February 2019

U.S. population growth hits 80-year low

Census data published in the winter quarter showed that the U.S. population grew from 2017 to 2018 by just 0.62 percent. The growth is the lowest registered since 1937, or in the last 80 years. Nearly a fifth of all states lost population over the past two years. 


Manufacturing adding more jobs than any year in the last 30 years

The manufacturing industry posted net job gains of 284,000 in calendar year 2018. That is the largest increase since 1997. In December, the manufacturing sector added 32,000 jobs. Most of the gains were in durable goods, such as machinery, furniture, automotive and aerospace. The nation created a net gain of 207,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017. 


The South dominates Milken Institute's Best Performing Cities ranking

For the second consecutive year, Provo, Utah, with its large high-tech sector, job and wage growth, is the Best Performing City in the U.S., according to the Milken Institute. But Raleigh, N.C., came in second and Dallas third. Rounding out the top 10 are San Francisco, Fort Collins, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Orlando, Nashville, Austin and Salt Lake City. 


Florida is still raking in the jobs

As of December, Florida's unemployment rate was 3.3 percent and its annual growth rate of 3.2 percent continues to outpace the nation's job growth rate of 2.0 percent. In 2018, Florida created 241,000 private sector jobs, and almost 22,000 jobs were created in December in the Sunshine State. 


Blue Origin breaks ground on $200 million Alabama rocket engine plant

In the winter quarter, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin broke ground on a new $200 million rocket engine plant in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Ala. About 350 workers will build the BE-4 rocket engine that will be used to power the next generation of rockets at United Launch Alliance's rocket facility in Decatur. The engines will also be used on Blue Origin's next generation New Glenn rocket, which is assembled in Brevard County, Fla. 


It's not just automobiles Alabama makes; the state made almost 1.6 million engines in 2018

Mazda and Toyota are building their joint plant in Huntsville, the latest automotive plant to announce a facility in the state. Soon Mazda and Toyota will join Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz, making Alabama the only U.S. state to be home to four foreign-owned assembly plants. In addition, Alabama workers built almost 1.6 million engines in calendar year 2018. Toyota's engine plant in Huntsville led the way with 630,000 engines built. Hyundai's plant in Montgomery produced 597,000 engines and Honda's plant in Talladega County produced 356,000 engines. 


U.S. to become a net energy exporter in 2020

The fracking frenzy will make the U.S. a net oil and gas exporter in 2020 says the Department of Energy's statistics bureau. It will be the first time we export more oil and gas than we import in 70 years. U.S. crude output continues to grow, while domestic consumption continues to decline. 


Alabama job growth sets record

In 2018, Alabama saw record job growth, posting a 2.2 percent gain for year-over-year. That percentage outpaced the nation's job growth rate of 1.8 percent in 2018. Economic projections for job growth in 2018 were at 27,000; however, the state saw a net increase of 44,300 jobs. Alabama total employment also set a record in December with 2,072,600 people employed in the state. 


Credit union to create nearly 600 jobs in San Antonio

Pentagon Federal Credit Union announced it will open a new $48 million regional financial center in San Antonio, Texas. The project will create 571 new jobs. 


Online job site to hire 250 in Virginia

Chicago-based CareerBuilder plans to open a call center in Winchester, Va. The online employment website will hire 250 in the deal. 


Four hundred jobs coming to Mississippi county

Corelle Brands, a maker of housewares brands including Pyrex, Snapware and Corelle, announced in the winter quarter it is moving part of its manufacturing and distribution operations to Marshall County, Miss. The facilities will be located in the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park near Byhalia. The $27 million project will create 400 jobs. 


Port of New Orleans sets record for container traffic

The Port of New Orleans set a record for container traffic in 2018. The port handled more than 591,000 20-foot equivalent units, an increase of more than 12 percent compared to 2017. Containers make up about 60 percent of the port's cargo volume. 


Entergy adding jobs in Mississippi nuclear operations

Power company Entergy is adding jobs at its nuclear power division headquarters in Jackson, Miss., and also at its nuclear power plant in Grand Gulf, Miss. New Orleans-based Entergy is adding 250 jobs in Jackson and 70 at its nuclear plant in Grand Gulf. 


U.S. industry groups send appeal to Trump to end U.S. metals tariffs

Four dozen U.S.-based industry groups sent a letter of appeal to the Trump administration in January asking to put an end to the steep U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The appeal centered on the metal tariffs creating economic hardship for those who use imported metal for final assembly of a variety of products, including automotive and aerospace. The industries are also suffering from the retaliation of tariffs by Mexico, European nations and China. 


Lakeland, Fla., is Realtor.com's top real estate market in the U.S.

Beating out cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami and Austin, Lakeland has been named the No. 1 real estate market for 2019 by Realtor.com. Lakeland, which is between Tampa and Orlando on I-4, is projected to have a 5 percent sales growth and 7.4 percent price growth this year. The growth is being driven by a millennial population that is expected to take a 32 percent share of mortgages in the Polk County city. 


Finnish company to move HQ to Atlanta from New York

Smarp, a Helsinki, Finland-based content and distribution company, is moving its North American headquarters to Atlanta from New York. The company plans to invest $3 million and create 60 jobs in the move. 


Data analytics firm relocates to St. Pete, Fla. 

iSocrates, a leader in programmatic media, is relocating its headquarters from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Fla. The project will create 50 jobs. 


U.S. LNG exports set record as another facility goes online

U.S. liquefied natural gas exports hit record levels in November and December 2018 due in part to a new LNG export facility opening at the Port of Corpus Christi. Houston-based Cheniere Energy opened the processing unit, known as a train. Cheniere also owns and operates a similar facility in Southwest Louisiana. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, LNG exports averaged 3.6 billion cubic feet per day in November and 3.9 billion cubic feet per day in December. 


Cape Canaveral has captured a new tenant. 

Los Angeles-based Relatively Space, a 3-D rocket manufacturer and launch services provider, has signed a lease to build and operate its own launch facilities at Launch Complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company is the fourth with orbital launch site capability at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX, ULA and Blue Origin are the other three. 


Texas Bullet Train set for construction next year 

The proposed Texas Bullet Train is set to begin construction next year if approved by the Federal Railroad Association. The train, which is being developed by Central Japan Railway Company and its partner Texas Central, will run from downtown Dallas to Northwest Houston. The current drive between the two cities is often longer than four hours and projections show it will spike to six and a half hours in 20 years. The Bullet Train will make that trek in 90 minutes running at 205 mph. The Texas Bullet Train is privately funded and the locations for stations are already chosen. 


Walmart to hire 2,000 for its lab division

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart announced in the winter quarter it will hire 2,000 technology workers this year in its labs division to support its e-commerce business and for its in-store innovations. Walmart Labs develops technologies that support technical capabilities in stores and online. The hires will be made in Walmart Labs' nine offices throughout the country and in Ireland and India. 


Cybersecurity startup to hire 50 in Georgia

OneLogin, a cloud-based cybersecurity identity provider, is starting up in Peachtree Corners, Ga. The company is opening a "Growth Center" that is expected to house 50 workers. 


Auto supplier to set up shop in South Carolina

Fuyao North America is investing $16 million in a facility in Fountain Inn, S.C. The company, which makes automotive glass, will hire 70 in the deal.


Louisville, Ky., airport adopts new name

Louisville's Airport Authority has changed the name of its airport from the Louisville International Airport to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in honor of the late boxing legend. Ali is Louisville's most famous native son. 


GM unveils new Cadillac SUV being built in Tennessee

General Motors, which recently announced the closure of five North American factories, unveiled the 2020 Cadillac XTC, which will be assembled at its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. GM invested $300 million in its Tennessee facility to create a line for the XTC and has invested more than $2 billion in the plant since 2010. The Spring Hill facility is GM's largest, encompassing 7.1 million square feet. 


Massive solar power project for Google's data centers in Northern Alabama and Tennessee

Google is working with TVA to deploy 1.6 million solar panels to power two huge Google data centers in Alabama and Tennessee. The solar farms will be located in Hollywood, Ala., and Yum Yum, Tenn. The sites will be among the largest energy projects in the Tennessee Valley region and the largest ever to be built for Google. 


New megasite in the South is ready for occupant

The I-77 International Megasite is now ready for a single occupant in Fairfield County, S.C. The 1,500-acre site is about 20 miles north of Columbia, S.C., and 60 miles south of Charlotte. The site is designed for a single user and a labor force of nearly 850,000 people, and more than 20 vocational and technical training facilities are within an hour's drive or less. 


New North Carolina megasite planned

A former 3.5 million-square-foot tobacco factory in Concord, N.C., will be demolished to make way for a 2,000-acre megasite. The demolition of the sprawling Phillip Morris operation will take the rest of the year. When completed, the site will be called The Grounds at Concord. 


Volkswagen to assemble electric vehicles at its Tennessee plant 

German automaker Volkswagen has chosen its Chattanooga plant for the company's first electric vehicle facility in North America. VW will invest $800 million to retrofit the plant for electric vehicle production. The first EVs are expected to roll out of the plant in 2022. About 1,000 jobs are being generated in the expansion. 


Microsoft once again expands its data center in Mecklenburg County, Va. 

Washington-based Microsoft is investing significant capital into its data center in Mecklenburg County, Va. It is the sixth time the company has expanded the data center since 2010 when it opened. The project will create 100 jobs. 


Firearm manufacturer to locate in Southwest Georgia

Firearm component manufacturer Check-Mate Industries is locating a facility in Southwest Georgia. The $16 million deal will create 230 jobs. 


Airbus breaks ground on new line in Mobile, Ala. 

Jetliner manufacturer Airbus broke ground on a new $300 million manufacturing facility in Mobile in January. The new assembly line will produce the A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft for U.S. airline customers. Currently, Airbus makes the A320 family aircraft in Mobile. The expansion will create 400 new jobs. 


SpaceX to build Mars spaceship in South Texas

In the winter quarter, California-based SpaceX announced that it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville. The company has a launch facility in Boca Chica, where one prototype of the spacecraft has already been assembled. The decision is a blow to California, where the company has already announced significant layoffs. Originally, the plan was to build the spacecraft at the Port of Los Angeles. Called the Starship, the SpaceX Mars spacecraft is propelled by the largest rocket ever built. 


Insurance giant Progressive to hire 1,500 in Tampa

Ohio-based Progressive is hiring 1,000 workers in Tampa. The jobs will be in customer service, sales and claims representatives with an emphasis on workers who a bilingual in English and Spanish. 


Progressive to hire 1,000 in Austin

Ohio-based Progressive is hiring 1,000 workers in Austin. The jobs will be in customer service, sales and claims representatives with an emphasis on workers who are bilingual in English and Spanish. 


Dental implant manufacturer expands in Alabama

BioHorizons, an Alabama-based dental implant manufacturer, is investing $2 million in its facilities in Hoover, Ala. The company will hire 60 in the deal. 


Packaging films manufacturer expands in Virginia

Klockner Pentaplast, a maker of films used in pharmaceutical and medical device packaging, is investing $25 million in its plant in Louisa County, Va. The project will create 34 new jobs. 


Health IT company establishing headquarters in Atlanta metro

BioIQ, a health IT company that provides health testing and immunization programs for health plans, is relocating its headquarters from California to Cobb County, Ga. The $5 million project will create 500 jobs. 


Bedding manufacturer expanding in Northeast Mississippi

Specialty foam manufacturer Elite Comfort Solutions is increasing capacity at its plant in Verona, Miss. The bedding manufacturer is investing $1.9 million and adding 65 jobs. 


Louisiana lands $2.2 billion methanol complex

South Louisiana Methanol announced in January it will build a $2.2 billion methanol complex in St. James Parish. The complex will be built on a 1,500-acre site on the Mississippi River.


Exports of U.S.-made German vehicles drops significantly

There are four German automotive plants in the U.S., and they are all located in the South. Mercedes-Benz operates plants in Alabama and South Carolina, BMW's largest plant worldwide is in South Carolina, and Volkswagen operates a large plant in Tennessee. The German automakers count on exports to China and Europe. Last year, German automakers produced 750,000 vehicles in the Southern Auto Corridor, of which 56 percent were exported to Europe and China. However, as a result of tariffs, exports to China fell by 37 percent in 2018, dropping from 150,000 vehicles to 95,000.  


$75 million recycling facility captured by South Carolina

Green Tech Solution, a recycler of plastics, scrap metal, electronics and more, is investing $75 million in a facility in Cherokee County, S.C. Green Tech Solution, which will house 200 workers at the facility, is a subsidiary of Tianjin Sheng Xin, an investment company headquartered in Tianjin, China. 


Tube manufacturer to locate plant, headquarters in Oklahoma

Salem Tube, a subsidiary of Spain-based Tubacex Group, is establishing its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Durant, Okla. The company makes stainless steel and nickel alloy tubes. The $40 million project will create 140 jobs. 


Fujifilm to expand biotech facility in the Research Triangle

Fujifilm Diosyth Biotechnologies is expanding its manufacturing operations in Research Triangle Park. The company is investing about $45 million and adding 100 jobs to add capacity at its single use cell culture manufacturing trains. 


Furniture startup to bring 200 jobs to Hickory, N.C.

Design Foundry, a new upholstered furniture company, announced it will begin manufacturing in a former furniture plant in Hickory, N.C. The project will create 200 jobs. 


Military Systems Group expands in Nashville

Military Systems Group, a designer and manufacturer of specialty weapons mounting systems, is expanding its manufacturing operations in Nashville. The company is adding 70 jobs in the deal. 


Wooden pallet manufacturer expanding in South Carolina

Central Packaging and Crating, a maker of wooden, heat-treated pallets, is investing $6 million at its plant in Greenwood, S.C. The project will create 37 jobs. 


ABB creating jobs in Oklahoma

In the winter quarter, ABB announced it will consolidate all of its North American process gas chromatograph analyzer manufacturing to its facility in Bartlesville, Okla. The project will add 90 jobs. 


Texas maintains No. 1 standing on U-Haul's annual top 50 growth states

Texas is still the No. 1 in-migration state. U-Haul generated migration data from over 2 million one-way truck rental transactions in 2018 to determine which states are considered "growth states" and then ranks them. Texas saw a 5 percent increase in one way U-Haul truck rentals arriving in the state over 2017. North Texas and the Austin area led the state in one-way truck traffic. 

Food manufacturer adding capacity in St. Tammany Parish, La.

Diversified Foods and Seasonings is investing $12 million to expand and upgrade its plant in Madisonville, La. The project is a result of moving a production line from Nebraska to Louisiana. The deal will create 44 jobs. 


Toyota plant in Texas flying high with Tacoma sales

Toyota saw U.S. sales of its San Antonio-made Tacoma pickup truck increase 24 percent from 2017 to 2018. By comparison, sales of the Tundra model, which is also built at the Texas plant, increased only 1.7 percent year-over-year. The Tundra is a larger model than the Tacoma. 


Buzz Foods adding jobs in Charleston, W.Va.

Charleston-based Buzz Foods will expand its facilities by adding a livestock slaughtering and processing facility. The expansion will increase access for locally raised agriculture products. The new facility will create 30 full-time jobs. 


WAITR adding jobs in Florence, S.C.

WAITR, a restaurant delivery service that was founded in Lake Charles, La., is bringing its services to Florence and Darlington, S.C. The company is hiring 85 jobs in the Florence area. 


Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston add most construction jobs

In calendar year 2018, Dallas-Fort Worth added 22,000 construction jobs, the most of any market in the country. Houston came in second with 19,400 construction jobs gained according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Dallas also led the entire nation for employment growth in 2018, adding more than 116,000 jobs. 


Energy services manufacturer adding jobs in Louisiana

Bagwell Energy Services is investing $2.5 million at its Port of Delcambre fabrication facility in Iberia Parish, La. The company will invest $2.5 million in the deal that will create 150 new jobs. 


Pharmaceutical plant adding jobs in Mississippi

A maker of antacids sold in Mississippi and Alabama will expand its facility in Gulfport, Miss. Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals, which supplies Walmart, Walgreens and CVS, will add 200 jobs in the deal.

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