Southern Business & Development News

January 2015

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to www.RandleReport.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com. And for more information on rural development in the South, visit www.SmallTownSouth.com

 

Best large employment deals in the South since late 1990s 

On the last page of each edition of SB&D are the top 10 employment projects announced in the South the previous quarter. In the summer 2014 quarter, all 10 were of 1,000 announced jobs or more and in the fall quarter all 10 projects were 1,200 jobs or more. It was the first time since 1999 that the South saw its 10-largest employment projects total 1,000 jobs or more for two consecutive quarters. 

 

U.S. shale gas saving manufacturers in the South billions

In December, the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) updated a forecast on how natural gas extracted from shale fields is positively effecting manufacturing in the U.S. PwC projected that U.S.-based manufacturers will see an annual cost savings of $22.3 billion in 2030 and $34.1 billion in 2040 as a result of the cheap and plentiful natural gas. The updated report also projected that there will be 930,000 shale gas-driven manufacturing jobs created by 2030 and 1.41 million by 2040. PwC's original report issued in 2011 indicated that shale gas' manufacturing boost would create one million jobs by 2025 with a cost savings of $11.6 billion to manufacturers. "There's no doubt that the shale gas boom in the U.S. helped trigger a resurgence in manufacturing," said PwC's Robert McCutcheon in the report. 

 

Florida passes New York in population, N.C. blows past Michigan

The Census Bureau announced in December that Florida has surpassed New York in population. Reacting to the announcement, The New York Times published a story titled, "We're No. 4," as in the fourth-largest state in the U.S., behind Florida, Texas and California. The Census Bureau's release read, "By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation's third most populous state. Florida's population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million," the Census release read. The Census release also announced that North Carolina surpassed Michigan to take the ninth spot and Georgia (ranked 8th), saw its population surpass 10 million for the first time. 

 

Big aluminum mill still in site search mode

Some were already giving a $1-billion-plus aluminum mill to Columbus, Miss., after reports indicated American Specialty Alloys had incorporated in Mississippi and received some of its permits needed to build on a site near the Columbus airport. But company officials maintain it will seek permits at other sites in other states before it decides where to build the plant. The aluminum mill will produce aluminum to be used in the automotive and aerospace industries. 

 

Loved the headline about the economy from "The Week"

Hands down, the best headline in the last quarter we saw came from theweek.com. It read, "Is the American economy's Age of Suck finally over?" The story cited the "white-hot" 5 percent economic growth the U.S. economy generated in the third quarter of 2014 that was reported in December. The economic growth was the highest in more than a decade. 

 

Drop in oil prices claims first proposed megadeal on Gulf Coast

Low oil prices have claimed its first victim. Houston-based Excelerate Energy has put on hold its plans for a multi-billion-dollar LNG export plant at Lavaca Bay, Texas. Cheap natural gas from the U.S. is sought after, especially by Asia, if oil prices remain near $100 a barrel. Oil prices have been cut in half this year, which threatens the 13 pending LNG projects in the U.S., almost all of which are on the Gulf Coast. Only Cheniere's and Sempra's export facilities in Southwest Louisiana have signed up enough international buyers of LNG to complete the facilities. Excelerate will review the status of its project again later this year. 

 

New megasite ready to market in Newberry Co., S.C.

Another megasite in South Carolina has been certified. Newberry Co., S.C. began marketing a 2,000-acre site just off of I-26 north of the town of Newberry. The property, which is located just outside the MSAs of Greenville and Columbia, S.C., is being marketed to single, large users. The site has been tested with all assessments reviewed. It is serviced by all utilities and is also rail-served. 

   

Chocolate maker expands in Louisiana

Elmer Chocolate, a maker of a variety of chocolates and other candies, is expanding its facilities in Ponchatoula, La. The company is investing $40 million to add space and technology to make the plant more efficient. Elmer Chocolate is a 160-year-old, family-owned company that was founded in New Orleans. 

 

FedEx Ground building distribution center in Ocala, Fla. 

Memphis-based FedEx is setting up a new 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Ocala,, Fla. The deal represents a $170 million investment and the facility will house 350 workers. 

 

Wood products manufacturer expanding its S.C. facility

Cox Industries, a manufacturer of treated wood products, is upgrading its plant in Orangeburg Co., S.C. The company is investing over $11 million to expand and adding 60 jobs. 

 

Chattanooga first city to offer gigabit per second internet speed

Chattanooga, Tenn., inaugurated its new fiber optic network recently that features a gigabit per second internet speeds, about 50 times faster than the average broadband average. Chattanooga won a $111 million federal stimulus award in 2009. Larger cities are still waiting on private carriers like Google and AT&T to put into place the infrastructure needed for such internet speeds. 

 

Nail manufacturer expanding in Missouri

Mid Continent Nail Corp., the largest manufacturer of nails to the crate and pallet industry, is investing $5 million to expand its plant in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The project will create 91 jobs. 

 

South Carolina manufacturer expands

CCL Industries, a manufacturer of consumer packaging, is expanding its plant in Laurens Co., S.C. The $30 million investment will create 98 new jobs. 

 

Low gas prices equal Bush's and Obama's tax rebate stimulus

John Connaughton, professor of economics at UNC Charlotte, the author of the quarterly Babson Capital UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast, says that soon we will being seeing gasoline prices well below $2 a gallon. If that occurs he likened the low prices to recent economic stimulus measures. For every drop of 50 cents in price per gallon, consumers in the U.S. would have about $144 billion in savings to spend on other things. In the course of a year, that would equal President Bush's 2008 tax rebate stimulus and President Obama's Social Security holiday stimulus in 2011. 

 

Enough oil for 150 years according to Exxon Mobil's Tillerson

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil predicts that new technologies have made it possible to meet the demand for crude oil for another 150 years. In 1981, many experts predicted that crude oil would be depleted by 2041. Tillerson's prediction was published in the company's 2015 "Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040" report. The report also claims that the U.S. will be a net exporter of oil and natural gas by 2020. 

 

Israeli automotive parts supplier picks North Carolina

Israel-based Tosaf Compounds is investing $13 million in a new facility in Gaston County, N.C., in the Charlotte metro. The company manufactures colors and compounds for plastic parts used in the automotive industry. The deal will create 75 jobs. 

 

Federal-Mogul to keep Kentucky distribution center

Federal-Mogul Motorparts will keep open its distribution center in Maysville, Ky. The company planned to close it in the summer of 2015 as part of a company realignment. When it heard of the closure, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development reached out to Federal-Mogul officials to offer support and discuss options to keep the company in Maysville. The discussions played a role in the company deciding to remain in the Commonwealth. Federal-Mogul now plans to turn the Kentucky operation into its dedicated North American product logistics center.

 

Southern states land on small business-friendly list

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council recently came out with its Small Business Policy Index and three Southern states made the top 10 friendliest for small business and entrepreneurship. Texas ranked third, followed by Florida (5th) and Alabama (7th). 

 

Nautique Boat expanding in Orlando

Nautique Boat Co., which is owned by Orlando-based Correct Craft, is expanding its facility in Central Florida. The company will invest $8 million and create 200 new jobs. Correct Craft has added 250 jobs since the recession ended and has nearly doubled the number of boats it exports to more than 60 countries in that time. 

 

Target picks Memphis for large center

Retailer Target is locating a new 900,000-square-foot online fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn. The $50 million center will serve the Southeast and will house 400 workers. 

 

Tennessee-based snack food company expanding in Virginia

Memphis-based Monogram Food Solutions is expanding its meat snack plant in Henry County, Va. The $36.5 million deal in Martinsville will create 200 new jobs. The company purchased the plant in 2009 when there were about 125 employees. Including this expansion, Monogram will employ over 600 at the plant. 

 

German company expands in South Carolina

Hubner USA, a subsidiary of Germany-based Hubner GmbH& Co., announced in the fall quarter it is investing nearly $9 million in its plant in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The company manufactures products in the transportation sector. The deal will create 50 new jobs. 

 

IT center going up in Northern Kentucky

Archer Daniels Midland plans to open an IT center in Erlanger, Ky. The food and agribusiness company will create 200 jobs in the deal. 

 

Big food deal in Georgia

Kentucky-based Castellini Group announced in December it will locate a large fresh fruits and vegetable processing facility and distribution center in Conley, Ga. The $52 million, 180,000-square-foot facility will house 300 workers. 

 

Another LNG plant landed by Southwest Louisiana

Venture Global LNG will build a $4.25 billion natural gas-to-liquids export plant in Southwest Louisiana in Cameron Parish. The plant is being built near Cheniere's $18 billion LNG export facility that is under construction at Sabine Pass. Venture's plant will house about 100 workers, with 1,500 construction jobs created. 

 

IT firm expanding Tampa operations

New Jersey-based Cognizant Technology Solutions, an IT maintenance company with clients in the financial services and health care sectors, is expanding in Tampa. The company is investing nearly $6 million and will add 400 jobs. 

 

Auto supplier growing in South Central Kentucky

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake announced it is expanding its Bowling Green, Ky., plant. The brake systems manufacturer is investing $8.4 million, adding machining capabilities and 75 more workers. 

 

German parts supplier locates first U.S. plant in Hart Co., Ga. 

Haring, a maker of automotive components, announced in December it will build a $54 million, 196,000-square-foot facility in Northeast Georgia in Hart County. The new facility, which will house up to 800 workers, will also serve as Haring's U.S. headquarters. 

 

Nissan and state of Tennessee partner on new training center

Nashville-based Nissan North America and Tennessee are building a training and education center next to the Japanese automaker's massive plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The 150,000-square-foot center will help educate and train workers for Nissan's plant. Nissan employs more than 8,000 full-time employees in Rutherford County, where Smyrna is located. 

 

Company relocating HQ from NYC to downtown St. Petersburg

iQor, a private company that offers an array of corporate services, announced it is relocating its headquarters from Madison Avenue in New York City to downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. The company has about 32,000 employees worldwide. The headquarters relocation will result in 100 new jobs in Tampa Bay. 

 

New CEO of Texas Economic Development Corp. named

Tracye McDaniel, the CEO of Choose New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's economic development marketing organization, has been named CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corp. She will assume the new post for new Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in February. McDaniel, a Texas native, previously ran the Greater Houston Partnership for five years. 

 

Shiloh adding 150 jobs in Clarksville, Tenn. 

Automotive supplier Shiloh Industries is investing over $20 million in the former Contech Metal Forge facility in Clarksville, Tenn. The company provides lightweight solutions for automotive OEMs, working with aluminum, steel and magnesium. The project will create 150 jobs. 

 

FreightCar America adding jobs in Northwest Alabama

FreightCar's giant facility in the Shoals region of Alabama is expanding. The company, which employs about 500, is investing $10 million in a new railcar line. The deal will create between 150 and 200 jobs. 

 

2015 Mississippi-made Murano hits the streets

Once exclusively imported from Japan, the Canton, Miss.-made Murano crossover model became available to buyers in the fall quarter. Nissan operates two assembly plants in the Southern Auto Corridor; one in Smyrna, Tenn. and the other in Canton. It also operates its North American headquarters in the Nashville suburb of Franklin. To support the new Murano production, Nissan added about 1,000 jobs at the Canton plant, bringing employment there to more than 6,000. 

 

3M investing $135 million in Northeast Tennessee

3M announced it is purchasing a 772,000-square-foot building in Clinton, Tenn., to manufacture products for the petrochemical and automotive industries. The $135 million project will generate 100 new jobs. 

 

Japanese supplier selects Tennessee for HQ

Japanese auto parts supplier M-TEK, has selected Murfreesboro, Tenn., for its new North American headquarters. The $13 million project will create about 250 jobs, with about 150 being transferred from Michigan and Ohio to Tennessee. The new headquarters will support existing operations in Michigan, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Mexico. 

 

New York company relocating HQ to North Carolina

New Rochelle, N.Y.-based Flynn Burner Corp., is relocating its headquarters and manufacturing facility to Mooresville, N.C. The company makes combustion and oven control systems. The $3 million relocation will create 45 new jobs. 

 

Hanesbrands adding jobs in Mounty Airy, N.C.

Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands is adding jobs at its sock manufacturing facility in Mount Airy, N.C. The company, which has offshored much of its apparel production overseas, is creating 75 new jobs in N.C. 

 

Fort Worth is fastest growing large city

With a growth rate of 42 percent, Fort Worth is the No. 1 big city for population growth between 2000 and 2013 according to a recent Census Bureau report. Charlotte came in second, followed by Austin and San Antonio. 

 

Precision Southeast expanding in rural S.C.

Precision Southeast, a manufacturer of plastic injection molded parts, is investing over $16 million in its Marion Co., S.C. plant. The expansion will generate 140 new jobs. 

 

Italian company starts production in Northern Kentucky

Italy-based Bonfiglioli, a manufacturer of power transmission for mobile and self-propelled machines has opened its first production line in Hebron, Ky. The new facility will house 42 workers. 

 

Mortgage company hiring 310 in Oxford, Miss. 

FNC, a mortgage technology company, is building a new 68,000-square-foot headquarters in Oxford, Miss. The $20 million project will create 310 jobs. 

 

New plant opens in Southwest Virginia

Wisconsin-based Mayville Engineering has opened its metal fabrication plant in Atkins, Va. The plant will house 150 workers. 

 

Flightstar bringing jobs to Jacksonville, Fla. 

Flightstar, a provider of MRO services, has moved into a new hangar built at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville. The company will be servicing 737s and 757s at the facility. Between 250 and 300 jobs will be created. 

 

Manufacturer adding 175 jobs in Oklahoma

A precision machine and fabricating shop for manufacturers in the energy and aerospace industries is expanding in Broken Arrow, Okla. Rise Manufacturing is hiring up to 175 machinists and welders in the expansion. 

 

Japanese company expands in Hopkinsville, Ky. 

T.RAD North America, a Japan-based manufacturer of heat transfer and cooling systems for the automotive and agribusiness industries, is investing $25 million in its operations in Hopkinsville, Ky. The company, which employs 500 at its Kentucky facility, will hire 200 more. 

 

LNG producer building $150 million plant in Texas

Applied LNG, a producer and distributor of liquefied natural gas has started construction on a $150 million LNG plant in Midlothian, Texas. The company is building six liquefiers. 

 

Huffington Post names "11 Southern Towns You're Forgetting About But Shouldn't" 

The Huffington Post featured 11 Southern towns "each with their own unique vibes that make us want to visit" and they were: Abingdon, Va.; Mooresville, Ala.; Oxford, Miss.; Durham, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; Athens, Ga.; Franklin, Tenn.' Asheville, N.C.; Lexington, Ky.; Charlottesville, Va.; and Greenville, S.C. 

 

WorldPay relocating HQ and 1,266 to Atlanta

WorldPay US, a subsidiary of London-based WorldPay Group, a financial services firm, is relocating its U.S. headquarters from Sandy Springs, Ga. to Atlanta. The relocation to Atlantic Station will create 1,266 jobs. 

 

Ford hiring 500 to retool F-150 line in Kansas City

Before Ford can produce the aluminum F-150 pickup truck in 2015 at its Kansas City plant, the assembly line will have to be retooled and 500 workers have been hired by the automaker to do the job. The newly designed aluminum F-150 will be about 700 pounds lighter than the previous model. 

 

Flexsteel bringing 141 jobs to Kansas City

Furniture manufacturer Flexsteel has purchased a 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Kansas City. The location is near BNSF Railway's newest intermodal facility in K.C. The deal will create 141 jobs. 

 

Call center to create 1,000 jobs in San Antonio

Washington, D.C.-based IBEX Global is setting up a call center in San Antonio that will house 1,000 workers. The company operates 19 call centers and the one in San Antonio will provide services for a telecommunications client. 

 

Auto supplier landing in Lowndes Co., Ala.

Chowel Weldparts, a maker of impact beams for Hyundai's plant in Montgomery, is setting up shop in Fort Deposit, Ala. The plant will be the second in the state for Chowel. The Fort Deposit plant will have 200 employees. 

 

Kindred Healthcare adding 500 jobs in Louisville

Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare is investing nearly $40 million in its headquarters. The company is adding 142,000 square feet to its Louisville headquarters and adding 500 employees. 

 

Plastics manufacturer expands in rural Mississippi

Suburban Plastics, a producer of thermoplastic composites, is expanding its operations in Grenada, Miss. The project will result in 60 new jobs. 

 

Italian company lands in rural Virginia

Italy-based Provides Metalmeccanica is locating its first U.S. plant in Augusta Co., Va. The manufacturer of heat exchangers is investing $6.1 million in the deal, which will create 45 new jobs. 

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