January 2016

U.S. eases rules on foreign investment

President Obama signed into law a measure that waives a 35-year-old tax imposed on foreign investors of U.S. real estate. The measure allows foreign pension funds to invest in the same way their U.S. counterparts invest in real estate in this country. The new law strikes down the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, known as FIRPTA. The move is expected to create direct investment of hundreds of billions of dollars in new capital flows in the U.S. from foreign interests. 


Oracle to build massive campus in Austin

California tech giant Oracle announced plans to build a 560,000-square-foot campus in East Austin. The new campus will focus on cloud computing technology. The company currently employs about 1,100 workers in Austin and the new campus will consolidate those employees and add about 550 more. 


Job growth at record high in Florida

Since the fall of 2010, Florida has created just over 1 million jobs. The Sunshine State created 240,000 jobs in 2015 and for the first time since the Great Recession, nonfarm employment in Florida topped 8 million jobs. As of January, estimates by Florida TaxWatch show that Florida has surpassed the all-time high of nonfarm employment of 8,150,200. 


Virginia's employment level at record high

In the winter quarter, employment in Virginia reached 3,848,00, the highest level in the Commonwealth's history. The unemployment rate in Virginia is near 4 percent, and in December, unemployment claims were at their lowest level in 41 years according to the governor's office. 


South Carolina's record employment

In 2015, job growth in South Carolina set a record with 71,202 new jobs. Total employment also set a record at 2.137 million. 


How frenetic is GM's $1.4 billion expansion of its Texas SUV plant? 

GM is on a roll with its full-size SUV models. The Michigan automaker commands about 75 percent of the full-size SUV market and Arlington, Texas is the only place in North America where Tahoes, Yukons and Suburbans are built. But the plant is undergoing a $1.4 billion expansion, the largest expansion in terms of investment of any domestic plant in the Southern Auto Corridor. Most expansions of that size require a slowing of capacity, but that is not what is occurring at the Arlington plant, considering demand for the large SUVs has never been higher. GM is adding hundreds of robots, new body and paint shops and over 1 million square feet of space, and they believe they can do it without impacting the production process. To accomplish this, the expansion work is being done around the clock, seven days a week, and three shifts of production line workers are working dawn to dawn. 


New York company relocating to Florida

SMRxT is relocating its corporate headquarters from New York to Orlando. The medical information technology firm also relocated its medication bottling facility to Orlando. The deal will create 55 jobs. 


Marketo hiring in Atlanta

A California-based automation software designer is expanding its East Coast hub in Atlanta, which is becoming a major player in the software sector. Marketo, which designs on-demand software, is adding 50 jobs to its current workforce of 100 in Buckhead. 


St. Louis social network grows

LockerDome, an interest-based social network, which has designed a social media platform that caters to users' interest, is tripling its office space in St. Louis. The company is also adding up to 300 jobs. 


North Carolina's population reaches 10 million

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina's population topped 10 million in the winter quarter. The Tar Heel State's population is the ninth largest in the country, and only Texas, Florida and Georgia's populations are larger in the American South. 


Florida's population tops 20 million

New Census numbers show that Florida, which recently passed New York in population, has reached the 20-million mark in population. Only California (39 million) and Texas (almost 28 million) have larger populations in the U.S. In 2015, Florida averaged adding 1,000 people a day. 


ASCO adding jobs in North Carolina

ASCO Power Technologies, a manufacturer of power systems and switches, is expanding in Welcome, N.C. The company is investing $6 million in its plant and hiring 50 additional workers to the 450 that are currently housed there. 


Harris Teeter to establish distribution center in Virginia

Grocer Harris Teeter announced in the winter quarter it will build a $95 million distribution center in Carolina County, Va. The project, which will include 1.5 million square feet, will generate 400 new jobs. 


UAW wins first union vote at "transplants" 

The United Auto Workers has worked for more than two decades to unionize one of the 11 existing foreign automotive plants (Volvo's plant, once completed in South Carolina will make it a dozen) in the Southern Auto Corridor. Often called "transplants" because they are foreign-owned, workers at the facilities have thwarted union advances time and time again. Until now. In the winter quarter, the UAW unionized -- albiet small -- at least part of a foreign plant in the South. The National Labor Relations Board announced that the UAW won the right to represent 164 skilled trade workers who repair and maintain equipment at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga. The vote was 108 to 44 for the union. 


Tennessee's governor and Tennessee Promise

Gov. Bill Haslam's effort to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 is lagging a little as it enters it fourth year. Called Drive to 55, the effort got a big boost last year with the implementation of Tennessee Promise. That scholarship program provides two years of tuition-free community or technical college to Tennessee high school graduates beginning with the class of 2015. In January, Tennessee launched an advertising campaign called Reconnect and Complete. The new campaign targets 110,000 Tennesseans between the ages of 25 and 64 who have dropped out of college since 2007, and who are more than halfway through earning their degrees. 


Company expanding in Clarendon County, S.C.

Advanta Industries, which develops material handling applications, is expanding in Clarendon County, S.C. The company is investing $2.6 million and adding 26 jobs. 


Startup recycler to begin operations in rural South Carolina

Green Fence Recycling has picked Marion County, S.C., for its first facility. The company offers sorting, shredding and cleaning services for the recyclable plastics industry. The project calls for a $2.5 million investment and 40 new jobs. 


Austin is the U.S. capital for millennials

A study done by Headlight Data showed that Austin is the nation's No. 1 market for millennials, or those between the ages of 25-34. Millennials made up 17.5 percent of the Austin area's estimated 2 million residents, the highest rate among large U.S. metro areas. Baby Boomers also made up 17.5 percent of Austin's population, down from 19 percent in 2009. 


New global HQ set for Maryland Heights, Mo. 

World Wide Technologies is building a new global headquarters in Maryland Heights, Mo. The company is a systems integration company founded in 1990. The $95 million project is expected to create 500 jobs. 


India-based company sets up HQ in St. Louis

India-based Lacgene Technologies has chosen St. Louis for its new U.S. headquarters. The company provides natural agricultural products and solutions using genetics and nanotechnology. The deal will create 30 new jobs. 


Google picks Clarksville, Tenn., for 15th global data center

In the winter, Google announced it was placing a $600 million data center on the property of the former Hemlock Semiconductor plant. The data center will employ about 70 workers. In the fall quarter, Google also took over a property in the South when it announced it would place a data center at a former TVA power plant in Jackson County, Ala. 


Furniture plant slated for Amory, Miss. 

American Furniture Manufacturing will open a plant to make sofas and sleeper sofas in Amory. The plant will house 140 workers. 


Financial tech firm adding jobs in Atlanta

Payscape, an Atlanta-based financial technology firm is adding jobs in Atlanta. The company, which provides web-based payment applications that allow small businesses to accept mobile and online payments, is hiring 200. 


Flooring manufacturer expands in rural South Carolina

KronotexUSA, a flooring manufacturer, is adding 105 jobs and investing $230 million in its plant in Barnwell, S.C. It's the fourth expansion in a decade for the Swiss-owned plant. 


British company plans production center in Kentucky

U.K.-based nutrition supplement manufacturer Cend LLC is opening a $17 million plant in Bullitt County, Ky. The deal will create 350 jobs. 


Berry Plastics expands in Jackson, Tenn. 

Berry Plastics, a maker of food containers and bottles for the health-care industry, is expanding its facility in Jackson. The company, a Fortune 300, is adding 70 to 80 jobs. 


Call center slated for metro Atlanta

VXI Global Solutions an IT outsourcing provider, is opening a call center in College Park, Ga. The project will create 570 jobs. 


Two Southern states raise minimum wage

Arkansas and West Virginia, two of the South's least populated states, raised their minimum wage on January 1, 2016. Arkansas raised its minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.00 an hour and West Virginia raised its minimum wage from $8.00 to $8.75 an hour. 


Boeing reaches milestone at its South Carolina Dreamliner plant

In the winter quarter, Boeing announced that the 100th 787-8 Dreamliner rolled off the assembly line at its factory in North Charleston, S.C. The first 787 built in South Carolina rolled out of Boeing's 1.2-million-square-foot plant in April 2012. The plant houses about 7,000 employees. 


Three Southern cities make CNBC's best places to retire top 10 ranking

Charlottesville, Va.; Sarasota, Fla.; and Plano, Texas made CNBC's top 10 places to retire ranking. All three were cited for low cost of living, quality of life, and in Texas and Florida's case, no state income taxes. 


Food service company adding 100 new jobs in Florida

Gordon Food Service is expanding it cold storage and distribution facility in Plant City, Fla. The project calls for 100 new jobs. 


Plant reshored to rural Mississippi

True Temper Sports is closing a plant in China and shifting the work to an existing facility in Amory, Miss. The company makes steel tubes used in golf club shafts. The deal will create 100 jobs. 


Insurer adding jobs in Tampa

The Willis Group, an insurance brokerage firm, is expanding its Tampa workforce. The company is adding 157 jobs. 


International plastics manufacturer expanding in Kansas City

Logoplaste, a plastics manufacturer based in Portugal, is investing $35 million in its Kansas City facilities. The deal will create 110 jobs. 


Hago Automotive to locate plant in rural Mississippi

Germany-based Hago Automotive announced in the winter quarter it will locate a laser-welding and stamping operation in Tishomingo County, Miss. The plant will supply BMW's plant in South Carolina. The parts supplier will invest $10 million and create 80 jobs. The company looked at sites in five other states in the Southern Auto Corridor before choosing Mississippi. 


Companies investing $3 billion in Lake Charles, La., plants

Lotte Chemical and Axiall Corp. announced two plants in Lake Charles in the winter quarter. Axiall and Lotte, through a joint venture called LACC LLC, will invest $1.9 billion in a new ethane cracker facility. Additionally, Lotte will build a $1.1 billion monoethylene glycol facility on the same site as the cracker. 


Pharmaceutical company expands in Boca Raton, Fla. 

KRS Global Biotechnology is expanding its pharmaceutical and R&D facility in Boca Raton. The company is adding 160 jobs. 


GM Financial picks San Antonio for new center

GM Financial announced in the winter it will build a new financial servicing center in San Antonio. The new center will house up to 700 workers. 


Bosch adding 460 jobs in New Bern, N.C.

Germany-based BSH Home Appliances, the maker of Bosch and Thermador kitchen appliances, is expanding its New Bern plant by 460 workers. North Carolina beat out South Carolina and Tennessee for the deal. 


BCG poll: U.S. overtakes China as No. 1 site for expanding production

A poll of senior executives at U.S.-based companies by the Boston Consulting Group shows that the U.S. has surpassed China as the No. 1 destination for manufacturing expansions. Thirty-one percent of executives polled indicated likely production expansions in the U.S., while 20 percent of those companies were likely to expand in China. In the 2013 poll, China led with 30 percent compared to 26 percent of executives likely to expand production in the U.S. 


Biofuel plant to be built in Dooly County, Ga. 

Ensyn Georgia Biorefinery will build a cellulosic biofuel refinery in rural Dooly County, Ga. The plant will convert woody biomass into fuel. The deal will create 138 jobs. 


Los Angeles-based food company bringing 400 jobs to Round Rock, Texas

ProPortion Foods is relocating its entire operations to Round Rock, Texas. The project calls for the company to bring its headquarters, food processing and warehouse to the city located just north of Austin. The deal will generate 400 jobs. 


Duke Energy plans solar farm in Monroe, N.C.

Charlotte-based Duke Energy is building a 60-megawatt solar array on 400 acres near Monroe. The project will be Duke's third-largest solar farm. 


Auto parts supplier adding jobs in South Carolina

Akebono Brake is expanding its foundry and adding new equipment at its plant in West Columbia, S.C. The $40 million deal will create 100 new jobs. 


Pet food plant set for Arkansas

In the winter quarter, Simmons Feed Ingredients began construction on its new pet food ingredient plant in Siloam Springs, Ark. The nearly 90,000-square-foot facility will house 78 workers. 


Michigan lumber company to build $85 million sawmill in Mississippi

Michigan-based Biewer Lumber announced it is building an $85 million sawmill in Newton, Miss. Production is slated for early 2017 when 125 workers will be hired. 


New Jersey firm opening IT center in Gainesville, Fla. 

USR Systems announced in the winter it will open an IT development center in Gainesville. The deal will create 140 jobs. 


STERIS places division HQ in Birmingham

Ohio-based STERIS, a manufacturer of medical devices, has chosen Birmingham as the headquarters of its Specialty Services division. The $8 million headquarters will house 100 of the company's workers who are at another facility in the Birmingham area as well as 100 more. 


Yamaha expands East Tennessee boat plant

Yamaha Jet Boat Manufacturing announced plans to invest $17.7 million in its Vonore, Tenn., boat plant. The project will create 150 new jobs. 


Mattress manufacturer opening plant in Waco, Texas

North Carolina-based Kingsdown is moving into an existing facility in Waco. The mattress maker is investing $2 million and hiring 50. 


Call center expanding in Virginia

Telvista, a Dallas-based outsourcing firm, is adding 300 jobs at its call center in Danville, Va. 


Auto parts supplier relocating HQ from Michigan to West Virginia

Japan-based Diamond Electric, an automotive coil ignition manufacturer, is relocating its headquarters from Michigan to Eleanor, W.Va. The relocation consolidates the company's former headquarters with its largest U.S. operation in Putnam County, where Diamond employs 335. 


Automotive marketer picks Miami for headquarters

Showroom Logic, a provider of digital marketing to dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada, has chosen Miami for its new headquarters. The company will add 74 jobs. 


Big projects in rural Mississippi

ABB, a power and automation technology company that serves the utility industry and others, is moving into the former Twin Creeks Technologies building in Senatobia, Miss. ABB expects to create 300 jobs with the expansion to North Mississippi. 


Call center adding hundreds of jobs in Virginia

STARTEK is adding 430 jobs at its call center in Lynchburg, Va. 


Cerner investing $528 million in Missouri

Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. is buying the space it occupies at the Summit Technology Campus in Lee's Summit. It is also adding equipment in a deal that is valued at $528 million. Cerner employs thousands in and around Kansas City, and it is currently building the first phase of a $4.45 billion expansion in South Kansas City. 


Wells Fargo hiring 300 new jobs in Birmingham area

Wells Fargo is placing a new online customer service center in Homewood, Ala., a suburban city in the Birmingham metro. The deal calls for 300 positions to be filled. 


Bad Boy Mowers expanding Arkansas operations

Bad Boy Mowers is growing its Batesville, Ark., operations. The company is investing $7.8 million to add 68,000 square feet to its existing 1-million-square-foot facility. The deal will create 160 jobs. 


Microsoft to build large data center in West San Antonio

Washington-based Microsoft purchased 158 acres in West San Antonio, Texas in the winter quarter. The technology giant will build an eight-building data center that will encompass about 1.2 million square feet in the site.


Manufacturer hiring 100 in South Carolina

SafeRack, a manufacturer of loading rack and safety solutions is expanding its facility in Andrews, S.C. The company is adding 100,000 square feet and 100 jobs. 


Famous Massachusetts textile company relocating operations to Tennessee

Polartec, formerly Malden Mills, is relocating its original factory in Lawrence, Mass., to Cleveland, Tenn. The popular fleece maker will hire 200 in the move. The company was founded in Massachusetts in 1906 as Malden Knitting. In 1979 the company introduced polar fleece, creating a new outerwear garment category. 


Specialty film manufacturer relocating from New York to Georgia

Jindal Films Americas is relocating its U.S. R&D center and headquarters from Macedon, N.Y., to Troup County, Ga. The company makes specialty films for packaging. It will also expand its existing plant in LaGrange, Ga. The $180 million project will generate 240 jobs. 


Lockheed Martin rolls out 2,500th C-130 at Georgia plant

In the winter quarter, Lockheed Martin delivered its 2,500th C-130 Hercules aircraft from the company's massive plant in Marietta, Ga. The U.S. Air Force took delivery of the first Hercules built in Marietta in 1956. C-130s are operated by 68 nations. 


JB Hunt increasing workforce at Arkansas HQ by 1,000

Trucking company J.B. Hunt Transport Services is adding 1,000 workers to its headquarters in Lowell, Ark. Many of the new workers will be in the company's IT department. 


Auto parts manufacturer spending $193 million in rural Kentucky

Germany-based Fritz Winter North America, a producer of brake rotors, is investing $193 million in a new 240,000-square-foot plant in Franklin, Ky. The plant will house 343 workers. 


Parts supplier expanding in S.C.

Germany-based Rochling Automotive is investing $5.8 million to expand its plant in Duncan, S.C. The deal will create 25 jobs. 


GM's Kentucky Corvette plant is growing again

GM announced in the winter it will invest $44 million and add 36 workers to increase capacity of its engine plant in Bowling Green, Ky. The engine plant is located at the automaker's Corvette assembly facility. The expansion is in addition to the $483 million GM invested in the plant in 2015. 


Michigan automotive supplier to build new plant in South Carolina

Tower International is investing $44 million in a new plant in Fountain Inn, S.C. The parts supplier is moving into a spec building located in Southchase Industrial Park. The project will generate 130 jobs. 


Boise Cascade investing in South Carolina plant

Boise Cascade is expanding its Chester, S.C., plywood plant. The $23.5 deal will create 52 jobs. 


Korean manufacturer picks Lake Charles, La. 

South Korea-based Dongsung FineTec is investing $5 million in a plant in Lake Charles. The company, which produces insulation for LNG tanks, will hire 250 direct jobs. 


Three distillery projects in Nelson County, Ky., ready to go

Jim Beam, The Bardstown Bourbon Company and Luxco plan to invest $325 million combined in three bourbon distillery projects in Bardstown and Nelson County, Ky. 


Corning division moving HQ to Charlotte

Corning Optical Communications announced in the winter it will open a new $38 million headquarters in Charlotte. The 650-employee headquarters will be bolstered by moves of about 500 workers in Hickory, N.C. The company will add 150 in Charlotte and keep about 1,000 in Hickory. 


FedEx to place distribution center in Concord, N.C.

Memphis-based FedEx will consolidate facilities in Charlotte and Fort Mill, S.C., to a new $66 million distribution center in Concord. The project will consolidate 290 jobs. 


Recycler opening plant in rural Alabama

Custom Synthetic Fibers, a recycler of clear plastics in the manufacture of products used in the automotive and furniture industries, is spending $6 million on a facility in Rogersville, Ala. The project will create 50 initially. 


Red Ventures adding jobs in North Carolina

South Carolina-based Red Ventures, which creates websites for companies while selling their products, is adding 500 jobs across the state line at its facility in Mecklenburg County, N.C. The company employs several thousand in the Charlotte area in both North and South Carolina. 


Viva Health expands its Birmingham HQ

Viva Health is starting renovations of its Birmingham headquarters that could bring as many as 400 more workers to its downtown offices. Viva is managing the Medicaid regional care organizations in Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile. 


Fintech company hiring in Lake Mary, Fla. 

Paylocity, a financial technology company providing payroll and HR solutions, is expanding its footprint in Lake Mary. The company is adding 176 new jobs. 


10,000 construction jobs to be created for ExxonMobil and Chevron Phillips' new Houston area plants

ExxonMobil and Chevron Phillips are spending $5 billion each on two petrochemical plants in the Houston area. The two new facilities will require 10,000 construction workers at peak buildout. 


Logistics company growing by 425 jobs in Nashville area

Cavalry Logistics is expected to sublease the former Best Buy store in Antioch, Tenn., and add 425 employees. The third-party logistics provider is a subsidiary of Michigan-based Universal Truckload Services. 


Ship repair company creating 250 jobs at Port Tampa Bay

International Ship Repair & Marine Services has acquired a 10th drydock at Port Tampa Bay. The new dock will enable the company to hire 250 more workers. 


Another fintech expanding in Atlanta

Atlanta has seen many deals in the last couple of years from the financial technology payments sector. The latest is InComm, which is expanding its facilities in Atlanta, Peachtree Corners and Alpharetta. The $20 million expansion will create 275 jobs. 


Premier Research bringing 260 jobs to Durham, N.C. 

Premier Research, a firm that serves the clinical development needs of the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, is bringing 260 jobs to Durham. The company is investing $4.1 million in the deal. 


Homegrown company in Waco, Texas expands

Time manufacturing, a maker of truck-mounted hydraulic lifts, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an expansion of its plant in Waco. The company will invest $5.8 million and hire 121 workers. 


Two companies add jobs in downtown Little Rock

Two technology firms, Inuvo and PrivacyStart, announced in the winter they will add at least 75 jobs at their new headquarters located in downtown Little Rock's River Market District this year. 


Johns Manville bringing second line, 175 jobs to Jackson County, Ala. 

Denver-based Johns Manville, a roofing products manufacturer, is expanding its Scottsboro, Ala., plant with a second production line. The new line will produce JM Top, a roofing membrane. The deal will create 175 jobs. 


Ford investing $1.3 billion, adding 2,000 jobs at Kentucky Truck Plant

Ford is investing $1.3 billion and adding 2,000 workers at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. The investment will include a new body shop and equipment upgrades to assemble the new 2017 aluminum-bodied F-Series Super Duty Truck. 


Results adding hundreds of call center jobs in Henry County, Va. 

The Results Companies announced in the winter it will open a new call center at the former StarTek facility in Collinsville, Va. The new center will house more than 500 workers. 


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