February 2016

New Orleans, Louisville named two of 15 best cities in the world for food

From the South, New Orleans and Louisville made TheCultureTrip.com's "15 Best Cities in the World for Food" ranking. The only other U.S. city making the list was San Diego. Some foreign locations cited in the ranking included Tokyo, Lyon, Marrakesh, Copenhagen, Bologna and Florence, Italy. 

 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail sees 900,000 tourists

Last year the Kentucky Bourbon Trail saw 900,000 visits to distilleries in the Commonwealth, double the number of visitors the Trail saw five years ago. Several of the distillers on the Trail, including Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey, have visitor experiences. 

 

Atlanta named No. 1 city for filmmakers to live and work

In the winter quarter, Moviemaker.com named Atlanta the top market in the country to live and work as a filmmaker. New York City was second followed by Austin, Los Angeles and Albuquerque. Memphis is the only other Southern city to make the top 10. 

 

Multi-decade migration to the South has resumed

Americans are heading to the South again en masse now that the economy -- particularly residential real estate -- has improved. Between 2014 and 2015, 1.4 million people, mostly from the Northeast and Midwest, migrated to Southern states. The gains in the South represent the largest annual growth on any year in the last decade. Census data showed that people seeking more affordable housing and jobs were behind two-thirds of the moves made between 2014 and 2015. 

 

Southern cities dominate lowest startup costs ranking

In the winter quarter, SmartAsset.com published its ranking of the cities with the lowest business startup costs. To create the ranking, SmartAsset collected data on the typical costs of starting and running a business in 81 of the largest cities in the U.S. Chattanooga was named the lowest city for startup costs, followed by Columbia, S.C.; Knoxville; Orlando; Lexington, Ky.; Little Rock; Greensboro, N.C.; Memphis and Louisville. The only city outside the South to make SmartAsset's top 10 was Wichita. 

 

Solar jobs top oil extraction jobs for the first time

A report that came out in the winter quarter by the Solar Foundation pointed out that for the first time the solar energy industry employs more workers than the oil and gas extraction industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2015, solar employed 209,000 workers and oil and gas extraction employed 185,000 people. Solar jobs grew by 20 percent, 12 times faster than the overall economy in 2015. 

 

California specialty printer opens in North Carolina

ETS Express, a family-owned company based in Oxnard, Calif., plans to hire up to 200 as it expands into Concord, N.C. The company has already hired 40 employees to print on tumblers, mugs and drink ware,

 

Custom Resins makes $12 million expansion in Henderson, Ky.

In a project expected to create 40 new jobs, Custom Resins is doubling the size of its plant in Henderson with an investment of up to $12 million. The company produces specialty nylon resins used for molded parts including automotive components. 

 

Gov. McAuliffe announces 58 new jobs in Culpeper County, Va.

Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced that EURO-COMPOSITES Group, which manufactures honeycomb composite materials used in aviation, space, industrial and defense applications, will invest $10.5 million to expand its U.S. operation in Culpeper County. The Virginia expansion will increase production of parts associated with the aerospace industry. 

 

TD Bank to add 300 jobs in Greenville, S.C.

TD Bank is boosting its Greenville footprint by adding 300 jobs over the next year. The additional jobs will bring the bank very close to its previously announced commitment to have 1,400 jobs at its regional service center along Interstate 85 in Greenville.

 

Shaw to close Tennessee plant

A loss for a town in Tennessee is a gain for North Georgia. Dalton-based Shaw Industries plans to close a commercial broadloom carpet plant in Winchester, Tenn., and move 81 jobs there into facilities in Calhoun, Chatsworth and Dalton, Ga.

 

Home Depot hiring 80,000 seasonal workers

The nation's largest home improvement retailer said it plans to hire more than 80,000 sales associates nationwide to ensure that Home Depot's nearly 2,000 stores are staffed and ready to welcome spring 2016.

 

Anthem adding 450 employees in Columbus, Ga.

Health-care insurer Anthem plans to add 450 employees to the 1,285 already employed at its BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia complex in Columbus by the end of 2017. Anthem will invest $3 million in the expansion.

 

East Tennessee company adding 200 new jobs

Oak Ridge-based Protomet has announced a $30 million expansion and the addition of 200 jobs. The engineering manufacturing and tech company has looked at three East Tennessee counties so far, and says the new facility will be fully operational by early next year.

 

Passport Health's $15 million partnership to add 650 jobs in Kentucky

Arlington, Va.-based Evolent Health announced it will partner with Louisville-based insurer Passport Health Plan. The partnership’s new regional Medicaid headquarters in Louisville will mean 650 jobs in the area.

 

Huntsville, Ala., adds 1,400 construction jobs as industry struggles with worker shortage

Construction jobs are on the rise in the Huntsville area despite a growing worker shortage across the nation. The Associated General Contractors of America announced that the Huntsville metro was among the fastest growing in the nation last year with the addition of 1,400 new jobs between December 2014 and December 2015. 

 

Piramal Pharma Solutions to invest $10 million, add 40 jobs in Lexington, Ky.

Piramal Pharma Solutions plans to invest up to $10 million to expand operations at Lexington’s Coldstream Laboratories, creating 40 new jobs. The India-owned company last year purchased Coldstream Labs, which develops and manufactures injectable pharmaceuticals.

 

Lancaster, S.C., company to expand

An estimated 125 new jobs will come to Lancaster with the $15 million expansion of Nutramax Laboratories. The maker of animal health products has invested $29 million in Lancaster County since 2010, and currently employs 250 people.

 

Caterpillar to add new jobs in Mississippi

Caterpillar is expected to add more workers to its facilities in Corinth and Booneville. The company will add 41 jobs in Corinth and four in Booneville as remanufacturing of an engine line moves to Corinth.

 

Commercial Jet announces 100 new jobs

Dothan, Ala.-based Commercial Jet Services is increasing its workforce by 100 aircraft maintenance and structures technicians. Commercial Jet established its CJet Academy in 2014 to train entry-level structures technicians.

 

Unisys Corp. opens Client Service Center in Augusta, Ga.

Unisys Corporation officially opened its client service center in Augusta. The company plans to create up to 700 jobs in the next five years to provide IT support to a range of commercial and government clients.

 

Convergys to add 100-plus new jobs in Lake Mary, Fla.

One of Seminole County's top employers — Convergys Corp. — will expand its customer service and contact center in Orlando by adding 155 new jobs over the next three years. 

 

Tennessee automotive plant expanding, adding 50 jobs

JTEKT Automotive is expanding its manufacturing facility in Monroe County with an investment of $218.5 million and 50 new jobs. The new facility is scheduled to produce next-generation steering components for Toyota, BMW, Honda and Nissan.

 

Olympus to build multi-million facility in Bartlett, Tenn., create 280 jobs

A Japanese medical manufacturing company will build a new multi-million dollar facility in Bartlett. Olympus will construct a service and distribution center adjacent to its existing facility, which manufactures medical devices. More than $12 million is being invested in the new facility, which will create more than 280 new jobs in the Memphis region.

 

Polaris Alabama plant back on track after a tough year

The new Polaris off-road vehicle factory in Huntsville, Ala., is on schedule despite lackluster profits and sales in the most recent quarter. Expected to open early this year, the new ATV manufacturing facility carries a $150 million price tag, and will employ at least 1,700 people when the plant reaches full production. 

 

Arkay Packaging to expand in Botetourt County, Va.

A Botetourt County packaging company is expanding, bringing 50 new jobs to the Roanoke Valley. Arkay Packaging Corp. will invest $11 million in new equipment at its plant in the EastPark Commerce Center.

 

Technology company AvePoint bringing 100 jobs to Richmond

Gov. Terry McAuliffe welcomed AvePoint to Richmond in January and announced 100 new technology jobs for the area. AvePoint, a New Jersey-based software company, is also expanding its existing Arlington County office, creating 55 jobs there.

 

Tech travel giant Sabre Corp. expanding Texas HQ

Technology travel giant Sabre Corp. is expanding its headquarters in Southlake, making room for an additional 400 employees.

 

Yarn mill to add 25 jobs in $8 million expansion in Valdese, N.C.

Meridian Specialty Yarn Group will spend $8 million to expand its plant in the Burke County town of Valdese. The expansion means an additional 25 jobs to the 146-member workforce over the next five years.

 

Printpack expanding in Newport News

Printpack, one of the largest flexible packaging converters in the United States, will invest $25.7 million to expand its manufacturing operation in the City of Newport News. The deal will create 50 new jobs over the next four years.

 

Denmark-based Brodrene Hartmann plans $30 million manufacturing hub in Rolla, Mo.

Denmark-based Brodrene Hartmann A/S, the world’s leading manufacturer of molded-fiber egg packaging and one of the largest manufacturers of machinery for producing molded-fiber packaging, will open a $30 million manufacturing facility in Rolla. The company plans to create 50 new jobs in the area. 

 

Multi-million-dollar indoor farm coming to West Louisville, Ky.

Chicago-based FarmedHere LLC, which specializes in organic indoor vertical farming, plans to open an operation at the West Louisville FoodPort. The $23.5 million investment will create 40 jobs. The 60,000-square-foot farm will have 10 rows of vertical beds and space for sorting, packaging and producing micro greens, herbs, salad dressings, baby food and other products. Produce is grown on flat, vertically stacked beds under lights year-round, using 95 percent less water than traditional farming methods.

 

JL Audio plans manufacturing expansion in Broward County, Fla.

JL Audio, a manufacturer of car, marine and home audio products begun in Miramar in 1975, will create 30 new jobs and invest $9.4 million in its facility there. “JL Audio began as a small business when two friends decided to build loudspeakers during their summer break from college,” Governor Rick Scott said in a statement. “Today, JL Audio has provided a job for 294 Floridians and I am excited to announce that this growing business is creating 30 new jobs.”

 

Northern Kentucky Tri-ED announces expansions — $300 million investment and 150 new jobs

Northern Kentucky Tri-ED announced in January that expansions by FedEx Ground Package System and Messier-Bugatti USA in Northern Kentucky were presented to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority Board for approval. 

 

Company investing $15 million in new paper plant near Dalton, Ga.

A North Carolina company plans to open a new paper manufacturing plant outside Dalton, Ga., and hire more than 60 people to make corrugated sheets used in boxes. Sustainable Corrugated, a subsidiary of Jackson Paper Manufacturing of Sylva, N.C., will invest $15 million in new machinery and inventory.

 

Palmetto State becoming the Tire State?

South Carolina already produces more tires than any other state, and that doesn’t count the Trelleborg Wheel Systems plant that was dedicated in Spartanburg in January. Trelleborg, a Swedish company whose tire business is based in Italy, is the fifth foreign-owned tire company to bring manufacturing to South Carolina. It all began in 1975, when Michelin launched its plant in southern Greenville County, and has grown to include Bridgestone, Continental, Giti, and now Trelleborg.

 

Hair products firm adds 100 jobs in Duluth, Ga.

Hair products maker and distributor Shake-N-Go and Model Model Hair will expand into a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Duluth and plans to hire 100 employees over the next five years. The new facility will distribute hair products to domestic and overseas customers and handle imports from overseas. Products will include wigs and other hair accessories. 

 

RADISE International expands its Palm Beach County hub

Engineering firm RADISE International will expand its operations in Palm Beach County, Fla. The company plans to create 60 new jobs and invest $2 million. 

 

Turnkey Processing Solutions expands in Missouri

Turnkey Processing Solutions, a bulk material handling and mineral processing company, has acquired Phoenix Manufacturing along with its operations in Glasgow and Cole Camp, Mo. The company will add 45 new jobs over the next two years and invest $1.25 million in improvements at the two facilities.

 

Arlington County, Va., gaining 100 high-tech jobs

San Francisco-based Shift Technologies will invest $20 million to establish its first East Coast operation in Arlington County. The project will create 100 new jobs. Shift Technologies is a startup created by former Googlers, which connects car buyers and sellers. Since June 2014, the company’s sales have grown 70-fold.

 

Amarillo needs 180 welders

Gestamp Renewable Industries, a company out of Spain, is opening its first American wind tower manufacturing plant in Amarillo. Almost 200 welders are needed immediately for the $40 million investment. The facility will employ over 300 when up and running.

 

Freight brokerage to add 75 jobs in Miami

Cincinnati-based Total Quality Logistics plans to create 75 jobs over the next three years in Miami after qualifying for public incentives for a $600,000 expansion.

 

Kalashnikov cranking up AK-47 factory in Florida

The famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, made in Moscow for 69 years, will soon be made in Pompano Beach, Fla., too. No details yet on jobs or investment.

 

Natchez developer to build $140 million casino in Gulfport

Gulfport city officials in January selected a developer to build a second casino in their city. The city has chosen Mississippi Coast Entertainment LP to build a $140 million casino complex at the city's small craft harbor. Robert Lubin, who developed the Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez, in part using money raised by foreigners who can get visas to enter the United States by investing money that creates jobs, leads the company.

 

NARENCO establishing solar power in Allendale County, S.C.

National Renewable Energy Corporation (NARENCO), established in 2009 and headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is on track to invest more than $85 million to establish solar power operations in Allendale County. 

 

Steel Dynamics begins $100 million facility in Columbus, Miss.

Announced in May 2015, Steel Dynamics broke ground in January on its new Paint Line and Galvalume facility in Columbus. The project, set for completion in early 2017, represents a corporate investment of $100 million and will create 40 jobs. Steel Dynamics bought the Columbus location from Severstal North America in September 2014.

 

FedEx plans massive facility in Houston

FedEx will open a massive new ground facility in Cypress, Texas next summer. The 800,000-square-foot project will house the Memphis-based company's largest FedEx Ground facility in Texas and will employ 400 people.

 

Textile company establishing in Lancaster County, S.C.

3i Products Inc., which makes and distributes indoor and outdoor cushions and pillows, is establishing operations in Lancaster County. The $3 million investment is expected to create 100 new jobs.

 

Automotive supplier to lay off 50 at Prattville, Ala., plant

An automotive parts supplier in Alabama will soon be hit with cutbacks. Fras-le North America issued notices to 50 employees at its Prattville plant. Fras-le is a Brazilian-owned manufacturer of linings and pads for heavy-duty vehicles, along with pads, linings and shoes for light vehicles.

 

Auto finance company to close Texas call center, lay off 290

TD Auto Finance will close its Dallas Contact Center and lay off 290 employees effective April 1, 2016. The move comes after the company announced last year that it would consolidate its call centers and move 250 jobs to Greenville, S.C.; 70 jobs to Farmington, Mich.; and 30 jobs to Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Valmiera Glass Group expands facility in Dublin, Ga.

Valmiera Glass Group, a Latvia-based fiberglass manufacturer, will expand its U.S.-based headquarters in Dublin. The project will create 425 jobs and generate an investment of $90 million. 

 

Mercedes-Benz USA chooses Grapevine, Texas for Distribution Center-Training Facility

Mercedes-Benz USA will locate its Dual-Purpose Parts Distribution Center and Training Facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in Grapevine, Texas. The training facility will be staffed with approximately 50 full-time employees with the ability to train 150 to 200 technicians per week. 

 

Alegeus Technologies to create 150 new jobs in Central Florida

A Massachusetts-based health care service company is opening the doors to its first Central Florida office. Alegeus Technologies is creating at least 150 new jobs in the community. 

 

Remington Outdoor, SIG Sauer to create new jobs in Arkansas

Two firearms-related companies are creating new jobs in Arkansas. Remington will add more than 80 jobs at its Lonoke plant, and gun maker SIG Sauer is opening a Jacksonville ammunition manufacturing operation that will employ 50.

 

Nautique expands Orlando HQ

Nautique is investing $8 million to expand its world headquarters and manufacturing facility in Orlando. According to company officials, the maker of water skis, wakeboards and boats “continues to experience significant growth in the marketplace and plans to increase its workforce to accommodate rising demand.” 

 

Kaiser Permanente adding 800 jobs in Metro Atlanta expansion

Health care industry giant Kaiser Permanente will add 800 jobs in Atlanta, including 600 positions at a new facility in Gwinnett County. The move represents a $51 million capital investment.

 

Tyson plans $28 million expansion of North Carolina plant

Tyson Foods subsidiary Hillshire Brands is upgrading its plant in Tarboro, N.C. The company will invest $28.4 million to upgrade and improve the facility, which produces the Sara Lee line of baked goods. One hundred new jobs will be created as a result of the expansion.

 

Coty sprucing up in North Carolina

Beauty products and fragrance company Coty is expanding its manufacturing facility in Lee County and planning to hire an additional 25 employees there. The company also plans to invest $19 million at its site in Sanford over the next three years.

 

Merchant e-Solutions to locate HQ and 140 jobs in Atlanta

Merchant e-Solutions, a division of Brazil-based Cielo S.A., a global payment processing company, will invest $5 million in Atlanta for its U.S. headquarters. The move will create more than 140 jobs. 

 

Southworth Products to expand its manufacturing complex

Southworth Products, a manufacturer of vertical lifting and positioning products including lift tables, is expanding its manufacturing facility in Manila, Ark. The company relocated to rural Arkansas from the Northeast in 1979. The $1 million investment will create 35 new jobs. 

 

Grapevine’s Gaylord Texan to get $120 million facelift 

The owner of the Gaylord Texan recently announced a $120 million expansion that will make the mammoth property the second-largest hotel in the state and one of the largest non-gaming convention hotels in the nation.

 

Gordon Food Service expands into North Carolina

Gordon Food Service has opened a new $58 million distribution center in North Carolina, its first in the state. The 300,000-square-foot facility is located in Kannapolis, 27 miles northeast of Charlotte. The facility's 75 employees are expected to grow into a 300-person workforce within five years. 

 

Major renovations underway at Round Rock facility

Los Angeles-based ProPortion Foods, a distributor of fully cooked meat products, is poised to move into its new Round Rock headquarters with renovations underway at the former Sysco facility. The move is expected to bring up to 400 jobs to the local market.

 

Toledo Molding & Die to invest $20 million, create 250 jobs in Tennessee

Toledo Molding & Die will build a new manufacturing facility in Fayetteville, Tenn. The automotive supplier will invest $20 million and create 250 new jobs.

 

Heaven Hill plans expansion project in Louisville

Heaven Hill Distilleries plans a $15.5 million expansion at its Bernheim Distillery in West Louisville. The company is adding 4,600 square feet — a new beer well, three new fermenters and a new still — to one of the buildings at the distillery. 

 

Simmons Prepared Foods to hire 100 in Fort Smith, Ark.

Simmons Prepared Foods, an innovative poultry processing company, is leasing space at Zero Mountain in Fort Smith and creating more than 100 jobs.

 

Daimler Trucks North America expanding South Carolina operations

Daimler Trucks North America is investing $22.7 million in Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. to expand facilities and improve operations in Gaffney, S.C. 

 

Feed mill coming to Laurens County, S.C.

A poultry company is setting up shop in the Upstate, bringing a dozen new jobs with it. Cobb-Vantress will invest $22 million on a new feed mill in Laurens County.

 

Automotive supplier breaks ground on Walker County, Ala., plant

Yorozu Corp. – a tier one automotive supplier headquartered in Yokohama, Japan – recently broke ground on its Jasper facility. The company plans to invest $100 million into the new metal stamping facility. . .a move that will create as many as 300 jobs for the area.

 

Billion-dollar groundbreaking in South Carolina

“The largest carbon fiber producer in the world, Toray Industries, is now calling Moore, South Carolina, home,” said Gov. Nikki Haley at the January groundbreaking of Toray Carbon Fibers America in Spartanburg. The billion-dollar investment will mean 500 new jobs.

 

Nippon Steel opens first U.S. plant

Nippon Steel and Sumikin Materials USA, which manufactures a metal substrate for the automotive industry, is opening a new manufacturing facility in Fayetteville, Ark. The $5.7 million investment will initially create 65 new jobs in Lincoln County, with a goal of 330 hires.

 

Toyota CEO says 75 percent of company's employees will make the move to Plano, Texas

Toyota CEO Jim Lentz said in January that 75 percent of its 4,000 headquarter employees in California will make the move to Plano, Texas when the company moves into its new headquarters there. The company asked all of its current headquarter employees to make the move to West Plano, where the Japanese automaker is building its new 2 million-square-foot North American headquarters. According to Lentz, one of the main reasons the company is relocating its headquarters is the lack of affordable housing in California for its workforce. The facility is expected to open in February 2017. 

 

Plano, Texas named best city to find a job

In the winter quarter, WalletHub named Plano, Texas as the No. 1 city in the U.S. to find a job. Austin and Irving, Texas also made the website's top 10. 

 

Graduating rates in Alabama skyrocket

Alabama's high school graduation rate climbed to all-time highs in 2014-2015, reaching 89 percent. That is up from 72 percent in 2012, according to the Alabama Department of Education. 

 

Atlanta is the best city for web developers

Austin-based SpareFoot.com named Atlanta as the best city in the U.S. for web developers. The blog based its ranking on average annual salary, median home prices, rents and job availability. 

 

Another major Chinese acquisition of a major employer in the South

Haier, the first Chinese company to locate a plant in the United States 15 years ago, acquired GE Appliances in the winter quarter for $5.4 billion. It’s another in an increasing line of acquisitions and emerging number of greenfield projects in the South by Chinese companies. Just five years ago, the Chinese were no-shows when it came to investing in the U.S. Today, some economists are predicting that China will soon be the South's and the nation's No. 1 foreign direct investment country. GE Appliances is headquartered in Louisville, where the company operates its largest plant. There are more than 6,000 workers at GE's Appliance Park in Louisville. 

 

Georgia named No. 1 U.S. state for racial progress

According to WalletHub, Georgia is the No. 1 state in the nation for racial progress. The website compared 10 key metrics — including voter turnout, median annual income, changes in the poverty rate gap and homeownership rates — to choose the states that have achieved the most racial progress. 

 

GM moving production of SUV to Spring Hill, Tenn. 

General Motors announced in the winter it will move production of its GMC Acadia model from a plant in Lansing, Mich., to its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. Production will begin this year for the 2017 Acadia model. 

 

Japanese food manufacturing expanding Mississippi plant

Ajinomoto Windsor, a frozen ethnic food manufacturer, is expanding its plant in Yalobusha County, Miss. The company is investing $20 million and adding 60 jobs to place a rice line in the plant. 

 

Norfolk Southern picks Roanoke for new division HQ

Norfolk Southern Corp. is consolidating its Virginia and Pocahontas divisions to Roanoke, Va., to reduce costs and increase growth. The move will reduce staff and possibly close the railroad's Bluefield, W.Va., Pocahontas division headquarters. 

 

Auto parts supplier investing in new plant in Georgia

Germany-based Linde + Wiemann, a manufacturer of instrument panels and other parts for automobiles, is investing $35 million to build a new 60,000-square-foot plant in Hart County in Northeast Georgia. The plant will supply both BMW's plant in South Carolina and the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama. The deal will create 200 jobs. 

 

Swedish company to build first plant in Henry County, Va. 

Starsprings, a maker of mattresses for long-haul trucks, is investing $3.7 million in a plant in Henry County, Va. The project will create 68 jobs. 

 

Hardide Coatings opens plant in Martinsville, Va. 

U.K.-based Hardide Coatings, a provider of advanced surface coatings, opens its new plant in Martinsville, Va., in the winter quarter. The $7 million facility houses about 30 workers. 

 

Fintech firm expands in Atlanta area

InComm, a financial technology company, is investing $20 million in Peachtree Corners and Suwanee, Ga., as part of an expansion in the Atlanta area. The project will create 120 jobs. 

 

$100 million wind farm slated for Crossville, Tenn. 

Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy announced it is building a $100 million wind farm in Crossville. The 20- to 23-turbine project will generate 71 megawatts of power. 

 

SKF relocating auto parts distribution facility to Crossville, Tenn. 

SKF USA is relocating its North American vehicle service market distribution facility from Hebron, Ky., to Crossville, Tenn. The $14 million project will create 150 jobs. 

 

Food company expanding in South Carolina

D&W Fine Pack, a food packaging company, is expanding in Fountain Inn, S.C. The $20 million project will create 60 new jobs. 

 

BMW built 400,000 vehicles in South Carolina in 2015

The BMW plant near Greer, S.C., assembled 400,904 X models in calendar year 2015, setting a new record. Once soon-to-be-completed expansion plans, which were announced in 2014, are completed, the German automaker expects to produce 450,000 units this year. The volume makes the South Carolina plant BMW's largest factory in the company's global network. 

 

Alabama automakers top 1 million mark for the first time

The combined production of the Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama topped 1 million vehicles in calendar year 2015. With 1,033,095 vehicles assembled, it was the first time the 1 million mark was reached.

 

Boeing to open data center in North Carolina

Boeing will open a 127,000-square-foot data center in Kings Mountain, N.C. The building will cost $75 million but no word yet on the price tag for the entire center. 

 

Private sector employment grew four times greater than government in 2015

Weak government job creation continued in 2015 as the sector only grew by one-half of one percent. There are 470,000 fewer government workers than peak levels in 2008. At the same time, private sector employment grew four times faster than government employment in 2015. 

 

Advance Auto Parts investing in Tennessee distribution center

Roanoke, Va.-based Advance Auto Parts is investing $24.5 million in a distribution center in La Vergne, Tenn. The company, which is moving into an existing building, will create 200 jobs. 

 

Hyundai to assemble SUV at Alabama plant

Hyundai announced it is adding production of the Santa Fe SUV at its plant in Montgomery, Ala. The Santa Fe is currently made exclusively at Kia's plant in West Point, Ga., and the model will also continue to be assembled there. Hyundai will invest $52 million at its Montgomery plant to add the new SUV line. 

 

Manufacturing job creation down dramatically in 2015

A strong dollar, commodity price collapses and struggling economies abroad contributed to the worst job creation year for manufacturing since the Great Recession. Only 30,000 jobs were created in the manufacturing sector in the U.S. in calendar year 2015. In 2014, there were 215,000 manufacturing jobs created. That is about the average jobs created in the sector since the recovery year of 2010. However, after nearly two decades of job losses in manufacturing in the U.S., the last five years have seen net gains in the sector. 

 

Westlake investing $350 million in Southwest Louisiana expansion

Houston-based Westlake Chemical is moving ahead with a $350 million expansion of its ethylene plant in Lake Charles, La. The company is also expanding its plant in Calvert City, Ky., but financial details of that expansion were not available. 

 

Air Products to build $400 million hydrogen plant in Texas

Pennsylvania-based Air Products announced it will build a $400 million hydrogen plant in Baytown, Texas. The project is scheduled for completion in 2018. 

 

Over $2 billion invested by companies on the railroad's network

In 2015, companies in and along CSX’s rail network invested $2.2 billion. The Jacksonville-based railroad assisted in locating 107 new and expanded facilities that created about 1,500 new jobs last year. 

 

Trash-to-fuel plant breaks ground in West Virginia

A new standard trash-to-fuel facility in Martinsburg, W.Va., broke ground in the winter quarter. The facility will convert household waste into clean-burning solid fuel. The project will create 20 jobs. 

 

French aerospace company to supply Airbus in Mobile, Ala. 

France-based Zodiac, a supplier of aircraft cabins that employs more than 30,000 workers worldwide, will open a facility at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. The Mobile, Ala., location will be used to supply Airbus as it ramps up its A320 production at Brookley. 

 

Bourbon barrel maker sets up shop in rural South Carolina

Black Water Barrels, a manufacturer of barrels used in the bourbon aging process, is investing $3.6 million in a plant in Bamberg County, S.C. The deal will create 57 jobs. 

 

Food processor picks rural Alabama

Magnolia Vegetable Processors is opening a facility in Brundidge, Ala. The company, which will create 80 jobs, makes pickled and salsa products. 

 

Bridgestone capitalizing North Carolina plant

Bridgestone is investing $164 million in its Wilson, N.C., plant. The company is adding space at the 42-year-old plant and new equipment to increase capacity by 3,000 more tires a day.

 

Canadian company reshores to New Braunfels, Texas

CGT U.S., a manufacturer of fabrics and films for the automotive industry, will invest $80 million in a new plant in New Braunfels. The company is reshoring part of its capacity from China. The deal will create 275 jobs. 

 

Big Ass Solutions expanding in Kentucky

Big Ass Solutions is expanding its residential fan unit, Haiku Home, at its facilities in Lexington, Ky. It is also adding two new products, an LED light fixture and a wireless wall control. The Lexington-based manufacturer will add 100 jobs. 

 

Travel + Leisure names Nashville destination of the year

Tourism is big in Nashville and a prominent publication's readers noticed. Voters in Travel + Leisure's readers' poll named Nashville as 2015 Destination of the Year. Nashville beat out Charleston, S.C., for the No. 1 spot. 

 

Freightliner laying off 936 at North Carolina plant

One of the first large layoffs in the automotive industry in years came in the winter quarter. Freightliner, owned by Daimler trucks, will reduce its truck assembly output by one-third this year at its plant in Rowan County, N.C. The reduction will also reduce about one-third of the current workforce of 3,100 at the plant. 

 

In 2015, Kentucky gained manufacturing jobs for fifth consecutive year

Led by the automotive industry, the Commonwealth of Kentucky added manufacturing jobs for the fifth straight year in 2015. Kentucky has added almost 18,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010. The state is home to 4,924 manufacturers employing almost 300,000 workers. 

 

Cheniere starts production at massive LNG export facility in Louisiana

It was a long time coming. Houston-based Cheniere Energy originally built a multi-billion-dollar LNG import facility at the Sabine Pass in Cameron Parish, La. As a result of widespread fracking starting several years ago, no LNG was imported into the facility. So, the company began converting the facility into an export LNG plant at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. In the winter quarter, the terminal began production and the nation's first export of LNG produced in U.S. shale formations set sail. 

 

Atlanta's airport first to see 100 million passengers

A passenger on a flight arriving from the Gulfport/Biloxi International Airport on December 27 was the 100 millionth passenger served by the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2015. It was the first time any airport in the world saw 100 million passengers using their gates in a single year. 

 

Tennessee setting up recruiting offices in Germany, Italy and China

Randy Boyd, Commissioner of Tennessee’s economic development department, announced in the winter it will set up corporate recruiting offices in Germany, Italy and possibly two in China. 

 

Clark Material Handling reshoring jobs from Mexico to Kentucky

Clark Material Handling, a manufacturer of forklifts, is expanding its plant in Lexington, Ky. The $4.8 million project will create 30 jobs initially. The company will begin production of two electric forklifts that were previously built in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. 

 

Company opening facility in Greensboro, N.C.

Qorvo, a provider of radio frequency solutions for a variety of industries including aerospace and defense, will open a new facility in Greensboro. The company was formed with the merger of TriQuint and RF Micro Devices. The $25 million deal will create 100 jobs. 

 

Oklahoma City loses 3,000 oil jobs in 2015; unemployment rate still one of the lowest in the nation

Oklahoma City's oil and gas sector saw a 14.3 percent decline in jobs from November 2014 to November 2015. The loss ended up totaling 3,000 jobs. Still, Oklahoma City's unemployment rate stood at 3.6 percent at the start of the year. 

 

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