Around the South - Spring 2017



More manufacturing jobs reshored than offshored in 2016

According to the Reshoring Initiative, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs reshored to the U.S. than offshored in calendar year 2016. Last year, 77,000 manufacturing jobs (tying the 2014 record) reshored and 50,000 offshored, giving the U.S. a net gain of 27,000 jobs. On average, from 2000 to 2006, about 220,000 jobs offshored each year. That has now dropped to about 50,000, and that total continues to drop. According to the Initiative, the South remains the top region for reshoring and foreign direct investment, with the Midwest coming in second. Since 2010, more than 338,000 manufacturing jobs have reshored back to the U.S.


The mass exodus of the middle classes from California and New York

Thousands of companies have left California since the end of the recession and they continue to do so, most of them to Texas. One reason could be the cost of housing in California. . .the primary reason Toyota has moved its North American headquarters from Southern California to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro. That decision was based on home prices for the company’s 5,000 headquarter employees. Median home prices in North Texas are less than half of homes in Southern California. According to CoreLogic, for every home buyer coming to California, there are three Californians selling their homes and moving out of state. New York City is in the same boat as much of California. More people are leaving the New York region than any other metro area of the country. More than one million people moved out of the New York CSA to other parts of the country — primarily the South — since 2010. At 4.4 percent, New York City has the highest negative net migration rate among the nation’s large MSAs.


Sixteen of the top 20 places to start a business are in the South according to this source

According to a study done by, Oklahoma City is the No. 1 place to start a business in the U.S. Charlotte ranked third. Tulsa, Durham, St. Louis, Austin and Amarillo were all ranked in the top 10. Sixteen of the top 20, and 21 of the top 25 cities ranked were markets in the South.


In 2016, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport served 104 million passengers, the first airport to break the 100 million mark.Atlanta’s airport first to break worldwide 100 million passenger mark

In 2016, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport served 104 million passengers — the first airport to break the 100 million mark. It was the 19th straight year Atlanta was the world’s busiest airport.


The five fastest growing U.S. cities are in the South

The U.S. Census Bureau put out figures in May that ranked the top five cities during the 12 months leading up to last July 1. Conroe, Texas, a Houston suburb, was the fastest growing city, increasing by 7.8 percent, 11 times higher than the national average. The Dallas suburbs of Frisco and McKinney, which had growth rates of 6.2 percent and 5.9 percent, were second and third. The rest of the top five saw Greenville, S.C., at 5.8 percent and Georgetown, Texas, an Austin suburb, had a 5.5 percent increase in its population.


Chinese FDI in the U.S. continues strong run

Chinese investment in the U.S. continues to be mostly mergers and acquisitions, but there is a growing list of greenfield projects. Chinese FDI is not slowing down in 2017 as some experts predicted it would. In 2016, the Chinese invested $46 billion in the U.S., making it one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S. The $46 billion blew past the previous record of $15 billion from the Chinese in 2015, according to the Rhodium Group. Among the largest acquisitions last year were HNA Group’s purchase of networking and software distributor Ingram Micro for $6 billion, and Chinese appliance maker Haier Electronics’ purchase of General Electric’s appliance unit for $5.4 billion. According to Rhodium, there were 40 Chinese deals valued at $9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Nine of those projects were located in the South.


Ports in the South broke tonnage records in 2016 due in part to the expanded Panama Canal. With an expanded canal, large Asian cargo ships can reach ports in the South much easier and faster than before.Ports in the South breaking records due to expanded Panama Canal

With an expanded Panama Canal, large Asian cargo ships can reach ports in the South much easier and faster, and increased trade in the last year proves it. Ports in Georgia and Virginia each moved the most cargo ever in May, and the port in Charleston, S.C., had its best month ever in overall volume in March.


U.S. sets record in emission reduction

Last year was the second consecutive year showing a 5 percent drop in carbon emissions from electric power plants — a new record. It’s the first time in more than 40 years that emissions have fallen so far over two years. Overall, carbon emissions from energy use fell 1.7 percent last year, following 10 years of a shrinking carbon footprint in the U.S. Several things are supporting the lower emissions, including Americans using more renewable energy each year and power plants using less coal and more natural gas.


The South dominates 2017 “Best Cities for Young IT Professionals” ranking

Right Click ranked the top cities for young IT professionals, and the South almost made it a clean sweep in the top 10. San Antonio came in first, followed by Savannah, Winston-Salem, El Paso, Columbus (Ga.), Orlando, Dallas, Columbus (Ohio), Fort Worth and Dayton (Ohio). Just outside the top 10, making up the top 15 were Fayetteville, N.C.; Irving, Texas; Memphis; McAllen, Texas and Houston. 


Texas, Florida at the top of Chief Executive magazine’s ranking

For the 13th straight year, Texas sat atop Chief Executive’s “2017 Best and Worst States for Business.” The ranking is based on a poll the publication puts out to CEOs. Florida came in second, followed by North Carolina and South Carolina. Making up the rest of the top 10 were Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin.


Kentucky sets annual investment record in first five months of 2017

Kentucky set its annual capital investment record in May, thanks to investments by Toyota, Amazon and others earlier in the year. Gov. Matt Bevin announced May 26th that the state has raised $5.8 billion in investment commitments from companies locating or expanding in the Commonwealth. The previous record was $5.1 billion in calendar year 2015.


TVA approves $300 million strategic fiber expansion

The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors approved a $300 million strategic fiber initiative that will expand the company’s fiber capacity of its transmission system. The expansion will meet the power company’s bandwidth to accommodate new distributed energy resources. TVA’s expanded fiber network will also make available added capacity to local communities in rural areas of the South to help attract jobs.


Dallas named best city for jobs by Forbes

The metro area of Dallas-Plano-Irving was named the best city for jobs for 2017 by Forbes magazine, ousting San Francisco (which placed second) for the first time in years. Nashville placed third, followed by Charlotte and Orlando. Other Southern markets making the top 10 were Austin and Raleigh, and in the top 15 were San Antonio, Atlanta and West Palm Beach.


In which states does Apple employ the most people? Three of the top five are in the South

In the spring quarter, Apple released a state-by-state breakdown that showed how many people the company employs in each U.S. state. Of course, with nearly 37,000 employees, California is No. 1. But in Texas, Apple employs nearly 8,500, followed by New York (4,291), Florida (3,868) and Georgia (1,516).


Only four U.S. markets achieve “inclusive growth” according to Brookings

A study published by the Brookings Institution in the spring quarter showed that many U.S. markets have achieved growth and prosperity from 2010 to 2015, but only four achieved broadly inclusive economic growth (i.e., benefits incurred by every section of society). Only four U.S. metros met the thresholds of inclusive growth and those were Albany (N.Y.), Austin, Charleston (S.C.) and Denver.


Best cities for job seekers? South lands seven out of top 10

According to, Miami is the best city in the U.S. for job seekers. The job site’s top 10 included Orlando, Raleigh, Austin, Sacramento, San Jose, Jacksonville (Fla.), San Diego, Houston and Memphis.


Louisiana stops jobs decline

In May, Louisiana reversed a long-standing job decline as a result of the downturn in the oil and gas industry. Louisiana added 6,300 jobs over a 12-month period that saw big gains in the construction sector. The state’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent.


Top states for small business growth; all but one are in the South

According to a study done by payroll provider Paychex, Tennessee is the nation’s No. 1 state for small business job growth. Tennessee added 3.7 percent more small business jobs over the past year. The top five consisted of Florida, Georgia, Washington and Virginia.


Huntsville, Ala., named fastest growing tech city

According to ZipRecruiter and Payscale, Huntsville ranks at the top nationally for year-over-year job growth in the technology industry. The two companies looked at over 8 million active tech jobs in the U.S. to come up with the ranking. Huntsville had a growth rate of 309 percent. Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Phoenix ranked second and third. Orlando, Nashville and Jacksonville (Fla.), also ranked high in the study.


In 2016, Louisiana banked on exports of agriculture goods, oil and gas and LNG to achieve a trade surplus of $7 billion China. That figure is the largest surplus with China of all U.S. states. Pictured is Cheniere Energy’s LNG export facility in Southwest Louisiana.Louisiana has largest trade surplus with China

In 2016, while the U.S. had a $347 billion trade deficit with China, Louisiana banked on exports of agricultural goods and oil and gas to achieve a trade surplus of $7 billion with China. That figure is the largest surplus with China of all U.S. states. Eight states had trade surpluses with China last year, including Alabama, Alaska, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia.


Mississippi’s jobless rate lowest since 1976

In May, Mississippi’s unemployment rate fell to a record low of 4.9 percent. The rate is the lowest since current unemployment surveys began in 1976. A year ago, Mississippi’s unemployment rate was at 6 percent.


It costs less to run your business in the South

According to a report published in the spring quarter by Chicago-based Anderson Economic Group, eight of the 15 lowest business tax burdens are states in the South. Oklahoma had the lowest tax burden for businesses and North Carolina had the third-lowest. Making the top 15 in lowest business costs in the South were Missouri, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama.


Tennessee lawmakers approved legislation in the spring quarter that will expand the Tennessee Promise education program that made community college tuition free for recent high school graduates. Now adults who do not have a two- or four-year degree can also attend at no cost.Tennessee is the first state in the nation to make community college free to all adults

Tennessee lawmakers approved legislation in the spring quarter that will expand the Tennessee Promise education program that was launched in 2014, which made community college tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates. Now, adults who do not have a two- or four-year degree can also attend for free beginning in the 2018 fall semester.


Florida job generation surging

In May, the state of Florida created nearly 30,000 jobs, out-pacing every other U.S. state. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent — the lowest mark since August 2007.


Montgomery created more jobs than any county in Alabama in 2016. Montgomery’s year was highlighted by a German auto parts maker’s $37 million new plant.Montgomery creates more jobs than any county in Alabama

Who won the job creation crown in Alabama in calendar year 2016? It was the capital county of Montgomery. The county created 1,704 jobs in 2016, followed by Madison County with 1,548 jobs. Montgomery’s year, which earned it an honorable mention in this issue’s SB&D 100, was highlighted by a German auto parts maker’s $37 million new plant.


Deals at Deadline

Boston Consulting Group announced in the spring it will locate a new regional support center in Atlanta. The $9.2 million project will create 200 jobs. Envolve Vision, the vision benefits unit of Centene Corp., will relocate its headquarters from a Rocky Mount, N.C., business park to Rocky Mount Mills, a mixed-use project on the Tar River. The deal will bring 120 employees to the former mill. In 2015, Ford Motor invested $1.3 billion and added 2,000 jobs at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville to build the Ford Super Duty truck. Now, the company is investing another $900 million in the same plant to increase capacity in assembling Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, many of which will be exported. The project will retain 1,000 hourly jobs. Automotive tech supplier Continental AG is investing $113 million in its Seguin, Texas plant, which produces engine control units, sensors and blind spot detection safety systems. The expansion will create 100 new jobs. Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is investing $59 million in its distribution center in Bibb County, Ga. The company will almost double the size of the facility and add 102 jobs. Teletech Holdings announced in the spring it will open a new customer service center in Morrilton, Ark. The deal will create 350 new jobs. Cosmetics chain Sephora America will open a distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss. The 720,000-square-foot center will house 400 workers.


PathGroup, a pathology and lab test provider is expanding its center in Davidson County, Tenn. The company, which will invest $18 million and add 200 jobs, operates three labs in the Nashville area. Italy-based TeMa North America plans to build a manufacturing plant in Kearneysville, W.Va. The new 42,000-square-foot facility will produce insulation and drainage systems for the residential, industrial and commercial real estate sectors. It will house 30 workers. Ohio-based Pennant Moldings, a manufacturer serving the automotive and appliance industries, will invest $8.6 million to build a facility in Lebanon, Tenn. The project will create 60 jobs.


General Motors will establish a new parts supplier park and create 850 jobs — 600 that will be reshored from Mexico — to support its full SUV assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. The park will feature 1.2 million square feet of space. The automaker is undergoing a $1.3 billion expansion of its assembly plant in North Texas that houses almost 5,000 workers. The plant is the exclusive producer of the Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade GM models. XTO Energy, the U.S. shale drilling unit of Exxon Mobil, announced in June it will relocate 1,600 workers to the Houston area from its Fort Worth headquarters. Winkelmann Group, a German company that manufactures metal parts for the aerospace, automotive and defense industries, will invest $12 million in a new plant in Auburn, Ala. The project will create 50 new jobs. Select Comfort, makers of the Sleep Number mattress, will open a technical support center in Jefferson Parish, La. The new project will create 225 jobs. CCL-Korsini recently completed the expansion of its label printing facility in Collierville, Tenn. The $25 million project will add 150 jobs. American Wick, a maker of drainage systems for buildings and highways, is expanding its facilities in Monroe, N.C. The company is investing $8.7 million to replace and add equipment at its 100,000-square-foot facility.


Huntsville-based Dynetics is moving forward on a $14 million aerospace testing center near Decatur, Ala. The company recently won a $221 million contract to design, manufacture and test the universal state adapter that will couple the Orion space capsule to its upper stage. Dynetics will invest $14.2 million in the project that will create 10 jobs. James Hardie Building Products is resuming operations at its idled plant in Dorchester County, S.C. The maker of fiber cement building products will invest $15 million in its plant and hire 100 in the deal. Minth Group, a Chinese manufacturer of body, trim and decorative parts for the automotive industry, will renovate an existing building in Lewisburg, Tenn., for a new parts plant. The $13 million project will generate 200 jobs.


Carcoustics, a German auto parts supplier, will invest $6 million in a new facility in Buford, Ga. The company, which will make solution-oriented acoustic components, will create 200 jobs. Retailer Gap is investing $42 million in its Tennessee distribution center in Sumner County, Tenn. The San Francisco company will hire 500 in the deal. “Project Horseshoe” has been revealed. It is a $79 million expansion of the Ruiz Foods facility in Florence County, S.C. The deal will create 700 new jobs.


Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin will build its next-generation BE-4 rocket engines at a new, 400,000-square-foot facility in Huntsville, Ala. The $200 million capital investment will create 340 manufacturing jobs in Huntsville, dubbed the “Rocket City.” BMW announced another expansion of its massive manufacturing plant in Spartanburg County, S.C. The company already employs about 9,000 workers at the plant. This latest expansion calls for a $600 million investment and 1,000 more jobs. Stormberg Foods, a maker of meat protein snacks, is investing $2.5 million in its first U.S. plant in Goldsboro, N.C. The project will create 60 jobs. German grocer Lidl announced in the spring it will place a $100 million regional headquarters and distribution center in Cartersville, Ga. The deal will create 250 jobs. Sumter East Home, a supplier of housewares and other retail items, is investing $37 million to move into an existing facility in Sumter, S.C. The manufacturing facility will house 88 workers.


Georgia-Pacific is investing $400 million in its tissue and towel mill in Palatka, Fla. A new paper machine will be installed and 80 jobs will be created.  Brazil-based Braskem will move forward on a $675 million petrochemical plant in La Porte, Texas. The factory will be built next to the company’s existing facilities and will be the largest polypropylene line in the Americas.

latest magazine issue
randle report
auto corridor

P.O. Box 130789
Mountain Brook, AL 35213-0789

Southern Business & Development
8086 Westchester Place
Montgomery AL 36117