November 2016

Amazing turnaround by the automotive industry

By 2008, the automotive industry was declining rapidly. By 2009, it had essentially collapsed. General Motors and Chrysler bankrupted and federal bailouts were needed to save tens of thousands of jobs. Since then, the automotive sector, including its retail and wholesale components, has created massive numbers of jobs. The following chart shows automotive jobs in each Southern state in 2008 compared to 2015.


Auto jobs by state 2008 and 2015

State                           2008                  2015

Alabama                      49,346             165,470

Arkansas                     17,142                62,110

Florida                         99,199              242,335

Georgia                        54,954             206,810

Kentucky                    65,468               205,800

Louisiana                     19,404                84,230

Mississippi                 20,879                  73,820

Missouri                     55,722                167,060

North Carolina            59,276             197,465

Oklahoma                    21,484               69,400

South Carolina            41,285             138,800

Tennessee                   79,424             268,870

Texas                           137,191           460,650

Virginia                        47,485             152,760

West Virginia              8,966                  39,160

*Includes auto assembly, auto parts supplier, auto wholesale, parts wholesale and new car dealership jobs. Source: Center for Automotive Research.  


Samsung investing $1 billion, adding jobs at Austin semiconductor plant

South Korea-based Samsung will invest more than $1 billion in its Austin, Texas semiconductor plant. The plant makes chips for mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices. The project will also create hundreds of new jobs.


Volkswagen’s new made-in-USA crossover has a name!

Volkswagen’s largest-ever crossover SUV will be called the Atlas. The seven-passenger sport utility vehicle will be built at VW’s Chattanooga plant and is expected to launch in the spring of next year. By then, the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga will house about 3,500 employees, the most ever.


KLX Aerospace Solutions takes off in Miami

KLX Aerospace Solutions, a global distributor of aerospace fasteners and consumables, is expanding its operations and building a new global headquarters/distribution center in Miami-Dade County, Fla. KLX will also hire 100 new employees.


Anthem ensures 1,800 jobs in Atlanta tech center

Indianapolis-based Fortune 50 health insurer Anthem Inc. will invest $20 million in a technology hub in Atlanta. The Indianapolis-based company will create about 1,800 jobs at the software development center in Midtown's Bank of America Plaza.


GKN Aerospace shipping 300 jobs to Alabama

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers says about 300 jobs will be leaving GKN Aerospace's St. Louis location for the company's facility in Tallassee, Ala. No timetable has been announced.


Computershare to add 850 jobs in Louisville, Ky.

Computershare, a financial services firm based in Australia, plans a much larger presence in Louisville than the company first announced in September 2014. Computershare now plans to add 1,100 jobs in Louisville – up from the company’s initial estimate of 250. Price tag for the expansion looks like $20 million.


Crystal Distribution launching operations in York County, S.C.

A Charlotte HVAC equipment manufacturer is establishing new operations in York County. The project is expected to bring $4.8 million in new capital investment and will allow the company to relocate existing positions from its operations in Charlotte. Crystal Distribution will also add new jobs to create a total of 83 positions in South Carolina.


CTD Holdings locates corporate headquarters in Jupiter, Fla.

CTD Holdings, a biotech company, will establish its corporate headquarters in Jupiter, Fla. The company expects to add 42 jobs and invest $2.75 million in the region.


Harry’s Fresh Foods opens Nashville production facility, adding 300 jobs

Harry’s Fresh Foods, an Oregon-based manufacturer of refrigerated and frozen foods, has expanded its operations with the opening of their new 200,000-square-foot production facility in Nashville.


New development on Jefferson Davis corridor to bring 300 jobs

A developer hopes a new project will bring jobs to the Jefferson Davis corridor in the area’s biggest development initiative in over 40 years. Fountainhead properties is transforming the former Philip Morris tobacco storage facility into Clopton Siteworks. The development in Richmond, Va., will house offices and warehouse space for small and medium sized businesses.


Warner Music adds 175 finance jobs in Nashville

Warner Music is expanding its Nashville presence, adding 175 finance jobs over the next two years. Warner Music Nashville will remain at its Music Row location and the new jobs will be located in the downtown Nashville City Center.


New investment, jobs in Buckingham County, Va.

Rock Wood Products of Dillwyn will invest $8.75 million to expand sawmill operation in Buckingham County. The company will create 12 new jobs in the county and source 100 percent of its timber needs from Virginia land owners.


Kentucky’s Bed Wood and Parts to expand, add 42 jobs

Bed Wood and Parts, an automotive aftermarket supplier of domestic and exotic wood bed kits for pickup trucks, plans a $3.7 million expansion of its operation near Hopkinsville, Ky., a project expected to create 42 full-time jobs.


Pepsi Bottling Ventures plans distribution center in Robeson County, N.C.

Pepsi Bottling Ventures will create 50 jobs over the next five years at a new $16.5 million distribution center in Robeson County, N.C.


Dothan-area distribution center expanding, adding 50 jobs

A Houston County (Alabama) grocery distribution center has announced a $17 million expansion that is expected to add 50 jobs. McLane Dothan is adding between 70,000 and 80,000 square feet to its existing 320,000-square-foot distribution center near Cottonwood.


GE Digital finds its home in Buckhead

GE Digital has chosen the Buckhead area of Atlanta for its new global digital operations center, bringing 250 high-paying jobs. The company has announced that software development is the future of GE, and the Atlanta office will help make the programs and applications that not only go in its products, but will help GE run its sprawling businesses.


New jobs coming to CSRA in Louisiana thanks to $166 million contract

A $166.9 million contract awarded to CSRA (which provides IT services to government clients in national security, civil government, health care and public health) by the Defense Intelligence Agency will create about 35 to 40 new jobs in the near future at the company’s Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City.


Food packaging company to create 310 jobs in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Food packaging company Armada Nutrition will expand its operations in Maury County, investing $2.1 million and creating 310 new jobs over the next five years at the company's Spring Hill plant.


Morley opens new facility, creates 270 jobs

Morley, a 153-year- old customer service company, is hiring to fill the 270 new jobs at its new customer contact center in Greenville County.


Arkansas foam manufacturer expanding, adding 100 jobs

A foam manufacturing company is expanding its Fort Smith facility and adding more than 100 new jobs. Elite Comfort Solutions, which creates foam for bedding and furniture, will be hiring employees for “all facets of the plant’s daily operations.” After the expansion, the manufacturing facility will have about 185 employees.


Textile company to bring 100 jobs to the Charlotte region

With an investment of $12.5 million, textile company King Charles Industries plans to hire 100 people at its new manufacturing site in Anson County, N.C. King Charles Industries is a joint venture between Taiwan’s Kingwhale Corp. and Hornwood Inc., a 70-year-old North Carolina textile company.


United Airlines begins construction in Houston

United Airlines has begun construction of the airline's new $162 million United Technical Operations Center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.


Global plastics distributor headed for Houston

A global plastics distribution company has purchased 200 acres in Houston's Cedar Port Distribution Park, the largest rail- and barge-served industrial park in the nation. Ravago Americas, a subsidiary of Belgium-based Ravago, will develop a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution and manufacturing campus on the land. The campus will be equipped to handle more than 2 billion pounds of plastic resin annually.


Textron to add 150 jobs in Augusta, Ga.

Textron Specialized Vehicles will add 100 to 150 jobs to its Augusta workforce during the next year as it combines operations with Jacobsen of Charlotte, N.C., a leading manufacturer of turf-care equipment. The new jobs will come in addition to an expansion announced earlier this year, which will create about 400 new jobs over the next five years. The company expects to have about 1,100 employees in Augusta at the end of 2017.


GENCO to expand in Memphis

FedEx subsidiary GENCO has announced a new Memphis warehouse for health care manufacturers. The 1.1 million-square-foot multi-tenant facility comes as “. . .manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic testing and pharmaceuticals are hyper-focused on streamlining their supply chain,” said Kevin McPherson, VP at GENCO.


Giant Tennessee employer pursues new headquarters

One of the 10 largest employers in Williamson County, Tenn., is pursuing a headquarters that would ignite a nearly $1 billion mixed-use development in Cool Springs. Mars Petcare, known for pet brands such as Pedigree and Sheba, already employs 1,000 people in the fastest-growing county in Tennessee.


CoStar picks Richmond for major research center; hiring 730

Washington D.C.-based CoStar Group, a research and analytic company for the commercial real estate industry, has selected Richmond as headquarters for its research operations center. The company is also starting an aggressive recruitment strategy to hire 730 people there.


HTS International to locate global HQ in Knox County, Tenn.

Advanced manufacturer HTS International Corporation will invest $21.4 million to establish its global headquarters and new U.S. manufacturing facility in Knox County. HTS plans to create 200 jobs to manufacture components for use in injection molding, die casting, extrusion, and hot stamping.


Medline creates 200 new jobs in Lithia Springs, Ga.

Illinois.-based Medline is adding another 200 jobs at its Lithia Springs, Ga., facility. The medical supply company invested an additional $60 million to increase manufacturing of disposable incontinence products.


GoHealth Insurance opens Charlotte office, adds 500 jobs

A Chicago-based health-insurance tech and services company has opened a new office in Charlotte, bringing about 525 jobs to the area during open enrollment. GoHealth operates a private health insurance marketplace, and works in conjunction with 300 health-insurance companies.


New jobs coming to the Upstate South Carolina

A Michigan chemical company is planning to expand into Spartanburg County and bring 100 new jobs. Pacific Industrial Development Corporation focuses on innovative research and development.


Jacobs Engineering Group relocates HQ to Dallas

Jacobs Engineering Group will be relocating its global headquarters from Pasadena, Calif., to Dallas. The move means more than 100 new jobs and $4 million in capital investment. The company currently occupies 80,000 square feet in downtown Dallas, and will expand to 100,000 square feet once relocation is completed.


Hi-Rez Studios to expand Alpharetta headquarters

Hi-Rez Studios, Georgia’s largest developer of online games, will expand its headquarters in Alpharetta and create 75 additional jobs.


McLane Dothan is expanding its grocery distribution center

McLane Dothan, a grocery distribution center, has announced a $17 million expansion. The facility in Cottonwood, Ala., will add 50 jobs in connection with the expansion.


Mount Franklin Foods opens in Sumter County, S.C.

Mount Franklin Foods, a leading manufacturer of high-quality candy and nut products, is launching new operations in Sumter County, S.C. The project is expected to bring $10 million in investment and 225 new jobs.


Little Rock lands U.S.’s first Chinese garment plant

Suzhou Tianyuan Garments, a Chinese company that makes clothing for Adidas and other brands, has agreed to put a garment plant in Little Rock, Ark., investing $20 million and employing 400 people.


New Johnson & Johnson center to bring 500 Tampa jobs

Gov. Rick Scott was on hand to formally open J&J’s new North America Global Services Center, which will ultimately employ 500 people by 2020. The $23.5 million deal was announced last year, and there are already 240 employees at the center.


Gibbs Die Casting expanding in Henderson, Ky.

Gibbs Die Casting, a supplier of innovative, high-quality aluminum die cast components and assemblies, will expand its North American Manufacturing Complex in Henderson with a $10 million investment projected to create 46 full-time jobs.


EuWe Group boosts investment in Anderson County, S.C.

A BMW supplier will “double down” its investment in Anderson County. EuWe Eugen Wexler US Plastics Inc., the American subsidiary of Germany-based EuWe Group, will invest an additional $5 million to expand its facility and create 29 jobs during the next five years.


Pepsi bottler to add 40 jobs, spend $45 million in South Carolina

Carolina Canners, an independent Pepsi bottler in Cheraw, will add 40 jobs and spend $45 million as it expands its plant to make room for Lipton’s Pure Leaf iced tea.


U.K.’s Holroyd bringing jobs to Spartanburg County

A manufacturing company based in the U.K. is establishing its first U.S. operations in Spartanburg County, S.C. Holroyd Precision Components, a division of Precision Technologies Group Limited, is making a $12.5 million investment and is expected to create up to 23 new jobs for high precision machine tool design, build and supply for a variety of industries.


Daniel Defense to begin $29 million expansion outside Savannah, Ga.

Firearms maker Daniel Defense plans a $29 million expansion at its Black Creek, Ga., facility, a move that will create 75 new jobs. The company is consolidating the Black Creek facility and Ridgeland, S.C., facility into a single operation.


MöllerTech to locate $46.3 million plant in Bibb County, Ala.

MöllerTech will build a $46.3 million production plant in Bibb County. The plant will be the German auto supplier's third location in North America, and its flagship production facility, employing about 220 people to manufacture interior parts for the next generation of Mercedes-Benz SUVs.


BL Harbert begins $27.5 million FBI expansion project at Redstone

A Birmingham company is behind a $27.5 million expansion to the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal. Herbert recently held a career fair in Huntsville to hire up to 200 crew members for federal and industrial construction jobs, including the FBI expansion project.


Auto supplier to expand in Athens, Tenn.

E & E Manufacturing of Tennessee, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, will expand its manufacturing facility in Athens. The automotive components manufacturer will invest $23.5 million and create 123 jobs in McMinn County. The plant produces stamped and welded parts for a number of car manufacturers.


Drug firm to add over 1,000 jobs at new $113 million Texas campus

AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group has decided to consolidate its North Texas workforce within a new $113 million, 40-acre campus in Carrollton, Texas. The Pennsylvania-based wholesale drug company  will initially relocate almost 1,200 workers to the campus.


Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems expands in Danville, Ky.

Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems recently opened the $9.3 million expansion of its manufacturing and distribution campus in Danville. The project that will create 66 jobs.


Defense contractor Envistacom locates center in Duluth, Ga.

Atlanta-based defense contractor Envistacom will open an engineering and innovation center in Duluth, Ga. The 20,000-square-foot center will focus on research and development for counterterrorism technologies and will employ up to 100.


$100 million venture in Mississippi commits to 150 jobs by 2020

Praxair Surface Technologies and GE Aviation announced a $100 million joint venture — PG Technologies LLC in Ellisville, Miss. The project is expected to increase employment at the former GE Aviation facility (currently at 100) to 250 by 2020, with the potential to grow to 400 jobs.


GE Aviation opens center in Austin

GE Aviation is opening what it calls a "digital collaboration center" in downtown Austin. The digital center is an effort by GE "to bring the industrial world into the digital era," according to a company statement. The digital center in Austin is the company's fourth worldwide. The others are located in Dubai, Paris and Shanghai.


Hallmark completes 100-job KC-area distribution center

Hallmark Cards  recently cut the ribbon to mark completion of its new 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Independence. The Kansas City-based company leased underground space in Carefree Industrial Park, a 4.2 million-square-foot subsurface development.


Charter Communications hiring hundreds in San Antonio

Connecticut-based Charter Communications is planning to double its call center footprint in the Alamo City after acquiring Time Warner Cable's network and customer base. The telecommunications company plans to hire 200 employees.


International Mold Corporation establishing first South Carolina operation

International Mold Corporation, a Michigan-based aluminum design and build company, is establishing a new manufacturing operation in Spartanburg County. The project is expected to bring $6.2 million in new investment and create 60 new jobs.


West Fraser expanding operations in Newberry County, S.C.

West Fraser, a diversified wood products company, is expanding its Newberry County sawmill operations. The project is expected to bring $33 million in new capital investment. Established in 1955, West Fraser has grown into the largest lumber producer in North America, operating facilities throughout western Canada and the southern United States.


Endurance IT Services to add 62 new jobs in Virginia Beach

Endurance IT Services, a Virginia Beach information technology services firm, will more than double its workforce with 62 new jobs and build a new headquarters facility.


Tech firm to create 100 jobs with new Irving, Texas hub

OKI Data Americas — a New Jersey-based printing technology firm which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based OKI Data Corp — plans to open a regional operations in Irving that will bring 100 jobs and $3.5 million of capital investment into the North Texas city.


Pinewood Atlanta Studios to become largest complex in U.S. outside of L.A.

Pinewood Atlanta Studios is wrapping up its third phase of construction, which will make it the largest studio complex in the United States outside of Hollywood, according to Eoin Egan of Pinewood Studios.


Polaris celebrates new Alabama vehicle plant

A recent ceremony served as the symbolic opening for Polaris Industries’ new Alabama manufacturing facility, a $140 million greenfield plant. Employment at the Alabama factory, which has around 500 workers, is expected to reach 1,700. Minnesota-based Polaris announced plans for the Alabama plant early last year and launched Alabama production of its Ranger off-road vehicles and Slingshot three-wheeled roadsters in late spring and summer.


Company adding jobs in Bowling Green, Ky.

BlueCotton, a custom screen printing and embroidery operation, is expanding in Bowling Green, adding 112,000 square feet of space. The company is also adding 94 jobs.           


Auto parts manufacturer locating plant in rural Kentucky

MACA Plastics, a maker of components for the automotive and medical industries, is locating a new plant in Maysville, Ky. The $7.9 million investment will create 156 jobs.   


Ficosa opens plant in rural Tennessee

Ficosa, a provider of vision and safety products for the automotive industry, has opened its new plant in Cookeville, Tenn. The company is investing $50 million and hiring 500 workers who will produce rear view mirrors.


Jacksonville port sets record for TEUs

The Jacksonville Port Authority announced it moved a record number of twenty-foot equivalent units during its latest fiscal year. Jaxport moved 968,279 TEUs for the year, beating the previous record of 936,972 units in 2014. 


Florida led all U.S. states in job creation

From September 2015 to September 2016, Florida added 252,400 new private sector jobs, the highest job gains in the country. The Sunshine State also created 15,300 new manufacturing jobs, which also led all U.S. states. Since December 2010, Florida businesses have created 1.22 million private sector jobs.


Toyota marks five years of production in Mississippi

In October, Toyota celebrated its fifth year of Corolla model assembly at its plant in Blue Springs, Miss. Toyota has invested more than $1 billion in the plant in five years, which houses about 2,000 workers.


Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth lead real estate ranking

Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth were the top two markets in the nation in PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute's ranking for real estate investing. Nashville was ranked sixth, Raleigh-Durham seventh and Charlotte was No. 9 in the ranking.


Voestalpine, a poster child of the natural gas-fed manfucturing revolution on the Gulf Coast

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine opened its $740 million hot briquetted iron plant in Corpus Christi in the fall quarter. The iron pellets are a key ingredient in making steel. Voestalpine picked the South Texas site because of its location near the Eagle Ford Shale, where natural gas is piped to run the furnaces of the plant. Natural gas prices in Texas are three times cheaper than in Austria. Voestalpine is just one of hundreds of heavy industry projects that have located on the Gulf Coast as a result of cheap and abundant natural gas that has come from widespread fracking.


Engineered Floors' Dalton, Ga. facility to be largest carpet plant in the world

Engineered Floors, a Dalton, Ga.-based carpet manufacturer, is finishing up its latest expansion. When completed, the company's plant -- at 2 million square feet -- will be the second largest building in Georgia and the largest carpet plant in the world. The $450 million mega-mill will house 3,000 employees. 


Louisiana raking in FDI

Since 2008, Louisiana has captured more than $33 billion in foreign direct investment. The total is the second largest in the country and largest per capita. Most of the investments are from the petrochemical sector in the Mississippi River corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and in Southwest Louisiana where South African-owned Sasol is building petrochemical facilities worth billions of dollars.


Top 10 cities for job growth; almost all are in the South

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Naples, Tucson, Dallas, Deltona, Phoenix, Ocala and Provo all made Forbes magazine's top 10 "Best Cities for Future Job Growth" that came out in the fall.


Dallas-Fort Worth is the hottest office market in the country

Dallas-Fort Worth was the hottest office market in the U.S. in the first nine months of the year, with net office leasing totaling 3.6 million square feet of transactions according to Cushman Wakefield. The large North Texas metro also was second to Nashville in new office construction with 8 million square feet of office buildings under construction as of November 15, 2017.


Site consultant Mark Sweeney: North Carolina losing projects over HB2

Site consultant Mark Sweeney, principal at South Carolina-based McCallum Sweeney Consulting, told those in attendance at a local economic development meeting in Lincoln County, N.C., that North Carolina is losing projects over its controversial House Bill 2. Many contend the bill discriminates against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The legislation, commonly called the "bathroom bill," seeks to regulate access to restrooms on the part of transgenders on the basis of their sex stated on their birth certificates. Sweeney said that at least one of his projects ruled North Carolina out because the company told him the state is "not the kind of place we want to invest in" because of HB2. Sweeney also said at the meeting that "you're not going to know how many projects have passed" on the state.


Oil states slammed, Florida No. 1 manufacturing state in the South

From September 2015 to September 2016, Texas lost 26,800 manufacturing jobs, almost all in the oil and gas mining and equipment sector. Much worse per capita was Oklahoma and Louisiana, as they saw manufacturing job losses of 9,300 and 7,400 respectively. Incredibly, Florida led the South in manufacturing job gains for the year gaining 11,800 jobs.


Manufacturing Job Gains and Losses

Alabama                  +4,300

Arkansas                     -700

Florida                   +11,800

Georgia                    +3,700

Kentucky                     +300

Louisiana                  -7,400

Mississippi                  +500

Missouri                    -2,300

North Carolina         -1,200

Oklahoma                 -9,300

South Carolina        +4,400

Tennessee                +7,500

Texas                        -26,800

Virginia                       -4,400

West Virginia                -800

*Year ended September 2016. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.


First layoffs we've seen from the automotive industry in years

In October, Ford idled Ford F-150 production at its plant in Kansas City for one week. All three shifts were affected. In Louisville, Ford laid off employees who assemble the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC for two weeks. A total of 9,000 workers were affected by the temporary layoffs. 


The first new nuclear generator in 20 years at full power

The Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Unit 2 in Spring City, Tenn., began operating at full power in the fall quarter. It's the first new nuclear power plant in 20 years to begin operations. During the testing phase, the plant produced more than 500 million kilowatt/hours of carbon-free energy. The $4.7 billion plant can meet the electric needs of more than 4.5 million homes.


Toyota begins moving employees to Texas

Toyota has been moving about 100 employees a month from California to Plano, Texas, site of its new North American headquarters. The relocated employees are working in temporary space as construction continues on the new headquarters campus. More than 4,000 employees will be housed at the new headquarters in Plano, and Toyota believes 3,000 will relocate from three former hubs in California, Kentucky and New York. Another 1,000 will be hired from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The campus is being built to accommodate up to 6,500 employees.


NCR to receive an additional $45 million in incentives for Atlanta HQ move?

One of the largest projects in the South in 2016 was NCR's announcement that it would relocate its headquarters and 3,600 employees from Gwinnett County, Ga., to Midtown Atlanta. The city of Atlanta offered $16 million in incentives for that project. In September, NCR officials announced there would be a second phase to its new headquarters, adding a second tower to the 20-story building now under construction and 1,800 more jobs. The expanded headquarters could fetch NCR $45 million in additional state and local incentives.


Alabama ranks No. 1 in the nation in critical education attainment. . .again

For the eighth consecutive year, Alabama ranks No. 1 in the nation in the percentage of growth of students achieving qualifying scores on math, science and English Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Almost 28,000 students took the AP tests in 2016, up from 5,327 test takers in 2008. The figures represent a 422 percent increase in eight years of AP exams in Alabama. During those years, the national increase was only 65 percent.


Georgia shows rising high school graduation rate

Georgia's high school graduation rate in the 2014-2015 school years saw a considerable leap. In those two years, the state's graduation rate was 78.8 percent. In 2013-2014, it was 72.5 percent.


Cheniere Energy given approval to export more LNG

In the fall quarter, Houston-based Cheniere Energy was given approval by federal regulators to export liquefied natural gas from a second plant at its Southwest Louisiana terminal. The newly approved volumes could double the amount of LNG the U.S. exports. In February, the Cheniere terminal became the first large-scale LNG export facility in the U.S. Several are being built in Louisiana and Texas now. Cheniere spent billions originally on the terminal as a LNG import facility. When widespread fracking began in this country, the company spent billions more turning the facility into an LNG export terminal.


Will Hyundai build new plant in Alabama?

Media property Wards Auto reported in the fall quarter that Korean automaker Hyundai plans to bring two Genesis luxury models to the U.S. for assembly. But where? Hyundai's only U.S. plant is in Montgomery, Ala. Sister automaker Kia operates its only U.S. plant in rural West Georgia near the East Alabama border. Both plants are at full capacity and there is no space for two more lines for the Genesis models. Wards Auto wrote in the fall article that "Montgomery, where Hyundai's current Alabama plant is located, is a likely spot." That spot would likely be the 1,800 acres in Montgomery across Interstate 65 from the current facility if Hyundai decides to build two more lines.   


AT&T decides to keep HQ in downtown Dallas

After looking at Hillwood Urban's and Spire Realty's new downtown Dallas developments for a new headquarters, AT&T is instead going to spend millions on its current headquarters facility in the southern portion of Dallas' central business district. The Dallas-based telecom giant will work with the city of Dallas, Downtown Dallas and Dallas Area Rapid Transit to make the company's four-building complex an urban destination. The redevelopment of the company's headquarters into an "urban tech center" is expected to start in 2017 and will create more than 1,300 jobs.


Empty new buildings in Houston

Because of the oil and gas industry's downturn, there are numerous large blocks of available space throughout Houston, much of it newly built. ConocoPhillips, the Houston-based oil company, recently built Energy Center Four, a 22-story tower in Houston's Energy Corridor. The building was expected to be completed by the end of 2015. ConocoPhillips has now put the entire 597,629-square-foot tower on the sublease market.


In rural Kentucky, U.S. farm chief launches $401 million program to reduce rural poverty

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Berea College in the fall quarter to launch a $401 million federal program to reduce rural poverty in the U.S. The program will make long-term, low-interest financing available to groups with track records of successful programs that reduce poverty in rural areas. The money will be used to build, maintain or renovate essential community assets such as those in education or health care, and infrastructure such as housing and roads.


Greenhouse operation to create 75 jobs in Kentucky

Kentucky Fresh Harvest broke ground in the fall on a $10.7 million high-tech greenhouse operation that will produce cherry tomatoes. The facility, located in Lincoln County, Ky., will house 75 workers.


Belgian company picks Clarksville, Tenn.

Verstraete IML USA will locate a new in-mold labeling plant in Clarksville. The $20 million investment will create 59 new jobs.


Michelin building $270 million distribution center in the Upstate

Michelin will break ground soon on a $270 million tire distribution center in Spartanburg County, S.C. The project will create 350 jobs.


French company selects Virginia for HQ

French cloud provider OVH has chosen Fauquier County, Va., for its first U.S. data center and North American headquarters. The company will invest $47 million in the deal that will create 54 jobs.


Wayfair sets up distribution center in McDonough, Ga.

Wayfair, one of the largest e-commerce companies for home furnishings, is locating a distribution center in McDonough. The center will house 150 workers.


Verizon adding jobs in Little Rock

Verizon has expanded its facility in Little Rock. The call center operation will add 85 positions.


New hospital to open next year in Arkansas

Acadia Healthcare will build a new behavioral health hospital in Conway, Ark. The new facility will create 150 jobs.


Georgia healthcare firm to open facility in Cullman, Ala.

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Sequence Health will open a healthcare contact center in Cullman. The healthcare technology firm will create 128 jobs in the deal.


Corning Optical expands in Winston-Salem

Corning Optical Communications is expanding its optical cable plant in Winston-Salem, N.C. The company is investing $30 million and adding 100 jobs.


Citi adding jobs in Northeast Tennessee

Citi, one of the largest employers in Washington County, Tenn., is adding positions. The company will create 200 jobs at its call center in Gray, Tenn.


Swiss biotech firm plans major expansion in Houston area

Swiss pharmaceutical and biotech firm Lonza has announced plans to add 150,000 square feet to its facility in Pearland, Texas. The expansion will enable the company to produce commercial quantities of viral gene and cell therapies. The project is expected to create 100 jobs.


Italian manufacturer sets up shop in South Carolina

Ritrama North America, a manufacturer of coatings and adhesives for the automotive and packaging industries, is investing $85 million in a 350,000-square-foot facility in Spartanburg County, S.C. The deal will create 150 jobs.


Manufacturer breaks ground in Missouri

Advanced Drainage Systems broke ground on a 72,000-square-foot plant in Harrisonville, Mo., in the fall quarter. The company, which makes products for water management solutions, will hire 50.


Manufacturing in Florida is growing and fast

Florida has emerged as one of the nation's fastest growing manufacturing states, as unlikely as that might read. For years, Florida was where NASA launched rockets and the shuttle, but today, much of the manufacturing for the space industry is also being done in the state. In fact, a recently published analysis by PwC ranked Florida No. 2 in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited Florida with the second largest growth in manufacturing firms between 2012 and 2015. And from September 2015 to September 2016, Florida led all Southern states with a net gain of about 12,000 manufacturing jobs.


San Antonio and Austin top fastest growing economies list

The Bureau of Economic Analysis delivered a report in the fall quarter ranking metropolitan areas by gross domestic product growth in calendar year 2015. Of the large metros, those with populations of two million or more, San Antonio topped the list with a growth rate of 5.9 percent. Neighboring Austin ranked second with 5.0 percent growth. Collectively, real GDP for U.S. metro areas increased 2.5 percent in 2015.


This Southern city is the fastest growing in the country

In another ranking done by WalletHub, Frisco, Texas was named the fastest growing city in America. The study examined 515 U.S. cities using 14 metrics, including population growth. Frisco was followed by League City, Texas; Lehigh Acres, Fla.; Kent, Wash.; and Surprise, Ariz.


Honda celebrates 4 million in Alabama

In the fall quarter, Japanese automaker Honda Manufacturing of Alabama celebrated a key milestone. In October, the automaker produced its 4 millionth vehicle and V-6 engine made at its Alabama plant. Honda assembles the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV, Ridgeline pickup and the Acura MDX luxury SUV at its Alabama plant.


Another foreign-owned manufacturer decides to make it in the U.S.

Almost unnoticed, foreign-owned manufacturers are deciding to "make it where you sell it" for profit-driven reasons. Paris-based Sediver, a maker of glass insulators used to insulate electric power lines, is opening a 130,000-square-foot facility in West Memphis, Ark. The company has been selling the product to U.S. utilities for about 60 years and this is the first time the insulators will be made in the U.S. since 2001. The deal will create 70 jobs.


Textile company expands in North Carolina

Specialty Textiles is expanding its plant in Kings Mountain, N.C. The company is investing $11.5 million to add 150,000 square feet to its existing plant. The deal will create 59 new jobs.


Little Rock manufacturers expand

Two manufacturers that are owned by the same family are expanding in Little Rock. G.C. Evans and Sleeve Seal, makers of packaging and labels for the food industry, are moving their operations to a larger facility. The $6.4 million project will create 43 new jobs.


Space Florida official: 200 launches a year possible

Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said in the fall quarter that the Kennedy Space Center could see up to 200 launches a year as space companies such as Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX and OneWeb boost production. DiBello said that Space Florida is quickly transitioning from a federally funded operation to one that is highly responsive to commercial markets. 


Charleston Harbor project gets go-ahead

The $500 million deepening of the Charleston Harbor cleared a hurdle in the fall as the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act. The bill frees up $200 million in federal money for the deepening project.


New megasite in the South being marketed

In the Florida panhandle, near the Alabama-Florida state line, lies the South's newest megasite. Called the Florida-Alabama Mega Site, the site features 2,240 contiguous acres near U.S. Highway 231 near Campbellton, Fla.


Economic miracle: millions of Americans climb out of poverty

In 2015, more Americans climbed above the poverty line than any year since 1999. In addition, the poverty rate fell by the largest percentage in almost 50 years. According to census data released in the fall quarter, more than 3.5 million Americans saw their income rise above the poverty level. The census data showed that African-Americans and Hispanics, who account for more than 45 percent of those below the poverty line of $24,300 for a family of four, saw the most gains in income. Last year, incomes in metro areas grew by 6 percent while incomes in rural areas of the U.S. grew 3.4 percent in 2015.


Mercedes-Benz USA breaks ground on new Atlanta HQ

In the fall quarter, Mercedes-Benz broke ground on its $93 million Sandy Springs, Ga., headquarters. The automaker is relocating its North American headquarters to metro Atlanta from New Jersey. The 200,000-square-foot facility will house up to 1,000 workers and will be completed in the second quarter of 2018. Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, stated that the company was attracted to Atlanta because of the workforce, transportation infrastructure and quality of life. Mercedes operates its only U.S. plant just over 200 miles to the west on Interstate 20 in Vance, Ala. Mercedes is the latest in a series of automotive industry headquarters to call the South home, joining Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and Porsche to name a few.


Lake Charles, Fort Myers land on top five cities adding the most jobs

Lake Charles, La., and Fort Myers, Fla., are two of the top five cities in the U.S. in terms of employment increases from June 2012 and June 2016, according to 24/7 Wall Street. During that time period, Fort Myers-Cape Coral and Lake Charles saw a 16.9 percent employment increase. 


Amazing job stats from Texas' big four

Texas' unbelievable growth since the recession ended is bolstered by four large metros: Austin, Dallas-Forth Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Known as the "Texas Triangle," the four cities contain two-thirds of Texas' population and almost 70 percent of all the jobs in the state. The four markets account for almost 30 percent of job growth in the entire country.


Look to the South for rising income growth

The Census Bureau released a report in the fall that showed that Nashville and Birmingham were the top two cities in the nation for income growth between 2014 and 2015. Nashville saw incomes rise by 10 percent and Birmingham residents' income rose by 9.3 percent. The national average for median household income rose by 5.2 percent during that time. Atlanta, Kansas City, Orlando and Memphis made it into the top 10 in metro income growth.


Automotive parts suppliers spending big bucks in Alabama

Alabama's automotive sector is booming. The three assembly plants are expanding, as is Toyota's engine plant in Huntsville. Over the past year, parts suppliers have invested nearly $1 billion in the state and over 2,500 jobs have been created.


Houston led all U.S. markets in exports

The Houston metro area ranked No. 1 for total goods exported in 2015, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report. Houston exported $97 billion worth of goods last year, beating out New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. It's the fourth consecutive year Houston has led all U.S. markets in exports. Metros in the U.S. exported $1.3 trillion worth of goods in 2015.


Boeing opens $200 million aerospace composite plant in St. Louis

Chicago-based Boeing opened a $200 million plant in St. Louis that will produce composite parts for the aerospace manufacturer’s new 777X airliner. The 424,000-square-foot facility will produce composite wing and empennage parts.


Carbon Fiber manufacturer to break ground on new plant in Northeast Tennessee

LeMond Composites, a manufacturer of carbon fiber for the transportation, renewable energy and infrastructure markets, will break ground on a new plant in Roane County, Tenn. The Oak Ridge-based company will spend $125 million in the deal that will create 242 new jobs.


Cushman & Wakefield adding 600 jobs in St. Louis area

Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield is adding 600 jobs in the St. Louis area, most of them in Town and Country.


Manufacturer breaks ground on Richmond area plant

Officials with Polykon Manufacturing, a maker of ingredients for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics markets, broke ground on a new 55,000-square-foot facility in Henrico County, Va. The $60 million project will create about 50 jobs.


Big lumber mill set for rural Alabama

Two Rivers Lumber Co. will invest $65 million to build a state of the art sawmill in Demopolis, Ala. The project is expected to create 95 jobs.


GM adding 650 jobs at Tennessee plant

General Motors is adding a third shift and 650 jobs at its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The company said the new overnight shift will boost assembly of the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 models.


Another Amazon facility going up in the South

Amazon is expected to open a large warehouse at the Opa-locka, Fla. Airport. The 900,000-square-foot facility will house about 1,000 workers.


Honeywell locating software center in Midtown Atlanta

Honeywell is locating a $20 million software development center and division headquarters in Midtown Atlanta. The deal will create 800 jobs.

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