Area Development
Needless to say, the effects of the economic downturn have been widespread, hurting consumers and the companies they support across a broad range of industry sectors. Yet some of the projects that began in 2008 have stayed on course. This month, we honor 11 states - Tennessee, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and South Carolina - that helped bring these high-value investments - both domestic and foreign - as well as well-paying jobs to their communities in our 4th Annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards report (See page 19.)

We also take a close look at the renewable energy sector in this issue in our "Clean Energy, Green Economy" special report. Renewable energy companies - be they wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, biomass, etc. - and the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) involved in making the parts for these firms hold the promise of restoring U.S. economic growth. This is the next "wave" of technology.

Sixteen states have taken the lead in funding for renewable energy projects, which are extremely capital-intensive, through tax and production incentives, rebates, grants, and loans. Further details on these programs - as well as a presentation that highlights many of the alternative energy OEMs and displays clusters of growth throughout the United States - can be found on our website at
alternative-energy. The presentation will continue to evolve as new information is received and the alternative energy industry matures.

Although we're not out of the woods yet with regard to the recession, an early June Federal Reserve snapshot of economic conditions found that five out of the Fed's 12 regions indicate the "downward trend is showing signs of moderating." This is consistent with observations made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the recession - which started in December 2007 and is now the longest since World War II - is loosening its strong hold on the economy.

Other analysts at the National Association for Business Economics also predict the recession will end this year, although the recovery is not likely to be smooth. Of course, companies will not be in rush to start hiring until they feel certain that economic growth is sustainable. Nevertheless, the projects and job growth reported in our special Shovel Awards and Renewable Energy reports in this issue present some glimmer of hope in what has otherwise been a bleak economic picture.