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The 84 Things Economic Developers Need To Know This Week

The stories that Dane thinks you need to see from this week. March 31, 2022 edition.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
12 min read
The 84 Things Economic Developers Need To Know This Week
Photo by Aunnop Suthumno / Unsplash

Welcome to the "make you a smarter economic developer" newsletter!  Thanks for spending a few minutes with us this morning.

Today we have 84 stories, graphics, charts, and videos that I think you'll find informative, useful, inspiring, and perhaps even humorous.

As always, if you find something great, please send it to me.

- Dane


Today's issue is brought to you by LocalIntel.

1) Do you know how to make a pencil? You don’t, do you? No single person on earth does. The pencil, like most modern wonders, is the end product of an intricate chain of human activity that spans the globe.


2) The labor market right now is just musical chairs.


3) The wheat update doesn't look great:

The worlds largest wheat exporter has invaded and is destroying the civilian infrastructure of the world's fourth largest wheat exporter. Those post it notes are the start of the story, not the end.


4) The whole grocery store is basically owned by about 10 companies:


5) The most valuable infastructure in the world:


6) What's in a bushel of corn?


7) Russia’s war in Ukraine is the end of globalization:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ended globalization as we know it, says the head of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told shareholders in a letter on Thursday that Russia’s “decoupling from the global economy” following its assault on Ukraine has caused governments and companies to examine their reliance on other nations.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades,” Fink wrote.

8) Petroleum inputs into common goods:


9) Visualizing the 1.6 billion weeks of unemployment benefit checks paid during the pandemic:


10) I can't see how this won't increase inflation: California may give up to $800 to each car owner for gas.


11) A brief history of construction startups: Over the last 20 years, software and technology startups have become increasingly important and influential (of the 10 most profitable companies on the Fortune 500, 3 are internet startups, with 5 others from earlier tech startup eras.) But it’s unclear to what extent this trend is occurring in construction.


12) How President Grover Cleveland ruined American cruises: These days, anyone can hop on a cruise from Miami to Cuba. But if you try to board a ship from Miami to Key West, New York or Charleston, Grover Cleveland will stop you.


13) Olive Garden is reporting that the spread of the Omicron variant in January further disrupted supply chains, and is driving costs higher.


14) US jobless claims this week are the lowest since 1969:


15) One reason the labor market is so tight: Roughly half a million fewer people were in the labor force last month than before the pandemic, according to the Labor Department, despite the economy’s rapid recovery.


16) The US is ramping up shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe this year as the continent hunts for new supplies around the globe to phase out its reliance on Russian gas.


17) Home buyers and owners are facing the highest mortgage interest rates in three years. On the plus side, interest rates have been even higher for the last 50+ years.


18) The Phoenix region has recorded the steepest consumer-price increases among the largest US metropolitan areas since President Biden took office.


19) The rapid rise in diesel fuel prices this month is squeezing freight transportation companies and their customers.


20) Factory activity is up!

Factory activity in the central US accelerated to record-high in March: The Tenth District manufacturing survey's composite index increased to 37 in March from 29 in February, topping the 27 consensus forecast from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. This is the highest reading since the survey's inception in July 2001.


21) Coffee doesn't normally come in bags?

Coffee shippers turn to old-school methods amid container shortages: Shipping coffee in gigantic bags is seeing a come-back as an alternative to standard shipping containers.


22) We sometimes struggle to define our own profession.  Here's one answer:


23) 14 car companies control a combined 54 brands:


24) Yay for the late Gen-Xers and the early Millennials! Labor force participation among workers aged 35-44 has risen over the past few months:


25) More churches and other houses of worship are returning to normal operations, but in-person attendance is unchanged since fall of 2021.


26) The Siberian ‘detour’ is forcing airlines to retrace Cold War era routes: Russia bypass boosts flight time, fuel and crew expenses. Some routes no longer feasible with loss of Russian airspace.


27) Americans have been chasing the sun and moving south: Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Atlanta were the winners, while
New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the big losers.


28) Gasoline prices don't look great: unless you account for inflation. (With inflation, the 2009 peak was higher.)


29) Here's a better picture of gas prices nationwide:


30) On the plus side, Americans are nearly the happiest people on the planet:


31) How a steel box changed the world: A brief history of shipping.


32) Good to know: 12 tips for a successful 1031 Exchange.


33) Mexico City and the pitfalls of becoming a remote work destination: The city has become a remote work playground for expats. Meanwhile, rising housing prices and inflation have made it more unaffordable for locals.


34) Nice raise. Too bad about inflation: Higher prices mean your boss may need to give you more than just a small raise.


35) Sharper vision, sharper mind? The risk of developing dementia was 29 percent lower among people who had cataract surgery.


36) When the need for affordable housing runs up against zoning laws:

A growing chorus of experts say middle housing, a class of multifamily housing options that falls between single-family homes and large apartment complexes, is a vital instrument in the fight against unaffordable housing.
But middle housing has a big problem: Zoning in most residential areas doesn't allow it.

37) Study Less, Study Smart: Dr. Marty Lobdell has an excellent lecture about how to  study. His advice: study less.  One problem, his lecture is nearly an hour long.

Here's a 6-minute summary with 80-90% of the value in 1/10th of the time:


38) Suburbia is subsidized: Here's the math.

Car-depedent suburbia is subsidized by productive urban places. That's why American cities are broke. But how bad is it, and who is subsidizing who?

39) Synthetic materials that will shape the future:


40) A world that’s more expensive is starting to destroy demand:

The phenomenon is happening in ways large and small. Soaring natural gas prices in China force ceramic factories burning the fuel to halve their operations. A Missouri trucking company debates suspending operations because it can’t fully recoup rising diesel costs from customers. European steel mills using electric arc furnaces scale back production as power costs soar, making the metal even more expensive.

41) World’s largest wildlife overpass will be built near Los Angeles: On April 22, 2022, the National Wildlife Foundation and partners will break ground on the largest wildlife crossing in the world across U.S. Route 101 near Los Angeles, California.


42) Is California's Salton Sea hiding enough lithium to power America? A team of scientists hopes deep-earth lithium could sustain America's vast demand for batteries.


43) To meet its clean energy goals, the US might go mining in the rainforest: In order to increase lithium production, the U.S. must either expand mining and processing operations in places like Chile — home to the world’s largest known lithium reserves — which could involve the removal and destruction of parts of the Chilean rainforest — or expand its domestic production efforts, which would require open-pit mining or brine extraction to force the lithium-rich brine to the surface.


44) RV and boat maker Winnebago says it now has a $4.4 billion worth of orders in its backlog as demand continues to rise: Demand for RVs and boats has remained strong since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


45) Why well-qualified medical school graduates can’t get jobs — despite doctor shortages: The US is fighting a modern pandemic with a 1990s-sized workforce.


46) Time for supply: Now that surging inflation has refocused everyone's attention on the long-ignored supply side of the economy, the question is how best to support broad-based growth, efficiency, and innovation. The answer is not necessarily deregulation, but the need for smarter regulation is increasingly apparent – even to progressives.


47) For a clean-energy future, we need deregulation: Environmental protections from decades past are blocking the infrastructure urgently needed to combat climate change.


48) The doomed Cleveland Balloonfest of '86:

In September 1986, the city of Cleveland attempted to set a special record: the simultaneous launch of 1.5 million balloons. But fate intervened, and the result was both crazier and more tragic than anyone could have imagined.


49) Rural infrastructure grants: The Transportation Department is trying to make it easier for states and communities to get federal money for major infrastructure projects, so it's simplifying the application process for three major grant programs that dole out a combined $2.9 billion.


50) National average office occupancy level:


51) Products and fuels made from crude oil:


52) Interactive map: Crude oil pipelines and refineries of the US and Canada.


53) Jeff Finkle's last IEDC State of the Industry for 2022 is out.


54) A new world order is emerging for global supply chains: The world’s supply chains are becoming more like supply webs.


55) Visualizing the link between soaring food prices and political instability:


56) Car dealers are charging buyers more because that’s capitalism, baby: Car dealers are charging way over sticker price — and consumers are paying.


57) Recruiting jobs vs. growing jobs: New data and analysis reveal that new firms in Fort Worth create about 5.2 times more jobs than those companies that are recruited in a relocation effort.


58) Charted: State tax credits for job creation & capital investments.


59) A March 30 webinar will show you how to research and use data from USDA's Economic Research Service: The Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service provides critical data products, from the Farm Income Forecast to international crop trade trends, to poverty and hunger data. A new series of data training webinars will teach you how to find them, their significance, and how to use them. The first one, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, covers Agricultural Trade Multipliers.


60) US oil companies have increased drilling by 60% in one year.


61) Cold email: Here's the best cold email you'll ever write.


62) US planned wind projects in advanced development or under construction:


63) Inventory overstocking: reshoring, diversification, and inventory overstocking from David Mericle, Goldman Sachs:

Earnings call transcripts show that the share of companies that report plans to target a permanently high level of inventory has increased sharply, especially in durable goods sectors. Our manufacturing sector analysts corroborate this and report that companies in their coverage are targeting inventory-to-sales ratios roughly 5% higher than before the pandemic on average.

64) Why universal high-speed internet access could be worth trillions:


65) The myth that most Americans hate their job: Resignations are rising because people are seeing more job listings, not because they’re feeling more Marxist.


66) Nobody lives here:

The green you see above represents the nearly 5 million Census bureau blocks where the population = 0.

67) Woah:


68) The ultimate guide to compelling email subject lines: data-driven best practices + 21 examples.


69) There are still more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them in February, according to numbers released yesterday by the Labor Department.


70) Supply chain disruptions bring tax headaches: Remote workers, and in some cases independent contractors, can also change a company’s state tax situation.


71) The US drug supply is more reliant on India than thought: An ambitious data probe highlights how dependence on one country could pose risks for the quality and supply of critical medicines.


72) Small farms, those making under $350K: Now have less than half of U.S. farmland and 1/5 of production by value.


73) Home-price growth accelerated in January as the supply of homes for sale fell to a new low:


74) Households are increasingly seeing inflation as the nation’s most important problem:


75) How Americans will use their tax refunds:


76) Where $5 trillion in pandemic stimulus money went:


77) Pivot to queso: Avocado prices have jumped to a 24-year high due to lower supplies from Mexico, the world’s biggest avocado exporter. An index tracking the price of avocados from the Mexican state of Michoacan has soared 81% this year.


78) Some people are going back to the office:


79) Analyzing NYC caffeine deprivation through location intelligence: The spatial patterns of coffee shops across New York City.


80) 54 New Economic Development Jobs Last Week - Econ dev jobs in 28 states, and Canada: directors, managers, coordinators, CEOs, analysts and more.


81) Podcast Episode 43 - Talking Downtown Strategies with Jenn Gregory and Elliott Cook - According to the Jenn and Elliott, placemaking comes in all shapes and sizes.


82) Your Feedback Was Awesome - Every week, you need an idea or an activity that will generate an easy home run in your community.


83) 53 - Economic Development and Developers in the News - Econ dev news from 144 economic development executives and organizations in 26 states, and Canada.


84) The 58 Things Economic Developers Need To Know Last Week - The stories that Dane thinks you need to see from last week. March 23, 2022 edition.

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Dane Carlson Twitter

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas.