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25 Things Economic Developers Need to Know This Week

The stories Dane thinks you need to see. March 28, 2024 edition.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
6 min read
25 Things Economic Developers Need to Know This Week

Welcome to this week's issue of What Economic Developers Need to Know This Week, where we explore the evolving dynamics of our economy. 

This week we have 25 tools, stories, graphics, charts, and videos that I think you'll find informative, useful, inspiring, and perhaps even humorous. Some are economic development related directly, and some only indirectly. 🤔

If you're wondering what to do with the info in this newsletter, send something to your board members. It will make you look good!

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1) America’s magical thinking about housing: The city of Austin built a lot of homes. Now rent is falling, and some people seem to think that's a bad thing.

2) Kern supervisors have approved permits for first California steel mill in decades: Housed in a 489,200-square-foot micro steel mill and 61,000-square-foot accessory structure, the plant would produce rebar steel from scrap metal discarded by shredded vehicles, appliances and sheet metal. It will be powered mainly through a 63-acre solar array onsite capable of producing 10 megawatts.

3) Middle housing is ever-shrinking share of new multi-family

4) The evolution of economic development: From egos to service-oriented leadership.

5) Nearshoring in Mexico: Unraveling economic threads for the U.S. and Texas.

6) An excellent read: You can't make money in Bentonville, so said Sears. Thankfully, Walmart disagreed.

7) You might want to hold onto those Reese's Eggs:

Cocoa prices set a new record above $10,000 per metric ton.

In nominal terms, cocoa prices have surged to >$10,000 – up from ~$2,500 a year ago, and ~$650 a decade ago. To put things into perspective: the previous record, which only fell in February after 46 years unbroken, was ~$5,500.

(In real terms, adjusted by the cumulative impact of inflation, cocoa is still trading well below the peak set in the 1970s.)

The cause: Decades of underinvestment have caught up with growing chocolate demand. Old cocoa trees mean two problems: lower yields, and plants particularly vulnerable to bad weather and disease. Both factors are at play this year.

The upshot is a brutal gap between supply and demand. Even when accounting for the damping impact of high prices on consumption, the market is heading for a deficit of 300,000-to-500,000 tons. If confirmed, that would be the largest shortfall in at least 65 years.

8) The tragic bridge collapse this week in Baltimore closed a vital throughway for the nation's commerce.

The port of Baltimore ranks 17th in the nation by tonnage of cargo handled, but it leads all other U.S. ports in imports and exports of cars and light trucks.

More details:

9) A look at inflation:

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10) The cost of providing child care benefits to employees – like stipends and onsite day care – is an investment with outsized returns, finds an intriguing new study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and nonprofit Moms First.

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