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Scaling a Small Business to Meet a Growing Demand: 9 Points to Cover

small business

Scaling a Small Business to Meet a Growing Demand: 9 Points to Cover

Starting a business is easier than ever, but making a business successful has never been easy. In addition to that, today’s focus on ecommerce can lead to a sharp increase in demand if your product gains enough attention or goes viral.

So, how do you keep up with that kind of demand? The key is to scale carefully in a calculated way to ensure your business is prepared. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in the right direction and away from some common pitfalls.

1. Make Sure You’re Ready for Growth

All it takes is one viral TikTok video or Instagram post to send a small business with an online presence from obscurity to ubiquity. The internet is fickle, but it doesn’t take much to step into online stardom — and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with new orders coming in from all around the world.

Business owners need to start by figuring out if they’re ready for growth. Is there a plan in place to scale things up, or will a slew of new orders leave the company scrambling? Don’t start pursuing growth unless the infrastructure to support that growth is already in place.

2. Identify and Address Barriers to Growth

With a plan in place, the next step is to identify any barriers that might prevent that growth. Are supply chains an issue that could create problems? This has been a growing problem throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it may be a while before things start to get back to normal.

Are there legal barriers that might interfere with international markets? Are there barriers within the business itself, in the form of people or policies that might cause growth to stagnate? Take a close look at the ins and outs of the business before you start trying to edge into new markets.

3. Focus on Quality and Consistency

Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick two. Companies that create a good product fast can’t do so cheaply. Ones that create a cheap product fast can’t focus on quality. Speed is valuable in a world that values instant gratification so highly, but don’t compromise quality and consistency for speed when trying to keep up with demand. Focus on quality and consistency first, especially when trying to meet a new or growing demand.

Compromising quality in favor of speed is just going to chase away all the new customers when they realize they’re not getting the best you have to offer.

4. Take Advantage of Outside Expertise

Businesses may offer unique takes, new products, or previously unknown services. But when it comes to dealing with new growth, there’s always someone who has been there before. Don’t assume you know everything. This is where networking can become a valuable tool for companies facing challenges sorting through a sudden increase in demand.

Make friends in the industry and tap into their knowledge and experience. This is often the best source of information and can help small businesses navigate the uncharted waters of growth.

5. Make Sure Customers Know Who You Are

There is so much information on the internet at any given time that it’s nearly impossible to sort through all of it — and it is easy to get overwhelmed, especially for consumers working to research a new company before they start spending money. It’s important to set up a comprehensive “About Us” page to make it easy for new customers to understand what the company offers and what they’re all about. You know a good template when you see it.

It sounds simple, but it can have a massive impact on growth. The style and design of the About Us page can decide whether that impact is positive or negative.

6. Build a Great Team

A company is only as good as the people who hold it together. It’s up to the business owner to build a great team that works together well: one they can trust to get the job done.

Start by choosing experts in the field — business, manufacturing, marketing, etc. — and work with them to find the perfect balance. It sounds simple, but it’s anything but. Finding a team of people who both succeed in their respective fields and work well together is like finding the Holy Grail.

7. Look Forward, Not Back

Where a business has been before can teach a lot of valuable lessons. Learning from failures and reworking plans that didn’t work in the first place are useful tools to help ensure business success in the future. But lingering on the past will make sure a business stays there.

Don’t let the past hold you back. Instead, learn from it and look to the future. Focus on where the company is going rather than where it’s been.

8. Learn From the Competition

Nearly every industry is fiercely competitive, but that doesn’t mean new ventures can’t learn from those who came before, even if those other companies stand in direct competition.

Unless a business owner is blazing the way in an entirely new field, there is always someone who left footprints in the sand. Follow them. Figure out what they did to succeed and what didn’t work for them, and then use that information to plan your next move.

9. Don’t Stray Too Far From Your Values

The temptation is great when moving into larger markets or growing exponentially, to betray some of what made a small business appealing in the first place. Maybe that means treating employees poorly or straying too far from the values that were established when the company first opened its doors.

Don’t give in to that temptation. The values established as a company defines what it is, and maintaining that appearance is more important than any profit margin or sale.

Celebrate The Wins and Learn From the Failures

For a small business, going global or experiencing substantial growth can be an overwhelming proposition. But that intimidation shouldn’t scare away anyone savvy enough to start a business in the first place. Start by ensuring the company is ready for growth by going over all the little details and determining what might interfere. From there, simply take things one day at a time and be ready to adapt to any new challenges that arise.

The internet is a valuable tool for small businesses, but one viral video can shoot a company to previously unforeseen heights that they might not be ready for. Be careful and ready for anything. Learn from any failures and celebrate successes as they manifest.

solar energy

States Producing the Most Solar Energy

In the first few months of his administration, one of President Joe Biden’s top policy priorities has been addressing the threat of climate change—while also improving infrastructure and creating jobs to generate economic growth. Biden has stated a goal of reaching 100% pollution-free electricity by 2035, which means dramatically scaling up renewable energy production in the U.S. To that end, Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan would include extensive tax credits, grants, and other investments in clean energy.

One of the potential beneficiaries of this focus is the solar power industry, which is seeing rapid growth as the costs associated with solar decline. For many years, solar power was too expensive to be adopted at scale as a major source of energy production, but this has changed in recent years.

One of the biggest reasons for the decline in costs has been technological innovation. Solar technology has become more reliable and more efficient over time, which lowers the cost of generating energy. As those costs decrease, adoption becomes more common, which allows solar cell manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and lower prices even further.

Government support has also been a major factor: billions in federal investment for renewables during the Great Recession helped spur the technological advances seen in the last decade, and the federal government—along with many states and localities—has long offered tax breaks and other incentives to subsidize household solar adoption.

These factors reached an inflection point in the mid-2000s, and solar production in the U.S. has been growing exponentially ever since. In 2006, solar generated around 507,000 megawatt-hours of energy and represented .01% of U.S. energy generated by the electric power industry. By 2019, solar thermal and photovoltaic accounted for 71,936,822 megawatt-hours—around 140 times more than in 2006—to represent 1.74% of the total.

Solar is still a relatively small part of the U.S.’s overall energy mix but will become an increasingly significant source as solar production continues to accelerate—particularly if the Biden Administration’s climate policies and clean energy investments come to pass. For now, however, renewables overall (17.7% of total electricity generation) still lag behind natural gas (38.4%), coal (23.4%), and nuclear (19.6%). Within the renewable category, solar (9.9% of renewable production) trails wind (40.6%) and hydroelectric (39.5%).

Despite its small but growing role in overall U.S. energy production, solar is a major part of the energy mix in a number of states. The undisputed leader of these states is California, which leads all others both by total solar energy production and the share of electricity derived from solar. California’s total solar energy production is nearly four times that of the runner-up state, North Carolina. Many of the market factors that have made solar more popular nationwide hold in California, too, but the Golden State also has geographic features and a political climate that have made it a solar leader.

In terms of geography, California is one of the U.S. states with the highest levels of insolation, or exposure to the sun. Insolation is a factor for many other leading states for solar production, including Sun Belt locations like Texas, Southwestern states Nevada and Arizona, and Southeastern states North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Politically, California’s policymakers have created an environment that all but guarantees heavy reliance on solar energy. For instance, California has one of the most ambitious renewable portfolio standards of any U.S. state, with a goal of generating 60% of energy from renewables by 2030 and 100% of energy from renewables by 2045. Additionally, in 2020, the state began requiring most new homes to include rooftop solar panels.

To find the states where solar production is highest, researchers at used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electricity Power Data. States were ranked by annual solar production for electric power (in megawatt-hours) for 2019. The researchers also calculated the year-over-year change in total solar energy production from 2018–2019, as well as what percentage of total energy production and renewable energy production solar accounts for.

Here are the states producing the most solar energy.





Annual solar energy production (Megawatt-hours)


Change in solar energy production (YoY)


Solar share of total energy production


Solar share of total renewable energy production


California    1    28,331,513 +5.0% 14.0% 29.1%
North Carolina    2    7,451,338 +21.9% 5.7% 44.6%
Arizona    3    5,278,019 +2.7% 4.6% 43.0%
Nevada    4    4,810,511 +1.9% 12.1% 42.4%
Texas    5    4,365,125 +36.2% 0.9% 4.8%
Florida    6    3,901,445 +61.7% 1.6% 45.6%
Utah    7    2,186,424 -1.7% 5.6% 51.3%
Georgia    8    2,160,770 +8.3% 1.7% 18.8%
New Mexico    9    1,365,900 +1.3% 3.9% 16.1%
Minnesota    10    1,248,833 +19.8% 2.1% 8.6%
Colorado    11    1,218,220 +14.7% 2.2% 8.7%
New Jersey    12    1,164,721 +17.6% 1.6% 57.9%
Massachusetts    13    1,163,776 +19.0% 5.4% 34.7%
Virginia    14    949,111 +24.4% 1.0% 15.3%
South Carolina    15    858,546 +68.2% 0.9% 14.3%
United States    –    71,936,822 +12.7% 1.7% 9.9%


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website:

3D Scanning

Top 3 Trends Influencing 3D Scanning Market Share Between 2021-2027

The 3D scanning market is estimated to grow at a substantial rate on the back of robust demand for 3D scanning solutions in the aerospace & defense sector for the correct measurement of components and parts. Since the sector complies with strict regulations related to the measurement of parts, authorities use 3D scanning solutions to scan assembled aircraft and its components.

3D scanning software allows for the accurate formation of a 4D image based on the data collected by scanners. The software can be utilized for the scan to BIM and scan to CAD models in the architecture industry.

Long-range scanners are being widely used in the construction sector as they allow scanning of large outdoor environments. Civil engineers use these scanners to measure large areas before starting the construction process. Additionally, there is a rising demand for structured light scanners owing to their ability to scan large objects at high speeds. These scanners provide highly accurate readings that can be analyzed using software to enable the restructuring or recreation of archaeological products.

Given several applications, companies in the 3D scanning market are developing new products. For instance, in 2020, Hexagon announced the launch of its new software plugin which allows full operation of structured light scanners from within a dedicated PolyWorks interface. With such innovations, Global Market Insights, Inc., reports that the 3D scanning market may register around USD 7.5 billion by 2027.

Mentioned below are some of the vital trends driving 3D scanning market expansion:

High demand for optical scanners

Optical scanners are witnessing rising demand as they are able to perform repeatable and highly precise 3D geometrical surface inspections and metrology-grade measurements. These scanners are widely used in reverse engineering applications, especially in the automobile industry. With 3D optical scanners, a highly accurate representation of the 3D printed part is obtained, which makes it an important tool in the manufacturing sector.

Multiple applications in the entertainment & media sector

In the entertainment & media industry, 3D scanning technology can be used to scan people for creating images for an animated movie. It can be used to virtually create an environment by scanning the actual geographic location. Entertainment design firms can make costumes, sets, and props. This technology decreases the cost of 3D movie production and game development, effectively transforming the innovative imagination into reality. Media & entertainment companies are likely to increasingly adopt 3D scanning software to reproduce real-world characters and objects and to construct virtual scenes.

Infrastructure development projects in MEA

The Middle East & Africa is witnessing an expanding construction sector. The growing tourism industry has led to the construction of new commercial complexes and shopping centers. Government organizations in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are emphasizing modernizing and strengthening the infrastructure to ensure economic development. They are also undertaking large-scale transportation infrastructure development projects to maintain global economic competition. Moreover, new airport development projects could propel the regional 3D scanning business.



DMCC Reports on the Future of Trade as Global Trade Defies Expectations in 2021

DMCC’s latest feature, Defying Predictions and Driving Post Pandemic Economic Recovery, unravels global trade predictions for 2021 in a positive manner. The article explains the surprising resilience through the 2020 year despite challenged by the global pandemic.

The report highlighted two key global and regional takeaways, first, global trade will underpin strong global economic growth in 2021 with the US and Chinese economies leading the way. This growth has defied expectations of double-digit annual declines, which had been estimated between 13-32% by the World Trade Organization. Second, Dubai, a major trade hub, saw its foreign trade growth rebound significantly in 2020, despite the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The second half of 2020 seeing a particularly strong jump in volumes of 6% year-on-year. Dubai’s overall export values jumped 8% in 2020, on an annual basis.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC, said, “In 2020, the outlook for global trade was bleak as the world sought to grapple with the impact of the pandemic. Today, the picture is much more positive, as evidenced by the findings of our latest Special Edition Future of Trade – 2021 report. But while global trade has shown its resilience, it is simultaneously in the midst of profound change. Technology, changing consumer behaviors, the drive to combat climate change, and geopolitics will all be key contributors to its reshaping in the years ahead. In this context, our research puts forward several tangible recommendations to governments and businesses seeking to navigate this new landscape and accelerate the recovery from the pandemic.”

According to the research, the most transformative element of the global trade outlook is technology. Blockchain, decentralized finance, DeFi, and other new and disruptive technologies will further accelerate growth. For example, DeFi protocols have seen a considerable amount of funds invested. Since the start of 2021 alone, the total value locked into DeFi has tripled from approximately USD 20bn to USD 60bn. As digital infrastructures grow, they will continue to accelerate a ground-breaking shift in trade from the national to the global.

Commenting on the release of the Special Edition report, Feryal Ahmadi, Chief Operating Officer, DMCC, said, “Following a challenging and uncertain period, the evidence presented in our Future of Trade report suggests an optimistic outlook. Global trade has defied all expectations and will underpin global economic growth. While geopolitics will continue to present challenges and impact the global trading system, the adoption of technology will continue to shape the future of trade. An important development over the last twelve months has also been the pivot of governments, companies, and investors towards sustainable practices in international trade – now high on the agenda. What the report ultimately reiterates, in line with our previous findings, is that international coordination and collaboration, and technology remain the key enablers and drivers of the recovery.”

green building

7 Well-Known Benefits of Green Buildings

For the past decade, the construction industry’s effect on society has grown exponentially, in ways both good and bad. Its rapid evolution showcased the emergence of solutions to deal with the negatives. A prime example is the development of green buildings, geared towards combating its adverse harmful impacts on the natural environment. 

The construction sector contributes a big percentage to the world’s wastes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the construction industry in the US alone comprises 25% of the non-industrial waste generated annually, or 160 million tons in figures. In another study by the US Green Building Council, the industry takes up 40% of the worldwide energy usage. 

How is a building ‘green’?

A ‘green’ building aims to reduce such issues through design, construction, or operational methods. It also covers site planning, community, and land-use planning. Some key features include efficient use of resources such as energy and water, use of non-toxic and sustainable materials, re-use and recycling of the latter, and design adaptability, among other things. These can be applied to any type of development, may it be commercial or residential. See more here to avail your own green home.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED, is the most established green building certification system in the world. It follows a standard metric for all building types and phases including construction, interiors, operations and maintenance, and core and shell. 

For instance, Shanghai Tower in China is one of the grandest buildings in the world, being the second tallest tower at 2073 feet. Yet, it still manages to fit the standard of a LEED-certified building. It uses passive cooling through a transparent curtain wall that forms a buffer of captured air. Its façade also integrated 270 wind turbines that power its exterior lights. All these features account for a significant reduction in the building’s energy costs.

Merits: Environmental, social, and economic

As the previous example has shown, sustainable developments show potential not only through environmental merits but on other fronts as well. It paves the way for more productive communities and economic progress. To discuss more in detail, here are 7 well-known benefits of green buildings in different aspects.

1. Minimized pollution and strain on resources

The primary goal of green buildings is to address the building industry’s detrimental impact on the climate and environment, particularly pollution and resource depletion. Through its philosophies, it significantly minimizes waste production and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the emissions savings could potentially be as much as 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. The use of raw materials and shared natural resources are also kept to a minimum, which lessens the ecological strain. 

2. Less maintenance and building cost

After such environmental benefits, others will follow accordingly such as economic benefits. Many assume that constructing a green building is more costly than it seems, but research shows that its price is comparable to conventional methods. These are achieved through apt design solutions, project management, and other cost-effective strategies. For instance, reusing and recycling materials can cut your expenses. Even design interventions like passive cooling and natural lighting can significantly reduce operational costs. 

3. Energy efficiency 

Newer technologies and features will require you to cash out a bigger budget initially, but the benefits and savings will be tenfold better in the long run. Solar photovoltaic systems have notably become more affordable in recent years. It’s a versatile technology, applicable both in large and small-scale developments. If you have enough panels installed, it can cover your entire electric consumption. These interventions are not only environmentally advantageous, but it significantly reduces operational costs as well since non-renewable energy sources are expensive.

4. Water efficiency

Another natural resource that green building methods are saving is water. It advocates for a consistent supply of clean water for future generations. One way is by using alternative sources like rainwater. Some major commercial establishments have been using gray water for water closets in public restrooms. Another method of achieving this is by incorporating water treatment facilities in your development to recycle water. 

5. Market Value

Sustainability and social responsibility have become more prominent around circles of investors and potential occupiers. If your building uses green interventions, its credentials allow for increased marketability. Studies have shown that greener buildings have a high tendency to attract tenants and buyers. With the demand and technology incorporated, owners can implement higher lease and sale prices.

6. Workplace Productivity

The social benefits of green buildings interlink with economic profits as well. According to a study from Harvard, employees in green and well-ventilated office spaces showed a significant increase in cognitive function, crisis response, and focused activity level. These kinds of spaces also improve their well-being, with better sleep quality and fewer sick-building symptoms. These positive human responses account for a boosted workplace productivity.

7. Future proof investment

Sustainable interventions are also a way to protect your investment and secure longevity. With the changing times and stricter regulations, developments should be adaptable and must stand the test of time. The coronavirus pandemic gravely affected the world economy. Green recovery aims to provide policies and solutions that support the future of both the people and the environment. This includes green building initiatives that allow for flexibility, resilience, and consistently good quality of life for its users. Hence, their income and future market value are positively affected.

The future of green buildings

Despite the pandemic and struggles of construction, green building trends continue to emerge. Government bodies have started delving into green initiatives such as the UK’s Green Homes Grant. LEED-certified materials have been in trend and are still expected to boom in the coming years. These include wood, insulated concrete forms, composites, non-VOC paints among others. 

Green buildings are still far from being the standard. However, in the long run, these sustainable initiatives can play a pivotal role in the large-scale economic progress of the world. It presents itself as a tool for job security, long-term resilience, and resource safeguarding.


Asian Construction Boom Set to Secure Stable Cement Market Growth

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Cement – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Consistent demand from the construction sector maneuvered the global cement market through the pandemic and promoted its further expansion. The robust growth currently being seen in the Asian residential and infrastructural sector is set to become a key market driver in the near term.

Key Trends and Insights

Despite the fact that many cement plants remained idle and inactive during the Covid lockdown, 2020 figures indicate that global cement production remained consistent with 2019 output (4.2B tonnes, IndexBox estimates). The demand for cement is buoyed by construction industry growth in the USA, India, and China and building renovation works in the EU and other countries.

Vietnam (+7.6% CARG), Indonesia (+5.6% CARG), India (+5.5% CARG) and China (+4.4% CARG) indicated the most significant rate of consumption growth from 2007 to 2020.

The announcement of large-scale construction projects in the Asia-Pacific region has secured confidence regarding a stable growth in demand for cement in the near term. In June 2020, Vietnam adopted public-private partnership legislation to attract investment into the housing construction sector. The government’s five-year development plan to 2024 in Indonesia envisages the development of megacities and the construction of a new capital in Eastern Indonesia. In 2020, India launched the state initiative The Housing for All, which outlines the construction of 11M housing units for the poor by 2022. The housing construction sector in China will expand further due to the substantial increased investment seen in 2021.

In the USA, suburban construction continues to develop; it started during the pandemic, following the shift to remote working and the drive to move away from the large cities. The subsidized mortgage rates in Russia continue to buoy the construction market. IndexBox forecasts that over the 2020-2030 period, the global cement market is set to expand at an average annual rate of 1.8% CAGR, reaching 5.0B tonnes by 2030.

In 2020, many global cement manufacturers announced the expansion of their product lines, plans to use renewable sources of energy and decarbonization initiatives. Systems to capture greenhouse emissions from cement plants are seeing widespread installation in developed countries. As the ‘green’ agenda gains momentum, reducing the carbon footprint is set to become an important issue for manufacturers in terms of maintaining their competitive edge. This issue may acquire particular relevance in the EU market, where a ‘carbon tax’ is set to be introduced.

Cement Consumption by Country

China (2,375M tonnes) remains the largest cement consuming country worldwide, comprising approx. 56% of total volume. Moreover, cement consumption in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest consumer, India (339M tonnes), sevenfold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by the U.S. (104M tonnes), with a 2.5% share.

In value terms, China ($184B) led the market alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by India ($16.5B). It was followed by the U.S.

The countries with the highest levels of cement per capita consumption in 2020 were China (1,620 kg per person), Viet Nam (911 kg per person) and the U.S. (314 kg per person).

Global Cement Imports

In 2020, approx. 96M tonnes of cement were imported worldwide; waning by -4.4% compared with 2019. In value terms, cement imports stood at $7.5B in 2020.

In 2020, the U.S. (15M tonnes), distantly followed by Hong Kong SAR (4.1M tonnes), France (3.8M tonnes), Israel (3.3M tonnes), the Netherlands (3.2M tonnes), the UK (3.1M tonnes), Sri Lanka (2.2M tonnes), Afghanistan (2.1M tonnes), Kuwait (2M tonnes), Singapore (1.8M tonnes), Poland (1.7M tonnes), Cambodia (1.7M tonnes) and Hungary (1.5M tonnes) were the major importers of cement, together making up 48% of total imports. The following importers – Hong Kong SAR (4.1M tonnes), France (3.8M tonnes), Israel (3.3M tonnes), the Netherlands (3.2M tonnes), the UK (3.1M tonnes), Sri Lanka (2.2M tonnes), Afghanistan (2.1M tonnes), Kuwait (2M tonnes), Singapore (1.8M tonnes), Poland (1.7M tonnes), Cambodia (1.7M tonnes) and Hungary (1.5M tonnes) – together made up 32% of total imports.

In value terms, the U.S. ($1.3B) constitutes the largest market for imported cement worldwide, comprising 17% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by France ($372M), with a 5% share of global imports. It was followed by the UK, with a 4% share.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform



Why Smart Roads are Just as Important as Autonomous Vehicles

There’s no doubt that self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles (AVs), are much safer than the average person-manned vehicle. In fact, more than 90of serious crashes are due to human error, which means autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce the number of collisions and save lives.1 However, there are still plenty of obstacles the technology of AVs has yet to address, including seeing objects behind occlusions like buses or trucks, detecting and anticipating the movements of pedestrians and drivers well ahead of time, and dealing with defective or dirty car sensors. Another complication AV technology has yet to fully evolve is the ability to react appropriately when new and unusual road circumstances arise.   

The focus on technology should not be isolated to the car itself, but also in upgrading the actual road infrastructure. State-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) to advance smart infrastructure will not only help driverless vehicles understand the roads better, but also improve overall road safety as AVs are not equipped to see around corners or other impediments. With smart infrastructure now being introduced by AI startup companies such as Derq, having those “eyes” outside of the vehicle also allows for greater visibility overall – making the ride not only safer, but more comfortable and with even better performance. This will also result in less-congested roads. For an average U.S. citizen, congestion costs 99 hours of their time and $1,377 each year.2 Smart infrastructure can prevent traffic backups by adjusting traffic signals when needed.  

The State of the Current Road Infrastructure 

The government designed roads, traffic lights and signs when it was inconceivable to think that there would be any self-driving vehicles on the road. While drivers are well-versed in traffic signals and signs alerting them to when they should or should not drive their vehicle, AVs need different alerts in the form of radio or cellular network signals. Now, various self-driving companies are exploring the idea of working with smart analytic companies to advance the technology of both the vehicles and the infrastructure. In fact, many industry leaders also believe smart roads are needed for the future of AVs 

What Smart Infrastructure Means for the Roadways 

In Miami-Dade County (Fla.), the autonomous vehicle research team at Ford is exploring how emerging technology from smart infrastructure can provide additional information to the AV before it even arrives at an intersection.3 While many cities have different types of traffic signals – horizontal, vertical, posted in the corner of the intersection as opposed to in the middle of the intersection – AI algorithms unite smart infrastructure with AVs, which enable the launch of these vehicles in new locations much faster. In Las Vegas, Motional’s driverless vehicles are partnering with Derq to test how driverless technology reacts when given an even broader perspective than it already has.4 The collaboration has created a “bird’s-eye view” for the AVs at some of the most highly-trafficked intersections in the city.4  

While some self-driving companies currently don’t rely on smart infrastructure, the AV industry is realizing that it’s an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to accelerating the ability to deploy more AV routes in different cities and countries. In addition, transportation systems can’t achieve safety without smart infrastructure. The need for innovative technology on the roads is growing. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, has even stressed on the importance of building better infrastructure as well as the technology for self-driving cars.5  

The incorporation of AI and video analytics in smart roads will further the development of the technology of driverless vehiclesThese innovations will also revolutionize the safety, comfort and performance of not only the autonomous vehicles, but also the overall transportation ecosystem 


Dr. Georges Aoude is the co-founder of Derq, an MIT spinoff powering the future of connected and autonomous roads, making cities smarter and safer for all road users and enabling the deployment of autonomous vehicles at scale. Derq provides cities and fleets with an award-winning and patented smart infrastructure Platform powered by AI that helps them tackle the most challenging road safety and traffic management problems. 



The State of Intelligent Transportation in 2021

It’s reported that road accidents kill approximately 1.3 million people and injure tens of millions more every year.[1] It is imperative to leverage the advancements in various technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) to address this hidden, global epidemic. The use of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) enables communication between vehicles, as well as between vehicles and roadside communication systems for road safety. In fact, within three to five years, this will be a factory feature on almost every vehicle. In addition, various sensor technologies including cameras powered by AI are enabling transportation agencies to understand roadways better than ever before with applications ranging from accurate traffic counts to predicting spots on roads that are most prone to crashes. It’s even predicted that the global intelligent transportation system (ITS) realm is expected to rise to an estimated value of over $63 billion by 2026.[2]

Autonomous vehicles operating within communities as shuttles is one example of this technology currently being utilized to improve safety. For example, autonomous vehicles and roadside AI platforms “communicate” with each other to improve traffic flow and help protect both pedestrians and vehicle riders. Pedestrians and hazards are detected by traffic cameras, which is then processed by the AI “brain” in real-time to send alerts back to the vehicle. This means an autonomous vehicle would get notified of a pedestrian or potential road hazard before it even comes into view.  

Current And Future Utilization of AI Technology For Safer Roadways 

Volkswagen announced in 2020 that it planned to install the V2X antennae in the newest generation of its Golf model.[3] Ford also plans to deploy C-V2X technology in all new 2022 vehicles.[4] In Dubai, the goal is to have 25% of its transportation autonomous by 2030.[5] One issue that remains is that today’s road infrastructure is not ready to support autonomous vehicle deployments. There is a clear technology gap that needs to be filled to open the door for several opportunities for innovative solutions. However, a number of road agencies, such as the Departments of Transportation in Michigan (MDOT), Florida (FDOT), and Ohio (ODOT & DriveOhio), are working to make road infrastructure smarter to help save lives by deploying AI-enabled traffic systems. This technology also helps these agencies prioritize infrastructure investments and improve their road safety.  

Technology companies like Miovision, Waycare, Derq, and Lyt are all playing an integral role when it comes to AI being incorporated with road infrastructures. They’re leveraging technology to prevent traffic fatalities and sharing their platforms with various agencies to ensure open communication and information. Collaborating with transit authorities and law enforcement is just the beginning for what’s to come in regard to safer roads. Some of these analytics platforms are partnering with automotive companies and cities to provide their AI-powered systems to enable safer and smoother deployments of autonomous vehicles. 

AI Technology and Analytics Expanding To Other Industries 

With so many industries already incorporating AI technology into company practice, more industries are sure to follow suit as the technology and reporting continue to advance. Automotive insurance can leverage AI with video analytics to streamline claims management. Utilizing AI technology will supply insurance companies with more complete information for claims processing as well as save them time and money.  

There’s no question that the implementation of AI into various other industries is sure to come as those currently utilizing the technology continue to analyze data that had previously never been available.  


About the Author:  

Dr. Georges Aoude is the co-founder and CEO of Derq, an MIT-spinoff and leading AI company for edge video analytics to make roads safer, enabling efficient movement of road users and autonomous vehicles (AVs) by adding intelligence to existing cameras to understand all movements and dangerous behaviors in the roads.  





South Carolina Ports Shares Optimistic Outlook for 2021

Pandemic or no pandemic, South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) continues to keep things moving throughout the supply chain. In February, the Inland Port Greer finished the month off with record numbers while Inland Port Dillon reported a 7.4 percent year-over-year increase in rail moves. These and other robust metrics released this week further confirm SCPA’s resilience and efficiencies in operations.

“As retail imports continue to boom during the pandemic, the ability to quickly move goods from ships to the hinterland via rail is paramount,” SC Ports CEO Jim Newsome said. “Cargo owners benefit from SC Ports’ fast-import transit to population centers — with intermodal imports arriving at the railheads within 24 hours — and overnight rail service to Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon.”

An increase in the automotive sector has also contributed to the Port’s success for FY2021. In February, the Columbus Street Terminal completed the handling of 17,555 vehicles, contributing to the year-to-date total of 165,528 vehicles. This number represents an increase of 11 percent compared to the same period last year. So far, SCPA reported an impressive 1.61 million TEUs handled in fiscal year 2021, of which more than 180,00 handled at the Port of Charleston’s Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in February alone.

“By investing more than $2 billion in terminal infrastructure, we are able to deliver unmatched vessel and cargo fluidity to our customers,” Newsome said. “We remain focused on providing congestion-free terminals and available berths to keep the supply chain fluid.”



Promoting economic growth while maintaining a robust business climate seems like a walk in the park for the team at Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). Living up to its global reputation as a powerhouse for manufacturing, healthcare, aerospace, and transportation, MDA sets the bar higher for competing states providing opportunities for exporters, investors, and industry diversification. 

“A lot of people may have certain impressions of Mississippi, but I can assure you, we have a lot going on here,” explains Gena Lentz, MDA’s director of Foreign Investment.

Lentz brings more than 25 years of international trade promotion experience for the state of Mississippi. While working on helping exporters in the Magnolia State transport products to Asia, Lentz further developed her role with MDA, evolving to investment recruiting alongside her agency’s international representatives in Yokohama, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea. 

The authority does not stop there, though. Adding to its already diverse economic climate, MDA is currently laser-focused on the European market, specifically Germany. By closing the gap in global representation, MDA will boast a fully developed international team.

“Europe is an especially important market for Mississippi, serving as a major source of investment,” Lentz says. “We continue to work projects from Germany with our goal being a full-time representative promoting the state with boots on the ground recruiting investment, promoting the state, promoting exports from the state and developing investment leads.” 

Previously, MDA had representation in both Germany and the United Kingdom. This year, however, the team continues to take steps in re-focusing efforts for a new approach to European representation by reprioritizing to better meet the needs of international clients and investors. 

Extensive History within European Manufacturers

Manufacturing represents one of the Mississippi’s leading industries. An example of this is Continental Tire located just west of the state’s capitol of Jackson. Continental’s massive 5 million-square-foot+ facility is the home of all things tire production, representing a $1.45 billion investment in the state. Looking ahead to the future and plans for growth, Continental plans on developing a workforce of 2,500 employees through 2028. Since launching tire production at the Jackson facility, the company has already hit the 500-employee mark. 

“Continental Tire represents an extraordinarily strong partnership between MDA and the local economic development organization of Hinds County, local authorities and Entergy Energy,” Lentz explained. “Economic development is very much of a team sport. Locating a large company such as Continental requires strong teamwork and trust on all sides, and this was a great example of strong teamwork between so many different partners and it’s something that we’re really proud of.”

Mississippi’s manufacturing sector is just as diversified as the variety of sectors found in the state. Ardagh Group is another example of this. The global company is best known for metal and glass packaging but recently started manufacturing the famous slim-can design that continues to outshine the traditional can shape for soft drink products. When the company decided to add the manufacturing lines necessary to accomplish this, Mississippi was able to provide the workforce and the facility needed to do so. 

“Ardagh went through a major expansion to change and manufacture the slim design of the beverage cans to accommodate the shift to this design,” Lentz said. “By doing so, they added 80 new jobs as part of their facility expansion in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and will add two new production lines to manufacture beverage cans.”

John Rounsaville, MDA’s executive director, adds that Swiss-based technology-driven company ABB announced an expansion in 2019 at its Senatobia location, while Japan-based Ajinomoto Foods manufactures specialty frozen foods in Oakland while undergoing several expansions to accommodate its growth and to meet an increase in demand.

“The list of global companies that call Mississippi home and maintain successful operations in the state is ongoing,” Rounsaville said. “These companies realize the benefits and advantages of doing business in our state, as evidenced by continued investments in their Mississippi operations and the creation of thousands of jobs for Mississippi’s workers.”

And the list keeps going . . . Mississippi has been home to a Rolls-Royce facility since 2007. The British company is located at Stennis Space Center–just off the coast of Mississippi. According to Lentz, the company benefits from an outdoor testing facility for jet engines used in the aerospace sector. Additionally, Columbia, Mississippi. is home to Zodiac Parachute, and its parent company Safran. Safran is a French-owned company known for producing military-grade parachutes and has a history with NASA and some of its space missions. 

Automotive Sector Drives Mississippi’s Success

Adding to the broad-ranging business presence that MDA supports, the automotive industry has experienced significant growth in recent years.

“Nissan started production in 2003 and was our first OEM,” says Lentz in reference to original equipment manufacturers. “Currently, Nissan has manufactured the Titan truck, the Frontier truck and the Altima. The automotive supply chain and all that Toyota and Nissan have accomplished over the years is fascinating. Nissan has approximately 5,200 employees now. Among suppliers here is a large company called Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi along with a network of other suppliers. Typical of the automotive sector, once you locate the large OEM manufacturers, you then have an opportunity for smaller companies to locate close by who need to supply products to the OEMs.” 

Lentz went on to explain that the automotive sector currently dominates. This does not come as a huge surprise considering the state has two large automotive OEMs that began operations just a couple of years apart. North Mississippi’s town of Blue Springs has been home to Toyota since 2011, when manufacturing on the Corolla model began in Mississippi. Fast-forward to today and the Corolla is now their primary model manufactured in Blue Springs. Lentz credits Toyota’s robust employee pool consisting of 2,500 workers as a representation of the strong, positive work culture found at the facility.

In recent years, there has been significant success with smaller German automotive companies in Mississippi.

Variety is the Key

“Beyond Japan and Germany, Canada, the UK and Switzerland are other markets included in our network,” Lentz added. “For some, it is surprising that the state has this kind of investment variety. With 26 countries and 200 different facilities, it’s something to be proud of.”

From family-owned German companies with a strong emphasis on technology and engineering to smaller distribution facilities and companies in aerospace, Mississippi truly does set the bar higher in providing market advancements for all types of companies. An example of this extended network is found with the presence of Swiss manufacturer ABB, which has several facilities throughout the state focused on electrical manufacturing.

“Another factor that differentiates Mississippi is that we understand how important it is to have industrial sites that are ready to go for companies,” Lentz says. “Typically, when companies start looking for a new facility, they are on a very tight timeline and do not have time for the due diligence reports. Local economic development organizations, utility companies in Mississippi and MDA each have programs that are designed to help make sure that we have industrial sites that are available and ready to go without delay.”  

The state’s infrastructure and transportation options are nothing short of remarkable while equally competitive for companies looking to expand or relocate. MDA takes into consideration all factors for businesses while proactively maintaining the state’s strong interstate systems and five class one rails. 

Mississippi’s Project Ready sites are paired with a well-prepared and highly competitive team of economic development professionals with success and risk mitigation at the top of mind. The extensive partner network of developers, utility partners, community colleges and research universities, and infrastructure all work together to position companies for success and growth. The global network established by MDA has proven resilient and shows no signs of slowing down in the face of market disruptions. 

“Our excellent transportation network includes six interstate highways and 14 federal highways; 76 airports, including two international airports; dozens of rail systems that serve 2,500 miles of track throughout the state; and 15 ports found along Mississippi’s three navigable waterways,” Rounsaville explained. “The Mississippi River borders the state to the west, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway borders the state to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico forms Mississippi’s border to the south. Mississippi boasts two deep water ports along the Gulf of Mexico, allowing companies convenient, quick access internationally.”

The exceptional setup in Mississippi further reiterates the state’s position as an economic development powerhouse prepared to accommodate even the most complex of business operations. The Port of Gulfport is the No. 2 port in U.S. for fruits and vegetables. Mississippi’s structured approach in supporting international growth is evident in the state’s 2019 export numbers (see charts).

Incentivized Growth Abounds 

“Our trade managers provide business assistance–including educational, marketing and referral services–to small- and medium-sized companies aspiring to sell products and services outside the United States,” says Luigi Dominighini, MDA’s senior manager, International Trade. 

Through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)-funded Mississippi State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), MDA can offer small businesses financial assistance to help defray many of the costs associated with exporting for the first time or with exporting to new international markets, Dominighini noted. 

“Our footprint is seen throughout our global offices in Santiago, Chile, South Korea and Japan,” he says.

For companies seeking a region with historically strong export operations, Mississippi should be at the top of the list.

MDA’s International Trade Mission takes a granular approach to globalization. From travel support, market research, industry briefings and meeting coordination for international trade missions, exporters are provided the opportunity to meet with foreign prospects without driving up costs. MDA works to pre-qualify buyers, distributors and other business representatives. 

Additional resources provided by MDA include workshops and seminars for exporters. Dominighini adds that not only do these resources serve as an extension for added network partner opportunities, but they support MDA’s International Trade Office mission to develop long-term growth and job creation with the globalization of the state’s economy at the top of mind.

“The seminars we host cover market-specific topics and provide technical information on all aspects of the international business process,” Dominighini added. “Comprehensive guides on all aspects of exporting and importing are available to Mississippi businesses through MDA’s International Trade Office. Exporting companies including Thomasson Company, a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, and Hyperion Technologies are just a couple of the success stories we’re proud to have in the state.” 

Planting the Seeds for Growth

Adding to its global network, Mississippi has witnessed a breakthrough for the state’s agriculture sector. In September 2019, Mississippi was confirmed for the first time in history as part of Taiwan’s Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission. Representatives with the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association along with the Taiwan Feed Industry Association confirmed the purchase of 96 million bushels of soybeans (estimated value of $1.1 billion) and 197 million bushels of corn (estimated value of about $1.1 billion).

In the announcement, it was confirmed farmers in the states of Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska would supply soybeans and corn, with the total amount divided between the states based on negotiations of producers and buyers. Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson expressed his delight with the news in the released statement: 

“These efforts will create new markets for Mississippi’s soybean and corn farmers and will potentially create new trade opportunities for other agriculture commodities as well.”

Mississippi Does It With Teamwork

Between forward-thinking strategies and proactive solutions for all types of businesses, MDA continues to raise the bar for competing states with its team of experienced and business-minded professionals.

“Mississippi’s representation makes a concerted effort to create an environment that has a pro-business climate, from low taxes to competitive operating costs, including the utility costs for manufacturers and large facilities,” Lentz says.

Considering the reputation utility costs have for running operations, this an especially important part of how MDA stays five steps ahead on the company’s behalf. MDA ensures a constant, strong relationship with all the region’s utility partners. This network provides a safeguard for reliable power for operations while driving down costs for manufacturers and other businesses.

When it comes to workforce development, MDA’s impressive partner portfolio proactively prepares companies for long-term growth while meeting them where they are in the present. An example of this is Hinds Community College, an institution incredibly involved with workforce development to further support the foreign direct investment climate in the state.

“MDA works closely with both international and domestic prospects to really understand their workforce needs,” Lentz says. “From the very inception of the project, we can work with companies to understand the labor market, looking at specific skillsets in the state so companies understand the market and what type of existing labor force is offered here. We are proud of our extraordinarily strong community college system throughout the state, totaling 15 community colleges in different regions. These colleges represent strong partners with us and customized training for companies, based on their needs.”

Without a proactively prepared workforce, expanding and relocating companies are cut short. One of the many differences found in Mississippi is the management of resources to ensure success from the start. The team at MDA understands what it takes for project success. They ensure that all training needs are met, from workforce training to workforce funds needed.

“We are well aware that a top priority for companies seeking to locate or expand operations is access to a well-trained pipeline of workers,” Rounsaville says. “Mississippi has made developing the country’s best workforce its top priority. In conjunction with the state’s community colleges and universities, the state guarantees companies quality, customized workforce training programs. As companies grow and evolve, so must their employees.”

In addition to preparing incoming companies for building their workforce, training resources along with needed funds are at the top of mind. The professionals at MDA work to provide these resources for companies so they can focus on establishing operations without delay or roadblocks.

“We work with our existing companies to support their workforce training initiatives, so their employees continue to not only meet–but exceed–their expectations as they grow and adapt to changing trends and consumer needs,” Rounsaville says. “To supplement the state’s workforce training, the MS Works Fund was enacted in 2016 to provide an additional $50 million over 10 years to enhance training at our community colleges. Seventy-five percent of the funds are allotted for new job training, and 25 percent of the funds are for training existing employees.”

Additionally, the state offers a variety of alternatives based on individual company needs. These options include Mississippi’s Workforce Investment Network job centers, on-the-job training and more to support the company’s bottom line while reducing training costs. Not only does this approach support the growth of the state’s industries, but it lowers costs for the companies while creating jobs for the community. 

“We realize in today’s market having a talented workforce that is very easily trained in new techniques is so important,” Lentz says. “Beyond our community college partners, there are other workforce partners who play a crucial role. This is one of the many strengths found in the state: How we work to understand our business prospect’s needs and how we try to customize what they need to make sure that they train their workforce.” 

COVID-19 Can’t Keep Mississippi Down

Despite the variety of disruptions created by the pandemic throughout 2020, MDA proved to be more than prepared. While other development authorities scrambled, MDA’s exemplary leadership and business-minded strategies carried its business climate through one of the most disruptive times in recent years. 

“We hope to get back to more of the in-person meetings in 2021, and we’re certainly continuing to do that online through virtual meetings,” Lentz says. “Our team of seven project managers have continued to participate in virtual site visits for new investment projects while upholding a proactive schedule.”

In other words, the pandemic has not given the team at MDA any reason to slow down in terms of working with business prospects and meeting the needs for successful operations. Quite the opposite, in fact. MDA focused on efforts for the future, rather than becoming caught off-guard with economic uncertainty. As of now, leadership continues to focus on building its existing target industries while exploring options to further develop its European footprint. Even though the pandemic is still a concern for our nation, MDA continues providing solutions for market disruptions now and beyond COVID.  

“Moving beyond 2020, which as we know has been an incredibly challenging year in many regards, the goal of the Mississippi Development Authority remains the same as it has been for years: to build stronger communities and economies for Mississippians through new investment and job creation,” Rounsaville says.

“Throughout 2021, the MDA team will continue working to grow advanced manufacturing, health care and aerospace. We also are committed to growing the state’s tech industry. Leading global tech companies are increasingly finding their niche in Mississippi, and we will continue working to attract more high-tech companies to the state. These are the jobs of the future, and the state has already taken many proactive measures, such as the creation of the MS Coding Academies, to ensure we have a workforce ready to fill these in-demand jobs of the future.” 

Mississippi remains front and center for globally-minded professionals seeking a healthy economic climate for growth–even during a pandemic. For those companies already established in the state, Rounsaville affirmed that they can also look forward to continued efforts from economic development professionals and partners throughout the state.  

“Mississippians are known for their work ethic and commitment to quality, and MDA and our partners are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure companies have a skilled workforce in place for generations to come. Their continued investment in our state serves as a strong testament to other global companies that Mississippi means business. We work hard to provide our global partners with a strong business environment that allows them to maintain their competitive edge and find lasting success in our state,” Rounsaville concludes.

To learn more about the Mississippi Development Authority, please visit: