December 2016

"Mass migration from Mexico is over." 

We all know how tight the labor market is getting, particularly the slim pickings among the skilled labor set. But what about low-skilled workers, the folks hired by business owners in construction, agriculture and the hospitality industries? A shortage of Mexican immigrants is making it difficult for those industries to fill job vacancies. "Mass migration from Mexico is over," Pia Orrenius, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told The Wall Street Journal in an article published in the fall quarter. Data suggests Orrenius is dead on. Between 1995 and 2000, almost 3 million Mexican-born immigrants left Mexico for the U.S. according to the Pew Research Center. That figure was reduced by half to about 1.4 million between 2005 and 2010. And from 2009 to 2014, only about 870,000 Mexican immigrants headed to the U.S. In fact, today, more Mexicans return to their country from the U.S. than cross the border into the U.S.  


Largest new U.S. refinery in 40 years to be built in South Texas

Houston-based Raven Petroleum will build a $500 million oil refinery in Duval County, Texas. When completed in 2018, the facility will be the largest new refinery built in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. 


U.S. Army breaks ground on Army Cyber Command near Augusta, Ga. 

The U.S. Army broke ground on the $85 million first phase of its Army Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon, Ga. The facility, located just outside Augusta, is expected to house up to 1,200 workers who will be at the front line of the nation's cyber defense. Georgia officials estimate the new command could create an additional 16,000 jobs from civilian defense contractors.  


Chattanooga top candidate for VW electric vehicle

Volkswagen announced in the fall quarter it plans to assemble its first electric vehicle in North America starting in 2021. The German automaker's Chattanooga plant is considered the front-runner for the zero-emissions vehicle. VW also operates plants in Mexico. 


Ernst & Young study shows VW supports almost 17,000 jobs in Tennessee

A new study by Ernst & Young showed that Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga was responsible for 16,794 direct and indirect jobs in Tennessee in 2015. Wages for those jobs topped $1 billion and gross economic output totaled $7.8 billion in 2015. The German automaker's plant is expected to house 3,500 workers in April of 2017, shortly after VW's new SUV begins full production. 


Texas shale play holds record 20 billion barrels

In the fall quarter, geologists discovered a vast new field of shale rock near Midland, Texas that could be the largest source of shale oil in the U.S. Called the Wolfcamp Shale geologic formation in West Texas, the area could yield 20 billion barrels of oil, 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If true, the find could be worth nearly $1 trillion. The new discovery is part of the large, energy-rich Permian Basin that is located in West Texas and southern New Mexico. 


TVA territory sees record investment total in FY 2016

The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporate agency of the U.S. government that provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven Southeastern states, saw a record-breaking year of capital investment in fiscal year 2016. TVA assisted in growing or retaining 72,000 jobs and $8.3 billion in capital investment in its territory in the last year. 


Boeing Dreamliner supplier expanding

French aerospace supplier Safran has invested $7 million to expand its plant in Charleston County, S.C., that supplies Boeing's 787 full assembly plant in North Charleston. The deal will create 15 jobs. 


RUAG Space USA to build facility on Space Coast

RUAG Space, a supplier of spacecraft structures and equipment, is building a new facility at the Port Canaveral Titusville Logistic Center. The facility will house 60 workers. 


Auto supplier to build new Alabama plant

Wheel & Truck Group plans to build a $35 million wheel assembly factory in Vance, Ala., near the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant. The Spanish company is hiring 85 workers in the project. 


Big River Steel opens in Arkansas

The $1.3 billion Big River Steel mill near Osceola, Ark., has begun production. The first shift of 260 employees is now housed at the facility, and at buildout up to 600 are expected to work at the plant. 


Pfizer plans biopharmaceutical facility in Missouri

Pfizer will invest $200 million in a new biopharmaceutical facility in Chesterfield, Mo. The deal will create 80 jobs. 


Rural South Carolina county lands $200 million solar project

Clarendon County, S.C., will be the home of two separate solar projects. Adger Solar will build the two solar farms at a cost of $200 million.  


Aerospace composite manufacturer opens plant in South Carolina

Advanced Ceramic Coatings, a joint venture between GE Aviation and Turbocoating Corp., has opened a new plant in Duncan, S.C. The $15 million facility will house 50 workers. 


First Quality expands tissue plant in Anderson, S.C.

First Quality Enterprises will invest in a new tissue-making machine at its plant in Anderson County, S.C. The deal will create hundreds of jobs. 


GKN adding to North Carolina plant

GKN Driveline is investing almost $29 million at its automotive parts plant in Mebane, N.C. The project will create 36 jobs. 


Housing has best month in nine years

Construction in the residential sector soared by 25.5 percent to 1.3 million new homes in October. That is the largest increase in new home construction since July 1982. New construction is also at the highest level since August 2007.  


A chicken in every pot

The South is the largest poultry producing region in the country, and the U.S. is the second-largest producer of chickens in the world (China is first). Exports of the product support millions of jobs, but according to Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, we will need to double poultry production worldwide by 2050. China and Russia were the largest export markets for U.S. poultry, but now Mexico is No. 1. Giles said at a breakfast sponsored by the Greater Hall County (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce that the world's population is expected to grow from 7.3 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, requiring a doubling of poultry production.  


$229 million wood pellet plant opens in Pine Bluff, Ark. 

Highlands Pellets has opened its 600,000 metric-ton-per-year wood pellet facility in Pine Bluff. The pellets are used by European industrial utilities to provide energy. The $229 million facility will house 68 workers. 


Deloitte expanding center in Orlando metro

Deloitte Consulting is expanding its U.S. Technology Delivery Center in the Orlando metro. The company is investing $24 million and hiring 850 new associates. 


UPS investing in Jacksonville hub

Atlanta-based UPS is investing $196 million to expand capacity at its Jacksonville regional distribution hub. Ten jobs will be added to the 1,650 who are already employed there. 


FEUER opens first U.S. plant in Mississippi

FEUER, a manufacturer of powertrains for the automotive industry based in Nordhausen, Germany, officially opened its first U.S. plant and headquarters in Tunica County, Miss., in the fall quarter. The company will produce crankshafts at the $140 million facility. The project will create 300 jobs. 


Alabama transforms state's workforce system

Alabama business, education and workforce training leaders unveiled a new system called Alabama Works. The program will seamlessly link employers looking for skilled workers with residents seeking jobs or job training. Alabama Works brings together key components of the K-12 and two-year college systems, state workforce training and placement services and industry. 


Magna Seating to set up new plant in South Carolina

Canada-based Magna Seating will set up shop in a new 230,000-square-foot facility it will build in Spartanburg County, S.C. The $60 million automotive seat plant will house 250 workers.  


Weather Company relocating, adding jobs in Atlanta

The Weather Company, which makes apps and provides forecasts and data to the aviation, energy and insurance companies, as well as for governments, is relocating its headquarters to Brookhaven in the Atlanta area. The IBM-owned firm will also add 400 employees with the move. 


Champion Petfoods adds capacity, jobs in rural Kentucky

Champion Petfoods is expanding its high quality pet food plant in Logan County, Ky. The company's employment will rise to 200, and so far more than $178 million has been invested in the facility. 


Brose expanding parts plant in Alabama

Brose Tuscaloosa is investing $26.5 million in its auto parts plant in Vance, Ala. The door systems supplier will add 50 jobs. 


Bombardier plans West Virginia expansion

Montreal-based Bombardier will nearly double its service center for regional jets and turboprop planes at the West Virginia Air Center in Bridgeport, W.Va. The company currently has about 400 employees at the center, and it expects to add 150 more. 


Boeing consolidates, adds 400 jobs in Huntsville, Ala.

Boeing announced in the fall quarter it will consolidate its strategic defense and intelligence systems by closing plants in Texas and Virginia. The moves will create 400 jobs in Huntsville. Boeing is investing $70 million in the project. 


Boeing consolidation to bring 500 jobs to St. Louis

Boeing is moving 500 jobs from Huntington Beach, Calif., to its facilities in St. Louis. The project is part of Boeing's consolidation of its Defense, Space and Security division. 


CBS Radio moving 200 jobs to Nashville

The radio division of CBS is moving 200 jobs to downtown Nashville. The media property is investing $5 million in the project. 


Japanese company investing $600 million in South Carolina

Japan-based Teijin Ltd. announced plans in the fall quarter to build a carbon fiber plant on 440 acres in Greenwood, S.C. The company will manufacture carbon fiber to supply the automotive and aerospace industries. The $600 million project will create 220 jobs. 


Company investing $13 billion in unfinished nuclear plant

A Washington, D.C.-based company purchased TVA's unfinished Bellefonte nuclear plant in Hollywood, Ala., and will spend $13 billion on the facility to bring it online as an energy producer. The project will create 2,000 jobs. 


Microsoft expanding rural Virginia data center again

Microsoft Corp. is investing $251 million to expand its data center campus in Boydton, Va. The expansion, which will create 44 new jobs, is the fifth for the company since it opened in 2011. 


UPS investing $400 million in Atlanta

Atlanta-based UPS is investing $400 million in the city to build the company's third largest processing facility. The 1.3 million-square-foot regional hub is being built on a 341-acre site in west Atlanta near Charlie Brown Airport. The project will create 1,250 jobs. 


Call center adds 175 jobs in South Carolina

Finance firm OneMain Holdings is expanding its call center in Fort Mill, S.C. The company is adding 58,000 square feet and adding 175 jobs. 


Big call center deal in High Point, N.C.

Expert Global Solutions is adding 800 workers at its call center in High Point. The call center currently has a staff of over 1,000, making it one of High Point's largest employers. 


Facebook expanding Fort Worth data center

Facebook will increase the size of its data center under construction in Fort Worth to nearly 2.5 million square feet of space, tripling the original size of the project. The project is expected to cost more than $1 billion. 


German company building plant in North Carolina

Norafin Industries, a manufacturer of fire and heat-retardant fabrics, is building a new 75,000-square-foot plant in Henderson County, N.C. The $18 million project will create 46 jobs. 


Nutritional supplement company sets up shop in South Carolina

Thorne Research, a nutritional supplement manufacturer, is building a new facility in Summerville, S.C. The $35 million project is expected to create 330 new jobs. 


Uranium enrichment project to create hundreds of jobs in Paducah, Ky. 

GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment is spending $1 billion to enrich uranium at a new facility being built in Paducah, Ky. The project will create 800 to 1,200 jobs. 


Flooring company hiring in North Carolina

Mohawk Laminate is expanding it plant in Thomasville, N.C. The company is adding 50 positions. 


Manufacturer reopening Tennessee facility

Huber Engineered Woods plans to reopen its flooring and roofing products plant in Spring City, Tenn. The facility was closed during the housing downturn in 2011. The reopening will bring back 140 jobs. 


Big bakery set for Mebane, N.C.

Belgium-based Lotus Bakeries has chosen Mebane, N.C., for a new 160,000-square-foot bakery to produce Lotus Biscoff cookies. The $48 million project is the first for the company in the U.S.


Packaging company adding jobs in Virginia

Dominion Packaging, which does business with Anheuser-Busch, Philip Morris, McDonald's and other companies, is investing $25 million in its plant in Henrico County, Va. The deal will create 60 jobs. 


Tory Burch hiring 150 in Georgia

New York-based clothing and home goods retailer Tory Burch is setting up an e-commerce fulfillment center in McDonough, Ga. The project will create 150 jobs. 


Pepsico adding jobs in rural Mississippi

Pepsico is building a new distribution facility in Leflore County, Miss. The project will create 60 new jobs. 


New Chattanooga-made SUV to be exported worldwide

The new SUV being made in Tennessee will be exported worldwide. The VW Atlas model is part of Volkswagen's $900 million expansion of its Chattanooga plant. The German automaker is adding 1,100 employees to its Tennessee plant to produce the Atlas. 


Continental breaks ground on $1.45 billion Mississippi plant

In the fall quarter, German tire manufacturer Continental AG broke ground on its $1.45 billion tire plant in Clinton, Miss. State and local governments are offering up to $650 million in incentives to the company that will hire 2,500 at the facility. 


Jeld-Wen to build new HQ is Charlotte

Jeld-Wen, a window and door manufacturer that moved to Charlotte from Oregon, is building a new headquarters in southwest Charlotte. The project will create 200 new jobs. 


Minnesota firm hiring hundreds in Orlando

Optum, an information technology-enabled health services firm, is hiring over 400 customer service representatives in Orlando. The company is part of Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group. 


Chinese appliance manufacturer moving HQ to Louisville

Haier America, which recently purchased GE Appliances and its Appliance Park in Louisville that houses 6,000 employees, is relocating its headquarters from Wayne, N.J., to Louisville. About 80 employees will relocate to Louisville. 


GM adding space in Atlanta area

General Motors is adding an additional 250,000 square feet of space in north Atlanta. The informational technology unit will add several hundred jobs. 


Charles Schwab now planning for 5,000 new jobs at its DFW hub

Originally, financial services giant Charles Schwab planned for 2,000 workers at its new Dallas-Fort Worth hub in Westlake. Now the California-based company is planning on hiring 5,000 for the new campus. 


Textile manufacturer to build North Carolina plant

King Charles Industries plans to build a $12.5 million textile plant in Anson County, N.C. The company will produce textiles for the automotive and medical industries. The deal will create 100 jobs. 


Insulation manufacturer investing $45 million in North Carolina

K-Flex, a maker of thermal and acoustic insulation, is investing $45 million in its facilities in Franklin County, N.C. The project calls for 100 new jobs. 


Health care firm to place HQ in Nashville

After eliminating Austin, Atlanta and Tampa, Apricity Resources announced it would place its headquarters in Nashville. The company provides back-office functions for nursing centers. The project will create 200 jobs. 


CVS building large distribution center in Kansas City

Retailer CVS announced in the fall quarter it will build a 752,000-square-foot distribution center on 72 acres in Kansas City. The facility will house 400 workers who will work three shifts. 


South African auto supplier sets up shop in Henderson County, Ky. 

Hansens Aluminum LLC is locating an aluminum extrusion facility in Henderson. The company, which will supply automakers in the U.S. and Mexico, is investing $18.4 million in the project that will create 90 jobs. 


Want skilled manufacturing labor? Check out Eastern Kentucky

Coal miners keep getting laid off in East Kentucky. In fact, the coal industry cut jobs in the region by 27 percent in just the first six months of this year, and layoffs have been ongoing for three years. This has created a skilled and available workforce of about 10,000 people in Eastern Kentucky, including welders, molders, electricians and industrial truck and tractor operators. 


Top three millennial growth cities are in the South

A new report from the U.S. Census showed that millennial population growth (adult ages 18-34) grew faster in Charlotte than any of the 50 largest U.S. metros. Charlotte's millennial population grew by 30.7 percent from 2005-2015. Following Charlotte was Houston, at 17.4 percent and Austin at 16.4 percent. 


Air Force and Rolls-Royce create jobs in Oklahoma

A new public-private partnership between the U.S. Air Force and Rolls-Royce is creating jobs at Tinker Air Force Base's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. The partnership will overhaul and repair F137 engines that power the Air Force's fleet of Global Hawk drones. 

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