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Texas business group praises plan to abolish Emerging Technology Fund
Gov. Greg Abbott's action toward abolishing the Emerging Technology Fund would bolster the state's efforts to create additional nationally competitive research universities in Texas, state business leaders say. Under a proposal announced Thursday morning by Abbott, the Emerging Technology Fund would be scuttled, its portfolio transferred to the Comptroller's Office and its $136 million in unexpended balances equally split between faculty recruitment efforts at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the remaining Texas Enterprise Fund. Former Gov. Rick Perry created the state's high-profile and sometimes controversial economic incentive funds. The Texas Enterprise Fund is the "deal closer," often the last piece in a funding package combined by chambers or economic development corporations offered to big employers that want to move or expand here. Dallas Business Journal
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Deepening of Savannah Harbor begins with historic ship recovery
Workers deepening the Port of Savannah will have to deal with the past before they can clear the way for the future. Raising a Confederate ship scuttled in 1864 to keep it out of Yankee hands as Gen. William T. Sherman's Union army descended on Savannah was the first order of business Thursday as construction began on the long-awaited port project. Once the CSS Georgia is off the bottom of Savannah Harbor, work will begin to deepen the port from 42 feet to 47 feet to accommodate a new generation of larger container vessels. Atlanta Business Chronicle
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EDITORIAL: End the fantasy. Florida ports compete, not compliment
We owe Paul Anderson a big thank you. The Port of Tampa's top guy stripped away this week all the phoniness behind the Florida Ports Council's rosy fiction that all the ports in Florida should work together in harmony for the greater good of the Sunshine State. Anderson, who used to run Jaxport, laid it out clearly through his second-in-command at a Jan. 27 meeting: We want more container business, and we're going to take it from Jacksonville. Now that the mask has dropped, we see the true face of Florida's port business: a competitive zero-sum game where in order for us to grow, you need to shrink. Jacksonville Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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FPL to invest $400 million to triple solar output
Florida Power & Light Co. plans to invest between $400 million and $420 million to build three solar energy farms next year and aims to recover those costs from ratepayers, executives said. But the cost-recovery should have no "significant bill impact," said FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly. "Every penny of this investment will be returned to customers over time in fuel savings." Even so, the state's largest utility is holding off on any big solar projects after the three solar farms. Like others in the industry, FPL wants to see how the federal government handles tax credits for solar investments after 2016 before pursuing other large-scale projects, executives told Wall Street analysts. Sun-Sentinel
Submitted yesterday

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St. Petersburg 'Best for Millennial Workers'
Once known as "heaven's waiting room," St. Petersburg has flipped the script and is now considered the "Best City for Millennial Job Seekers" in Florida, according to a NerdWallet analysis. The report looked at demographics like rental rates, current millennial population and job availability to determine the 10 best cities for millennials looking for work in the Sunshine State. In 2012, St. Petersburg had an average payroll salary of $47,471 and median rent of $924 in 2013, according to data NerdWallet pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau. NerdWallet specifically said the restaurants and entertainment along the Grand Central District makes the area attractive to millennials, which in this case, range from age 20 to 34. Tampa Bay Business Journal
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Hiring spree ahead: Austin-based Volusion raises $55M, plans to hire 150 this year
Software maker Volusion LLC announced that it has completed a $55 million Series A round of equity financing and plans to hire up to 150 more workers this year. Volusion, founded in 1999, develops shopping cart software for online stores. The company employs 500 workers. The Austin-based company disclosed Thursday that Houston-based Main Street Capital Corp. (NYSE: MAIN) was the lead investor. As part of the deal, Main Street Chief Operating Officer and Senior Managing Director Dwayne Hyzak joined Volusion's board of directors, according to a company news release. Austin Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate at 6.4 percent in December
Metro Atlanta's unemployment rate for December was 6.4 percent, unchanged from November, the Georgia Department of Labor said early Thursday. The rate in December 2013 was 6.8 percent. While the rate was unchanged in December, the number of jobs in Metro Atlanta increased to 2,514,000, up by 5,500, or 0.2 percent, from 2,508,500 in November, the GDoL said. Over the previous three years, Metro Atlanta has lost an average of 900 jobs from November to December. Atlanta Business Chronicle
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Brookings: Birmingham's economic recovery doesn't measure up
A new report from Brookings Institution shows how Birmingham's economy has performed since the recession – and the news isn't very good. Birmingham's recovery ranked 70th of the nation's 100 largest metros, according to the report. The news was particularly bleak on the job front. During the recession, Birmingham lost 8.3 percent of its private-sector jobs. But since hitting its low point in the third quarter of 2010, employment in the metro has only risen 3.7 percent – a growth rate that ranks 85th. Birmingham Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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Exclusive: A look at the technology inside Amazon's Coppell, Texas fulfillment center (Video)
Amazon's fulfillment center in Coppell has been the testing ground for some of the company's latest technology, specifically smart robots. The Dallas Business Journal got an exclusive sneak peek at the center and the Kiva driver robots roaming around the facility, which comprises about 1 million square feet of space. The robots are used to cut process time from hours to minutes, as the robots can quickly bring items to stationary associates for picking, packing and stowing. Amazon operates about 15,000 Kiva robots in its network after initially testing them in the Coppell facility when it opened last September. Dallas Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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Report: Raleigh-Durham among 5 hottest markets for office investments
The Raleigh-Durham area is one of the top five markets for investments in office properties in 2015, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Real Estate Investor (NREI) website. Using data from brokerage firms Colliers International and Avison Young and research firm Real Capital Analytics, NREI came up with the list based on such factors as vacancy and absorption rates, office-using employment growth, the volume of new construction completed and in the works, average cap rates on office acquisitions and current levels of investor interest. "Like Austin, [Raleigh-Durham] boasts one of the fastest office employment growth rates in the country (at 8.7 percent), leading to office absorption reaching its highest level since the recession in 2014," writes NREI. Triangle Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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Features & Opinion

 Top Ten Places in the South for Relocating California Companies

Just look around at what's happening in the aerospace industry in the American South. Aerospace is really making a move to become one of the region's top two industry sectors. It’s not there yet, but if large project counts are any indication, aerospace may soon challenge the petrochemicals sector as the second largest industry in the region. Never before has the aerospace industry been so important to the South's economy. Oh, what's the No. 1 industry sector in the South? Automotive is, of course. That industry hasn't been challenged much for 25 years in this region, or since we’ve been counting.

 

 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     
This is our annual "Made in the South" issue and it's timely because there is a new player in the South's manufacturing universe. For almost two decades, economic developers and politicos in the South and the U.S. have been chasing Chinese projects with little or nothing to show. Want proof we've been chasing ghosts in China for years? Okay, go ahead and name a Chinese brand that's made in the South? Tick. . .tick. . .tick. Give up?
 
 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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