Columbus, OH Gets IBM Analytics Center With 500 Jobs

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced it will establish a new analytics center in Columbus, Ohio that will create 500 new high-paying IT jobs and nurture economic development in the region through a broad partnership with Ohio State University, JobsOhio, Columbus 2020, and others.

IBM Analytics Center in Columbus, OH

IBM Analytics Center in Columbus, OH (Photo – IBM.com)

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich joined IBM executives and representatives from Ohio State and Columbus2020 for the opening of the IBM Client Center for Advanced Analytics in Dublin, a Columbus suburb.

As per IBM, the “client services lab is intended to spark economic competitiveness that will draw on the expertise of educational institutions and industry partners to create a world-class ecosystem serving industries’ fastest-growing technical disciplines aligned to business analytics.”

IBM will add as many as 500 new analytics consultants and research and development professionals to the center over three years, focused on creating new markets for Watson commercialization, Smarter Commerce and Social Business Client Capabilities.

“Data is a powerful natural resource that if used wisely can drive U.S. economic competitiveness and lead to rewarding careers in the future dedicated to building a smarter planet,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Software Solutions Group. “This center will have a tremendous amount to offer: world-class educational institutions, a highly-educated workforce, industry-leading businesses and – perhaps most important of all – will serve as the foundation of a community of innovators that will transform industries around the world.

IBM will partner with Ohio State to develop job-ready graduates through new course curriculum in its graduate and undergraduate programs.

“Our strong collaboration with IBM will help our students across a variety of majors gain the latest skills in this burgeoning Big Data discipline and set them on a path to secure the high skilled jobs of the future,” said Christine A. Poon, dean, Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business.

In a blog post on Smarter Planet, the dean elaborated that Ohio State would develop “new business and technology curricula to help students and professionals gain the latest skills in analytics and prepare for high value jobs, including the 500 new analytics consultant positions IBM is committed to adding in Ohio over the next three years.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) addressed attendees at the event virtually in the form of a video.

“A new advanced analytics center that involves many community stakeholders proves that collaboration is critical to our long-term success,” said Sen. Brown. “Scaling up research and development isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s not a private sector or government issue; creating new jobs and investing in new R&D is about doing what’s best for our state.”

The Columbus, Ohio center will be connected to 200 IBM client centers globally, and IBM’s network of eight Analytics Solution Centers with expertise in the needs of state, local and federal government organizations.

Chicago Voucher Program Credited for Smith Electric Vehicles Manufacturing Plant

Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles announced the company’s decision to open a new electric vehicle manufacturing facility in the Windy City.

Coca-Cola's Smith Electric Vehicles truck

Coca-Cola’s Smith Electric Vehicles truck (Photo – City of Chicago)

Chicago will be Smith’s third location in the United States, joining their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City. The Chicago plant will create up to 200 direct jobs.

Chicago’s voucher system, created to accelerate the conversion of corporate diesel vehicle fleets to electric commercial vehicles, is credited with influencing the site selection process.

“A mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption,” said Smith CEO Bryan Hansel. “Chicago’s location, commitment to adoption in municipal fleets, concentration of commercial vehicles, talented workforce and importance to the global business community make it a perfect choice to grow our company and this industry. The leadership being shown with the mayor’s CDOT voucher program is a prime example of how Chicago is creating the template for a new energy city.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is about to launch a $15 million incentive voucher program that will encourage companies and individuals to modernize their fleets and convert to electric vehicles.

The first of its kind in the US, this plan rewards fleets on an increasing scale for replacing their most diesel-consuming vehicles. The program’s initial $15 million is funded by a grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program. CDOT will provide vouchers to assist companies in reducing the costs of converting their vehicles to electric.

The company also cited the city’s large number of fleets interested in vehicle electrification, and the development incentives made available to Smith.

Smith’s customers include many of the world’s largest fleet operators, including PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the U.S. Military. Coca-Cola’s pilot deployment of Smith trucks has been successful, and they plan to deploy additional electric vehicles in 2013.

“I’m proud to welcome another growing company with a great mission to Chicago. Soon hundreds of Chicagoans will be able to put their skills to use providing businesses worldwide with high-quality, zero-emission, American-made vehicles,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Smith Electric Vehicles is an innovative company in a forward-looking, essential industry that is a central part of Chicago’s economic future.”

Smith Electric Vehicles is currently considering locations for its manufacturing facility in conjunction with city officials. They are looking to move into an unoccupied factory inside a zone slated for redeveloped. They hope to have the Chicago, Illinois plant operational by the second quarter of 2013 with a single shift that will be producing 1,200 vehicles per year.

Dart Container’s $47M Investment in Michigan to Create 325 Jobs

Dart Container and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced a deal which will lead to a $47 million expansion by Dart.

Dart Container

Photo – Dart Container

The new investment will create a projected 325 new jobs, including jobs related to the relocation of Solo Cup Company staff from the Chicago area to Mason, MI. Some additional new jobs for Michigan residents will be created at the expanded site.

In May 2012, Dart acquired Illinois-based Solo Cup Company, and now plans to spend $47 million on building a new corporate headquarters and warehouse facility for Solo Cup in Dart’s existing Alaiedon Township campus.

The investment will help integrate Solo Cup corporate and administrative operations into Dart’s location in Michigan, in addition to expanding Dart’s own facilities at the campus.

“I want to extend my congratulations to the entire Dart team on this major expansion and thank a Michigan-born company for its continued commitment to our state,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “Dart’s decision to invest and add jobs here is economic gardening in action, and it demonstrates that the bold reforms we’ve made to our business climate, combined with our world-class talent, put Michigan at the top of the list of places to locate, expand and grow new jobs.”

For its part, MEDC announced Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approval of a $3 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for Dart Container.

“Dart Container is a leading manufacturer of foodservice packaging products and a key employer in the Lansing area. The expansion of Dart’s operations in Mason will further strengthen its Michigan presence and provide additional good jobs for years to come,” said MEDC president and CEO Michael A. Finney. “The company’s decision to expand in Michigan is a strong statement about the great opportunities that, thanks to our business climate improvements, Michigan now offers to growing companies.”

The project also received support from Alaiedon Township and the City of Mason.

“We are excited about expanding employment opportunities on our Mason campus, where our founders launched our company more than 50 years ago,” said Dart Executive vice president and general counsel James Lammers. “We are thrilled that the growth of our company will create hundreds of new administrative, engineering, technology and skilled trade jobs in the state.”

Mason, Michigan-based Dart Container now has approximately 15,000 employees and more than 45 production, distribution center, and office locations in eight countries.

Electrolux to Relocate R&D From Webster City, IA to Charlotte, NC

Swedish appliance maker Electrolux announced it will be relocating its North American laundry products research and development center from Webster City, Iowa to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Electrolux headquarters in Charlotte, NC

Electrolux headquarters in Charlotte, NC (Photo – electrolux.com)

This R&D Division’s 80 high-paying jobs will consequently move to the company’s North American headquarters in Charlotte.

This is the other shoe dropping for Webster City, which lost 800 jobs when Electrolux shut down its washer and dryer plant there last year. Ironically, the 80 new jobs in Charlotte bring the company’s employment there to 800.

Chris Harris, vice president of Laundry and Dish Care Products, Electrolux Major Appliances North America, explained that, “We are increasing our R&D investment, moving closer to major science, engineering and technology universities and leveraging on the state-of-the-art research facilities that we already have in Charlotte.”

“This was a difficult but necessary decision,” Harris added. “The company is committed to assisting our Webster City employees and we are making this announcement nearly a year in advance to help with the transition.”

Product design and testing will be discontinued in Webster City in the third quarter of 2013. Electrolux had opened the Webster City R&D unit last year with a $5 million investment to renovate the former Beam plant. The city had gone out of its way to land the project. They purchased the building for $1 and leased it cheaply to Electrolux.

The city also provided Electrolux with a $150,000 grant. The company said it would refund $50,000. Webster City Mayor Janet Adams expressed disappointment and surprise.

As far as Charlotte and North Carolina are concerned, the 80 new jobs and the associated investment are simply part of the deal agreed to by Electrolux in 2009. The company was provided $27 million in incentives to facilitate the relocation of their North American headquarters from Georgia to Charlotte, with a commitment of bringing 738 jobs to the city,which Electrolux has now fulfilled.

Electrolux sells more than 40 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. Last year, Electrolux had sales of SEK 102 billion and 58,000 employees.

National Grid Invests $40M for Clean Line Energy Transmission

National Grid (NYSE:NGG) announced an equity investment of $40 million in Clean Line, a company developing transmission projects that facilitate the development of renewable energy resources.

Clean Line Energy

Photo – Clean Line Energy

Houston, Texas-based Clean Line Energy Partners will use the proceeds from National Grid to advance the development of its four HVDC transmission projects.

The existing transmission system in the U.S. was created primarily to connect population centers with nearby fossil fuel power plants. It is now deemed insufficient to meet the demands of long-haul transmission lines to move America’s vast renewable energy resources to market.

This is where Clean Line comes into the picture with its high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines that will deliver thousands of megawatts of renewable energy from the windiest areas of the United States to communities and cities that have a strong demand for clean, low-cost energy.

The development of their vast network could have a huge impact on everything from carbon emissions to rural economic development, construction jobs and green jobs in the wind power sector.

“We are delighted to have an investor of National Grid’s caliber who shares our vision and brings a deep understanding of HVDC transmission,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line. “We look forward to working together as we develop and build new infrastructure necessary to facilitate a cleaner energy mix for the future.”

In the US, National Grid delivers electricity to more than three million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world, with extensive experience building, owning and operating large HVDC electricity transmission interconnectors and transmission networks in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We strongly support the advancement of tomorrow’s network technologies and clean energy resources in the US, and our equity investment in Clean Line underscores each of those objectives,” said Tom King, president of the Waltham, Massachusetts-based National Grid USA. “With this investment, we are bringing capital and network knowledge to help advance resources that will link clean energy resources to markets throughout the US.”

It’s a good investment from a long-term point of view. However, the immediate future may not be so rosy. The fate of tens of thousands of workers in the wind turbine manufacturing and installation companies hangs in the balance as Congress debates whether to extend the wind tax credit or not.

If the tax expires, it will knock the wind out of the transmission lines, so to speak. It puts a question mark on Clean Energy’s future and National Grid’s $40 million investment.

FirstEnergy to Invest $45M for LEED Certified Control Center in Akron, OH

FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) announced plans to construct a new $45 million state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly transmission control center in Akron, Ohio.

FirstEnergy

Photo – FirstEnergy

The new “Akron Control Center,” as it will be known, will replace the company’s existing Ohio Transmission Control Center located in Wadsworth, Ohio, which will be used as a back-up and training facility.

Most of the 112 employees who currently work in Wadsworth will be transferred to Akron in stages as the new facility is completed, which is expected to be somewhere by the end of 2013.

Preliminary site preparation work is being done this fall, with groundbreaking for the 70,000-square-foot facility is expected to occur in the spring of 2013.

This control center will be an addition to the company’s West Akron Complex, a 150-acre site that already houses an Ohio Edison service center, a FirstEnergy call center, and a large office building where several company subsidiaries are based.

“The new Akron Control Center is designed to make our current high level of transmission service reliability even better,” said Charles E. Jones, Jr., senior vice president and president, FirstEnergy Utilities. “In addition, we will utilize high-performance, environmentally friendly design, construction and operational options for this new building.”

FirstEnergy expects to submit this project to be considered for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

If approved, the Akron Control Center would be FirstEnergy’s third major facility to receive LEED certification. In 2009, the company’s West Akron Campus received Gold Level LEED status, making it one of the largest such green office buildings in Ohio. Last year, the company’s new West Virginia Operations Headquarters, in Fairmont, W. Va., received certified LEED status.

The new Akron Control Center will feature advanced computer systems to monitor electrical grid reliability in various geographic areas of the country where FirstEnergy has operations.

FirstEnergy‚Äôs 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.

Its generation subsidiaries control more than 20,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro, pumped-storage hydro and other renewables.

Magnetation Selects Reynolds, IN for $350M Iron Ore Pellet Plant

Magnetation, LLC announced plans to invest up to $350 million to build a new iron ore pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana.

Magnetation Iron nuggets

Iron nuggets (Photo – Magnetation)

The plant is expected to become operational in late 2014 or early 2015, and will employ approximately 100-120 people. At least 100 new jobs are expected to be created.

“Magnetation joins a growing list of companies that have discovered what we Hoosiers have always known: Indiana is the best state to do business in the country,” said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. “We are happy to welcome our new neighbors to Reynolds and thank them for the multi-million dollar investment and the many jobs that come with their decision.”

Magnetation, which recycles iron waste to produce valuable iron ore concentrate, will transport iron ore concentrate from its mineral recovery operations in Northern Minnesota to the new plant in Reynolds.

The additional iron ore concentrate capacity to be constructed in Northern Minnesota will require another estimated $120 million investment.

“With convenient access to major railways and highways, Reynolds is an outstanding location for the company’s new pellet plant,” said Larry Lehtinen, CEO of Magnetation. “We thank our local and state officials in Indiana for their ongoing support of our company, and we look forward to joining the Reynolds community in the very near future.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered MagPellet, LLC, a part of Magnetation, up to $1.5 million in conditional tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The IEDC will also assist the community with improving rail service to the site.

Local incentives were offered by White County and utility company NIPSCO’s economic development division.  White County offered funds using revenues generated from the issuance of a tax increment financing (TIF) bond. NIPSCO has offered Magnetation $23 million in additional energy and infrastructure incentives as part of its continued efforts to support local economic development.

John Heimlich, president of the White County commissioners, said that Magnetation’s announcement was “a huge shot in the arm for the local economy in Reynolds and White County.”

Grand Rapids, Minnesota-based Magnetation LLC is a joint venture between Magnetation, Inc. and AK Steel Corporation. The joint venture already owns and operates two reclamation plants located in Keewatin, MN and Taconite, MN.

Apart from the three million metric tonne per year iron ore pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana, they also hope to add two additional concentrate reclamation plants located northwest of Coleraine, MN and southeast of Calumet, MN.

NYC Offers Matching Grants Program for Sandy-Impacted Small Businesses

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a new program to make available $5.5 million in matching grants for small businesses most impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

NYC Small Business Services

NYC Small Business Services (photo – nybdc.com)

This grant program is being funded with $5 million from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, as well $500,000 from the Partnership for New York City.

The matching grants of up to $10,000 will be administered by the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC). The program was developed in collaboration with the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Department of Small Business Services (DSBS).

“Getting New York City small businesses back on their feet is key to helping our economy recover from Sandy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The capital provided through this program will help businesses purchase supplies, make repairs, and get back up and running.”

The matching grants are designed to provide additional financial assistance for local businesses already seeking low-interest loans through the City’s existing Emergency Loan Fund.

‚ÄúThanks to our partnerships with the Department of Small Business Services, Goldman Sachs, the Partnership for New York City, the New York Business Development Corporation, and now the New York Bankers Association and the Mayor’s Fund, more than $45 million has been made available to businesses to assist in their recovery from the effects of Sandy, ensuring they continue to make important contributions to their communities and the City as a whole,‚Äù said NYCEDC president Seth W. Pinsky.

Pinsky’s reference to Goldman Sachs is regarding the $10 million Emergency Loan Fund launched by the City and Goldman Sachs immediately following the storm. In addition to this, a consortium of financial institutions within the New York Bankers Association subsequently committed another $5 million to the loan fund.

The $500,000 provided by the Partnership for New York City will be specifically earmarked for impacted businesses in Lower Manhattan. Businesses south of Canal Street with fewer than 100 employees that demonstrate need will be eligible for up to $10,000, which will be on top of the $25,000 available through the existing Emergency Loan Fund.

“The additional half a million dollars in funding from the Partnership will help businesses repair equipment and restock inventory, providing them the necessary resources to stay afloat in their time of need,” said Maria Gotsch, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City Fund. “These funds come directly from businesses who were able to rebuild after 9/11, with the help of the Partnership, and paid back their loans in order to help others. It shows that when New Yorkers help each other, it often comes back full circle.”

Read the Emergency Loan FAQs and NYC Matching Grant FAQs and fill out the application.

Rich Products Investing $18.5M for Innovation Center in Buffalo, NY

Rich Products Corp. announced that it will be investing $18.5 million for expanding and upgrading its customer innovation center at the food products company’s headquarters in Buffalo, New York.

Rich Products HQ Atrium in Buffalo, NY

Rich Products HQ Atrium in Buffalo, NY (photo – richs.com)

The investment will save 651 existing jobs at Rich Products, in addition to creating 17 new jobs.

New York State Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said it ensured the company’s long-term commitment towards Buffalo and Western New York at a time when other states were trying “to pull our jobs away.”

Rich Products works with its customers in the innovation center to develop new products. Rich’s could have sited the innovation center anywhere in the world, since it has operations in 106 countries. But integrating the innovation center into their Buffalo HQ ensures the company’s continued presence in Western New York for a long time to come.

This $18.5 million is the latest in a series of investments worth $70 million over the last five years that Rich Products has made in the properties it owns in Buffalo.

Rich Products president and CEO William Gisel said that the innovation center would have state of the art technology and would be able to handle interaction with customers from all over the world, and the Rich Atrium would include more space for product development. The iconic biplane in the atrium will be removed.

In order to ensure this project stayed in Buffalo, Rich Products has been given generous incentives by the state, Erie County and the City of Buffalo.

The state has offered Rich Products $4.9 million in grants and tax credits. This will be in the form of a $2 million grant from Empire State Development, along with tax credits worth $2.9 million under the Excelsior Jobs program. The company is likely to be approved for low-cost electricity under the Recharge NY program.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is additionally expected to provide local sales tax incentives worth almost $491,000. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NTFA) is working on a $4.5 million plan on creating an urban transit corridor with better bus service and improved living standards.

The City of Buffalo has offered to make $5.6 million in infrastructure improvements at and around the Rich Products HQ on Niagara Street.

Construction of the new Rich Products innovation center will begin next month and is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2014.

Rich Products Corporation has 1,300 employees in Western New York and around 8,000 all over the world. The company generated revenues worth over $3 billion last year selling more than 2,000 products in 106 countries.

Canadian Dairy Cooperative Invests $100M on Wisconsin Cheese Plant

Longueuil, Quebec, Canada-based Agropur announced that it will be investing more than $100 million in its Luxemburg plant in Wisconsin in order to increase capacity.

Agropur

Photo – Agropur

‚ÄúThis investment is Agropur’s largest capitalization project to date,‚Äù said Agropur CEO Robert Coallier. ‚ÄúWe are committed to and believe in the future of the US dairy industry, and we are here for the long haul.‚Äù

Agropur operates seven plants in the U.S., four of which are cheese plants located in Wisconsin. This includes La Crosse, WI-based Main Street Ingredients that was acquired by Agropur in Dec 2010. The other two Wisconsin plants are in Little Chute and Weyauwega.

Agropur also has a cheese pant in Hull, Iowa, along with two Natrel brand plants in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Mapplewood, Minnesota. Products from Agropur’s US plants have won awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest and the United States Championship Cheese Contest.

“There is a lot of tradition, skill and work ethic among our employees, and we are recognized in the market for having high-quality products,” said Doug Simon, president of the US Cheese Business Unit for Agropur. “We are certainly very excited about this investment in the future of the Wisconsin dairy industry, as it provides employment opportunities for our employees and a stable home for milk produced in the area.”

Despite the rhetoric and the huge investment, only five to ten jobs are expected to be created. That’s because the automation improvements and new production line which will be operational by 2014 will double the per hour cheese production capacity of the Luxemburg plant without requiring new manpower.

Even the few jobs being created are because part of the new investment will be used to improve the technology of the whey processing facility and wastewater treatment system, bringing it up to higher environmental standards. This facility currently employs 105 workers.

Simon said that if they had not made the investment for the expansion and modernization, there would be “liability of the facility and a risk to the employees there.” Simon also added that they are looking to open new plants in Wisconsin over the next five years.

Agropur processes close to seven billion pounds of milk per year in its 25 plants across Canada and the United States. With annual sales of $3.6 billion, the cooperative has 5,700 employees.

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