Economist: ‘When It Comes to Connecticut, Businesses Are Being Incentivized to Look Elsewhere’

LEGO Group’s decision to spend $1 billion to build a new factory near Richmond, Virginia, has led economy and industry experts to raise questions about the status of the Denmark company’s Connecticut headquarters.

The global toymaker announced at a press conference with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) its plans to build a new factory in Chesterfield, a move that would expand its production in the United States and create about 1,760 new jobs.

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Whitmer to Pitch Additional $500M in ‘Economic Development’ Spending

Gov. Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to pitch spending $500 million of additional federal taxpayer money on private companies that produce electric vehicles (EV). The governor will discuss her proposal on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

However, it’s unclear if general economic development is an approved use of federal COVID dollars under U.S. Treasury guidelines.

The Detroit News first reported the story.

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Ohio Proposes 10 Percent Cut to Workers’ Compensation Premiums

three people in hard hats looking at a clipboard

Private businesses in Ohio would save nearly $106 million over the next fiscal year if a proposal to cut the state’s workers’ compensation premiums by 10% is approved.

The reduction would follow a 10% rate reduction for public employers – counties, cities, schools and others – that went into effect Jan. 1. If approved at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board meeting Feb. 25, it would be effective July 1.

“At the request of Gov. [Mike] DeWine, we are proposing a new rate reduction for private employers,” BWC Administrator and CEO Stephanie McCloud said. “This proposed rate reduction confirms the dedication and hard work Ohio’s private employers have towards workplace safety.”

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Iowa Farmers Prepare for California’s Prop 12

Man in gray tee and blue jeans walking in a field with two hogs behind him

Hogs born Jan. 1, 2022, or later are subject to California’s Prop 12.

Some Iowa agricultural leaders have criticized the law, which prohibits the sale of pork from hogs that are the offspring of sows that were raised in pens with less than 24 square feet of usable floorspace per pig.

California accounts for about 15% of the U.S. pork market, the National Pork Producers Council said in a September news release. The NPPC is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine Prop 12’s constitutionality.

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Tennessee Readies to Approve $22.7M in Business Incentives

Thermo Fisher building

Tennessee’s State Funding Board is scheduled to approve $22.7 million in FastTrack economic incentive grants at its Monday meeting.

The grants include $10.5 million to Life Technologies Corporation’s Thermo Fisher Scientific for its technology assembly facility in Lebanon, which the company has invested more than $100 million in and is expected to employ 1,400 people.

The Smith & Wesson Company is set to receive a $9 million FastTrack grant as it prepares to move its operations and corporate office to Maryville in Blount County.

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University of Michigan-Flint Grant to Support 300 Jobs, $10.4M Investment in Flint

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $3.8 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Recovery Assistance grant to the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, to construct the university’s new College of Innovation and Technology.

The grant, to be matched with $4.9 million in local funds, is expected to create 126 jobs, retain 175 jobs, and generate $10.4 million in private investment.

“We are grateful to Secretary Raimondo and the Biden Administration for investing in University of Michigan-Flint’s College of Innovation and Technology,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This grant will help us usher in a new era of prosperity by supporting over 300 good-paying jobs and generating $10.4 million in private investment.” 

Mayor Sheldon Neeley welcomed the investment.

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Commentary: The Treacherous Road to Runaway Inflation

In January, 2001, America had a balanced budget, low debt, and was at peace. Here, briefly, is what lay ahead: war, financial crisis, civil unrest, massive growth of the federal government, and now severe inflation.

Never in the history of America has our government in its ineptitude created such a false economy, risking hundreds of years of hard work on unsound and unworkable economic policies. The Founders wisely relied on dispersion of power. They knew there would be dishonest and incompetent politicians but, in this case, the entire government is infected with deceptive leaders.

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Critics Pan Biden Order Calling for Half of U.S. Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030

Electric car being charged

A new executive order from the Biden administration has accelerated the timeline for electric vehicles and raised questions about the economic impacts of the transition away from gas-powered vehicles.

President Joe Biden signed the executive order Thursday aimed at making 50% of vehicles zero emission in the U.S. by 2030, an aggressive push toward electric vehicles. About 2% of new cars sold each year in the U.S. are currently electric, according to the Pew Research Center.

“The Executive Order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis,” the White House said.

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Report: Many Tennessee Economic Indicators Trend up, Others Mixed

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Nashville, Tennessee. One of Nashville's renowned honky-tonk bars, Tootsie's has featured over the years many performing artists who have since become famous, such as Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Kris Kristofferson.

How is Tennessee’s economy doing? A lot of it is doing well when compared to the COVID-19 lows on many economic indicators such as employment, a new Sycamore Institute report shows.

But other items are troubling, such as there being 40% fewer small businesses in Tennessee as of late June data than there were before the pandemic. That’s considering that 99% of private sector workers in the state work for small businesses, defined as companies of 500 employees or less.

“There are a lot of things going on here,” said Brian Straessle, the Sycamore Institute’s Director of External Affairs. “There isn’t like one nice neat narrative of the economy right now.”

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Partnership Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency for Florida’s $56B Manufacturing Industry

Aerial shot of downtown Miami, Florida

According to an April-June McKinsey Global Survey poll of 60 senior supply-chain executives from across the nation, 73% encountered a shortage of suppliers – not just supplies – and 75% faced production/distribution shortfalls during the 2020 height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida’s 21,000 manufacturers – not to mention farmers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, retailers – were also affected by pandemic-induced supply disruptions, as they were by Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018.

To mitigate disruption for the state’s $56 billion manufacturing industry, which employs about 400,000 Floridians, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), Space Florida and FloridaMakes have formed Connex Florida, an online database to link manufacturers connect with prospective suppliers and develop business opportunities.

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NOVONIX Plans $160 Million Expansion in Chattanooga, Expected to Add 290 Jobs

At NREL future research should focus on understanding consumer driving and charging behavior and the nuances determining the choice of residential charging infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). Shown is in the Power Systems Lab in the Energy systems Integration Facility (ESIF)

Tennessee’s role as a center for creating electric vehicles continues to expand.

On Tuesday, NOVONIX announced a $160 million expansion that is expected to create 290 new jobs at its Chattanooga manufacturing facility.

Since March 2017, NOVONIX has made anodes through its PUREgraphite brand. Anodes are a negative electrode used in creating lithium-ion batteries, specifically those used in electric vehicles.

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As Biden Seeks to Limit U.S. Oil Production, Reliance on Russian Imports Rises

Within months of President Joe Biden halting the Keystone Pipeline, pausing new oil and gas leases on federal lands, and imposing further restrictions on U.S. oil companies, U.S. oil imports from Russia set a new record in March.

According to International Energy Agency, U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia reached 22.9 million barrels in March, the highest level since August 2010. They had reached over 25 million barrels in April 2009.

Crude oil imports from Russia in March stood at 6.1 million barrels, making Russia the third-largest oil exporter to the United States.

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Critics Question Gov. Whitmer’s $1.3 Million Spending on Holland Private Sector Jobs

Mission Design and Automation, LLC

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is spending taxpayer money on private business Mission Design and Automation in Holland Charter Township.

Mission will house new large-scale automation projects and space for offices and meeting rooms, but critics argue government funds shouldn’t be used to subsidize private enterprises.

Michigan awarded the private company $400,000 in taxpayer money through the Jobs Ready Michigan Program grant. The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $5.3 million and create 109 well-paying new jobs over two years.

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Starkist Moving Headquarters from Pennsylvania to Virginia

Starkist Tuna

Packaged tuna manufacturer Starkist is closing up its headquarters in Pittsburgh and moving to northern Virginia, but most of the details about the move have not been revealed.

Starkist will close its office in the North Shore of Pittsburgh on March 31, 2022, but will maintain a presence in the area. Its new headquarters will open in northern Virginia in 2022, but the company did not say in which locality.

The company did not announce the reasons for its relocation. No announcements have been made related to taxpayer-funded subsidies or other incentives, which could be part of a deal.

Starkist has been owned by South Korea-based Dongwon Industries since 2008. It employs about 2,630 people and generates more than $24 million in revenue, according to Zippia.

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Expanding Broadband Access in Ohio Becomes Law

Gov. Mike DeWine

Advancing broadband access across Ohio became official when Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that creates a grant program that government and business groups said is critical to economic development.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted signed the bill Monday at Middletown’s Amanda Elementary School, along with students, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Development Services Agency Director Lydia Mihalik.

“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for all Ohio industries, including manufacturing,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association. “The pandemic has illuminated the need for Ohio families and businesses to efficiently access broadband in today’s technology-based economy.”

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Economic Development Roundup: Charging Station Producer Heliox Opening Headquarters in Georgia

Black, electric car being charged at charging station

E-mobility charging systems producer Heliox is establishing its North American headquarters in Atlanta, creating more than 70 clean-energy jobs, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said.

Netherlands-based Heliox makes fast-charging systems for electric vehicles. It has installed more than 1,600 fast-charging points worldwide.

The headquarters is expected to open June 1 and will include a campus for research and development and corporate offic

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Ohio Industry, Business Groups Want Specifics in Biden’s Climate Plan

"There is no planet B" sign

As states, business groups, energy producers and other industry groups show concern over President Joe Biden’s climate plan, Ohio organizations want more specifics and believe cooperation is needed.

Biden has announced a plan that contained few specific measurers but established goals of cutting 2005 emission numbers in half by 2030.

The Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) pointed to concerns raised by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which wants more details but also wants a fair plan.

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Great Lakes Governors Call on Biden to Support Critical Water Infrastructure

Four Great Lakes governors on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden to prioritize federal investments in water infrastructure.

In a letter sent to Biden, the governors lauded the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in direct aid to state and local governments that can be spent on water and sewer infrastructure.

“As your administration continues to develop and pursue its policy agenda, we respectfully encourage you to continue your emphasis on modernizing America’s water infrastructure,” readsthe letter.

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Bill to Legalize Marijuana Passes Minnesota House Subcommittee

After an hour and a half hearing Thursday, a bill that would legalize the use of recreational marijuana passed a Minnesota House Commerce Finance and Policy subcommittee. 

“There being 10 ayes and seven nays, House File 600 is recommended to be referred to the Committee on Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy,” chairman of the subcommittee state Rep. Zach Stephenson (DFL-MN-36A) said after the roll call at the end of the online hearing. 

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With Legal Marijuana Sales Imminent in Ohio, Demand Skyrockets

In as early as the coming days, the first legal marijuana dispensary will open for business in Ohio. Fifty-six sites have received approval for sale and several others are only waiting to receive the product before beginning distribution. However, many Ohioans are concerned that, even with legal certification, they won’t be able to…

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