$500 million in environmental controls, many to be installed at its Sioux Plant (pictured) in St. Charles, Mo., are part of Top Utility Ameren's $1-billion "Project Power On" reliability and environmental improvement program, announced in July.
he importance of power to industrial development was underscored in South Korea in early August when a power outage scuttled production at multiple chip plants belonging to semiconductor and electronics manufacturer Samsung. The down time and lost volume were projected to have significant repercussions for the firm's financial performance.
Anyone familiar with the semiconductor industry knows its power reliability needs are second to none. But every industry sector demands such status.
At the utilities, the only thing more in demand than the power itself may be the work of the economic developers who develop new business for that power. And the people on the operations side know it.
"We're outpacing our expected growth rate every year," said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G, in a talk at the Utility Economic Development Association's recent summer forum in Princeton, N.J. "In 2006, we delivered over 11,000 megawatts on our peak day, and that wasn't supposed to happen until 2011."
Coming up with new generation and conservation measures simultaneously is the most urgent matter on utilities' agendas today, as coal-fired plants face an increasingly steep road to expansion. Just this summer, Florida Power & Light saw a large coal project denied by that state's public service commission. The proposed 1,500-MW Desert Rock coal-fired power plant in New Mexico, owned by the Navajo Nation's power authority and by the Sithe Global Power subsidiary of private equity firm Blackstone, was denied an $85-million tax credit on construction costs, despite its promises of 1,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs on Navajo land. And the Province of Ontario has proposed a regulation ordering the shutdown of the province's four remaining coal-fired plants by 2014.
In some cases, however, renewable energy is literally taking the place of carbon-based generation: In July, Pacific Power proposed a 66-turbine wind farm on 14,000 acres (5,666 hectares) it owns near Glenrock, Wyo., to be partially situated on the grounds of a reclaimed surface coal mine. "Although the 4,600 acres [1,862 hectares] of mined land was successfully restored to its original condition nearly two years ago, Pacific Power plans to move beyond reclamation to once again use the former mine property to help meet its customers' growing electricity needs," said a company release.
At the same time that their operations brethren deal with such demand- and climate change-driven issues, utility economic developers do their best to positively influence the business climate of their companies' territories.
The projects they attract only add to the load. But despite 20 years on the operations side, Larossa said that the old saying "New business comes last" rings false more than true.
"I've come to realize the value you bring to your organizations," he told dozens of economic developers from utilities across North America.
So have many of the corporations who come to those utilities' territories. To recognize the achievements of utility economic developers in the U.S., below are Site Selection
's Top Utilities of 2007. Based on total capital investment; investment per capita; total jobs created; and jobs created per capita, here are the winning utilities, in alphabetical order:
meren helped to generate 3,302 jobs and more than $623 million in capital investment in 2006 projects occurring in its 64,000-sq.-mile (165,760-sq.-km.) Missouri and Illinois territory. Among the Missouri projects were a $200-million, 250-job Pfizer
research facility expansion in Chesterfield, in the St. Louis area, and three projects creating 375 jobs in the nearby community of Washington. Illinois projects featured two in Sauget: a $100-million, 35-job ethanol plant and a 140-job, $57-million expansion by ZincOx Resources
. According to a February 2007 release from ZincOx, the value of the plant's refurbishment has now risen to $90 million.
2006 also saw the re-launch of the utility's Partners in Development program, aimed at providing communities with an economic development assistance tool, and the launch of the Pure Power renewable energy program iin concert with marketer 3 Phases Energy.
Among the utility's ongoing services is its InSite shovel-ready program, which helps participating communities certify industrial properties of 10 acres (4 hectares) or larger, and a regional quality of labor survey program.
In Missouri, the Ameren Community Development Corp. distributed over $2.6 million in grants, part of the $8.1 million in grants that the program has distributed to 57 projects since its creation in 2002.
The company lends its name to the Ameren/IDC Business Partnership Award, presented annually to recognize exceptional contributions to Illinois community and economic development by Illinois corporations. In early August that award went to Caterpillar
, in Decatur, Ill., which has hired 1,600 new workers and invested $160 million over the past two years.
Mike Kearney, manager of Ameren's economic development division, said the award reflected Caterpillar's culture: "At a time when Illinois' economy is facing escalating competition from global competitors, Caterpillar Decatur has stepped up to provide business leadership and collaboration with local economic development partners," he said.
So, apparently, has Ameren.
orporate project attraction in 2006 worth $234.1 million and 4,104 new jobs added to the reasons why CPS was named the 2005 Corporate Citizen of the Year by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. The nation's largest municipally owned energy company serves a growing metro-area population of just over 1.5 million in a 1,566-sq.-mile (4,056-sq.-km.) territory.
Large job-generating projects in 2006 included two phases from AFNI
that created 775 new jobs in total; an 850-job project from Sino-Swearingen
and a 600-job project from Affiliated Computer Services
, in addition to manufacturing investments by Caterpillar and LCW Automotive
Additional 2006 accomplishments included helping to revamp the regional economic development Web site hosted by the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and partnering with Xceligent Corp. to update and maintain a regional commercial real estate database. In addition to the utility's ongoing business attraction and retention efforts for manufacturing, office and logistics projects, CPS offers a hearty support system for San Antonio and 28 other franchise communities in their efforts to attract retail establishments.
A January announcement by Microsoft
of a $550-million data center in northwest San Antonio will mean electricity use-based revenue of more than $1.4 million annually to the city. The project comes on top of a 2006 data center project from Lowe's
in the same area, also serviced by CPS.
In terms of renewable energy, CPS announced in June 2007 a new solar installation – the largest in a large state – at the historic Pearl brewery site in downtown San Antonio being redeveloped in partnership with Silver Ventures.
Plainfield, Ind., and Charlotte, N.C.
Marie Christine Pence, dir., Duke Energy Indiana econ. dev.;
David Smith, dir., Duke Energy Ohio-Ky. econ. dev.;
Clark Gillespy, dir. of Duke Energy Carolinas econ. dev.
5.1 billion in projects, creating 17,199 jobs in a territory that, since the merger of Duke and Cinergy, encompasses nearly 7 million people and 22,000 sq. miles (56,980 sq. km.) in five states: Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. Significant involvement in significant projects from Google
, Amylin Pharmaceuticals
, National Gypsum
, Anderson Hardwood Floors
and Fidelity Investments
. That's enough right there to earn the Top Utilities honor for the ninth straight year. But there's more.
A summary of Duke's most active and in-demand programs includes its Community Growth Partnership Program, whereby 13 capacity-building projects in the Indiana/Ohio area received funds for such items as engineering and design for industrial sites and parks, infrastructure improvements, a railroad relocation study and a biomanufacturing training institute.
Other significant programs include GIS-powered site and buildings databases for all territories,, a Web-based electric rate calculator developed with Cincinnati USA, health industry and foreign investment maps of Indiana and economic development rate riders for urban redevelopment, brownfield and selected other projects.
Over and above all the programs, Duke routinely gives of its funds and its staff to support economic development and education-backed programs throughout its partner communities. Among those, Duke Energy Carolinas is providing up to $3 million annually for four years to North Carolina community colleges' manufacturing training programs. A similar arrangement is in place in South Carolina through AdvanceSC.
In 2006, Duke Energy Carolinas launched a Site Readiness Program through a contract with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, known for its work on the TVA Megasite Certification program. To date, there are 15 sites in North and South Carolina under evaluation. Via another contract with Lockwood Greene, Duke has developed its CAPEX Predictive Model to identify companies that are most likely to expand compared to their peer group.
ntergy Arkansas helped bring 3,581 new jobs and more than $491 million in new project investment to the eastern two-thirds of Arkansas.
Chief among the projects were investments by FedEx Freight
in Harrison (500 jobs, $17 million), Lennox Industries
in Stuttgart (387 jobs, $42.3 million) and IPSCO Tubular
in Blytheville (40 jobs, $43 million).
One of the largest projects, a 500-job, $53-million investment from TXD Services
in the Conway County town of Morrilton, was the first time a company had purchased a site featured in the utility's new Select Site certified sites program. The natural gas trucking facility is just part of a natural gas industry boom clustered around drilling in the Fayetteville Shale. As of March 2007, 18 Select Sites had been certified in 14 communities, with four sites already welcoming projects.
Two of those made their announcements official this summer: LM Glasfiber
committed to build a 1,000-employee wind turbine blade manufacturing facility on a Select Site at the port in Little Rock (see sidebar). And Welspun Gujarat Stahl Rohren Ltd.
of Mumbai, India, in June selected the Isgrig Select Site, also in Little Rock, for a $100-million tubular steel manufacturing plant that will employ 300. It is the largest single industrial investment in Little Rock's history.
erving 4.5 million customers and a population of 11.3 million in a 36,100-sq.-mile (93,500-sq.-km.) area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, FirstEnergy economic developers helped to attract projects creating 11,469 new jobs with total capital investment topping $1.6 billion.
Among the new projects being served by the utility's seven electric utility operating companies are Verizon
's $200-million, 1,800-employee headquarters project in New Jersey; General Motors
' $504-million powertrain expansion in Toledo, Ohio; and an $11-million, 650-job project from Ashley Furniture
The utility continues to think outward as much as seek inward investment. Its 12-year-old Export Now partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce Foreign Commercial Service helped 23 customers expand sales to Canada and Mexico in 2006, with projected aggregate new sales increases of $19.8 million. FirstEnergy is also very active in helping community partners exhibit at trade shows, meet with site consultants and use its Synchronist system for business retention and expansion efforts.
Among the additional tools it offers those communities is IMPACTfactor+, a computer simulation program that models the increase of economic activity as a result of new investment in an area's economy.
he $1.2-billion investment by Kia Automotive
in a new assembly plant in West Point, near the Alabama border, was the jewel in the crown for this unit of Southern Co., helping it toward year-end 2006 totals of $3.9 billion worth of projects 12,172 new jobs created by 86 different companies.
Other projects in the year's portfolio included Gulfstream Aerospace
's $100-million, 650-job expansion in Savannah; YKK AP
's $80-million, 200-job fabricated metals expansion in Dublin; Owens Corning
's $80-million, stone, clay and glass products project in Cordele; several high-dollar data centers for unnamed clients and a multitude of distribution centers in and around the Atlanta metro area.
Among the innovations Georgia Power utilized in 2006 was a Kia Supplier Initiative Web portal, created in partnership with the State of Georgia. Georgia Power is also making increased use of 3-D software to allow viewing of 3-D building models and panoramic photography of existing real estate. It published new reports on the growing aerospace and plastics industries in Georgia. Perhaps most important, it took the time to implement several staff training programs, all designed around the idea of "lowering complexity while raising proficiency." Connected to those programs was an increased use of Web conferencing instead of travel by the utility's statewide economic development staff.
The company also updated its Web site capabilities and design, as well as the marketing videos located there, which are now available in six languages – including the just-added Korean option.
Some of the above tools may have helped Hyundai Mobis
make the decision in August 2007 on a site near the Kia plant in West Point. The major supplier will create 600 jobs and invest $60 million by 2010.
Hoosier Energy REC, Inc.
ne big automotive deal helped make Hoosier Energy's year too: Honda
's pick of Greensburg, Ind., for a $550-million, 2,000-job assembly plant – a deal in which Hoosier Energy REC played a major role. The utility is constructing two 138-kilowatt transmission lines to the site initially, with one more to come over the next year to serve the area. The total investment by Hoosier Energy and Decatur Co. REMC will be around $25 million.
Altogether, Hoosier Energy economic developers helped attract 3,839 jobs and more than $960 million in capital investment to its 48-county Indiana territory, home to some 650,000 people.
Among the other projects the utility facilitated were a $55-million, 50-job plant from Boral Brick
in Vigo County; a $12.4-million, 100-job expansion from Hitachi Cable
in the Louisville-area city of New Albany; and mining and energy projects in Carlisle, Oaktown and Princeton totaling some $174 million in capital investment, creating 705 jobs.
Douglas G. Fisher, manager of econ. dev. & community relations
erving a population of 4.5 million in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and New Hampshire, NU in 2006 helped attract just over $733 million in capital investment that, in turn, created 6,389 new jobs.
Among the investing companies were Boehringer Ingelheim Phamaceuticals
, AON Corp.
, Geico Insurance
, United Technologies Corp.
's Fire & Security division and National Cabinet and Millwork
NU and operating company Connecticut Light & Power were recognized by the National Main Street Program for its leadership in creating then spinning off the now independent, 11-year-old Connecticut Main Street Program. Established as a stand-alone 501(c)3 corporation, the program leverages reinvestments in downtowns across the state where CL&P and fellow NU entity Yankee Gas have sunken costs. In 2006 the program's scope extended to 37 municipal commercial districts, and has now generated more than $471 million in public and private investments since its inception.
John O'Toole, business development manager for NU Economic Development, was recognized by the Connecticut Economic Development Association with its 2006 Member of the Year Award for his contributions to economic development in the state. David Driver, project manager for NU system business recruitment, was recognized with the association's 2006 President's Award for his lifetime achievements in economic development.
elping to attract $1.4 billion in capital investment by projects creating 6,782 new jobs, Progress is part of a triad of 2007 Top Utilities doing business in the Carolinas, and does so from the heart of the nation's best-known triangle, the Research Triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill.
Besides 47 counties in eastern and central North Carolina, the utility's territory extends into 13 northeastern South Carolina counties and 32 northern and central Florida counties. Progress serves approximately 3.1 million customers in a service area with a population of some 9 million.
Project highlights involving Progress and its local and state economic development partners included Novartis
Vaccines and Diagnostics' $267-million plant in Holly Springs, N.C. Katherine Thomas reports that Novartis will make use of Progress Energy's economic development rider, saving itself US$1.1 million over the next five years. "Progress Energy was always accessible and responsive," said Jenny Mizelle, economic development director for the Town of Holly Springs. "I feel certain that if we had not acted with urgency on all matters, including power, we would not have won the project."
The same rider will help bleach producer Trinity Manufacturing
save some $2.4 million as it embarks on a $43-million expansion in rural Hamlet. It was also part of the package helping Volvo Construction Equipment
choose to expand in Buncombe County, on adjacent land owned by Progress. In Florida, SRI International
's announcement that it would place its Marine Technology Research division in St. Petersburg in partnership with the University of South Florida concluded two years of work with Progress Energy's then-president Bill Habermeyer as well as USF officials and local business and community leaders.
The utility's partnership with North Carolina State University to recruit expansions by life sciences, medical device and advanced textiles companies earned Progress the university's Economic Development Partnership Award in 2006. In South Carolina, it was the largest contributor ($650,000) to SC Launch!, a program that offers direct equity investment and loans to start-up firms with high-growth potential. The utility is just as active in supporting construction and infrastructure development for industrial sites and parks. In July the utility announced it would invest $37 million in building and upgrading 22 miles (35 km.) of transmission lines in fast-growing western Wake County, N.C.
erving a population of 1.8 million in central, western and coastal South Carolina, SCANA, part of SCE&G, helped recruit nearly $1.6 billion in project activity to its territory in 2006, representing projects that will create 2,869 new jobs.
Those projects include major industrial plants and expansions from Kimberly-Clark in Aiken (300 jobs, $250 million), Eastman
in Calhoun ($130 million), American Gypsum
in Georgetown (100 jobs, $125 million) and two $240-million projects from Grant Forest Products
in Allendale and in Clarendon, creating 125 jobs apiece.
Like several of its fellow Top Utilties, SCANA exhibited a balance of new plants and expansions by existing industries. "More than 35 percent of new capital investment and nearly 55 percent of electric load growth in 2006 is attributable to existing customers," writes Harry Busbee. Reflecting that dedication to what's already there, SCANA also did its part to fill vacant facilities, including an $80-million, 188-job investment by Guardian Fiberglass
in a Fairfield County facility once occupied by Mack Trucks.
Several projects also went to the Lexington County area, where SCANA is working with local and regional authorities to develop the 500-acre (202-hectare) Saxe Gotha Industrial Park at the intersection of I-26 and I-77. SCANA now is working more than 15 active projects across nine different industry sectors, with a total potential investment value of $1.4 billion.
Tennessee Valley Authority
John Bradley, sr. vice pres. of econ. dev.
VA's Web site may be a "dotgov," but its economic development arm's site is a dotcom. That tells you all you need to know in explaining 2006 figures of $4.2 billion in projects that will create some 53,000 jobs across its vast 80,000-sq.-mile (207,200-sq.-km.) territory. That territory includes more than 8.85 million people living in seven states.
Among the highlights: Nissan
's new North American headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. (1,200 jobs, $120 million); SeverCorr
's $880-million, 450-job steel plant in Mississippi; Bluegrass Bioenergy
's $96-million, 50-job project in Kentucky and Verizon Wireless
' 1,300-job project in Alabama.
Among the accomplishments helping TVA toward its prodigious totals:
• Two additional Megasites were certified by McCallum Sweeney Consulting in 2006.
• TVA inaugurated its Valley Targeted and Prepared Community Program, which assists communities in targeting and recruiting specific industry segments to site selectors.
• Training programs and conferences were held to assist the retention and growth of existing businesses and industries, including the high-growth sectors of small firms and women- and minority- owned companies.
• TVA expanded its retail development training and assistance program to more communities to assist in recruiting targeted retail operations.
Site Selection Online – The magazine of Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Area Economic Development.
©2007 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. SiteNet data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current.