By Matt Collette | Northeastern News | February 20, 2013
Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, and that’s a serious concern for the United States Navy, according to David W. Titley, a retired rear admiral.
“We tend to build our bases at sea level,” deadpanned Titley, who led the Navy’s first Task Force for Climate Change and built a career studying the world’s oceans. “This is something we’re going to have to deal with. We’re not the Air Force—we can’t build our bases at 6,000 feet.”
Last week, Titley was the featured speaker at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs’ Open Classroom series, which this semester focuses on the impact of climate change.
Titley said rising seas—which he predicts could increase by as much as a meter by 2100—are just one concern for the Navy and the nation’s military community. Rising tides and environmental changes could forever alter water supplies, food chains, and geography that have stayed largely the same for thousands of years.
“If you remember nothing else, know this is all about water,” he said. “There’s too much in some places, too little in others. It’s melted in some places where it’s supposed to be solid; it’s salty in places it’s supposed to be fresh. And that affects a lot, from national security to food production.”
Titley noted that while climate has been largely stable for about the last 15,000 years, it has begun to enter uncharted territory, particularly in places like the Arctic, which has seen dramatic changes in ice melt cycles in the last decade.
“For most of human history, the extremes stayed where they were; the averages were what we had come to expect,” Titley said. “But now the climates are starting to change, and we have to adapt.”
The Navy, he said, is monitoring how melting ice is opening up the long-sought Northwest Passage, a new ocean passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans north of Canada. In addition to challenges caused by melted ice, the new ocean route raises question of trade, national boundaries, and navigable routes (cartographers have had little need or opportunity to chart an ocean that until recently was almost entirely covered by ice year-round).
“For the first time in 500 years, we’re opening up a new ocean,” Titley said. “The last guy to do that was Christopher Columbus.”
Titley said the military is uniquely suited to tackle climate change issues due to a deeply ingrained tradition of long-term planning on everything from demographics to political regimes.
The Open Classroom series, which is hosted by policy school and engineering professor Matthias Ruth, interim policy school dean Joan Fitzgerald, and former president of the Conservation Law Foundation Douglas Foy, continues Wednesday evenings through April 17 in 20 West Village F. The classes run from 6–8 p.m.
This week’s session will focus on transportation—which in the United States is responsible for one-third of all carbon emissions, Ruth noted—and features Professor of Practice in Law and Public Policy Stephanie Pollack and Al Biehler, a former state transportation official in Pennsylvania and a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University.
Deal, which could arrive in mid-November, would be for 130 cars totaling $352.3 million
A rail manufacturer based in Illinois is in the final rounds of bidding to build 130 high-speed passenger rail cars for use on Amtrak routes in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California.
The order would total $352.3 million.
The bid was submitted by Sumitomo Corp. of America and Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., which opened a $35 million passenger rail car plant in Rochelle in July.
The Rochelle plant is also making 160 “Highliner” rail cars for Metra Electric line customers in the Chicago area, as well as 12 diesel cars for California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, 18 cars for Metrolinx in Toronto and eight bilevel passenger cars for the Virginia Railway Express in Alexandria, Va.
Illinois officials hope the announcement helps attract more manufactures to the state, especially those involved in rail equipment. Gov. Pat Quinn said a deal, expected by mid-November following an audit by the Federal Railroad Administration, could mark a “historic beginning to increased rail equipment manufacturing, assembly and production in Illinois.”
Rochelle Mayor Chet Olson said the plant has sparked interest in the area. “We are already seeing an upside in businesses and other companies contacting us to look at the area and look at the logistics.”
To lure Nippon Sharyo to Rochelle, various governmental units including Rochelle ponied up about $11 million in incentives.
The state in 2010 offered an incentives package worth more than $4.7 million composed of training funds, grants and corporate income tax credits over 10 years. The Illinois Department of Transportation kicked in another $5.5 million to build a rail spur from the BNSF Railway main line to the new factory, and Rochelle offered $866,000 in incentives.
In return, Nippon Sharyo pledged to create at least 250 jobs in Illinois and to retain 15 workers from its office in Arlington Heights.
The rail cars will include wireless Internet access and must meet Buy America requirements, which allow companies to tap into federal incentives through states, municipalities or transit authorities. Under the requirements, companies have to produce 60 percent of the total value of the rail cars in the U.S. The final assembly must be done by American workers with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured components.
A spokesman for Nippon Sharyo said the company is excited about the project, but he declined to make further comment.
Most of the funding for the cars will come from Federal Railroad Administration grants totaling $808 million. A portion of that money will be used to fund high-performance diesel locomotives capable of sustaining 125 mph, and for making single-level passenger cars.
Existing Amtrak locomotives would be used initially to propel the new rail cars at speeds of up to 110 mph. The request for proposals to make the new locomotives is expected to take place by the end of the year.
“This is good use of federal money,” said Joan Fitzgerald, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University and co-author of the report, “Reviving the U.S. Rail and Transit Industry: Investments and Job Creation.”
The 2010 report said a $12 billion investment in rail vehicles and bus purchases would create more than 79,000 jobs. If the U.S. invested $37.2 billion — a level comparable to China’s investment in rail and bus vehicles — more than 250,000 jobs could be created, according to the report.
“You’ve got to start somewhere revitalizing passenger rail,” Fitzgerald said. “These are good manufacturing jobs.”
The cars are expected to be delivered between fall 2015 and early 2018. California will receive 42 rail cars. Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri will divide the remaining 88.
Tribune reporter Jon Hilkevitch contributed.
Joan Fitzgerald recently spoke on a panel at the Inner City Economic Summit, put on by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).
“Cities across the country are creating innovative models and collaborative partnerships to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic development. By identifying industry strengths and then connecting capital, land use and business development strategies to these, city leaders can have a greater impact on their communities. At the same time, these strategies need a specific focus on the city’s most distressed areas in order to ensure that all city residents have a path to economic opportunity. What Works case studies along with groundbreaking research will equip participants with a framework to create accessible jobs and maximize investment in their cities.” – description from the Summit program
The theme of the panel was “What Works for Cities: Spotlight on Solutions. “City, civic and business leaders convene to share “what’s working” in their cities to promote job growth and sustainable economic development. Case studies will focus on three categories: city and anchor economic development initiatives; industry-led workforce development; and jobs and business creation in the food cluster. On-the-ground practitioners will present case studies and answer questions.”
Download a copy of Joan Fitzgerald’s powerpoint presentation.
By Scott Kraus | The Morning Call | July 21, 2012
Few would confuse Ed Pawlowski with Don Draper.
But Allentown’s mayor and the dashing lead character of AMC’s hit series “Mad Men” will soon be linked by a common business: advertising.
While Draper dreams up the ads, Pawlowski is just hoping to place them on any manner of city-owned stuff.
If all goes as planned, the city will soon begin squeezing revenue out of ads plastered on everything from public trash receptacles to digital billboards built on city property.
With a pensions-fueled financial cliff looming, Allentown launched an all-out search for cash this spring, capped by the announcement Tuesday that the city hopes to raise as much as $100 million by leasing out its water and sewer systems.
But if the water and sewer leases are like taking out a second mortgage, the plan to sell advertising on city-owned property is more like rummaging through the sofa for spare change.
“It could bring in some dollars,” Pawlowski said. “Not a huge amount, maybe $300,000 or $400,000 [a year].”
The city joins a growing number of school districts and municipalities that have turned to advertising in recent years to meet rising costs and boost tax revenues that have lagged in the sluggish economy.
In recent months, the Parkland School Board approved advertising inside school buses and the Bethlehem Area School District is weighing a policy to allow ads on all types of school property. Baltimore is considering putting ads on firetrucks, while Chicago has hired a consultant to help it hit a $25 million public property advertising target for 2012.
“It really illustrates the desperation the cities are in,” said Joan Fitzgerald, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University in Boston.
While the aesthetics of spreading advertising throughout a city are debatable, the biggest danger is the message it sends about the public’s willingness to pay for essential services, she said.
“It blurs the public-private distinction and kind of makes it OK that we aren’t funding public functions to a point to make them operable,” she said.
Pawlowski said he simply sees advertising as a way to raise much-needed revenue without raising taxes.
Allentown plans to start with a network of digital billboards scattered across the city on publicly owned property, and has selected Doylestown-based Premier Media of Allentown LLC to carry out the plan, pending City Council approval.
Other forms of advertising would follow over the next couple of years.
The billboards would not be erected in city parks, said city Controller Mary Ellen Koval, who was purchasing manager in early 2011 when the city issued a request for proposals for the work. But one could end up on the parking garage attached to City Hall.
“We have a lot of unused little bits of land in places,” Koval said.
The billboards would create a “digital outdoor network” that would be used mostly to put advertisements in front of city residents and visitors, but also to promote city events or disseminate emergency messages such as Amber Alerts that go out when children are reported missing, Koval said.
The plan would cost the city nothing. Premier Media would bear the cost of the billboards and the city would get up to 25 percent of advertising revenues, she said.
“It will be done in phases,” Koval said. “What the city is looking at is building a network to reach all areas of the city.”
The principals behind Premier Media of Allentown — politically-connected Democratic attorney Nicholas Pullen and engineer Larry Romanowski — had offered municipalities a similar financial deal in recent years involving cell towers.
Their former company, TowerOne Partners signed contracts with Lehigh County, Palmer Township and Bethlehem in 2009 among a host of other Pennsylvania municipalities, offering to put mobile phone towers on municipal property and share cell site rental fees. They built one tower in Bethlehem, and none in Palmer or Lehigh County.
The company was sold last year.
Pullen and Romanowski are now partnering with Lemoyne, Cumberland County-based Premier Media on the electronic billboards.
Allentown is the first city they’ve worked with on a network of digital billboards, Pullen said. The company does have one on public property in Upper Pottsgrove, Montgomery County.
Pawlowski said the idea to seek advertising revenue comes from a 2005 report on Allentown’s financial situation produced by Public Financial Management under the state’s early intervention plan for financially troubled municipalities.
“There are a lot of things if you think about it, we have all these garbage cans out there now, digital billboards, we have the potential to do advertising on city vehicles like other cities have done,” Pawlowski said.
There will be rules, he said, making sure advertisements are tastefully created and placed.
While Allentown contemplates getting into the digital billboard business, some other municipalities have been trying to limit their construction.
Bethlehem is considering a plan to space out and limit digital billboards to major highways, and South Whitehall Township put restrictions on electronic billboards in January, limiting them to non-residential areas and regulating the size and type of image they can display.
“There are appropriate places for billboards and you kind of look at your city and see where you want to have these types of uses,” said Joe Kelly, Bethlehem’s director of community and economic development.
Bethlehem leases city property near the Hill-to-Hill Bridge to Adams Outdoor Advertising for an electronic billboard.
“Municipalities are out there looking for all types of revenue sources,” Kelly said. “Using land to generate revenue isn’t a bad thing.”
Because Allentown is considering a five-year contract, it would require City Council approval.
But Pawlowski may not need the smooth Draper to pull off a vote in his favor. City Council President Michael Schlossberg, who admits he is “not a big fan of electronic billboards” is open to the idea, as long as the billboards comply with the city’s digital billboard guidelines.
“I would be willing to entertain it,” Schlossberg said, if it helps the city pay for needed services.
By Richard Wronski and Alejandra Cancino | Chicago Tribune | July 20, 2012
This tiny town west of DeKalb is nicknamed “the Hub” because it’s the center of a wheel with spokes made up of two interstates and two major U.S. railroads.
But it also became a hub of state, federal and international attention Thursday with the opening of Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC’s $35 million passenger rail car plant.
For Illinois and Rochelle, the facility represents a multimillion-dollar investment — incentives to lure the Japanese manufacturer to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant amid the cornfields and create an anticipated 250 jobs.
For the Chicago area, the facility will produce a fleet of 160 “Highliner” rail cars for Metra Electric Line customers. The new cars will replace ones that date back decades, to the days of the old Illinois Central Railroad.
The plant’s dedication brought a bit of the Far East to the Midwest and was celebrated with traditional Japanese drummers and the cracking of a cask of sake for a good-luck toast.
Addressing some 500 guests, Gov. Pat Quinn hailed the company’s arrival as a stimulus to the economy and a generator of jobs.
“This (facility) will help our people get to work, to get to school, with cars that are being built right here in Illinois by Illinois workers,” Quinn told the audience, who lunched in the spotless, sprawling, 465,000-square-foot facility next to rail car prototypes.
Metra customers “need 21st-century rail cars,” he said.
Also on hand were Nippon Sharyo Chairman Katsuyuki Ikushima, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki, Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund, Metra officials and others.
The new rail cars are being purchased for $577 million through the state’s $31 billion bond program, a capital program that funds construction and public works projects.
Previously, Nippon Sharyo had outsourced the final assembly of its passenger cars to Super Steel in Milwaukee.
Initially, 80 rail car “shells” are being constructed in Japan and shipped to Rochelle for completion. The remaining 80 will be entirely manufactured at the new plant.
Metra expects to test two prototypes in the fall and get delivery of the first four cars in November, CEO Alex Clifford said.
Eventually, all 145 1970s-era Metra Electric cars will be replaced with the new equipment. The new cars will feature power outlets for personal electronic devices, upgraded seating and new flush toilets — the scarcity of which has been a source of irritation among riders.
“I want to thank Metra Electric riders for their patience,” Chairman Larry Huggins said.
But what happens at the plant after the Highliners are built, in 2015?
Company officials say they plan to aggressively seek more work. Nippon Sharyo has already secured three contracts for 12 diesel cars for California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit; 18 cars for Metrolinx in Toronto; and eight bi-level passenger cars for the Virginia Railway Express in Alexandria, Va.
The Rochelle facility will give the company greater control over its workforce and will position the company to surpass Buy America requirements, which allows companies to tap into federal incentives through states, municipalities or transit authorities.
Under the requirements, companies have to produce 60 percent of the total value of the rail cars in the U.S. The final assembly must be made by American workers with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured components.
One of Nippon Sharyo’s key steel suppliers has located a plant in Belvedere, Ill., and company President Akira Nakagawa, gesturing across the road at open land, said the Rochelle area is ripe for expansion.
Rochelle officials agreed, pointing out the proximity of the Union Pacific and BNSF rail lines, which cross in town; a city-owned rail line, which serves local industries; and the city’s own utility company, which provides fiber-optic broadband.
“We’re unique in that we have an older industrial base and a very strong agricultural component surrounded by cornfields,” City Manager David Plyman said. “But we’ve also branched out in recent years to provide industry with state-of-the-art technical services.”
To build the facility, the state in 2010 offered Nippon Sharyo an incentives package worth more than $4.7 million in training funds, grants, corporate income tax credits and other incentives.
The tax breaks in that package are worth more than $2.85 million, said Marcelyn Love, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. That figure is based on 2010 tax rates, but since the rates increased in 2011, the actual breaks could be higher.
On Thursday, the state announced an additional $5.5 million in incentives through the Illinois Department of Transportation to build a rail spur from the BNSF main line to the new factory and $866,000 through the city of Rochelle.
Nippon Sharyo pledged in 2010 to create at least 250 jobs in the state within three years and retain 15 workers from its previous office in Arlington Heights. It now employs about 150 workers, including engineers, welders and plumbers.
“It sounds like a modest deal for 250 jobs that probably pay decently,” said Jim Nowlan, a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. “States are pulling out all the stops and using all the wrenches in the toolbox to attract jobs in their respective states.”
The question is always whether the company would had come anyway. Rail car makers want to be next to their customers, so the location makes sense, he said.
“It makes you wonder out loud if any incentive is going to need to be provided. Any company will plead for any incentives from state or local governments because it reduces the cost of doing business,” Nowlan said.
However, to the unjaded eye, it looks like a good deal, Nowlan said, adding that the state has made offers that included a $150 million incentive package for a retailer that announced layoffs soon after the award was approved by lawmakers.
Joan Fitzgerald, co-author of the report “Reviving the U.S. Rail and Transit Industry: Investments and Job Creation,” said that in deciding when to use subsidies, states should require companies to buy parts and other products locally to create additional jobs in the supply chain.
“The supply chain is very important to Illinois. (The Chicago area) has a lot of manufacturing companies that can produce products for this company,” said Fitzgerald, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University.
The 2010 report calls for an investment of $12 billion in rail vehicles and bus purchases to create more than 79,000 jobs. If the country were to invest $37.2 billion — a level comparable toChina’sinvestment in rail and bus vehicles — the country could stand to gain more than 250,000 jobs, according to the report.