March 2022

Amazon- and Ford-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian gets a break in Georgia

In the fall of 2021, electric vehicle startup Rivian announced one of the South's largest-ever economic development deals. The company announced it would build a $5 billion, 7,500-employee facility to make batteries and electric vehicles for U.S. and global consumption. The company is well financed, with major stockholders coming from Amazon and Ford Motor Company, among other major players. But like many mega-projects located near large MSAs (the deal is being built on a site just east of Atlanta in an area bordered by Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties), there is some local opposition. However, the state of Georgia has taken over the project and its site in Stanton Springs. Commissioner Pat Wilson of the Georgia Department of Economic Development said in the winter quarter, by taking the steps to acquire the property, "streamline the entire project process, giving community members a strong voice throughout." The state's ownership of the 2,000-acre Rivian site will erase the need for local governments to conduct public hearings on zoning and other controversial developments. Construction on the battery and electric vehicle plants is expected to start this summer and production to begin in 2024.


Ford picks construction company for Blue Oval City project in West Tennessee

Detroit-based construction company Walbridge will be the general contractor for Ford Motor Company's Blue Oval City, a $5.6 billion battery and electric vehicle assembly facility being built in Haywood County, Tenn., between Memphis and Jackson. The campus will be constructed on a nearly six-square-mile site to build Ford’s next-generation all-electric F-series pickups and SK Innovation’s advanced batteries. Ford and battery maker SK Innovation announced the project in September. A joint venture called BlueOvalSK will also construct twin battery plants in Glendale, Ky., in an estimated $5.8 billion investment. The two projects in Tennessee and Kentucky are expected to create an estimated 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint to the South.


Another new semiconductor plant expansion under consideration in the South

Germany-based Infineon Technologies is considering putting $700 million into its chip fab plant in Southeast Austin. The company, if the deal is approved, will invest $625 million in new machinery and adding space at the plant. Several large semiconductor plants have been announced in the South as manufacturers struggle to find enough computer chips for automobiles, smart phones and other products. The chip shortage in the automotive industry is expected to cost $210 billion in revenue and has increased car prices by more than 10 percent in the last year. . .over 7 million vehicle units will not be built this year.


Atlanta's airport passenger traffic coming back

The world's busiest airport is coming back from collapse in the COVID-stricken year of 2020, when just 42 million passengers flew in and out. In calendar year 2021, the airport hosted 75 million passengers. That is still a far cry from the record 110 million passengers that used the airport in 2019. Delta remains the largest carrier by a long shot in Atlanta with an 80 percent market share. It has been 10 years now since Dallas-based Southwest began serving Atlanta, and its market share is below 10 percent.


Goldman Sachs: U.S. facing worst labor shortage since World War II

Economists with Goldman Sachs stated in the winter quarter that the U.S. economy is facing the worst labor shortage in close to a century, or since World War II. The company estimated that there is a shortage of 4.6 million workers in the U.S. This has sent wages rising as much as five percent this year, while consumer prices surged over seven percent in January. There are over 10 million available jobs in the country as of February. Pre-pandemic available jobs were below 8 million.


Nissan Mississippi joins the electric vehicle parade

There are no less than 22 major automotive assembly plants undergoing some kind of large expansion in an effort to build electric vehicles. Some of those single investments total more $5 billion. Add Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant to the mix. The Japanese automaker is investing $500 million to construct a new electric vehicle line with production beginning in 2025. Nissan is investing $18 billion worldwide to electrify its vehicle line.


New mail truck plant to stay -- for now -- in South Carolina

Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense is sticking with its decision to build a plant in Spartanburg County, S.C., to produce U.S.P.S. mail trucks despite efforts by Wisconsin officials and union leaders to keep the company’s new investment in their state. Company officials said in the winter quarter that the project was too far into development stage to change sites and that there were no facilities available in Wisconsin large enough to house the 1,000 workers expected to be hired.


U.S. is energy independent

Remember the early 1970s and gas lines for miles? For decades, U.S. politicians have stressed that achieving energy independence was one of the most important goals for the nation's economy. For the first time, the U.S. produced more petroleum than it consumed in 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration.


Been to downtown lately; that's the problem right there

COVID-19 has emptied many of America's downtowns. With offices gone all-remote, estimates say that post-COVID will see as much as one-quarter of its pre-COVID workforce disappear from downtowns. That would leave some parts of cities, especially large ones, with big patches of closed businesses. . .from barbers, to clothiers, to restaurants. Yes, downtowns are in trouble. Office buildings anchor just about every economic aspect of central business districts, especially large transit systems. Less people working in those buildings means less taxes, less customers and unused major investments.


Toyota begins grading North Carolina megasite

Japanese automaker Toyota has begun to prep the Greensboro Randolph County Megasite where it is building a major electric vehicle battery plant. The plant is expected to house 1,700 workers with an annual payroll of over $100 million and will begin production in 2025. Toyota also announced in the winter quarter that it is investing $73 million in a new facility at its Buffalo, W.Va., plant that will produce electric vehicle components.


South Carolina exports near $30 billion in 2021

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the SC Ports Authority announced in the winter that the Palmetto State's exports totaled $29.7 billion last year. South Carolina is the nation's largest exporter of tires and fully assembled automobiles.


TVA launches new nuclear program

Tennessee-based TVA, the nation's largest public utility, is launching a program to develop small modular nuclear reactors as part of its strategy to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company will spend $200 million in the program's first phase.


Largest private project in Arkansas history breaks ground

In the winter quarter, U.S. Steel broke ground on a new $3 billion steel mill in Osceola, Ark., that will bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Arkansas. The steel mill will be the most advanced in the world and is expected to produce automotive parts such as hoods and roofs that are not available with current steel making technology. 


Nucor is the latest steel plant to call the South home

Charlotte-based Nucor is bringing a new steel plant to West Virginia, but as of this writing no site in the state has been chosen. Once operational in 2024, the mill will have the capacity to produce up to 3 million tons of sheet steel per year for the automotive, appliance, HVAC, heavy equipment, agricultural, transportation and construction markets, according to the steel and steel products manufacturer. The new plant will feature an advanced high-end automotive line.


Wow! Big job gains in the airline industry last month of 2021

The U.S. airline industry, including both passenger and cargo airlines, added over 728,000 workers in December 2021. That is nearly as many jobs as were created pre-COVID December 2019, when 749,000 jobs were created. In December, U.S. cargo airlines employed 283,000 workers and passenger airlines employed 445,000.


Nissan investing $500 million in Mississippi expansion

Nissan will build two all-new, all-electric vehicles at its Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi. The automaker will invest $500 million in its Canton facility to support the expansion, which will bring the company’s total investment in Mississippi since 2003 to $4 billion.


Carvana adding 3,500 employees in Atlanta

Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana said it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody. The fast-growing firm recently subleased a 21-story building at the suburban State Farm complex, which was the city’s biggest lease of 2021.


Messer building $50 million gas plant in McGregor, Texas

Germany-based Messer will build a $50 million air separation unit on 85 acres in McGregor’s industrial park powered by its own solar farm, the first such facility in the United States, according to the company. Messer produces gases used in industries including aerospace, health care, electronics, food and more.


Swedish manufacturer chooses South Carolina

A Swedish manufacturer plans to open an $18 million facility and hire 90 people in Clinton, S.C. Blue Diamond Industries makes polyethylene conduits for fiber optic and power cables.


New York company relocating to West Tennessee

Wall Innovations will relocate its manufacturing and distribution from Long Island City, N.Y., to Bolivar, Tenn. The company, which will specialize in architectural aluminum systems, will invest $6.4 million and create 72 new jobs in Hardeman County.


Louisiana will spend $75 million on EV charging stations

Louisiana is set to receive $75 million in federal funding over the next five years to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways. The funding is part of a $5 billion program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress that is expected to result in $14.1 million allocated to Louisiana for this fiscal year.


Georgia-Pacific investing $20 million in South Carolina plant expansion

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific, one of the world’s largest wood pulp and paper manufacturers, is spending $20 million to expand its operations in Alcolu, a tiny mill town in northern Clarendon County. Most of the money will go toward the addition of a third line to produce oriented strand board, wood panels similar to particle board.


Tech manufacturer could bring up to 2,000 jobs to Georgetown, Texas

California-based tech company CelLink has plans to put a 300,000-square-foot facility in Georgetown, Texas. The new $130 million factory will supply electric vehicle manufacturers with intelligent wiring systems.


Electric truck manufacturer to locate in Osceola, Ark., bringing 800 jobs

Envirotech Vehicles will locate a multimillion-dollar commercial electric vehicle plant in Osceola, with plans to hire up to 800 workers over the next 10 years. The 90-acre, 580,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will be located in a vacant Fruit of the Loom factory in Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas.


Chick-fil-A plans distribution hub in Antioch, Tenn.

Chick-fil-A Supply will expand operations and launch its fourth U.S. distribution center in Antioch. The $16.3 million project is expected to create 45 new jobs over the next five years.


AutoZone’s new distribution center in New Kent County, Va., creating 352 jobs

AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, will invest $185.2 million to establish a new warehouse and distribution center in New Kent County. The 800,000-square-foot facility will serve as the company’s East Coast distribution operation, creating 352 new jobs.


Circular SynTech to expand in New Madrid, Mo

Circular SynTech (CST) is expanding to New Madrid, investing up to $91.4 million and expecting to create 45 new jobs. CST’s one-of-a-kind facility on a 200-acre campus will convert municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris into valuable renewable chemicals.


Volvo global HQ for financial services coming to Greensboro, N.C.

Volvo will move its global headquarters for financial services to Greensboro, the company announced during a news conference and groundbreaking ceremony in February. Volvo executives said 360 colleagues will relocate to this new facility. The company is investing $41 million in the Triad to make this happen.


Office expansion in Hoover, Ala., to create 400 new jobs

Two real estate companies announced an expanded corporate presence in Hoover, adding 400 jobs over the next five years. Lake Homes Realty and sister company RealSource Title Insurance and Real Estate Closing will move into a new corporate headquarters in Shelby County next year. The office will get a $1 million remodel of its fourth and fifth floors as part of the project.


Envision grows Dallas footprint adding 200 jobs for the visually impaired

Envision’s purchase of a new campus in the Dallas area is another indicator of the demand for jobs for those who are blind or visually impaired, said David Stupay, managing director of Envision Dallas. Envision already employs about 200 people to support its manufacturing, warehousing and call center operations in North Texas and plans to hire another 200 over the next two years.


Nordfab expands North Carolina manufacturing complex

Nordfab, a manufacturer of ductwork used in environmental filtration systems, will invest $5.5 million at its production facility in Thomasville. The company plans to hire an additional 25 employees.


Global shipping company expanding in Charleston County, S.C., adding 135 jobs

MSC USA, a division of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, announced a $13.7 million dollar investment that will add 135 new jobs in its cargo shipping division in Charleston County.


DeLorean Motor Co. plans new San Antonio HQ and 450 jobs

DeLorean Motor Co. is planning a comeback that will include electric vehicle production and a global headquarters in San Antonio. The company was previously based in Humble, just outside of Houston. The deal, contingent on final approval of various incentive packages, would bring approximately 450 new jobs to the Alamo City.


Schneider Electric investing $100 million in El Paso, Texas

Schneider Electric will be building a huge new manufacturing plant in northwest El Paso that will house 400 jobs. The company says the $100 million investment in the El Paso area will help relieve the supply chain issues of the products they manufacture.


Australia-based Syrah expands Louisiana graphite processing facility

Syrah Resources is investing $176 million to expand its Syrah Technologies graphite processing facility in Vidalia, La. The project is expected to create 36 new jobs to process graphite into material used in lithium-ion batteries for the electric vehicle industry. The expansion comes on the heels of a December 2021 agreement with Tesla to supply graphite AAM for use in batteries.


ExxonMobil to finish $500 million Baton Rouge plant expansion in 2022

ExxonMobil’s $500 million expansion of its polyolefins plant in Baton Rouge, La., is expected to finish at the end of this year, according to company officials. The expansion will boost production of polypropylene, which is used to make lightweight plastic for car parts, as well as appliances, recyclable food packaging and other products. Construction on the project paused in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down vehicle demand. Work restarted later in 2021 as demand for polypropylene ramped up again.


SoPoly expands Georgia manufacturing operations

Recycled furniture manufacturer SoPoly plans to invest $5 million in its operations in Eastman, Ga. The project is expected to create 200 jobs in Dodge County. After opening there in January 2021, the company currently employs 30 at its 70,000-square-foot facility.


MGP Ingredients announces $12 million expansion in Williamstown, Ky.

MGP Ingredients, a provider of distilled spirits, has begun a $12 million barrel warehouse expansion to meet growing consumer demand for its American whiskey. The company is constructing a new barrel warehouse facility in Williamstown.


EV supplier coming to Bulloch County, Ga.

Aspen Aerogels is opening a manufacturing plant in Bulloch County, Ga., that could add more than 250 jobs and $300 million in investment. The plant will make thermal barriers that will insulate batteries on electric cars.


Pharmaceutical company adding 400 jobs near Charlotte, N.C.

Over-the-counter pharmaceutical company BestCo is investing another $177 million in expanding its Mooresville facilities and adding nearly 400 jobs. BestCo, based in Mooresville, develops and manufactures over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and dietary supplements.


Omnis Building Technologies plans West Virginia manufacturing plant

Housing material manufacturer Omnis Building Technologies will construct a $40 million, 150,000-square-foot facility in Bluefield, W.Va. The project is expected to create 150 to 300 jobs. The company plans to be operational by the end of 2022.


Biorefinery bringing $1.7 billion investment to Newton County, Texas

A $1.7 billion biorefinery reported to be bringing 142 jobs to Newton County was announced in February. USA BioEnergy, through its subsidiary Texas Renewable Funds, will be building the advanced bioenergy refinery in Bon Wier.


Crypto mining headed for Oklahoma

New York-based private equity firm YZY Capital Holdings plans to invest $100 million to develop two data centers in Muskogee County. One crypto mining operation will be built on a 15-acre tract near the city of Oktaha, and the second will be built on 126 acres in Muskogee City.


Manufacturer expanding in Cherokee County, S.C.

Bericap, a plastic closure manufacturer, announced plans to expand operations in Cherokee County with a $19.7 million investment. Located in Cowpens, Bericap supplies closures to the water, dairy, carbonated soft drinks and sport beverages markets.


Lowe’s plans distribution hub in Roanoke County, Va.

Lowe’s will invest $11 million to locate a warehouse and distribution center at Valley TechPark in Roanoke County. The project is expected to create 70 new jobs.


Toyota adds hybrid product in Tennessee

Toyota has announced plans to increase the workload at its facility in Jackson, Tenn., known as Toyota Tennessee, by investing $17 million to give the plant the technology to begin casting hybrid transaxle cases and housings.


Mattress company creating 55 jobs in Cherokee County, S.C.

A mattress company is coming to Cherokee County and creating 55 new jobs with a $13 million investment. Somnus Mattress International is a manufacturer of hybrid, memory foam mattresses.


Mt. Olive Pickles expanding into Goldsboro, N.C.

Mt. Olive Pickles is expanding for the first time outside of its hometown, with new manufacturing and distribution operations in Goldsboro, N.C. The company, which was founded in 1926 in Mount Olive, will create 167 jobs with the expansion.


U.S. Steel breaks ground in Osceola, Ark.

United States Steel broke ground in February on its advanced steel mill in Osceola. The $3 billion project is expected to create at least 900 full-time direct and indirect jobs. The steelmaking facility will be the most advanced in North America and largest private project in the history of Arkansas.


Ford E-Transit shipments begin from KC plant

In February, Ford began shipping its E-Transit van -- its second fully electric vehicle EV -- from its Kansas City-area assembly plant, which is the first such facility to build both batteries and vehicles themselves in-house. The Claycomo, Mo., plant gained a $100 million investment from Ford and created 150 new jobs to help make the electric version of the popular cargo van, which has more than 10,000 orders.


Ryder plans 250 Atlanta jobs

Growing logistics company Ryder System will invest $44 million in a new third-party distribution center in Locust Grove, Ga., that is expected to create more than 250 jobs.


Alliance Compressors announces $45 million expansion in Louisiana

Alliance Compressors is investing $45 million over the next two years to expand its compressor assembly facility in Natchitoches. The company is also creating 78 new jobs.


Paint giant bringing $324 million investment to North Carolina

Sherwin-Williams is bringing more than 180 new jobs by expanding operations in Statesville, citing “demand,” and plans to invest some $324 million in new and expanded facilities.


Tissue maker expanding in Henrico County, Va.

American Paper Converting, a maker of bathroom tissue, facial tissue and paper towel products, is spending $17 million to expand its East Coast operations, including a relocation and expansion in Henrico. The Woodland, Wash.-based company is hiring 69 in the deal.


Nucor announces largest investment in West Virginia history

Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor will make its single largest investment in company history with the location of a $2.7 billion state-of-the-art sheet steel mill in Mason County, W.Va. The project also represents the largest capital investment in West Virginia history. Additional sites in northern West Virginia are also under consideration for a transload and processing facility to better serve customers in the upper Midwest and Northeast regions.


Nucor to open $350 million “micro mill” in the Southeast

Nucor announced it will build a rebar micro mill in the South Atlantic region, but hasn’t name a specific location or how many jobs the project is expected to create. Estimated cost of the mill is $350 million.


Ecommerce company building new HQ in Florida

Athletic wear online retail company NVGTN (pronounced “navigation”) plans to invest $15 million in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Pasco County, Fla. The company’s new headquarters will house its customer service and fulfillment operations, with at least 30 new full-time positions.


Hundreds of jobs coming to Lebanon, Tenn., at EV plant

Tritium, a leader in the electric vehicle charging industry, is expecting to double existing operations in Australia, Europe, Asia and the U.S. by creating 500 new jobs over the next five years. Tritium’s Tennessee site will serve as the company’s sole U.S. facility for manufacturing modular direct current (DC) fast chargers.


IT company plans new office in Richmond, Va.

A Northern Virginia-based information technology company is planning to open a new office in Richmond that is expected to create 125 jobs. Fairfax County-based Intact Technology, a software consulting and managed services firm, will invest $1.5 million to establish a second Virginia location in the city of Richmond.


Construction on Tellurian’s $30 billion Driftwood LNG plant in Louisiana set for April

Construction on the $30 billion Driftwood LNG liquefied natural gas production plant in Calcasieu Parish should begin in April, even though financing for the project hasn’t quite been solidified. According to Charif Souki, executive chairman of Houston-based Tellurian, “We have enough capital, or access to enough capital, to make sure that we can do the first year worth of construction.”

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