General Electric in March opened its newest research space, a 350,000-sq.-ft. (32,500-sq.-m.) building on its technology campus in Bangalore, India. Certified as LEED-Gold, the new space will welcome nearly 2,000 researchers.
The new lab adds to the company's global research facility network, which has received $330 million in investment since 2001, including in upstate New York; Munich, Germany; and Shanghai. Since 2001, employment has grown by 15 percent at GE's facility in Niskayuna, N.Y.
"The engineers and researchers here are part of a network of 30,000 technologists across GE who work to 'redefine what's possible,' " said Mark Little, senior vice president and director of GE Global Research, at the Bangalore facility opening. "They work on healthcare initiatives that save lives. They are working to bring safe drinking water to those who need it. They help develop reliable, clean power for millions of people around the world. They work today to help the future."
Two facilities in the U.S. portfolio of Owens Corning were recognized in early April. Its asphalt facility in Denver, Colo., achieved Star status under the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) for its outstanding safety programs. Star is the highest of three safety designations given by OSHA and the federal government. And its science and technology center in Granville, Ohio (east of Columbus and home to Denison University), achieved Green Seal certification for its cleaning services. The designation, only the second achieved in Ohio, was a result of the company's collaboration with ServiceMaster Facility Services by George, part of the network of companies that make up IAMC member firm ServiceMaster, based in Memphis.
The long-awaited opening of Nestlé Waters North America's new Poland Spring facility in Kingfield, Maine, occurred in late January, with 40 new employees already on the payroll. The $60-million project, first reported in these pages in 2005, began running the gauntlet of public feedback and various levels of government approvals in 2004, finally beginning construction in late 2006. The new complex includes an on-site bottle manufacturing facility in order to eliminate the trucking of empty bottles. "We are grateful for the thoughtful, thorough and ultimately welcoming response we've received to our efforts and look forward to our long-term role as a member of the Kingfield community," said Tom Brennan, Poland Spring natural resource manager for the Northeast.
In the Northwest, however, the company is still searching, as it declared in late January that Orting, Wash., southeast of Tacoma, is no longer under consideration for a new bottling plant. The company had also considered building in nearby Enumclaw, but the city council voted to suspend discussions on the project in summer 2008. The company hopes to start construction of a plant somewhere in the region by 2010.
Union Pacific's $100-million, 300-acre (121-hectare) San Antonio Intermodal Terminal opened in southwest Bexar County, Texas, in March. The yard has an annual processing capacity of 180,000 containers, with potential to grow to 250,000.
"Whether coming from a West Coast port, a Mexican maquiladora or going to an East Coast or Midwest metropolitan area, the San Antonio Intermodal Terminal gives our customers faster, more direct intermodal rail access for their domestic and international goods," said UP Chairman and CEO Jim Young. "This facility was built for the future and is designed to grow with local businesses that are keeping the south Texas economy going during these challenging times."
The operation replaces UP's former system that utilized two inner-city yards, where more than 80,000 semi trucks annually would travel to pick up or drop off containers.
"The lack of intermodal capacity at the inner-city yards often required trains to by-pass San Antonio and deliver them to Houston, where the containers then were trucked back to the San Antonio area," said a company news release.
Mark Your Calendar … and Bring Your Ledger
Today's business world is facing a climate of tight credit markets, slowing sales and eroding bottom lines. The Fall 2009 IAMC Professional Forum, designed around the theme "Corporate Real Estate's Impact on the Balance Sheet," will present speakers and workshops that will help you create and conserve cash for your organization through consolidations, restructuring and disposals. The Forum's proceedings, which take place Sept. 19-23, will also review the impact of the federal government's TARP and stimulus packages on the credit markets and the business climate.
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