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Thursday
Jan122017

Donald Trump and the rising reshoring movement

TRG International

January 12, 2017

In June 2015, Donald Trump, then the Republican frontrunner, threatened to slap a 35% tariff on Ford’s cars and trucks made in Mexico if the automaker went ahead with plans to move its production of small cars from the US to Mexico. The feud between Mr. Trump and Ford was a highlight of his repeated pledges to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Mr. Trump also made it very clear that he opposes free trade agreements like TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and will renegotiate NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

Fast forward to 2017, Ford just announced on Jan 03 that it will cancel plans for the US$1.6 billion plant in Mexico and instead invest in expanding its facilities in Michigan, IL. And TPP is now dead in the water when both the White House and congressional leaders gave up on passing it. Is reshoring, the practice of bringing outsourced production back to home countries, becoming a major trend that will reshape the future of global manufacturing? And should emerging economies be concerned?

Read on...

Tuesday
Jan102017

Rep. Burrows files bill for I-27 extension study

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

January 10, 2017

State Rep. Dustin Burrows wants Texas to study the proposed extension of Interstate 27.

The day before the state’s 85th Legislature convenes, Burrows filed a bill that would direct the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study on extending Interstate 27 from Lubbock to Laredo along the Ports- to-Plains map.

The bill calls for a study analyzing the cost and the impact to be complete by 2019.

“The bill would direct TxDOT to examine a critically needed expansion of I-27, which currently ends in Lubbock,” Burrows said of the Amarillo to Lubbock highway. “Given the economic and population growth West Texas has experienced during the last 20 years, the continuation of the interstate to Laredo would allow for further industry and business expansion along the route.”

Read on...

Wednesday
Jan042017

The Road to Better Transportation

U.S. News

January 4, 2017

The importance of transportation infrastructure for American society cannot be overstated. Our highway system, ports, airports and railroads are the arteries of the economy, moving goods, services and workers inside cities and between states.

In urban areas, public transit plays an equally important role not just for workers but for connecting all Americans to opportunities in their communities. In New York City, some 55 percent of all commuters take public transit every day. As our cities become more congested, a growing transit system can provide an alternative to driving. At the same time, our population of baby boomers will most likely rely on public transit as they age. Improvements in public transit can spur economic development and increase the capacity to move people.

Yet despite its significance, we as a nation have neglected our transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 report card graded the national transportation infrastructure from a high of C+ for bridges and rail to an embarrassing D for aviation, roads, and public transit. It estimates that highway congestion costs the U.S. economy $101 billion annually and that $170 billion per year of annual investment is needed to make significant improvements. Likewise, deficiencies in our transit systems cost another $90 billion per year.

Read on...

Tuesday
Dec202016

Trump team plans for infrastructure ‘task force’ to advance top spending priority

The Washington Post

December 20, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to create an infrastructure “task force” that will help carry out the ambitious federal spending program he intends to undertake upon taking office, according to several individuals briefed on his plans.

Key members of Trump’s team — including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior counselor Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, whom Trump has tapped to head the National Economic Council — are all involved in the discussions, according to one person familiar with the initiative.

The task force head is “not Cabinet level,” this individual said, but would play a critical role in coordinating among federal, state and local officials as well as private investors as the new administration prepares to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into projects across the country.

Read on...

Wednesday
Dec142016

Pickett says more money needed for Texas roads

USA Today

December 7, 2016

AUSTIN — Even though Texas voters have dedicated billions to transportation in recent years, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday said new money needs to be found if the state is to ease chronic congestion in its cities. 

The statement might come as a disappointment to voters who last year overwhelmingly supported Proposition 7, which dedicates more than $2.5 billion a year in sales tax revenue to transportation. In 2014, voters also passed a measure that is now adding about $1 billion a year in oil-and-gas severance tax revenue to transportation.

Combined, the two measures go most of the way to finding the $5 billion a year that transportation analysts in 2013 said needed to be added to Texas’ $10 billion annual transportation budget to keep up with growth and ease congestion.

 However, House Transportation Chairman Joe Pickett on Wednesday poured cold water on the notion that the new revenue is sufficient. 

“We’re at a stalemate,” the El Paso Democrat, who played a leading role in passing the road-funding measures, said during a hearing of the House Select Committee on Transportation Finance.

The comments came in response to state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, who said he understood the state’s new emphasis on building and maintaining roads without relying on tolls or debt.

Simmons cited an obvious limitation. Without issuing bonds, the Texas Department of Transportation doesn’t have enough money to tackle projects such as a $5 billion expansion of Interstate 35 through Austin — Texas’ most congested road.

 “The biggest projects have virtually no chance of getting done,” he said, adding that as a consequence, road money is allocated to smaller projects and the biggest problems go unsolved.

Pickett answered that it’s not merely a matter of going into debt for a single project in Austin. There are dozens of others in the state about which a similar argument could be made, he said.

As Texas has grown over the past 25 years, leaders in both parties tried to avoid being accused of raising taxes by issuing debt and building toll roads, Pickett said. But both methods of finance come with a cost in terms of fees to administer tolls and interest on debt, Pickett said.

Read on…

Tuesday
Dec132016

Former Gov. Ed Rendell: New Tolls on Interstates Ideal for Infrastructure Projects

Transportation Topics

December 8, 2016

WASHINGTON — Allowing states to establish tolling facilities on existing interstate highways would help finance large-scale infrastructure projects, the former governor of Pennsylvania argued while on a panel here on Dec. 8.

“You need to get the private sector involved. Private sector is not going to get involved without a reasonable rate of return. Tolling is a way to do that,” former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat and co-chairman of a group that advocates for more infrastructure funding, said. “Let the states toll if they want to toll.”

Rendell was responding to concerns raised by the majority of the transportation sector over a lack of funding to finance roadways and bridges. He was speaking at a summit hosted by The Atlantic at the Newseum.

On the flip side, the trucking industry is staunchly opposed to adding tolls on existing federal highways. “You toll existing roads and bridges, we’re going to fight that until the end,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear told Transport Topics this week.

Read on…

Wednesday
Oct262016

The Most Tax-Friendly States for Corporate Expansion

Site Selection Group Blog

October 25, 2016

I have found that economic incentives are an excellent way to offset a company’s tax obligations especially in states with excessive tax rates. Economic incentives have been used for decades to help level the playing field between low and high tax states competing for a project.

Tax conditions play a critical role in the site selection process for companies seeking a business-friendly tax climate for their operations. For 20 years in the site selection industry I have seen many companies eliminate states during the early-stage site selection process due to business climate factors such as corporate tax, income tax, property tax, unemployment insurance rates and sales taxes.

To help stay on top of the latest business tax conditions, I have always found The Tax Foundation to be one of the best business-tax monitoring resources in the United States. In its “2017 State Business Tax Climate Index,” the foundation identifies the best and worst states based on business tax climate and names a few states that have jumped up the rankings through revised tax policies.   Read on...

Wednesday
Oct262016

The prickly political path for new infrastructure investments

Agri-Pulse

October 24, 2016

This article is the final in a seven-part series, “Keeping Rural America Competitive,” that Agri-Pulse is publishing to give readers some perspective on the history and status of America's infrastructure and improvements needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive, prosperous and enjoying a strong quality of life.

The pace of building new infrastructure and repairing the old is proceeding more robustly than most people observe, yet is also likely to quicken in the years ahead. What's more, the sources of infrastructure funding and what Americans mean by infrastructure are both destined to become more diverse.

Consider that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is promising a five-year, $275 billion infrastructure building campaign, and that her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, not to be outdone, is doubling down on Clinton's envisioned initiative. In addition, Congress and many state legislatures in recent years have started to up their antes for transportation and other infrastructure. All told, the prospect for significant improvements is brightening.

But promises from officials in big cities don't haul rice to the mill or hogs to the slaughter plant.

Like many farmers and others in agribusinesses, Bert Farrish, chief executive for Louisiana- and Arkansas-based Big River Rice and Grain, judges cargo-moving infrastructure in the arena where they operate. And, he says, “I would say it is woefully inadequate in a lot of areas. Certainly in our area, bridges and roads need substantial improvement.”

With world population now forecast to swell by 2.4 billion people by about 2050, Farrish says he knows the demand for commodities and the network to move them must keep growing. “Just think about increasing our crop yields that much to feed the world - how much more traffic is going to be on those little two-lane roads. They're already moving hundreds of millions of dollars with thousands of trucks constantly all year long. So it is going to take a revolution in policy and thinking about the infrastructure if we're going to be a part of the global solution to feeding a changing world,” he says.

To improve the infrastructure outlook, he says, “Our biggest challenge … is to communicate what the problem is to our elected representatives.” Most urban lawmakers, he believes, “have no feeling for what it's like to be in rural Iowa and need infrastructure improvements. They really don't understand Louisiana or Arkansas or Mississippi and the impact all of this agriculture has on the U.S. economy.”   Read on…