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Dumpster swimming

August 11, 2010

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Four years ago I wrote a blog post about turning large shipping containers into homes. I found the concept, process, and results fascinating. That post is no longer available, and the links it contained are no longer active — the Web moves on — but the topic of the post, cargotecture, is very...

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Green evolution

August 6, 2010

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I read Vicki Bell’s blog on green job opportunities and, frankly, wasn’t all that surprised to learn that this is still a small niche. While it’s encouraging that green awareness has taken hold and green jobs are out there, it’s a little disheartening that it has taken this long....

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Largest change in our economy since the industrial revolution?

August 4, 2010

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Is there a day that goes by that some politician somewhere doesn't mention green jobs as a possible lifeline for the economy? If not the national economy, maybe a state's or city's? Many politicians are touting and campaigning on green job creation. I was reminded of this by an item on WCCO, St....

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The world needs customers

August 2, 2010

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“What the world lacks is willing customers, not willing workers.” That statement in this week’s The Economist magazine may be one of the most insightful among all the worried economic chatter in the media these days. The magazine’s cover story this week covers the woes of the Chinese...

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Is it time for the small-business initiative?

July 29, 2010

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A small-business initiative working its way through Congress has been making headlines lately. It has the potential to provide $30 billion in new capital for community banks, which would use it as a foundation for lending to small and medium-sized businesses. Whether lawmakers will pass the bill is...

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Time's a wastin

July 28, 2010

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As noted in a speech by John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers — posted on YouTube July 26 — NAM appreciates the fact that the House is spending the last week of July talking about the manufacturing economy, "but it's not enough … it's simply not enough."...

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Cost-cutting here to stay

July 26, 2010

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“Caterpillar flaunts its muscle.” You’ve got to admit, that’s a great headline. After reading the story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, I thought back to a blog I wrote while sitting in the Las Vegas expo center’s coffee shop (which happened to have good Internet access), about 200...

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The unfortunate event of retirement

July 22, 2010

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As I write this, I'm sitting at a restaurant checking e-mail and doing some other work. Even though my eyes are working perfectly fine, I'm heading to the eye doctor. I'm watching about 30 senior citizens enjoy their morning coffee and cool temperatures before the summer sun becomes unbearable. It...

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Tell it like it is

July 21, 2010

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I don't pretend to be an economic or political expert. I'm just an average U.S. citizen who is worried about our economy and about my fellow citizens, including friends and family, who can't find jobs. I'm also a taxpayer, and I want the money I pay Uncle Sam each year to be spent judiciously and...

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Fabricating more value

July 19, 2010

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I’m glad I talked with Drew Greenblatt last week. Otherwise, news of waning manufacturing output might have gotten to me. At Greenblatt’s company, Marlin Steel Wire Products, output certainly isn’t waning. The 28-employee contract manufacturer has grown throughout the recession, and much of...

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Manufacturers provide value, not just jobs

July 16, 2010

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When metal fabricators get together and talk about improving the image of manufacturing, the talk normally progresses to politicians. The fabricators lament that the elected officials just don't understand the value that their shops bring to the community and, as a result, don't support their...

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New product idea-Quirky or not?

July 14, 2010

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When I woke up the other day, I had this idea for a product. Seriously, the perfect name for it came to me immediately. I’m not going to tell you what it is, because I want to do some research and see if it already exists — and also because you might laugh, or steal my idea. And if it doesn’t...

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Who you callin' a protectionist?

July 9, 2010

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If you haven't read this opinion piece by Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, you should probably check it out. In the editorial, Grove makes the point that the U.S. has outsourced not only tons of jobs to Asia, but also the ability to innovate. He thinks that manufacturing companies that grew and...

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'Now hiring?'

July 8, 2010

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The data continues to pile up, yet the result is inconclusive. Judging by GDP, the broadest measure of an economy’s output, the U.S. economy has been growing since the middle of 2009. The PMI, a manufacturing-related gauge developed by the Institute for Supply Management, has been greater than...

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The thinking worker in manufacturing

July 8, 2010

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The country continues to fret about unemployment. Millions want jobs, and millions of business owners want those people to have jobs so that they’ll buy products. Most business owners, though, don’t want to be the ones hiring. That’s where the government has stepped in. Of course, government...

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