March 2019

If President Trump imposes tariffs on cars and car parts from Asia and Europe, it won't be pretty

By Michael Randle

President Trump and, I suppose, some in his administration, such as Vice President Mike Pence, have threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and auto parts. This would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs in the U.S. The global economy is not in the best shape currently, with several industrialized nations in a recession now. 


What is the effect of these tariffs? Less is sold and what is sold costs more. They would also lead to plant closures and relocations to Mexico. The automotive industry is in its worst shape since 2012 as we've seen GM announce it is closing several North American plants. 


Few understand the width and the depth of the auto industry in the South and in the U.S. It is by far the largest industry in the South (go to and has been for more than 25 years. In those 25 years, the Southern Auto Corridor has captured more than 85 percent of all new assembly plants announced in the U.S. 


The automotive sector has led all other sectors in project activity meeting or exceeding 200 jobs in 23 of those 25 years in the 15-state region. Yet, last year, it did not, showing its worst performance in project activity since 2011 in the South. Fact is, Japanese automakers employ over 1.5 million people in the U.S., and two German automakers -- BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes-Benz in Alabama -- have fundamentally changed those state economies. Automotive is, without question, the most important industry in the South. 


If the prospective tariffs are implemented, the supply chain (which has been 25 years in the making) to automakers in the South and the thousands of part makers that supply them, would take years to recreate. Inexpensive parts from foreign sources are an integral part of the manufacturing process. In short, if the tariffs are implemented, the result would not be pretty for automakers in the South.  


Several of the recessions over the decades in the U.S. were caused by the collapse of the automotive industry or the housing industry, and both of those industries have also been responsible for lifting an economy out of a recession. I am very sure that the automotive industry led this country out of the recession in 2010 to 2017. Now automotive is slowing, and it is facing a death march with these tariffs. If he tariffs on foreign parts and vehicles are implemented, the U.S. will be in a recession within a year. 


A great way to gauge the economy

By Michael Randle

Purchasing managers' indexes, or PMIs, are a great way to gauge the economy. Essentially, purchasing managers order more or less supplies in the manufacturing supply chain. Many of the indexes are tracked by country or by continent. There are PMI indexes that are tracked by surveys of purchasing managers throughout the world, including indexes for the U.S., Europe, China, virtually any major economy, as well as a global index. 


Both the Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fund use PMIs in their forecasts. One of the best PMI trackers is JPMorgan’s Global Manufacturing PMI that it puts out with help from research firm IHS Markit. The purchase managers' indexes clearly showed that in the fourth quarter of 2018, PMI was slowing globally, including here in the U.S. 


By looking at monthly charts showing purchases in the supply chain since the recovery began in the summer of 2009, it is also clear that PMI in the U.S. peaked in August 2014 with a score of 57.9. Anything over 50.0 suggests an expansion of the economy. In February 2019, U.S. PMI dropped to 53.0. 


The Eurozone PMI peaked in December 2017, at 60.6. It is now right at 50.0, or no growth at all. China's economy, which is now contracting in PMI, peaked in July 2014 at 51.7. In January of this year, China's PMI was at 48.3. Growth of the global manufacturing sector slowed closer to stagnation in January. At 50.7, the J.P.Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI™ – a composite index produced by J.P.Morgan and IHS Markit in association with ISM and IFPSM – fell for the ninth straight month to its lowest reading since August 2016.


Federal tax revenue fell in 2018

Federal tax revenue declined 0.4 percent in calendar year 2018, the first full year under the new tax law. Revenues fell despite somewhat potent GDP growth of 2.9 percent. According to the Treasury Department, federal revenue totaled $3.33 trillion in 2018, with federal spending at $4.2 trillion, a 4.4 percent increase from 2017. That drove the U.S. budget gap to $873 billion last year. The gap was $681 billion in 2017. Treasury officials went on record explaining that the weaker revenue was the result of changes in the U.S. tax code that took effect in January 2018 that cut corporate tax rates and individual income tax rates.  


Arlington County, Va., wins "Best City" award 

Arlington, Va., once again has been ranked as the "Best City to Live in America” by Niche. The website named Arlington best city for its outstanding public schools, abundant night life, low crime rate and walkability. Niche also named Arlington as the top city in 2016. The county is where Amazon is placing its HQ2 and hiring at least 25,000 workers in the process. 


Amazon will hire locally for second home in Northern Virginia's second home in Arlington, Va., will be a neighborhood, not a campus. And the area in Arlington County where Amazon will put its foothold in the state is now being branded as National Landing. According to Holly Sullivan, who led the site search for Amazon, locally hired employees will eat at local restaurants and could possibly bring their dogs to work. “It’s important to say this is not a relocation of our corporate employees from Seattle,” Sullivan told a crowd in February at an event at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus. She said she hopes to hire all 25,000 employees locally. 


Mississippi unemployment reaches all time low

According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, at 4.7 percent, the unemployment rate in Mississippi is at an all-time low. In addition, the number of people with jobs has hit a historic high. The 4.7 percent unemployment rate has now been recorded for eight consecutive months. Over 1.16 million Mississippians are working, the second highest number employed in the state. 


Alabama exports down for 2018

While Alabama exports topped $21 billion for the second consecutive year in 2018, exports of Alabama-made vehicles were down 9 percent from 2017. The state did see higher exports in chemicals, paper products and aerospace parts. Alabama exports to China dropped 14.8 percent. Germany was down 14 percent and Mexico was down 12 percent. 


Fewer international students are enrolling at U.S. universities

Fewer international students are enrolling at U.S. universities. At the same time, the Trump administration is planning a new regulation that would make it tougher for those same students to attend college. Currently, international students can work 12 months in the country on the Optional Practical Training program (OPT) and an additional 24 months on STEM OPT if they earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. Canada has far more options for foreign students to work in that country. The Trump administration's DHS agenda has initiated restricting or eliminating OPT or STEM OPT beginning this year or next year. The regulation states, “ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] will propose this rule to improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of nonimmigrant students on F and M visas.” 


Overcome by paperwork, Texas steel products manufacturers just hanging on as tariffs cut deep into their profits

Texas oil and gas pipe firms are filling out government paperwork in attempts to get exemptions from 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel imposed by President Donald Trump. One steel manufacturer in Texas has filled out 500 exclusion requests to the U.S. Department of Commerce since tariffs have been imposed, most of which have not been processed. Why 500 exclusion requests? To get around the tariffs, companies must fill out exemptions for every grade of steel they need from foreign suppliers. In the meantime, the Texas company has lost 25 percent of its customer base as prices for the company's pipe have risen as a result of the tariffs. According to government data, nearly four out of five exemption requests filed by Texas companies have not been processed by the Commerce Department. When the steel tariffs were approved in March 2018, Commerce expected about 4,500 exemption requests each year. Instead, Commerce has been inundated by the formal requests, receiving more than 66,000 in the first year. One of the reasons Texas pipe companies have been losing so much business is that many of their customers are international firms who can buy steel from other countries to avoid the tariffs. 


Texas high-speed train named one of the most important infrastructure projects in the world

In the winter quarter, CG/LA named the proposed Texas high-speed train one of the top global infrastructure projects in the world. CG/LA's report selects projects with widespread and strategic importance in 30 different countries. The new high-speed train project will link Houston to Dallas-Fort Worth when completed. 


Manufacturing jobs up for 18 straight months

American factories are hiring again, more so than at any time since the mid-1990s. After years of job losses as a result of a lack of competitiveness and automation, manufacturers in the U.S. have hired a net gain of employees for 18 consecutive months. Labor department figures show that employers have added 274,000 non-managerial manufacturing jobs from July 2017 to February 2019. Employment in the manufacturing sector peaked at 19.6 million in 1979. It is 12.8 million today. The sector hit its low of 11.5 million in 2010. 


Labor unions call on Congress to pass programs to protect immigrants 

A coalition of big labor unions called on Congress to pass expansions on programs to protect immigrants with temporary work permits. Led by the AFL-CIO, more than 30 unions sent a letter to Congress asking for protections for "Dreamers" -- immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors -- and beneficiaries of two humanitarian immigration programs, temporary protected status (TPS) and deferred enforced departure (DED). “For the labor movement, these programs have been vital in ensuring that thousands of working people have rights on the job and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and working conditions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. More than 300,000 people have TPS protections in the U.S., which allows them to legally live and work. In a period where labor is incredibly tight, the Trump administration has cut back TPS protections and has let DED expire. 


Warren Buffett discusses “disaster” contributing to California exodus in CNBC interview
In the winter quarter, billionaire Warren Buffet warned companies looking to expand or relocate to states that suffer from unfunded public pensions while describing California's situation a "disaster." California's unfunded public pensions, Buffett said, will be paid by taxpayers in that state in one way or another. He also said that investing in a plant or business in an unfunded pension state will ultimately mean the business as well as its workers will at some point be on the hook to pay for the public pensions. 


North Texas in high demand for new data centers

A report by commercial real estate firm JLL showed that North Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth) had the third-largest demand for new data centers in 2018. Dallas-Fort Worth also ranked fifth worldwide for total data center demand according to JLL. More than 3.6 million square feet of data center structures have been completed in the D-FW region. Northern Virginia and Phoenix were the locations where data center demand beat D-FW. 


FERC approves construction of LNG export facility in Southwest Louisiana

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the Venture Global LNG export facility in Calcasieu Pass near Lake Charles, La. Spokespersons for the company said they will begin construction on the multi-billion-dollar facility immediately. The plant will be built on a 1,000-acre site where the Calcasieu Ship Channel meets the Gulf of Mexico. The facility will deliver low cost liquefied natural gas to customers throughout the globe. 


The rush to Austin by Silicon Valley companies kicks into high gear

In the last two quarters, Apple is investing $1 billion into new facilities and thousands of jobs in Austin. Google and Facebook are also taking up tons of space in Austin's newest office towers. KPMG recently conducted a survey that showed that the Silicon Valley may be in danger of losing its title as tech center of the world. Sixty percent of those tech executives that were surveyed said that by 2023, Silicon Valley will lose its grip on the world's technology innovation center, mostly as a result of the high costs of doing business there. 


Judge strikes down key portions of West Virginia's right to work law

In March, a judge sided with labor unions in striking down key portions of West Virginia's right to work laws. Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey made the ruling in a lawsuit filed by the state chapter of the AFL-CIO and other unions. The judge said some provisions of the 2016 law violated the state constitution. The new law would have required unions and union officials “to work, to supply their valuable expertise, and to provide expensive services for nothing,” Bailey wrote.


New report shows Volkswagen supports thousands of jobs in Tennessee

A report by Ernst & Young showed that Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga supports 16,400 jobs in Tennessee. The report also showed that $73.8 million in state and local taxes were generated by the VW plant and its suppliers in the state in 2017. 


Kia begins export of new Georgia-built SUV

Georgia Port officials and executives with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) celebrated in February the first exports of the new eight-person SUV called the Telluride. The Telluride is a new model being built at Kia's plant in West Point, Ga. The SUVs were being shipped from the Port of Brunswick to ports around the Arabian Peninsula.


Volvo begins exports of model made in South Carolina

Sweden-based, Chinese-owned Volvo has begun exports of its S60 model sedan made near Charleston in Ridgeville, S.C. The automaker expects to build 50,000 S60s at its plant this year with plans to export about half through the Port of Charleston to 93 countries. The South Carolina-made vehicle will not be exported to China amid trade battles between the U.S. and China. 


University of Kentucky researchers finding new use for coal

A research team from the University of Kentucky has begun a pilot-scale processing plant in Webster County, Ky., that will work on mining rare earth elements from coal. The U.S. Department of Energy is also conducting research regarding the feasibility of extracting rare earth elements from coal. Rare earth elements are found in the earth's crust and are used in manufacturing products such as smartphones, televisions, computer monitors and electric vehicles. Rare earth elements are found mostly in China. 


Florida sets tourism record, again

Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency, reported in the winter quarter that Florida welcomed 126.1 million out-of-state visitors, an all-time record. It's the eighth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the 116.5 million visitors in 2017. 


Florida governor sends letter to Trump about Space Force 

In February, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to President Trump asking if he would place the headquarters of the new Space Force Combatant Command at Cape Canaveral, tweeting that it would be "a logical fit" for the state. Since NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011, several private space companies have set up shop at Cape Canaveral, including Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX. The private space companies are averaging one flight a week on the Space Coast. Florida's space and aviation industries provide jobs to nearly 100,000 people with 470 aerospace and aviation companies operating in the state. Gov. DeSantis mentioned that the resources are already in place, in that the private companies operating in Florida could be defense contractors for the new space command. 


Austin continues to grow faster than any other U.S. city

The Austin area has seen more proportionate growth from net migration than any other major U.S. metro since 2010. The Austin-Round Rock MSA’s population has grown, on average, by 55,500 people annually since that year — a staggering rate of 152 people per day when births are included. That’s according to Chris Ramser, an analyst at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.


Southeast Louisiana leads the nation in maritime workers

According to a new study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Southeast Louisiana leads the nation in American maritime workers, with 33,590 jobs and nearly $9 billion in economic impact. Between 2011 and 2016, 8,540 jobs were created in the maritime industry in Southeast Louisiana. 


Solar energy losing jobs

The solar energy industry had a banner year in 2016, where the share of employment in the electric power sector rose to 43 percent. Compared to the whole of the fossil fuel industry (at 22 percent), solar jobs were the fastest growing in the entire sector. Trump's tariffs ended that run. Since the U.S. put a 30 percent tariff on foreign-produced solar panels two years ago, the solar industry in the U.S. lost 10,000 jobs in 2017 followed by losses of 8,000 solar sector jobs in 2018. 


American whiskey exports take a dive

American whiskey brands, including Kentucky bourbon exports, have dropped since President Trump initiated tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum last year. The European Union, China, Mexico and Canada retaliated with 25 percent tariffs on various American-made products, including whiskey. American whiskey exports rose 28 percent during the first half of 2018, then fell 8 percent compared to 2017 the second half of last year. It should be noted that in the last decade, the Kentucky distilling industry has added more than 10,000 new jobs, opened more than 40 new distilleries and increased economic output by more than $3 billion. 


Washington D.C.’s MSA ranks second for commercial and multifamily construction starts

Commercial and multifamily constructions starts ranked second in the country in Greater Washington, D.C. The value of those projects totaled $9.5 billion in 2018. That is up from $7.4 billion in 2017, according to a report from Dodge Data & Analytics. D.C. jumped past Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth last year. New York had the highest value of commercial and multifamily construction starts last year, which include data centers, office buildings, retail and lodging, warehouses and multifamily housing. 


Richmond, Chattanooga and Gainesville, Fla., cited as midsized cities for startups

BroadbandNow has come out with its 10 Best Cites for your next startup (outside of Silicon Valley) and three cities in the South made the top 10 in the midsize division. Richmond, Gainesville, Fla., and Chattanooga made the top 10. The website considered several factors in drawing up its list of top cities for startups, including access to high-speed internet options, cost of living, startup culture and local culture.


Northwest Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base to be rebuilt as “Air Base of the Future”

After taking a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, Tyndall Air Force base near Panama City, Fla., is somewhat operational, with some unmanned F-16 jets flying again. The Air Force said in the winter it will rebuild Tyndall to be the "air base of the future." Officials said the rebuilt base will be safe from storm surge and winds up to 180 miles per hour. The expected cost of the rebuild is $3 billion. 


Expansion work nearly completed at Montgomery, Ala., Hyundai plant

Work is well underway for Hyundai's engine head machining plant along with other improvements at Hyundai's massive auto assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala. Hyundai is investing $388 million on the expansion. The engine plant will be able to support 700,000 engines per year for Sonata and Santa Fe models that are built in Montgomery and at the Kia plant in West Point, Ga. The new facility will be operational in May. 


Tenn-Tom Waterway elects Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin as its chairman this year

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority has elected Gov. Matt Bevin as its chairman for 2019. Bevin has been involved with the Tenn-Tom Waterway and the inland waterway system during his time in office and has worked with new and existing industry along the inland waterway system, such as the re-opening of the Verso Paper Mill in Ballard County by Global Win Wycliffe and expansion at Wacker Chemical Corp. in Calvert City. “I look forward to serving the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority as chair, as the compact continues to responsibly manage the waterway and its continued development,” said Bevin.


Texas exports fall 41 percent, import costs spike

Businesses in Texas paid $364 million in tariffs on imported products in October 2018, according to federal data and Trade Partnership Worldwide. Texas businesses spent only $25 million in tariffs in April 2018. Meanwhile, Texas exports subject to retaliatory tariffs were down 41 percent in October 2018 compared to October 2017. 


Icee leaving California for Middle Tennessee

The iconic frozen beverage maker, The Icee Co., is relocating its corporate headquarters from California to La Vergne, Tenn., about 20 miles southeast of Nashville. The company revealed it would invest $10.3 million to make the move, creating more than 200 jobs in Rutherford County over the next five years. 


Chinese tech company moving HQ from New Jersey to Alpharetta, Ga.

A China-based global manufacturer of radio-frequency identification and biometric technology security products, ZKTeco, plans to relocate and expand its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Alpharetta. The move is expected to create 40 jobs and bring more than $5 million in investment to Georgia.


Packaging company to invest $20 million in Botetourt County, Va.

Pratt Industries, a recycled paper and packaging manufacturer, will locate in Botetourt County’s shell building in the Greenfield industrial park. The company plans to invest a minimum of $20.1 million and will create 50 new jobs. The facility will be Pratt’s second manufacturing operation in Virginia.


Nokian to begin hiring at Tennessee tire plant

Finnish tire maker Nokian, which is on target to complete construction of its $360 million plant later this year, said it plans to hire up to 50 production employees during the first quarter of 2019.


Alabama Farm Center could bring 400 jobs to Chilton County, Ala.

The Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation is prepared to invest an estimated $100 million in a new Alabama Farm Center in Chilton County that could create up to 400 jobs. Plans call for a four-building complex on 500 acres to include a 5,000-seat air-conditioned arena, 150,000-square-foot exhibition building, 400-stall horse barn, 400 RV hookups and a variety of other barns and arenas.


JNJ Express relocates to expanded campus in Memphis, Tenn.

Transportation company JNJ Express will invest $83.6 million to expand its operations, creating 610 new jobs over the next five years. The company will establish a new corporate headquarters and operations campus at a Southeast Memphis shopping center that has been vacant for more than a decade. The area surrounding it has a 23.6 percent unemployment rate, according to the company’s application for government incentives.


Mid America Logistics opens Nashville center

Mid America Logistics, one of the fastest growing technology-enabled logistics and trucking companies in North America, continues expansion plans by opening its seventh U.S. operations center in Nashville, Tenn.


Purina to spend $115 million on Missouri expansion

Nestlé Purina PetCare announced the expansion of its southeast Missouri factory where Tidy Cats brand cat litter is made. The pet products company will spend $115 million on the project and expects to add about 30 jobs.


Chinese solar panel maker opens in Jax

A project that began in October 2017 is now coming to life. Jinko Solar has opened its new U.S. headquarters on Jacksonville, Fla.’s west side. The investment in the city will bring in about 200 new jobs. 


$120 million manufacturing plant serves up 500 new jobs in San Antonio

Cuisine Solutions is cooking up 500 jobs in San Antonio with the opening of a $120 million plant that will make refrigerated food. Construction will begin this month on the 290,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, and is expected to open in mid-2020.


Cognizant expands to Plano, Texas, with 500 jobs

A New Jersey-based IT services firm that already has a large operation in Irving is adding more workers in Plano. Plano’s economic development corporation has agreed to provide a $273,000 grant to Cognizant, which must create up to 500 jobs in a new office to be constructed near Legacy business park. 


Birchwood Foods adding 100 jobs in Norcross, Ga.

Birchwood Foods will add more than 100 jobs over the next five years at its Norcross plant. The Wisconsin-based company will invest $33 million in an 80,000-square-foot expansion to produce protein products for restaurant chains and retailers. It’s the third major expansion at the Norcross facility since operations began in 1988.


FBI may invest $1 billion in Huntsville, Ala.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, recently announced that the FBI may invest as much as $1 billion as it increases its presence in Huntsville. He also said that the continuing resolution budget includes $385 million for the FBI, which is part of the transference of FBI employees to Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal. In November, the agency said it plans to move 1,350 jobs to the facility.


Silicon Valley recruiting firm moves HQ to Nashville

After a year of fast growth in Nashville, recruiting firm IQTalent Partners is doubling the size of its footprint and officially naming Music City as its headquarters, which means moving its central operations from Silicon Valley to Nashville. The company grew its Nashville office from 90 to 150 employees in 2018, and plans to hire additional workers this year, although the exact number has not been announced.


Texas-based Firefly to launch $52 million expansion at Cape Canaveral 

The Cedar Park, Texas-based rocket company, Firefly Aerospace, will establish a new launch and manufacturing project in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Under the deal, Firefly will invest $52 million and add 200 high-paying jobs there. 


Waitr delivers 200 new jobs to Lafayette, La.

Waitr, a restaurant delivery service founded in Lake Charles, La., and growing throughout the country, will add 200 new jobs at its Lafayette headquarters. 


Auto supplier announces $11.4 million Middle Tennessee investment

Togo North America will invest $11.4 million to establish a production facility in Robertson County, where it plans to create 58 jobs over the next five years. The Japan-based company makes automotive parts ranging from hose clamps to various springs.


Austal USA plans more hiring in Mobile, Ala.

Austal USA says new contracts for shipbuilding and post-delivery work mean it will hire “hundreds” of employees in 2019. The company builds Littoral Combat Ships and Expeditionary Fast Transports in Mobile for the U.S. Navy. 


Electrolux expanding after all in Springfield, Tenn., and Anderson, S.C.

Electrolux will modernize and expand its facilities in Springfield (cooking products) and Anderson (refrigeration products). In light of changing market dynamics, increased raw material costs and current trade policy, the Springfield investment, estimated at $250 million, is now designed for product development, flexibility and competitiveness. The company said it will close its Memphis facility and transfer refrigeration manufacturing from its Santiago, Chile facility to other locations.


U.S. Steel restarting Alabama mill to take advantage of higher steel prices 

Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp.’s plans to invest $215 million to install an advanced electric arc furnace (EAF) at Fairfield Works is expected to provide a boost to Alabama’s steelmaking industry in its historic home. U.S. Steel had initiated construction of the EAF at its operations in Fairfield in March 2015, but suspended construction in December 2015 due to unfavorable market conditions. The project’s revival means the addition of 150 jobs at the Jefferson County facility. 


U.S. Steel reopens Texas mill as industry rebounds

U.S. Steel is opening a previously shuttered East Texas mill after market conditions that originally forced the manufacturer to close the facility have improved. The No. 1 Mill was permanently idled in 2016 due to challenging market conditions for tubular products created by fluctuating oil prices and reduced rig counts. The process of reopening the shuttered No. 1 Electric-Weld Pipe Mill at Lone Star Tubular Operations in Lone Star, Texas — about two hours east of Dallas — began immediately, the Pittsburgh company announced earlier this month. About 140 people will be hired at the mill. 


Aetna’s North Carolina expansion to create 300 new jobs

Aetna, a subsidiary of CVS Health since November, expects to hire 300 new employees by the end of 2020 for customer service and clinical care jobs. The company will spend $2.5 million on a 16,000-square-foot expansion of its High Point facility to support the new jobs. 


Roofing company creating 88 jobs in St. Peters, Mo.

Central States Manufacturing, which produces metal roofing and siding, will build a plant in St. Peters, creating 88 jobs. The 53,600-square-foot manufacturing and retail operation will require a $6.3 million investment. It’s Central States’ first location in Missouri, and its 10th companywide. 


Epic Piping announces $40 million expansion

Epic Piping has announced plans to invest up to $40 million to expand its facilities in Baton Rouge, La. A demand for the company’s pipe spool products is being driven by the number of large-scale projects underway in the petrochemical sector along the Gulf Coast. Epic’s employee count, currently at 900, is expected to increase to more than 2,000.


Charleston Distilling expands operations in Charleston, S.C.

Charleston Distilling, an independent, small-batch producer of handcrafted spirits, announced a $4.2 million investment in its operations in Charleston. The expansion is projected to create an additional 29 jobs.


Austin Foam Plastics expands in Pflugerville, Texas, 

Austin Foam Plastics, a fabricator of foam, corrugated, molded pulp and wood packaging solutions, will invest $4.7 million in a 60,000-square-foot expansion at its plant in Pflugerville. The company plans to create 22 jobs over five-years.


BNSF to invest $405 million in Texas 

Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway, which is part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, will invest $405 million in Texas this year, to fund expansion and take care of regular maintenance. BNSF has nearly 5,000 miles of track to maintain just in its home state of Texas. 


Charlotte-area manufacturer to add 141 jobs in $48 million expansion

Founded in 1976 in New Jersey as confectioner Beacon Sweets, BestCo is now a developer of healthcare products. The company will create 141 new jobs in a $47.5 million expansion of its over-the-counter drug and dietary supplement business in Iredell County, N.C. BestCo creates medication and supplement delivery formats with flavor appeal, such as chewable supplements. 


Novartis-owned firm chooses Durham, N.C., over Illinois or Ireland

AveXis, a gene therapy company developing treatments for rare neurological diseases, will invest $60 million to expand its manufacturing center in Durham County. The company plans to hire 200 associates.


Technology park coming to Birmingham, Ala.

The Grand River Technology Park project and relocation of the Southern Museum of Flight went from hopeful to official when Governor Kay Ivey gave the nod of approval on February 20. The park, which has been described as a multiphase opportunity, will reclaim and transform 105 acres of undeveloped land, including several pre-1977 abandoned coal mines in east Jefferson County. The project will also bring an estimated 1,200 jobs to the area.


Krone NA relocates North American HQ to Olive Branch, Miss.

A German agricultural implement company is moving its North American headquarters from Memphis, Tenn., to Mississippi.

Krone announced it’s investing $1.5 million to move a 45-employee headquarters and distribution facility to Olive Branch. 


French diagnostics firm opens in Richmond, Va.

HalioDx, a cancer diagnostic company, has opened its first North American facility at the Virginia Bio+Tech Park in Richmond. HalioDx plans to invest $1 million and create 20 jobs. 


Furniture maker bringing 21 jobs to Marion County, S.C.

Maxwood Furniture, which makes and distributes bedroom furniture, has announced plans to locate a new distribution center in Marion County. The $1.8 million investment is expected to create 21 jobs. The new facility will complement the company’s existing headquarters in Charleston County.


New ERs adding jobs in Tallahassee, Fla.

Capital Regional Medical Center will soon begin construction on two new freestanding emergency rooms in Tallahassee. The identical facilities will cost Capital Regional $30 million to build, and usher in 80 new jobs, ranging from doctors to technicians. 


FreightWaves bringing new jobs to Chattanooga

FreightWaves expects to bring 300 jobs to Chattanooga in the next two years with the launch of its trucking freight futures program. The new program will allow trucking and logistics companies to trade freight moving costs, helping alleviate some risk.


QM Group expanding in Orangeburg County, S.C.

Quality Model (or QM) is expanding its plastic injection molding operations in Orangeburg, where it makes products for the automotive industry among others. The move will create 37 new jobs and a $9.5 million investment. 


WellCare to hire 1,000 in Florida 

WellCare Health Plans of Florida, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest companies, anticipates hiring more than 1,000 new employees to support membership growth that’s surpassed 1 million clients. The company will hire throughout the state, but about half of the positions are available in the Tampa Bay area.


Billion-dollar wealth management firm relocating to St. Petersburg, Fla.

A New York City wealth management firm, Dynasty Financial Partners, is moving its headquarters to the heart of St. Petersburg’s business district, bringing with it new jobs in a variety of areas.


Ten-million-dollar manufacturing plant coming to Plant City, Fla.

A four-month-old company known as Red Rock Pavers plans to establish a manufacturing operation in Plant City and create at least 70 new, high-wage jobs in Hillsborough County.


Hundreds of high-wage bio-science jobs for San Antonio, Texas

GenCure, a new company that focuses on cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine, is setting up its headquarters in a historic building that used to house an ice and cold storage business on the East Side. The building on East Houston Street has been renamed Velocity Texas, and is part of a planned innovation district that’s expected to create more than 600 well-paying tech jobs.


PPG invests $10 million in Greenville, S.C.

PPG will invest $10 million in a new 82,000-square-foot facility and class A paint line at its coatings services facility in Greenville. The expansion is designed to accommodate increased demand for class A coatings application and value-added services for the automotive and large truck markets. 


Film manufacturer to expand in Kentucky, add 30 jobs

RKW North America plans to expand its facility in Simpson County and add 30 jobs. The German-owned manufacturer of industrial film will invest $18 million in the project.


Manufacturer bringing new jobs to Cairo, Ga.

A company that makes golf cart accessories is expanding its Grady County operation. Jacksonville-based Nivel Parts & Manufacturing is turning a current warehouse in Cairo into a new manufacturing facility that will create 65 jobs. Currently, the Nivel location in Cairo employs 10 people.


Google spending $13 billion this year

Google will spend more than $13 billion on U.S. data centers and offices in 2019, CEO Sundar Pichai said recently, marking “the second year in a row we’ll be growing faster outside of the Bay Area than in it. These new investments will give us the capacity to hire tens of thousands of employees, and enable the creation of more than 10,000 new construction jobs in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia.” Part of the investment will include leasing an entire 35-story tower under construction in Austin, Texas. The internet giant one year ago revealed plans to spend $600 million at its facilities in Mayes County, Okla., bringing the company’s total investment in that state to more than $2.5 billion. Though Google was short on specifics, it did say it will double its workforce in Virginia with new office and data center development. Google uses secrecy and non-disclosure agreements to keep details from the public while expanding its network of data centers around the country. This strategy makes it harder for communities to know ahead of time, debate or protest land uses or tax breaks until deals are set. Documents show that the search giant used shell companies to negotiate to build data centers in at least five locations.


New and expanding businesses add 420-plus jobs in Gallatin, Tenn.

With two companies moving to Gallatin and four expanding, more than 420 new jobs are expected to be created in the city outside of Nashville. Those making announcements include Power Consulting, which provides engineering design, construction inspection and project management for power delivery systems; Scotland-based energy service company Wood Group; A&C Business Enterprises, which is a reverse logistics company specializing in retail returns and unwanted inventory; RC Tenn, which makes Craftsman toolboxes as well as all the plastic tees in the Cracker Barrel peg board games sold nationwide; Axem, which currently makes firearm parts but plans to add medical device manufacturing to its product line; and Laminate Technologies, which makes laminated panel products and fabricated components. 


Peachtree Corners, Ga., to receive $1.8 million grant 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced recently that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the city of Peachtree Corners to help expand the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator in the wake of Hurricane Irma. According to estimates, the project is expected to create 143 jobs, retain 46 jobs and spur $27.5 million in private investment.


Marker Therapeutics relocates HQ to Houston, Texas

Marker Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company, has relocated its corporate headquarters from Jacksonville, Fla., to Houston. The company also announced that it is now a resident company at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, an incubator located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. Although the company will be headquartered in Houston, personnel will continue to operate in Jacksonville.


Nearly $60 million in investment coming to North Jacksonville, Fla.

More than 100 full-time and seasonal jobs and almost $60 million in capital investment are on the way to North and Northwest Jacksonville.

The city approved a permit recently for VanTrust Real Estate to proceed with construction of Imeson 300, a facility that will be leased to Cra-Z-Art for manufacturing in North Jacksonville. Also, a permit was requested for construction of a cold-storage facility for use by Preferred Freezer Services in Northwest Jacksonville. Both projects applied for incentives.’


German firm building headquarters in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

A German firm is opening its new North American headquarters in Alabama. SWJ Technology, which provides engineering services to Mercedes-Benz and its suppliers, will invest $1.5 million to build a new 5,000-square-foot facility in the Alberta community of Tuscaloosa that was devastated by a tornado in April 2011. The firm was awarded $200,000 through a federal grant program designed to bolster areas that have yet to recover from the tornado. According to SWJ President Wolfgang Kneer, the grant was a major factor in selecting Tuscaloosa over Chattanooga and Greenville as the central hub of its U.S. and Mexican operations.


VP Racing Fuels opens operations center in Huntingdon, Tenn.

VP Racing Fuels, a race fuel manufacturer and distributor, will invest $4.6 million to locate a new operations complex in Huntingdon. The project is expected to create 40 jobs in Carroll County.


Italian manufacturer moving North American HQ to Charlotte, N.C.

Porta North America, an Italian machine-tool company, will move its North American headquarters to Charlotte from Connecticut, a relocation that will bring 25 jobs and $3.5 million in investment. 


American will add 700 flight attendants to DFW base

American Airlines is beefing up its flight attendant base in North Texas as the carrier strives to reach its goal of 900 daily departures from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The airline will add 700 flight attendants to each of its bases in North Texas and Los Angeles, and move 700 employees from the Phoenix area, a company spokesperson said. US Airways was based in the Phoenix area before merging with American in December 2015. 


Asurion adding 430 jobs in Houston

Nashville-based tech care company Asurion plans to double its number of Houston employees and is moving into a bigger office to house them. The company will create 430 new jobs by the end of the year.


Polymer company announces $20 million expansion in South Carolina 

Ortec, a biomaterial and polymer tech company, announced plans for a $20 million expansion of its plant in Pendleton, S.C. The project is expected to create 18 jobs later this year. Ortec develops and makes custom polymers for a wide variety of industries.


Home Depot growing this spring

The big box retailer is hiring 370 employees for its stores in Raleigh and Durham, N.C., for its busiest selling season. Home Depot also announced it will hire 800 part-time and seasonal employees in Austin, Texas.


Arconic investing $110 million at its Tennessee facilities

Arconic is investing $100 million to expand its facility in Alcoa, Tenn., in a project that will bring 70 new jobs to the area. Arconic plans to get out of the aluminum can sheet business and ramp up industrial and automotive aluminum products.


BAE Systems redesigns Kingsport, Tenn., facility

BAE Systems received a $74.7 million U.S. Army contract to design, construct and commission a new facility that will improve production at its manufacturing complex in Kingsport. Construction of the new facility at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant will play a vital part in the manufacturing process of several products that support the military, and is one of several multi-year Army-driven modernization requirements for the installation. 


Praxair expands Missouri plant

Praxair will expand its air separation plant in Neosho, Mo. The expansion will double capacity for the company’s liquid oxygen and nitrogen customers.


New jobs coming to Winston County, Ala.

Winston Homebuilders, a manufactured home producer, will be taking up residence at the former Southern Energy Homes facility in Double Springs, which left the area a few years ago. Winston Homebuilders will be hiring 150 workers in the deal.


Virginia loves Amazon

Amazon’s announcement that it will not build a part of its new East Coast headquarters in New York because of political backlash from elected officials there appears to be good news for Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam already has signed into law an incentive package that will govern the creation of 25,000 high-paying jobs in Arlington County and sets the terms for an additional 12,850 jobs in a future phase. Amazon’s move to open a new headquarters in Northern Virginia will also be felt on Virginia Tech’s home campus. Over the next five to eight years, Tech plans to grow its undergraduate enrollment in computer science and related fields by 2,000 as well as add 130 more faculty jobs.


FedEx Logistics announces headquarters move in Memphis

FedEx Logistics will move its global headquarters to the former Gibson Guitar factory building in downtown Memphis, Tenn. The Memphis company says it’s making nearly a $48 million investment, and will consolidate multiple locations, bringing almost 700 employees to the location over the next several years. As a result of the FedEx Logistics announcement, a New York developer and Memphis’ Orgel family are preparing to develop an eight-story office building and 250-room hotel across from the Gibson Guitar Factory building. 


Lockheed Martin opens $50 million R&D complex in Orlando, Fla.

Lockheed Martin has opened its $50 million, 255,000-square-foot Research & Development II facility in Orlando. The defense contractor officially broke ground for the six-story building on Feb. 14, 2018, with an aggressive goal of completing it in a year. Lockheed Martin currently has 900 job openings throughout Central Florida. . .the Missiles & Fire Control facility in southwest Orlando has nearly 600 job openings for various engineers. 


Indian River Transport plans Georgia trucking hub

Indian River Transport, a privately-owned food grade tank carrier, plans to build a new trucking terminal in Cordele, Ga., with plans to hire 125 associates. The terminal off Interstate 75 will include truck bays, washout facilities, and an eight-acre asphalt pad for trailer storage.


Kemira investing $71 million to expand Alabama operation

Finland-based Kemira is investing $70.8 million to expand production at its Mobile facility. The company is a polymer producer serving the pulp and paper, oil and gas, and water treatment industries. The project will create an additional 20 jobs.


AT&T adds hundreds of call center jobs at in Broward County, Fla.

AT&T recently celebrated the completed renovation of its Sunrise call center, where the telecommunications giant invested $6 million and aims to grow its workforce from 475 to 650 employees. 


Exxon, Qatar to expand LNG export in Texas

Exxon and Qatar Petroleum announced recently that they will go ahead with a $10 billion project to export liquefied natural gas from a plant on the Texas Gulf Coast. The companies said construction at the Golden Pass plant in Sabine Pass, Texas, would start before April, and the export operation is expected to begin running in 2024. The project will create 9,000 jobs during the five years of construction and more than 200 permanent jobs once the facility is operational.


Commercial furniture maker expanding in Kentucky

Headquartered in Indiana, OFS Brands Holding, a furniture manufacturer for offices, hospitals, hotels and schools, will invest $1 million in its existing operation in Grayson County, Ky., with plans to create 105 full-time jobs.


PenFed to open San Antonio regional center

Virginia-based Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) plans to open a regional center in San Antonio. The credit union plans to create 571 jobs within five years and house its employees on the city’s Northeast Side.


New software jobs coming to Central Virginia

ChartIQ, located in downtown Charlottesville, Va., just announced it raised $17 million in new funding, and the financial tech company intends to add 30 to 40 new positions to its workforce.


Mercedes-Benz Vans hiring for third shift in South Carolina 

Mercedes-Benz Vans has begun hiring for a third shift, with a goal of adding 200 to bring its headcount to 1,300 workers by 2020 to build the new Sprinter vans. The German automaker invested $500 million in 2015 to expand its existing reassembly site in Ladson to a full-scale manufacturing operation. 


Topgolf brings 350 jobs to Greenville, S.C.

Topgolf is hiring 350 people for its 54th location, located in Greenville, which will open this spring.


Niagara Bottling plans Temple, Texas, bottling plant

Niagara Bottling announced a $90 million capital investment for a new bottling facility in Temple, Texas. The company will build on a 50-acre site in the Temple Industrial Park, creating 70 new jobs. 


Muncie Power Products relocates in Tulsa, Okla.

Muncie Power Products is currently located in Tulsa, but its growing operation has led to the decision to build a new facility and expand the company in North Tulsa’s Peoria-Mohawk Business Park – a $50 million investment. Muncie makes power take-offs and fluid power components for the work truck industry.


Southland Steel to add second site in Amite, La. 

Southland Steel Fabricators will expand to a second Louisiana site, creating new fabrication and coating lines with an $18 million capital investment at the former Bradken foundry in Amite, Tangipahoa Parish. The Greensburg-based company’s expansion will create 70 new direct jobs, and retain 176 existing jobs that are based at the company’s St. Helena Parish headquarters and manufacturing site.


Hotel software company adds new jobs in Franklin, Tenn.

A Franklin tech company that produces hotel management software, Quore, will add dozens of new jobs at its new location there.

The expansion includes 45 new jobs, a $780,000 investment and a new 26,000-square-foot facility.


Blackbird Manufacturing upgrades Kentucky plant

Blackbird Manufacturing, a fabricator of stone countertop surfaces, will invest about $780,000 to upgrade its manufacturing plant in Owensboro, Ky. The company plans to create 20 jobs in the Daviess County area.


Shaw expanding Adairsville, Ga., plant 

Three years after opening a huge plant in Adairsville, Shaw Industries, the largest employer in Bartow County, is adding a 500,000-square-foot addition to the plant, which could double the employment numbers at the plant to more than 600 over the next three years. To support its investment, the company has implemented the Great Promise Partnership. Shaw allows high school students to work (paid positions) daily in its factory. The company also participates in manufacturing day programs in local schools where they talk about the type of jobs and roles that are available in the Shaw facilities.


Beacon Pharmaceutical relocates to Jupiter, Fla.

Beacon Pharmaceutical, a focused early-stage life sciences firm, will build a state-of-the-art facility in Jupiter. The new 200,000-square-foot headquarters will house 137 new jobs with a capital investment of approximately $80 million.


German software company plans first U.S. office in Greenville, S.C.

Valantic, a Germany-based software developer for the automotive industry, plans to locate new operations in Greenville County.


Animal pharma investing $120 million in three Georgia counties

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA will create 225 jobs and invest more than $120 million in Gwinnett, Clarke and Hall counties. The company has located its North American headquarters in Duluth, creating 75 new jobs; is adding more than 100 new jobs at its manufacturing and R&D facility in Athens, and more than 50 jobs at the company’s Gainesville manufacturing facility.


Ben E. Keith expanding in Fort Worth, Texas

Food and beverage distributor Ben E. Keith is looking to expand its Fort Worth operation. The $22 million, 185,000-square-foot expansion would bring more than 280 new jobs to the warehouse in the Carter Industrial Park.


Oculus eyes Port St. Lucie, Fla., expansion

Ophthalmic surgical instrument maker OCULUS Surgical announced a $7 million, 55,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Tradition Center for Commerce. The company is headquartered in the St. Lucie West Commerce Park. The addition of the new facility and its operations will increase the company’s St. Lucie County employment from 29 to 79.


MST Manufacturing locating in Claremore, Okla.

MST Manufacturing will invest at least $5 million to relocate its operations to Claremore. The company will transform three buildings totaling 52,000 square feet to house 100 CNC (computer numerical control) machining specialists who make aircraft parts for clients such as Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing, Gulfstream, Lockheed Martin and Triumph Aerostructures.


Stanley Black & Decker opens distribution hub in Denton, Texas

A massive shipping hub for tool manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker is bringing jobs to Fort Worth. The new 1.2-million-square-foot regional distribution center will employ more than 300 workers.


Dollar Tree eyes Rosenberg, Texas for distribution hub

Dollar Tree has tentative plans to locate a new distribution center in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, Texas. The company hopes to invest $130 million to construct a new 1.2 million-square-foot distribution hub, with plans to create more than 300 new jobs.


Dollar Tree to hire 400 at Chesapeake HQ

Dollar Tree, which also owns the chain of Family Dollar stores, is hiring in Chesapeake, Va. The company plans to fill 400 positions in a variety of departments including merchandising, finance and human resources.


Global tech company to open in Charleston, W.Va.

Technology company Infor will open its first West Virginia office in Charleston and create 100 new technology jobs. Infor develops business cloud software, specialized by specific industries. Its products are used in sectors that range from aerospace to manufacturing to professional services.


Swiss company continues to invest in South Carolina

SWISS KRONO Group continues to invest in rural Barnwell, S.C. The company is adding 250,000 square feet to its existing manufacturing facility there, which will allow them to produce the board it currently purchases to manufacture laminate flooring. SWISS KRONO will source wood products locally, which will also bolster the local timber industry. The expansion is expected to create 105 new permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs. 


Vicksburg Plant Food plans $20 million expansion

Liquid fertilizer manufacturer Vicksburg Plant Food announced a $20 million expansion for its Vicksburg, Miss., plant that will create 20 new jobs.


Corelle Brands investing $27 million in Mississippi

Corelle Brands is moving a portion of its manufacturing and distribution operations to Marshall County, Miss. The manufacturer and marketer of houseware brands such as Pyrex, Snapware and Corelle plans to invest $27.7 million in the construction of a new facility and create approximately 400 jobs by the end of June 2020.


Fort Myers company plans $30 million office building

Fort Myers-based NeoGenomics Laboratories has pledged to build a $30 million office and laboratory facility in Lee County, Fla. NeoGenomics is a cancer diagnostics and pharma-services company. 


Aerospace company snags $22 million contract for San Antonio

M7 Aerospace, the San Antonio-based subsidiary of Elbit Systems of America, was awarded a subcontract worth up to $22 million from Melbourne, Fla.-based Support Systems Associates for work through 2021. M7 Aerospace is the aircraft maintenance depot, engineering and repair division of Elbit. Its parent company is based in Haifa, Israel.


Incubator opening in $11 million Alabama facility

The $11.7 million business-based facility called The Edge Incubator and Accelerator is opening in a 26,000-square-foot facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “If you have an idea for a business and need help getting it off the ground, or you’re a freelancer looking for a place to work that isn’t a home office, The Edge will have the resources you need to get things done,” said Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and The Edge. 


Dollar General to invest $13 million in new Triangle operation

Less than a year after a cold-storage facility was shuttered by Smithfield Foods, it has a new tenant. Dollar General is planning to take over 320,000 square feet of cold-storage space at the Carolina Distribution Center in Clayton, N.C., a $13 million investment that will create 105 jobs.


Illinois medical equipment maker expanding in Mississippi

Baxter International is expanding a Mississippi Delta plant, with plans to add 50 to 100 new employees. The company has begun construction on the addition to the plant, which is one of the largest industrial employers in the Delta. Baxter is investing $100 million.


Universal Orlando hiring 2,500 

The attractions in Orlando are attracting new employees. Universal Orlando is hiring 2,500 new team members for full-time, part-time, and seasonal opportunities at its property, which includes multiple hotels and theme parks.


North Carolina Global Transpark growing again

Jetstream Aviation is setting up a new paint facility at the Global Transpark in Kinston, N.C., and will add 145 jobs. The $10.5 million public/private partnership will break ground this spring.


Hundreds of jobs coming to Danville, Va.

A Virginia company plans to bring a large, vacant Danville property back to life. Norfolk-based PRA Group is investing $15.1 million and bringing 500 jobs to Danville’s Airside Industrial Park. PRA is a debt recovery company founded in Virginia Beach.


US Foods expanding site in Marrero, La.

US Foods broke ground recently on the expansion of its F. Christiana distribution center, a project that will triple the size of t

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