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Lithuania Focused on Building a World-Leading Life Science Sector

Lithuania offers a range of government support for biotech companies, including 20 years of corporate tax relief for capital investments and seven Free…



In a compact laboratory on an upper floor of the Vilnius University Life Sciences Center is a biotech startup being held up as one of Lithuania’s growing success stories. Delta Biosciences, which is using microfluidics, DNA tags, and artificial intelligence to speed up drug screening, is hoping to start approaching European venture capitalists for investment next year.

The founders present their company with the energy and dynamism of stereotypical San Francisco technology entrepreneurs. Daniel Kratkovski, one of the co-founders, has a background in finance and investment. He and co-founder, Dominykas Milašius, say they came to Vilnius from London during COVID-19, inspired by what they say is a wave of change sweeping over Lithuania—especially the biotech sector.

“If you go into any tech park cafe, or even the cafes in the old town, there’s this crazy vibe in the air,” says Milašius. “Everyone is either talking about Ukraine or building a tech startup. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.” Or, as Alexander Morris, PhD, the British co-founder of another Lithuania-based biotech startup, puts it, “There’s something here that’s lacking in other European countries, the U.K. included.”

Lithuania’s growing ambitions

Milašius is keen to highlight that his biotech startup benefits from wider trends in Lithuania. He references a statistic that 2020 is the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union when more people have returned to the country than left. The population decreased from 3.7 million citizens in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2021.

“Lithuania is stuck on a mindset of 2.7 million [citizens],” he says. “Now we think seven million because we have a diaspora of seven million. There are massive communities in the U.K. and Switzerland, and that unlocks a lot of doors.”

Patriotism seems to be a major factor in recent developments in the nation’s biotech community, and again, it reflects wider political trends. Since Lithuania gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, the country has been asserting a vigorous national identity—even down to reconstructing the entire Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in central Vilnius in the 2000s (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

This muscular pride in the nation has helped in building a strong technology sector in Lithuania. The government is focused on supporting four growth areas, including biotechnology and life sciences, according to Innovation Agency Lithuania, one of the government’s development agencies. Invest Lithuania, another development agency, notes Lithuania’s life science sector is the European Union’s fastest growing, contributing around 2.5% of GDP with an ambition to increase that to 5% by 2030.

Building on a long history

Lithuania offers a wide range of government support for life science companies. These include 20 years of corporate tax relief for capital investments, and seven Free Economic Zones with 0% corporate and dividend tax for 10 years or more.

Most of these programs are aimed at encouraging inward investment from large overseas life science and biotechnology companies, which makes sense as Lithuania’s largest taxpayer last year was American life science and pharmaceutical supplier, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Thermo’s Vilnius site, which has 1,850 employees, manufactures reagents and consumables, with a focus on products for protein manufacturing, qPCR, cell therapies, next generation sequencing, and genotyping. The company has shipped a number of the first products for COVID-19 detection to China at the beginning of the pandemic and finished construction of a new 59,200 ft2 building in September 2020 for manufacturing mRNA and protein production supplies.

According to Justas Plankis, Thermo’s site leader and director of manufacturing operations, the Vilnius site was set up as an enzymology institute in the “old” Soviet Union in 1975, and became Fermentas International, a restriction enzyme manufacturer, in 1994. When Thermo Fisher Scientific bought the company in 2010 for $260 million, it was the largest business deal in Lithuanian history.

“Thermo Fisher noticed the potential [of the site] right after acquisition, and they’ve made an enormous investment [in] manufacturing expansion over the years,” says Plankis, adding that although the site is known for protein manufacturing, they’ve since added additional competencies.

From restriction enzymes to CRISPR

The presence of Thermo and the long history of protein research at Fermentas and the enzymology institute have had a visible impact on the culture and skill sets of Lithuanians in Vilnius. According to Invest Lithuania, 56% of the population has a higher degree (second in the EU) with 25% of students choosing a STEM academic discipline (again, second in the EU). For reasons that never become clear, despite asking lots of questions, almost two-thirds of Lithuanian scientists and engineers are female.

Lithuania’s most famous contemporary scientist Kavli Prize laureate Virginijus Šikšnys, PhD, chief scientist and head of the department of protein-DNA interactions at Vilnius University, who is widely credited in Lithuania to have been scooped for the discovery of the pivotal CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology after Cell rejected his paper.

According to Šikšnys, CRISPR was the “logical development” of Lithuania’s history and expertise in protein production. “[Fermentas] became a big production site for restriction enzymes to be distributed all over the world. This allowed Lithuanian scientists and researchers to gain the necessary protein production skills.”

Šikšnys co-founded the gene-editing company Caszyme in 2017, which is among Lithuania’s better established biotechs. The company manufactures CRISPR-Cas proteins with different characteristics as a molecular tool the life sciences, including industrial biotech. The company says it offers a library of more than eighty Cas9 orthologs. These include smaller Cas proteins for efficient delivery by adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), which have human therapeutic applications.

Caszyme also is now developing CRISPR-Cas12 proteins, which are smaller in size and introduce a double-stranded break into DNA by a different mechanism than Cas9 with different potential applications. Caszyme has visibly outgrown its space in the biotech incubator at the Vilnius University Life Sciences Center (Figure 2) and is working to move to new premises.

Figure 2. Vilnius University Life Sciences Center

A major historical inspiration

The Thermo Fisher Scientific site serves as a source of supporting science in the local community. It partners with local universities, including Vilnius University, gives guest lectures, runs internships, and collaborates with a volunteer-led mobile bioscience lab where high-school students can run simple experiments to find out, for example, whether an onion is genetically modified or not.

But the company’s role as a driver of Lithuanian biotech is a result of being “a big player within the local economic environment,” as Plankis puts it. For biotech startups, Fermentas is a major inspiration. “Every young tech entrepreneur looks at [the history of] Fermentas and hopes to do the same in the next couple of years,” Milasius says.

Both Milasius and his co-founder came to Lithuania from London. Among the factors encouraging them to relocate was the reverse of Lithuania’s historical “brain drain” with scientists joining them from the University of Geneva in Switzerland the Crick Institute, and the University of Cambridge in the U.K.

Another factor is the lower costs of founding a startup in Lithuania. Genie Biotech is fitting out its laboratory in the Centre for Innovative Medicine in Vilnius, where they’ve been for about six months, after deciding turn-key laboratory and incubator space in London was too expensive. The company, which is using Click Chemistry to develop a site-specific conjugation technology called GenieTAG, is hoping their early-preclinical-stage technology will eventually find applications in vaccine production.

The GenieTAG is a fusion protein that can be used to attach other proteins together, such as decorating a virus-like particle with parts of the SARS-CoV-2 viral protein to create a synthetic COVID-19 vaccine or—potentially—a prophylactic cancer vaccine. According to Grigorij Sutov, PhD, Genie’s CEO, the tag has robust chemistry, slowly dissociates over time for controlled drug release, and benefits from being smaller (200 Dalton) than other conjugate chemistries. “The bigger it is, the more chance of a [negative] immune response,” he says.

Creating an ecosystem

Lithuania also benefits from an emerging “biotechnology ecosystem,” according to Milašius, with companies, such as Caszyme and microfluidics instrument manufacturer, Droplet Genomics, coming onto the scene.

Delta Biosciences is using a Droplet Genomics instrument, which they cheerfully demonstrate, to run their screening tests. The aim of the company’s technology is to accelerate drug discovery by running drug candidate screening experiments in pico-sized droplets, instead of in 96-well plates. Two streams of droplets, one containing a target and the other a candidate molecule with a DNA carrier tag, are encapsulated in the same bubble on which screening experiments can be performed. According to the company, they can experiment on 500,000 droplets a day—the equivalent of one technician pipetting 50 droplets every second.

Providing a service

Like Fermentas and Thermo, many Lithuanian biotech startups appear to be service companies aiming to sell products or license out technology. For a few of them, the need to secure funding is the key driver.

According to Rytis V. Urbonas, PhD, co-founder and general manager of Sanobiotec, a Lithuanian manufacturer of minor cannabinoids for medical and well-being applications. “Our goal was making revenue and finding a product we could sell as fast as possible, as we don’t have the same possibilities as in the U.S. where you get $20 million in pre-seed funding. Here you get 200,000 Euros and, you know, you should be happy.”

Many of the startups interviewed seem to rely heavily on the enthusiasm and support of their founders for financing. Officials at Delta Biosciences, for example, say they were initially seed-funded by the founders. Genie Biotech reports receiving 30,000 Euros in Lithuanian government funding, but most of the “skin in the game,” as Morris puts it, remains theirs.

According to Innovation Agency Lithuania, the country is middle ranking for GDP among EU countries, with only 7% unemployment. But reputations die hard. As Karolina Makovskytė, business development manager at Caszyme says, “We’re a small company in a small country—we have to reach out to be seen.”

The post Lithuania Focused on Building a World-Leading Life Science Sector appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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Riley Gaines Explains How Women’s Sports Are Rigged To Promote The Trans Agenda

Riley Gaines Explains How Women’s Sports Are Rigged To Promote The Trans Agenda

Is there a light forming when it comes to the long, dark and…



Riley Gaines Explains How Women's Sports Are Rigged To Promote The Trans Agenda

Is there a light forming when it comes to the long, dark and bewildering tunnel of social justice cultism?  Global events have been so frenetic that many people might not remember, but only a couple years ago Big Tech companies and numerous governments were openly aligned in favor of mass censorship.  Not just to prevent the public from investigating the facts surrounding the pandemic farce, but to silence anyone questioning the validity of woke concepts like trans ideology. 

From 2020-2022 was the closest the west has come in a long time to a complete erasure of freedom of speech.  Even today there are still countries and Europe and places like Canada or Australia that are charging forward with draconian speech laws.  The phrase "radical speech" is starting to circulate within pro-censorship circles in reference to any platform where people are allowed to talk critically.  What is radical speech?  Basically, it's any discussion that runs contrary to the beliefs of the political left.

Open hatred of moderate or conservative ideals is perfectly acceptable, but don't ever shine a negative light on woke activism, or you might be a terrorist.

Riley Gaines has experienced this double standard first hand.  She was even assaulted and taken hostage at an event in 2023 at San Francisco State University when leftists protester tried to trap her in a room and demanded she "pay them to let her go."  Campus police allegedly witnessed the incident but charges were never filed and surveillance footage from the college was never released.  

It's probably the last thing a champion female swimmer ever expects, but her head-on collision with the trans movement and the institutional conspiracy to push it on the public forced her to become a counter-culture voice of reason rather than just an athlete.

For years the independent media argued that no matter how much we expose the insanity of men posing as women to compete and dominate women's sports, nothing will really change until the real female athletes speak up and fight back.  Riley Gaines and those like her represent that necessary rebellion and a desperately needed return to common sense and reason.

In a recent interview on the Joe Rogan Podcast, Gaines related some interesting information on the inner workings of the NCAA and the subversive schemes surrounding trans athletes.  Not only were women participants essentially strong-armed by colleges and officials into quietly going along with the program, there was also a concerted propaganda effort.  Competition ceremonies were rigged as vehicles for promoting trans athletes over everyone else. 

The bottom line?  The competitions didn't matter.  The real women and their achievements didn't matter.  The only thing that mattered to officials were the photo ops; dudes pretending to be chicks posing with awards for the gushing corporate media.  The agenda took precedence.

Lia Thomas, formerly known as William Thomas, was more than an activist invading female sports, he was also apparently a science project fostered and protected by the athletic establishment.  It's important to understand that the political left does not care about female athletes.  They do not care about women's sports.  They don't care about the integrity of the environments they co-opt.  Their only goal is to identify viable platforms with social impact and take control of them.  Women's sports are seen as a vehicle for public indoctrination, nothing more.

The reasons why they covet women's sports are varied, but a primary motive is the desire to assert the fallacy that men and women are "the same" psychologically as well as physically.  They want the deconstruction of biological sex and identity as nothing more than "social constructs" subject to personal preference.  If they can destroy what it means to be a man or a woman, they can destroy the very foundations of relationships, families and even procreation.  

For now it seems as though the trans agenda is hitting a wall with much of the public aware of it and less afraid to criticize it.  Social media companies might be able to silence some people, but they can't silence everyone.  However, there is still a significant threat as the movement continues to target children through the public education system and women's sports are not out of the woods yet.   

The ultimate solution is for women athletes around the world to organize and widely refuse to participate in any competitions in which biological men are allowed.  The only way to save women's sports is for women to be willing to end them, at least until institutions that put doctrine ahead of logic are made irrelevant.          

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/13/2024 - 17:20

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Congress’ failure so far to deliver on promise of tens of billions in new research spending threatens America’s long-term economic competitiveness

A deal that avoided a shutdown also slashed spending for the National Science Foundation, putting it billions below a congressional target intended to…



Science is again on the chopping block on Capitol Hill. AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Federal spending on fundamental scientific research is pivotal to America’s long-term economic competitiveness and growth. But less than two years after agreeing the U.S. needed to invest tens of billions of dollars more in basic research than it had been, Congress is already seriously scaling back its plans.

A package of funding bills recently passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden on March 9, 2024, cuts the current fiscal year budget for the National Science Foundation, America’s premier basic science research agency, by over 8% relative to last year. That puts the NSF’s current allocation US$6.6 billion below targets Congress set in 2022.

And the president’s budget blueprint for the next fiscal year, released on March 11, doesn’t look much better. Even assuming his request for the NSF is fully funded, it would still, based on my calculations, leave the agency a total of $15 billion behind the plan Congress laid out to help the U.S. keep up with countries such as China that are rapidly increasing their science budgets.

I am a sociologist who studies how research universities contribute to the public good. I’m also the executive director of the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science, a national university consortium whose members share data that helps us understand, explain and work to amplify those benefits.

Our data shows how underfunding basic research, especially in high-priority areas, poses a real threat to the United States’ role as a leader in critical technology areas, forestalls innovation and makes it harder to recruit the skilled workers that high-tech companies need to succeed.

A promised investment

Less than two years ago, in August 2022, university researchers like me had reason to celebrate.

Congress had just passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. The science part of the law promised one of the biggest federal investments in the National Science Foundation in its 74-year history.

The CHIPS act authorized US$81 billion for the agency, promised to double its budget by 2027 and directed it to “address societal, national, and geostrategic challenges for the benefit of all Americans” by investing in research.

But there was one very big snag. The money still has to be appropriated by Congress every year. Lawmakers haven’t been good at doing that recently. As lawmakers struggle to keep the lights on, fundamental research is quickly becoming a casualty of political dysfunction.

Research’s critical impact

That’s bad because fundamental research matters in more ways than you might expect.

For instance, the basic discoveries that made the COVID-19 vaccine possible stretch back to the early 1960s. Such research investments contribute to the health, wealth and well-being of society, support jobs and regional economies and are vital to the U.S. economy and national security.

Lagging research investment will hurt U.S. leadership in critical technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced communications, clean energy and biotechnology. Less support means less new research work gets done, fewer new researchers are trained and important new discoveries are made elsewhere.

But disrupting federal research funding also directly affects people’s jobs, lives and the economy.

Businesses nationwide thrive by selling the goods and services – everything from pipettes and biological specimens to notebooks and plane tickets – that are necessary for research. Those vendors include high-tech startups, manufacturers, contractors and even Main Street businesses like your local hardware store. They employ your neighbors and friends and contribute to the economic health of your hometown and the nation.

Nearly a third of the $10 billion in federal research funds that 26 of the universities in our consortium used in 2022 directly supported U.S. employers, including:

  • A Detroit welding shop that sells gases many labs use in experiments funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

  • A Dallas-based construction company that is building an advanced vaccine and drug development facility paid for by the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • More than a dozen Utah businesses, including surveyors, engineers and construction and trucking companies, working on a Department of Energy project to develop breakthroughs in geothermal energy.

When Congress shortchanges basic research, it also damages businesses like these and people you might not usually associate with academic science and engineering. Construction and manufacturing companies earn more than $2 billion each year from federally funded research done by our consortium’s members.

A lag or cut in federal research funding would harm U.S. competitiveness in critical advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. Hispanolistic/E+ via Getty Images

Jobs and innovation

Disrupting or decreasing research funding also slows the flow of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – talent from universities to American businesses. Highly trained people are essential to corporate innovation and to U.S. leadership in key fields, such as AI, where companies depend on hiring to secure research expertise.

In 2022, federal research grants paid wages for about 122,500 people at universities that shared data with my institute. More than half of them were students or trainees. Our data shows that they go on to many types of jobs but are particularly important for leading tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Intel.

That same data lets me estimate that over 300,000 people who worked at U.S. universities in 2022 were paid by federal research funds. Threats to federal research investments put academic jobs at risk. They also hurt private sector innovation because even the most successful companies need to hire people with expert research skills. Most people learn those skills by working on university research projects, and most of those projects are federally funded.

High stakes

If Congress doesn’t move to fund fundamental science research to meet CHIPS and Science Act targets – and make up for the $11.6 billion it’s already behind schedule – the long-term consequences for American competitiveness could be serious.

Over time, companies would see fewer skilled job candidates, and academic and corporate researchers would produce fewer discoveries. Fewer high-tech startups would mean slower economic growth. America would become less competitive in the age of AI. This would turn one of the fears that led lawmakers to pass the CHIPS and Science Act into a reality.

Ultimately, it’s up to lawmakers to decide whether to fulfill their promise to invest more in the research that supports jobs across the economy and in American innovation, competitiveness and economic growth. So far, that promise is looking pretty fragile.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Jan. 16, 2024.

Jason Owen-Smith receives research support from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wellcome Leap.

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What’s Driving Industrial Development in the Southwest U.S.

The post-COVID-19 pandemic pipeline, supply imbalances, investment and construction challenges: these are just a few of the topics address by a powerhouse…



The post-COVID-19 pandemic pipeline, supply imbalances, investment and construction challenges: these are just a few of the topics address by a powerhouse panel of executives in industrial real estate this week at NAIOP’s I.CON West in Long Beach, California. Led by Dawn McCombs, principal and Denver lead industrial specialist for Avison Young, the panel tackled some of the biggest issues facing the sector in the Western U.S. 

Starting with the pandemic in 2020 and continuing through 2022, McCombs said, the industrial sector experienced a huge surge in demand, resulting in historic vacancies, rent growth and record deliveries. Operating fundamentals began to normalize in 2023 and construction starts declined, certainly impacting vacancy and absorption moving forward.  

“Development starts dropped by 65% year-over-year across the U.S. last year. In Q4, we were down 25% from pre-COVID norms,” began Megan Creecy-Herman, president, U.S. West Region, Prologis, noting that all of that is setting us up to see an improvement of fundamentals in the market. “U.S. vacancy ended 2023 at about 5%, which is very healthy.” 

Vacancies are expected to grow in Q1 and Q2, peaking mid-year at around 7%. Creecy-Herman expects to see an increase in absorption as customers begin to have confidence in the economy, and everyone gets some certainty on what the Fed does with interest rates. 

“It’s an interesting dynamic to see such a great increase in rents, which have almost doubled in some markets,” said Reon Roski, CEO, Majestic Realty Co. “It’s healthy to see a slowing down… before [rents] go back up.” 

Pre-pandemic, a lot of markets were used to 4-5% vacancy, said Brooke Birtcher Gustafson, fifth-generation president of Birtcher Development. “Everyone was a little tepid about where things are headed with a mediocre outlook for 2024, but much of this is normalizing in the Southwest markets.”  

McCombs asked the panel where their companies found themselves in the construction pipeline when the Fed raised rates in 2022.   

In Salt Lake City, said Angela Eldredge, chief operations officer at Price Real Estate, there is a typical 12-18-month lead time on construction materials. “As rates started to rise in 2022, lots of permits had already been pulled and construction starts were beginning, so those project deliveries were in fall 2023. [The slowdown] was good for our market because it kept rates high, vacancies lower and helped normalize the market to a healthy pace.” 

A supply imbalance can stress any market, and Gustafson joked that the current imbalance reminded her of a favorite quote from the movie Super Troopers: “Desperation is a stinky cologne.” “We’re all still a little crazed where this imbalance has put us, but for the patient investor and owner, there will be a rebalancing and opportunity for the good quality real estate to pass the sniff test,” she said.  

At Bircher, Gustafson said that mid-pandemic, there were predictions that one billion square feet of new product would be required to meet tenant demand, e-commerce growth and safety stock. That transition opened a great opportunity for investors to run at the goal. “In California, the entitlement process is lengthy, around 24-36 months to get from the start of an acquisition to the completion of a building,” she said. Fast forward to 2023-2024, a lot of what is being delivered in 2024 is the result of that chase.  

“Being an optimistic developer, there is good news. The supply imbalance helped normalize what was an unsustainable surge in rents and land values,” she said. “It allowed corporate heads of real estate to proactively evaluate growth opportunities, opened the door for contrarian investors to land bank as values drop, and provided tenants with options as there is more product. Investment goals and strategies have shifted, and that’s created opportunity for buyers.” 

“Developers only know how to run and develop as much as we can,” said Roski. “There are certain times in cycles that we are forced to slow down, which is a good thing. In the last few years, Majestic has delivered 12-14 million square feet, and this year we are developing 6-8 million square feet. It’s all part of the cycle.”  

Creecy-Herman noted that compared to the other asset classes and opportunities out there, including office and multifamily, industrial remains much more attractive for investment. “That was absolutely one of the things that underpinned the amount of investment we saw in a relatively short time period,” she said.  

Market rent growth across Los Angeles, Inland Empire and Orange County moved up more than 100% in a 24-month period. That created opportunities for landlords to flexible as they’re filling up their buildings. “Normalizing can be uncomfortable especially after that kind of historic high, but at the same time it’s setting us up for strong years ahead,” she said. 

Issues that owners and landlords are facing with not as much movement in the market is driving a change in strategy, noted Gustafson. “Comps are all over the place,” she said. “You have to dive deep into every single deal that is done to understand it and how investment strategies are changing.” 

Tenants experienced a variety of challenges in the pandemic years, from supply chain to labor shortages on the negative side, to increased demand for products on the positive, McCombs noted.  

“Prologis has about 6,700 customers around the world, from small to large, and the universal lesson [from the pandemic] is taking a more conservative posture on inventories,” Creecy-Herman said. “Customers are beefing up inventories, and that conservatism in the supply chain is a lesson learned that’s going to stick with us for a long time.” She noted that the company has plenty of clients who want to take more space but are waiting on more certainty from the broader economy.  

“E-commerce grew by 8% last year, and we think that’s going to accelerate to 10% this year. This is still less than 25% of all retail sales, so the acceleration we’re going to see in e-commerce… is going to drive the business forward for a long time,” she said. 

Roski noted that customers continually re-evaluate their warehouse locations, expanding during the pandemic and now consolidating but staying within one delivery day of vast consumer bases.  

“This is a generational change,” said Creecy-Herman. “Millions of young consumers have one-day delivery as a baseline for their shopping experience. Think of what this means for our business long term to help our customers meet these expectations.” 

McCombs asked the panelists what kind of leasing activity they are experiencing as a return to normalcy is expected in 2024. 

“During the pandemic, shifts in the ports and supply chain created a build up along the Mexican border,” said Roski, noting border towns’ importance to increased manufacturing in Mexico. A shift of populations out of California and into Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Florida have resulted in an expansion of warehouses in those markets. 

Eldridge said that Salt Lake City’s “sweet spot” is 100-200 million square feet, noting that the market is best described as a mid-box distribution hub that is close to California and Midwest markets. “Our location opens up the entire U.S. to our market, and it’s continuing to grow,” she said.   

The recent supply chain and West Coast port clogs prompted significant investment in nearshoring and port improvements. “Ports are always changing,” said Roski, listing a looming strike at East Coast ports, challenges with pirates in the Suez Canal, and water issues in the Panama Canal. “Companies used to fix on one port and that’s where they’d bring in their imports, but now see they need to be [bring product] in a couple of places.” 

“Laredo, [Texas,] is one of the largest ports in the U.S., and there’s no water. It’s trucks coming across the border. Companies have learned to be nimble and not focused on one area,” she said. 

“All of the markets in the southwest are becoming more interconnected and interdependent than they were previously,” Creecy-Herman said. “In Southern California, there are 10 markets within 500 miles with over 25 million consumers who spend, on average, 10% more than typical U.S. consumers.” Combined with the port complex, those fundamentals aren’t changing. Creecy-Herman noted that it’s less of a California exodus than it is a complementary strategy where customers are taking space in other markets as they grow. In the last 10 years, she noted there has been significant maturation of markets such as Las Vegas and Phoenix. As they’ve become more diversified, customers want to have a presence there. 

In the last decade, Gustafson said, the consumer base has shifted. Tenants continue to change strategies to adapt, such as hub-and-spoke approaches.  From an investment perspective, she said that strategies change weekly in response to market dynamics that are unprecedented.  

McCombs said that construction challenges and utility constraints have been compounded by increased demand for water and power. 

“Those are big issues from the beginning when we’re deciding on whether to buy the dirt, and another decision during construction,” Roski said. “In some markets, we order transformers more than a year before they are needed. Otherwise, the time comes [to use them] and we can’t get them. It’s a new dynamic of how leases are structured because it’s something that’s out of our control.” She noted that it’s becoming a bigger issue with electrification of cars, trucks and real estate, and the U.S. power grid is not prepared to handle it.  

Salt Lake City’s land constraints play a role in site selection, said Eldridge. “Land values of areas near water are skyrocketing.” 

The panelists agreed that a favorable outlook is ahead for 2024, and today’s rebalancing will drive a healthy industry in the future as demand and rates return to normalized levels, creating opportunities for investors, developers and tenants.  

This post is brought to you by JLL, the social media and conference blog sponsor of NAIOP’s I.CON West 2024. Learn more about JLL at or

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