Medical and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing in Minneapolis The medical and pharmaceutical industries are among the few industries that continue to manufacture domestically rather than overseas. Complexity of product, stringent quality requirements, certification and documentation requirements are some of the reasons that companies choose to keep manufacturing in the US. Medical Device OEMS need to have maximum assurance that their supplier is conforming to exact product specifications and standards. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area is ideal for medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing for the following reasons: Convenient location Supportive of high technology manufacturing Local resources with demonstrated capability to meet stringent quality requirements Adequate supply of a technically competent work force Cost effective manufacturing The Twin Cities is centrally located in the US and has a major airport with access to light rail. There are plenty of hotels that will meet any taste or price within 10 miles of the airport. The airport is rated the 15th busiest airport in the nation yet convenient as it has plenty of flights, but not the overcrowding issues that the larger airports have. In general, airline costs to fly in and out of Minneapolis is well below the national average. Minneapolis is considered one of the hot bed locations for Medical and Pharmaceutical manufacturing. Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific, Upsher-Smith Laboratories and Cargill are just a few of the major companies located in this area. Rochester Mayo Clinic is located about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota is located right in the heart of Minneapolis. There are 100s of ISO certified and FDA registered suppliers in this area that can support any medical device manufacturing requirement. Any manufacturer who locates in Minneapolis/ St. Paul area will have a vast network of world class local suppliers and resources to support their needs. Minneapolis is ideal for attracting high caliber employees. This area is highly rated for its quality of life. Eden Prairie MN and Chanhassen MN are rated among the best places to live in the USA. The area is full of museums, cultural centers, theaters, and clubs with music and entertainment. Sports enthusiasts have plenty to choose from as there are professional sports teams in football, basketball, hockey, and baseball. The outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy parks with biking/ hiking trails, lakes, rivers and some of the best hunting and fishing just an hour's drive away. Minnesota is highly rated for its education system with award winning colleges throughout the area. One would have little trouble finding highly trained talent to fill skilled positions in manufacturing. In summary, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is an ideal location for medical or pharmaceutical manufacturing as it has great infrastructure support, high caliber suppliers and a technically sophisticated workforce that is available at reasonable costs. HUD Proposes New HOME Rules Since it began in 1992, the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) has helped over 1 million families gain access to affordable housing. Through the program, state and local governments are awarded grants that can then be used to buy, build, or rehabilitate housing for low-income residents. The funding is often used in conjunction with private- sector money to fully leverage every federal dollar. For the last two years, HUD has been reviewing HOME's compliance rules, and now it is suggesting some changes. When HUD presented its suggestions to Congress, it proposed four changes: -requiring state and local governments to improve HOME project oversight, including creation of a "risk assessment" system or procedure; -requiring a capacity assessment of developers requesting HOME funds; -requiring state and local governments to report to HUD more frequently on the progress of HOME projects; and -establishing hard deadlines for addressing non-compliance issues. In addition to the regulatory changes, HUD also intends to improve its Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS), which is the system HUD uses to track HOME fund disbursement and the progress of HOME-funded projects. These changes are designed to improve HUD's oversight, increase transparency of the HOME program, and hold state and local governments to a higher level of accountability. Though HUD officials haven't said as much, some speculate that the proposed changes are in response to recent criticisms of HUD programs, and investigative reports which found that some housing development projects received large amounts of money but either never finished or never even started construction. Consequently, the proposed changes could be HUD's way of preemptively working to improve program efficiency before Congress tries to enact changes of its own. By submitting its own changes, HUD retains some control over how it corrects real shortcomings and addresses imagined ones. The alternative would be for HUD to wait on a Congress that has been openly critical and unsupportive of HUD's affordable housing programs, running the risk that funding could be cut or some programs ended entirely. Perhaps the most promising of the suggested changes is HUD's intent to require that developers submit to a "capacity assessment." It is not uncommon for smaller development companies to submit applications for HOME funding, with the intent of contracting out the building to another company. While this enables smaller companies to increase their business and bottom line, the handing off of project completion increases costs and shifts quality control oversight away from the company that is ultimately responsible, making quality assurance more difficult. Increased reporting is another welcome change. While increased reporting by state and local governments will add another layer of documentation that could become burdensome, it will help HUD ensure that monies are being properly and efficiently spent. It also allows government entities to make course corrections as needed and keep affordable housing projects on an accurate timetable for completion. Establishing a Corporation for Affordable Housing An Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) is a business entity that's formed by a state, county or local government to oversee the planning and building of low- and moderate- income housing. Many states and counties opt to create AHCs so that they have one central place within which to organize, execute and monitor affordable housing projects. AHCs qualify for certain grants and tax credits that are not available to other government departments or entities, providing additional funding for housing development. By creating a separate entity, governments can focus more directly on affordable housing, creating a development plan specific to the region. Without an AHC, many governments take a broad approach that doesn't adequately address related issues such as economic development or educational opportunities. AHCs, on the other hand, can analyze not only the availability of low- and moderate-income housing, but their location in relation to jobs, schools, and public transportation. The result, often, is a comprehensive plan that locates new housing units close to bus and subway routes, employment opportunities and educational facilities. The State of Alaska is one of the most recent to create an Affordable Housing Corporation. Over the years, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation has formed subsidiaries for the purpose of maximizing funding allocations and meeting the needs of Alaskan residents more effectively. However, none of those subsidiaries address affordable housing specifically or strategically. The Alaska Corporation for Affordable Housing (CAH) was made possible via legislative language contained in Alaska House Bill 119. The bill also creates the framework within which the CAH can function - how it acquires, develops, manages and operates housing for low-income residents. By creating a subsidiary, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation can access additional bond financing and low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) to fund more affordable units. CAH already has its eye on a re-development project that could serve as an example for its vision and effectiveness. Because CAH is so new, there aren't many more details regarding areas or projects targeted for development. Officials expect to make some of those decisions in the days and weeks to come. Creation of the Corporation for Affordable Housing comes at a time when the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) is celebrating is 40-year anniversary. For two decades, it operated in partnership with the Alaska State Housing Authority and the Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. All three entities were consolidated into the AFHC in 1992. The AHFC serves about 6,000 families each year, overseeing assistance programs for weatherization, rental payments, and the state's homeless population. Cycling and New York City: Options, Security and Business Support Improves Conditions for Cyclists More and more cities around the world are encouraging motorists to ditch the gas- guzzlers in favor of more eco-friendly transportation. A noble cause - especially when considering increasing gas prices, vehicle prices and a decrease in available parking. It appears the encouragement is working. In 2010, bicycle sales were up 15% from 2009 (source: National Bicycle Dealers Association), and more and more adults are returning to cycling as a hobby, sport or just a way to get around town. New York City, a major business capital, is also one of the busiest cities in North America. Photos, movies and TV often show NYC streets packed with taxis and cars pressing through gridlocked conditions. Can't you just hear the honking of horns and revving of engines? What if we were to replace those cars with bicycles? Would the noise level decrease? Would people get where they need to be with less rush and less chaos? What factors influence New Yorkers' decision whether or not to hang up the car keys? 1. Bike Parking Options Riding a bike doesn't do much good if there is nowhere to park your bike. The US Department of Transportation helped fund a research project in NYC to identify how New York commuters would benefit from an increase of bike parking options, especially around subway stations. In the report, 239 transit stations within the five NYC boroughs were analyzed to determine the current state of bike parking, and appropriate suggestions made for improving and increasing bicycle parking. Many New Yorkers might live too far from work to bike the whole way, but they live close enough to a subway or transit station so that if they could park a bike there, they would be able to commute to work via commuter rail. The study reported that over 28% of the transit stations offered no bike parking options. The other stations all showed room for improvement in the number of available bike parking spaces and the levels of security surrounding the station. NYC planners state that plans are in place to significantly improve bike lanes on roadways and greenways, install secure bike parking shelters and city racks, and pursue indoor bike parking legislation. 2. Bike Security One reason more people don't cycle in NYC is the fear their bike will be stolen. Cycling blogger BikeSnobNYC (author of the book: Bike Snob) suggests that if you cycle in NYC, you need to come to grips with the fact that one day you will return to the place you left your bike, only to find it gone. If you can't handle that fact, you shouldn't cycle in New York. However, there are things you can do to increase the chances that your bike will be awaiting your return. When adequate bike parking options are not offered, riders will affix their bikes to fences, trees, signs, parking meters or any other fixture. Don't do this! Bike parking stands are designed to provide you ample space to lock your bike in a safe and secure position. Locking the back wheel to the stand inside the rear triangle is good advice. Use a U-Lock for the frame and back it up with a cable lock around your wheels. Don't forget to check that it actually IS locked. NYC has repurposed hundreds of parking meters to bike racks in their Meters-To-Bike Racks project over the past couple of years. This is exciting news for cyclists, as meters on their own are not a secure bike stand option. By leaving the poles of the meters in place with some new hardware additions, options for secure bike parking have grown exponentially in the city of New York. 3. Business Support Business support for cyclists has increased over the past decade. Most businesses take pride when the community recognizes them as being environmentally conscious, and many communities offer awards for eco-friendly endeavours. Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery in NYC was a co-winner of the first Bike-Friendly Business Award offered by the DOT and Transportation Alternatives. Birdbath offers a 25% discount to customers who arrive via bicycle or skateboard. They also make deliveries by cargocycle. More and more businesses in NYC are offering a discount for bicyclists, and are proud to achieve recognition as a bike-friendly operation. This directory is maintained by Transportation Alternatives, a group dedicated to establishing a "biking code of conduct" for New Yorkers to enhance cycling in NYC for everyone. Educating cyclists is certainly a key component, but vehicle drivers and pedestrians play an important part in a safe cycling experience as well. The BikingRules.org website has much to offer any New Yorker and is worth passing on to anyone who gets out and about in New York City. Business support is definitely important for customers, but it also is important for employees. Having a place to park a bike at work or at the local transit station as well as a place to freshen up and store your helmet, etc. makes commuting possible and enjoyable for the employee. Businesses that are bike-friendly for employees benefit from happier, healthier employees who are likely to speak positively about their company because of its concern for something that matters to them.