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That's The Randle Report for April 20, 2015
Join us again tomorrow morning for all of the American South's business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window above to find your favorite stories from yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Click on the headline to access Southern Business & Development magazine.
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Abe: U.S., Japan ‘Close’ to TPP Trade Deal
TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo and Washington are near an agreement on a major Pacific free-trade pact, a deal that would help advance President Barack Obama’s economic agenda and tighten ties between the two allies as they seek to counter China’s growing influence. “We think that an agreement between Japan and the U.S. is close, but we’re hoping that even more progress will be made,” Mr. Abe said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Monday afternoon. He added that he wants to share an understanding with Mr. Obama that the trade deal is “extremely beneficial for both countries” when he visits Washington April 28. The Wall Street Journal
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Report: Volvo narrows shortlist for $500M plant to S.C. and ‘second state’
Volvo Cars has narrowed its shortlist to a site in South Carolina and a site in “another southern state” as it prepares to invest $500 million in its first U.S. plant, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Reuters reports. Volvo U.S. spokesman Jim Nichols said the Swedish automaker hopes to make a decision "in the next few weeks," Reuters adds. The sources did not identify the second state in the running, or provide additional details, the news service said. Atlanta Business Chronicle
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Austin unemployment at lowest level since 2007; job market tightens
The Austin-area unadjusted unemployment rate dropped in March to 3.3 percent, its lowest point since May 2007, and more than a full percentage point below the jobless rate in March 2014 according to new data from the Texas Workforce Commission. While the combined Austin-area labor force contracted slightly this year to 1,047,700 workers between February and March, the number of employed workers rose slightly from roughly 1,013,800 in February to 1,014,500 in March. The number of unemployed workers dropped from about 36,000 in February to 34,200 in March. In March 2014, the Austin-area unemployment rate stood at 4.4 percent, with a combined labor force of 1,050,400 and 46,300 unemployed. Austin Business Journal
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Oil price plunge puts the bite on 'Texas Miracle,' ending 53-month job win streak
The 53-month streak of positive job creation that politicians and business advocates tout as the Texas Miracle has been snapped, a victim of lower oil prices and a general reluctance of businesses to expand. Texas posted its first monthly decline in total jobs since September 2010 — when skinny jeans and vampire movies were all the rage — losing 25,400 jobs in March, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Blame it on the plunge in oil prices, said Roger Meiners, chairman of the Department of Economics in the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dallas Business Journal
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A slack supply of capable workers dragging down the economy
Conventional wisdom has it that one of the main reasons for the lethargic U.S. economy is that middle- and low-income workers are getting the short end of the wage stick. It is true that hourly wages have been stuck in a rut since this bull market and economic recovery began more than six years ago. And all the while the corporate fat cats have grown ever richer — income inequality, if you will. This apparently has negatively impacted consumer spending — a major component of economic growth. In other words, the economy suffers from a lack of consumer demand. Dallas Morning News
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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has 'sense of urgency' about MDA post
JACKSON -- Gov. Phil Bryant appears to be keeping his options open in selecting the state's next top economic developer. "He does have a sense of urgency about it," his spokeswoman Nicole Webb said. "But at the same time he wants to be deliberative and make sure he gets the right person." Bryant is looking for a new executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority after Brent Christensen announced last week he is leaving to head the Greensboro Partnership in North Carolina. Christensen had been in the MDA post for three years. Biloxi Sun Herald
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LINK eyeing Oktibbeha County, Miss., sites for development
Plans to develop the proposed Innovation District's 326 acres of rolling countryside for advanced manufacturing were moving along perfectly -- governing bodies were days away from issuing bonds for infrastructure improvements and the park's first tenant had been assured a lot -- until the Golden Triangle Development LINK announced it would walk away from the site because of mounting concerns produced from due diligence studies. Once experts said the site could have been home to a minor Native American settlement more than 500 years ago, LINK officials scrapped their plans. They have now turned their attention to scouting new properties, resetting the clock on possible bonds and placing a tenant in Cornerstone Park. Columbus Dispatch
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KiOR, Twin Creeks among Mississippi's innovative no-goes
While Mississippi has had success with home-grown innovations, it has had less so with such imported efforts. The 2010 ceremony unveiling KiOR as the latest industrial rock star and recipient of millions in public assistance was like every other economic development announcement. Former Gov. Haley Barbour and just about everyone else who mattered in state politics was there to praise the biofuel maker and declare Mississippi was the finest place in the U.S. to do business. Clarion-Ledger
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Report: Overfished species making comeback
A new government report Wednesday shows the number of key stocks off America's coasts have continued to bounce back since 2007, when Congress imposed catch limits for overfished species. The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries division indicates the number of stocks classified as overfished or subject to overfishing has reached an all-time low, while the number considered rebuilt continues to climb. Bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic, haddock in the Gulf of Maine and albacore in the North Atlantic were among the success stories in 2014, according to the NOAA report. Gag grouper made a remarkable comeback in two regions. It was taken off the list of overfished species in the South Atlantic and was moved from overfished to rebuilt in the Gulf of Mexico. Clarion-Ledger
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Features & Opinion

 Top Ten Places in the South for Relocating California Companies

Urban areas have all kinds of assets that are easy to spot. They have the population, so the labor shed is not usually an issue. Urban areas are also connected by better roads, rail and air service and many have river and deep water ports. Usually Internet access and other forms of communication are more efficient in urban areas. And you have a larger array of quality of life options to choose from, such as the cultural assets found in metropolitan areas.
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

 FEATURE  
By Stacy Randle
Demographer Wendell Cox recently analyzed the largest gains in holders of bachelor's and post-graduate degrees between 2007 and 2012 in the 51 metro regions in the U.S. of 1 million residents or more. The results were published in Forbes magazine and the South dominated the ranking.
 

 Business News in the South - Randle Report

FEATURE     
After I finished the cover story for this issue, I read an interesting article by economist Paul Krugman, the op-ed columnist for the New York Times, titled, "Partying like it’s 1995." Generally I side with Krugman, even though I am a journalist, not an economist. Occasionally, though, I read some of his stuff and ask myself, "What planet did Krugman come from?" Like when he predicted a shift of automotive assembly to Canada after Toyota announced a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario in 2005 because of "free healthcare," among other benefits. That Toyota deal was the last major automotive assembly plant announced in Canada and I predict it will be the very last one for the Canadians.
 
 Nashville Mayour Karl Dean
If you have ever seen one of my presentations, then you know about the word "reshoring" and how that phenomenon has lifted the spirits of even the most skeptical Southerners regarding the future of the region's economy. After all, in the last four decades, manufacturing has suffered a bloodletting never before seen in U.S. history. The biggest factor behind the slow and long meltdown that began in the 1990s was the herd mentality to offshore manufacturing capacity to cheaper locales, primarily by U.S.-owned companies.
 


 

 

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