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Growth Monitor for Economic Development

Tracking the issues, programs, incentives, tax matters, and "lessons learned" affecting local economic development.
ACE Act for conservation
Conservation Act Passes Congress, Now Heads to President’s Desk

SCP’s The Growth Monitor


In a bi-partisan vote, a next conservation act has passed the U.S. Senate.   The unanimous vote in the Senate pertains to America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, S. 3051 (the “ACE Act”), a package of natural resource management and conservation provisions.  The House of Representatives is expected to take up the legislation, and vote, as early as next week.


SCP Growth Monitor update on October 1 – the House of Representatives has approved the ACE Act by voice vote; now the legislation goes to the President’s desk for signing.


Consideration of the Ace Act follows passage in August 2020 of the Great American Outdoors Act, widely considered one of the landmark legislative achievements to protect America’s natural environment.


The legislation authorizes the National Fish Habitat Partnership, an endeavor that brings together local, state and federal partners to coordinate and conduct on-the-ground aquatic habitat restoration projects for the benefit of recreational fishing.   The ACE Act also reauthorizes and boosts funding for programs critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary and a critical nursery for sport fish throughout the Atlantic region.


As the bi-partisan Conservation Act passes Senate consideration, attention now focuses on regional benefit.  The ACE Act is expected to be a strong boost to recreational economic development in the region.  The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S., and is also a critical sportfish nursery for the greater Atlantic region.

Truck Tonnage Declines in 2020
Truck Tonnage Declines in 2020, Through August

SCP’s The Economic Growth Monitor


Truck tonnage declines in 2020 included the fifth consecutive year-over-year decline in the U.S., through August 2020.   Freight transportation is a barometer of U.S. economic health, making monthly truck tonnage estimates a key indicator for local economic development officials.


Trucking represents an estimated 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes.  According to American Trucking Associations, in 2019 trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight.  The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.


Transport Topics reports on truck tonnage throughout the year.  Their most recent recap is available here: Tonnage Declines 8.9% Year-Over-Year in August


The American Trucking Associations’ press release about truck tonnage declines in 2020 is available here: Index 8.9% below August 2019.   According to the ATA, the apparent softness in truck tonnage was due to softness in the industrial and energy industries where truck loads are heavier, than any softness in consumer-related loads.   Fleets hauling for retailers reported strong freight volumes.  ATA calculates  U.S. tonnage volumes and index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970’s.

Edge computing is coming to you
Edge Computing is Coming to You Soon!

SCP’s Economic Growth Monitor


Edge computing is coming to you, an essential part of our world of data centers, Internet cloud and the Internet of things.  Since many local economic development professionals are interested in attracting major data center facilities, it is helpful to understand how these edge processing objectives may impact data centers and the rest of the connected data network.


In essence, edge computing is about distributed computing, delivering processing “horsepower” in low-latency situations as close as possible to where it is required.   Also, enterprise datasets are getting huge and there is also a desire to reduce data transport costs.  As a result, keeping more of collected data closer to its source simply makes economic and performance sense.


According to some industry sources, by 2025, 75% of generated data will be processed outside centralized data centers or the cloud.


Edge computing often involves data storage and processing with “edge devices.”  A simple example of an edge device is a router that connects public networks to the internet.  Or, in a finance setting, a smartphone or tablet becomes the edge device.    Edge devices become increasingly specific to particular edge requirements.  In healthcare, edge devices are increasingly deployed as wearable and/or implantable medical devices to support patient care.


Because this computer processing “at the edge” is implied as connected to data networks in the Cloud and in data centers, each edge device carries an implicit security risk.    While the interest in processing power at the edge increases, getting the overall system security design in place is a large open issue.


There are benefits to edge computing in most every industry today.    Network World joined with CIO, Computerworld, CSO, and InfoWorld, have prepared articles to explore “the edge” from five different perspectives, available here:  Edge computing: The next generation of innovation


Dubai Announces Innovative Retirement Program for those Over 55 Years Old

SCP’s The Growth Monitor


Dubai is known for its innovative economic development programs, and with its announced retirement program it has again matched its reputation.   Retiring in Dubai can be an attractive proposition for many given the city’s open-door policy, tolerance, and quality of life.    This particularly economic development strategy successfully leverages existing regional assets with a new target market (retirees).


“Retire in Dubai,” the first of its kind in the GCC region, is being spearheaded by Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai).  Dubai’s program is focused upon resident expatriates and foreigners over the age of 55 who are seeking to retire.   Eligible applicants will be provided a retirement visa, renewable every five years, provided they can meet one of three financial requirements for eligibility.  The eligibility can be based on either a minimum monthly income, savings, or the value of the Dubai owned property.


More details about the program were detailed in an Arabian Business article of September 3, 2020:  Dubai launches retirement programme for over-55s.

Destination Meetings are Starting to Occur Again; Some Lessons Learned

SCP’s The Growth Monitor


Several large conferences, as well as smaller meetings and events, have taken place around the country in a kind of “test case” scenario, according to the online resource BizBash.   Each of the events described by BizBash were successfully produced and with no follow-on COVID-19 cases reported.   Of course, each of the gatherings took place with intense safety measures in place.


These recent events are extremely helpful to economic development professionals around the U.S. and around the world.   Most metro areas count on the meetings industry and its ancillary hotels and resorts, transportation, F&B, and off-site activities, to provide local employment and tax revenues.


Professional meeting planners are quickly adapting and embracing safe meeting practices, and taking advantage of emerging “lessons learned” from first efforts.    With this backdrop we believe that metro areas accustomed to hosting destination meetings, re-starting this important economic activity is possible.


The BizBash article is a must-read for anyone wanting confidence to get their event scheduling underway.   The September 2, 2020 post at BizBash.com is available here: Meetings Are Still Happening Around the Country. Here’s What They Look Like.

DCT Abu Dhabi has Plans for “Safe Zone” Areas to Host Visitor Events

SCP’s The Growth Monitor 


Encouraged by the success of UFC Fight Island, the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) is planning a “safe zone” strategy for hosting visitor events.   The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event at Yas Island was a success for Abu Dhabi, which provided for a “safe zone” that hosted approximately 2,500 people over five weeks on Yas Island.


The safe zone program may be an approach for other visitor destinations looking to revitalize their tourism industries.   Las Vegas may have some suitable properties if not areas of The Strip where this could be workable; at this time Las Vegas is seeking to recover with virtually no convention-related business.  A tall order.


A helpful overview of the tourism strategy was provided by Arabian Business in an August 31, 2020 post.

Hawaii is Adding Facial Recognition at Airports as an Additional COVID-19 Detection Measure

AEC Consumer Products Monitor


According to an August 28 report by Travel Weekly, Hawaii expects to have its facial recognition system in place and operating at five Hawaii airports, by year-end 2020.   The facial imaging will be used in conjunction with temperature screening cameras to assist in monitoring and tracking arriving passengers at the more than 130 gates at Hawaii’s airports receiving out-of-state and international flights.    Temperature screening cameras have already been installed at Hawaii’s airports.


With the screening cameras, any arriving passenger who registers a temperature above 100.4 degrees is asked to submit to a voluntary secondary screening conducted by paramedics.    The five Hawaii airports that will operate with the facial recognition technology are: Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye Airport; Kahului Airport; Lihue Airport; Ellison Onizuka Kona Airport at Keahole; and Hilo Airport.


There are privacy concerns about the roll-out of this technology in Hawaii.   But if deployed and effective it may make a significant contribution to Hawaii’s travel industry recovery.   The facial recognition measure is in addition to other measures going into effect in Hawaii, including geo-fencing of guests at their resorts.

Redevelopment Project Consultants - due diligence consultants
California SB 1120 Would Allow Lot Splits and/or Duplexes on Single Family Lots

AEC’s Growth Monitor


UPDATED:  SB 1120 did not pass this session, failing to meet California Senate voting deadline on September 1.


SB 1120 is nearing approval in California that would allow existing homeowners in the state to split their lots and built duplexes on each of the resulting subdivided parcels.   Where a lot split is not possible under the law’s guidelines, that homeowner would be able to convert the existing home into a duplex or raze the house and built a new duplex.   SB 1120 is authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), as part of an effort to bring more control of local land use planning to the state legislature.


State control versus local control of land use decisions is a complicated matter in California, related to the lasting protections of Proposition 13, the California Environmental Quality Act, affordable housing, community diversity and equity issues, and local municipal fiscal viability.  And overall there is the push and pull of progressive political agendas and sensibilities of suburbanites who have relied upon their local municipal general plans in shaping how their communities will develop.


Of interest to existing homeowners of course, is the open question as to how SB 1120 would affect the quality of life they’ve grown accustomed to (and relied upon), and the value of their properties now situated in eclectic neighborhoods with unpredictable futures.   It could work out well for all involved, but if SB 1120 is approved each municipality will have to do in balancing heights, sun/shade, setbacks, on-street parking, security, and the like, while local policing is likely also in some kind of reformation.


Click here to review the full bill as now drafted.


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