September 2019

Foreign direct investment is waning in the U.S.

Nowhere else in the world do foreign companies invest more than in the U.S. And most years, the South captures about half of that investment. Since the end of the recession in 2009, foreign companies have created two-thirds of the manufacturing jobs in the United States. 


Foreign companies have transformed state economies in the South, and foreign companies, particularly manufacturers, can be found by the hundreds if not thousands in every Southern state. But the last two years have seen a waning total of foreign direct investment. 


With $440 billion invested by foreign companies in the U.S. in 2015, the nation set a record for FDI. That total fell to $380 billion in 2016 and $273 billion in 2017. It did rise to $296 billion in 2018, however, that is still down 38 percent from its high in 2015. The biggest drop has come from the Chinese. They set a record of $44 billion in 2016, yet there is currently hardly any Chinese investment in the U.S. 


The Louisiana LNG industry is a historic worldwide phenomenon

Houston-based Cheniere Energy's LNG export facility will long be remembered in the history of energy in the United States as a trailblazer for an industry that is growing faster than any other. Cheniere originally built an LNG import plant in Cameron Parish in Southwest Louisiana. That was back when the U.S. wasn't swimming in natural gas. 


After fracking expanding exponentially in Louisiana and Texas, Cheniere spent billions converting its Louisiana import facility into an export terminal. Today it exports liquefied natural gas to points all over the world. Cheniere also operates an LNG export terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas. 


Other companies got in on the action. Louisiana is now home to the largest LNG projects in the world. According to the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC), there are at least 17 new LNG projects approved and proposed in Louisiana. These are multi-billion-dollar projects. 


One of these is Golden Pass Products, another LNG export facility slated for the Sabine Pass in Cameron Parish, La. That project is expected to cost $10 billion. Golden Pass is owned by ExxonMobil and state-owned Qatar Petroleum. As for the economic effect for that one project; it will create 9,000 construction jobs over five years and 200 permanent jobs after opening. Again, this is just one of the 17 LNG projects in Louisiana. 


Another LNG project going up is Developer Energy Transfer Partners and Royal Dutch Shell's export terminal in Lake Charles, La. The venture estimates the project cost at $12 billion to $16 billion. Over 5,000 construction jobs will be created. 


Why is LNG such a growing business? The U.S. has produced more natural gas than any nation in the world over the last 10 years. LNG is a much more affordable way to ship natural gas. LNG is cheaper than other energy sources, and cooling the gas into a liquid makes it easy to ship worldwide. In May, the European Commission reported that LNG exports from the U.S. -- almost exclusively from Louisiana and Texas -- have increased by 272 percent since 2018. 


Tobacco and coal, two traditional Southern staples, are now in steep decline

In 1923, 863,000 people were employed in the coal industry in the U.S. By 2016, that dropped to about 50,000. It has held steady nationwide for the most part for the last three years, however, in some places like Eastern Kentucky, coal jobs have dropped by 30 percent in the last two years. 


Over the last two years, President Trump has taken steps to ease regulations on the coal industry, reversing the trend begun under the Obama administration. But one thing Trump cannot do is slow the rising tide of natural gas in this country. Natural gas is a cleaner, more abundant and even less expensive fuel to use for power plants and other facilities. Coal-fired power plants continue to close or be converted to natural gas under President Trump's first term. Also, many former coal users are turning to wind and solar farms to generate power. 


The outlook for the coal industry is bleak according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. coal production dropped 3 percent last year and the EIA expects it to fall another 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year. 


New research shows that communities dependent on coal for their tax base are in danger of fiscal collapse. Data from the Brookings Institution shows that communities that had large employment in the coal industry are not prepared financially for the slowing of the sector. 


As for tobacco, which is grown at or near sites where coal is extracted in states like Kentucky and Virginia, it too is declining rapidly. Pittsylvania County is the tobacco capital of Virginia. No other county comes close to producing as much tobacco as Pittsylvania County, which produces about one-fourth of the tobacco for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  


Production in Pittsylvania County and throughout the U.S. is in steep decline. At the same time, profits are growing thinner. Several generations of tobacco growers are unsure if they can continue growing the crop. According to a March report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Virginia farmers intended to plant tobacco on 17,000 acres this year. That is about 20 percent less acreage than the previous year. 


The decline in production is attributed to several factors, such as markets like Russia and China cutting back on tobacco use because of its health risks. Another issue is the price of tobacco coming from the United States. . .Brazil and Zimbabwe can grow the crop so much cheaper. Also, the tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war have crippled tobacco growers in the U.S. and Virginia. 


Tariffs bump up farm bankruptcies

President Trump's tariffs and China's retaliation to stop buying American farm products have eradicated a significant source of income. The Chinese have now found other sources of pork, wheat and soybeans, such as Brazil and Canada. According to the American Farm Bureau, farm bankruptcy filings in 2019 through June were up 13 percent from 2018, and loan delinquency rates are rising at the fastest pace in years. All of this is exacerbated by the fact that the markets have been poor even before the tariffs. Farmers' debt has increased by 30 percent to record levels. The federal government has offered $28 billion in aid to U.S. farmers, but, as of August, only $8.6 billion has been distributed. . .and that isn't enough. The tariffs on U.S. farm products have created a disastrous financial trickle-down effect. Jone Deere, the farm machine giant, has seen sales drop dramatically. In fact, Deere & Co.'s profits are down 24 percent from last year. are buying less farm machines because they cannot afford them. However, John Deere's sales of farm equipment is up in Brazil, Argentina and Canada as China moves to those countries to purchase agricultural products. All of the above is a typical cause and effect of "protectionism.”


Website tracks small business friendliness

Thumbtack, the website and app that helps the consumer find local professionals for any project, announced the results of its 2019 Small Business Friendliness Survey, ranking the best or worst cities and states in the country based on factors including licensing requirements, tax regulations, and labor and hiring regulations. States in the South that got an “A” were: Alabama (A-); Arkansas (A+); Florida (A); Georgia (A+); Mississippi (A+); North Carolina (A-); Oklahoma (A-); Texas (A) and Virginia (A+). 


New Jersey auto supplier to set up shop in South Carolina

CRP Industries will invest $2.5 million and move into a new 50,000-square-foot facility in Conway, S.C. The power steering systems manufacturer will create 115 jobs in the deal.


Pipe manufacturer to locate in Northeast Louisiana

Over 100 jobs are being created in Lake Providence, La. Epic Piping will be moving into a 40,000-square-foot facility that will house a fabrication facility. 


Pet retailer to create jobs in Louisville MSA is expanding its Louisville presence with an office space in Jeffersontown. The $4.5 million project will create 150 jobs. 


Ford to invest $550 million to upgrade the Louisville Assembly Plant

Detroit-based Ford Motor Co. will invest $550 million to install new equipment and modernize its Louisville Assembly plant where it makes the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair models. The investment coincides with a new generation of its high-selling Escape SUV. The new model will incorporate a variety of new technologies. 


Manufacturer to create 350 jobs in Kentucky

In the summer, Fibrotex USA, which makes high-tech products for the military, is investing $12 million at its facilities in Stearns, Ky. The deal will create 350 jobs. 


Metals manufacturer will expand in Virginia

A manufacturer of copper tubing for use in the construction markets is investing in its facilities in Shenandoah County, Va. The company will invest $8 million and hire 102 workers in the project. 


Big Gun Robotics expanding operations in Newberry County, S.C.

Big Gun Robotics LLC, a robotic welding company that supplies heavy equipment manufacturers, is expanding its operations in Newberry County. The $3.6 million investment is creating 16 new jobs over the next five years. Founded in 2014, Big Gun Robotics services the business-to-business market in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast. The company manufactures large steel assemblies for mining and heavy construction equipment like front loaders and excavators.


Abbeville Fiber officially opens its state-of-the-art sawmill in Alabama

Abbeville Fiber opened its saw mill in Henry County, Ala. The company's lone client will be Alabama-based Great Southern Wood. The new mill will house 115 workers. 


American Airlines expands its facility in Oklahoma

Fort Worth-based American Airlines is expanding its largest maintenance base in Tulsa. In fact, it is the largest commercial aviation base maintenance facility in the world. The project will add 400 workers to the more than 5,000 that currently work there. 


Formosa Plastics investing hundreds of millions in Louisiana

Formosa Plastics is investing $332 million to expand production of PVC at its plant in Baton Rouge, La. The company is adding new equipment at two of its three operating units. 


Policygenius to hire hundreds in North Carolina

Policygenius, a fast-growing online insurance platform, will locate a new technical and operations center in Durham County, creating at least 377 jobs over the next five years. The company will invest nearly $6 million in Durham.


New tenant at the North Carolina Global TransPark

The North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston, N.C., has a new tenant in Jetstream Aviation. The company, which will hire 145, will perform aircraft paint and refurbishment. 


Large Amazon facility set for Memphis area

It appears that Amazon is about to expand its large presence in Memphis. Atlanta-based Seefried Industrial Properties filed a zoning application to construct a five-story distribution facility with 2,000 parking spaces in Frayser. The facility is expected to house 2,000 workers.


Hundreds of jobs expected for Memphis biotech facility

Congnate BioServices has hired about 140 workers since 2017, but thanks to a round of growth capital from New York-based EW Healthcare Partners in August, additional hiring could be done at its Memphis facility. The company conducts commercialization services -- including manufacturing -- for a variety of medical markets. 


IBM meets workforce hiring quota in Louisiana

IBM now employs 811 full-time jobs at its client innovation center in Baton Rouge. That meets the contractually obligated hiring quota with the state for its incentive package. 


Trane to add hundreds of jobs in Columbia, S.C.

Air conditioning manufacturer Trane has added 700,000 square feet to its factory in Columbia, S.C., which is now 1,000,000 square feet under roof. The company is expected to add 700 jobs. 


German company adding jobs in North Carolina

German robotic manufacturer Schmalz Inc. is planning to triple the size of its current Raleigh headquarters. The company will invest $20 million and add 62 new jobs. 


Honda plant in Alabama has huge economic ripple

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama contributed more than $12 billion in 2018 to the state’s economy. Along with its suppliers, Honda was responsible for more than 45,647 jobs in Alabama, according to an economic impact study released in August by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the the Center for Business and Economic Research at The University of Alabama. 


Baton Rouge lost more construction jobs than any other U.S. market

Baton Rouge posted the largest construction job losses in the nation over the past year. However, that may not be the case this year as some $32 billion in projects are in the Louisiana hopper through 2022. From July 2018 to July 2019, a report by the Associated General Contractors of America showed that Baton Rouge had a decrease of 9 percent in construction jobs, or nearly 5,000 positions. 


Two IT companies to hire hundreds in Florida

SoFi, a California-based online personal finance company, will hire 300 in Jacksonville. On the same day in August, SS&C Technologies, also an IT firm, announced it would add 198 jobs to its local facility. 


Midland and Odessa, Texas, lead all U.S. mid-markets in job creation

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, AdvisorSmith has named Midland and Odessa as two of the best mid-sized cities in the U.S. for job growth. During a three-year period in both cities (July 2016-July 2019), the study showed that Midland added 25,000 jobs and Odessa added 14,000. 


Lithium plant components arrive in El Dorado, Ark. 

A German multinational chemical company has been mining brine in the El Dorado region of South Arkansas. Now the company is bring down 12-by-12-by-36-foot modules from Canada to see if it can mine battery-grade lithium from a saltwater sea that is10,000 feet below the south Arkansas soil.


Auto parts supplier Faurecia opens plant in Missouri

Faurecia’s new 281,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Blue Springs, Mo., is now operational, making doors and dashboards for the Kansas City-made Ford F-150 pickup. The plant is operational, employing about 200 people, however at full buildout, plant employment is expected to top 400. 


Dallas and Houston MSAs lead America's job growth

Dallas and Houston led all MSAs in job grow in the nation year-over-year from July 2018-July 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dallas saw net job growth of 3.5 percent and Houston saw 3 percent. 


Job growth revised down by 500,000

The Labor Department revised down total job gains from April 2018 to March 2019 by 501,000, the agency said in August, the largest downward revision in a decade. In the last year (July 2018-April 2019), the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported averages of about 200,000 jobs per month. That has now been revised down to about 148,000 jobs per month during the period covered.  


Boeing to add 500 jobs in San Antonio at Port San Antonio

Defense contractor Boeing is ramping up work on the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornet fighter jets. The project is expected to create 500 jobs. 


Alabama opens trade office in Germany

The Alabama Department of Commerce has opened a business development office in Stuttgart, Germany. The office is a strategic effort to recruit more European companies to the state. Christoph Dörr, an experienced German businessman who spent seven years in charge of an industrial operation in Alabama, serves as the director of the state’s new European office, which began operating earlier this month. Dörr’s job will be to build on Alabama’s long-standing economic development activities in Europe. In 2018 alone, European companies announced projects in Alabama involving nearly $1.5 billion in new capital investment and 1,500 jobs, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce. 


Alabama stepping up rural economic development efforts

The Economic Development Association of Alabama has hired Brian Hilson, a veteran economic developer, to assist the agency in rural development efforts. Hilson most recently was the president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. He held the same position at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce prior to that. Also in the summer, the Alabama Department of Commerce announced Brenda Tuck is the first to take on the new job of rural development manager at the state agency. Tuck previously served in Commerce’s Workforce Development Division as regional workforce council liaison. Prior to that, she served in economic development positions in Southwest Alabama, including Marengo, Dallas and Wilcox counties.


For the first time in years, more commercial real estate was sold than bought by overseas investors

The U.S. commercial real estate sector saw something it hasn't seen in seven years. In the first half of this year, direct acquisitions by overseas investors totaled $21.3 billion, while sales reached $21.4 billion. Acquisitions fell by more than 40 percent compared to the first half of 2018, according to Real Capital Analytics. Acquisitions by Chinese investors ranked that country third in 2017. So far this year, China has dropped to ninth in foreign nations investing in U.S. commercial real estate. 


Oil demand is the lowest it's been since 2008

The U.S.-China trade war is creating a situation where oil demand worldwide is the weakest since the middle of the Great Recession in 2008. Oil demand is an important part of economic growth worldwide. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has lowered its forecast for oil demand for the rest of this year as well as next year. The IEA reported in August that “there is growing evidence of an economic slowdown" resulting in a decrease in oil demand worldwide. 


Nashville earned $7 billion in visitor spending in 2018

Nashville, one of the fastest growing MSAs in the South, saw $7 billion in visitor spending last year. That is by far the highest in the state. The Music City is home to 71,140 hospitality industry jobs as of the end of the year, and 15.8 million visitors traveled to the Greater Nashville area last year. 


Teens in the workforce have fewer summer jobs than ever before

According to a study by the Brookings Institution, fewer teens are taking on summer jobs than ever before. The study indicated that an increasing number of teenagers are attending school as opposed to working during this past summer. In 1979, almost 60 percent of teens age 16-19 had summer jobs. In 2018, that dropped to 35 percent. Ironically, with the nation at full employment, this has put a squeeze on restaurants and other employers who struggle to find labor. 


Toyota supplier to hire 900 in South Texas

Aisin AW, a maker of transmissions for Toyota and other automakers, is building a new plant in Guadalupe County, near San Antonio. The $400 million project will create 900 jobs. Toyota assembles pickup trucks in San Antonio. 


Raytheon expanding in Texas with 500 high-tech jobs

Massachusetts-based Raytheon is expanding its facility in McKinney, located just north of Dallas. Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems is adding 500 jobs and building a "factory of the future." Raytheon has a $5 billion presence in North Texas.  


Silicon Valley startup to open Raleigh office

Startup Egnyte, a cloud storage firm, looked at Pittsburgh, Detroit and several cities in Florida before deciding it will put its East Coast office in Raleigh, N.C. The company is expected to create 120 jobs. 


I-10 rocket region

The Interstate 10 rocket corridor has been launched with the announcement in the summer quarter that Los Angeles-based Relativity Space will build a rocket manufacturing facility at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss. The company, which will hire 200, will build Terran 1 rockets at Stennis Space Center (SSC) using its patented 3D printing technology. Just west of Hancock County is NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in East New Orleans. Boeing is the prime contractor for the design, development, testing and production of NASA’s Space Launch System. The 212-foot-tall core stage is currently being built at Michoud. 


BancorpSouth adding 100 jobs in Tupelo, Miss. 

Tupelo-based BancorpSouth is investing $15 million and adding 100 jobs at its facilities in the city. The bank has relocated several employees to its headquarters to process about $20 billion in loans. 


Ranking best cities for young professionals finds Nashville at No. 3

Sioux Falls, S.D., ranked at the top of SmartAsset's best cities for young professionals that came out this summer. Ranked second was Austin. Nashville and Denver tied for the No. 3 spot. In the South, Raleigh and Charlotte made the top 10. 


Manufacturing loses momentum, shrinks for the first time since 2009

America's manufacturing sector shrank for the first time since September 2009, according to IHS Markit. Markit's flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index for August fell just below 50. A score below 50 indicates that manufacturing is contracting. Markit indicated that tariffs, making materials more expensive, are to blame. The August score is a 199-month low for the index. 


China dropping all agriculture imports from the U.S. is a crippling blow

In August, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced that they were pulling out of buying U.S. agriculture products altogether. It is a devastating blow to American farmers. The Chinese had already slowed their purchases of American-made wheat, soybeans and pork. China is the largest importer of American soybeans and a top-three importer of pork. 


Expansion in Northeastern North Carolina

Hockmeyer Equipment Corp., a longtime manufacturer of state-of-the-art process equipment, is expanding its facilities in Elizabeth City, N.C. The company is investing $6 million and adding 90 jobs. 


Manufacturer expanding in Atlanta area

Duluth, Ga.-based Bardo is expanding its presence in Gwinnett County. The company manufactures electronics used in entertainment, medical and business fields. The $5 million investment will create 50 jobs. 


Manufacturer expands in Gwinnett County, Ga. 

A manufacturer of refrigeration systems is investing in a new facility in Gwinnett County, Ga. Rivacold will invest $5 million and hire 140 in the deal. 


Railcar and barge manufacturer to expand in Arkansas

Greenbrier, a railcar and barge manufacturer is investing $16 million in its plant in Marmaduke, Ark. The project will generate 35 new jobs. 


Virginia earns $797 million state budget surplus

Virginia's Democratic governor and Republican state leaders took credit for the Commonwealth's budget surplus. Virginia saw a $797 million budget surplus in the most recent fiscal year. 


Job creation revised down 500K

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised down its estimate of total U.S. job creation by 501,000 from March 2018 to March 2019. The change comes from BLS's annual benchmarking process. 


Germany-based manufacturer to expand in Kentucky

Germany-based Henkel, a manufacturer of laundry and home care products, will partner with its packaging supplier, Austria-based ALPLA, for a plant in Bowling Green, Ky. The $130 million project will create 60 full-time jobs. 


Boat manufacturer to locate new facility in Amory, Miss. 

Avid Boats will locate a new production facility in Amory, Miss. The company makes aluminum bass boats. About 75 jobs are expected to be created with the $1.6 million investment. 


Japanese auto parts supplier plans Tennessee plant

HIROTEC Group, a Japan-based global automotive supplier specializing in the production of body-in-white closures, exhaust systems, and closure manufacturing equipment, is investing in a new plant in Fayetteville, Tenn. The new plant will specialize in exhaust production and stamped parts. The $48 million plant will house 100 workers. 


Japan-based auto supplier to build plant to serve Mazda-Toyota plant in Alabama

In the summer, Japan-based global automotive supplier Vuteq announced it is investing $60 million to open a new plant that will service Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., in Huntsville, Ala. The company will produce interior and exterior plastic-injected parts. Mazda and Toyota are currently building their joint venture plant in the Southern Automotive Corridor. The Vuteq project is a $60 million investment that will create 200 jobs. 


Hino Motors opens its new West Virginia plant

In the summer, Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. opened its 1 million-square-foot plant in Mineral Wells, W.Va. The company is now making class 6, 7 and 8 conventional trucks. The plant's capacity is 15,000 trucks per year and at opening, Hino announced a new $40 million expansion that will bring employment at the facility to 800 jobs. 


Pfizer to invest $500 million in North Carolina

New York-based Pfizer is investing $500 million in a new gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, N.C. Pfizer employs almost 4,000 in North Carolina. This new facility is expected to create 300 more jobs. 


Denmark-based manufacturer to expand in South Carolina

KP Components will invest $16 million to expand its plant in Pickens County, S.C. The company specializes in machined parts for several industries. The project will create 47 jobs. 


U.S. manufacturers want to move from China to Vietnam; it's not going to happen

When the U.S. and China became embroiled in this trade fight, some U.S. manufacturers wanted to quit China and move production to neighboring Vietnam to avoid the tariffs. A few have made the move. But others who want to move find it is impossible to recreate their production in Vietnam. The Southeast Asia nation's infrastructure is not sufficient, and neither are U.S.-based safety certifications from the manufacturing sector. A surge in hiring from the first batch of relocations from China to Vietnam quickly reduced the workforce to nearly nothing. Vietnam has less than one-tenth the population of China. 


Uber bringing 3,000 jobs to Dallas

Uber Technologies is establishing a new U.S. General and Administrative Hub in Dallas. The ridesharing company will create 3,000 jobs and invest $75 million in the project. 


Amazon cargo hub to be set up at Florida airport

Amazon is setting up a cargo hub at the Lakeland, Fla., Airport. The online retailer is relocating its space from the Tampa International Airport to Lakeland. The project will be a $100 million investment and will create hundreds of jobs. 


Texas and Oklahoma lead all states in renewable wind energy

In the report “Renewables on the First 2019,” two Southern states are leading the nation in wind generation power. Texas is No. 1, according to the report, and Oklahoma came in second. 


Manufacturer expands in Tennessee

Surface Dynamics, a spine, orthopedic 3D printing company is investing $10 million in its facility in Bartlett, Tenn., in the Memphis MSA. The deal will create 110 jobs. 


Xerox to build new Center of Excellence in North Carolina

Connecticut-based Xerox announced in the summer it is building a Center of Excellence in Cary, N.C. It is the fourth such facility the company has built. The others are in Palo Alto, Calif.; Webster, N.Y.; and Toronto. The $18.4 million project will create 600 jobs. 


Cabinet manufacturer to set up shop in South Carolina

Adornus Cabinetry, a manufacturer of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, will establish manufacturing operations in Lancaster County, S.C. The project, which will have about a $10 million investment, will create 210 jobs. 


Startup to create 400 jobs in South Florida

Shipmonk, a startup that provides packing and shipping for e-commerce companies, announced in the summer it will create 400 new jobs at its new Fort Lauderdale headquarters and logistics operation. There was no word on the project's investment totals.  


Swiss manufacturer to expand its Tennessee operations

Switzerland-based TE Connectivity, a manufacturer of connectors and sensors, will invest more than $15.7 million to expand its operations center in Tullahoma, Tenn. The company will hire 100 in the deal. 


Cancer-fighting healthcare firm to add jobs in Irving, Texas

Caris Life Sciences is developing a state-of-the-art corporate park in Irving that will create research and development space for the cancer-fighting company. The project is expected to create 500 jobs. 


Furniture distributor to move operations and HQ to Georgia

In the summer quarter, furniture distributor Factory Direct Wholesale is relocating its headquarters and operations to Savannah, Ga. It was headquartered in Duluth, Ga. The $17 million move will create 250 jobs. 


Spa and tub manufacturer to add jobs in Johnson City, Tenn. 

The Northeast TN Regional Economic Development Partnership has announced LPI is expanding its Johnson City operations. LPI has purchased the former Bosch Braking plant. The company is a hot tub and spa manufacturer that currently employs 275 people, and will add between 150 and 200 more employees. 


Northrop Grumman will be the first commercial aerospace company to build rockets at Florida site

Northrop Grumman will move production of the OmegA rocket to Kennedy Space Center’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. The building, standing 525 feet tall, has been home to several NASA programs, including Apollo. It is now getting its first private-sector partner. Last year, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Northrop a $792 million contract for OmegA’s development.


Taxes are, again, driving New Yorkers to relocate to Florida

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Florida received more movers than any other state in 2018. That year, 63,000 people from New York relocated to tax-friendly Florida. Over the last decade, New York has lost over 1 million taxpayers. Florida has no state income tax and New York's is one of the highest in the country. 


Virginia sets labor force record in July

Virginia's labor force hit a record level of 4,389,783 people working in July. In that month, Virginia companies created over 12,000 jobs. It was the 13th consecutive month that the Commonwealth's workforce expanded.


A leading economic indicator? Sales of RVs are sliding. 

The recreational vehicle industry is seeing slower sales, a warning sign that a recession is ahead. In every recession since 1980, RV sales tumbled just before the recessions were official. Shipments of RVs have fallen 20 percent so far this year according to the RV Industry Association. In an article in The Wall Street Journal this summer, an economist at Ball State University, Michael Hicks, said, “The RV industry is better at calling recessions than economists are.” 


Arkansas unemployment rate sets record low

Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent in June. The 3.4 percent represented a state record low according to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. 


Alabama sets record for people working

Alabama set a record in July for people working in the state. That month, the state saw gains of 11,000 jobs representing 2.17 million people employed in the state. The state also set a record with a 3.3 percent unemployment rate. 


Last year was Alabama’s biggest year ever for foreign direct investment

Alabama has been incredibly successful at recruiting foreign companies to the state. Four foreign automakers operate OEMs in the state with another -- Mazda Toyota -- building an OEM manufacturing facility. Last year, Alabama saw a record set in foreign direct investment with companies from 16 different countries launching projects with more than 7,500 new jobs. Those announcements set an investment record of $4.2 billion in 2018. 


Huntsville, Ala., will lead NASA lander program for return to the moon

It was announced in the summer quarter that Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center will lead NASA's Landing System Program. NASA's goal is to return to the moon by 2024. 


Big paper recycling deal in Kentucky

Phoenix Paper has announced it will invest $200 million to build a paper recycling facility at its paper mill in Wickliffe, Ky. The recycled paper will be used to make finished paper and pulp. The deal will create 500 jobs. 


Briggs & Stratton to bring 130 jobs to Missouri

Briggs & Stratton announced in the summer that it is expanding its plant in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The $15 million project will create 130 jobs. 


Airbus begins full assembly of A220s in Alabama 

European plane-maker Airbus has begun production of its A220 aircraft at its facility in Mobile, Ala. The A220 was formerly the Bombardier C Series, a commercial jet that underwent much of its flight testing work from Bombardier’s facility in Wichita. In 2017, Airbus struck a deal to become the majority stakeholder in the A220 program. Airbus is building a second production line in Mobile for the A220. 


Improvements at South Alabama Megasite

The 3,000-acre South Alabama Megasite in Baldwin County is getting $5 million in improvements thanks to Alabama Power and CSX Transportation and a new state program. The improvements include a CSX rail spur off the main rail line that runs along the southern part of the site. Also, 200 acres of the site will be graded creating a 1 million-square-foot pad. 


Hurricane Michael’s insured losses at nearly $7 billion

Hurricane Michael was one of the worst hurricanes in the South's history. As of the summer quarter, insured claims had reached nearly $7 billion in the Florida panhandle and elsewhere according to new figures from the state. The Office of Insurance Regulation shows that only 14 percent of claims have not been resolved. 


Universal to build new them park in Orlando; 14,000 jobs to be created

Universal and parent company Comcast announced in the summer a new theme park called Universal's Epic Universe. The major expansion will include hotels, restaurants and shops. The project is expected to create 14,000 jobs. Epic Universe will be the fourth Universal theme park in Florida and “represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said in a statement.


Savannah port sets shipping record

Georgia’s Savannah port posted another record fiscal year for container traffic. The Georgia Ports Authority said that container traffic hit a record 4.5 million, 20-foot equivalent units from July 2018 through June 2019, up 7.3 percent from the prior fiscal year. 


Quapaw Nation breaks ground on gaming facility and hotel in Arkansas

The Quapaw Nation broke ground on a $350 million gaming complex in Pine Bluff, Ark., in the summer quarter. The project by the Saracen Casino Resort will include a convention center, a 300-room hotel and an 80,000-square-foot gaming floor. The project will create 1,000 construction jobs and about 1,000 permanent jobs. 


Manufacturer opening in McDowell County, N.C.

Florida-based Forever Outdoors manufactures patio furniture, outdoor Christmas decorations and mahogany lake boats, and is moving into an existing space in Marion, N.C. The company plans to hire 30 to 40 employees.


Seguin Moreau to restart mill in Hot Spring County, Ark.

Seguin Moreau Napa Cooperage, a manufacturer of oak barrels for the production of wine and spirits, announced it will re-start a stave mill in Hot Spring County. The company plans to create 15 new jobs with considerable investment and upgrades in the mill.


Good Sportsman Marketing chooses Parsons, Tenn., for operations center

Good Sportsman Marketing will locate new operations in Parsons, Tenn. The hunting and sporting goods manufacturing company, which is based in Grand Prairie, Texas, will invest approximately $860,000 and create 34 new jobs in Decatur County. Good Sportsman will produce wildlife feeders and box blinds used in hunting applications at the new facility.


Weapons manufacturer relocating HQ to Clarksville, Tenn.

Weapons manufacturer VK Integrated Systems is relocating its California-based headquarters to Clarksville, bringing 25 to 50 high-paying jobs. The company chose the location in part because of its decades-long relationship with Fort Campbell.


Steel company invests $150 million in Mississippi County, Ark.

Zekelman Industries will build a new mill — the world’s largest continuous ERW tube mill — in Blytheville, Ark., next to its Atlas Tube plant. The project will cost around $150 million to complete and will create 75 new jobs. 


Aircraft parts manufacturer coming to Ozark, Mo.

An aviation parts manufacturing company plans to locate in Ozark in a move expected to create 39 jobs. Alpine Aviation Group will assemble wiring harnesses for aircraft.


German medical products maker to Invest $100 million in Daytona Beach plant

German medical device manufacturer B. Braun Medical plans to spend $150 million to expand its assembly plant and add 100 jobs in Daytona Beach, Fla. The plant currently produces intravenous products for use in hospitals.


North Carolina on short list to land Mahindra Automotive

Flint, Mich., and Greensboro, N.C., are among the cities in contention to land Mahindra Automotive North America’s second U.S. assembly plant and the 2,000 jobs it would bring. The India-based automaker’s current assembly plant in Auburn Hills, Mich., is at capacity, and a significant expansion is needed to produce new products for the U.S. market.


Lockheed Martin expands Texas facility

Lockheed Martin recently announced the opening of a 30,000-square-foot building at its campus in Lufkin, Texas. This latest expansion, which will focus on expanding production of electrical systems and components, will bring 125 new jobs.


Glass manufacturer to open first U.S. plant in South Georgia

Arglass Yamamura will be opening its first U.S. facility in Lowndes County, Ga., to manufacture glass bottles. The $123 million investment will bring 150 new jobs to the county.


St. Petersburg hospital to get $152 million reno

St. Anthony’s Hospital is about to undergo a $152 million renovation, which will significantly expand the number of patient beds and services the St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital has to offer.


Honda Power Equipment adds $46 million expansion to North Carolina Plant

Honda Power Equipment plans a $46.4 million expansion of its plant in Alamance County. The company, which makes lawn-mower engines, string trimmers and other equipment, said the expansion includes a production line for the new Honda GCV general-purpose engine.


Medline Industries locates distribution hub in Mississippi

Medline Industries, which manufactures and distributes medical supplies, is investing $46 million to locate its distribution operations in Southaven, Miss. The project is expected to create 450 jobs in North Mississippi. A portion of the new jobs will be filled by Medline’s existing employees at its Memphis location.


Westlake Chemical considering $450 million expansion In Geismar, La.

Houston-based Westlake Chemical is considering a $450 million expansion in Geismar that would create 200 construction jobs and 15 permanent jobs. The company has not made a final decision to move forward with the expansion, which would increase its volume of a chemical used in the production of PVC, a type of plastic often used in pipes.


UPS opening new distribution center in Louisville, Ky., dedicated to Columbia Sportswear

UPS is opening a new supply chain distribution center to house its new customer, Columbia Sportswear, the popular outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment retailer.

The new warehouse is creating 83 full-time jobs. Up until now, Columbia handled distribution in-house.


Telephonics expands In Elizabeth City, N.C.

Telephonics Corporation, a communication system company, will invest $5.5 million in a new facility located in Elizabeth City with plans to create 75 jobs as it expands its operations in Pasquotank County, N.C. Telephonics designs and manufactures sophisticated radar and communications systems for the military and aviation industry. 


Trucking company announces expansion in Bowling Green, Ky.

TAZ Trucking will grow in Bowling Green with a $7.3 million investment expected to create as many as 57 new jobs.


Doctor staffing company to open Fort Lauderdale HQ adding 250 jobs

Hayes Locums, a temporary staffing firm for doctors, announced it will add 250 jobs at a new headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. The company will be hiring administrative personnel to place doctors in positions across the country. 


One hundred jobs coming to Latvian company’s Charlotte, N.C., location

Printing and shipping company Printful announced plans to create 100 more jobs in Charlotte, N.C., and open a second location in the city. The Latvian company prints and ships products for online stores. 


Tennessee-based company announces 200-job expansion In Tullahoma

EnableComp announced its plans to expand operations and create a third office in middle Tennessee. The Franklin, Tenn.-based company will invest nearly $1 million to open a new office in Tullahoma, with plans to hire 200 new jobs. EnableComp assists healthcare companies with workers’ compensation claims.


Italy-Based auto supplier expands Tennessee operations

Athena-SCE, an automotive supplier, will invest more than $3 million to expand operations in Mount Pleasant, Tenn. The company plans to create 36 additional jobs in Maury County to produce gaskets and other sealing devices for automotive and industrial applications.


Enviva plans terminal at Port of Pascagoula in Mississippi

Enviva, the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, plans to invest over $60 million to build the new Pascagoula terminal, which is expected to directly employ 30 full-time workers, and support about 150 jobs during construction.


Nike’s new Mississippi facility to bring 250 jobs

Sports apparel company Nike has announced plans to bring a new distribution center to Marshall County in northern Mississippi.The center is expected to create 250 logistics and supply chain jobs. Nike closed a distribution center in Memphis in February, but all employees from that facility were offered or accepted roles at other facilities in the area.


New mortgage company bringing 100 jobs to Wilmington, N.C.

A South Carolina-based bank has formed a new mortgage company that will soon open an office in Wilmington. Community First Bank has formed SeaTrust Mortgage Company, whose headquarters will be based in Cape Fear, and will hire an estimated 100 jobs by 2021.


H-E-B reveals plans for new tech center in San Antonio

A supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, has announced plans for a new tech center that will bring 500 new jobs to San Antonio. H-E-B will build a five-story tech center at its San Antonio headquarters that will house 1,000 employees as the company grows the H-E-B Digital team.


The company behind Rubbermaid is returning HQ to Georgia

Newell Brands, the maker of Sharpie, Rubbermaid and Yankee Candle, will be relocating its corporate headquarters from Hoboken, N.J., to Atlanta, taking with it an estimated 100 top management jobs. The company, lured to the Garden State by a hefty $27 million tax incentive package three years ago, is relocating those in leadership and executive roles. Newells’ e-commerce division, and roughly 200 employees, will remain in Hoboken.


Hennessey expands in Texas to prep for Venom F5 hypercar

Hennessey Performance Engineering in late July celebrated the groundbreaking of an expansion of its plant in Sealy, Texas, to accommodate increased demand for its tuned vehicles, as well as the upcoming Venom F5 hypercar.


New call center in Columbus, Ga., to employ 600

Colorado-based Global Callcenter Solutions (GCS) cut the ribbon on its new call center in Columbus, Ga.  A shuttered Winn-Dixie supermarket received a $5 million makeover to prepare for  a staff of 600.


FedEx investing another $450 million in Memphis hub

FedEx has announced it will make an additional $450 million investment in the $1.1 billion Memphis Hub modernization project previously announced in March 2018. The investment will now exceed $1.5 billion to construct a new sorting facility and install state-of-the-art systems.


Auto supplier expanding in Chattanooga

A German auto supplier is expanding its operations in Chattanooga, Tenn., which will become its North American headquarters. The $6 million investment will create another 100 jobs in Hamilton County. ATN Hoelzel LP provides robotic gluing equipment for the auto industry. 


Construction to begin on $335 million wind farm in Texas

Renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced the beginning of construction for the $335 million El Campo wind farm in Knox County. The El Campo project is expecting to provide employment for approximately 200 people during construction.


Dippin’ Dots expands in McCracken County, Ky.

Dippin’ Dots, a Paducah-based ice cream producer, will expand its operation in McCracken County. The company is expected to invest $3.3 million and create up to 28 full-time jobs.


Air traffic surveillance company expanding in Fairfax County, Va.

Aireon, an air traffic surveillance company, is expanding its office space in Tysons by nearly 150 percent to accommodate more than 50 new jobs over the next three years.


Motus Integrated Technologies breaks ground on $15 million Alabama plant

Motus Integrated Technologies recently broke ground on its $15 million, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Gadsden, Ala. The 96,000-square-foot facility will create nearly 100 jobs producing headliners, armrests and trim components for the auto industry. The new Gadsden facility will span more than two acres of land and is anticipated to be complete next year.


Fort Worth scores another HQ

Chip 1 Exchange, a Germany-based distributor of electronic components, has moved its U.S. headquarters and logistics operations from Orange County, Calif., to Fort Worth. The project will hire 20 employees.


Kubota to build $85 million facility in Gainesville, Ga.

Japanese heavy equipment manufacturer Kubota is spending $85 million to build an engineering and design center on about 300 acres adjacent to its factories in Gainesville. The maker of tractors, mowers, utility vehicles and industrial equipment already employs about 3,000 people in Georgia.


Italian manufacturer celebrates new West Virginia factory

Pietro Fiorentini recently celebrated the completion of its new manufacturing plant in Weirton, W.Va. The company’s new facility represents a total investment of $9 million. Pietro Fiorentini manufactures equipment for the oil-and-gas industry.


Resonate Foods expands Kentucky operations

A hemp grower and producer in Lyon County is investing $2.7 million dollars in expanding its operations. Resonate Foods will add 16 jobs to produce artesian hemp and pharmaceutical grade products.


Canadian tile importer investing $98 million in Savannah, Ga.

A Canada-based importer of tile and stone, Anatolia Tile and Stone, is set to invest $98 million in two Savannah warehouses that will employ 124 people and dramatically increase its U.S. imports.


Missouri mine to be repurposed

An old mine in Fredericktown, Mo., could bring in hundreds of new jobs to Madison County. The Madison Mine/Anschutz Mine will be repurposed and reopened as the Missouri Cobalt Mine. Once it is fully operational, officials said it would be the only primary cobalt mine in the United States, and would create hundreds of jobs.


Amazon heading to St. Lucie County, Fla.

Amazon will develop a distribution center in a 60,000-square-foot warehouse it recently purchased west of Fort Pierce. The facility, which is under construction, will be used for packages weighing less than 100 pounds. Officials estimate the center will create 200 jobs.


Oklahoma primed for Amazon

Amazon has begun accepting applications for more than 1,500 warehouse jobs at its new fulfillment center in Oklahoma City. The jobs are part of what the tech giant estimates will be about 1,750 full-time jobs and $146 million in capital investment over the next five years. The hiring spree comes at a time when Amazon is also planning to open a second fulfillment center in Tulsa.


LifeNet announces expansion to Virginia facility

A Virginia Beach organ and tissue bank is continuing to expand by spending close to $1.8 million in upgrades at its facility in the Lynnhaven business corridor. LifeNet also plans to create 44 new positions, with an average annual salary of more than $55,000, as part of the expansion.

latest magazine issue
randle report
auto corridor

Southern Business & Development
8086 Westchester Place
Montgomery AL 36117