Foreign investment and productivity improvements revived an Indiana steel mill (WSJ). In 2008, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal “twinned” the Burns Harbor plant with one in Ghent, Belgium. Burns Harbor engineers and managers went to Ghent to learn how the similar plant produced more efficiently; $150 million investments in plant automation and computerization brought productivity to record levels. The plant is hiring more workers with computer and engineering degrees, according to the union representative: “Steel working used to be 80 percent back and 20 percent brain, now it’s the other way around.”
CFR’s Ted Alden discusses the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. manufacturing pipeline and the need for firms, governments, and unions to work together to encourage young people to pursue manufacturing careers, and schools to increase relevant education.
Google-MMI Deal Earns Chinese Approval
The Guardian reports that Chinese regulators approved Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (MMI), with the condition that the Android operating system must remain free for smartphone and tablet manufacturers for at least five years. Chinese approval was the last major regulatory hurdle for the proposed merger between U.S. firms that has already been approved by other authorities. Google’s primary interest in acquiring MMI was gaining access to its patent portfolio.
EU Antitrust Chief Ratchets Up Pressure on Google
After complaints from more than a dozen companies, the European Union’s antitrust chief turned up pressure on Google, leaving it with a number of weeks to remedy anti-trust allegations or face formal charges and possible fines (Reuters).
International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.
Facebook Millionaires May Power New Startups
Though Friday’s Facebook IPO disappointed Wall Street (WSJ), Bloomberg reports that the 850 new millionaires of current or former Facebook employees may help fund and advise the next generation of social media startups. These potential investors would compete in a frothy market; U.S. venture investing rose 25 percent last year. Facebook veterans could provide more than just funds to startups: “The most important thing is the experience and connections they’re bringing to the table,” said Aydin Senkut, who left Google to start his own venture capital firm.
Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.
Golden Gate Bridge to Turn Seventy-Five
The Associated Press recounts the history of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which will turn seventy-five over Memorial Day weekend. The bridge has endured through the help of generations of engineers and workers who have maintained and redesigned the bridge. Currently, key elements of the structure are being replaced or modified to improve resilience to earthquakes. Other planned upgrades include adding a moveable barrier to separate traffic and a net system to prevent suicides.
Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.
The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.