5. Texas (75%)The states with the lowest growth in the number of women-owned firms between 1997 and 2012 are: Women-Owned Firms% Change, 1997-20121997200220072012 (est.)Total US The State of Vermont has lagged behind most of the rest of the nation in the growth in women-owned businesses. A recent report ranks Vermont 45th in the US in the growth in the number of firms over the last 15 years and 42nd in revenues. Total employment actually fell during that time. Vermont overall has an estimated 21,800 women-owned firms, employing 13,300 and attributing to roughly $1.9 billion according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, a comprehensive study released today analyzing data from the USCensus Bureau. Similar to the first report released this time last year, the unique analysis, reported by industry, revenue and employment size at the national, state and top 25 metropolitan levels, shares a new and nuanced investigation into the growth trends among the 8.3 million women-owned enterprises over the past 15 years. Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 54 percent since 1997. Vermont is ranked 45th (28.0 percent) in growth of number of firms over the past 15 years and 42nd (43.5 percent) in growth of firm revenue between 1997 and 2012. Other key findings pertaining to Vermont include: Vermont is one of five states at the bottom of the list with the least combined economic clout for women-owned firms.While employment nationally rose 8.8 percent from 1997 to 2012, it actually declined by -1.7 percent in Vermont making it one of 10 states that saw employment decline over this period.The state’s percentage change in sales (43.5 percent) is less than the national average (57.7 percent). Below is a table comparing Vermont’s women-owned firms data to the national numbers:Trend in Women-Owned Firms by State, 1997-2012 4. Kansas (25%) 1. Alaska (11%) 2. San Antonio, TX 3. North Carolina (83%) Number of Firms17,030 18,989 20,447 21,800 28.0%Employment13,524 14,974 13,351 13,300 -1.7%Sales ($000)$1,313,146$1,454,095$1,724,022$1,883,80043.5%US Report on Women-Owned BusinessesWomen-owned firms continue to grow in number and economic stature. They are standing toe-to-toe with competitors in a broad range of industries, including construction and transportation, where women-owned firms are just as likely as all firms in those sectors to generate more than half a million dollars in annual revenue. The growth in the number (up 54 percent), employment (up 9 percent) and revenues (up 58 percent) of women-owned firms over the past 15 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms. As of 2012, it is estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.7 million people according to the second annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.. Between 1997 and 2012, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 37 percent, the number of women-owned firms increased by 54percent, a rate 1.5 times the national average. The number of women-owned companies has risen by 200,000 within the past year, equivalent to just under 550 new women-owned firms per day;The report includes detailed analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, offering updated estimates of the number of women-owned firms nationally and in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. It compares the growth rates of women-owned businesses over two different time periods: 1997 to 2002 and 2007 to 2012. New to the 2012 report is analysis of the top 25 metropolitan areas and major industry groups. Among the most notable findings:Women-owned firms are just as likely as all firms to generate in excess of half a million dollars in revenues annually in two industries: construction, where 13% of women-owned firms and 11 percent of all construction firms are pulling in more than $500,000 per year; and in transportation and warehousing, where 6% of each are generating $500,000 or more in revenues;Women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth rates in seven of the 13 most populous (largest by number of businesses) industries: wholesale trade; finance and insurance; other services; real estate; health care and social assistance; construction and arts/entertainment/recreation;Looking at the growth in the number of women-owned firms, comparing the 1997-2002 and 2007-2012 time periods, reveals that one of the biggest challenges for any small business is growing beyond the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark and at the 5 to 9 employee size class. Statistics show this revenue mark to be a particularly difficult hurdle for women-owned enterprises and as a result they perform below national averages.In that same analysis, women-owned firms in the 2007-2012 period show stronger relative growth than do women-owned firms in the earlier period at the very highest revenue category ‘ $1,000,000 and above.‘Even as women-owned firms continue to grow in number at rates exceeding the national average, enterprises at the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark are at a turning point in their development,’ said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. ‘In order to further advance and grow these businesses, new management tools must be implemented.’Geographic TrendsThe states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms during the past 15 years: 1. Washington, D.C. 5. Ohio (25%)The metropolitan areas with the highest combined economic clout, taking into consideration the growth in number of firms, revenue and employment, are: 2. Nevada (92%) 3. West Virginia (22%) Number of Firms5,417,034 6,489,483 7,793,139 8,345,600 54.1%Employment7,076,081 7,146,229 7,579,876 7,697,000 8.8%Sales ($000)$818,669,084$940,774,986$1,202,115,758$1,291,267,10057.7%Vermont 4. Mississippi (75%) 2. Iowa (21%) 1. Georgia (95%) 3. Houston, TX 4. Baltimore, MD; Riverside, CA and Sacramento, CA (tied for fourth)The full State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, is available at: www.openforum.com/womensbusinessreport(link is external).Study MethodologyThe State of Women-Owned Business Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, is based on data from the United States Census Bureau, specifically their quinquennial business census, the Survey of Business Owners (SBO), which is conducted every five years in years ending in 2 and 7. Data from the past three censuses ‘ 1997, 2002, and 2007 ‘ were collated, analyzed and extrapolated forward to 2012, factoring in relative changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) not only nationally but also at industry and state levels. State-level GDP changes over the period of analysis are applied to our estimates of change at the metropolitan level.This report was prepared for American Express OPEN by Womenable, a research, program and policy development consultancy whose mission is to improve the environment for women-owned businesses worldwide. Womenable pursues this mission by working with the stewards of women’s entrepreneurship around the world ‘ policy makers, multi-lateral organizations, corporate decision makers, entrepreneurial support organizations and the women’s business community ‘ to evaluate, implement and improve policies and programs to support women’s enterprise development. Learn more at www.womenable.com(link is external).For detailed information on the 2002 and 2007 economic censuses, visit: http://www.census.gov/econ/census07/www/get_data.html(link is external). (The 1997 economic census is no longer available electronically.) A preview of upcoming changes for the 2012 economic census may be found at: http://www.census.gov/econ/census12/(link is external).About American Express OPENAmerican Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com(link is external) and connect with us at openforum.com and twitter.com/openforum.American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more atwww.americanexpress.com(link is external) and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpress(link is external), www.twitter.com/americanexpress(link is external) and www.youtube.com/americanexpress(link is external). NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–3.21.2012 www.OPENForum.com/womensbusinessreport(link is external).
by Hilary Niles June 24, 2013 vtdigger.org Vermont is slated to receive $1.7 million from tobacco companies in April 2014, closing out a seven-year dispute over tobacco settlement funds from a decade ago.Rather than accept a lump-sum percentage of the money some tobacco companies have been withholding since 2003, as 22 other states have done, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office is pursuing the full amount due through litigation ‘one year’s worth at a time.With the 2003 sales year’s dispute nearing resolution, the slow quest for the balance of funds from 2004 is in its earliest stages. Vermont Assistant Attorney General Evelyn Marcus, who’s in charge of the litigation, said she can only hope the next round doesn’t take a decade.Disputed paymentsFrom year to year, some tobacco companies dispute the amount of money they owe 46 states as a condition of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. The MSA, as it’s known, bound the participating tobacco manufacturers to annual payments totaling $206 billion over 25 years, plus promotional restrictions aimed at curbing youth smoking.Those restrictions, the companies maintain, put them at a competitive disadvantage over the tobacco companies that did not participate in the MSA.The audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is in charge of determining what the market shares are for all manufacturers, Marcus explained. ‘So they determine if there was a loss for the participating manufacturers in any given year,’she said.An independent economic firm then determines whether MSA participation was a ‘significant factor’in the participating companies’market share loss, if there was one.If the MSA is deemed to have cost them business, the participating manufacturers are allowed to hold back a portion of the scheduled annual payments to states. Each state is allotted a different portion of the total settlement funds, so that disputed portion of the payment ‘known as the NPM or Non-Participating Manufacturer Adjustment ‘varies widely for each state.For Vermont, it totaled $4.7 million out of the scheduled $24.2 million settlement payment from the 2003 sales year. Three million dollars of the NPM Adjustment was ultimately paid, leaving $1.7 million in the balance.The MSA tobacco companies can set that disputed amount aside, but states still have the chance to claim it plus any interest the money earned in the interim ‘which apparently is just what Vermont intends to do.Diligent enforcementAt the heart of the whole disputed payment argument is a clause in the MSA requiring a roughly two-cent deposit on every cigarette (or roll-your-own equivalent) sold in the state by the non-participating tobacco companies ‘those manufacturers that did not agree to the MSA back in 1998. There’s twofold logic behind the deposit:For the participating manufacturers, the per-cigarette deposit theoretically levels the playing field against their competitors, who didn’t agree to bear the cost of settlement payments and promotional restrictions.For the states, the deposit keeps the non-participating manufacturers from dropping their prices to bargain basement rates to gain an edge on the companies bound to the MSA. After all, a boost in sales from low prices may drag Vermont two steps back on any ground it had gained in dissuading people from smoking in the first place.If states can demonstrate that they’ve diligently enforced the per-cigarette deposit requirement of the NPMs, then they can qualify to claim their share of the annual settlement payment that was held back.It is in both parties’best interest, therefore, to enforce that deposit rule ‘especially for states reluctant to lose any portion of the settlement they fought for.‘The amount for all states from (sales year) 2003 ‘if every state had been shown to be non-diligent ‘would have been approximately $1.1 billion,’Marcus said.When the 2003 NPM Adjustment was held back, Vermont went to bat for its enforcement efforts. The tobacco companies stopped short of patting the state on the back. But, in November 2011, they stopped contesting the diligence of Vermont and 11 other states that stood their ground.Next stepsWith the 2003 sales year dispute all but behind them, it’s on to 2004 for states that did not agree to settle for 54 cents on the dollar rather than fight for all the money that’s been held back since sales year 2003.Before the next lawsuit can get started to defend another year’s enforcement record, however, the discovery process must take place. Vermont has agreed to prove its diligence as a part of a multi-state arbitration, but it’s unclear when and how those proceedings would commence.Long schedule aside, and despite the fact that the 2003 sales year arbitration panel has not even defined ‘diligence,’Marcus is hopeful because she is confident in the state’s tobacco policies and protocols.In addition to rigorous enforcement of the qualifying statute, Vermont passed additional legislation in 2003 requiring all tobacco companies authorized to sell in the state to be listed in a public directory. Under state law, any cigarette or roll-your-own tobacco not in the directory ‘is considered contraband and is subject to seizure and destruction.’‘Our record for 2004 is even better than our record for 2003, and so we’re going to make our diligence case,’Marcus said.As for where the $1.7 million (plus interest) from 2003 will go once it arrives, Vermont’s Chief Fiscal Officer Steve Klein says its fate is uncertain.‘When they pay it, it will be deposited into the Tobacco Trust Fund. Whether it gets appropriated out of the fund is up to the Legislature,’Klein said.A clause in the 2014 fiscal year budget requires that any interest from the Tobacco Trust Fund be directed to the Tobacco Settlement Litigation Fund at the end of the fiscal year.
May 15, 2008 Letters Zack’s Roots I read with interest and pride the April 1 News article on Steve Zack’s nomination to become president of the American Bar Association.However, I found one description troubling in the article. It noted that his mother was Cuban and his father Jewish, which is a rather incomplete description. As the son of a Cuban Jewish mother and an American Jewish father it is important to distinguish between one’s religion and one’s country of origin. Other readers may have also been confused by your description.As you may be aware, there was a significant Cuban Jewish population and many of those people now live in South Florida. It would be interesting to know whether Steve’s father was Cuban or American.Mark J. Newman Atlanta ( Editor’s Note: Zack’s father is an American of Russian ancestry.) Life is a Tontine, Part II I am writing to respond to the letter titled “Life is a Tontine” from retired attorney Randy Ludacer in the May 1 issue of the News. I agree with Mr. Ludacer that life is precious and that those who work themselves to an early grave in pursuit of fame and fortune may have made a very poor trade. However, the philosophy that Mr. Ludacer propounds, that survival and longevity is the ultimate treasure and the ultimate reality, deserves a closer look.It is obvious that those who receive the “ultimate prize” by living the longest have received only a temporary benefit, because death is inevitable. In the words of The Doors old song, “No one here gets out alive.” Or, if you prefer the Bible: “what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”The philosophy put forth by Mr. Ludacer implies that one’s being terminates at the moment of one’s death. The true ultimate reality is that although our bodies are temporary, are souls are eternal. If you will permit another Bible quote, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Simply put: death is not the end.The world’s greatest philosopher stated it very succinctly: “For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” His name is Jesus Christ, and he gave his life in exchange for my soul (and yours).Yes, we should treasure and appreciate every day that we are given. But it would be a sad and meaningless existence if we were to live our lives as if God did not exist and all consciousness ended at death. And it would be an even greater tragedy to face the righteous judgment of a holy God having neglected the opportunity to be forgiven. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”Richard S. Jackson DeLand Next Day Stamp Rule It is my opinion that it would be prudent to publish a notice in the News to avoid any of our members from committing malpractice because of a policy of the United States Postal System which I call “The 5 p.m. Next Day Stamp or Postmark Rule.”This rule is not posted in any of the many post offices that I have been in during my 39-year membership in The Florida Bar. This policy was heretofore unknown to me and possibly many of our members.The “5 p.m. Next Day Stamp or Postmark Rule” is that if a mailer arrives at a post office that is open past 5 p.m. and pays a postal clerk to request postage to mail a pleading to any clerk or court, the postal clerk hand stamps (post marks) the envelope containing the pleading with the following day’s date even thought the post office is open to the public. This is also true if one is standing in line before 5 p.m. and is not waited on until after 5 p.m.This is a very cruel procedure and one that I believe was not contemplated by the various drafters of our “Rules.” None of the pleading treatises — including that of Mr. Trawick — mentions this policy. I am attempting to obtain a written copy of such regulation. For example, this “5 p.m. Next Day Rule” is fatal if a mailing is postmarked one day after the 10-day rule within which to file a motion for rehearing after the rendition of an order. Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.530(b). Also, fatal if after the 70 days within rendition rule for filing an initial brief. Fla. R. App. P. 9.110(d). The extra five days for mailing rule is not applicable.Simon Rosin Sarasota May 15, 2008 Regular News
Clear heights are soaring on average to about 32 feet among new industrial builds, be it speculative or build-to-suit projects. Some are even climbing as high as 36 or 40 feet.An extra four feet can increase a tenant’s pallet position, assuming it’s the average 64-inch pallet load, by about 20 percent without changing the amount of floorspace, says JLL Executive Vice President of Supply Chain and Logistics Solutions Pat Harlan.Pat HarlanWith sky-high ceilings, occupiers are able to get more out of their square footage than in second-generation buildings constructed in the ‘80s or ‘90s. Since brokers are still pricing by the square foot — and not cubic feet, which would account for the vertical advantage — occupiers are getting a better deal than brokers know how to quantify.“The reason landlords haven’t done that is it doesn’t make sense,” says Harlan. “Just charge a user a price PSF in open market regardless of clear height. Having a clear height is seen more of a competitive advantage. It increases the likelihood a tenant will lease up.”Harlan says rent per square foot in industrial buildings with more clear height rent for about 20 to 30 percent more than older buildings with clear heights below 28 feet. These buildings also have smoother, flatter floors, truck maneuverability, trailer storage and corporate image. Additionally, not all tenants that lease within a building will require the full clear height available.The Airport I-10 industrial project is a total of 600KSF with clear heights of 30 to 32 feet. Harlan says it will be 35 percent leased by the time construction ends.“We’re encouraging our developers to go as high as possible,” Harlan says. “There’s a percentage of users who want it and it drives the overall value of the real estate because of that. There will be users who go into 32-foot buildings but only rack to 24, but they want that increased capacity down the road.”
The Sacramento Bee: Scholars from the Harvard Business School and Tufts University’s department of psychology recently confirmed the obvious in contemporary American race relations. The title of their report, “Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing,” pretty much says it all.Published late last month in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, the report by Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers says whites believe that as bias against blacks decreased in the last six decades, intentional discrimination against whites has increased. Whites now see anti-white bias as a bigger societal problem than anti-black bias.With the recent economic insecurity, it’s not surprising that majorities are looking to blame minorities for real and perceived stunted prosperity. Sometimes, they can even point to concrete evidence of bias.Read the whole story: The Sacramento Bee More of our Members in the Media >
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Professor Ron Mahdi, double bass lecturer at Berklee, instructing an ensemble of students. The Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA) has once again partnered with Berklee College of Music’s City Music Unit from Boston, USA, and Stellenbosch University’s Unit for Community Music to bring six top Berklee City Music tutors to present a week-long workshop in various aspects of jazz music, at the Stellenbosch University Conserve, in mid-June. The course is free, with a registration fee of R100. This year an optional hip hop component will also be added. Mentor participants will be engaged in strategies to bolster their own teaching programmes, personal development as a musician and tutor, and skills in working with the youth. For school pupils and their teachers, a one-day workshop will be held on Saturday June 15. For students in jazz, professionals, lecturers, teachers and mentors, a four-day workshop will be held from Monday June 17 to Thursday June 20. Evening activities include a voluntary jam session and music documentary screening and the series will conclude with a public concert on the final evening. For more information email Vicky Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp 082 5697347.
The barristers’ profession cranked up its pressure on the Legal Services Board this weekend as the chair of the Bar Council called for the super-regulator to be ‘disbanded’. Michael Todd QC told the bar’s annual conference that the LSB was going ‘beyond its brief’, and criticised the ‘burdensome costs’ it was creating for barristers, clients and the public purse. He questioned the need for an overarching regulator given that the professions already have ‘clearly competent’ frontline regulators. Todd said he had already raised the issue with justice secretary Chris Grayling, who had ‘sympathy with the notion of over-regulation’. Attorney general Dominic Grieve has also raised the matter with Grayling. Todd said: ‘I think there is a very good case for disbanding the overarching regulator… Regulation is one thing, but what [the LSB] should not be doing is seeking to shape the legal landscape in which we provide services; they are going beyond their brief.’ Todd added that the LSB was adding to the cost of legal services. ‘It is [the professions] who pay for it. The LSB doesn’t mind what it spends. They are not using their own money… When they want to do something, they put a levy on us.’ He added: ‘It is in the consumer interest not to have burdensome costs. In publicly funded work, this has to be absorbed by the part of the profession that is already under pressure.’ In the closing address to the conference, Dominic Grieve revealed that he had also raised the issue with Grayling, ‘at the very first meeting I had with him’. ‘The LSB is not exactly flavour of the month with any of the professions,’ Grieve said. ‘I think there are justifiable concerns that it may at times tend towards micro-management. I do share the bar’s concern with that.’ Grieve added that a solution must be found through which the overarching regulator can ‘keep its role for superintendence’ but give ‘greater latitude’ to the frontline regulators. Todd’s call for the LSB’s disbandment follows similar criticisms of the overarching regulator from the bar’s frontline regulator, the Bar Standards Board, earlier this year. Responding to the government’s triennial review of the LSB in April, the BSB suggested that the LSB would no longer be needed once alternative business structures have been introduced and independent regulators are well established. Last month, LSB chair David Edmonds used an article in Counsel magazine to criticise the Bar Council’s attitude towards it. He said there were ‘few examples of where the positive changes we have sought to make have been picked up, welcomed and developed by those mandated to represent the bar’, despite the strong appetite among many barristers to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Legal Services Act. Edmonds added that the LSB often faced ‘the classic response of those defending a vested interest – a desire to argue over every detail, to define very detailed rules, and to assault the legitimacy of the regulator’. Separately, Todd suggested that solicitors who practise advocacy should be regulated by the BSB. ‘Really we ought to be looking at bringing all advocates under the one regulator, and that is the BSB,’ he said. However, he conceded that in some cases this would mean that solicitor-advocates would be subject to dual regulation. An LSB spokesman said the regulator ‘noted with interest’ the comments that had been made at the conference.
John HydeThe upshot of its 43-page analysis? Not time to panic yet, but there are warning signs. And the NAO has experience of watching public sector IT projects go pear-shaped.HMCTS estimates it can reduce the number of cases held in physical courtrooms by 2.4m a year, enabling further attrition of the courts estate and cutting staff numbers by 40% to 10,000. Case management and administration will be consolidated and run from national centres.The project is due to be completed in 2022, but the NAO says that by September 2017 – roughly 18 months into the programme – less than two-thirds of expected outcomes had been achieved. The work had barely started and already HMCTS was playing catch-up.HMCTS was found to have developed high-level ‘target operating models’ but stakeholders still did not understand how reformed services will work in practice.The report also notes that the benefits claimed so far exceed expectations and risk putting pressure on HMCTS’ ability to maintain services.So much appears to rely on forces outside HMCTS control. The business case depends on Treasury approval to plug a potential £177m funding gap, and many of the changes – particularly enabling the extension of ‘virtual’ hearings – require primary legislation. Amid Brexit, the chances of a Courts Bill getting a look-in seem remote. Legislation was prepared as long ago as April 2017 but fell at the general election and has never reappeared. Speaking in parliament last week, justice secretary David Gauke hardly sounded confident: ‘I hope we can make progress on this before very much longer.’The NAO says the challenge facing HMCTS is ‘daunting’. The programme’s deadline has already been extended by two years (although the budget remained the same) and experience from other jurisdictions shows that more limited change has taken longer and cost more than envisaged.In echoes of the unintended consequences of legal aid cuts, the NAO adds, there is also the risk that HMCTS makes changes before it understands the system-wide effects.The report concludes: ‘[HMCTS] has responded to early concerns by extending the timetable and improving its governance and programme management. But there is a long way to go to achieve the planned transformation, and HMCTS is behind where it expected to be.’Naturally, the government is more upbeat. Digital divorce applications can now be made and the civil money claims service is fully accessible online.A new probate system is in testing and has received positive reviews, while the first ever full video hearing has taken place in the tax tribunal.HMCTS chief executive Susan Acland-Hood said: ‘We are pleased the NAO acknowledges our early progress, and its recommendations are already helping to strengthen the way we run the programme. We are confident, therefore, that the current six-year programme is on track to deliver the benefits promised on completion and, in doing so, help create a better, more straightforward, accessible and efficient justice system.’Wishful thinking? Cynics will say so, although the government appears resolute in its commitment and convinced that a digitised, mobile population will buy into the plans.For now, the NAO urges ministers to engage more with affected parties, provide greater transparency and look more closely at the potential consequences of the planned reforms. HMCTS would be well advised to take heed too. A progress report on the courts modernisation programme suggests that not everything is going according to plan, but the government remains resolute in its commitment to the project.,Walk past the Ministry of Justice and that noise you might hear could be alarm bells. Certainly, they will be tuned up following a half-term report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on progress in the £1.2bn programme to transform the courts and tribunals of England and Wales.
FRANCE: Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau announced on October 5 that three bidders had been shortlisted for the concession to operate a service carrying road trailers between the Aquitaine region, Paris and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Known as the Autoroute Ferroviaire Atlantique, the service is due to start in 2011 once infrastructure work has been completed.Shortlisted bidders include Lorry-Rail, which already operates a service using Modalohr swing-tray wagons to carry trailers within the GB1 loading gauge over the 1 050 km between Bettembourg in Luxemburg and Le Boulou, a railhead for the Spanish border. The other bidders are OptiCapital and a consortium lead by Combi Ouest which includes DB subsidiary Euro Cargo Rail.A priority project under the government’s Grenelle de l’Environnement strategy to reduce road congestion and cut carbon emissions, the new service also forms part of a package of measures announced last month with the aim of reversing the decline in rail’s share of the freight market.