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Whittaker Report

Featured Website: Business.com

By Jeff Vedders

We’d like to introduce you to Business.com, Inc. (www.business.com).  Business.com is a web-based directory of businesses organized by industry.  This is a good web site to visit when looking for companies within a particular industry.  For example, by clicking on the Aerospace & Defense link, you will be able to find major companies within the industry.  Not a big deal, but still a quick and easy search to find major companies.

What we find more useful is say you’re looking for information on research and development in the aerospace industry.  This site will not only list companies involved in research and development, but the site will also list research institutes; the research institutes usually provide valuable information about the industry.

Business.com is also a useful site to use when looking for companies within a relatively new and/or unusual industry.  Type “bioinformatics” into their search engine and you will find companies involved in this industry.  You will also find publications and web site about the industry.

Capacity Utilization

By Dean Whittaker

Capacity utilization is one of the key measures for determining the need for companies to add new capacity. One of the more useful websites for economic development is www.economy.com.  This site offers an abundance of economic indictors and reports for pay but also includes a section called “free lunch” at www.economy.com/freelunch that provides a very useful time series of graphs, tables and charts of capacity utilization by type of industry. 

The manufacturing sector in general is operating at approximately 73% of capacity. This level has been declining since mid-1999 and continues to do so. However, on a positive note, the stock market, encouraged by rumors of an improving economy, has responded positively. It will take a few months before the impact will be felt in the capacity utilization that will drive new and expanded facilities requirements.  In the meantime, a review of your target industries’ capacity utilization may give you insight into when to increase your marketing efforts.

2001 U.S. Rural New & Expanded Activity

By Pete Julius

In order to successfully attract businesses to rural communities, it is imperative to understand which industries gravitate to less populated areas.  For most communities, it is extremely challenging to attract businesses.  For rural communities which do not typically have the limelight or the resources that larger communities possess, this challenge is even greater.  By understanding which industries gravitate to rural communities, that challenge can be overcome. 

The table below displays the top five most active industries in non-metropolitan areas during 2001.  Transportation equipment manufacturing is the most active industry by a wide margin.  Of the top five, the transportation equipment manufacturing industry also averages the most in investments and the number of employees, which is very valuable information for rural communities targeting industries that produce the most jobs.   

Number of Companies NAICS Codes NAICS Code Description Average Investment ($millions) Average Employees Average Square Footage (Thousands)
67 336 Transportation Equipment Mfg. 991.3 5701 2303
39 23311 Land Subdivision & Development 140.6 20 2692
34 336399 Misc. Motor Vehicle Parts Mfg. 218 966 505
30 311 Food Manufacturing 148.3 2278 2120
30 326199 Miscellaneous Plastics Product Mfg. 161.3 909 485

Source: Conway Data Scoreboard

Nanotechnology – the reality minus the hype

By Leigh Howe

“There’s plenty of room at the bottom” – physicist Richard Feynman, 1959.   The beginnings of nanotechnology occurred as early as 1959 but wouldn’t become an accepted scientific pursuit until the 1980’s.  Nanotechnology is the art of manipulating matter at the atomic scale to create new technologies – in effect, the ability to build things from the atom up.  It crosses many disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, and even computer sciences. 

Small players.  Today, nanotechnology has evolved from a strictly academic pursuit and has drawn much interest from large corporations, such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM.  In 2000, the federal government launched its National Nanotechnology Initiative, which will provide almost $520 million in funding this year.  Along with a surge in nanotech patent filing in the last two years, more than thirty universities in the United States have announced plans for nanotech research centers.  Cientifica’s “Nanotechnology Opportunity Report” says the 470 nanotechnology companies are evenly distributed throughout North America, Asia, and Europe.  However, Japan, Germany, and the United States are taking the lead according to the report. 

Hot air vs. hot technology.  Nanotechnology seems to be part science fiction and part potential business blockbuster.   Already, research points to revolutionary advances in materials, pharmaceuticals, computing, and information technology.  The potential seems unending and articles mention of using nanotech to provide clean water, reduce toxic emissions, cure disease, and prevent aging.  More realistic first applications of nanotech include:  nanocomposites – making everyday objects lighter and stronger with applications in aerospace and automotive industries; nanotubes – leading to better, cheaper versions of computer processors, memory, and displays;  buckyballs – 60 carbon atoms that form a sphere and could be conductors, semiconductors, or drug-carrying capsules; and a commercial fuel.   

What and when.  Samsung has plans to have a carbon-nanotube-based flat-panel display commercially available as early as December 2003.  Some 20 companies are ramping up for mass productions of buckyballs.  A commercial fuel based on nanotechnology could be available in two to three years.  Major impacts on the aerospace industry through nanotechnology are forecasted for 3 to 7 years out.   Nanotechnology will have a deep effect across a number of different industries, but many more-advanced applications will be 10 to 15 years before realization.

Read more about nanotechnology at www.technologyreview.com, www.nanodot.org, www.nanotechnews.com, and www.smalltimes.com.