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    Magnetic Memphis

    Logistical advantage draws business

    The FedEx Express Super Hub, located in Memphis, Tenn., has become a magnet for businesses, reports The Wall Street Journal on July 10, 2007 (full story). Because locating in Memphis means close proximity to this central air hub, companies can receive electronic orders from around the country late into the night, and still be able to provide next day service because instead of 9:00 p.m. shipping deadline, they have until 11:40 p.m. The paper cites the Memphis Regional Chamber, which says more than two dozen small businesses have either expanded to or relocated in Memphis over the past two years. In addition to FedEx, DHL, a unit of Deutshe Post AG of Germany, also has a hub in Memphis. Similar benefits draw businesses to Indianapolis (another main FedEx hub) and Louisville, Ky., where UPS has its air hub. Companies seeking such logistical benefits include legal and technical document reproduction companies, and even biotech companies. GEO

    Bright Flight

    Eastern Europe losing workers to West

    Companies attracted to cheap, skilled labor in places like Slovakia are finding workers harder to come by, reports the The Wall Street Journal (full story) on July 10, 2007. In Bratislava, known as Detroit East because of the large numbers of automotive-related factories, are having to bus in workers from as far as 60 miles away. Slovakia is one of several Eastern European countries to join the European Union in recent years. As skilled workers have emigrated to places like the UK and Ireland, Europe is rapidly losing its low-cost hinterland. Other countries facing similar issues include Poland and Hungary. Wages still remain as much as 34% less in these areas, but costs are increasing, causing companies to investigate investments in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Morocco. GEO

    Biotech Britania

    Cambridge concentrates bio businesses

    In the July 10, 2007, The Wall Street Journal, a three-page special advertising section ran touting the scientific advantages of doing business in the U.K. The articles cited top universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, as well as a strong biotech cluster in the Cambridge area. One article cited statistics from Library House, a Cambridge-based investment research and consulting company, that within a 50-mile region surrounding Cambridge University there are 180 biotech-related companies employing 3,600 poeple, generating $1.46 billion in revenue. The special advertising section also pushed London as good choice for filmakers, from Hollywood to Bollywood, and for renwable-energy firms. GEO

    Lock, Stock, and Barrel

    Energy costs force companies to pick up and move stakes

    For industries in which energy is a key input, such as metals and chemicals, rising costs are making life rough, reports The Wall Street Journal on July 6, 2007 (full story). In response, some companies are setting up shop in business-friendly, energy-rich countries like Trinidad. The tiny island nation scant miles off the coast of Venezuela has attracted Mittal Steel Co. and Nucor Corp. In Nucor's case, it chopped its refinery located in New Orleans into pieces and shipped it across the sea to be reassembled in Trinidad. Not surprisingly, wages are on the increase in the country as manufacturers move in and snap up the most skilled workers. Other locales attracting manufacturers include Iceland, with lower-cost hydro- and geothermal power, and even Saudi Arabia. GEO

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