February 2017

January hiring means economy still has room to grow

The Labor Department's total of 227,000 jobs in January, and the fact that the unemployment rate rose from 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent, suggests that there is still room to grow the economy in the face of full employment pressures. Full employment drives up wages and inflation, but wages hardly grew at all in January. According to the Labor Department, about 7.5 million people are officially unemployed, with about 1.9 million of those out of work for longer than six months.

 

Manufacturing grows for fifth consecutive month in January

The Institute for Supply Management's index that counts manufacturing orders rose for the fifth straight month in January. The index rose to 56, the highest number since November 2014 and up from 54.5 in December. A reading above 50 means the manufacturing sector is expanding. Twelve of 18 industries surveyed expanded, with machinery, transportation equipment and electronic products leading the index for the month.

 

Can we even find enough legal workers to build a wall, or any massive infrastructure project?

President Trump's proposed infrastructure stimulus has a problem before it even starts -- labor shortages. The unemployment rate in the construction trades is currently at 4.5 percent, the lowest in a decade. The labor shortage in the construction sector has already delayed announced factories, particularly in Texas and Louisiana in the South. "Contractors in general throughout the country have been saying it's been difficult to get workers," said Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America in a Bloomberg story published in the winter quarter. The fact that in Texas about half of all construction workers are undocumented makes the task of finding labor for large projects, such as the Southern U.S. border wall, even more difficult. In other words, it would be nearly impossible to find enough legal workers to build the wall in Texas.

 

Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam proposes free community college for adults

In his state of the state address in the winter quarter, Gov. Bill Haslam introduced a proposal called the Tennessee Reconnect Act that is designed to offer free community college for adults. The program, if passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, would award adults last-dollar scholarships to attend community college. The initiative will come at no cost to taxpayers. The added tuition and fees will come from the Tennessee Education Lottery.

 

Bell cow of Alabama's automotive industry turns 20

In February 1997, the first M-Class SUV rolled off the assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala. Since that day 20 years ago, Alabama's automotive industry captured two more assembly plants -- Hyundai in Montgomery and Honda in Lincoln, Ala. Also, Toyota built a huge engine plant in Huntsville and hundreds of automotive suppliers now call Alabama home. Mercedes has invested almost $5 billion in its plant in Alabama to date. The three automakers in the state assembled more than 1 million cars, trucks and SUVs in 2016.

 

Hankook Tire to complete Tennessee plant; to hire 1,200

South Korean tire maker Hankook will complete its new factory in Clarksville, Tenn., later this year. The plant will meet growing demand boosted by increased sales of vehicles made by Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Kia in West Point, Ga. Hankook officials said they expect up to 1,200 workers will be housed at the Nashville area plant by the end of the year.

 

Samsung considering Alabama and South Carolina for new appliances plant

Various sources claim that Korean manufacturing giant Samsung Electronics is searching for sites in Alabama and South Carolina to build a new home appliances plant. The move reportedly is being made to remain competitive with other appliance makers in the U.S. if import taxes are levied under the new administration.

 

Harris hiring on Space Coast

Defense giant Harris Corp. is adding 200 workers in Central Florida. The company won a contract with the Air Force to complete a variety of tasks, and all of the work will be done at the company's facilities in Palm Bay, Fla.

 

France-based food manufacturer to place new plant in Banks County, Ga.

Citing its proximity to customers and high-quality local and sustainable foods, France-based Diana Food is investing $50 million in a new plant in Banks County, Ga. The facility, which will house 80 workers, will process meat.

 

St. Louis gains 300 jobs as Nestle leaves California

Nestle USA is moving its headquarters from California to Northern Virginia. In the move, Swiss-based Nestle, the world's largest food company, will also centralize its IT operations in St. Louis. Nestle is familiar with St. Louis as the headquarters for its pets products division is located south of downtown. That operation employs 2,700.

 

More cranes in the air in Nashville than in New York

The hits keep coming in Nashville, particularly from the construction industry where a bevy of major projects are being built in the city. According to a report from Rider Levett Bucknall, a real estate and construction consultant, Nashville has 27 tower cranes operating in the metro area. Most of the projects are high-rise offices, hotels and apartments. At the first of the year, New York had 21 cranes, San Francisco 24, Austin 20, Denver 18 and Boston had 11. Seattle had the most cranes with 62, according to the report, and Chicago had 56. Nashville has the lowest office vacancy of any city in the country at 6.2 percent. In the last quarter of 2016, the vacancy rate in Nashville was 4.6 percent.

 

Missouri becomes last Southern state to pass right-to-work legislation

In the winter quarter, Missouri became the 28th state to bar mandatory union fees and dues from nonmembers. Passing the measure means that now all Southern states are right-to-work.

 

Texas is No. 1 for inbound moves

Texas was named the top state in the U.S. in U-Haul's annual report on inbound moves. Corporate expansions and relocations by Toyota, Apple and Amazon, to name a few, are credited with the state attracting new residents. 

 

Austin No. 1 on U.S. News "Best Places to Live" ranking

According to U.S. News and World Report, the best place to live in the U.S. is Austin, Texas. The Texas capital city ranked No. 2 last year in the annual report. The media property ranks metro areas on a number of factors, including education, migration, cost of living, unemployment, health care and household income.

 

West Virginia's economy turning around

From 2011 to 2015, the state of West Virginia lost jobs, with each year losing more jobs than the previous year. That losing streak ended in 2016, as the state had a net gain of 7,000 new jobs. Last year, the West Virginia Legislature passed pro-business measures including eliminating the business franchise tax and the state lowered the corporate net income tax to 6.5 percent.

 

New, massive, dual-rail North Carolina megasite looks for certification

Called the Moncure Megasite, the dual-rail (CSX and Norfolk Southern) site near the convergence of Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Wake Counties, is located just 25 miles southwest of Raleigh. The site has doubled in size to 2,285 acres, and many consider it the No. 1 site in the South for a large manufacturing operation such as automotive assembly. Officials with the megasite expect state certification later this year.

 

Amazing Amazon

In January, the online retail giant announced plans to create more than 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. by mid-2018. The additional jobs would swell Amazon’s U.S. workforce, which stood at 180,000 last year. The Seattle-based company said that many of the new jobs will be at already-announced warehouses under construction in Texas, California, Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere. Highlights include two fulfillment centers bringing up to 2,700 jobs to Jacksonville, Fla., and 1,000 full-time workers at a 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center to be built in Coppell, Texas. The company also plans to build a $1.5 billion centralized air hub in Kentucky to help meet the demand created from Amazon Prime. When the site opens, the company expects to create more than 2,000 new jobs.

 

Big deal: Amazon to establish $1.49 billion air hub in Northern Kentucky

Amazon has chosen the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for a $1.49 billion, 2,000-employee air cargo hub for its current roster of 40 cargo aircraft. Amazon took a 50-year lease on about 900 acres owned by the international airport in Hebron, Ky. The company will build its air hub on that property. Amazon currently employs about 10,000 people at 11 fulfillment centers in Kentucky.

 

Steel Dynamics investing in mini-mill in Roanoke, Va.

Steel Dynamics, a steel producer and recycling company, is investing $28 million at its mini-mill in Roanoke. The company is purchasing new equipment to increase capacity of its rolling mill operation. The plant houses 300 employees.

 

Software firm adding jobs, relocating HQ to Midtown Atlanta

Midtown Atlanta is a hotbed for tech firms and the area just landed another company. Software firm SalesLoft is moving its headquarters from Buckhead to Midtown, next to Atlanta Tech Village. The deal will create 250 jobs.

 

Company reshoring jobs from China to Missouri

Trans-Lux, a manufacturer of LED and LCD display boards, is moving production of its products from Shenzhen, China to Hazelwood, Mo. The company is investing over $2 million in the Missouri plant that will house 90 workers.

 

Auto parts supplier investing in its Kentucky plant

Windshield manufacturer Pilkington North America is investing $7.5 million in manufacturing and technology upgrades at its plant in Versailles, Ky. 

 

Sawmill opens in Arkansas

Conifex Timber, a Canada-based sawmilling company, has restarted a state-of-the-art former Georgia Pacific sawmill complex in El Dorado, Ark. The company is investing $80 million in the project that will create 120 full-time jobs.

 

Huhoco Group investing in new Georgia plant

Germany-based Huhoco Group is investing $24 million and creating 200 jobs as it builds a new plant in Bartow County, Ga. The company refines metal products for the automotive and construction industry. 

 

Manufacturer expanding in Lincoln County, N.C.

Blum, a manufacturer of cabinet hardware, is expanding to meet growing demand for its products. The company, which has 390 employees, is investing $16 million in the plant and adding 20 workers.

 

$230 million plants breaks ground in Corpus Christi

Chemours, a maker of a new environmentally friendly refrigerant for automobile air conditioners, broke ground in the winter quarter on a $230 million plant in Corpus Christi, Texas.

 

Jackson Healthcare adding 1,400 jobs in Atlanta area

Jackson Healthcare, one of the nation's largest healthcare staffing companies, will expand its headquarters by 306,000 square feet at its current facility in Alpharetta, Ga. The project will create 1,400 new jobs.

 

La-Z-Boy investing in rural Tennessee

Furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy will expand its plant in Dayton, Tenn. The $26 million project will create 115 jobs.

 

Dallas-Fort Worth second only to NYC in total construction starts

Dallas-Fort Worth construction starts hit a record in 2016, with almost $21 billion in new construction. Last year's building starts were $2 billion more than the peak of the last construction cycle prior to the Great Recession. In 2016, only New York City had more construction starts than Dallas-Fort Worth.

 

Houston's office market has not bottomed out

While Houston's economy may have finally stabilized after nearly three years of an oil and gas industry crater, its office market has not stabilized completely as of yet. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a commercial real estate firm, claims that Houston's office market vacancy rate is at 19.6 percent. But a wave of office construction will come online this year, delivering 2.4 million square feet of new office space. That will add about 1.4 million square feet of vacancy in the Houston market this year, according to the company.

 

Charlotte's office market is in good shape

At the end of 2016, Charlotte's office market had a vacancy rate of 8.5 percent, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Nearly 1.7 million square feet of office space was absorbed in the Charlotte metro in 2016.

 

American Express opens $200 million operations center in South Florida

American Express has completed its 400,000-square-foot operations center in Sunrise, Fla. The building will house up to 3,000 workers.

 

Rocket engine maker hiring 100 in Alabama

Aerojet Rocketdyne has started manufacturing the new AR1 rocket engine in Huntsville, Ala. The engine is slated to replace the Russian-made RD-180 engines currently being used by several American space companies. The project will create at least 100 jobs.

 

Facebook's $1 billion data center now operational in Fort Worth

California-based Facebook's latest massive data center is now operating in Fort Worth on 110 acres. The company purchased another 40 acres of land adjacent to the $1 billion center for future expansion.

 

Automotive facility expanding in North Carolina

Keihin Carolina System Technology, a company that assembles and tests electrical components for Honda, is expanding its operations in Edgecombe County, N.C. The plant, which is located in Tarboro, will see an investment of $13 million with the addition of 42 jobs to the 400 currently employed there.

 

Forklift manufacturer signs deal with Volvo, will expand in Summerville, S.C.

Forklift maker Kion North America is investing $5.7 million in its plant in Dorchester County, near Charleston, S.C. The expansion is related to a contract with Volvo, which is building an assembly plant in nearby Berkeley County, S.C. The project will create 50 jobs.

 

Entergy breaks ground on $869 million Louisiana power plant

New Orleans-based Entergy has broken ground on a new $869 million, 1,000-megawatt power plant in St. Charles Parish, La. The project will create 2,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction.

 

Monsanto breaks ground on $975 million expansion in St. Charles Parish, La.

In the winter quarter, Monsanto broke ground on a $975 million expansion of its massive plant in Luling, La. The project, to be completed in 2019, will enable the company to launch the Roundup brand's Ready Xtend Crop System and produce a new herbicide called Dicamba. The company currently makes the herbicide Roundup to kill weeds. The deal will create 120 jobs. 

 

Mid-scale LNG facility announced for Louisiana

Energy World USA announced in the winter quarter it will build a LNG production and export facility at Port Fourchon, La. The $800 million project will eventually produce up to 2 million tons of LNG per year for export.

 

Solar power employment dominating energy sector

In calendar year 2016, there were about 373,000 people employed by the solar energy industry in the U.S. In the coal, oil and gas sectors, employment in the U.S. had dropped to 187,000 workers by the end of 2016. That figure, in large part, centers on the fact that the coal industry has lost 53 percent of its electricity generation in the last decade, while natural gas generation has increased by 33 percent in the last 10 years and generation from solar has expanded by 5,000 percent. According to a report from the Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the power generation sector's workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined to employ just 22 percent. Solar energy added over 73,000 jobs last year, while the wind sector added almost 25,000 new jobs. In fact, one in every 50 new jobs created in the U.S. last year came from the solar industry according to the Solar Foundation's Solar Job Census 2016.

 

The number of available home lots in Atlanta is off the charts

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Atlanta region has 80,491 vacant developed home lots, by far the largest stock in the country. Atlanta's lot count compares favorably with Chicago, which has 38,000 lots. Houston has 46,000 and Baltimore had the least available vacant home lots of any large U.S. metro area with 5,283.

 

Small business growth? Only in the South in 2016.

The 2016 year-end Paychex/IHS Small Business Jobs Index came out in the winter quarter, and the American South (specifically Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee) is the only region where small business employment grew last year. The Central South, which is made up of the four aforementioned states, saw small business employment grow by 2.62 percent last year. In the Southeast, employment grew by 0.86 percent, but in the Southwest (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas), employment among companies with 50 employees or less declined by 1.81 percent. That gave the South a net gain of 1.67 percent in small business growth. The Northeast saw growth of 0.14 percent, the Midwest declined by 0.24 percent and the West saw a decline of 0.83 percent among its small businesses according to the Index.

 

Largest single job announcement in the South's history is moving along in Kansas City

Cerner Corp. began moving employees into its new Innovations Campus in Kansas City. The Kansas City-based IT company is building a massive $4.5 billion campus that will eventually house 16,000 employees. The first phase has been completed and a total of 3,000 employees are moving in incrementally throughout the winter quarter.

 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail reaches milestone

Tourism in Kentucky bourbon country has been increasing for years. In 2016, a milestone was set. Last year, more than 1 million people visited bourbon distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the smaller Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Kentucky's bourbon industry accounts for $8.5 billion in total economic output and supports about 17,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Total payroll in the sector topped $800 million last year, and more than 2,000 distillery jobs have been added to the Kentucky workforce in the last two years. 

 

Augusta, Ga., becoming cybersecurity mecca

As the Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon prepares to be the headquarters of the $2.1 billion Army Cyber Command, Augusta is quickly becoming the center of influence and the hub of cybersecurity and cyberspace operations for the Army. The activity of cybersecurity in the Augusta region is growing exponentially as the area develops a growing relationship with the National Security Agency. Add $50 million in funding from the state of Georgia for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to be located in Augusta, and the East Georgia market is being transformed into a world-class cybersecurity center. 

 

As financial services come back to life, Florida finds legs

No industry was struck down as hard as the financial services industry during the Great Recession. From the mid-1990s through 2004, the sector was a massive job generator in states such as Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Most every Southern state saw the financial services sector create thousands of jobs each year. Beginning in 2005 in Florida, where the first "housing crisis" started, financials began pink-slipping folks in unreal numbers. For example, from 1995 to 2004, financials averaged 47 projects creating at least 200 jobs in the American South. By 2008, that number had dropped to single digits. As late as 2011, only nine financial services projects were announced of 200 jobs or more in the region. In 2015, that number skyrocketed to 69. Many of those projects over the last two years found Florida to their liking. Yes, Wall Street loves Florida. Office rents in places like Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Orlando are about one-fourth the price of rents in New York. Firms such as Raymond James, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman have created thousands of jobs in Florida since 2012 when the industry started to find its footing. Number of financial services announcements of 200 jobs or more in the South 2011-2015: 69 jobs in 2015, 42 in 2014, 31 in 2013, 19 in 2012, and 9 in 2011. Source: SB&D

 

Automotive parts industry has grown substantially since 2012

A new study by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) shows that employment in the auto parts manufacturing sector has grown by 19 percent since 2012. More than 871,000 Americans are employed by parts manufacturers in the U.S. In addition, motor vehicle parts manufacturing contributes $270 billion in employee compensation in the U.S., up 22 percent from 2012.

 

Gov. Nathan Deal names 2017 "Year of Georgia Film"

In fiscal year 2016, Georgia's film industry had a record economic impact of $7 billion, prompting Gov. Nathan Deal to proclaim 2017 as the Year of Georgia Film. In response, the state released a travel guide to help tourists find film locations in Georgia. The state has reported that around 300 film and television productions will take place in Georgia in 2017.

 

Southern state job growth in 2016

Alabama             1.0 percent

Arkansas            0.4 percent

D.C.                    2.3 percent

Florida                3.1 percent

Georgia              2.4 percent

Kentucky             0.6 percent

Louisiana           -0.2 percent

Mississippi           -1.0 percent

Missouri              2.3 percent

North Carolina    2.0 percent

Oklahoma           -0.3 percent

South Carolina    1.7 percent

Tennessee                  1.6 percent

Texas                  1.8 percent

Virginia               1.3 percent

West Virginia      0.3 percent

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Six of top 10 places to live are in Northern Virginia

In the winter quarter, 24/7 Wall Street named six cities and counties in Northern Virginia in its top 10 best places to live based on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants and attractions, educational attainment, and housing affordability. The six are Falls Church (1st), Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Alexandria, and Fairfax. The other four making the top 10 include Marin County, Calif., Howard County, Md., Los Alamos, N.M., and Douglas County, Colo. 

 

Unemployment claims at 43-year low in Virginia

In December, Virginia's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent. It's been lower over the years. In the late 1990s, Virginia's unemployment rate barely topped 3 percent. Yet, unemployment claims in 2016 were at their lowest level since 1973. In 2016, there were 178,400 initial claims filed in the Commonwealth.

 

Six oil and gas states were in recession in 2016

S&P Global Ratings says six oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. were in recession in calendar year 2016. Those states were Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Two other oil-producing states evaded recession -- Texas and Montana.

 

Foxconn is considering $7 billion U.S. plant

Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest assembler of iPhones and iPads, is considering building a $7 billion display manufacturing facility in the U.S., according to a story in Reuters. The company is considering a joint venture with Sharp Corp., the Japanese company that Foxconn purchased last year. The plant, if built, could house as many has 30,000 workers. Foxconn employs about 1 million workers in China.

 

Southern cities lead in-migration based on housing

Charleston, S.C., led the nation in a wave of in-migration based on home values, income and education levels, according to Realtor.com. The city's median home prices have risen 77.5 percent since 2000 with median home prices up from $152,000 in 2000 to $270,000 in 2015. Other U.S. cities making Realtor.com's top 10 include Asheville, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Portland; Denver; Nashville; Sacramento; Jersey City; Long Beach, Calif.; and Austin.

 

South Carolina adds manufacturing jobs for fifth consecutive year

The state of South Carolina added 2,030 manufacturing jobs from September 2015 to September 2016, according to Manufacturers News. Automotive OEM and parts suppliers accounted for 1,454 of those jobs. It was the fifth straight year the Palmetto State added manufacturing jobs. The state is home to 4,629 manufacturers employing over 270,000 workers. Manufacturing jobs in the state have grown by 7.4 percent since September 2011.

 

Labor shortages showing up in Texas

In 2013 and 2014, Texas' job generating machine was in high gear as the state created 361,000 jobs and 297,000 jobs respectively. In 2015, Texas added 175,700 jobs and in 2016, that total slightly improved to 210,200 jobs. The slowing job totals in the South's largest state don't indicate that things are going poorly. It means that the state is running out of labor. Dallas-Fort Worth's unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, Austin's is 3.2 percent and San Antonio's rate is 3.7 percent. The state's unemployment rate is 4.2 percent. Austin's unemployment rate is below full employment and project activity in the state's capital has dropped dramatically in the last 18 months. The cooling off of Austin's economy is probably a good thing, as labor constraints could be eased.

 

GreenTech Auto closes its factory in Mississippi

Electric car startup GreenTech Automotive has shut down its factory in Tunica County, Miss. After starts and stops, the plant opened in the Delta in 2014, first reporting it would make a small two-seat electric car called MyCar. GreenTech later struck a deal with a Chinese automaker to develop an electric car based on an existing gasoline model.

 

Elio Motors announces another production delay

Shreveport, La.-based Elio Motors has delayed initial production of its three-wheel vehicle from late 2017 to 2018. The startup small car company still needs about $300 million to get up and running.

 

South Korean automakers to spend $3.1 billion in the U.S.

Officials with Korean automakers' Hyundai Motor Co. and KIA Motors Corp. said in the winter quarter they will collectively spend $3.1 billion in the U.S. in the next five years. The investment is more than the $2.1 billion the two automakers spent in the U.S. in the last five years. Hyundai operates its only U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala., and KIA operates its only U.S. plant in West Point, Ga., just 81 miles from the Hyundai plant. The companies are also considering constructing a new assembly facility in the U.S. to build their luxury brands, which are currently being imported from Asia.

 

U.S. jobless claims about as good as they get

In January, U.S. jobless claims dropped to 234,000. The last time initial unemployment filing claims were that low was in the 1970s, more than 40 years ago. But since the current U.S. labor force has gained millions compared the 1970s, that 234,000 figure equates to about half of the low number last seen more than 40 years ago. The reasons for the low jobless claims are two-fold: For one, there are currently very few mass layoffs as the economy continues the second-longest expansion in U.S. history, and the longest stretch of consecutive monthly job growth (77 months) -- a modern day record. There is very little slack in the labor force as the U.S. is nearing or at full employment. Employers know that if they lay off workers, it will be very difficult replacing them with such a tight labor shed.

 

New Orleans tops in population growth

U.S. Census data shows that New Orleans is No. 3 among all major U.S. cities in population growth from 2010 to 2015. As the measurement started five years after Katrina, it indicates that migration to New Orleans is more than a rebound phenomenon. The same Census data also showed that New Orleans is No. 1 in foreign-born population growth from 2010 to 2015. In the South, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Nashville and Washington, D.C., all made the top 10 in foreign-born population growth during the period.  

 

Wind energy sector reaches 100,000-job mark

U.S. wind power now employs over 100,000 workers, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy. Wind energy now employs more Americans than natural gas, nuclear, coal and hydroelectric energy sectors. DOE's Wind Vision report revealed that wind energy could create 380,000 jobs by 2030.

 

$800 million LNG plant coming to Port Fourchon, La.

The Greater Lafourche Port Commission and one of the port's tenants, Energy World USA, have announced a proposed development. Energy World USA's proposed plant will eventually produce up to 2 million tons of LNG per year for export.

 

Chemical company announces $13 million investment, 53 jobs in Spartanburg

Michigan-based Pacific Industrial Development Corp., a specialty chemicals manufacturer, is opening a manufacturing facility in Spartanburg County, S.C. The $13 million capital investment will create 53 new jobs.

 

Charter Communications hiring 160 in Morrisville, N.C.

Charter Communications is adding 160 new jobs to its Morrisville call center operation. In total, the cable provider will be hiring for 215 open inbound sales positions there.

 

$47 million Gatlinburg project breaks ground

A hundred people gathered recently as a track hoe turned over symbolic shovelfuls of mud and rock at a 2.1-acre site -- the $47 million Anakeesta project. “We have multiple phases for the mountain project,” said Managing Partner Bob Bentz. It should open in mid-June, followed by the first single-rail “mountain coaster” in the U.S. in July, and about 35 to 45 tree houses and cabins by next summer. Anakeesta is expected to create about 130 jobs.

 

Chemicals manufacturer opening in Spartanburg County, S.C.

PIDC (Pacific Industrial Development Corporation), a specialty chemicals manufacturer, intends to open a manufacturing facility in Spartanburg County. The $13 million development is projected to create 53 new jobs over the next five years. PIDC is a chemical company focused on advanced materials, including specialty alumina materials, rare earth powders, aqueous solutions and a variety of formulated powders.

 

AT&T adding 40 jobs at Alabama call center

AT&T is on a hiring spree at its DirecTV Call Center in Huntsville. The telecommunications provider is adding 40 full-time customer service jobs through the end of March.

 

Health care giant to hire 160 people in Florida

UnitedHealthcare plans to hire at least 160 customer service representatives for its office in Oldsmar.

 

V&F Transformer Corporation expands Tennessee manufacturing facility

V&F Transformer Corporation is investing $1.4 million to expand and upgrade its manufacturing facility in Celina, Tenn., and expects to create approximately 50 new jobs. The company’s focus is manufacturing custom-designed transformers and reactive magnetic components used in natural gas power plants, data processing plants and a variety of other high-tech power related applications.

 

Response Packaging expansion creates 100 new jobs in Greenville County, S.C.

Response Packaging, a returnable packaging manufacturer, is expanding its existing facility. The expansion is projected to bring $5 million of new capital investment, and will accommodate the growth of the automotive industry in the region. The company supplies original equipment manufacturers and provides manufacturing, design and prototype support.

 

Starbucks will hire 10,000 refugees

In response to President Trump's executive order calling for an immigration ban in the U.S., Starbucks announced it will give jobs to 10,000 refugees, according to founder Howard Shultz.

 

Teknor Apex investing $32 million to expand Tennessee facility

Rhode Island-based materials supplier Teknor Apex will spend $32 million to build a 200,000-square-foot distribution facility at its site in Haywood County, Tenn. The water hose manufacturer, already the largest employer in the county with more than 600 employees, will also be adding 50 new jobs.

 

Stark Truss relocating to Franklin, Ky., will create 22 jobs

Stark Truss will invest $1.66 million in relocating its Kentucky operation from Auburn, Ky., to a vacant former Wal-Mart store in nearby Franklin. The move is expected to create 22 full-time jobs, in addition to retaining the current 25 employees that make roof and floor trusses.

 

Manufacturer to invest $13 million, bring 130 new jobs to York County, S.C.

A Charlotte fabric manufacturer plans to move its manufacturing and distribution operation to a new, $13 million facility in Fort Mill, S.C. Oxco Inc., which makes and distributes nonwoven fabrics in a facility in Charlotte, will relocate to York County with 130 jobs at the new plant.

 

Williams Sausage to build second plant in Union City, Tenn.

Williams Sausage Company, a longtime Tennessee food manufacturer, will build a second plant in Obion County. The expansion will create 226 new jobs. Founded in 1958, the family-owned company produces fresh and fully cooked sausage, bacon, sandwiches and other food products.

 

Dulles Glass and Mirror to invest $7.5 million in Prince William County, Va.

Dulles Glass and Mirror, a manufacturer of glass, mirror and shower doors, will invest $7.5 million to consolidate its corporate headquarters, research and development, manufacturing, and warehouse operations in a renovated 84,010-square-foot facility in Prince William County. The company will retain 96 jobs and create 40 new jobs over the next five years.

 

Vorsight to expand its corporate HQ, workforce in Arlington County, Va.

Vorsight, a sales effectiveness firm, will create 112 new jobs and invest more than $105,000 to expand its corporate headquarters in Arlington County.

 

Sonoco creating 595 jobs in Georgia

Sonoco Products Company will create 130 full-time and 465 part-time jobs in a new $20 million packaging center in metro Atlanta. The center will support Duracell’s new battery packaging operation and will be located in the battery maker’s facility in Fairburn, Ga.

 

IBM will build $62 million cloud data center for Army at Alabama base

IBM will build, manage and operate a private cloud data center for the U.S. Army at Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal. The deal is worth $62 million to IBM. It is a pilot for the first of four private Army cloud centers that will consolidate hundreds of military data sites around the world.

 

Favor TechConsulting to create 1,200 new jobs

Favor TechConsulting, an IT solutions company to the federal government, plans to invest $1.65 million and hire 1,200 to expand in Virginia as it establishes its headquarters in Fairfax County.

 

Lear Corporation expands manufacturing in South Carolina

Lear Corporation, a supplier of automotive seating, is expanding its existing operations with more than $7.7 million in new capital investment in Spartanburg County. The expansion will launch the automotive seating programs for South Carolina’s Volvo and BMW assembly plants.

 

Kentucky’s Big Ass Solutions receives incentives for expansion

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave final approval to Big Ass Solutions of Lexington for $6.5 million in tax incentives on a $10.7 million expansion of office, storage and warehouse space, and a production line. The expansion is expected to create 562 jobs. Big Ass Solutions manufactures fans, lights and controls for Big Ass Fans, Big Ass Light, and Haiku fan product lines.

 

Asahi plans $40 million expansion in Kentucky, 50 jobs

Asahi Bluegrass Forge Corporation plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Richmond, Ky. Asahi, which specializes in press forging for the automotive industry, producing gears, bearings and joints and transmission parts, would create 50 jobs.

 

Builders FirstSource to open facility in Bowling Green, 79 jobs

Builders FirstSource, a manufacturer of trusses, wall panels, pre-hung doors and other building components, will invest nearly $6.4 million in a new facility in Bowling Green that is expected to create 79 full-time jobs.

 

Credit Bureau Systems to open office in Paducah, 40 jobs

Credit Bureau Systems, a family-owned Kentucky company, will build a $1.67 million office in Paducah adjacent to its current facilities, hire 40 additional full-time employees and relocate 10 from out of state.

 

Proposed call center could create 500 jobs in Williamsburg, Ky.

The Kentucky Development Finance Authority has given preliminary approval to Senture for a proposed $9.9 million investment in a new location in Williamsburg that would create 500 jobs.

 

Louisville, Ky., lands major employer bringing 400 jobs

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Diversified Consultants (also known as DCI Collect), which specializes in debt collection for telecommunications companies, will locate a new operation in Louisville with a $6.65 million investment expected to create 433 jobs.

 

TierPoint investing $20 million in Tennessee data center expansion

One of the nation's largest data center operators plans to invest $20 million in an expansion that would increase capacity of its location in Franklin, Tenn. The St. Louis-based TierPoint is partnering with Compass Data Centers of Dallas in the project, which would more than double the size of the facility.

 

Service company in Anderson, S.C., adding 100 jobs

Cross Country Home Services, a home warranty and service company in Anderson, plans to add 100 new workers.

 

$100 million Alpharetta expansion planned, 1,400 new jobs

Staffing giant Jackson Healthcare is designing a $100 million expansion of its Alpharetta campus, with Italian Renaissance-inspired architecture featuring a replica of the Roman Coliseum.

 

Forrester Research to bring 120 jobs to Nashville

Research and advisory firm Forrester Research will locate its newest office in Davidson County, Tenn. Forrester will invest $2.8 million and create approximately 120 new jobs.

 

$10 million investment in Davidson County, Tenn.

A paint, coatings and specialty chemicals manufacturer, AkzoNobel, is set to invest more than $10 million and hire about 70 people in Davidson County over the next five years.

 

AEP taps San Benito for $10 million office, moving 110 new jobs

AEP Texas (American Electric Power) is returning to San Benito and bringing 110 jobs with it. The power company, which once had a district office in the Texas city, announced that the city of San Benito has been selected for a new $10 million service center for the eastern end of AEP’s Rio Grande Valley District.

 

KPMG announces massive global training center in Lake Nona

KPMG, one of the four largest accounting and professional services firms in the world, is set to officially announce its new $430 million, 55-acre global training and conference center in Lake Nona, Fla.

 

The final act: Ringling Bros. to lay off 462 employees

Feld Entertainment’s 146-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey notified the state that it will lay off 462 employees between March 24 and May 28 -- one of Florida’s biggest layoffs since 2015. “Ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. . .This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” according to CEO Kenneth Feld.

 

Pepsi opens distribution center in south Louisiana, creates 200 jobs

Pepsi Beverages Company officially opened its distribution center in Livingston Parish in January, the only of its kind in south Louisiana. The 140,000-square-foot facility brings more than 200 new jobs to the area.

 

Holt Cat comes to Georgetown, Texas

Holt Cat, a Caterpillar dealer, will invest a minimum of $20 million to build a regional sales hub facility for Caterpillar in Georgetown. The business is expected to create 129 new jobs.

 

Texas Pete moving into renovated HQ in Winston-Salem

TW Garner Food Co. of Winston-Salem, best known as the maker of Texas Pete hot sauce, has moved into new corporate headquarters in the renovated Nash-Bolich building. Originally built by J.A. Bolich Jr., the 14,500-square-foot Renaissance Revival-style, office features exposed brick and original hardwood floors from its days as a secretarial college. About 26 employees, including the company’s fourth-generation family management team, will work in the building. Garner also produces salsa and tortilla strips under the Green Mountain Gringo brand.

 

Landmark deal for J.C. Penney’s Texas HQ

J.C. Penney Co.’s decision to sell its Plano, Texas headquarters attracted interest from investors from all over the world, but Dallas investor Sam Ware and a group of Texas billionaires won the contest with a bid valued at $453 million.

 

Movement Mortgage expands South Carolina HQ

Movement Mortgage is expanding its existing corporate headquarters in the Indian Land unincorporated area of north Lancaster County, S.C. The company expects to invest $18 million to construct an additional 91,000-square-foot building that will accommodate more than 700 new employees.

 

Mountaire Farms to locate feed mill in Scotland County, N.C.

Mountaire Farms will launch a feed mill operation that will bring 65 jobs to Scotland County. The integrated poultry processing company plans to invest nearly $44 million at a site near Laurinburg.

 

Texas company stakes out land to build new LNG export facility

The Woodlands-based NextDecade LLC has signed lease agreements for nearly 1,000 acres in Texas City, where it plans to build a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas export facility. It would be the first such LNG facility in the area, according to NextDecade.

 

Northrop Grumman’s $8 million contract means 200 new jobs in Florida

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s location in Melbourne, Fla., has landed an $8 million defense contract, and the firm is on a hiring spree for Central Florida workers. The Falls Church, Va.-based company will work with the U.S. Navy to support the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft — a radar and communication airborne system.

 

AT&T unveils $100 million redevelopment plans for its Dallas campus

Telecom giant AT&T plans to begin construction "fairly quickly" on the $100 million redevelopment of its downtown Dallas campus. The completion of the upgraded campus, named AT&T Discovery District, is slated for late 2019, and will mean additional hires.

 

Call 2 Answer plans contact center in Maury County, Tenn.

Call 2 Answer will invest $800,000 for a new medical and urgent call center that will create 250 jobs in Maury County. Call 2 Answer provides service primarily for physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare entities.

 

Ascend Performance Materials expanding operations in Greenwood County, S.C.

Ascend Performance Materials, a global provider of high-quality fibers, chemicals and plastics, is expanding its Greenwood County operations. The company plans to invest $3.8 million and create 20 new jobs. Ascend manufactures a variety of compounds, including fibers and resins, for a wide range of industries and applications.

 

Myrtle Beach call center seeking 200 employees

StarTek is seeking to hire 200 full-time and temporary employees at its call center in the Carolina Forest area of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

 

Montgomery call center bowling for dollars

“We are currently a 330-person call center, and we're going to be expanding to over 600 people,” said Rick Burley, owner of the call center ASK. “We're taking a dead, old bones of a building and turning it into a super useful building again.” ASK has started a $2 million renovation of an old bowling alley in Montgomery, Ala., which includes a new parking lot, new roof and a total overhaul of where the bowling alley fixtures used to be.

 

Daisy, Gamo Outdoor USA to combine, expand Arkansas plant

Two makers of airguns are planning to expand the Daisy plant in northwest Arkansas. Keith Higginbotham, president of Rogers-based Daisy and Gamo Outdoor USA, joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson to announce the expansion of the plant in Rogers, Ark. The plant will be the U.S. headquarters for Daisy and Gamo, which was formerly based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The expansion will create about 25 new jobs during the next two years. Management at Gamo's former offices will relocate to Rogers, as will several warehouse and customer service managers from the company's distribution facility in Missouri.

 

IT company to relocate, build new headquarters in Frisco, Texas

Frisco-based IT service provider Skinny IT plans to build a new North Texas headquarters in its home city, which will include office and warehouse space. Skinny IT should then expand by more than 700 percent and increase its in-house workforce by 150 new employees.

 

New Apple investment could bring total in North Carolina to $4 billion

Apple wants to spend another $1 billion on its complex of buildings in Maiden that houses servers for the iCloud. That would bring the Cupertino, California’s company’s total investment in Catawba County close to $4 billion. Apple has about 400 employees associated with the site in Catawba County.

 

St. Jude, ALSAC plan Memphis expansion and 1,800 new jobs

ALSAC (the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital) and St. Jude are expanding with an investment of at least $1 billion dollars. The project is expected to bring 1,800 new jobs to Memphis and the Mid-South.

 

GM to spend an additional $1 billion on U.S. plants

General Motors has announced it will spend an additional $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing plants. . .a move the automaker estimated would add or retain 1,500 jobs. The company will also move 450 jobs from GM supplier plants in Mexico back to the U.S. In addition, GM is adding 5,000 jobs to its finance and technology operations. Factories to be affected will be announced throughout the year.

 

One hundred jobs coming to Monroeville, Ala., with MillenniumBlock

Gov. Robert Bentley announced a $300,000 grant that officials say will be used to create 100 new jobs in the Monroeville area. The money will pay for site and drainage improvements for MillenniumBlok International, Inc., a Colorado-based producer of composite insulated concrete.

 

Heckler & Koch announces expansion in Columbus, Ga.

Heckler & Koch, a manufacturer of firearms and accessories, will invest $28.5 million to expand its existing operations in Columbus. The decision is expected to create 84 new jobs. HK will also consolidate its New Hampshire operations into Columbus.

 

Jones Plastic expanding in Tennessee, adding 52 jobs

Custom injection molder Jones Plastic & Engineering Co. plans to expand its Camden, Tenn., production plant with a $4.5 million investment expected to create 52 new jobs. Founded in 1961, the business began molding caps for whiskey bottles, but has evolved into a major supplier in the appliance and automotive sectors with 2,400 employees worldwide.

 

Auto manufacturer adding 100 jobs in western Kentucky

Kayser Automotive Systems is expanding into a facility next door to its current plant in Fulton, Ky. The company will add 100 jobs as part of a $26 million investment to make mechanical and passenger-cabin automotive parts.

 

Kinedyne expands Alabama facility, creates 100 jobs

Kinedyne, a manufacturer of cargo control products for the transportation industry, is close to completing a major relocation, consolidation and expansion effort in Prattville, Ala. The expanded 200,000-square-foot facility will house employees specializing in engineering, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management, customer service and government contracts.

 

LKQ Corporation plans major expansion in Nashville

LKQ Corporation, a distributor of specialty parts to repair and accessorize autos and other vehicles, will expand its regional headquarters in Davidson County, Tenn., and expects to create 150 jobs.

 

Connexions Loyalty opens in Tulsa

Connexions Loyalty, a provider of consumer loyalty programs, has opened its newest customer service center in Tulsa, Okla. The company purchased an existing travel service center, retaining the jobs of more than 50 travel consultants, and hopes to add 200 additional new jobs.

 

New plant will bring 35 jobs to Cook County, Ga.

The Linde Group, a Munich-based manufacturer of industrial gases, will invest $40 million for a new plant in Adel, hiring 35 jobs there.

 

Health services company brings 500 new jobs to Jacksonville, Fla.

Formativ Health will be bringing 500 new jobs to Jacksonville within the next 18 months. The physician management company, founded in January by healthcare provider Northwell Health, will lease and build out 65,000 square feet of office space for a new patient access services center.

 

Walmart to spend $6.8 billion, create 10,000 jobs in 2017

Walmart plans to create 10,000 new jobs and open 59 new stores in the coming year, officials announced in January. The nation's largest private employer is planning $6.8 billion in capital investments in 2017, including construction of new and remodeled stores and expansion of its Online Grocery Pickup service. The new jobs will be store personnel and staffing for e-commerce services.

 

Lockheed Martin to cut F-35 cost and create 1,800 new jobs in Texas

Following a meeting with Donald Trump, Lockheed chief executive Marillyn Hewson announced that the aerospace giant is close to a contract to lower the cost of the F-35 fighter jet and create 1,800 jobs at the company’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

BlueLine Associates relocating to Tampa

BlueLine Associates will create 150 new jobs in Tampa and invest $2 million as it relocates its headquarters from Cary, N.C. BlueLine, a professional services firm that provides consulting, staffing and other services, is in line for $900,000 in incentives under Florida’s Qualified Target Industry program.

 

Navy Federal expansion to create 1,400 new jobs

Vienna, Virginia-based Navy Federal Credit Union, already the largest credit union in the world, will get much bigger with a $100 million expansion of its operations center in Winchester, Va. As part of the expansion, it will create 1,400 new jobs, nearly doubling its workforce in Frederick County, Va.

 

Cybersecurity company to open in Brookhaven, Ga., create 500 jobs

Ireland-based Sysnet Global Solutions will invest $2 million in a contact center for its cybersecurity services to the payment industry in Brookhaven. The 24-hour, multilingual call center will create 500 jobs.

 

TopGolf coming to Huntsville, Ala.

High-tech driving range and entertainment center TopGolf plans to open a $20 million facility in Huntsville. The entertainment venue will be replacing the Madison Square Mall, once a top shopping destination in north Alabama, which will be demolished over the next few weeks.

 

Cott Corporation expands Tampa HQ

Beverage producer and distributor Cott Corporation will be expanding its headquarters in Hillsborough County, Fla. The expansion will create 60 new jobs and $800,000 in investment.

 

German logistics company to hire 200 in Houston

Germany-based Talke Group is bringing 200 jobs to the Houston area in connection with a 10-year contract it won from Exxon Mobil. Talke will handle logistics around packing and exporting the 1.3 million tons of additional capacity coming online in 2017 with the start of two polyethylene production lines at Exxon Mobil's Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant near Houston.

 

Virgin Mobile to hire 100 for KC HQ

Virgin Mobile plans to open its permanent U.S. headquarters in downtown Kansas City and hire up to 100 people.

 

Taco Bell on track to create 100,000 jobs by 2022

Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol says the company is on track to add 100,000 new jobs in the U.S. over the next five years. Back in November, the company said it hoped to grow to 8,000 locations nationally by 2022 (and 9,000 globally).

 

Z Gallerie to create 115 jobs in Douglas County, Ga.

Los Angeles-based home fashion company Z Gallerie will build an East Coast distribution and customer service center in Douglas County. The center represents a $3.7 million investment and is expected to create 115 new jobs.

 

Kaiser Permanente call center means 800 jobs for Gwinnett County, Ga.

Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest integrated healthcare system, recently celebrated the grand opening of its Duluth contact center, where nearly 300 employees have already been hired. By 2020, the Gwinnett County center will employ 800 people.

 

Big deal near Nashville

A subsidiary of Mohawk Industries, which is headquartered in Calhoun, Ga., is pursuing a $140 million investment near Nashville that would create almost 250 jobs. The carpet, flooring and tile maker is looking to move into a plant that shut down almost two years ago 40 miles west of Nashville.

 

TCube Solutions expanding operations in Richland County, S.C.

TCube Solutions, a software provider and innovation firm, is expanding its existing operations in Richland County. The company is investing $1.7 million to move into a new facility and create 100 jobs.

 

Chemical plant making $50 million investment in Georgia

A Milledgeville specialty chemicals manufacturer is making a $50 million investment and plans to create 75 highly skilled jobs in Middle Georgia. Zschimmer & Schwarz, a Germany-based chemical company that opened its Milledgeville plant in 2000, has acquired the Lexolube division of Pennsylvania-based Inolex Chemical Co., and plans to build a new facility in Gordon.

 

All Traffic Solutions locates HQ in Fairfax County, Va.

All Traffic Solutions, provider of cloud-based traffic management solutions for law enforcement, transportation and smart cities, invested more than $100,000 to establish its corporate headquarters operation in Fairfax County. The company plans to add 25 employees in 2017 and create up to 86 new jobs total over the next three years.

 

Tire company makes hub expansion in Grand Prairie, Texas

Continental Tires has decided to expand its North Texas distribution hub in Grand Prairie, bringing the total footprint of the building to more than 1 million square feet of industrial space.

 

Chris-Craft seeks to expand Florida plant

Chris-Craft is seeking approval from Manatee County for a 48,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing facility. The $10 million expansion will mean the creation of 55 new jobs during a five-year period.

 

Bridgestone makes additional $180 million investment in Wilson, N.C.

A year after Tennessee-based Bridgestone America Tire Operations announced a five-year, $164 million investment in its Wilson facility, the company announced that it would be making an additional investment of $180 million over the next 10 years at the site. The expansion will include 16 new jobs as production gets underway in fall of 2018.

 

Proterra to triple production in Greenville, S.C.

Electric bus maker Proterra plans to triple production at its Greenville facility in 2017, thanks to a $140 million infusion of cash. The new investment should boost Proterra’s 165-employee workforce in Greenville by 25 jobs.

 

Toyota plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. over five years

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years -- the same as in the previous five years -- to meet demand and upgrade plants to build more fuel-efficient models according to North America CEO Jim Lentz.

 

Silicon Valley company hiring 250 in Nashville

An online platform for home design and remodeling headquartered in Silicon Valley, Houzz Inc., has signed a decade-long lease in downtown Nashville's second-biggest office skyscraper, where at least 250 people will work.

 

Investment of $35 million in Garland’s plastic industrial cluster approved

The City of Garland has approved a deal worth more than $35 million. True Velocity, a tech company specializing in sophisticated products for clients who require precise, will open a new 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Garland, which will initially employ 30 people.

 

Lumenier expands Sarasota plant

Lumenier, a designer and manufacturer of racing drone products, has expanded into a 24,000-square-foot facility one mile from downtown Sarasota, Fla. The new facility will be home to drone design engineers and administration.

 

Athenahealth to bring 500 more jobs to Atlanta

Healthcare tech company Athenahealth will add 500 jobs and double its operations at Ponce City Market (the historic Sears & Roebuck building) in Atlanta.

 

NARENCO plans two solar farms in South Carolina

NARENCO (National Renewable Energy Corporation) will be constructing two new solar farms in Orangeburg County. Both projects are expected to bring $89.1 million in new capital investment to the area that is about 37 miles 

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