford, Connecticut-based Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI) is doubling down on its presence in Connecticut with an expansion plan that includes creation of new jobs, investments in training and technology, and relocation to a new headquarters.

Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes will invest $25 million for the expansion, and will create 200 new jobs over the next five years. The company already has 1,600 existing employees in Connecticut.

The investment will be spread around between a new headquarters in Stamford, business operations in Shelton, and a technology center in Danbury.

Pitney Bowes’ agreement with Connecticut makes it the eleventh company to take up the State’s offer of job creation incentives under the “First Five” Program.

Pitney Bowes is getting an incentives package of around $27 million. This includes a $15 million loan, which has a $10 million forgivable component if the company sticks by its commitment to create 200 jobs over the next five years.

The company is getting $1 million for capital improvements and another $1 million as a sales and use tax exemption. Pitney Bowes will also be eligible for up to $10 million in urban and industrial site reinvestment tax credits.

Pitney Bowes’ addition to the “First Five” companies was the result of their decision to relocate their headquarters to a smaller facility. New York was interested in recruiting Pitney Bowes, and Connecticut had to come up with a package of incentives good enough for retaining the new headquarters of the Fortune 500 company and for rewarding the $25 million expansion and creation of 200 new jobs.

Connecticut launched the First Five Program in 2011, offering a mix of the state’s best incentive and tax credit programs to elite businesses in Connecticut that undertake projects to create 200 new full-time jobs in either two years or five years.

Companies approved by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to join the program would continue to be eligible for tax credits for jobs created over and above the minimum requirement of 200 jobs.

The first company to take up the offer was Cigna (NYSE:CI) which was approved for incentives worth $50 million for creating 200 jobs in two years and pushing their workforce in the state to over 4,000.

Other companies which have subsequently signed agreements with the State of Connecticut under this program include ESPN, NBC Sports, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, CareCentrix, Sustainable Building Systems, Deloitte, Bridgewater, Charter Communications, The Navigators Group, and now Pitney Bowes.

Empire State Development Approves $40M Funding For Projects

The board of directors of Empire State Development (ESD) has approved $40,142,296 in funding for economic development projects in New York State that will help create more than 1,430 jobs and retain over 2,350 jobs.

NY Empire State Development

NY Empire State Development (photo – esd.ny.gov)

ESD’s investment will be leveraged by the recipients to raise $674 million in additional funding. Many of these are projects announced earlier for which the State has already pledged support and incentives.

Empire Visual Effects and Daemen College in Erie County got $2.5 million and $1.98 million respectively. The two of them have teamed up to create a VFX hub and transform Western New York into a major media industry hotspot as a film, animation, and post production destination.

As part of the project, Daemen College has started a training program, and their first batch of students is expected to graduate in Jan 2014 and be hired right away by Empire Visual Effects.

Non-profit Walkway Over the Hudson is getting $2.25 million for construction of an adaptive reuse project that will convert a former railroad bridge into an accessible tourist attraction.

Welded Tube, a subsidiary of Welded Tube of Canada Corp, is getting a $3 million loan and another $2 million in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits as incentives for locating a new $48 million facility in Erie County.

The PepsiCo Bottling Division in Westchester County is getting a $4 million grant to cover part of the costs of a $12.6 million expansion. Pepsico had committed to creating 22 new jobs, but ended up creating 328 new jobs, in addition to retaining 907 existing jobs.

Metal Container Corporation (MCC), an Anheuser-Busch subsidiary which makes aluminum cans for beer and soft drinks, was awarded a $1 million grant for a $65 million expansion project at its New Windsor, New York facility.

Canon U.S.A., Inc. was approved for $3.5 million to assist with a business relocation and expansion project in Suffolk County.

Fort Schuyler Management Corporation (FSMC) is getting a $15 million grant for construction of a Computer Chip Commercialization Center (Quad C) next to the SUNY Institute of Technology campus in Marcy, Oneida County.

Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC, manager of the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), is getting $2.05 million to assist with the implementation of demonstration projects related to smart Grid technologies that save energy.

Takeform, a graphic design products manufacturer in Orleans County, will get a $150,000 grant for an expansion involving purchase of a building, renovation and purchase of equipment and machinery.

The Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) is getting $2 million for establishing a revolving loan fund that will support development of tourism facilities in the North Country Region. DANC also got another $400,000 grant to set up a second revolving loan fund to help movie theaters purchase digital film projection equipment.

Of the 24 Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) Centers in New York, a full 21 were approved for addition funding worth a total of $1.55 million. The EAP Centers provide enterprise development assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to start a business.

Apple Getting $10M Incentives For Mesa, AZ Manufacturing Project

Two weeks ago, the Arizona Commerce Authority announced a sapphire manufacturing project by Apple in Mesa, AZ. Now the ACA has released details about the incentives awarded to Apple and GT Advanced Technologies Inc. to secure and facilitate the project.

Apple

Apple (photo – Apple/Wikipedia)

The company was left unidentified in official documents, which mention the project only as Project Cascade.

GT Advanced Technologies Inc. is leasing the site from Apple, which purchased the property from First Solar. Apple also signed a contract with GT Advanced Technologies for supply of sapphire, and prepaid $578 million. GT Advanced Technologies will use this funding to renovate and equip the facility and operate it.

Project Cascade will create around 1300 construction jobs. As per the agreement, the project must subsequently create at least 700 full-time jobs with average annual wages of at least $45,000.

The project represents a $1.5 billion capital investment in the state. As per an economic impact study, Project Cascade will generate $102 million in tax revenue in the first five years of operations.

Arizona has approved Apple for a $10 million grant as incentives for the project, to be paid from the Arizona Completes Fund.

GT Advanced Technologies may additionally qualify for refundable income tax credits equivalent to 10 percent of its capital investment. The company will be installing and operating furnaces at the facility.

Local incentives include a massive property tax break of 75-80 percent made possible by designating the 433-acre site for Project Cascade as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).

The FTZ designation had to be approved by eight local taxing entities that stand to lose revenue due to the property’s reclassification.

Seven of the boards had already signed off on it, and the board of the last one – the Gilbert Unified School District, approved a no-objection resolution on Monday, clearing the way for Apple and GT Advanced Technologies to get started with the project.

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