UK

Aston Martin Selects St Athan, Wales For New Manufacturing Plant With 1000 Jobs

British car maker Aston Martin has announced that St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, U.K. will be the site for its second manufacturing location where it will build its new luxury DBX crossover vehicle.

Aston Martin St Athan Wales

Aston Martin St Athan Wales (photo – astonmartin.com)

With assistance from the Welsh Government, the company will create more than 750 highly skilled jobs at St Athan.

The company additionally confirmed that production of next-generation sports cars would be focused at its headquarters and manufacturing center in Gaydon, Warwickshire. All told, the company expects to create up to 1,000 new jobs across both locations combined between now and 2020.

The Wales economic development benefits from the new manufacturing plant project will ripple across the U.K., with an estimated 3,000 additional jobs being created across the supply chain and local businesses as a direct result of the investment.

Also, more than 90 percent of the DBX vehicles produced at the plant will be exported outside of the United Kingdom, adding to the positive economic benefits arising out of the project for Wales and the U.K.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in a release that “With our economic strengths and easy access to European markets, the UK automotive sector is thriving. It is one of the biggest in Europe – and the most productive – and Aston’s creation of up to 1,000 new jobs in Wales and the West Midlands is welcome news.”

The new Aston Martin facility at St Athan, spread across a 90-acre site, will additionally put to good use some of the facilities on the site used by the U.K. Ministry of Defense. The repurposing work will be focused on transformation of the existing ‘super-hanger’ at MOD St Athan.

Aston Martin CEO Dr. Andrew Palmer said in a release that “Through a detailed evaluation of over 20 potential global locations for this new manufacturing facility, we were consistently impressed with the focus on quality, cost and speed from the Welsh Government team.”

Dr. Palmer made the announcement at an event held at the Welsh Government headquarters at Cathays Park, Cardiff, which was attended by First Minister Carwyn Jones and Minister for Economy Edwina Hart. They unveiled a prototype of the new DBX vehicle outside the landmark offices.

Wales faced stiff competition for this project not just from other sites in the U.K., but also locations in North America and the Mid-East.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones noted that they have been working closely with the company for almost two years in the face of fierce competition from other potential sites across the world. “Our success today is testament to the reputation, dedication and skills of the Welsh workforce, all qualities that are synonymous with such a luxury, hand-crafted brand as Aston Martin,” added the First Minister.

Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb added that this announcement is an enormous boost for St Athan, for Wales and for the British car industry. “It is a genuine example of a ‘one nation’ achievement, with both the UK and Welsh Governments working together to attract this prestige manufacturer to Welsh shores,” added Sec. Crabb.

Minister for Economy, Science and Transport for Wales Edwina Hart noted that Wales already has more than 150 companies involved in the automotive supply chain, employing around 18,000 people and generating over £3 billion to the Welsh economy. “But this will be the first time in almost 50 years that we will be see vehicles roll off a production line in Wales,” said Minister Hart.

HSBC Concludes Headquarters Location Review, Decides to Stay in London

HSBC Holdings plc announced that its Board of Directors has concluded its review of the best location for the headquarters of the Group, and has decided to remain headquartered in the United Kingdom.

HSBC Headquarters in London

HSBC Headquarters in London (photo – Danesman1/wikimedia)

HSBC is currently headquartered in London, at 8 Canada Square in the Canary Wharf district.

Last year in April, HSBC Group Chairman Douglas Flint had announced at the company AGM that they had initiated a process to review where their headquarters should be located. The decision of the HSBC Board to keep the company’s headquarters in London following this review was unanimous.

In a statement announcing this decision, Flint explained in a statement that “As we evaluated jurisdictions against the specified criteria, it became clear that the combination of our strategic focus on Asia and maintaining our hub in one of the world’s leading international financial centres, London, was not only compatible, but offered the best outcome for our customers and shareholders. We are very grateful for the hard work and insight of so many who helped in this complex exercise.”

HSBC Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver added that “Having our headquarters in the UK and our significant business in Asia Pacific delivers the best of both worlds to our stakeholders.”

HSBC’s release further expands on their reasons for staying in London, noting that the UK is an important and globally connected economy. It has an internationally respected regulatory framework and legal system, and immense experience in handling complex international affairs. London is one of the world’s leading international financial centers and home to a large pool of highly skilled, international talent. It remains therefore ideally positioned to be the home base for a global financial institution such as HSBC.

London and U.K. economic development officials faced stiff competition for this project from locations as far afield as Hong Kong, Singapore, multiple locations in the United States, and other locations in North America such as Toronto.

In the later stages of the review, the finalists in the site selection process were narrowed down to the Group’s home markets, the UK and Hong Kong. Both locations were considered by the Board to be world-class financial centers with high quality regulatory regimes capable of hosting a global systemically important bank such as HSBC.

The icing on the cake for London economic development was that the HSBC Board has decided to end its practice of reviewing the location of the Group’s headquarters every three years. They will now revisit this issue only if there is some material change in circumstances that warrants such a review.

UK Govt to Launch £1.2B Fund to Build Affordable Starter Homes on Brownfield Land

Prime Minister David Cameron will announce today that the United Kingdom Government is going to directly commission the building of thousands of homes on publicly owned land.

Number 10 Downing Street

Number 10 Downing Street (photo – defenceimagery.mod.uk)

Construction of the first wave of up to 13,000 homes will start on four sites outside of London in 2016, with up to 40 percent of them being “starter” homes. This approach will also be used at the Old Oak Common site in north west London.

A Starter Home is a home sold to a first time buyer under 40, for at least a 20 percent discount to market value, with a cap on the value of the property.

The Government is also today announcing a £1.2 billion ($1.77 billion) Starter Home Fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes. This will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new Starter Homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in a release announcing the radical policy shift that “Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.”

Apart from adding thousands of affordable homes, the policy will also support UK economic development in other ways. The new investment will also help kick-start regeneration and secure planning permission in urban areas – renovating disused or under-occupied urban sites so builders can get to work without any delays.

Also, the direct commissioning approach will support smaller builders and new entrants who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land. Smaller building firms – currently unable to take on big projects – will be able to secure projects on government sites where planning permission is already in place.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said in the release that “Today’s radical new approach will mean the Government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, added that “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output. Any measures that the Government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.”

Aston Martin Close to Site Selection Decision For DBX Vehicle Production Plant

Luxury sports car maker Aston Martin is likely to make an announcement in the coming weeks about the location for a new vehicle production plant for its DBX model.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin (photo – Stephencdickson/wikimedia)

A few months ago, the British company had announced that it has shortlisted four sites for the facility. Two of these sites are in the U.K., one is in the Middle East, and the fourth one is in Alabama.

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. is headquartered in Gaydon, and its sole manufacturing plant is also situated at the same Warwickshire location. The company also has a test center and regional offices in Germany, and additional regional offices in Shanghai, China and in Irvine, CA.

Not to mention a dealer network spread across more than 140 locations worldwide. The comapny opened its first showroom in Abu Dhabi last month in Etihad Towers. At that time, Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin CEO, said in a release that “The UAE market is extremely important for a luxury automotive brand like Aston Martin and Etihad Towers is the perfect location.”

Aston Martin sold some 3,661 models last year, and is aiming for a steep growth curve that will take it to 15,000 vehicles by 2020. The new DBX model is a big part of this expansion plan, and the location of the plant will also indicate which market they are interested in growing most.

Aston Martin had a list of 19 sites that it included in the site selection process for the DBX manufacturing plant. The finalists for the project are now down to four, including one in the MIddle East, two in the U.K. and one in Alabama.

Many U.S. states and locations sought this project, but Alabama is the only one in contention, mainly because of the presence of the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant (MBUSI) in Vance, Tuscaloosa County, AL.

MBUSI’s parent company Daimler AG has a five percent stake in Aston Martin, and British luxury sports car maker already works with Daimler on Mercedes models.

Under the 2013 agreement between the two companies, Daimler supplies Mercedes-AMG power plants for their next generation models, and Mercedes-AMG supplies Aston Martin with electrical systems. Daimler has agreed, as part of this partnership, to support Aston Martin’s launch of new vehicle models incorporating new technologies.

If Aston Martin therefore decides to set up a new manufacturing facility for the DBX in Tuscaloosa County close to MBUSI, it would be able to make use of MBUSI’s manufacturing setup, technologies and supply chain.

Aston Martin has outgrown its existing vehicle plant in Gaydon, but it could still select one of the two remaining U.K. sites it has shortlisted, provided that it receives the requisite amount of U.K. economic development incentives for the project. If the company selects one of these sites for the project, it could create up to 1,000 new jobs in the chosen location.

Apple to Create 1000 Jobs in Ireland, Partner With Sustainable Energy Authority

Apple has announced a significant expansion of its headquarters campus in Cork, Ireland with a new building that will allow the company to add 1,000 new jobs.

Apple Ireland

Apple Ireland (photo – infomatique/flickr)

Apart from the jobs and investment that Apple will be making for this expansion, the company also announced a €1 million investment in Ireland in support of their global commitment to powering all facilities with renewable energy.

Apple, in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, will establish a €1 million Ocean Energy Industry Fund to support research in offshore energy technology.

In a release issued by Ireland economic development agency IDA Ireland, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said that “Today’s announcement is a huge boost for Cork and for all of Ireland, and I look forward to working with all the team at Apple as they roll out their expansion plans.”

Minister Bruton, who has met senior Apple executives on multiple occasions to discuss and support the company’s expansion plans for Ireland, added that they have been determined to support more employment in companies like Apple, through measures like extra IDA staff in overseas markets and increased numbers of trade missions, and we have seen major employment growth over recent years.

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan likewise noted that “Ever since Apple was first involved in manufacturing in Cork in 1980, the Irish site has continued to evolve and provide an excellent base to support the company’s growth and development.”

Shanahan noted that this latest news follows an announcement by Apple in February of this year where they revealed plans to put an €850 million data center in Athenry, Ireland.

Apple opened its headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in Cork in 1980, which at that time was Apple’s first location outside of the United States. The Apple campus in Cork now also houses the headquarters of Apple Sales International and Apple Distribution International, which deal with Apple’s international sales and distribution outside the United States.

Apple’s presence and sustained growth continues to have an enormous impact on job creation and Ireland economic development. Their workforce in Ireland has grown 25 percent in the past year alone, and the company now directly employs more than 5,000 people in the country. It is estimated that Apple supports nearly 18,000 jobs across the country, including over 5,000 direct Apple employees.

Israeli Delegation and UKTI Bring South Wales Economic Development Projects

A delegation of Israeli businesses is visiting Wales, and officials are taking this opportunity to announce investments and job creation projects by Israeli companies in South Wales.

South Wales jobs created by Israeli companies

South Wales jobs created by Israeli companies (photo – gov.wales)

The combined South Wales economic development benefits from these projects include the creation of up to 100 new jobs and additional spending of £13 million with local suppliers.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI Israel) worked closely with the Welsh Government to secure expansions by Newport-based SPTS Technologies, and by Sapiens International Corporation, Amiad Water Systems, and Lordan UK.

SPTS Technologies, a global leader in the semiconductor equipment market which is now owned by Israeli company Orbotech Ltd (NASDAQ:ORBK), will create 30 full-time R&D jobs in Newport. SPTS expects to spend an additional £13 million with local suppliers over the term of a three-year project to develop the next generation of products for Advanced Packaging applications.

SPTS Technologies has been awarded £4.6 million in Wales economic development funding under the Research Development and Innovation program for this project.

Insurance software provider Sapiens International Corporation, which currently employs 240 people in the UK, expects to grow its Cardiff-based workforce substantially over the next 12 months.

Water treatment and filtration solutions provider Amiad Water Systems has announced that it has chosen Swansea as the location of its first permanent base in U.K., and expects to create 5-10 new jobs in the first year of the project.

Lordan UK has announced a £1 million investment into its South Wales facility in Hengoed for manufacturing high quality custom-made fin and tube heat exchangers. Lordan already has 45 employees at its Welsh operation, and sees potential for further growth.

In a release announcing these projects, Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said that their innovative technology sector is helping to harness overseas investment and create jobs in Wales.

“I want today’s announcements to be a catalyst for Wales to forge closer links with global markets and companies,” added Crabb.

Welsh Government Economy Minister Edwina Hart added that she is delighted that Wales is proving to be such an attractive location for advanced technology companies from Israel and that they are seeing new investment as well as significant on-going reinvestment.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) tailors support packages for business people and companies interested in establishing new facilities or expanding in the U.K. Also, once a company has already set up a presence in the U.K., it is then entitled to services provided by UKTI globally to support entry into other overseas markets. UKTI has representation in over 100 countries.

Cisco to Invest $1B For London Expansion and Other UK Economic Development Projects

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) has announced plans for investing $1 billion to accelerate digital economic growth in the U.K. and support the country’s digitization plans over the next three to five years.

Cisco

Cisco (photo – David Jones/flickr)

The U.K. is Cisco’s second largest country market, where the company has more than 7,000 employees. Their expansion plans for the U.K. include a London economic development project with creation of 200 new high-value jobs and the addition of a new state-of-the-art office by the end of this year.

The $1 billion commitment also includes $150 million for Internet of Everything (IoE) startups in the U.K. and venture capital equity investments. This includes applications of IoE technologies in areas such as smart city development, healthcare, retail and financial technologies.

To assist with STEM education and workforce challenges, Cisco will broaden its UK-based Cisco Networking Academy education program to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

The company will additionally support UK economic development efforts by the government to redress the country’s North-South economic imbalance. Cisco’s assistance in this regard will be in the form of new centers of expertise, funded university collaborations, skills investments and expansion of Cisco’s apprenticeship programs.

These plans are part of Cisco’s country digitization acceleration program under which select countries receive major strategic investment to accelerate existing government goals for driving economic growth through high-tech innovation.

This latest $1 billion adds to an earlier $500 million commitment for the U.K. made by Cisco in 2011. The company has contributed in excess of $5 billion in technology and manpower to the U.K. economy through initiatives such as the British Innovation Gateway that helps foster and nurture innovation and entrepreneurship.

Cisco announced the new $1 billion investment plan after the company’s top leadership met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

In a release announcing the investment, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers said that through the British Innovation Gateway initiative, they have supported the government’s ambition to create world class technology hubs across the country, generate jobs, diversify the economy and support sustainable growth.

Chambers added that they are pleased to make their next series of strategic commitments, totaling over $1 billion, to support the next phase of the UK’s digitization plans.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in the release that “this massive investment from Cisco is great news for the UK’s growing digital economy and is a clear vote of confidence in our long term economic plan.”

Texas HR Services Firm Creates Jobs in Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Texas-based HR services firm OneSource Virtual has selected Londonderry in Northern Ireland as the location for its first European operations.

Onesource Virtual

Onesource Virtual (photo – onesourcevirtual.com)

Supported by Northern Ireland economic development agency Invest NI, the company is expected to create 289 new jobs at their Londonderry center by 2017.

The new jobs being created in Londonderry will be across a range of functions, where most of the new hires will have the potential to earn about $56,000. Once fully operational, the facility is expected to contribute a total of nearly $18.67 million in annual salaries to the economy.

OneSource Virtual is a leading BPO provider and services more than 30 percent of Workday’s customer base. Apart from their headquarters in Irving, TX, the company last year also announced the opening of a second office location in the U.S. in Mesa, AZ, and expects to create 120 new jobs in the Phoenix area.

The opening of the Phoenix office signaled the company’s transition to a geographic servicing model where customers in the Pacific and Mountain time zones are serviced by the Phoenix office while their central and eastern time zone customers continue to be served by the Dallas operations.

The new OneSource Virtual center in Londonderry, which will open later this year in September, will likewise provide innovative, cloud-based solutions to international firms, and will service the company’s existing clients in the U.S. as well as the new clients they expect to gain in Europe as a result of this expansion.

U.K. Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell said in a release announcing the project that this is a major project for Londonderry, and added that the company undertook a rigorous evaluation of a number of locations.

Bell said they looked at the availability of a skilled workforce and local higher education provision, as well as the quality of life, cost of living, and the financial business case.

It came down to Londonderry and another site. With Invest NI’s support, the company ultimately picked Londonderry for the project. OneSource Virtual co-founder and CEO Brian Williams said in the release that with support from Invest NI through its Skills Growth Programme, they will be providing the staff with intensive training and support throughout their career.

Williams added that they have been very impressed by the opportunities they see in Londonderry, and added that they are looking forward to working closely with the business community and local colleges and universities to help develop their center.

European Commission Launches $392B Investment Plan to Create 1.3M Jobs

The European Commission today announced a major new €315 billion (over $392.5 billion) investment plan that seeks to fuel economic development and create 1.3 million jobs.

European Commission

European Commission (photo – Amio Cajander/flickr)

The core of the investment plan is the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), guaranteed with public money.

To start with, the EU is creating a €21 billion ($26.17 billion) Fund that includes €5 billion from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and another €16 billion guarantee from the EU.

The €21 billion reserve will enable the EIB to provide €63 billion in loans. But that’s only part of the leverage. The EIB will be funding riskier parts of projects, and aims to generate steep 15x leverage through €252 billion in additional private investments in these projects. All told, the total investment plan will aim to mobilize at least €315 billion over the next three years from 2015-2017.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in his speech announcing the plan that “What we are going to do is to set up the right system that will use available public money to leverage additional capital that would have never otherwise been mobilised. Every public euro mobilised can generate additional investment that would not have happened otherwise. And it can create jobs.”

According to the Commission’s estimates, the plan “has the potential to add €330 to €410 billion to the EU’s GDP and create 1 to 1.3 million new jobs in the coming three years.”

The type of investments the plan targets includes strategic Infrastructure (broadband and energy networks); transport infrastructure in industrial centers; education, research and innovation; investments to boost employment through SME funding and youth employment measures; and renewable energy, energy efficiency and other environmentally sustainable projects.

A key part of the plan is that the Fund takes the burden away from the cash-strapped economies of individual member states. The joint Commission-EIB Task Force identified the type of typical projects that could benefit from financing from the new Fund:-

– Construction and rehabilitation programs for public buildings aimed at improving their energy efficiency, where such projects are currently held up by a lack of funding;

– Transport links between EU countries delayed because of the high upfront projects costs;

– Programs to upgrade school facilities in countries facing lack of funding and implementation challenges;

– Investment in waste water treatment plants and other water infrastructure, where such projects are hampered by a lack of funding;

Another part of the investment plan is to boost EU economic development projects by improving the business environment and financing conditions, with a focus on removing significant barriers in important infrastructure sectors such as energy, transport, telecommunications and digital.

A priority list of these initiatives for removing regulatory and non-regulatory barriers will be proposed by the European Commission in its ‘2015 Work Programme.’

Read more about the EU investment plan at ec.europa.eu.

Study – Happiness From Economic Development Peaks at $36,000 Income

If your economic development activities have been aimed at raising personal incomes, don’t expect too much gratitude on Thanksgiving. A new study shows that the relationship between life satisfaction and per capita GDP peaks out at around $36,000 (adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity).

Life satisfaction vs. per capita GDP

Life satisfaction vs. per capita GDP (graph – warwick.ac.uk)

This according to a new analysis titled “A Reassessment of the Relationship between GDP and Life Satisfaction” by economists Eugenio Proto from the Center for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) at the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kingdom; and Aldo Rustichini from the University of Minnesota.

The study was funded by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

As per the study, people in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $6,700 were 12 percent less likely to have the highest life satisfaction level as compared to countries with a per capita GDP of $18,000.

After this ($20,400 to $54,000), the study mostly confirms the Easterlin Paradox – which posits that the link between GDP and life satisfaction is more of less flat in richer countries.

However, the dip after $36,000 is a previously unreported finding. The researchers say they have evidence which suggests that this dip in happiness in wealthy countries is because the higher income level creates higher aspirations, which in turn results in disappointment and a drop in life satisfaction when said aspirations are not met.

Dr Proto calls it the aspiration gap – difference between the actual income and the income we would like.

He says that what we aspire to becomes a moving target, and one which moves away faster in the richest countries. This, he says, eats away at life satisfaction levels, causing the dip shown in their analysis after incomes cross the aforementioned threshold of $36,000 adjusted for PPP.

He added that the question of whether wealth can buy a country’s happiness is a major question for governments and policy-makers interested in the official measures of national well-being.

You can read the full study at plosone.org.

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