Feast to Famine

Sacramento, Calif.’s housing inventory close to record lows. There were 1,273 houses on the market in Sacramento, Calif., at the end of 2012—less than a month’s worth of houses available to sell, according to the Sacramento Multiple Listing Service. Compare that with 2007, when at one point there were 8,965 homes for sale in December—nearly a year’s supply.

One of the hardest hit markets in the country was clearly recovering. But an improving home sales market comes with pains.

“It’s a real challenge for us,” says Chris Little, president of the Sacramento Association of Realtors. “The good news is price, affordability, interest rate—everything is perfect for somebody to buy. We just don’t have the product to sell.”

Handy Hands

A manufacturing recovery leaves factories short-handed. Grand Rapids, Mich., is in the middle of the eighth best economic recovery in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institution, and it’s mostly driven by a revival in manufacturing. But it’s a recovery that could be muted by lack of skilled labor.

“We have been getting calls every day of the week for the past six months” from employers trying to fill openings, Michael Kiss, coordinator of Grand Rapids Community College’s manufacturing apprentice program, tells Crain’s Detroit Business.

It’s a problem that is likely to become more acute as companies begin to move manufacturing back to the U.S.

Land Poor

Detroit sells distressed land for urban forest. Detroit is rich with land where the people are poor. It has more than 200,000 vacant or abandoned parcels that bring in little tax revenue and that would cost more to maintain than the city can afford.

A local entrepreneur has offered a solution for more than 1,500 blighted city-owned lots in Detroit’s Lower Eastside: sell the 140 acres to him for $300 a lot and he’ll clean it up, remove derelict buildings, and plant hardwood trees.

The city agreed to the deal in December, despite some residents who suspected Hantz Woodlands LLC was looking to grab land for future profit rather than the purer purpose of eliminating blight.

Windows and Doors

Jeld-Wen Inc. moves headquarters to Charlotte. The North American headquarters of Jeld-Wen Inc. is coming to Charlotte, N.C., creating at least 142 jobs and investing $2 million in the Queen City, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

“The expansion in Charlotte is integral to our overall plans for growth,” says Jeld-Wen president Philip Orsino. Jeld-Wen already has 260 employees in North Carolina factories. But the headquarter jobs will be high on the pay scale, averaging $94,367 a year.

Jeld-Wen’s Global headquarters will remain in Klamath Falls, Ore., a relief for that small town where Jeld-Wen is a primary employer.

Brain Search

A vaunted German research society opens in Florida. Some of the best brains in the world have moved to Florida to research cures for brain diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

In December, the Germany-based Max Planck Society opened its first U.S. institute in Palm Beach County. The Max Planck Florida Institute is expected to employ at least 135 people directly and generate 1,800 jobs indirectly, creating more than $2 billion in economic activity in the next 20 years.

The new institute, which cost $65 million, is integrated on a campus with the Scripps Research Institute and Florida Atlantic University. “The U.S. commitment enables us to acquire outstanding researchers,” says Max Planck Society president Peter Gruss.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charlotte, NC.