Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Miscellaneous Musings

The Kauffman Foundation Recently released their “2008 State New Economy Index“. Looking at the states which contain cities I normally cover in this blog, here’s where they stack up:

Rank State Chg From 2007 Chg From 2002
14 Minnesota -3 0
16 Illinois 0 3
17 Michigan 2 5
30 Ohio -1 3
33 Wisconsin -3 4
36 Indiana -5 -4
37 Missouri -2 -9
45 Kentucky 0 -3

Looks like a definite have/have not split, though I’m not sure if I’m at the low end of that I’d be eager to switch places with Michigan right now.

Among the variables included in the study are:

  • IT Professionals
  • Workforce Education
  • Migration of US Knowledge Workers
  • Foreign Direct Investment
  • Fastest Growing Firms

One a more specific note, I was forwarded a link to this article which discussed a specific life sciences metric. This is patent activity in the medical device area. There are two measures: quantity and quality. The Midwest has a few entries on both lists.

On the quantity list, they are:

  • #1 – Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • #8 – Chicago

On the quality list, the are:

  • #3 – Columbus
  • #7 – Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • #10 – Kansas City

One of the nice things about city benchmarking studies is that other cities than the sponsor can learn from them. Here’s a great, very readable quarterly summary out of Pittsburgh that includes most of the cities I look at here. It’s definitely worth a look.

On an arts and culture note, the Times of London notes a Grammophone magazine survey of the world’s best orchestras. The Chicago Symphony is tops in the United States and #5 all around in the world ratings. The Cleveland Orchestra comes in second in the US, #7 overall.

Not all plant relocations to the South are driven by market forces. They are aggressive about incentives there. Here is a partial list of the incentives given to VW by Tennessee:

  • 30 year tax abatement, with tax value of the property set at $10 million
  • Free land and free site prep
  • Waiver of inventory taxes, sales and use taxes, and a guarantee of $40 million in relocation tax credits. All company owned vehicles to be exempt from tax.
  • $24 million for job training
  • $2 million for public relations for the project
  • Pay for 50% of the cost of a welcome center.
  • Integrate German into the local school curriculum.

Apparently the list goes on for 49 pages.

The Ohio DOT has released a balanced scoring methodology for assessing projects. The intent appears to be to create an objective way to compare projects. However, this looks similar to the INDOT IPOC guidelines from the pre-Toll Road lease project analysis. While this sort of scoring looks good on paper, I’m not convinced it truly leads to the desired outcomes. Also, I note total traffic volume is missing as a weighting factor.

Chicago. The light at the end of the tunnel of the three track restrictions on the north main L line is upon us as the CTA opens all tracks to service at Fullerton. Belmont is scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year.

An article on the parking crunch at some suburban Metra stations. Some of them have a nine year waiting list for parking permits.

The airlines serving O’Hare are asking for a delay or scaleback of the modernization program there.

The Tollway Authority is going to create “high occupancy toll” lanes.

The financial crisis is putting the CTA’s sale-leaseback of the Green Line L in jeopardy. Service might even be forced to be suspended on the line.

The NYT ponders the impact of an Obama presidency on Chicago. So does The Economist.

Columbus. The city wants to tackle retail vacancies on High St.

The city is getting ready to kick off $28 million in trail improvements, thanks to a bond issue approved by the voters.

A tale of two arenas.

Cleveland. Some in Cleveland are pointing to Pittsburgh as a model.

Detroit. The newly re-opend DIA is packing them in.

Southeast Michigan is bracing for a crash.

Indianapolis. A citizen group effort to look at the future of Broad Ripple. My view: a lack of parking is a sign of urban health, not a problem. There’s plenty of city neighborhoods that would kill for that. There’s an argument to be made for increased city investment in the area, particularly in rethinking the upcoming Broad Ripple Ave. reconstruction project, which appears very subpar. However, the city needs to be able to harvest an ROI on its investments, meaning neighborhoods need to be willing to step up and embrace increased development intensity, something many people don’t want. Without that, it’s not worth the city’s money.

Coverage of intermodal service at Avon Yard.

Kansas City. The new Paseo bridge (IIRC a $250 million) won’t include any multi-modal facilities such as a bike lane.

Louisville. The city is going to furlough workers for three days to close a budget gap.

Twin Cities. Neiman Marcus decides to stay put in downtown Minneapolis. Still, the downtown retail market is struggling with many closings in the last few years.

Note: Happy Thanksgiving everybody – I’ll be back next week.

1 Comment
Topics: Economic Development, Transportation

One Response to “Miscellaneous Musings”

  1. Josh says:

    Good Point on Broad Ripple. I actually think some structured parking might work well because they have a few regional venues – many village areas have a more central “garage” that’s fronted by another business. The McD’s parking lot already acts like a community surface lot. Tax it and use it for maintenance of the water areas, which are completely underutilized.

    …and Detroit’s MOCAD is a super cool venue.

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