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All Systems Go

Bullet List Ironically, at a point when economic prospects are down, unemployment numbers are up and the best possible scenario for many is to stay flat. Europe hasn't been more enthralled with our leadership since we helped prevent the French from needing to learn German. General Motors is on the brink of bankruptcy and banks can't afford to give loans, yet the New York Yankees just moved into a $1.5 billion baseball stadium. There is some end-of-the-tunnel signage in view, yet the distance to economic daylight is still up for debate amongst even the shrewdest economic minds.

It's an interesting time in this country to say the least, especially when you consider the following:

This combination of good and bad means uncertainty for many people, and even sectors, but some recent postings offer a more positive perspective on the processing market. One report shows that about 90 new construction projects in the chemical processing industry are scheduled to proceed as planned over the next 12 months. They total more than $3 billion, with industrial gases and agricultural chemicals accounting for $1.2 billion of the capital project spending. This does not include more than 20 capital projects, which are currently in the planning phase, valued at $100 million or more. Equally encouraging is that nearly one-fifth of this total is allocated toward maintaining these new resources or taking greater care of what is currently in place. The point is that, despite tougher economic times, infrastructure investment continues to occur. New capabilities in upgraded facilities translate into greater global competitiveness, and the ability to lead the way in feedstock developments, energy production and implementation of more efficient processing approaches. If made now, these investments can pay off greatly down the road. Additionally, a Sparta Systems-sponsored survey, which was unveiled at the recent INTERPHEX Conference, shows that compliance with quality-focused industry regulations remains the leading driver of management initiatives. Despite economic barriers, many still report intentions to expand these initiatives. Furthermore, 80 percent of respondents say that quality management expenditures have not diminished as a result of economic conditions. So, just as important as adding to capabilities and investing in new resources is a continuous focus on doing things the right way in the processing field. Despite the cost benefits and allure of potentially cutting corners and just doing what it takes, most processing professionals forge ahead to take the necessary steps to provide their customers with the same standard of quality that they always have. Even more inspiring is the high percentage that persistently improves quality-focused practices. These examples help demonstrate that, even amidst the complex and challenging dynamics in our marketplace, there is still a strong contingent dedicated to investing not only in new opportunities, but also in continuing to do things the right way. Fueled with this perspective, hopefully we can all get a better reading on how long this tunnel actually is, and be ready for the daylight once we emerge.