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RCA graduates go into business with concrete on a roll and coffee on a laptop

RCA graduates go into business with concrete on a roll and coffee on a laptop | Industries |
The Royal College of Arts' new innovation centre aims to nurture young entrepreneurs – and takes a surprisingly hard-headed approach to business survival...


Simon Neville | The Observer, Sunday 30 September 2012


The recent billion-dollar court case between Apple and Samsung showed the world just how important the protection of intellectual property rights can be. However, for many inventors and designers starting out in business, the world of patents can seem like a legal minefield.


That's why the Royal College of Art has set up a programme for students to navigate the difficulties and help them on their way to creating successful products – which could, in time, contribute to lifting the UK out of a seemingly endless recession.


Nadia Danhash, the director of InnovationRCA, explains the importance of helping students turn their ideas into viable products that can be brought to market: "A lot of times people's designs get ripped off and the biggest challenge facing a designer in the UK is the cost of protecting their work.


"People were coming to the design shows, taking photographs of students' ideas and the next thing you'd know is they'd be up on a website being manufactured somewhere else. It was as blatant as that."


And the importance of patent protection has gained the support from one of the country's most influential entrepreneurs: Sir James Dyson, himself a former RCA graduate.


The inventor synonymous with the bagless vacuum cleaners that made his fortune called on the government last week to simplify the patent system and eliminate the costs of enforcing intellectual property rights.


Opening the Dyson building at the RCA's new Battersea base in south London, where budding designers, businessmen and engineers can work together, he warned of the expense patent protection can generate: "The government must act to simplify the system. Patents are expensive to file in the first place. Then you've got renewal fees – there's no other walk of life where you lose your rights on your work of art if you fail to 'renew' it. And then the costs of actually fighting a case are out of this world."


Only 18% of patent disputes are won by rights holders, Dyson warns: "The 82% have gone to all the trouble and expense of developing the technology and then some company comes along and rides on their coat-tails. It's grossly unfair."


The RCA is attempting to redress the balance and has launched its own innovation hub, allowing students to develop startup companies with commercial loans of up to £70,000 and subsidised office space in the heart of London.


The college provides mentors and puts on masterclasses, as well as offering students help with applying for patents. With several firms working side by side in the new £21m building, which received £5m from Dyson's charitable foundation, they help each other along in what the students call "watercooler moments".

And what makes the Innovation project unique is that the startups usually consist of a designer, engineer and business student working together. In the past, these three disciplines would more than likely have been kept apart.


Will Crawford, a former engineering student, went through the scheme and created Concrete Canvas – a carpet-like material which, when made wet, hardens to form a solid fabric. His company now employs 16 people at its south Wales offices and saw turnover of nearly £3.5m last year, selling the product to the likes of Network Rail and the construction firm Costain, as well as around the world.

Crawford says: "I think it is very important for Britain to refocus on the manufacturing sector. We can't compete with some of the emerging economies on cost, but we can on innovation." He emphasises the need to back research and development, and small and medium-sized companies.


He says the RCA provided much-needed assistance with filing his patent and turning the idea of Concrete Canvas into a sustainable business: "Coming up with the idea is the easier part of the journey, but turning it into a commercial success is what takes a long time and hard work."


So far, the RCA's new project has helped 16 businesses launch, with eight already trading, earning valuations of up to £5m. Funding for expansion has come by way of "angel investors" (affluent individuals who provide capital for startups) and even private equity – not to mention the fact that Crawford and his co-creator Peter Brewin appeared on Dragons' Den, where they were made an offer by Theo Paphitis and Doug Richard, but turned it down.


Some of the most successful projects are on display in the RCA's new building and what sets them apart is they are nearly all physical products, rather than the digital innovations so keenly favoured by government.


Dyson is critical of such a strong digital focus and urges new companies to design tangible products, which the RCA appears to be doing. And while the projects may not incorporate "blue sky thinking" they certainly appear to be practical, creating manufacturing jobs and make money.


For example, Michael Korn was showing off his KwickScreen invention – a retractable screen to create temporary partitions in hospital wards. The colourful screens, which can be shaped to fit around beds or machinery, have proved so successful that the company expects to achieve turnover of £1m next year and has made sales to 60 NHS trusts across the country.


Korn says: "Too often society splits designers and businessmen, but there is no need for that split. There can sometimes be snobbishness for designers, who feel above it all, and for businessmen to be all about money, but the RCA has bridged that gap."


Other inventions that may not sound sexy but have the potential to make millions and create much-needed jobs include the Loowatt – a waterless toilet system which has received £100,000 from the charitable foundation set up by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, and has its first trial currently operating in Madagascar. Or the Ikawa, a portable, laptop-controlled coffee roaster for smaller importers, exporters and buyers, designed to allow them to optimise and experiment with their own product easily.


In total, the RCA has managed a 90% success rate in the businesses it has supported and it is currently filing more patents than any other university in the UK.


But the importance of sustainable business models appears to outweigh the need for overtly creative projects.


As Virginia Gardiner, founder of Loowatt, explains: "Blue-sky-thinking ideas are all well and good, but may not have the support behind them to bring them forward. What we are trying to do is put together something robust that can be a viable business model. We're entrepreneurs, not just inventors."

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Entertainment | China: Coming-Of-Age Tale for Chinese Cinema

Entertainment | China: Coming-Of-Age Tale for Chinese Cinema | Industries |
The Chinese government and the country's filmmakers believe cooperation across borders is the way forward, as ties with foreign producers multiply to ease mutual market access.


By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW | Published: September 10, 2012

China’s film business is booming, and foreign filmmakers have long been eager for a piece of the fastest-growing major movie market in the world. But piracy, censorship and a confusing, centrally planned industry that is instinctively hostile to foreign-made products have made it a tough market to crack.


Yet there are signs that something is shifting.


After years when going to the movies meant sitting in a drafty hall or a village square watching a film chosen by a local government committee, the Chinese middle class has embraced the idea of taking in a movie as leisure activity — one in which, increasingly, they want to choose their fare from an array of global offerings.

Chinese filmmakers, too, are slowly changing their view of foreign filmmakers from invaders to partners in expanding the market for all their products. A growing number of alliances attests to the shift in attitude. And the government, while still fiercely protecting the domestic industry, is starting to soften its stance because it wants China’s cultural importance in the world to match its economic prowess.


China’s moviegoing market is still relatively small — total ticket sales were just over $2 billion last year, compared with the $10 billion spent in the United States — but it is growing fast, by 40 percent every year, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, known as Sarft.


Revenue from film advertising is expected to rise to 20.6 billion renminbi, or $3.24 billion, this year from 16.8 billion in 2011, according to Entgroup, an industry research firm.


The country is also becoming a global player. That was underlined in May when Dalian Wanda Group bought AMC Entertainment, the second-largest U.S. theater chain, after Regal Entertainment Group, for $2.6 billion to become the world’s biggest cinema owner. It was also the biggest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese company to date.


A major vote of confidence in the increased internationalization of the Chinese market came in August, when James Cameron announced he was setting up a Chinese unit of his Cameron Pace Group production company.


Mr. Cameron, director of two of the three biggest-grossing films of all time in China — “Avatar” ($208 million) and “Titanic 3D” ($153 million) — is one of the few foreign filmmakers whose name is recognizable to Chinese people. Cameron Pace Group will offer Chinese filmmakers three-dimensional camera technology but will not be involved immediately in producing films.


Driving the rise of the Chinese film market has been a remarkable increase in the number of cinemas, largely due to a construction boom in commercial property that saw shopping malls, with shiny new cinema multiplexes, spring up in nearly every city.


Last year there were 803 new theaters and 3,030 screens added, an average of 8.3 new screens a day, for a total of 2,800 movie theaters and 9,200 screens across the country. Analysts expect the number of screens to reach nearly 12,000 by the end of the year, the slowdown in the real estate market notwithstanding.


The China-Hollywood co-production engine has been gathering steam since February, when, under pressure from Hollywood and the World Trade Organization, China agreed to raise the quota of imported movies by 14 films, to around 34, including 3D and Imax movies.


The deal was brokered by Xi Jinping, China’s vice president, who is widely expected to take over as president in a leadership changeover later this year. The deal also raised the amount of the box-office revenue that reverts to the studios, to 25 percent from around 16 percent.


Half a year later, the changes are showing benefits. According to official data from Sarft, total box-office receipts in China in the first half of the year are up 40 percent from a year earlier, to 8.07 billion renminbi.


Raising the quotas has increased pressure on domestic filmmakers because around two-thirds of ticket sales in the first half came from foreign films, and nine of the top 10 were from Hollywood — a result the Chinese news media labeled “a crushing defeat” and “rather embarrassing.”


Domestic filmmakers know it. “China has to improve the quality of domestic films,” said Xue Lin, vice president of Enlight Pictures, a private production company. “The output is enough” — more than 600 films will be produced in China this year, he said, “but the quality isn’t.”


Officially, Beijing is backing the domestic film industry as part of broader efforts to increase China’s “soft power,” or match its growing economic muscle in the cultural sphere. In the 12th Five-Year Plan, presented last year, the government committed itself to “deepening reform of China’s cultural industries.”


Sometimes that support looks like protectionism. For example, the government has arranged for three major Hollywood films — “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Prometheus” — to open within a week of each other this autumn. The timing benefited a Chinese film, “Painted Skin: The Resurrection,” which was released during the summer and became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time, bringing in nearly $108 million.


In fact, the Hollywood-China relationship is warming so fast that film officials are getting cold feet. The deputy head of Sarft, Zhang Peiming, told domestic media in late August that some Chinese-foreign co-productions were “getting around the quota system, taking domestic investment away and threatening Chinese movies.” Mr. Zhang warned that co-productions must have one-third of their funding from China, the main cast must be Chinese, and part of the movie must be shot in China.


The Chinese film industry does still feel under siege in part because Chinese films, unlike foreign films, also must grapple with widespread piracy in their home market. That means that most Chinese movies are unable to make any money in China beyond what they earn at the box office. Foreign films, by contrast, sell into a global marketplace.


That is one reason that Chinese filmmakers believe cooperation across borders is the way forward, and that ties with foreign producers are multiplying as a means of mutual market access.

In May, News Corp. bought a 20 percent stake in Bona Film Group, a leading Chinese private production company. In August, DreamWorks Animation said it would team up with its state-owned Chinese partners to co-produce the next installment in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise in China in 2016.


DreamWorks’ rival, Walt Disney, has also announced co-production deals in China. It said the third part of its “Iron Man” franchise would be co-produced with DMG Entertainment, which is based in Beijing and Los Angeles.


Even the hedge fund crowd is getting into the act. Legendary Pictures, a production studio founded by Thomas Tull, a private equity investor, has named Peter Loehr, the former director of the Beijing office of the Creative Artists Agency, the head of Legendary East, which aims to make blockbuster co-productions that work in China and the rest of the world.


Han Sanping, president of the China Film Group, a state-owned entity that oversees the release of imported films, has spoken about the importance of achieving a balance between making good Chinese movies and importing quality films.


“We must try and attract more foreign technologists, expertise, producers, investors, distributors, directors, actors and artists, to come and collaborate with us on high-quality co-productions,” Mr. Han said. “And then learn from them.”

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China | Global economic woes hit Yangtze River cruise industry

China | Global economic woes hit Yangtze River cruise industry | Industries |

Updated: 2012-09-17 | By Xu Wei in Chongqing (China Daily)


Luxury ships make bold bid to lure tourists back onto the water
A pedestrian street lined with luxury shops, a cinema, a circuit racetrack and even a rooftop golf court and helipad. No, it's not a pocket of one of the world's top cities, but facilities found aboard four of the world's largest river cruise ships, Yangtze Gold 2 and Yangtze Gold 3 and their sister ships, Gold 5 and Gold 6, which were put into service on the Yangtze River in May and June.
The four luxury cruise ships, along with another ship also put into service in June, has added another 3,000 seats to the Yangtze River cruise market and represents part of a plan by the Chongqing municipal government to boost tourism on the Three Gorges.
But the launch of the luxury ships has not delivered the promised boom to tourism.

The slowdown of economic growth nationwide and globally has resulted in river cruise companies experiencing a fall in customers.
These two factors have forced some old river cruise ships to slash the price of a cruise from 2,500 yuan ($393) to 1,500 to 2,000 yuan.
In an effort to boost the market, the tourism authority has organized a month-long promotional activity in August and river cruise companies have offered promotions on family trips and discounted tickets.

Two companies, Century Cruises and the Yangtze Gold Cruises, have decided to delay the date of the maiden voyage of their cruise ships, in a move aimed at buffering market pressure.
Both companies have ships that were due to be unveiled in October. Now both have decided to delay the maiden voyage to the end of this year.

The lacklustre state of the industry has raised questions on whether the rapid of the river cruise industry went too far. "So far (the sudden increase in number of luxury ships) has given the market an unprecedented strike," said Li Qing, a market manager at Century Cruises, which has five five-star river cruise ships on the Yangtze River. "We need to follow the patterns of development of the market," Li said, adding that it might take another two or three years for the river cruise market to mature.

Coping with the gloomy economic environment

According to statistics provided by Chongqing's tourism authority, the city recorded a total of 1.1 million passengers taking the river cruise to visit the Three Gorges area in 2011, a 60 percent increase from 2010.

However, in the first half the number of tourists taking river cruises was only 446,000, a 6 percent decrease year on year, according to the maritime safety administration of Chongqing.

Despite the sudden increase in the number of luxury ships, the total passenger volume of luxury ships decreased by 2.1 percent.
"Data from travel agencies and scenic spots are showing that there is a palpable decrease in the number of tourists," said Li Qing.
Zhou Ling, who works at the reception desk for Century Cruises, said her ship is registering 50 or 60 less tourists than before. The cruise ship she works on has a total capacity of 300 passengers.
"In larger ships there were larger vacancies. Some even have less than 100 passengers," she said.

Data from Yangtze River Gold say the company's ships were only about 85 percent full, according to Jiang Zongyu, the market manager at the State-run Chongqing Tourism Investment Group.
Another river cruise company, DaMei Three Gorges Cruises, were also only able to fill 70 to 80 percent of seats on the cruise ships, according to Dai Guoqun, manager of the company.

Slashing cruise ticket prices seems an inevitable decision.
Data provided by the Chongqing office of China International Travel Service suggests almost all river cruise companies have slashed the ticket price of cruise ships.

"The price of luxury ships were cut by a larger degree compared with the old cruise ships, as the latter has less profit margin," said an employee at the agency who gave only her surname, Liu.
River cruise companies are also keen to attract customers with more diverse packages, such as organizing summer camps for children or promotions on Qixi, the traditional Chinese day of romance, which fell on Aug 23 this year.

On Aug 5, a wedding was held on the Yangtze Gold 5, as part of efforts by the company to diversity its river cruise business. She Yangyi, a manager at Yangtze Gold Cruises, told Chongqing Economic Times that the company is planning to further diversify its business by renting its cruise ships to individuals or companies.
For many Chinese, the ticket price remains the defining factor in choosing the kind of river cruise they take.

Luo Menglin, a bank clerk, said even after the river cruise companies cut their prices, it still seems too expensive to him.
Luo took a cruise to the Three Gorges scenic area years ago on a small cruise ship and it was not a very pleasant holiday in a third class cabin.

"For me a luxury cruise ship is way too expensive. I wish they could focus on upgrading the smaller river cruises and make sure they cater to a variety of income groups," he said.

Moving five-star hotels

"It feels like working at a moving five-star hotel," said Xiao Yongyan, who works at souvenir shop aboard Yangtze Gold Two.
Xiao has worked on the cruise ship since it was put into operation and loves the atmosphere on board.

The design of the Yangtze Gold cruise ships seems to be trying to deliberately defy the traditional concept of river cruise ships. It has a gymnasium, swimming pool, three panoramic lifts and bars and a cigar lounge.

The spacious inner room and the decorative roof lighting are reminiscent of a hotel environment.

The six-deck ships, all the same size, have a maximum passenger volume of 570 people and 200 crew.

The ships are 150 meters long and 25 meters wide, significantly smaller than ocean cruise liners, which can carry more than 6,000 passengers.

But they could easily dwarf any inland river cruise ships in the world.
"The ships were the largest size we could get considering the voyage conditions of Yangtze River," said Jiang.

Over the past two years, 14 more five-star river cruise ships were put into operation to ply the tourism waterway to the Three Gorges scenic area, increasing the total number of river cruises from 12 to 26.

In 2010, the municipal government listed the development of tourism to the Three Gorges scenic areas as the priority in its work plan and the development of luxury river cruise ships is regarded as a key part of that plan.

Meanwhile, the building of the Three Gorges Dam has greatly refined the voyage conditions of the waterway of the Yangtze River, making it possible for the building of large river cruises.
"Previously the river section in Chongqing was filled with dangerous shoals and the depth of water is far below the standard of luxury ships," said Qin Zhongfan, a staff worker from the Yangtze Gold Cruises, a subsidiary company of the Chongqing Tourism Investment group.

Meanwhile, the Yangtze Gold Cruises is planning to build another seven luxury river cruise ships starting at the end of this year.
However, Zhang Lingyun, vice-dean of the tourism institute of Beijing Union University, has cautioned that a further increase in the number of cruise ships could result in fierce price wars between cruise ship companies. "The number of cruise ships that are put into operation should be based on adequate market research," Zhang said, adding that the lure of the Three Gorges scenic area has decreased since Three Gorges Dam was put into service.

Zhang said one of the major problems of the Yangtze River cruise is the homogeneous service offered on the ships. He said river cruise companies should focus on improving services on board rather than price wars. "River cruise ships cannot compete with ocean cruise liners in terms of luxury," he said.

Zhang believes Yangtze River cruise companies could try to diversity their service, including organizing conferences or other similar services.

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Aerospace: Carolinian Cluster Approaches Critical Mass

Aerospace: Carolinian Cluster Approaches Critical Mass | Industries |


An emerging base of advanced-composites expertise and a labor market conducive to manufacturing provide the tailwind in the Carolinas’ aerospace sector.

Students of industry clusters will find in North Carolina's new aerospace industry a case study in how a sector takes root in a given area. Several companies, including Federal Express, Spirit AeroSystems and Honda Aircraft among others have begun operations in the state, adding thousands of jobs and justification for a closer look from aviation-related corporate site selectors.


Behind the scenes, state officials are racing to put in place the resources needed to develop and replenish the work force in order to build on this momentum and attract future aerospace investment. "Remember, this is where aviation was launched, back in 1903 with the first flight of the Wright Brothers, and since then North Carolina has had a passion for air travel and aerospace — any of the technologies that propel aviation," says Gov. Bev Perdue. "It became very apparent to me as lieutenant governor in the early 2000s that North Carolina had a real opportunity both in the defense cluster and the aerospace cluster due to the workers departing the military bases and the cutting-edge work being done in our universities." Perdue worked with the previous governor's staff to identify aerospace as a target industry, and that work helped land several key projects. Today, says the governor, "We have about 160 aerospace and aviation companies in manufacturing and service, and that's just a start."


Perdue acknowledges — and welcomes — aerospace investment elsewhere in the region, including South Carolina and beyond. "There's more than a Carolinian cluster under way," she notes. "I think we'll see emerge very quickly an opportunity to brand the South, not just North and South Carolina. It's the whole region, where the quality of the work force and potential to grow businesses and the lifestyle can [make the region] an international magnet for investment."


If advanced composites becomes North Carolina's signature piece of the aerospace pie, then that would be fine with Gov. Perdue. "A lot of that work started right here at N.C. State," she points out. "It's amazing for me to go into defense industry manufacturing plants and the aerospace community and to see what is now being done in fabrication with advanced composites — and to hear soldiers talk about having a deeper sense of security and safety because of the quality of the composites that were invented right here in North Carolina."


'Co-located' Rather Than 'Integrated'


Part of moving forward involves taking stock of what's in place today, particularly with respect to the work force. Among the first steps was the summer 2009 release of a Golden LEAF Foundation-funded report, "Workforce Needs Assessment for the Aerospace Industry in North Carolina," that details what's in place and what needs to be in place for the cluster to mature. The Foundation, created in 1999 by the state legislature, administers grants primarily to economically challenged and tobacco-dependent regions of the state.


The gist of the report is this: "The aerospace industry in the state, while significant, has not grown to a scale in which firms, labor markets, training resources, educational institutions and research and development exhibit the strong and mature interactions that define a cluster," according to the executive summary. Aerospace firms are "co-located rather than integrated. There are concentrations within the state, for example in the Triad region, but even there the companies consider lack of scale and critical mass a problem, particularly concerning labor markets and supply chains."


About 11,000 people worked in avionics, aerospace manufacturing and MROs (maintenance, repair and overhaul) in North Carolina in 2007, up from 6,800 in 2002. And 36 companies responding to a survey that was part of the research behind the report indicated they plan to fill 2,500 new positions cumulatively within the next three years. The key is to prime the well so it doesn't run dry of workers to supply those and future capital investment projects.


"In the chase for advanced manufacturing and high-tech business, we all recognize the importance of the availability of a world-class work force — one that is motivated, knowledgeable and involves hands-on training — as being a critical factor in where companies site or expand their businesses," says Susan Seymour, a work force and economic development consultant who was a chief researcher and contributor to the report. "Our goal is for North Carolina to become the location of choice in aerospace for the Eastern Seaboard of the United States."


Investments from Honda Aircraft in Greensboro and Spirit AeroSystems at the North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston are particularly significant, says Seymour, given the advanced composites and high-end manufacturing nature of those projects. For one thing, they demonstrate that the state already has a supply of workers suitable for such investment. "They involve the latest in technology and have more advanced work-force requirements. The study addresses how to determine those skill sets that not only meet the existing work-force needs but future needs, such as in the areas of composites and non-destructive testing and inspection and others. That's where we're taking this."


Here's what's in place currently in the academic arena, according to the Workforce Needs Assessment report:


K-12 Education: Basic foundational skills; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs, including an apprenticeship program at Pisgah High School and a new Aviation Academy at Andrews High School in the Piedmont Triad; and specific industrial training.

Community Colleges: Credit programs, some specific to aerospace; non-credit courses, some specific to aerospace; and customized training programs for specific aerospace companies. Three (Craven Community College, Guilford Technical Community College and Wayne Community College) offer FAA Airframe & Powerplant certification programs. Also, North Carolina's Customized Training Program helps companies obtain job-specific training. Examples include a HondaJet program at Guilford Tech and one for Spirit AeroSystems at Lenoir Community College.

Universities and Four-Year Colleges: Aerospace engineering and materials science and engineering programs at N.C. State University; mechanical engineering programs at several universities; an aviation science program at Elizabeth State University; and a composites program at N.C. A&T.


Military Presence a Plus


"The study's findings are very interesting," says Al Delia, policy director for Gov. Bev Perdue since March 2009 and the former president and CEO of North Carolina's Eastern Region based in Kinston. Delia worked closely with Susan Seymour and the Golden LEAF Foundation on the aerospace work force study. "Clearly, we have the ability to meet the work force needs of Spirit AeroSystems and others that may be looking at locating in eastern North Carolina and across the state."


The eastern part of the state, Delia points out, has a significant concentration of military operations — including Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, Camp Lejeune at Jacksonville and the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point — that he says "creates a foundation for aerospace workers that is pretty impressive." A full list of major aviation-related assets is available from North Carolina's Eastern Region.


Work is under way to leverage the military's presence in North Carolina beyond just the aerospace sector. In 2006, then-Lt. Gov. Perdue established the North Carolina Military Foundation to build a statewide economic development strategy to grow the state's defense and homeland security industry. The state's military installations and related industry have a $23-billion impact on the economy, which is forecast to grow in coming years. The not-for-profit Foundation and its partners (the N.C. Dept. of Commerce, the N.C. Community College System, the Univ. of North Carolina General Administration and RTI International) identified Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance — C4ISR — and Performance Materials as among the areas with "the highest level of industry, academic and R&D strengths in North Carolina, and thus present promising economic development opportunities to support expansion and company recruitment."


Meanwhile, the Spirit AeroSystems project in Kinston was particularly welcome news in 2008, given the modest level of investment at the Global TransPark, with its 11,500-ft. (3,500-m.) runway, since its designation as a Foreign Trade Zone in 1996. It's a significant win for Lenoir County and eastern North Carolina, but it puts the state in boldface on lists of locations for aerospace.


"Like any other business sector, there is a tipping point at which critical mass is achieved, and that point has been achieved in North Carolina," says Delia. "We have become one of those natural places to look for anyone getting into the aerospace industry. We put the parts and pieces together in terms of the training, R&D, location and business support services in a similar way to what we have already done in the biotechnology sector. Twenty-five years ago, not many people would have thought of North Carolina as a location for biotech R&D or manufacturing. Today, it's at the top of the list of location options. The same thing is now happening with aerospace."



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Metallurgy | India: BALCO chimney collapse toll 36

Metallurgy | India: BALCO chimney collapse toll 36 | Industries |

September 25, 2009


The death toll in the chimney collapse at an under-construction power plant of metal major BALCO has risen to 36, even as rescue operations continued for the third day on Friday in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, officials said.


Bodies of 36 labourers were taken out and efforts were on to clear the debris, Korba District Superintendent of Police Ratanlal Dangi told PTI .


Twenty-six bodies were removed on Thursday.


Many are feared trapped under the debris, he said, adding it is not known how many of them were engaged in work when the chimney caved in.




Meanwhile, BALCO Chief Executive Officer Gunjan Gupta denied allegations that the company was not cooperating in the rescue operation. “The allegations are baseless,” he said.


Mr. Gupta said Rs. five lakh each would be given to next of the kin of the deceased.


Korba police registered a case under IPC sec 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against BALCO management and GDCL company, which was entrusted with the responsibility of erecting the chimney.


The reasons for the chimney collapse is under investigation.

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Face à l'envolée du pétrole, la plasturgie se tourne doucement vers le bio

Face à l'envolée du pétrole, la plasturgie se tourne doucement vers le bio | Industries |

20 juin 2008


Touchée de plein fouet par la hausse des prix du pétrole, dont 4% de la production mondiale sert à la fabrication du plastique, la plasturgie commence à parier sur les biomatériaux comme produit de substitution pour s'affranchir de sa dépendance à l'or noir.

"On essuie les plâtres mais si on ne fait pas cela, on va pleurer", assure Daniel Goujon à la tête de GPack, un groupe d'emballages qui investit dans la recherche et développement sur les matières premières à base de végétaux.

Fort d'un chiffre d'affaires de 43 millions d'euros en 2007, le groupe, situé dans la "Plastic vallée" dans l'Ain, collabore à deux projets industriels sur le plastique bio.

L'idée: fabriquer à moyen terme des barquettes ou des paquets de gâteaux composés à 100% ou partiellement d'amidon de maïs brut ou de blé. "La hausse du pétrole n'a fait que diminuer nos marges, mais c'est une opportunité écologique. Cela nous permet d'étudier de nouvelles alternatives qui coûtaient jusqu'ici trop cher", plaide M. Goujon.

Sur un an, les prix du pétrole ont doublé. Cette situation a entraîné une hausse de 20-25% de la matière première pour les plasturgistes, les obligeant à répercuter, quand cela est possible, la hausse sur leurs prix. "Le plastique biodégradable et renouvelable, c'est pour dans 5 ou 10 ans dans l'emballage. On sait le faire théoriquement, mais on ne sait pas encore ce que cela va donner", souligne M. Goujon.

Problèmes d'évaporation, risque de voir l'emballage "mangé" par le végétal ou tout simplement manque de solidité, tout doit être étudié pendant les trois ans des programmes de recherche, sans garantie de succès.

Avec un coût deux à quatre fois plus élevé que les matières premières à base de pétrole, l'utilisation des biomatériaux en est à ses balbutiements et suscite encore des réticences. "La quasi-totalité des entreprises dans la plasturgie a déjà testé des biomatériaux, notamment le polyacide lactique +PLA+ produit en grande quantité, mais ces produits ne répondent pas toujours aux besoins des industriels", explique Patrick Vuillermoz, délégué général de Plastipolis.

Créé en 2005, ce pôle de compétitivité consacré à la plasturgie rassemble industriels et laboratoires sur une vingtaine de projets d'innovation d'un montant total de 45,5 millions d'euros. "La plasturgie utilise aujourd'hui des matériaux très développés. Notre cahier des charges prévoit que ces nouveaux matériaux aient des propriétés équivalentes", souligne M. Vuillermoz, en concédant que le coût est important pour des PME et le résultat incertain. "Si on débouche sur une solution, ça peut être une question de survie et de compétitivité pour les entreprises", avance-t-il.

Chez le fabricant de mobilier d'extérieur Grosfillex, on reconnaît que les temps sont durs mais le plastique bio n'est pas encore une option. "La hausse des matières premières a une incidence très significative sur nos marges, on cherche à diversifier notre approvisionnement" mais "le plastique bio coûte beaucoup trop cher, on n'en est pas encore là", affirme-t-on au sein de ce groupe.

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Flambée des prix des produits alimentaires en janvier, appelée à perdurer

Flambée des prix des produits alimentaires en janvier, appelée à perdurer | Industries |

20 févr. 2008


Les prix des produits alimentaires sont montés en flèche en janvier, avec des hausses de plus de 10% pour les pâtes et les oeufs, et presque autant pour le beurre et la farine, affectés par la flambée des matières premières, une tendance appelée à se maintenir pendant quelques mois.

Globalement, les prix des produits alimentaires ont augmenté de 2,39% en janvier dans les grandes surfaces, selon une étude du cabinet Nielsen Panel International réalisée pour l'hebdomadaire spécialisé LSA, à paraître jeudi.
Il s'agit de la quatrième hausse consécutive, les prix ayant augmenté de 1,42% en décembre, de 0,43% en novembre et de 0,7% en octobre.

"Ce n'est pas étonnant, puisque la hausse des cours des matières premières (lait, blé) se situe sur des croissances supérieures à 10%", a commenté Olivier Desforges, président de l'Institut de liaison et d'études des industries de consommation.

Selon lui, le renchérissement devrait se maintenir sur le premier semestre, avant de reculer grâce à "une accalmie sur le marché des matières premières".

Serge Papin, patron de Système U, estime également que les cours des matières premières alimentaires vont baisser.

La nouvelle loi régissant les relations entre les fournisseurs et les distributeurs, en vigueur depuis le début de l'année, est "plus simple, plus transparente, je pense que d'ici l'été, au plus tard à la rentrée, on devrait assister à une baisse des prix des grandes marques sur les linéaires", a-t-il estimé sur RTL.

En attendant, Nielsen Panel International prévoit un renforcement de l'inflation dans les magasins, avec un pic à 4% en avril.

Fait nouveau, les produits de grandes marques fabriqués par les majors de l'industrie alimentaire comme Danone ou Coca-Cola ont également augmenté en janvier (+1,29%). Ils avaient constamment reculé depuis 2006 grâce à une première réforme de la loi Galland, qui avait donné une plus grande marge de manoeuvre aux enseignes pour faire baisser les prix de ces produits.

Pour compenser, les distributeurs avaient parallèlement augmenté les tarifs de leurs propres produits, dits marques de distributeurs (MDD).

L'écart entre les MDD et les grandes marques, qui s'était creusé jusqu'à 35% en 2001, a été ramené à 29% fin juin 2007. Le resserrement s'est accéléré à l'automne, avec la flambée des cours des matières premières, qui pèsent davantage dans le prix des MDD que dans ceux des grandes marques.

En janvier, les MDD ont poursuivi leur renchérissement (+3,1%), tout comme les articles premiers prix (+3,63%).

Les produits à base de lait et de céréales enregistrent les plus fortes progressions.

Les pâtes alimentaires ont ainsi bondi en moyenne de 11,44%, dont 13,11% pour les grandes marques, 12,91% pour les MDD et 28,30% pour les premiers prix. Les oeufs ont grimpé de 13,17%, dont 20,27% pour les MDD, 22,10% pour les premiers prix et 8,44% pour les grandes marques.

Déjà en décembre, les pâtes "premiers prix" avaient pris plus de 30% et les oeufs de 21%.

En janvier, les farines et semoules ont augmenté de 6,84%, mais les premiers prix ont grimpé de 22%, contre 9,11% pour les MDD et 5,29% pour les grandes marques.

Toutes les familles de produits alimentaires ont augmenté début 2008, tant le beurre (+8,88%), le riz (+7,35%), les fromages (+6,81%) que les yaourts et desserts lactés (+6%).

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Filière pêche: le ministre apporte des assurances aux professionnels

Filière pêche: le ministre apporte des assurances aux professionnels | Industries |

30 mai 2012


Le ministre délégué à l'Economie maritime est venu apporter des assurances aux professionnels de la filière pêche réunis mercredi à Paris à l'occasion de leurs Assises, affirmant sa volonté de "mettre la mer au coeur de son action gouvernementale".


Invité pour ce rendez-vous annuel des professionnels de la filière pêche et des produits de la mer, Frédéric Cuvillier, ministre mais aussi homme du littoral, a voulu donner de lui l'image d'un homme de dialogue, pragmatique qui connaît bien ces dossiers.


Le ministre socialiste est aussi député-maire de Boulogne-sur-Mer, premier port de pêche français. "Je veux créer une politique maritime intégrée (...) et relever le défi de la maritimité de la France", a-t-il expliqué, tout en plaidant pour le pragmatisme et en faisant de l'emploi le cheval de bataille de son ministère.


Rendez-vous incontournable des acteurs politiques et économiques de la profession, cette troisième édition des Assises a réuni quelque 250 participants venus débattre du regroupement de leur filière et de sa compétivité à quelques mois de l'instauration d'une nouvelle politique commune de la Pêche (PCP).


L'Association France Filière Pêche qui réunit de l'amont à l'aval tous les maillons de la profession s'est donné pour mission d'améliorer la compétitivité des entreprises du secteur, de favoriser la commercialisation et la consommation des produits locaux, tout en assurant les bonnes pratiques.


Cette promotion se fera grâce à la marque commerciale "Pavillon France", qui sera lancée auprès du grand public en septembre prochain, avec une remise à l'honneur sur les étals de "poisson du jour", issu d'espèces moins connues des consommateurs, mais abondantes.


"Saisonnalité du poisson"


"Il s'agit de redonner au consommateur la notion de saisonnalité du poisson", a expliqué Marc Duret, directeur des achats marée chez Carrefour et de jouer un rôle vertueux auprès du public.

Gérard Higuinen, président de la filière et vice-président du conseil de surveillance de Pomona, a réussi à bousculer les lignes entre pêcheurs, mareyeurs, transformateurs et distributeurs pour aller encore plus loin et jeter les bases d'une future interprofession.

La compétitivité et la recherche de synergie entre les différents acteurs restent une question de survie pour les professionnels qui n'écartent aucune piste pour inverser la tendance de crise qui plombe leur secteur depuis une vingtaine d'années et préserver leur "made in France".


Ce "made in France" a-t-il un sens, puisque 80% du poisson consommé est importé? Oui répondent-ils avec chiffres à l'appui: près de 300 entreprises en France, 15.650 emplois et un chiffre d'affaires de plus de 3.700 millions d'euros.


Pierre Commère, directeur de l'Association des entreprises de produits alimentaires élaborés (Adepale) a rappelé cependant que l'industrie du poisson ne peut progresser que si elle a accès à des matières premières suffisantes en volumes et économiquement accessibles. D'autant que l'entrée en masse de produits étrangers, comme les saumons fumés polonais ou les harengs fumés lithuaniens mettent en danger la filière française de transformation par une politique de prix de vente toujours plus bas.


Selon un sondage réalisé par le groupe francais Delpierre, le "made in France" a conquis une majorité de consommateurs dans l'Hexagone, puisque selon eux l'achat d'un produit fabriqué en France permet de soutenir l'industrie et l'emploi français, qu'il assure une meilleure garantie de qualité, tout en favorisant le respect de l'environnement et en optimisant les transports.

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Le gouvernement propose un "pacte" pour relancer l'industrie

Le gouvernement propose un "pacte" pour relancer l'industrie | Industries |

11 juillet 2012


Le gouvernement propose aux représentants de l'industrie un "pacte" pour mettre un terme au "décrochage" de l'industrie française, en se concentrant sur l'amélioration de la compétitivité des entreprises.


Aux membres de la Conférence nationale de l'industrie (CNI), instance de concertation qui rassemble douze filières industrielles, le premier ministre Jean-Marc Ayrault a proposé un "grand pacte national pour la croissance, la compétitivité et l'emploi".


La préparation de ce pacte revient à l'ancien président d'EADS Louis Gallois, qui participera désormais aux travaux de la CNI et a été chargé, à l'issue de la Grande conférence sociale mardi, d'une mission sur la compétitivité des entreprises. Les conclusions de cette mission seront dévoilées mi-octobre.


Le "pacte", issu de cette mission, doit "rassembler et mobiliser l'ensemble du tissu industriel autour d'un engagement collectif et solidaire de mettre en oeuvre des mesures fortes permettant de lever les freins à notre compétitivité", ont précisé les services du Premier ministre.


Entouré des ministres Pierre Moscovici (Economie), Arnaud Montebourg (Redressement productif), Nicole Bricq (Commerce extérieur) et Fleur Pellerin (PME), le chef du gouvernement a souhaité bâtir un "agenda de compétitivité, qui orientera notre politique industrielle".


Il a promis que "l'ensemble des leviers de la compétitivité (seraient) discutés, et cela sans tabous". "Je pense à la question, souvent évoquée dans l'industrie, du coût du travail et aux modalités de financement de la protection sociale", a enchaîné M. Ayrault, sans évoquer explicitement une éventuelle hausse de la CSG. "La politique industrielle n'est pas un vilain mot. Elle ne peut pas rester clandestine", a pour sa part déclaré Arnaud Montebourg, qui clôturait la réunion de la CNI.


Faisant état d'un diagnostic partagé sur la dégradation de l'industrie française, le ministre présente sa stratégie comme celle d'une "reconquête" dans une situation d'"urgence".


Parmi les pistes de redressement de l'industrie, M. Ayrault a évoqué pêle-mêle le rôle de l'éducation, afin de sensibiliser les jeunes aux métiers industriels, une amélioration du financement des PME, ou encore des simplifications administratives.


De son côté, Arnaud Montebourg a souhaité une réorientation des financements vers les entreprises, et notamment vers les PME, et également un déploiement régional, au plus proche des industriels, des systèmes d'intervention de l'Etat.


Il a ainsi plaidé pour une déclinaison régionale de la Banque publique d'investissement (BPI, qui est destinée à financer les petites et moyennes entreprises et les entreprises innovantes et doit devenir opérationnelle à la fin de l'année).


Adepte de la décentralisation, Arnaud Montebourg a déjà mis en place vingt-deux commissaires au redressement productif, pour aider les PME en difficultés, en complément de l'activité du Comité interministériel de restructuration industrielle (Ciri).


Le ministre du Redressement productif, défenseur d'un Etat "stratège" et interventionniste, a aussi dit qu'il voulait "une stratégie de reconquête des matières premières" et de "maîtrise des prix de l'énergie", une amélioration des relations entre grands groupes et sous-traitants, ainsi qu'un essor des plateformes diffusant les technologies innovantes aux PME.


S'attaquant à l'industrie "low-cost", Arnaud Montebourg a aussi défendu le "Fabriqué en France" et le besoin de qualité. "Le chantier qui est devant nous est crucial et déterminera en grande partie l'avenir de notre pays", a martelé M. Ayrault, qui a promis une conférence "en grand format" à l'automne. "Nous allons maintenant entrer dans la concrétisation", a promis Arnaud Montebourg, voulant que "les décisions commencent à sortir à la rentrée secteur après secteur".

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Fishing Industry | Le triple B des produits de la pêche "Made in France"

Fishing Industry | Le triple B des produits de la pêche "Made in France" | Industries |

2 août 2012


Alors que le secteur de la pêche française est en déclin sensible, jamais les produits transformés dans l'Hexagone n'ont autant été plébiscités par les consommateurs français qui lui attribuent le triple B du "bon pour la santé, bon pour l'environnement et bon pour l'emploi".


Gourmets gourmands, les Français en majorité se disent conquis par les produits de le pêche transformés sur le territoire, selon une enquête réalisée par le groupe français Delpierre, spécialiste de la transformation du poisson. L'achat d'un produit fabriqué en France "selon des normes sociales respectueuses pour les salariés" permet de soutenir l'industrie et l'emploi français et assure une meilleure garantie de qualité, tout en favorisant le respect de l'environnement par une optimisation des transports, selon cette étude.


De son côté, Eric Mezrich, du Cipa (Comité interprofessionnel des produits de l'aquaculture) s'efforce de rapprocher lieux de production et de consommation pour répondre à l'attente des consommateurs "très sensibles sur la provenance des produits de la pêche".


Pourtant ce "made in France" a-t-il vraiment un sens alors que la France est obligée d'importer 80% du poisson qu'elle consomme ? Oui, répondent les responsables de l'industrie du poisson, chiffres à l'appui.


Ce sont près de 300 entreprises en France, 15.650 emplois, un chiffre d'affaires de plus de 3,7 milliards d'euros et quelque 50 entreprises leader qui drainent 88% du chiffre d'affaires, selon FranceAgriMer.


Un réel poids économique donc, puisque la valeur des ventes pour la pêche et l'aquaculture (hors coquillages) ne représente que 1.200 millions d'euros pour moins de 13.100 emplois.




Pour Pierre Commère, directeur de l'Association des entreprises de produits alimentaires élaborés (Adepale), ce "made in France", outre son poids économique et social, est un "savoir-faire avant tout".


Depuis la découverte de la conserve par Nicolas Appert sous la Révolution, les techniques de transformation du poisson se sont diversifiées. Dans les années 1980 et 1990 de nouveaux métiers sont apparus, celui du saumon fumé et du surimi, tandis que le deuxième millénaire a industrialisé l'activité traiteur de la mer, déclinée aujourd'hui en marbrés, mousses et terrines, méli-mélo, marinades, carpaccio et autres spécialités.


L'Institut Appert, l'école technique de la conserve de Paris, a formé des générations de conserveurs espagnols, portugais et marocains et le savoir-faire français a constitué des références pour les règlements européens relatifs notamment aux conserves de sardines et de thon.


Quinze labels rouges


"Il est considéré comme moteur dans les nouveaux métiers de la fabrication du saumon fumé, du surimi ou encore pour l'activité traiteur de la mer", précise Pierre Commère.


Normes AFNOR, guides de bonnes pratiques et d'hygiène, la qualité est validée et se déploie au travers de quinze labels rouges pour les produits fumés, marinées ou les conserves. "La France est le plus gros producteur de saumon fumé dans le monde", explique Alain Lepreux, directeur général de l'entreprise fécampoise Pêcheurs d'Islande.


Si les matières premières sont importées de Norvège, d'Ecosse et d'Irlande, l'élaboration du saumon est confiée à des mains expertes en filetage, salaison et fumaison lente, qui utilisent depuis des décennies de la sciure de bois de hêtre propice à une combustion lente pour une fumaison à point.


L'industrie française du poisson pourra-t-elle sauvegarder longtemps encore son leadership et son avance ?


L'entrée en masse de produits étrangers, comme les saumons fumés polonais ou les harengs fumés lithuaniens à des prix de vente toujours plus bas constitue un véritable danger pour la profession.


Eric Mezrich se dit pourtant confiant, car le consommateur adopte un comportement plus citoyen, plus respectueux de l'environnement et des ressources. "Leurs attentes sur l'élaboration et la traçabilité des produits consommés sont fortes". "Le made in France" devrait continuer à faire durablement la différence, espère-t-il.

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Scotland: Creative industries put on show

Scotland: Creative industries put on show | Industries |
Aug 1 2012
Scotland's creative talent has been showcased to companies from around the world.

Guests at an event in London, held to coincide with the Olympics, were invited to take a virtual tour of the new V&A museum in Dundee, try out some new mobile apps and see the latest fashions from designers.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said it was a "fantastic showcase of our outstanding creative industries".

The event, designed to promote Scotland during the Olympic Games, took place at Scotland House in Pall Mall.

The creative sector in Scotland is said to be worth £3.2 billion to the Scottish economy.

Outside of London, Scotland has the highest level of film, TV and animation production in the UK, with more than 100 production companies. It is also home to around 50 games companies, developing some of the world's leading titles, while Scottish textile exports are worth £295 million a year.

Ms Hyslop said: "Scotland is known the world over as a place of creativity and innovation, and we boast a wealth of talent. As well as being Olympic year, 2012 is our Year of Creative Scotland when we are highlighting and celebrating our nation's cultural and creative strengths. "This event is a fantastic showcase of our outstanding creative industries, a sector which generates significant benefits for our economy."

Also speaking at the event, Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: "The Olympics has a long tradition of celebrating culture and creativity alongside sporting success, so it is fitting that tonight we are taking some time to celebrate Scotland's creative industries. "That's why showcases such as these are important to raise the profile of the talent that exists in Scotland and to forge new relationships that could have a positive impact economically as well as culturally."

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Aquitaine | Forces Aquitaine pour un soutien à l'industrie

Aquitaine | Forces Aquitaine pour un soutien à l'industrie | Industries |
(...) Jean-Jacques LASSERRE, tête de liste Forces Aquitaine pour les Pyrénées Atlantiques aux prochaines régionales, a tenu à apporter son soutien aux entreprises du bassin de Lacq, mais aussi aux élus locaux en présentant les grands axes d'une véritable politique régionale pour l'industrie.


"Il faut en matière de soutien à l'industrie, mais aussi aux sous-traitants, une politique plus ambitieuse, plus volontariste, si on veut inverser la tendance actuelle qui fait que l'on perd des emplois industriels au profit des emplois de service.(...) Je souhaite que ce soit ici ou il y a encore Total, que soient lancés les Etats Généraux de l'industrie et que le grand emprunt serve au moins à aider au mieux les études et la mise en oeuvres des nouvelles technologies. Oui, il y a de la place pour le développement plus soutenu de la fibre de carbone. Oui nous devons travailler avec les élus locaux et j'apporte mon soutien à toutes les actions. Je l'ai dit à David HABIB et sur le dossier de Celanese nous sommes sur la même longueur d'onde."


Dans ses propositions, Jean-Jacques LASSERRE souhaite que la Région Aquitaine s'investisse plus dans Chemparc avec "la prospection, la communication, la prospective et la veille technologique, ce qui doit permettre au Conseil Régional d'être présent sur la réindustrialisation de Celanes, celle de Total qui est peut être un insudstriel puissant, mais qui ne doit pas oublier d'où vient son développement, le rapprochement avec la Navarre, qui est en pointe en la matière, la biomasse ou il est important d'aider cette filière comme celle des énergies propres. Il ne faut pas oublier l'aéronautique, l'aide aux donneurs d'ordre, mais aussi aux sous-traitants (...) Je trouve que la Région manque de réactivité sur ces dossiers".


6 mars 2010

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Automotive | Aquitaine | Ford Aquitaine Industries s'engage sur la voie de la diversification

Automotive | Aquitaine | Ford Aquitaine Industries s'engage sur la voie de la diversification | Industries |

Par Rédaction L'Usine Nouvelle - Publié le 19 avril 2006,

Alain Claus, président de Ford Aquitaine Industries (FAI), a, ce matin, tracé la route. « Je veux présenter notre avenir » a-t-il lancé, en annonçant les voies de diversification dans lesquelles l'usine du constructeur américain, implantée à Blanquefort en Gironde, s'est engagée pour « sortir du marché américain ».


De fait, l'unité qui exporte pratiquement 100% de sa production de transmissions automatiques vers les Etats-Unis, a décroché des opportunités. D'abord, en direction du marché thaïlandais. Ford Industrie Aquitaine va produire 50 à 60 000 transmissions par an destinées au Ranger Thaï et au modèle Everest assemblés dans l'usine Mazda en Thaïlande. Et ce sur une durée de cinq ans. De même, elle va produire pour l'Australie 80 à 100 000 transmissions qui équiperont notamment les Ford Falcon. Là aussi le contrat court sur cinq ans. Ce n'est pas tout.


En 2010, FAI pourra compter sur le Global Pick-up, un nouveau véhicule qui remplacera le Ford Ranger américain et le ranger thaïlandais. L'usine girondine devrait fabriquer les transmissions de ce nouveau modèle. Au global, le site qui aura produit 400 000 transmissions en 2006, devrait voir le chiffre grimper à 500 000 transmissions d'ici à 2009.


Pour autant, l'horizon est il vraiment sécurisé ? Du côté des salariés, on n'est pas franchement rassuré. « Nous avons besoin de signes forts » répète l'un d'entre eux, qui fait valoir que sur d'autres sites, les salariés ont gagné une sécurité renforcée. Ainsi, les syndicats de l'usine allemande de Cologne ont signé avec Ford un accord garantissant l'emploi jusqu'en 2011 et ont obtenu que la nouvelle Fiesta qui devait être fabriquée entièrement en Roumanie le soit pour partie en Allemagne.


De son côté, Alain Rousset, président du conseil régional d'Aquitaine se veut prudent : « Cette diversification de la clientèle, de la production, est la bienvenue. C'est un élément de base de la survie du site. Mais l'enjeu de la diversification doit être poussé au plus loin ». Et d'évoquer, par exemple, l'adaptation des boîtes de vitesse aux véhicules électriques. Une piste à explorer. En attendant, la Région crache au bassinet. Elle vient d'attribuer 230 000 euros à la formation du personnel de FAI.


Reste qu'il y a urgence à diversifier le site girondin. Les ventes des 4X4 Explorer et Ranger se sont effondrées (45 % pour le Ford Explorer et 42 % pour le Ford Ranger). Comparée à 2004, sur les neuf premiers mois de l'année 2005, la production a chuté de 21% alors qu'il y un peu plus de deux ans, la production atteignait 750 000 boîtes. La chute est spectaculaire.


Aussi le 17 octobre dernier, Alain Claus a-t-il annoncé le Plan de Sauvegarde de l'Emploi (PSE) qui prévoyait la suppression de 414 postes. Finalement, ce matin, il a avancé le chiffre de 466 sur les 2 330 salariés que compte FAI. Visiblement, le plan social a eu du succès. Plus de 700 salariés se sont présentés à la porte du cabinet BPI chargé d'aider au reclassement. Faut-il y voir une perte de confiance des salariés dans une entreprise à l'avenir incertain ? Ou tout simplement l'opportunité pour quelques uns de créer leur propre entreprise, certains reprenant leur premier métier dans le BTP, ou l'artisanat, qu'ils occupaient avant d'entrer au sein de FAI.


Pour d'autres, il s'agit « d'officialiser » une activité qu'ils menaient tout en étant salarié de Ford. Enfin, il y a ceux qui vont être engagés en CDI dans d'autres industries de la région. « On se rend compte qu'il y a une réelle attractivité des process automobiles pour l'aéronautique » souligne Frédéric Guérineau, directeur régional de BPI. Ce dernier a fait ses comptes. Le motoriste Turbomeca devrait embaucher 11 salariés. De son côté, le sous-traitant aéronautique, Figeac Aéro pourrait en embaucher une dizaine. Dassault, lui, va intégrer des ajusteurs monteurs. Le chiffrage n'est pas encore arrêté. Quant au fabricant de prothèses Stryker, il va engager 5 personnes.

De notre correspondante en Aquitaine, Colette Goinère


Tags:Dassault Systemes, Transport - Logistique, Automobile, Aquitaine, Salons

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Luxury Industry | China:Toning Down the Bling Factor

Luxury Industry | China:Toning Down the Bling Factor | Industries |
The luxury goods market in China continues to grow, but many buyers are being choosier with their money, and shying away from conspicuous consumption.


Published: September 10, 2012

The Belgian fashion house Maison Martin Margiela is known for its understated approach — from its unmarked white label to the fact that its design team has remained anonymous since Mr. Margiela left the company in 2009.


So when Margiela chose Beijing as the site for its newest and biggest boutique last year, it was an indication of significant change in the Chinese market for luxury goods, which until now has been known for its logo-happy consumers.


The new preference for less-conspicuous brands, like Margiela, reflects in part the Chinese government’s clampdown on a culture of gift-giving after the online community exposed politicians sporting expensive watches that did not match their party-paid salaries.

It is also, analysts say, a natural evolution of luxury consumption patterns seen in other markets — where new buyers will always want to line their closets with the biggest names, but older buyers are getting choosier.


“What we are seeing is a change in spending patterns, not a drop in the desire for luxury items,” Elan Shou, managing director and vice president of Ruder Finn Asia, a public relations and market research firm, wrote in an e-mail. “We are seeing an evolution occurring among luxury consumers from outward needs, i.e., displaying signs of wealth, to inward needs, i.e. buying luxury items to reward oneself and enjoy the experience.”


Recent official data in China have shown a slowdown in consumer spending in the first half of last year, reflecting the slower economic environment. But many international luxury groups still had healthy sales in the region.


PPR, the French luxury conglomerate that owns Gucci and Bottega Veneta, posted sales in the first half from Asia-Pacific outside Japan of €1.17 billion, or $1.47 billion, a 16.2 percent increase from a year earlier. Sales in mainland China rose 24.4 percent. Sales for its Gucci brand in China, where it has 54 stores, were up 17.2 percent in the first half; sales at Bottega Veneta, which operates 24 stores in China, were up 62.4 percent.


Hermès International sales were up 22 percent in the first quarter, while LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton posted a 26 percent increase in revenue in the first half.


At Richemont, which owns Cartier and other luxury brands, sales have been so strong in the four months through July that the company said its operating profit for the first half was likely to increase 20 percent to 40 percent from the period a year earlier. Though it did not provide geographic details, analysts say it appears that Chinese consumers were again the driving force. “When we talk to Chinese consumers, they absolutely want to spend on luxury, but there is also a definite shift,” said Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, a consulting firm.


“We recently interviewed three dozen Chinese worth $10 million each or more, and they told us they don’t want Louis Vuitton any more because it’s become too common,” he said by telephone from Shanghai. “They are trying to differentiate themselves and not have the same logos and the same brands that have been so popular for the last ten years.” The handbag buyer, he said, favors “Hermès, Chanel, a Bottega Veneta — brands that have high prestige but are a little bit more low-key.”


The luxury market is also fragmenting by demographic and spending power, Mr. Rein said. “There are still tens of millions of girls that are aspiring to buy Louis Vuitton, but very often it’s the secretary who makes $1,000 a month who is buying that bag,” he said. “At the ultra-wealthy end, individuals are now looking at more higher-end niche brands.”


The Ruder Finn/Ipsos China Luxury Forecast 2012, released in July, revealed some major changes in spending patterns, as consumers are cautiously planning for the next year. They appear to be moving away from luxury-brand watches, handbags and jewelry for the coming year, while favoring luxury cosmetics, high-end shoes and top-brand wines, spirits and cigars.


Ms. Shou, of Ruder Finn, also said that Chinese luxury consumers were not a unified block. “They include very sophisticated consumers who are interested in new, niche brands; and consumers preferably going after the big names,” she said. “Luxury was often considered ostentatious in the past and there is still a strong social recognition factor in play for mainland consumers when they buy luxury items,” she added. “But they are also often looking for items and brands that reflect their taste and personality.”


PPR concurs, saying in a statement that “there is not one typical luxury customer in China, as there are many types of customers with different cultures, different habits and different tastes.”


Mr. Rein added that at the ultrahigh end, consumers were no longer getting prestige from a handbag, “They are looking at Ferrari and Lamborghini cars, private jets and yachts and you are seeing those markets still grow significantly,” he said.


Yuval Atsmon, a principal at McKinsey & Co.’s Shanghai office and co-author of the recent report “Meet the 2020 Chinese Consumer,” said the firm’s research confirmed that many, though not all, luxury consumers had been veering from showy displays of consumption to logo-less products.


“They feel they had evolved and don’t need big logos to prove their status,” he wrote in an e-mail. “There is a rising interest in smaller brands, especially from consumers who have been shopping for luxury goods for several years,” he added. “More are starting to shop for niche brands or even brands that are from independent designers.” For the ultra-wealthy, he added, there is an extraordinary willingness to pay a premium for “exclusive” design. The interest in exclusivity has not been lost on haute couture houses, whose clients can pay €20,000 to €100,000 for a one-of-a-kind item.


In April, Dior chose to present its entire couture collection in China, a first for the company. Recreating the décor of its famed Avenue Montaigne boutique in Paris, replete with Napoleon III chairs, gray walls with white moldings and 18th-century consoles, the show on the Bund in Shanghai was a repeat presentation of the couture collection the fashion house had shown three months earlier in Paris.


The following month, the edgier avant-garde French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier presented his couture collection in China, also a first, this time in Beijing. In May, another couture heavyweight, Giorgio Armani, presented “One Night Only in Beijing,” which included 15 Giorgio Armani Privé couture looks created specifically “as a tribute to China.”


During couture week, Atelier Versace had the Chinese movie star Fan Bing Bing in the front row, while the couturier Stéphane Rolland “enlisted” Ms. Fan to model his final bridal look, guaranteeing himself good coverage in the Chinese press.


But as brands set up new boutiques in China to capture the domestic consumer, they may be overlooking an important shift in luxury buying patterns: The Chinese are, by and large, not shopping at home. “A lot of luxury brands look at pure economic data, see Beijing and Shanghai as the cities where the wealthiest are, and so decide to set up a flagship store there,” Mr. Rein said. “The reality is that people in Beijing and Shanghai do very little luxury shopping in China because they travel abroad more, and right now it’s much better value for them to buy in Europe as prices have not increased there, while the euro has fallen.” The real growth, he said, is going to come from smaller cities.

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Joint UK-Norwegian support for development of industrial biotechnology sector

Joint UK-Norwegian support for development of industrial biotechnology sector | Industries |
05 JAN 2012

The British and Norwegian governments are to work together to support nine new research and development projects that will create innovative processes to generate high-value chemicals through industrial biotechnology and bio-refining.


The Technology Strategy Board has offered grant funding totalling £1.82 million to the nine UK-led projects and four of these will also be supported by Innovation Norway, which is providing additional funding of £400,000 to the Norwegian businesses that are taking part.


David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, said:


"Industrial biotechnology can help the chemical industry move away from a dependency on oil to a future based on renewable and biological substances. Through these projects we are helping innovative British businesses to develop early-stage biotechnology projects into pilots and to turn pilots into commercially viable processes. "The enthusiasm shown by UK organisations to work internationally and, in this case, partner with Norwegian companies, demonstrates that international collaboration can bring exciting project opportunities for UK business."


The four full-scale collaborative R&D projects will be led by Chirotech Technology Ltd (2 projects), Ingenza Ltd and Unilever. The five feasibility projects will be led by Aquapharm Biodiscovery Ltd, Biocatalysts Ltd, Centre for Process Innovation Ltd, C-Tech Innovation Ltd and GlycoMar Ltd.


The projects will look at how industrial biotechnology and/or biorefining can be competitively applied to the production of high value chemicals and will see collaboration between industrial biotechnology developers, higher education institutions and the chemicals sector.


Innovation Norway’s involvement follows the signing in 2011 of an agreement between the UK and Norway that encourages UK-Norwegian projects incorporating industrial biotechnology and/or bio-refining.


This new funding brings the total investment by the Technology Strategy Board since September 2009 in R&D using industrial biotechnology to make new or existing chemicals to £7 million, in 42 projects. These projects may use demonstration facilities in the UK, such as the newly-opened High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre.


We believe that industrial biotechnology can contribute significantly to the shift from a chemical industry based on oil to one based on renewable and biological substances. Industrial biotechnology can help to reduce carbon emissions – the World Wildlife Fund estimated in 2009 that this could amount to a reduction of 2.5 billion tonnes by 2030.

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Hops City: Beer culture comes to a head in the Asheville region.

Hops City: Beer culture comes to a head in the Asheville region. | Industries |

A Site Selection Web Exclusive, July 2012


Asheville, N.C., knows its hops and grains. The city has been voted Beer City USA four years running in an unofficial national poll, this year tying with Grand Rapids, Mich., for first place. An annual beer festival in the city quickly sells out.  The area is home to more than a dozen craft breweries and brew pubs. And beer aficionados held the city's first-ever Asheville Beer Week across 11 days in late May and early June this year because seven days apparently aren't enough to celebrate the city's culture of cold ones.


The region's beer-centricity is advancing to a whole new level this year as two of the top three heavyweights in craft brewing are opening East Coast breweries in or near Asheville. Sierra Nevada, based in Chico, Calif., announced plans in January to build a $108-million brewery in Mills River, south of Asheville. Sierra Nevada is the No. 2 U.S. craft brewer in terms of sales behind Sam Adams. It plans to have an initial capacity of 300,000 barrels and will employ 90.


In April, Fort Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing, the third leading craft brewery in the U.S., announced it would build a $115-million brewery in downtown Asheville and employ 130.


As the two fierce competitors forged their searches, they both found themselves in Western North Carolina. Some of their location criteria were similar. But in other ways they differed starkly.


Organic Organization


Sierra Nevada, known for its Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is already constructing its brewery and hopes to produce beer by fall of 2013, with a grand opening during the first quarter of 2014. The facility, being built on about 20 acres of a nearly 200-acre (81-hectare) site, will include a restaurant, a beer garden and an amphitheater for concerts.


Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada's founder and owner, cited the region's beer culture, water quality and quality of life when he announced Mills River as his choice. His son, Brian, will carry on the family brewing tradition as co-manager of the N.C. site.


Don Schjeldahl, a long-time site consultant with Austin Consulting, guided Sierra Nevada's location search. Several weeks after the process ended in January, Schjeldahl joined the company as site coordinator, the first Sierra Nevada employee in North Carolina. His responsibilities include working with contractors, overseeing the permitting process and working with local government officials. He is also helping transplant Sierra Nevada's corporate culture, which he describes as being based on sustainability, renewable energy, community engagement and health and wellness. "It's been a lot of fun," Schjeldahl says. "I've had an opportunity to really get close with the community."


Scenic Asheville, N.C., is drawing national attention for its burgeoning beer culture.

For three decades, Sierra Nevada grew in Chico, Calif., about 90 miles (145 km.) north of Sacramento. The company focused on refining its products and serving its markets, which were mostly west of the Rockies. Around 2000, demand for Sierra Nevada beer began a steady rise across the eastern half of the U.S.


"For a decade, Sierra Nevada served eastern markets very efficiently, using a lot of piggyback rail with refrigerated containers," Schjeldahl says. "Bottle-aged beer has to be refrigerated, and it's expensive to run across the country, but the company did it very successfully. As the market grew in the East and capacity constraints started to be reached in Chico, it became obvious that what is needed is a new brewery and it should be built in the East to address cost and service issues."


Schjeldahl describes Sierra Nevada as a "very organic" organization with every interest represented in its strategy meetings. Good ideas are rewarded and no idea is discounted when the company is preparing to make a big decision, he says. The company debated its eastward move for several years before hiring Austin Consulting and Schjeldahl in the summer of 2010.


"I have worked on around 300 projects in 30 years and we have a very well-developed methodology," Schjeldahl says. "That was what was helpful in pushing the organic structure onto a path they could follow. Ken Grossman is an entrepreneur extraordinaire. He got into craft brewing in the 1970s and started the company in 1980. He has never strayed from this idea that quality drives everything we do. We never approach anything with the idea, 'let's do it cheap.' It's always 'let's do it right.'"


The first six months were spent looking at market growth, forecasting how things could change over time in Eastern U.S. markets and what kind of products worked. Careful consideration was given to how to establish the supply chain in the most efficient and sustainable way with the smallest carbon footprint. "Every strategy had to run through the carbon footprint filter," Schjeldahl says.


Refined Process


After initially looking at an area broadly defined as everything east of the Rockies, Sierra Nevada narrowed the search to the Northeast, the Southeast and a hybrid of the two in the Mid-Atlantic region. That brought the hunt down to seven states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. A total of 170 communities were considered. "We found the best location in each place," Schjeldahl says. "We pursued so many angles to this project. This was the most refined process I ever went through. We developed screening criteria at four different levels."


"Every strategy had to run through the carbon footprint filter."

— Don Schjeldahl, site coordinator, Sierra Nevada


Criteria considered included access to major highways, proximity to a college or youth-oriented community, a community with a recreational culture, a strong sanitary sewer system and water sources. Sierra Nevada also wanted a site that wouldn't "butt up against" other craft brewers. In some respects, the company was looking for a town similar to Chico, which is home to California State University-Chico. "Initially, we thought we wanted to be in a college town because Chico is a college town," Schjeldahl says. "Initially we wanted to avoid being near other craft breweries, but as the process evolved, we changed the criteria in the middle of the process."


Sierra Nevada and Schjeldahl whittled the list from 170 to 60, then 38, still in the same seven states. The screening criteria became much more detailed, including the hard-to-quantify sustainability factor. "We started to dive more heavily into measuring sustainability as a cultural attribute," Schjeldahl says. "There really aren't any great metrics for it. There's no common way of measuring it.


Sustainability is now at a point in site selection in general where companies of all types are starting to think about how they can measure how a community is sustainability-oriented and how it can partner with business."


Sustainability came into play as the list narrowed to 38. Community attitudes were assessed. Public transportation, industrial and residential recycling programs and availability of renewable energy were considered pluses.


"If someone had methane recovery from a landfill, they got some points," Schjeldahl says. "If there were solar panels on a courthouse roof, that got some points. We looked at stream restoration and bike trails. It was also about the ability of communities to tell the story. If a community doesn't have a good, professional economic development group and is clumsy at it, that tells you something. A healthy downtown was also important. If a community didn't have a healthy downtown, that would pretty much write the town off. If there is a healthy downtown, it's a good indicator that there is a good level of cooperation in the community."


Change of Plans


The list was narrowed to 18 and then to nine. A Sierra Nevada team looked at one site in Ohio, one in Pennsylvania, one in Georgia, two in Tennessee, three in Virginia and one in North Carolina. Asheville was not on that list due to the desire to not infringe on the region's thriving beer culture. The exhaustive search was going to end with Maryville, Tenn., a Knoxville suburb, as the winner. Or so it seemed.


"I thought at that point that the next word out of Ken Grossman's mouth would be we would go to Tennessee, to the Knoxville area, which is a wonderful place," Schjeldahl recalls. "Maryville's people were so accommodating. The governor was very engaged and there was great cooperation. It was a small college town and had everything we wanted."


Grossman hesitated on Maryville because he felt like there were some unresolved engineering issues and there was some uncertainty about future development around the site. "He came to the conclusion that we didn't really need to be in a college town and that we would never recreate what we have in Chico," Schjeldahl says. "He said 'Let's open this up and drop the college connection and see if we can find a balance with local breweries.' So we looked at six more communities in North Carolina, including in the Piedmont and lower Foothills, and then in Asheville."


Sierra Nevada also considered the site that New Belgium eventually selected in downtown Asheville. "It's got some contamination and flood plain issues, but you can overcome those with money usually," Schjeldahl says. "It's also right in the face of some of Asheville's brewers. This seemed a little insensitive, so we narrowed it to three sites: one in Marion, one in Black Mountain and this one."


Schjeldahl describes the Mills River site, near the Asheville Regional Airport and about 10 miles (16 km.) from Asheville, as the perfect compromise. The location is not urban, but it has a regional presence, he says. It has great access to I-26 and frontage on the French Broad River. Although Asheville water is available at the site, which is part of a 262-acre (106-hectare) industrial park, the company elected to drill its own well.


"The geology here is complicated. We did a lot of research on geology. These are ancient mountains which contain old mountain water that has been filtered for hundreds of years. We drilled a couple of wells and got lucky. Sierra Nevada has a very sophisticated lab with several Ph.D. chemists. We sent lots of water back and they analyzed it. We lined the well with stainless steel, which is quite expensive, but it guarantees higher quality over time."


'Magical Meeting' and Good Barley


The industrial park, created on acreage owned by the Fitzgerald family, long-time landowners in the region, is a North Carolina certified site, a fact that helped seal the deal for Sierra Nevada. "If they had not gone through the site certification process, we probably would not be here," Schjeldahl say. "The water wasn't here, and the sewer, road and power were not here.


The site does not have rail access, so Sierra Nevada is developing a transloading site about five miles (8 km.) away. Barley and grains will be brought in by rail, transloaded onto truck and brought to the brewery to be put into storage silos.


Schjeldahl describes Grossman as highly intuitive, recalling a meeting Grossman held with the Asheville Brewers Alliance, a group representing the interests of more than a dozen craft breweries in the region.


"He was monitoring what was being said in the brewing community," says Schjeldahl. "There was this really magical meeting with local brewers and he put himself on the spot. He explained to them what he is about and his philosophy, and he even offered to supply this good barley we are bringing in. That has been wildly beneficial and won him a lot of good points. He doesn't do it to gain favor. He does it because he empathizes with these people."


Schjeldahl says New Belgium's site search, conducted nearly simultaneously, had no effect on Sierra Nevada's efforts. "Craft brewing is a tight industry. They [management of both companies] have been to each other's breweries many times. People go back and forth between the breweries. When it comes to selling beer though, it is pretty competitive. We are here and we came here because this is the right place to be. It doesn't matter if New Belgium is here. We've chosen to be out of town and taken on stewardship of the environment. They have chosen to be in an urban setting."


In The City


New Belgium, whose signature brew is Fat Tire Amber Ale, began considering expansion on the West Coast in 2009, says Jenn Vervier, the company's director of strategic development and sustainability. The company was running out of capacity in Fort Collins, and a new brewery made sense. "We thought we found a great location in West Oakland, but we couldn't get the real estate done," Vervier says. "We also determined the economics of making beer and shipping out of California was not good. So our engineers found a way to get a couple hundred thousand more barrels out of our Colorado brewery."


The fix provided by New Belgium's engineers allowed the company's expansion plans to be put on hold for a year. In the fall of 2010, New Belgium hired Jones Lang LaSalle's Chicago-based site selection team to conduct a national search for a new brewery site. "We quickly realized the brewery should be on the East Coast," Vervier says.


Working with JLL, New Belgium built a matrix of more than 30 critical factors it would consider in its quest. These included work force, operational costs, a culture of progressiveness, brownfield redevelopment opportunities and proximity to a population center. Using this matrix, JLL helped the company narrow the search to a dozen cities it would visit starting in the summer of 2011.


"It was a whirlwind search," Vervier recalls. "We looked at two to five pieces of real estate in each city. Many cities had zoned all light manufacturing for industrial parks outside of town with the only access a multi-lane highway. We took those places off the list because we believe it's important to have a site where our co-workers can bike or walk to work. That was an easy way to winnow down the choices."


Asheville was one of the few finalists that met this key attribute. Vervier says the city also had the "perfect" piece of property. "The community met our criteria around being progressive," she says. "It's collaborative with a vibrant downtown, and the city is involved with the public."


Another pivotal piece of criteria was plentiful good water. Asheville was found to have both the culture and the H2O. Vervier likened the water's makeup to the water in Fort Collins. New Belgium was also sensitive to the region's beer culture and, like Sierra Nevada, met with the Asheville Brewers Alliance to forge a spirit of cooperation. "We suspected smaller brewers might be intimidated by us showing up, so before finalizing the deal we hosted a meeting with the Alliance." Vervier says. "We didn't want to move to a town where people representing the industry didn't want us to be there."


'Our Own Ball Game'


Throughout the process, New Belgium was aware that Sierra Nevada was also looking for a site on the East Coast.


"We heard their top choice was Knoxville, and Chattanooga was one of our top cities," Vervier says. "By the time we heard that they were even looking at North Carolina, we were kind of past the point of no return. We each had to play our own ball game. If it turned out we were near each other, then that is the way it was going to be. The sites are about 15 miles (24 km.) apart, but also very different. Ours is in a city and theirs is not. We didn't want it to happen and it wasn't our preference, but when it became inevitable, we decided to make the best of it. We have found throughout our history that competition makes you stronger, so we are okay with that." "We believe it's important to have a site where our co-workers can bike or walk to work. That was an easy way to winnow down the choices."


— Jenn Vervier, director of strategic development and sustainability, New Belgium Brewing


Vervier says JLL and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville and Buncombe County were tasked with finding real estate opportunities prior to New Belgium's first visit in June 2011.

"When I got there, three or four properties met our criteria. The one we ended up with is far and away the biggest challenge to develop, but it was such an amazing opportunity to find 20 acres close to town that is also zoned appropriately."


The site New Belgium selected is composed of three parcels. One is home to a mini-storage facility, one is an old auto repair shop and the third is a stockyard, which is still in operation. Vervier expects site clearing to begin this summer and then a permitting process for the site plan will begin. She expects construction to begin during the first half of 2013, with the first production of saleable beer to come during the first quarter of 2015. "We will ramp up to open the facility at a certain volume in 2015," Vervier says. "It's a six-year ramp-up, so we will likely open with more than 50 people and eventually grow to 150 at full capacity."


While New Belgium's CEO Kim Jordan had previously visited Asheville, Vervier was a first-time visitor in the summer of 2011. She soon became enamored with the city. She was so enamored that during a dinner with the EDC and Asheville business people, she went to the restroom and texted "I (heart) Asheville" back to Fort Collins. "I was really taken by the downtown," Vervier says. "There are so many streets of locally owned businesses, so many independent restaurants. The natural beauty is just stunning. I just got the sense of like-minded people who believe in sustainable development and investing in the community."


New Belgium's Fat Tire ale has a cruiser bike on its label. Bicycling is part of the company's culture. All employees receive a bicycle after one year of service, just one of many perks, which include a trip to Belgium after five years. So Asheville's burgeoning bike culture caught New Belgium's eye. "Fort Collins is great, and we have a bike-to-work day there," Vervier says. "But Asheville has a bike-to-work week. They are certainly more topographically challenged than we are in Fort Collins. Asheville is doing great with its bike community and probably will only improve. One of our initiatives is to help collaborate on extension of bike lanes and greenways."


Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia, Pa., were the other finalists for the New Belgium brewery. Vervier says the property location and overall economic analysis favored Asheville.


Both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada plan restaurants and tasting rooms attached to their breweries. The tasting rooms required an adjustment in North Carolina law, which was passed last December in hopes of securing the two breweries.


Crafting An Industry


Craft breweries are a relatively small but fast-growing lot. Craft brews accounted for about 5.7 percent of overall beer sales in the U.S. in 2011, according to The Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo., group that promotes small and independent brewers in the U.S. That share is predicted to grow to 10 percent by 2017. "There are three million barrels of new capacity coming on line in the next year or two and there is a ton of reinvestment going on now in craft breweries," says Paul Gatza, director of The Brewers Association. "Most people in the industry are pretty bullish about how things are going to grow."


Gatza emphasizes that this growth would not be happening without the beer drinker. Consumers are enjoying more craft beer on more occasions, he says. "There are a lot of new flavors out there, and beer drinkers are willing to try brands they haven't tried before because they trust the category, Gatza says.


Western North Carolina got a third significant player in craft brewing when Oskar Blues announced in May that it would open up an East Coast brewery in Brevard, about 35 miles (56 km.) south of Asheville in an existing 30,000-sq.-ft. (2,787-sq.-m.) facility. Oskar Blues, which is based in Longmont, Colo., and plans to open in December, is ranked 29th among craft brewers by The Brewers Association. "Just six or seven years ago Oskar Blues was just a small brewpub in Colorado that had a canning line," Gatza says. "They've gotten good response for putting very bold beers in cans, and are leading that trend."

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Italy’s public finances | The boat-tax war - The effects of a new tax on yachts and boats

Italy’s public finances | The boat-tax war - The effects of a new tax on yachts and boats | Industries |

Aug 25th 2012 | PUNTA ALA AND OSTIA


FOR the average holiday-maker, this summer at Punta Ala, a classy marina on the Tuscan coast, has seemed like any other. Hundreds of elegant yachts and motorboats lie peacefully berthed sterns to jetties. For many of their owners, however, the season has been far from peaceful. As well as battling the economic crisis, they have been up against the Guardia di Finanza, the tax police.


Speaking from his holiday base in Switzerland, Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister, said the struggle against tax evaders is “like a war” and it is “right to be tough”. A national pastime, tax evasion is put at about 18% of GDP, some €285 billion ($355 billion), making a big hole in Italy’s stretched public finances.

Fairly or unfairly, boat-owners are seen as among the rich who do not pay their share. A new tax on boat ownership and people leasing boats was introduced this year. Boats between 10 and 12 metres now incur an annual tax of €800, those between 20 and 24 metres one of €4,400, those over 64 metres €25,000. In recent weeks the tax campaign has hit marinas along Italy’s 8,000 km coast, with the Guardia di Finanza operating in plain clothes or uniform onshore.


The summer’s blitz has brought a sharp fall in business in Italian marinas. According to Roberto Fusco, chairman of Marina di Punta Ala, 20% of the boats have not been used this year and sales of fuel have fallen by 40%. The economic crisis has played a part but frequent checks, in port and at sea, have also deterred owners from manning their yachts. Some carry annual tax returns to show nosy policemen that their declared income is enough to justify ownership of a boat. Others at Punta Ala park their SUVs away from the marina and arrive on battered scooters.


Unsurprisingly, boat owners have fled to more welcoming havens. Reports talk of Italian fugitives in Corsica and Croatia. And what is true of Italians applies equally to foreigners who charter boats. Rosi Della Bruna, who runs Shaula, a yacht-services company in Rome’s marina at Ostia, says Russian visitors are not amused by Italian inquisitors. “Business is 50% down on last year, and what affects us also affects bars, restaurants, car hire, air travel and so on,” she explains. Only the year-end sums will tell if this wave of fiscal belligerence has won benefits outweighing the costs.

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Construction | At least 11 die in fire at construction site in Turkey

Construction | At least 11 die in fire at construction site in Turkey | Industries |

12 Mar 2012


A fire that broke out among tents at a construction site in the Turkish city of Istanbul killed at least 11 workers late Sunday, it has been reported.


"Between 11 and 14 workers are believed to have died in the fire," local mayor Necmi Kadioglu told the state-run TRT television from the scene in the Esenyurt district of the city.  "This is the site of a shopping mall. It appears the fire has something to do with the heating problem as it is freezing here and right now it is minus one degree," he added.

Television footage showed firefighters working under floodlights to recover the bodies of the workers from one of the tents.

Firefighters put out the flames as ambulances attended the scene, the private NTV television reported.

While the cause of the fire has not yet been established, media reports have suggested it may have been caused by a short circuit.


Turkey's commercial hub Istanbul, home to nearly 15 million people, is also a site for many massive construction projects.

A fire engulfed a tent used as a dormitory for workers at an Istanbul construction site late Sunday, killing 14 people, a local official said.
The workers were staying in a giant tent at the construction site of a supermarket, said Necmi Kadioglu, the mayor of Istanbul's Esenyurt district.

"We suspect that the fire might have originated from an electrical heater," Kadioglu said, noting the cold weather in Istanbul.
Turkey's state-run television reported the fire might have been sparked by a short circuit. Firefighters, working under floodlights despite the snow, managed to recover the bodies of the workers from the mangled ruins of the tent.

An adjacent tent was also burned but it was not clear if any of the workers were staying there.

Istanbul is a vibrant city, home to more than 13 million people, and construction of high-rise buildings or giant shopping malls can be seen almost in every corner of the city. A fire engulfed a tent used as a dormitory for workers at an Istanbul construction site late Sunday, killing 14 people, a local official said.

The workers were staying in a giant tent at the construction site of a supermarket, said Necmi Kadioglu, the mayor of Istanbul's Esenyurt district. "We suspect that the fire might have originated from an electrical heater," Kadioglu said, noting the cold weather in Istanbul.

Turkey's state-run television reported the fire might have been sparked by a short circuit. Firefighters, working under floodlights despite the snow, managed to recover the bodies of the workers from the mangled ruins of the tent.

An adjacent tent was also burned but it was not clear if any of the workers were staying there.

Istanbul is a vibrant city, home to more than 13 million people, and construction of high-rise buildings or giant shopping malls can be seen almost in every corner of the city.

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Baisse des prix: les distributeurs renvoient la balle aux industriels

Baisse des prix: les distributeurs renvoient la balle aux industriels | Industries |

2 sept. 2008


La baisse des cours de certaines matières premières agricoles semble avoir peu d'impact sur les prix dans les magasins, mais des distributeurs promettent des réductions dès l'automne, à condition que les fournisseurs acceptent de réviser leurs tarifs.

La semaine dernière, des associations de consommateurs ont déploré que le recul des prix des matières premières depuis juillet ne se répercute pas encore sur les étiquettes, dénonçant une hausse de plus de 4% des prix alimentaires depuis le début de l'année.

"Le marché de la distribution baisse en volume. Il est obligé de baisser les prix s'il veut retrouver le chemin de la croissance", estime Serge Papin, patron du groupement Système U (Hyper U, Super U, Marché U).

La loi de modernisation de l'économie (LME), entrée en vigueur cet été, contribuera à ces baisses, selon les distributeurs, puisqu'elle autorise ces derniers à négocier plus librement les tarifs des industriels.

Grâce à ce dispositif, Leclerc prévoit une hausse des prix "limitée" à partir de décembre à 2% en rythme annuel. "C'est comme s'il avait une boule de cristal. Nous n'avons aucun élément concret qui nous permet de dire que l'on va arriver à 2%", a rétorqué Jean-René Buisson, président de l'Association nationale des industries alimentaires, gros fournisseur des distributeurs.

Pourtant Carrefour, Système U et Intermarché vont plus loin, tablant sur des baisses dans leurs magasins dès cet automne. Ils ont remis les contrats qui les lient aux fournisseurs sur la table, réclamant des tarifs meilleur marché en raison de l'accalmie des cours du pétrole, du blé et du riz. "Il n'est plus possible de continuer à évoluer sur des tarifs aussi élevés", a expliqué François Gazuit, directeur général d'Intermarché alimentaire.

Les baisses obtenues seront répercutées sur les consommateurs, promettent les enseignes.

En début d'année, les fournisseurs de produits à base d'oeufs, de riz, de blé ou de lait avaient présenté des hausses de tarifs de plus de 10%, pour prendre en compte la flambée des cours agricoles, selon des distributeurs.

"Nous, les fournisseurs, nous ne sommes pas masochistes. Nous n'avons aucun intérêt à ce que nos prix soient trop élevés. Si nous avons la possibilité, sans que cela accentue la baisse des marges, de baisser nos prix, on le fera bien évidemment", a assuré M. Buisson. "On peut raisonnablement penser qu'il va y avoir une baisse de pression sur les produits alimentaires grâce aux matières premières, c'est clair", a-t-il estimé.

Cependant, certaines matières premières continuent de grimper. Le groupe fromager Bongrain (Caprice des Dieux) a d'ores et déjà annoncé une prochaine "hausse significative" de ses tarifs pour faire face à l'augmentation "exceptionnelle" des prix du lait. "La LME est un dispositif extrêmement intéressant, mais qui est dépendant du levier macro-économique (croissance, cours des matières premières). Elle devrait permettre de limiter l'inflation, mais il y a peu de chance qu'on entre dans une déflation", a estimé Laurent Przyswa, spécialiste du secteur chez Kurt Salmon Associates.

Avec la LME, on risque de voir se creuser l'écart "entre les distributeurs qui proposent +des prix bas tous les jours+ comme les discounters, Leclerc ou Intermarché, et ceux qui ont des prix moyens plus élevés, mais des promotions très agressives", a-t-il ajouté.

Carrefour et Système U viennent de lancer le bal des promotions, proposant des baisses drastiques (jusqu'à 21%) sur 140 produits de grande consommation.

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La parfumerie Santa Maria Novella, antique pharmacie des Médicis, fête ses 400 ans

La parfumerie Santa Maria Novella, antique pharmacie des Médicis, fête ses 400 ans | Industries |

11 avril 2012


Les effluves de parfum saisissent le visiteur dès le seuil de l'antique pharmacie de Santa Maria Novella, une célèbre institution florentine qui approvisionnait jadis en fioles mystérieuses Catherine de Médicis, et de nos jours, des stars comme Monica Bellucci.


Même si "l'atelier de parfumerie et de pharmacie Santa Maria Novella" (son nom officiel) fête cette année ses 400 ans, sa naissance remonte en fait à 1221, lorsque des frères dominicains commencèrent à cultiver les herbes médicinales qui leur servaient à préparer potions, baumes et pommades.


La renommée de ces produits dépassa l'enceinte du couvent, et en 1612 la pharmacie ouvrit ses portes au public sous le patronage de la famille Médicis, qui se fit ambassadrice de la marque auprès des cours étrangères.


Lors de son mariage avec Henri II, Catherine de Médicis (1519-1589) avait ainsi emporté dans ses bagages plusieurs flacons d'un parfum spécialement conçu pour elle à base de bergamote, "L'eau de la Reine", qui fit fureur à la cour de France, mais fut aussi à l'origine d'une nouvelle technique révolutionnaire.


"Auparavant, on mélangeait les essences avec de l'huile ou du vinaigre, mais les moines eurent l'intuition d'utiliser plutôt de l'alcool. +L'eau de la Reine+ fut le premier parfum célèbre dans toute l'Europe à avoir été produit à base d'alcool", raconte Gianluca Foà, un géant aux yeux bleus, directeur commercial de l'enseigne.

Cette eau de cologne fait encore partie des produits intemporels qui font le succès de cette maison discrète mais florissante: en 2011, son chiffre d'affaires a bondi de 37%.


Aujourd'hui, la pharmacie semble immuable, toujours installée dans de superbes salles décorées de fresques en plein centre de Florence, avec vue imprenable sur le cloître séculaire du couvent.

Les vitrines et le comptoir n'ont pas changé depuis 1612, mais les dominicains ont dû plier bagages en 1886 lors de la confiscation des biens de l'Eglise par l'Etat italien, qui revendit la pharmacie au neveu du dernier directeur dominicain. Quatre générations de cette famille se sont depuis succédé à sa tête.


Aujourd'hui, 80% des clients de la pharmacie sont étrangers, à l'image de Sabrina, une Chinoise du Sichuan au teint diaphane: "Je pensais que c'était juste une boutique avant de venir ici, mais c'est tellement fabuleux", s'extasie-t-elle devant les fresques ornant la pharmacie.


Chaque nationalité a son produit fétiche: crème au calendula pour les Chinois, pastilles à la menthe-coq (Balsamita major) pour les Japonais, crème Idralia pour les Coréens...


Outre la boutique historique, la pharmacie a investi l'ex-église adjacente de San Niccolo et sa somptueuse sacristie décorée de peintures de Mariotto di Nardo (XIVe siècle), une pièce aujourd'hui transformée en musée-bibliothèque.


Sur les étagères s'empilent crèmes de beauté, parfums, tisanes, liqueurs et bougies, dont la qualité et les emballages désuets mais élégants font l'orgueil de la maison, gardienne de la tradition et propriétaire de ses propres plantations d'herbes médicinales.

- apparition dans un James Bond -


Dans le laboratoire, installé dans 4.500 m2 de locaux immaculés à trois kilomètres de la boutique, la plupart des opérations se font encore à la main, depuis le démoulage des savonnettes jusqu'à la décoration des bougies et l'étiquetage.


Détail significatif: tels des fromages, les savons à la grenade sèchent encore aujourd'hui pendant deux mois dans de grandes armoires.


Une qualité discrète qui a su séduire les plus grands noms d'hier et d'aujourd'hui: les poètes Dante et Lord Byron, les actrices Penelope Cruz et Monica Bellucci, la princesse Caroline de Monaco...


Du coup, la pharmacie n'investit pas un centime dans la publicité: ses apparitions dans des films à succès comme "Hannibal", avec Anthony Hopkins, ou "Casino Royale", le James Bond de 2006, suffisent à entretenir sa notoriété et attirer des aficionados dans les 200 points de vente mondiaux de la marque, d'Auckland à Hong Kong. "Aujourd'hui les clients de Santa Maria Novella sont de plus en plus jeunes! Et c'est bien: ils transmettent davantage leur enthousiasme pour nos produits, et en plus ils vivent plus longtemps !" se réjouit Eugenio Alphandery, PDG de Santa Maria Novella et grand amateur de voile.


En outre, grâce à la complexité de leur élaboration et à la cherté des matières premières, les produits de la pharmacie dissuadent les contrefaçons.


Ce savoir-faire unique a un prix: il faut compter 80 euros pour une eau de toilette et 15 euros pour un pot-pourri, la spécialité-maison. Les plus désargentés repartiront avec une boîte de pastilles à cinq euros.

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Luxury Industry | Un réseau international de trafic de faux Hermès démantelé, 12 personnes interpellées

Luxury Industry | Un réseau international de trafic de faux Hermès démantelé, 12 personnes interpellées | Industries |

15 juin 2012


Douze personnes ont été interpellées jeudi dans les régions parisienne et lyonnaise, soupçonnées d'appartenir à un vaste réseau de contrefaçon de produits Hermès, ayant écoulé pour une valeur estimée à 18 millions d'euros de maroquinerie, a annoncé vendredi le parquet de Paris.


Ces personnes appartenaient à tous les niveaux de la filière - têtes de réseau, fournisseurs, fabricants, distributeurs - y compris au sein de la maison Hermès, a précisé le parquet dans un communiqué.


"Des sacs contrefaits et des matières premières d'excellente qualité représentant un volume de 20 m3 et des ateliers clandestins dotés d'équipements complets ont été découverts", souligne-t-il.


Les enquêteurs ont en outre saisi plusieurs dizaines de milliers d'euros en espèce, une machine à compter des billets, 22 comptes bancaires à Hong Kong et 3 à Chypre, "créditeurs de plusieurs centaines de milliers d'euros", ajoute-t-il. "Le nombre de produits écoulés, à des tarifs similaires à ceux pratiqués dans le réseau de distribution officielle est en l'état évalué sur une seule des filières à 18 millions d'euros", selon le parquet.


Une information judiciaire, notamment pour détention, importation et exportation de marchandises contrefaites en bande organisée, avait été ouverte le 29 septembre 2011 après une plainte d'Hermès faisant état d'un trafic international.


L'enquête a été élargie en février aux chefs de blanchiment en bande organisée et association de malfaiteurs.


Elle a permis "de mettre en lumière une organisation criminelle internationale très structurée, avec un circuit de blanchiment complet, révélateur de l'attractivité représentée par la contrefaçon de criminalité organisée", souligne le parquet.


Dans un communiqué vendredi soir, Hermès a salué ce démantèlement et précisé avoir déposé plainte car "les dispositifs internes de contrôle avaient détecté des indices et des comportements anormaux".


Hermès a précisé que "deux anciens salariés (...) sont soupçonnés d'avoir organisé ce réseau qui pourrait impliquer quelques employés de la maison".


Le fabricant des carrés de soie et des sacs Birkin et Kelly "rappelle plus que jamais sa détermination totale à combattre la contrefaçon".


L'enquête a été conduite par la Juridiction interrégionale spécialisée (Jirs) de Paris et confiée à la section de recherche de Versailles et au Groupe d'intervention régional (GIR) des Yvelines.

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Parfumerie: l'école Givaudan forme les grands "nez" de la planète

Parfumerie: l'école Givaudan forme les grands "nez" de la planète | Industries |

13 juillet 2012


L'Air du Temps, Opium... Comme ces deux grands "classiques", un tiers des parfums créés dans le monde portent l'empreinte des élèves de l'école Givaudan, pépinière de talents basée près de Paris qui forme depuis 1946 des générations d'illustres "nez".

"C'est dans ce bureau qu'a été créé Opium, ici c'est Poison, là Loulou et beaucoup d'autres encore", chuchote avec fierté et gourmandise Jean Guichard, son directeur, en approchant de la salle de travail des élèves. Lui-même a créé Loulou ("de la vanille et un côté poudré, des fleurs d'hibiscus inspirées des tableaux de Gauguin") et Eden de Cacharel.


Le silence règne. L'air est frais, la lumière douce. De grands flacons (factices) trônent sur des étagères comme un hommage aux anciens élèves de l'école : Jean-Claude Ellena (Hermès), Thierry Wasseur (Guerlain), Jacques Polge (Chanel)...


Dans cette salle du "bâtiment vanille", situé non loin de la gare d'Argenteuil (Val d'Oise), ils sont cinq ce jeudi de juin - deux Brésiliens, une Japonaise, une Marocaine et un Français - à plancher sur leurs "touches" (languettes de papier buvard imprégnées de substances odorantes), armés de carnets de notes.


Leandro, 26 ans, s'intéresse au "muguet", fleur dont on ne peut extraire l'essence et dont l'odeur est reconstituée à base de matières naturelles et synthétiques. "Je découvre les multiples facettes de la matière. C'est passionnant", commente-t-il tandis que Nisrine, 27 ans, chimiste de formation, explique à l'AFP la "chromatographie", l'analyse par molécules d'un parfum.


Traduire son époque


Ils ont été sélectionnés en fonction de leur parcours (scientifique ou littéraire) et de leur personnalité mais surtout de "leur capacité à comprendre leur époque", explique M. Guichard, qui reçoit "200 à 250 dossiers chaque année" et n'en retient que "trois en moyenne".

Ils inventeront peut-être les Rive Gauche, Coco Mademoiselle, Terre d'Hermès ou Angel du futur, devenant à leur tour de grands parfumeurs. Et "un grand parfumeur ne se résume pas à son nez. Il invente, comme un grand musicien, un grand cinéaste, un grand peintre. Il traduit les idées de son époque tout en faisant des choses qu'il aime", ajoute le directeur, en avançant à pas feutrés vers le laboratoire.


Partout des flacons aux étiquettes mystérieuses renferment de simples ou complexes mélanges issus des 1.300 matières premières sélectionnées par Givaudan. Les élèves doivent acquérir "une parfaite connaissance de 500 d'entre elles comme de l'alphabet" avant d'apprendre les "accords" (mélanges de matières premières), l'équivalent des mots" et les "familles olfactives (citrus, floral, boisé, chypre, fougère, oriental) qui correspondent aux phrases". Cette méthode, mise au point par le fondateur de l'école, Jean Carle, a fait ses preuves.


Car, ajoute M. Guichard, qu'il s'agisse de haute parfumerie ou de savons, détergents ou lessives, un bon "nez" doit "d'abord acquérir une technique. C'est un apprentissage académique indispensable même s'il leur faudra l'oublier pour pouvoir inventer".


Officiellement il n'y a pas de limite d'âge et aucun diplôme n'est requis pour entrer à l'école Givaudan. En pratique, la plupart des élèves sont âgés de 25 à 30 ans et titulaire d'un bac +4 ou +5. Le cursus dure trois ans à l'issue desquels un poste leur est garanti au sein de la société Givaudan (8.500 salariés dans le monde), leader mondial de création de parfums avec laquelle il signe un contrat d'exclusivité de cinq ans. Ils travailleront dans ses bureaux de création à Paris, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapour ou Dubaï.

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Public Utilities | New York: Lessons From the Hudson River PCB Cleanup Project

Public Utilities | New York: Lessons From the Hudson River PCB Cleanup Project | Industries |
With PCB dredging well under way in the Hudson River, questions linger over what to do with PCBs left behind...


08/08/2012 | By Esther D'Amico


The 315-mile-long Hudson River, which flows in the eastern part of New York state from high in the Adirondack Mountains down to the Battery in New York Harbor, has always been a pivotal waterway in the U.S.—for business and pleasure. Boating, swimming and fishing have long been popular there, but residents who live along the upper Hudson, in particular, know better than to eat the fish.


That's because the river's industrial past has spurred one of the nation's largest and most complex environmental cleanup projects to date: the removal of 2.65 million cu yd of sediment laden with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a group of chemicals classified as probable human carcinogens that accumulate in the fish and work their way up the food chain.


The job of reducing the concentration levels of these chemicals in the river and fish is the focus of General Electric's $1-billion dredging project along a 40-mile, heavily contaminated stretch of the Hudson River, from Fort Edward to Troy.


The 10- to 11-year, two-phase project is one of the most complex of its kind in the U.S. It involves roughly 350 workers, more than 70 project-related vessels, heavy machinery and a 110-acre, PCB-dedicated processing and dewatering complex at Fort Edward in the upper Hudson. Despite the scale and scope of the work, questions remain as to whether the effort goes far enough to remove the pernicious toxins.


PCBs have a long history in industry. From 1947 to 1977, GE used oil-based PCBs in capacitors and transformers, which GE manufactured at its Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plants on the upper river.


Over the decades, the plants discharged up to an estimated 1.3 million lb of PCBs into the Hudson. Like other manufacturers, GE was following a common practice along what was then a heavily industrialized river. The company had permits for most of its discharges.


But by the mid-20th century, a growing body of research suggested that PCBs posed a threat to health and the environment. As those findings gained more substantiation, regulators issued fish-consumption advisories in 1971 for the river. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bannned PCB production in 1979 and, by 1984, had declared a 200-mile span of the Hudson River a Superfund site. For decades, GE, the government and key stakeholders would tussle over what to do to about the PCB issue—and who should do it.


In 2002, GE agreed to pay for and dredge what were dubbed "hot spot" PCB areas in the river. That same year, EPA issued a record of decision (ROD) for dredging the 40-mile stretch, designated as River Sections 1, 2 and 3, in two phases. The plan still guides the effort today.


In 2007, before the dredging started, GE began building the Fort Edward processing and dewatering complex as well as a separate collection tunnel beneath the river to collect PCBs infiltrating from its Hudson Falls site. (See this sidebar on why PCBs are so persistent in the environment.)


Phase-one dredging began and ended in 2009. Phase two started in 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2017 or 2018.


Meanwhile, last June, EPA issued a five-year review of the project so far that shows the cleanup is going according to plans outlined in the ROD. While some groups, including environmentalists, do not necessarily disagree with the findings, they claim the ROD itself is flawed because it does not take into account all of the hot spots and say the effort will leave significant contamination in the river long after project completion. They want the EPA, which oversees the project, to expand the scope and time frame of GE's cleanup. EPA "has issued a final decision, and we're following it," says Mark Behan, a GE spokesman.


Despite the controversy, all parties involved in the cleanup agree the project itself is a major design and engineering feat. "People who haven't seen the project don't really fully appreciate the complexity of it," says John Haggard, GE executive director of the project. "Prior to getting this under way, there was almost no precedent for this."


The work starts with the excavators, each equipped with clamshell buckets to scoop contaminated debris from what, in some places, is a non-uniform river bottom. "We have to deal with everything in the river. One day it's a cobble field where there are boulders and course sands and gravel," says Timothy Kruppenbacher, GE operations manager. "Other days, we have to dig over the tops of clay—and you get blocks of clay—or your silts, which we refer to as 'pudding' in the barges."


Each dredge is equipped with GPS technology to help guide the buckets to their targets with what some call "surgically precise" accuracy.


Separate barges loaded with clean sand and gravel follow the dredges to backfill the cuts. Work continues in the dredge zone around the clock, six days a week, during the work season from May through November.


Other barges loaded with contaminated sediment are sent upriver to the Fort Edward processing complex. Along the dredge zone, air, water and noise monitoring systems are in place to alert officials to adverse conditions.


From the roughly 350 project-related workers, including consultants and contractors, to the number of vessels, the amount of equipment and the process itself, the project takes extensive coordination, says Behan. The project must both take into account the dredging operations and accommodate the community that surrounds it, he says. To minimize the noise impact to residents along the river, "whisper-quiet" hospital-grade generators and downward-facing lighting are used on dredging equipment. To track vessels on the water 24/7, GE set up a traffic control center to monitor all the machinery and operations.


Unfinished Business?


In recent years, several U.S. PCB-contaminated waterways have begun evaluation and remediation efforts, though none are tackling such a large section of river as the Hudson project. Wisconsin's Fox River project, for example, started in 2009 and aims to remove or cap 3.8 million cu yd of contaminated sediment. Although that is more than the Hudson project in scope, it only covers a 13.3-mile stretch of the river (ENR 8/3/09 p. 24).


On the Hudson, EPA has project oversight, and GE is the designated potentially responsible party under Superfund. As such, the firm is paying the $1-billion tab for the cleanup. Engineering firm Blasland, Bouck & Lee, now part of Arcadis U.S., and dredging contractor Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting have been working on the dredging project from the start. The cleanup is on the same schedule as the Champlain Canal, where the processing complex is located.


Using vibracore technology, GE collected 54,000 sediment samples to target where it would dredge in the 40-mile stretch of river. GE says this is one of the largest sampling projects ever conducted in the U.S. The core samples, collected at 80-ft centers, were analyzed in six-inch segments. "The depth of contamination is established based on what we see in those six-inch segments," Kruppenbacher says. "Our range of cuts is anywhere from six inches to in excess of eight and nine feet in some areas."


After dredging, areas that show PCB concentrations of one part per million (ppm) or less are backfilled with sand and gravel to both encapsulate any residual PCBs and form a substrate for aquatic plant life restoration and habitat reconstruction, says Dave King, director and projects coordinator at EPA Region 2 Hudson River Field Office. Areas that exceed one ppm and hard-to-reach areas that cannot be dredged are capped to isolate the PCBs left behind.


About 60% of the dredging is being done in River Section 1, a six-mile stretch from the former Fort Edward Dam to the Thompson Island Dam, where contamination is heaviest. About 20% of the dredging, which will likely start next year, will cover the next five miles to the North Umberland Dam, or River Section 2. The remainder will hit contaminated hot spots from this dam down to the Federal Dam at Troy in River Section 3.


In phase one, which began and ended in 2009, crews removed 283,000 cu yd of contaminated sediment and debris—exceeding the 265,000-cu-yd target—and capped about 36% of the phase's target area. The depth of contamination, however, was found to be greater than what calculations from the initial core samples showed and greater than what was anticipated in the ROD.


Crews encountered a large amount of woody debris on the riverbed, left behind from long-ago logging operations, that had thrown off depth calculations, Behan says. Once crews removed the debris, GE secured about 4,000 additional core samples to find the proper depth.


Those were not the only murky results of phase one, however. EPA and GE spent 2010 analyzing phase one and devised a plan based on the ROD's engineering performance standards for tackling phase two. The standards set allowable levels for PCB re-suspension in the water during dredging; productivity levels for both the length of dredging time and quantity of material to be removed during the season; and levels for the amount of PCBs left behind after dredging.


Re-suspension was of particular concern as PCB levels were much higher than anticipated after phase one. When levels rose above the 500-parts-per-trillion federal standard for drinking water, contractors halted dredging.


Heavy rains, combined with dredging in several highly contaminated areas at a time, contributed to the rise, King says. To reduce re-suspension risk, dredge passes would be limited to two in phase two, instead of the four usually used in phase one. In some cases, this means deeper dredge cuts are needed, King says.


Another lesson learned was to start backfilling as soon as possible after an area is dredged to better control re-suspension, King says. The phase-two plan also calls for reducing the amount of capping.


Last year, or phase two's first year, started in River Section 1 where phase one left off. Work was delayed until June, however, due to last year's heavy flooding from early spring rains and thaw; river elevation levels can affect the operation.


Kruppenbacher says the river is "worse than a tidal zone because there are five hydroelectric dams between us and the Adirondack Mountains." The dams cycle based on power demand. "In this type of [hot] weather, they'll start releasing right around [noon] till about 6 or 7 tonight," he notes. The cycling can cause elevation levels to fluctuate by one to two feet. "Before we really got the hang of it, we could find ourselves sitting on a sandbar in no time, because you could be working in 18 inches of water and have 12 inches drop out from under you," Kruppenbacher says. Also, the Great Sacandaga Lake, a flood-control reservoir, affects the Hudson's flow. "If there's no rain in the mountains, their level drops, and that starts constraining how much flow they have in the river," he adds.


While those conditions were factored into the project before it began, the extent of the challenge was underestimated. "We learned a lot about how the river operates in phase one," Kruppenbacher adds.


After dredging, barges filled with the contaminated sediment head to the processing site, operated by Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure. No one piece of equipment at the site is unusual, Kruppenbacher says. "The uniqueness is in the combination of what's here," he notes.


The site includes two barge unloading stations; their cranes drop the contaminated sediment into one of two size-separation process lines that use a series of screens and hydrocyclones to segregate debris. Heavier "debris," which can include bolders, bicycles and anything else the riverbed offers up that day, is separated out from the finer materials and sent to landfills. The finer material is processed through one of two gravity thickeners, which use coagulants and flocculants to turn PCB-laden slurry into solids. The next stop is a dewatering facility with 12 filter presses that turn the solids into sediment "cakes"; then, the cakes are placed in a staging area or loaded into lined railcars headed for out-of-state landfills designed for hazardous materials. To increase productivity, GE added the second off-loading station and second gravity thickener to the site this year.


Meanwhile, before the water is sent back to the river, an on-site, two-million-gallon water treatment plant cleans both the process water and stormwater from the site.


The overall project's next step is to determine the extent of contamination in the floodplain between Fort Edward and Troy. EPA and GE are currently taking sediment samples from the area. "We hope to start remediation in the floodplain while the dredging is going on," King says.

King says the project will achieve its goal of removing "enough PCBs so that the concentrations in the fish go down to the point where they're not an issue as far as human consumption and ecological impacts." Extensive monitoring of those impacts will continue "forever, basically," he adds.


He recognizes the project will not entirely solve the Hudson's PCB issue. "We can't go bank to bank on the entire river," he says, noting there is a point at which that makes no scientific or financial sense. "But it is our hope that, once we get out the contamination from this dredging, the river can heal itself," an outcome that will take decades, he adds.


After project completion, the issue of what to do about unremediated PCBs is in the hands of the project's natural-resource trustees, a group of federal and state agencies charged under Superfund with assessing PCB damage to natural resources.


The trustees already have affirmed that the level of contamination is higher and more widespread than predicted in the ROD and that most of this contamination is adjacent to planned dredged areas. They say the PCB levels remaining after dredging will be "equivalent to a series of Superfund-caliber sites being left behind" and will recontaminate the dredged areas. "We feel that if the trustees negotiate with GE and GE ends up taking more out, we would certainly support that," King says. "But just how practical that is, is the question."


That response does not sit well with everyone, however. Several environmental groups, including Scenic Hudson, are pushing for more PCBs to be removed. "Our hope is that GE will be a good corporate citizen," says Althea Mullarkey, policy analyst at Scenic Hudson, which is calling for GE to dredge beyond the ROD-specified area in and out of the dredge zone. "Our hope is that GE will say, 'Our boats are in the river, and our plant is done, and no one can do it better than us, so let's take care of this now.' "


Mullarkey emphasizes that environmental groups are not criticizing the work under way and, in fact, are "impressed with the staff on-site and how they handle things."


Behan says there will always be groups and individuals who feel the project should be larger and those who feel that it should be smaller.


Meanwhile, the agency itself is under fire for taking just 60 days for the review when such reviews for Superfund sites typically take six to nine months. Initially, it was set to last just 30 days but, after prompting earlier this year from Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), that "such a short time frame would undoubtedly limit what can be reviewed," the agency tacked on 30 days more.

King says the time frame is sufficient. "We are basically reviewing the river on a daily basis, so a lot of the review in a five-year review that you would have to do from scratch we do every day," he adds.


Mullarkey and others argue the review was too rushed to yield meaningful results. She concedes, however, the current dredging operation will leave the river in better condition than it was before the dredging and that "some improvement is better than nothing at all."


But Mullarkey likens GE and the cleanup to a teenager's messy room. "You tell him or her to clean it up, and so they pick up their shoes and socks and maybe a few other things and think they're done. And while they have made a difference, the room is still a mess."


King says that, over time, the river's natural processes will help reduce contamination. "Right now, you can't eat the fish at all. If we can get the [PCB] concentration down to 0.4 ppm in 20 to 30 years, you can eat the fish once every two months," King says. "If we get down to 0.2 ppm, that's one meal per month. At 0.05, it's one meal a week, and that is as far as you will ever get down to," King says, adding that it will likely take about 70 years to reach that point. "So this is a fix for our grandchildren, not us."

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Agroalimentaire | Interdiction du foie gras en Californie : les mensonges qu’on vous fait avaler

Agroalimentaire | Interdiction du foie gras en Californie : les mensonges qu’on vous fait avaler | Industries |
Suite à l’entrée en vigueur de l’interdiction de la fabrication et de la vente de foie gras en Californie ce 1er juillet, les professionnels français du foie gras se mobilisent, avec l’appui du gouvernement, pour contrer « le préjudice d’image » occasionné.


Réunion de crise au ministère de l’Agriculture, déclaration du ministre des Affaires étrangères, invitation de l’ambassadeur des Etats-Unis à une séance de propagande : la contre-attaque française est orchestrée par le Comité interprofessionnel du foie gras (Cifog).


Pour Marie-Pierre Pé, sa déléguée générale, l’interdiction californienne est le fait de « lobbies d’associations de protection animale » qui « font de l’anthropomorphisme “.


La protestation est aussi relayée par Martin Malvy, président (PS) de la région Midi-Pyrénées, qui estime que ‘des associations militent contre le gavage, souvent en ignorant totalement la manière dont on procède’.


Un vrai scandale ! A l’autre bout du monde, des politiciens ignorants votent sous l’influence de militants infantiles l’interdiction d’un bon produit français fabriqué dans le respect des animaux et des traditions. Il était temps de rétablir la vérité.

Une interdiction fondée sur une expertise scientifique


‘Nous respectons la physiologie de l’animal’, affirme Marie-Pierre Pé. Pas de chance, c’est sur la base d’un avis [PDF]du Comité scientifique européen pour la santé et le bien-être animal que le Sénat californien a fondé sa décision en 2004.


Rédigées par une douzaine d’experts internationaux, les conclusions du rapport sont plutôt accablantes pour la production de foie gras :


- risque de lésions de l’œsophage ou d’éclatement du jabot ;
- défaillance du foie ;
- stress thermique ;
- diarrhées ;
- insuffisance respiratoire ;
- mortalité décuplée…

Durant la période de gavage, la stéatose hépatique provoque la mort de six à vingt fois plus d’oiseaux que durant la phase de croissance. Parce que le fonctionnement normal du foie est sérieusement altéré, ‘le niveau de stéatose doit être considéré comme pathologique’ indique le rapport.


Des chercheurs financés pour être mieux contrôlés


‘On ne peut pas laisser dire et faire sans se révolter’, dit encore notre chère Marie-Pierre. On ne saurait mieux formuler la chose ! La filière du foie gras contrôle de très près l’image du produit, et maintient sciemment une épaisse opacité autour du gavage dans le but ‘d’apaiser la conscience du consommateur’.


Images bucoliques, publicités évanescentes, paillettes et champagne... maintiennent une distance entre le consommateur et les 34 millions de canards gavés à la pompe chaque année en France, dont plus de 80% en batterie.


Le Cifog a été jusqu’à impulser et cofinancer des études réalisées par quelques chercheurs de l’Inra qui – ô surprise ! – sont parvenus à la conclusion qu’‘aucun élément scientifique ne permet de dire que cette opération [le gavage] est une source de mal-être animal’.


Seuls quelques mauvais Français, tel Antoine Comiti, auteur de ‘L’Inra au secours du foie gras’, se sont permis de contester la qualité de cet admirable travail d’expertise réalisé en toute indépendance.


Les ONG enquêtent dans les élevages


‘Des associations militent contre le gavage, souvent en ignorant totalement la manière dont on procède’, note encore Martin Malvy. Vraiment ?


Les ONG américaines impliquées dans la campagne pour l’interdiction californienne ont tourné plusieurs documentaires dans l’élevage californien Sonoma S.A, unique producteur local de foie gras. En 2004, des enquêteurs ont fait le voyage jusqu’en France pour accompagner les militants français de Stop Gavage dans une vaste enquête menée dans des élevages, couvoirs et abattoirs à canards du Gers et des Landes.


Cette investigation dans des élevages produisant du foie gras de canard Label Rouge et IGP ‘ Canard à foie gras du Sud-Ouest ’ a donné lieu au documentaire ‘ Le Gavage en question : une enquête au pays du foie gras ’. La brutalité institutionnelle révélée par ce film soulève une question : existe-t-il une limite aux souffrances que l’on peut infliger à un animal pour le plaisir de manger ses organes ?



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Automotive | Aquitaine | Ford Aquitaine Industrie : la Région reste vigilante

Automotive | Aquitaine | Ford Aquitaine Industrie : la Région reste vigilante | Industries |

Par Rédaction L'Usine Nouvelle - Publié le 24 février 2009

Lundi soir, Markus Hueter, le directeur général de Johann Hay GmbH et Wolfgang Maennel, le conseiller de la société HZ Holding France SAS, ont été reçus au Conseil régional d'Aquitaine, par son président, Alain Rousset, flanqué de Vincent Feltesse, aux commandes de la Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux. Les deux élus sont décidés à suivre de près la route que compte emprunter le nouveau repreneur de l'usine Ford Aquitaine Industrie, implantée à Blanquefort (Gironde).


Alain Rousset s'est empressé de rappeler les axes qui lui tiennent à cœur : la formation du personnel, les investissements matériels, la capacité du site à se doter d'une force d'ingénierie, avec la création d'un bureau d'études. Enfin, il a insisté sur la création à moyen terme, d'une filière dans le sillage de FAI. Un centre de compétences autour de la mécanique pourrait ainsi voir le jour.

Les groupes contactés pendant la recherche d'un repreneur, pourraient bien être approchés de nouveau, pour implanter des activités à proximité de FAI. De leur côté, Markus Hueter et Wolfgang Maennel ont fait part de leur souhait d'aller vite, notamment dans la mise en route de l'activité dédiée aux éoliennes.


D'ici à deux ans, un bâtiment devrait être érigé pour accueillir la fabrication de roues dentées de grand diamètre pour les éoliennes. L'emplacement précis où sera installée cette activité, n'est pas encore arrêté, alors même que certains sols du vaste terrain de FAI sont pollués. De son coté Ford n'entend pas se délester du site comme un voleur. Partir, oui mais de façon « propre ». Pour preuve, le constructeur américain devrait siéger dans le conseil de surveillance de la nouvelle SAS qui va être créé pour gérer le site et devenir un partenaire financier énergique. La holding HZ, pour sa part, va acheter une partie des actifs.


Par ailleurs Ford se serait engagé à garantir des commandes jusqu'en 2011. En attendant, l'Aquitaine va mettre sur pied un comité d'investisseurs composé des représentants de l'Etat, de la Région et de la CUB. Un nouveau levier pour bien coordonner les interventions financières des collectivités en fonction des projets industriels présentés par le repreneur. D'ici à quinze jours, ce comité sera opérationnel. Mais, la prudence reste de mise.


De notre correspondante en Aquitaine, Colette Goinère


Tags:Aquitaine, Economie, Automobile, Transport - Logistique

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