January 2018

Alabama captures Toyota-Mazda

It's been 21 years since workers assembled the first vehicle in Tuscaloosa County at the famed Mercedes-Benz plant there. And in those 21 years, Alabama now has 57,000 workers directly employed by OEMs and suppliers. In early January, Alabama ascended to a place no state in the Southern Auto Corridor has reached. Alabama landed the huge Toyota-Mazda joint plant, giving the state four assembly operations, more than any other state in the South.  The total incentive package for the plant is right at $700 million. The state package came in at $379.9 million, with the city of Huntsville (where the plant is being built) chipping in an additional $320 million. The $1.6 billion project is expected to create 4,000 jobs with a completion date of 2021. Reports indicate that the project came down to a site in the Triad region of North Carolina and the site where the project is being built off Interstate 65 in Huntsville. 


Kentucky sets record for investments in 2017

The Commonwealth of Kentucky saw new and expanded economic development investments in 2017 that totaled $9.2 billion, a state record. The three biggest deals from Toyota, Amazon and Braidy Industries totaled $4.1 billion and more than 3,000 new jobs. 


Automotive supplier opens new Georgia facility

Daesol Material Georgia has completed its $35 million facility in Harris County, Ga. The plant produces automotive fiber padding and will house 110 workers. 


Wood manufacturer creating jobs in rural Tennessee

Escue Wood Treated Products is building a new facility in Milan, Tenn. The plant will create 100 new jobs in Gibson County. 


Stamping company expanding in Tennessee

MetriCan Stamping, a maker of tooling and stamped metal components, is expanding its plant in Dickson, Tenn. The company is investing almost $19 million and adding 104 jobs.  


Texas population passes 28 million 

In 2017, Texas added almost 400,000 new residents, passing the 28 million mark. Texas is the second most populated state behind only California. Texas grew by 1.4 percent in 2017, the seventh fastest growing state in the U.S. At 2.2 percent, Idaho was the fastest growing state last year. 


Meat plant expands in Missouri

Frick's Quality Meats broke ground in the winter quarter on an $11.5 million expansion of its plant in Washington, Mo. The project will create 40 new jobs. 


Parker Hannifin adding workers in Mississippi

Parker Hannifin, a manufacturer of motion and control systems for the automotive industry, is expanding its facility in Holly Springs, Miss. The deal will add 50 jobs. 


Movement Mortgage adding hundreds of jobs in South Carolina

Movement Mortgage broke ground in the winter quarter on a new 90,000-square-foot building next to its headquarters in Lancaster County, S.C. The $18 million project will create 700 jobs. 


New plant slated for Alabama

John Soules Foods has purchased a 266,000-square-foot facility in Valley,  Ala. The company is a maker of fully-cooked beef and chicken meals. Phase one of the $70 million project will add 210 employees and phase two will add 300. 


Butterball investing in North Carolina operations

Butterball, the nation's largest turkey producer, is investing $20 million to expand its operations in Raeford, N.C. The company will add 50 jobs. 


Avant creating 200 jobs in Tennessee

Avant, a financial services firm, is opening up a new call center in Louisville, Tenn., which is located near Knoxville in Blount County. The deal will create 200 jobs. 


Dollar General to build Texas distribution center

Tennessee-based Dollar General announced it will build a new 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Longview, Texas. The center, which will service around 1,000 stories, will house 400 workers. 


World's largest plastic plant to be built in South Texas

Exxon-Sabic will build a $10 billion plastics plant just north of Corpus Christi Bay in South Texas. The ethane plant will create thousands of construction jobs. 


Aerospace-auto parts manufacturer to locate plant in South Carolina

PG Aerospace, a manufacturer of precision parts for the automotive and aerospace industries, is locating a new facility in Liberty, S.C. The plant will house 22 workers. 


$600 million data center slated for Georgia

CyrusOne is investing $600 million in a new data center campus in Douglasville, Ga. The project will create 38 jobs. 


Manufacturer creating jobs in rural Georgia

Modutek International, a manufacturer of modular power systems, will invest more than $6 million in a facility in Treutlen County, Ga. The deal will create 70 new jobs. 


Chinese tire plant goes to North Carolina

In the winter quarter, Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle Tyre announced it will invest nearly $580 million in a new plant in Edgecombe County, N.C. The passenger tire plant will be the first U.S. facility for the company. The project will create about 800 jobs. 


Advanced manufacturer expands in Florida

Danfoss Turbocor Compressors plans to add 120 full-time workers at a new facility in Tallahassee that will be operational by 2019. The new facility, called a Research and Development Competence Center, will include engineering and manufacturing operations. 


Belgian manufacturer to build first U.S. plant in North Carolina

Belgium-based Dhollandia MFG, a family-owned manufacturer of hydraulic lifts for vehicles, is building a new, 160,000-square-foot plant in Bessemer City, N.C. The $30 million plant will house 150 to 200 workers. 


Distribution center set for Burke County, N.C.

Sunrise Global Marketing, the manufacturer of Greenworks Tools, plans to invest $10 million in a distribution center in the former 510,000-square-foot HHG building in Burke County, N.C. The deal will create 187 new jobs. 


Air Force selects Montgomery, Ala., for F-35 fighter jet program

The U.S. Air Force has selected the Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing for the new F-35A fighter jet program, a decision that is expected to spur significant job creation and new investment. Gov. Kay Ivey said about the project, "The decision to send the F-35 to Montgomery is a testament as the leading aerospace state in the nation." The decision means the 187th Fighter Wing will receive the Air Force's latest fighter aircraft to replace its aging F-16 jets. It also ensures a future for the unit and around 1,000 new jobs in the Montgomery area. Over time, as much as $3 billion could be invested in the program. 


Automotive supplier locates in Tennessee

Martin Technologies, an engineering and manufacturer for the automotive industry, will invest $6 million to locate a plant in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The operation will include 240 new jobs. 


SmartAsset singles out Alabama micropolitan area

SmartAsset, a financial technology company, rated the best places in the U.S. for manufacturers in the winter quarter. According to the study, the best place for manufacturing in the U.S. is the Talladega-Sylacauga Micropolitan Statistical Area. The area is home to about 93,000 people and the micropolitan area consists of Talladega and Coosa counties. Approximately 39 percent of the employees there work in manufacturing. Coming in second in the study was the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C., metropolitan area. 


Food ingredients firm to establish center in Tulsa

Chicago-based Ingredion, which makes ingredients for food and beverages, is establishing a shared service center in Tulsa that will be staffed by 60 people. The office will focus on accounting for the company worldwide. 


Manufacturer to expand in rural North Carolina

Pennsylvania-based Plastek, a maker of packaging for hyfiene products, is expanding its plant in Richmond County, N.C. The $4.2 million investment will call for 63 new jobs. 


Alabama company expanding in Arkansas

Rusken Packaging will expand its corrugated fiber box plant in Harrisburg, Ark. The $20 million project will create 50 new jobs. 


New Jersey company opening innovation hub in North Carolina

Conduent plans to open an innovation hub in Morrisville, N.C. The company will invest $2.7 million and create 200 jobs that are expected to average $100,000 in payroll per year. 


Long-term solar project set for South Carolina

Cypress Creek Renewables, a developer of long-term solar energy projects, will build a $115 million solar array in Orangeburg County, S.C. The 550-acre, 75-megawatt facility will be placed into service in 2019. 


Big deal set for Kentucky

Battery manufacturer EnerBlu is relocating its headquarters and production facility to Kentucky from California. The headquarters operation will go to Lexington and the 1 million-square-foot production facility will be built in Pikeville. The company makes batteries that power buses, trucks, military equipment and other vehicles. The $412 million project will create almost 1,000 jobs at the two locations. 


Coca-Cola investing in Alabama plant

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United is investing in improvements at its plant in Montgomery. The company is injecting $28 million worth of improvements at the facility. 


South Carolina company to relocate HQ to Fort Lauderdale

KEMET Corp. will relocate its U.S. headquarters from Greenville, S.C., to downtown Fort Lauderdale. The company, which makes electronic components, will lease almost 65,000 square feet of space, which will house about 150 employees. 


Milwaukee Tool hiring 660 in Mississippi

Milwaukee Tool, which employs more than 1,600 in Mississippi, is adding 660 more workers at the company's sites in Jackson, Greenwood and Olive Branch. The company operates power tool manufacturing, accessory manufacturing and distribution at the three sites. 


Blue Origin moves into new Florida factory

Blue Origin has completed construction of its 750,000-square-foot rocket factory on Florida's Space Coast. The company will build the New Glenn rocket at the $205 million plant, which houses 300 workers. Blue Origin joins SpaceX (where it launches and lands its rockets), United Launch Alliance and satellite manufacturer OneWeb in Brevard County. 


Life sciences company expands in Memphis

Agilent Technologies, a California-based life sciences company, is expanding its logistics operations in Memphis. The project calls for 117 new jobs. 


Aftermarket auto supplier adding jobs in South Carolina

Fab Fours, an aftermarket auto accessory manufacturer, will double its workforce at its Lancaster County, S.C., plant. The company will invest $5.7 million and add 88 workers. 

Cabinets to Go investing in Tennessee

Cabinets to Go, the largest specialty retailer of kitchen cabinets in the U.S., is investing $6.5 million in its headquarters and distribution center in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The project will increase employment by 70. 


South Carolina steel plant restarting

The Georgetown steelworks is reopening after being purchased by London-based Liberty House. The company plans to fire up the plant in the spring with 250 workers. 


Aerospace supplier adding jobs in Alabama

Hexcel will expand its existing plant in Decatur. The site has been chosen by the company for its first integrated U.S. carbon fiber and PAN production facility. The advanced composites are used in the aerospace and industrial markets. The deal will create 90 new jobs. 


Wayne Farms launches $105 million Alabama expansion

Wayne Farms is starting a major expansion at its fresh processing facility in Enterprise, Ala. The company is investing $105 million and adding 400 jobs at the facility. 


Spirit AeroSystems expanding North Carolina operations

Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems is expanding its operations at the North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston, N.C. The company, which makes aerostructures for commercial and defense customers, is investing $55.7 million in the plant in Eastern North Carolina. 


Recycler growing in Montgomery, Ala. 

Jet Polymer Recycling is investing $8 million and adding 67 new jobs at its two recycling centers in Montgomery, Ala. 


Apple, Finisar to hire 500 in Sherman, Texas

A partnership between Apple and Finisar will bring 500 high-tech jobs to Sherman, Texas, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro. California-based Finisar, a manufacturer of optical communication components such as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers used in facial identification, will receive $390 million from Apple to fund the new project. Finisar purchased an existing, 700,000-square-foot building in Sherman to produce the components that are used in the new iPhone X for facial ID and portrait mode selfies. 


Bridgestone unveils its new 30-story headquarters tower in Nashville

The new North American headquarters for Bridgestone was unveiled in the winter quarter in downtown Nashville. The $200 million tower is the fifth largest office tower in Nashville. The building houses 1,900 employees, some of which have relocated from Chicago and Indianapolis. Two floors are empty to account for future growth. Gordon Knapp, CEO of Bridgestone Americas, said at the ribbon cutting, "We look forward to calling Nashville home for the next 50 years." 


U.S. manufacturers are fired up

Unprecedented optimism from manufacturers in the U.S. has been the theme since 2010, when the word "reshoring" was apparently invented. But the latest Manufacturers' Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2017, done by the National Association of Manufacturers, rose to unprecedented heights. Of those taking the survey, 94.6 percent say they are positive about their own company's outlook. It is the highest optimism level in the study's 20-year history. 


Editorial: Are we in the longest economic expansion in U.S. history?

By Michael Randle


The answer to that headline question is not yet answered. The U.S. has experienced -- so far -- the third longest expansion in U.S. history, and if GDP stays on the positive side until the second half of 2019, we are indeed in the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, beating the long expansion of the 1990s. 


In an article in The Wall Street Journal, on average, economists project GDP growth of 2.6 percent in 2018, followed by a 2 percent trend in 2019 that has been the norm since the recession ended in the summer of 2009. 


There is no question in my mind that a lack of labor might keep the U.S. from setting the more-than-9-year economic expansion record. There is simply no labor left, and with a labor shed that is bare because so many places are beyond full employment, it is going to be much tougher to keep GDP on the positive side for five more quarters. 


We have averaged about 2.4 million jobs created per year since this economic expansion began. In 2017, the U.S. created just 1.7 million jobs, not because the jobs aren't there (there are more than 5 million jobs available in the U.S. right now), but because the workers are not there. 


This slow-but-steady expansion still has some legs. But it is on its last legs. Whether it can continue to be sustained for 16 more months to break the record will be determined by the amount of labor available during that time. 




Hong Kong textile manufacturer to locate in Bristol, Va. 

The former Ball Corp. plant closed in Bristol in 2016. But, picking up the slack in December was Hong Kong textile manufacturer American Merchant (subsidiary of Merchant House International), which announced it would invest $20 million in the old Ball Corp. facility to produce high-end bath towels for sale in the U.S. The company will install 50 high-tech machines and will hire 405 in the deal. 


Tool maker opening new plant in South Carolina

Power-tool maker Stanley Black & Decker announced in the winter it is opening a new manufacturing facility in Fort Mill, S.C. The 345,000-square-foot plant will house 500 workers who will assemble cordless Dewalt tools. The company is investing $31 million in the project. 


Auto supplier expands in North Carolina

Linamar Forgings Carolina, an automotive parts manufacturer, is expanding its facilities in Wilson County, N.C. The company will add two new products — transmission shafts and differential gears. The $6.8 million deal will create 31 jobs. 


Mars Petcare expanding HQ in Tennessee

Mars Petcare is expanding its new headquarters in Williamson County, Tenn. The company is adding 200 employees. 


Tier 1 Hyundai supplier expanding in Alabama

Hwashin America is undergoing another expansion of its plant in Greenville, Ala. The company supplies Hyundai's plant in Montgomery. The $23 million project will create 100 new jobs. 


Assurant adding support center near Atlanta

Assurant, a leader in risk management, is setting up a technical support center in Gwinnett County, Ga. The project calls for 335 jobs. 


T-Mobile adding 350 jobs in Texas

T-Mobile announced it is expanding its regional headquarters in Frisco, Texas. The Washington-based mobile carrier will add 350 new jobs. 


North Carolina wins Corning deal

New York-based Corning will add 428 jobs at plants it operates in Durham and Edgecombe counties in North Carolina. The Durham plant will see 317 new jobs and the Edgecombe plant will see 111. The company, which makes glass products for the pharmaceutical industry, will invest a total of $275 million at the two sites. 


Japanese company to locate first U.S. plant in Kentucky

Takigawa Corp., a flexible packaging and films producer, will invest $46 million in its first U.S. plant in Bardstown, Ky. The company will build an 180,000-square-foot plant that will house 180 workers. 


Oracle moves into new Austin digs

Oracle Corp. has moved into its new Austin campus. About 3,000 worker will move into the campus this year. The company has enough room for 2,000 more. 


Wayfair setting up Florida distribution centers

Wayfair, an online home goods retailer, is opening three new distribution centers in Tampa, Orlando and Pompano Beach. The three projects will create 100 jobs. 


New York medical device firm moving to Atlanta

Koning Corp., a medical technology company that has developed an innovative breast cancer screening device, is relocating its headquarters from Rochester, N.Y., to Atlanta's innovation district at Georgia Institute of Technology. The deal will create 400 jobs. 


Looks like Volkswagen electric vehicle future is in Chattanooga

While no official announcement has been made, it looks like VW will build electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The German automaker has began advertising on social media sites such as LinkedIn for specialized positions in Chattanooga to support electric vehicle production and design. Reports say that VW will build four electric vehicles at its only U.S. plant. 


Shaw investing $184 million in Alabama plant

Shaw Industries Group will invest $184 million in its manufacturing facility in Andalusia, Ala. New manufacturing equipment will be installed at the plant, which produces fiber used to make carpet. Over 1,000 workers are employed at the plant. 


Optical distributor plans $27 million expansion in Florence, S.C.

ABB Optical Group plans to invest $27 million in its facility in Florence. The project will create 173 jobs, more than tripling the current workforce. 


Pork processor expands in Arkansas

Morrilton Packing Co., the parent company for Petit Jean Meats, is expanding its production facility in Morrilton, Ark. The pork processor and wholesaler is investing $2.1 million and adding 34 new jobs. 


Auto wheel manufacturer investing in Kentucky

TOPY America, a company based near Frankfort, Ky., is investing $37 million in its plant there. The upgrades will improve both efficiency and work environment for the 325 employees working there. The plant produces 675,000 multiple wheel types a month for automakers such as Ford, Kia, Nissan, GM and Honda. 


Merchant pig iron producer to build new plant in Kentucky

Ironton Enterprises, a producer of merchant pig iron, will build a new $45 million plant in Paducah, Ky. The iron is used by the steel and foundry industries. Sixty-six jobs will be created. 


South Korean parts supplier picks Kentucky for first U.S. plant

DAE-IL, a manufacturer of powertrain parts used in the automotive industry, will invest $50 million in a new plant in Murray, Ky. The deal will create 120 full-time jobs. 


Big deal in Virginia Beach

Global Technical Systems (GTS) will invest almost $55 million in a new, electro-mechanical energy storage system operation in Virginia Beach, Va. Virginia successfully competed against Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., for the project that will create 1,100 jobs. 


Alabama parts supplier adding jobs

Germany-based Boysen Alabama is adding more equipment and 70 jobs at its plant in Vance, Ala. The company manufactures exhaust systems for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance. 


Jim Beam expanding in Kentucky

Clermont, Ky.-based Jim Beam Brands is building as many as 15 barrel-aging warehouses in Bullitt County. The $585 million expansion is being done to meet future demand. 


Bosch growing Upstate South Carolina plant

Bosch Group, a maker of automotive electric components, is investing $152 million in its plant in Anderson County, S.C. The project will create 130 new jobs. 


Manufacturing unemployment at record low

While the overall unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent, the manufacturing sector has never seen its unemployment rate lower than the 2.6 percent it achieved in December. The rate ties the record low in December 2000. 


Manufacturing hiring tops 1 million since 2010

With 31,000 new net hires in November, the manufacturing sector has now added over 1 million new jobs since the end of the recession in the summer of 2009.  


GEICO hiring 500 in Virginia Beach

GEICO is hiring for about 500 positions at its campus in Virginia Beach. The insurer will add jobs in claims, sales and service. 


USAA on hiring spree in San Antonio

USAA is preparing to move thousands of jobs to downtown San Antonio. During the move, the financial services giant will also add about 1,500 new jobs. 


HVAC manufacturer adding jobs in South Carolina

Allied Air, a manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning products, is investing $10 million in its facilities in Orangeburg County, S.C. The expansion is expected to create 100 jobs. 


Vaccine maker expanding in North Carolina

Seqirus, a global manufacturer of vaccines, is investing $9 million to expand its sprawling plant in Holly Springs, N.C. The company made more than 21 million doses of flu vaccine last year. The expansion will allow the company to store more vaccines in case of a pandemic. 


Biotech company picks Durham, N.C.

Massachusetts-based biotech firm Bluebird Bio has selected Durham for a new facility. The company will open its third U.S. site at a 125,000-square-foot facility. Bluebird develops gene and cell therapies for genetic diseases and T cell-based immunotherapies to treat cancer. The company plans to hire 50 employees. 


German company locates in North Carolina

VEKA, a German vinyl extrusion manufacturer, is investing $18 million in a new plant in Morganton, N.C. The company will hire 102 in the deal. 


Southwire expands Georgia plant

Georgia-based Southwire will expand its operation in Villa Rica. The company will build a 400,000-square-foot addition to its existing facility. The wire and cable manufacturer will invest $20 million and add 60 new jobs. 


Nissan launches new LEAF in Tennessee

Nissan launched production of its new electric LEAF model in the winter quarter at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The new model is a milestone for the 30-year-old plant that houses 8,400 workers that assemble almost 650,000 vehicles a year. 


Over 1,000 jobs slated for Virginia Beach

A Virginia-based company announced in the winter quarter that it will build a 540,000-square-foot facility in Virginia Beach that will house 1,100 workers. Global Technical Systems will make batteries that can store and produce energy. The company will invest $54 million in the deal. 


Tennessee farm adding 120 jobs

Tosh Farms announced in the winter it will add 120 jobs to its family farm in Paris, Tenn. A family farm since 1913, Tosh Farms now has three divisions — Tosh Farms, Tosh Pork, and Bacon by Tosh. The business currently employs 350. 


Macon, Ga., mill gets big investment

Graphic Packaging International plans to invest $136.8 million in new equipment at its mill in Macon. The company designs and manufactures paperboard used in packaging for the food and beverage industry. 


California food manufacturer to build distribution center in North Texas

Irvine, Calif.-based Golden State Foods plans to open a $70 million manufacturing and distribution facility in Burleson, Texas. The company makes and distributes products to more than 125,000 restaurants. The $70 million deal will create 150 new jobs. 


Central Florida tech firm adding 355 jobs

Lake Mary-based software firm Superion is adding 87,000 square feet of space and 355 jobs at its headquarters there. 


Cardone Industries to build South Texas distribution center

Cardone Industries, a maker of car parts, will soon begin construction on a $50 million distribution center in Harlingen, Texas. The 920,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in December 2018. The center will support "hundreds of jobs." 


Toyota Boshoku expands in Jackson, Tenn. 

Toyota Boshoku, a manufacturer of premium automotive interior systems, will invest $31 million in its plant in Jackson, Tenn. The company will add 143,000 additional square feet of space in the expansion, which will also add 139 jobs. 


Praxair, GE Aviation open PG Technologies plant in Mississippi

In the winter quarter, Praxair, an industrial gas company, and GE Aviation opened their PG Technologies plant in Ellisville, Miss. The plant produces advanced coatings that enable next-generation jet engines to operate in higher temperatures. The 300,000-square-foot facility houses 250 workers. 


Mortgage company hiring hundreds in El Paso

Pacific Union Financial will invest millions in a new project in El Paso, Texas. The company expects to hire 700 starting at $23 an hour. 


Irving, Texas lands 1,090 jobs

Cognizant, a Fortune 200 technology company, will invest $8 million in a regional technology and service delivery center in Irving. The project is expected to create almost 1,100 jobs. 


Liberty Mutual's new regional HQ opens in Plano, Texas

Boston-based Liberty Mutual moved into its new $325 million regional hub in Plano in January. About 2,700 employees from offices in Richardson, Frisco and Irving are consolidating into the 1 million-square-foot facility. Thousands more will be hired over the next two years as well. 

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