Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pilgrim’s Pride to Create Up to 1,400 Jobs, Invest $30 Million in Coffee County

Idled Chicken Processing Plant in Douglas to Re-open in January 2011
Governor Sonny Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride announced yesterday that the company will hire as many as 1,400 local workers and invest approximately $30 million to re-open its chicken processing complex in Douglas, in Coffee County, by January 2011.

“The economic imprint of Pilgrim’s Pride is enormous, not only to the state’s poultry industry, but to the growers and suppliers in the region,” said Governor Perdue. “We are proud that Pilgrim’s Pride has recognized the value Georgia brings to poultry companies. There is no doubt the company will benefit from a workforce with deep experience in this industry.”

Company executives joined Governor Perdue and local and state officials in Douglas today to officially kick off the re-opening of the plant, which is expected to employ up to 1,400 workers and process approximately 1.3 million chickens per week when it ramps up to full production by summer 2011. Among those in attendance today were Wesley Batista, president and chief executive officer of JBS USA, majority owner of Pilgrim’s Pride; his brother Jose Batista Jr., a member of the board of directors of Pilgrim’s Pride; and Jose Batista Sobrinho, their father and the founder of JBS S.A., the world’s largest meat company and parent firm of JBS USA.

Pilgrim’s Pride expects to contract with approximately 160 local growers to supply the Douglas plant. Georgia Quick Start will provide customized training for the company’s workers to help it reach full production on schedule.

Pilgrim’s Pride has been moving quickly to prepare for the re-opening. Last week the company appointed John Haas as live production manager in Douglas. He will be responsible for the local pullet, breeder, hatchery, feed mill, grow-out and live haul operations. In addition, the company yesterday set its first flock of pullets, which will grow into breeding stock.

Pilgrim’s Pride’s presence in the region affects more than 3,700 jobs in the state, from the plant’s labor force to workers at hatcheries, feed mills, trucking operations and other ancillary operations.

“This is a proud day for the Douglas community and for Pilgrim’s Pride,” said Don Jackson, Pilgrim’s Pride president and chief executive officer. “The re-opening of our Douglas complex will play an important role in our ability to meet our customers’ growing demand for chicken. We look forward to working with the community, our growers and the state of Georgia to ensure a successful future for Douglas.”

“Poultry has been a strong part of our economy for more than fifty years. We watched it grow, we watched it vanish and now we look forward to watching it grow again – growing jobs for Coffee County, the region and the state of Georgia,” said JoAnne Lewis, President and Executive Director of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber and Economic Development Association. “By partnering with Governor Perdue, our state economic development partners and Pilgrim’s Pride, we have created hope for our economy; hope bound by jobs and investment.”

Tom Croteau, director of the Agribusiness, Bioenergy, Food Processing & Logistics Team in the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce division, was the project manager for the state.

About Pilgrim’s Pride Pilgrim's Pride Corporation (NYSE: PPC) employs approximately 41,000 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 12 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Company's primary distribution is through retailers and foodservice distributors. For more information, please visit http://www.pilgrimspride.com.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Georgia-Pacific Completes Acquisition of OSB Mills in South Carolina and Canada

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia-Pacific today announced that is has completed the purchase of Grant Forest Products' oriented strand board (OSB) facilities at Allendale and Clarendon, S.C., as well as the facility at Englehart, Ontario, and the associated facility at Earlton, Ontario. The acquisition, first announced in January, totaled approximately $400 million.

"This acquisition represents a long-term, strategic investment by Georgia-Pacific, which will add value to our customers and our existing operations in Canada and the United States," said Mark Luetters, President - Georgia-Pacific Wood Products. "Georgia-Pacific is committed to working closely with employees, customers and suppliers as well as local government and business to ensure that the transition is as smooth and seamless as possible. We look forward to hitting the ground running and maximizing the potential of these facilities."

Georgia-Pacific OSB products include BlueRibbon® rated sheathing and sub-floor, Thermostat® OSB radiant barrier sheathing, DryGuard® enhanced OSB sub-floor and Nautilus® wall sheathing with pre-applied house wrap. The company also will offer many of the additional products made at the new facilities, including larger panels.

The process for the acquisition has involved a series of governmental approvals on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border. These have included the Canadian court overseeing the Grant Forest Products Companies' Creditors Agreement Act filing, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the United States Federal Trade Commission, Investment Canada and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Georgia-Pacific currently has seven facilities operating in South Carolina as well as a wood and fiber supply office at Prosperity. In the state, Georgia-Pacific manufactures Dixie® products, corrugated packaging, thermosetting resins and building products.

Headquartered at Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's leading manufacturers and marketers of building products, tissue, packaging, paper, cellulose and related chemicals. The company employs more than 40,000 people at more than 300 locations in North America, South America and Europe. Georgia-Pacific creates long-term value by using resources efficiently to provide innovative products and solutions that meet the needs of customers and society, while operating in a manner that is environmentally and socially responsible and economically sound. The company has long been among the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of building products to lumber and building materials dealers and large do-it-yourself warehouse retailers, with brands such as Plytanium® plywood, DryPly® water repellent plywood, Ply-Bead® panels and Wood I Beam(TM) and XJ 85(TM) joists offered by Georgia-Pacific Wood Products LLC. DensArmor Plus® interior panels, DensGlass® Sheathing and ToughRock® drywall are offered by Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC. The familiar consumer tissue brands of Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP include Quilted Northern®, Angel Soft®, Brawny®, Sparkle®, Soft 'n Gentle®, Mardi Gras®, So-Dri® and Vanity Fair®. Dixie Consumer Products LLC, a Georgia-Pacific company, manufactures the Dixie® brand of tabletop products. For more information, visit www.gp.com

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Sony Ericsson Leases New Region Americas Headquarters in Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Sony Ericsson today announced that it has officially signed the new lease for its new Americas headquarters in Atlanta. The office, located in the Terminus 200 Building in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, will be the hub for the company's regional operations in North America and Latin America as it delivers an exciting new portfolio of phones to the marketplace.

Approximately 180 employees will be based in the facility, including executive teams, sales and marketing staff, and operations. The company's regional headquarters facilities were formerly located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Miami, FL. The support that Sony Ericsson received from both the state and local economic development teams helped facilitate the decision to relocate to Atlanta. Since Sony Ericsson's operator partner AT&T is based in Atlanta, there will also be opportunities for stronger collaboration.

"Atlanta is an ideal location for Sony Ericsson's new regional headquarters, and we look forward to immersing ourselves in this vibrant community," said Anderson Teixeira, president of Sony Ericsson Region Americas. "Access to impressive office space and a diverse pool of talent, combined with close proximity to AT&T, and easy access to Latin America, make Atlanta an obvious choice for relocation. This move will also encourage even stronger collaboration with our partners as we launch innovative and exciting new products in this market."

"Sony Ericsson's arrival in Georgia epitomizes our state's emergence as a base for technology innovation," said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. "We are excited that a leader in mobile technology is creating a significant number of jobs to generate opportunities for the Atlanta region's strong pipeline of talent for the technology sector."

Sony Ericsson was represented in the transaction by Jones Lang LaSalle working with Cousins Properties, Inc. to complete the terms of the lease for the company's new headquarters. Terminus 200, owned by Cousins in partnership with Morgan Stanley, is a 25-story, 564,000-square-foot tower of Class A office space, retail, and restaurant space located at the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmont roads in the Buckhead office submarket.

Sony Ericsson is a 50/50 joint venture by Sony and Ericsson established in October 2001, with global corporate functions located in London and operations in major markets around the world. Sony Ericsson's strategy is to become the industry leader in mobile Communication Entertainment, through new styles of interaction across the internet and social media. Sony Ericsson offers exciting consumer experiences through innovative and feature rich phones, accessories, content and applications.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Consumer Reports Study Reinforces Need for Right to Repair Act

/PRNewswire/ -- According to the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, more Americans (74 percent) are very satisfied with independent repair shops for vehicle repairs than new car dealers (59 percent). To ensure that car owners can continue to choose between local repair shops and dealerships for vehicle repairs, Congress introduced the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (HR 2057/S 3181).

In May 2009, Consumer Reports came out in support of the Right to Repair Act, stating that "Consumer Reports agrees, in principle, with the Right to Repair Act as it restricts its scope to 'repair' which would increase repair options for car owners."

"As evidenced by the Consumer Reports study, millions of car owners trust independent repair shops to provide affordable and competitive automotive repair service," said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). "The top priority of the Right to Repair Act is motorist safety, ensuring that car owners know what is happening with their vehicles. To keep every motor vehicle serviced, repaired and operating safely, there must be equal access to safety alerts and repair information from the car companies."

The Right to Repair Act protects motoring consumers from a growing and potentially hazardous vehicle repair monopoly by requiring that car companies provide full access at a reasonable cost to all service information, tools and safety-related bulletins needed to repair motor vehicles, ensuring a competitive, level playing field between dealerships and independent repair shops. The legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets, only requiring them to make available the same diagnostic and repair information they provide their franchised dealers.

"It is important that every repair facility, whether a neighborhood repair shop or a new car dealer, has the same access to safety alerts and repair information from the manufacturers," said Ray Pohlman, president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE). "Supporters of Right to Repair are not seeking an unfair advantage, nor are they looking for access to the proprietary information protected by the bill. Instead, they are asking Congress to ensure that car owners, and not the car companies, decide where their vehicles are repaired."

The Right to Repair Act has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. The Senate version of the bill (S 3181) was recently introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) and has 3 co-sponsors. The House version (HR 2057) was introduced by Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA) and currently has 62 co-sponsors.

About Right to Repair:

The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (S 3181) was introduced into the Senate by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). The House version of the bill (HR 2057) was introduced by Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA). The Right to Repair Act protects consumers from a growing vehicle repair monopoly by requiring car companies to make the same service information and tools capabilities available to independent repair shops that they provide to their franchised dealer networks. The legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets. For more information about the Right to Repair Act, visit www.righttorepair.org.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Employment Gains Signal Upward Potential, Says The Conference Board

/PRNewswire/ -- The 224 thousand gain in jobs (excluding the 66,000 additional workers on the census) in April is very welcome news. It clearly shows that this economic recovery can no longer be seen as a jobless one. Following three quarters of growing production, companies apparently find they can't squeeze out any more output without adding workers. This underscores yesterday's news that Q1 productivity growth slowed to a healthy 3.6 percent following the staggering rate of above 7 percent on average in the previous three quarters.

These job gains are comparable to what we've seen following other deep recessions, suggesting that U.S. business has become more confident that the recovery is sustainable. Manufacturing jobs are returning to a significant extent, and construction employment turned the corner in the previous two months. The key factor this spring will be continued gains in service-sector employment beyond health and education.

Continued employment gains of this size could put the economy on a solid 3 percent growth track and -- if productivity growth stays up - even boost it to 3.5 or 4 percent.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Georgia Showcases Bioscience Advances at Industry's Top Global Conference

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia will continue to accelerate the growth of its bioscience industry at the annual BIO International Convention in Chicago, the largest global event for the biotechnology industry. The event attracts the biggest names in biotech and offers key partnering opportunities as well as insights into major trends.

"This strategic industry for the state continues to experience significant growth in the wake of last year's convention in Georgia," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "The research coming out of our universities combined with Georgia's top-notch business environment has generated increased interest from the industry as a result of their heightened exposure over the last year."

Georgia's groundbreaking research, combined with top-ranked universities and a supportive business climate, have propelled the state's development as the crossroads of global health. More than 300 bioscience companies in fields like pharmaceuticals, biotech, diagnostics and bioenergy call Georgia home, making it the most industry-diverse state in the U.S. Southeast. Institutions like Emory University, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the world's top public health agency, keep Georgia in the top 10 states for research and development.

Among the most significant developments following the BIO International Convention, which was held in Georgia for the first time in 2009, was the August announcement by Seattle-based Dendreon Corporation that it would locate a $70 million facility in Union City, Georgia. This plant will manufacture Provenge, an aggressive treatment for prostate cancer that won FDA approval last week. The company is in the process of creating several hundred jobs in Georgia.

Other biotechnology companies recently announcing locations, expansions or funding partnerships in Georgia are Sepmag Technology of Spain (in-vitro medical devices), Iverson Genetics of Washington (genetic testing), Qualtex Labs of Texas (blood testing), Cancer Treatment Centers of America (hospital) and a number of bioenergy-focused enterprises.

Numerous biotechnology companies in the state are developing, testing and implementing ground-breaking discoveries. For example, Georgia-based Geovax Labs, which has licensed and is testing one of the world's most promising therapeutic vaccines for HIV/AIDS, received FDA approval in March to begin Phase 1 clinical trials. The vaccine was created by the Emory Vaccine Center, renowned for its discovery of the breakthrough HIV drug Emtriva. Altea Therapeutics, which is developing a proprietary technology enabling drug delivery, including insulin, through transdermal patches, currently has five products in development and several clinical and preclinical studies underway with pharmaceutical companies.

Georgia universities like the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) are fueling this pipeline with new findings in cardiovascular, diabetes and obesity, immunologic and vision science and children's health. Research funding per basic scientist at MCG ranks second in the nation among similar-sized institutions, and MCG was named among The Scientist magazine's top 15 places in the U.S. to work in academia.

Incubators at MCG and the Georgia Institute of Technology have been recognized by national publications as among the nation's top facilities. Last month Forbes magazine named the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech to its new list of "10 technology incubators that are changing the world." ATDC, one of around 20 state-funded incubators in Georgia, now has more than 300 companies in its program.

Georgia Tech is also a new member of the American Association of Universities (AAU) and joins Emory University as two of just 63 public and private universities inducted into this elite group based on academic and research credentials.

Joining the Georgia Tech-affiliated Technology Enterprise Park and other bioparks around the state in the future will be a public-private "Crossroads Institute for Global Health" at the former Fort McPherson. This 165-plus acre campus will be able to accommodate companies working in vaccines, infectious diseases, neurosciences and other targeted sciences.

Under Governor Perdue's leadership, Georgia has been a leader in improving life sciences education and workforce development. The Governor's Office of Workforce Development has launched a comprehensive program to create an articulated life sciences career pathway from high school to technical colleges to universities; create training for the existing life sciences industry workforce; eliminate the skills gap using Work Ready Certificates and Work Ready job profiling; and increase high school graduation rates through Certified Work Ready Communities.

Georgia's Innovation Crescent, which organized two years ago to focus on the bio-rich cluster identified by Governor Perdue's workforce study, has just announced its formalization as an economic development entity called the Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership. The Innovation Crescent is a 13-county region from Atlanta to Athens containing numerous bio-focused colleges and universities, as well as industry leaders like Merial, Ciba Vision and Kimberly-Clarke.

The Innovation Crescent is one of five Georgia Work Ready Regions established to bring together bioscience assets and leaders from multiple counties to create regional talent pools. Other regions include Augusta Bioscience, Bioscience Technology Circle of South Georgia, Renewable Energy Front, and the Southwest Georgia Agribusiness Consortium. To date, Georgia has invested in $2.1 million in developing these regions, their workforces and industry networks.

Professionals at Georgia Quick Start, the state's program for customized workforce training, has deep experience in FDA-regulated process and has helped many major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in Georgia find, assess and train team members. A recent example is the customized, 20,000-training hours program Quick Start developed for 400 workers at the new world laboratory headquarters of Quintiles, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies.

Georgia's Center of Innovation for Life Sciences (http://lifesciences.georgiainnovation.org/), part of a network of six Centers of Innovation aligned with the state's strategic industries, makes it easier for early-stage companies to thrive by connecting entrepreneurs and emerging companies around Georgia to industry experts and university research in order to accelerate innovation and commercialization. To complement its work, the public-private Georgia Bioscience Commercialization Center has launched a Web site, www.georgiabcc.com, that will likewise give entrepreneurs access to mentoring assistance from company CEOs and university faculty.

At last year's BIO conference, Georgia debuted a first-of-its kind searchable database called iResearchGeorgia, a partnership between the state and academia. Managed and funded by the Georgia Research Alliance, the online database connects innovative companies with Georgia's top bioscience experts, intellectual property assets and much more. (www.gra.org)

iResearch is just one focus of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), whose existence is a testament to the unified commitment of industry, government and academia in Georgia to grow a technology-based economy. The GRA has recruited over 60 eminent, enterprising scientists to the state, developed 28 nationally recognized Centers of Excellence, and helped leverage $2.6 billion in federal and private investment.

Georgia's 2009 No. 1 ranking for entrepreneurial activity by the Kauffman Foundation attests the strong regional entrepreneurial culture. The state continues to develop a compelling environment for such companies to grow and succeed.

The Centers for Innovation program helped sponsor the Venture Atlanta conference last fall, which drew nearly 500 people and attracted more than 100 VCs from top firms around the country to hear investment opportunities from 21 Georgia companies. More than $410 million in venture capital was invested in Georgia in 2008, ranking the state 14th in the country.

Support for biotech entrepreneurs has also increased in the state with the 2009 implementation of a revised Research & Development tax credit that is tied to the federal calculation and can also be used against payroll withholding. Small, innovative companies now have a longer time period and greater opportunity to position themselves for success.

Other financial incentives for the industry are the Advanced Technology Development (ATDC) Seed Capital Fund, which has invested about $4.6 million since 2004 into life science companies in Georgia that have raised nearly $58 million in total capital, and the Georgia Research Alliance Venture Capital Fund, which provides $30 million of seed and early stage capital for companies growing research coming out of Georgia's universities. Bio companies can also benefit from the Quality Jobs Tax Credit, created in 2009, which rewards companies who create jobs paying higher-than-average wages for the community in which they locate, and has a component that can be monetized against employee withholding taxes.

The bioscience industry in Georgia created almost 18,000 jobs in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. According to other statistics from the "Shaping Infinity" report released by Georgia BIO, the industry was responsible for the creation of more than 62,000 jobs in Georgia, created $16 billion in output and contributed $6.2 billion to the state GDP as well as $517 million in tax revenues for state and local governments. In addition, life sciences research at the state's colleges and universities generated $1.3 billion in output and nearly 15,000 jobs in fiscal year 2006.

"The high-wage jobs created by this industry generate economic growth in Georgia and help drive the innovation so necessary to success in the global marketplace," said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "Our participation in this conference is a key component to our long-term strategy to raise Georgia's profile in this sector and attract companies and venture capital to the state."

The state is hosting 12 Georgia universities, companies and agencies in its exhibit hall booth this year, including Aderans Research, Altea Therapeutics, Emory University, Georgia Bio, Georgia Innovation Crescent, Georgia Tech, Georgia Quick Start, Georgia Work Ready, GeoVax Labs, Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine and Shionogi & Co., Ltd.

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Mercedes-Benz USA Vehicle Preparation Center in Brunswick, Georgia Marks its Opening

/PRNewswire/ -- Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) marks the official opening of its Brunswick, Georgia Vehicle Preparation Center (VPC) during a ribbon cutting ceremony held by Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA for employees and Georgia State dignitaries including Lt. Governor of Georgia Casey Cagle, Steven Green, Chairman of the Board for the Georgia Ports Authority, and U.S. Senator, Mack Mattingly.

"Today's event is a prime example of the impact one company can have on a community and why job creation is our top priority. We are proud to welcome Mercedes-Benz and stand ready to assist and support them as they continue to invest in Georgia," said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The Brunswick Vehicle Preparation Center in its entirety consists of four structures (under roof) totaling 103,260 sq. ft on a 50 acre site. It is one of five VPC facilities in the U.S. that serve as the first stop - after U.S. Customs - for new Mercedes-Benz vehicles destined for Mercedes-Benz dealerships throughout the United States. Located in Glynn County on the south side of Colonels Island, the Brunswick VPC is strategically port-located to processes vehicles headed for Mercedes-Benz dealerships throughout the Southern Region, Texas and Oklahoma.

"The opening of the new VPC, and the choice of this location, represents our ongoing commitment to drive operational efficiencies that ensure we are giving our dealers what they need to provide the very highest levels of customer satisfaction," said Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. "This new facility has already enabled reductions in terms of cost and time in the delivery of new vehicles and this is obviously to the benefit of our customers."

In addition its strategic location to improve efficiencies, many of the key functions for vehicle inspection and prep leverage advanced computerized control systems and facilities designed to ensure the high quality condition of each new vehicle. The VPC is capable of accessory installation, full body shop operations, homologation operations, and vehicle detailing and distribution operations.

The VPC is built with functional design and efficiency to optimize the employee work environment. The VPC is in the process of being LEED Certified as it incorporates components that are environmentally friendly from water use reduction to indoor environmental quality controls including use of daylight in 75 percent of spaces, thermal monitors and construction materials.

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