April 2023 News

Southern mega-markets surge in job growth

Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and Miami have surged in job growth since the beginning of 2020. Employment levels in those markets as of January 2023 increased by 9 percent in Dallas, followed by Atlanta, Houston and Miami with levels of 4.9 percent, 3.9 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.


German automaker eyes U.S. assembly plant

According to a report in the Washington Post, Audi is considering building a U.S. factory to produce electric vehicles. In just the past three years, several automakers and battery manufacturers have announced plans to spend billions on new facilities in the Southern Automotive Corridor.


Ford and Gov. Lee celebrate historic BlueOval City in West Tennessee

In the spring quarter, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Ford Motor Company marked significant progress on construction at the historic BlueOval City complex in West Tennessee. The project is the single largest investment in Tennessee history. In 2021, Ford Motor Company and SK On committed a $5.6 billion investment to build a 3,600-acre mega-campus called BlueOval City at the Megasite of West Tennessee, where the production of Ford’s second generation electric trucks will begin in 2025. The project is expected to create 30,000 jobs in West Tennessee, anchored by Memphis, including auto parts suppliers and other support projects. The construction is expected to create 6,000 jobs.


Study projects BlueOvalSK EV battery plant will have $800 million economic impact in Kentucky

A new study conducted by the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and Murray State University shows the potential economic impact of the BlueOval SK Battery Park on local governments in Hardin County and the surrounding region. Once at full employment in 2025, the Ford facility is estimated to have a yearly value-added impact of nearly $800 million.


One billion dollars invested on a high-tech paperboard recycling mill in Waco, Texas

Graphic Packaging International plans to break ground this spring on the 640,000-square-foot facility in Waco’s Texas Central Park. The mill will turn corrugated box cardboard into thinner paperboard packaging for cereal boxes and other consumer products. Production will commence in 2026, company officials said. The company is set to hire 230 people with average pay of $65,000 plus benefits.


Lithium-ion battery recycler opens plant in Georgia

A $50 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility is now open in Covington, a critical piece of Georgia’s growing electric vehicle supply chain. Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements currently employs 100 workers at the facility, which is near Rivian’s planned $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Social Circle, Ga. The battery recycler plans to increase its headcount to 185 by 2024, and called the project the largest of its kind in North America.


EVs in Georgia account for the majority of Georgia’s biggest deals

Electric vehicle plants like Rivian and Hyundai in Georgia make up seven of the 10 largest economic development projects as of April. The Hyundai project, worth billions, is one of the largest economic development projects announced in the South.


Georgia takes over New York for sound stage square footage

Georgia now has over 3 million square feet of sound stages. Topping that mark made the state the second largest in film and television production space in the nation. The report came from FilmLA, a nonprofit that serves as the official film office for the city and county of Los Angeles, which has 6.2 million square feet of production space. New York has 2.8 million square feet. The report also tracks other “competitive jurisdictions” including the United Kingdom, Ontario and British Columbia. Georgia ranked fourth overall among all the locations, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


A new Research Triangle county is now the fastest growing

Franklin County, located in the Research Triangle of the Raleigh-Durham region is now the fastest growing in population between 2021 and 2022, according to new population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. At 3.8 percent, Franklin County’s population expanded greater than Johnston or Chatham counties. Johnston County is still red hot from a growth perspective. The county grew its population by 3.3 percent during the one-year interval. And it’s three times as large as Franklin, so its actual gain of residents was much higher for the year at 7,500 compared to 2,700 for Franklin, according to the Triangle Business Journal.


CommScope adding hundreds of jobs in Catawba County, N.C.

Hickory, N.C.-based CommScope is investing $47 million and creating 250 jobs at its fiber optic cable plants. Ninety percent of those jobs will not require a college degree. The added manufacturing will produce rural area applications of fiber optic cable to expand broadband service to areas that are lacking high-speed internet.


Massive investment in Kentucky

Microvast Advanced Membrane is investing $504 million in a project in Hopkinsville, Ky., to build the world’s first mass production facility for its cutting-edge polyaramid separator technology. The polyaramid technology is used in firefighting garments and insulating papers. The facility will help integrate the product into EV battery designs, including Microvast’s cells as well as those of other third-party battery manufacturers. The project will create 562 full-time jobs.


Toyota Boshoku to make $225 million investment in Hopkinsville, Ky.

Toyota Boshoku America Inc. (TBA) will invest more than $225 million to construct a new facility in Hopkinsville and create 157 quality jobs for Kentuckians, according to the Lane Report. The new facility will include a 365,400-square-foot building pad on 49 acres in Christian County. The plant will be the first TBA location globally to be considered a “Smart Plant.” The facility will employ innovative, cutting-edge technologies such as advanced robotics, planning and automation to streamline processes, reduce waste and enhance productivity to maximize efficiency and operations.


Alabama sets $10 billion investments record

Manufacturers and service providers made an estimated total of $10.1 billion investments in Alabama last year. The total broke the previous record of $8.7 billion in 2018. The numbers are from the 2022 Alabama Economic Development Impact Report that the Alabama Department of Commerce released in the spring quarter.


Alabama food and beverage company announces $130 million project in South Carolina

Milo’s Tea Co. announced in March it will create more than 100 jobs in Spartanburg County, S.C. The project will entail production of tea and lemonade on site by fall 2024.


Canada-based Epsilon manufacturer picks Tuscaloosa for plant

Epsilon Industries is investing around $3 million to open a facility to produce prefabricated modular utility systems in an integrated factory environment at the Tuscaloosa County Airport Industrial Park. The deal will create 180 jobs.


Clean energy manufacturer to establish $264 million plant in Shelby County, Ky.

EnerVenue will establish a new manufacturing facility in Shelby County, creating 450 full-time jobs with a $264 million Phase 1 investment with potential for further investment. The company manufactures energy storage products and systems. 


New distillery headed to Georgetown, Ky.

A planned $51 million distillery coming to Georgetown will be an architectural innovation from the same Danish firm that designed Google’s headquarters and the Lego brand museum, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. According to the media property, “Blue Run, which announced in August 2022 that it planned to build a whiskey operation in Georgetown, released preliminary designs by Bjarke Ingels Group. Called “Meander,” the design shows one swooping half-mile-long building housing the entire operation including distilling, aging and blending. The design is meant to evoke Georgetown’s Royal Spring, according to a news release. The whiskey operation in Georgetown, home of Toyota’s largest assembly plant in the U.S., will create 45 new jobs.


$1.3 billion investment announced in South Carolina

Charlotte-based Albemarle is investing at least $1.3 billion and creating more than 300 new jobs to construct a new “Mega-Flex” lithium hydroxide processing facility in Chester County, S.C. The facility will support the surging demand for electric vehicles and other energy storage applications that use lithium-ion batteries. Situated on nearly 800 acres near Richburg, Albemarle’s new “Mega-Flex” conversion facility will support the fast-growing global electric vehicle and energy storage markets. The term “Mega-Flex” refers to the facility’s ability to process diverse lithium feedstock, including lithium from recycled batteries. The new facility is expected to annually produce approximately 50,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from multiple sources, with the potential to reach up to 100,000 metric tons, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.


Another lithium-Ion battery campus being built in South Carolina

Cirba Solutions, a comprehensive battery management and materials company, announced plans in the spring to build its newest state-of-the-art, flagship operations in Richland County, S.C. The integrated lithium-ion battery materials campus will encompass an initial investment of over $300 million and will create more than 300 new jobs. The company plans to build an approximately 400,000-square-foot, world-class lithium-ion battery recycling and materials campus that will focus on processing end-of-life hybrid and EV batteries and gigafactory scrap to extract critical materials such as nickel, cobalt and lithium.


Oil and gas refiner to relocate HQ from Dallas to Baton Rouge

Petroleum company Placid Refining will move its headquarters from Dallas to downtown Baton Rouge, La. Placid is also investing $66 million to improve its existing facility in Port Allen. The deal will create 20 new jobs. 


CGI has created more than 700 jobs at its center in Lafayette, La.

Global IT and business consulting firm CGI has created more than 700 jobs at its U.S. Onshore Delivery Center in Lafayette, La., which opened in 2014. This is almost double the number of jobs it originally expected to bring to the region. CGI’s Acadiana workforce supports federal and commercial clients across the nation undertaking critical digital transformation projects.


Deal in Lexington County, S.C.

Cooperative Electric Energy Utility Supply, a consumer-owned electric materials supplier, announced plans to expand operations in Lexington County. The company’s approximately $52 million investment will create 61 new jobs.


German manufacturer picks Virginia for 100 more jobs

Germany-based Zollner Elektronik AG will invest $18 million to expand in Virginia. The company is expanding in Danville and will add 100 jobs.


Electric vehicle battery manufacturer expanding in Tennessee

Microvast, a maker of batteries for EVs, is investing $150 million to expand its facility in Clarksville, Tenn. The expansion will double the plant’s capacity. “Houston-based Microvast is one of several automotive companies pouring new investment into Greater Nashville and hitching the largest piece of Tennessee’s manufacturing economy to electric vehicles.” So far, Microvast has committed to close to 290 jobs at its first Clarksville factory and another 600 to 700 at a potential second factory nearby, according to the Nashville Business Journal. Microvast reported 35 percent growth in revenue from 2021 to 2022. Its backlog of orders more than tripled, to $410.5 million.


Old denim mill south of Raleigh to breathe new life

Harnett County, N.C., is home to the old Erwin Cotton Mills plant that has stood from more than 100 years. Once called the “Denim Capital of the World,” the site is about to see a regeneration into a new business park in Erwin, N.C. The small town of 5,000 people is about 50 minutes south of Raleigh between U.S. Highway 421 and the Cape Fear River. Erwin is about 10 minutes west of Interstate 95. The buyer of the facility will transform it into more than 1 million square feet of spaces ranging from 2,000 to up to 400,000 square feet for prospective tenants.


Supplier to Hyundai’s massive Georgia complex to bring new jobs

Korea-based PHA announced it will build a new plant near the Hyundai facility in Chatham County, Ga. The $67 million investment will generate more than 400 new jobs.


Distribution center set for Byhalia, Miss.

A Massachusetts-based third-party logistics (3PL) firm has opened its seventh Memphis-area distribution center. Barrett Distribution Centers’ new operations in Byhalia, Miss., employ 100 workers at a 960,000-square-foot facility. 


Tin Thanh Group to locate tire manufacturing facility in rural South Carolina; over 1,000 jobs to be created

Tin Thanh Group Americas, a tire manufacturer, announced plans to establish its first United States operations which will be in Allendale County. The company’s $68 million investment will create 1,031 new jobs. Supplying energy from reusable sources, Tin Thanh Group Americas will provide operations in recycled energy, closed industry-agriculture, recycled waste and tire leasing while serving the environment, energy, high-tech agriculture and technology markets.


Spending by productions in North Carolina tops $258 million in 2022

Filmmakers spent more than $258 million on productions in North Carolina last year, the sixth highest year-end total since 2000, when the state started offering incentives to support the state’s film industry. “North Carolina continues to attract great film, television and streaming projects that bring good jobs to our state,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Last year, these projects helped create 16,000 job opportunities, including 3,000 crew and talent positions for our state’s highly skilled production workforce.” In 2022, 74 film, television and streaming projects had production-related activities in all eight of the state’s prosperity zones, including previously announced N.C. Film and Entertainment Grant awardees.


Ship repair contractor expanding in Hampton Roads

Advanced Integrated Technologies (AIT) is expanding its Norfolk ship repair operations. The project will create 76 jobs.


Big apparel project in Richmond MSA

SanMar Corp., the United States’ largest supplier of wholesale printable accessories and apparel, will create an expected 1,000 jobs in Hanover County, Va. The company will invest $50 million on an existing 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center.


Auto parts manufacturer to hire more than 119 in Salem, Va.

German auto parts manufacturer STS Group AG will establish its North American headquarters in Salem. The company announced a greenfield project in Wythe County, Va., in 2001, but has chosen to move into an existing facility near Roanoke. The investment of $39 million will create 120 jobs.


Ford’s $5.6 billion BlueOval City complex attracting suppliers far and wide in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development reported in the spring quarter that Ford’s suppliers for its electric vehicle facility in Stanton, Tenn., (located just outside of Memphis) are considering sites in more places in the Volunteer State than West Tennessee. Supplier activity is hot on the site of the 11-million-square-foot plant shared by Ford and battery maker SK.


Little Rock MSA picks up nice healthcare deal

RelateCare is creating 255 jobs in Sherwood, Ark. The back-office project will support hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the U.S.


Vacant shipyard near New Orleans catching new sails

It’s not a big deal, but it is a start. An offshore wind hub is coming to the site of the former Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana as the region ramps up to serve the growing renewable energy industry in the U.S. in the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans-based Gulf Wind Technology (GWT) announced in the spring it is venturing with energy giant Shell to start a research, training and technology demonstration program at GWT’s facility within the Avondale Global Gateway in Jefferson Parish. The news comes after the Biden administration in February proposed the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the government's plan to spur offshore wind deployment beyond the East Coast. The project will start off with 30 new jobs.


Kentucky town wins 2023 Best Southern Small Town

In the spring quarter, Maysville, Ky., was named Best Southern Small Town by USA Today readers. The publication explained in its piece that those small towns cited “embodied charm and hospitality while also attracting visitors worldwide.”


“Unprecedented” coastal restoration project granted final funds in Louisiana

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is granting $660 million from a 2013 settlement of federal criminal charges involving the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to help rebuild Louisiana’s coastline. The money is part of a $3 billion project that will help slow losses of Louisiana land on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The “unprecedented” funding, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, could top $3 billion from various sources.


Siemens Mobility to establish first East Coast operation in Lexington, N.C.

Manufacturer Siemens Mobility has announced it is investing $220 million in a plant to make passenger rail cars. The company picked Lexington, N.C., for the 506-job project.


Mississippi makes investments in industrial sites.

In the spring quarter, Gov. Tate Reeves announced the state of Mississippi will invest $56.7 million in site development projects throughout the state. Site development grant funds made available through the Mississippi Development Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission are assisting local economic development entities in their efforts to spur economic growth by attracting new industry to competitive, shovel-ready sites.


Amazon delaying construction on second HQ in Virginia

Amazon has decided to delay construction on its second headquarters in Virginia. The first headquarters is under construction and is expected to open in the summer. The original announcement for a second U.S. headquarters came in 2017 and over 20,000 jobs were projected.


Healthcare project to create nearly 300 jobs in Virginia

PRINCO, a healthcare products manufacturer, is investing over $18 million in Norfolk, Va. The deal will create 284 jobs. The products will be sold to hospitals throughout the U.S.


Trader Joe’s breaks ground on distribution facility in Kentucky

In the spring, Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials to break ground on a new Simpson County facility for Trader Joe’s East Inc., a leading retail distributor and supplier of food and beverage products. The project will create 876 full-time jobs, behind a $259 million investment.


Another Hyundai supplier picks Georgia

A steady stream of automotive parts suppliers has announced plans to serve the gigantic Hyundai battery and vehicle plant in Bryan County, Ga. South Korea-based PHA announced in March it will invest $67 million in a new facility near the Hyundai plant. The deal will create over 400 jobs.


Alabama automotive sector continues to thrive

Alabama’s four major assembly plants continue to grow. Mazda Toyota is adding jobs in Huntsville. Hyundai (Montgomery) and Mercedes-Benz (Tuscaloosa County) continue to expand their electric vehicle lineups. And Honda plans updates on several models at its plant in Lincoln.


Delivery app bringing 200 jobs to Birmingham

Food delivery company ASAP (formerly Waitr) is adding jobs in Birmingham. The deal will create 200 jobs.


Sam’s Club to create 600 jobs in Georgia

Retailer Sam’s Club is establishing a new fulfillment center in Douglas County, Ga. The project will create 600 jobs.


Money being invested in Mississippi megasite

The state of Mississippi recently announced it was allocating $5.1 million to Madison County to build an additional access point to the industrial site near the Nissan factory.


Organic poultry producer creating 300 jobs in Virginia

Farmer Focus is expanding its facilities in Harrisonburg, Va. The nearly $18 million deal will create 300 jobs.


New distribution center slated for Eastern North Carolina

UPS is building a new distribution center in Onslow County, N.C. The project will create 98 new jobs.


Tire manufacturer hiring 125 in Tennessee

Nokian Tyres is expanding its workforce in Dayton, Tenn. The project will generate 125 new jobs.


Idea Nuova to invest nearly $20 million in rural Georgia

Idea Nuova is establishing a new manufacturing facility in Screven County, Ga. The deal will create 80 new jobs.


Louisiana LNG exports soar

Louisiana’s three export facilities delivered more than 2.45 trillion cubic feet of LNG in 2022. Overall, the nation’s seven export terminals exported 3.86 trillion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas last year.


Hyundai assembles first electric vehicle at its Alabama plant

Korean automaker Hyundai rolled out its first electric vehicle at its large plant in Montgomery, Ala. The Genesis Electrified GV70 SUV was the first model to be produced. The first EV comes 10 months after Hyundai announced that it would build the Electrified GV70 SUV and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe at the Montgomery plant. Hyundai invested $300 million and added 200 jobs to install an EV line at the plant.


Supplier adds to growth list of Korean parts makers in Georgia

In the spring quarter, Georgia announced Sewon America would invest more than $300 million into a new manufacturing facility in Rincon in Effingham County, Ga. The deal will generate more than 700 jobs.


FDI in Alabama soars

Foreign direct investment, mostly in automotive and aerospace, is on the rise in Alabama. Since 2018, foreign companies have launched investment projects valued at more than $13 billion across the state, generating nearly 17,000 job commitments, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.


Nucor to open new facility in Decatur, Ala.

Charlotte-based steelmaker Nucor announced in the spring it will invest $125 million in an advanced manufacturing facility in Decatur. The new venture will produce transmission towers and generate 200 jobs.


South Carolina leads nation in export of vehicle tires.

Gov. Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Department of Commerce (S.C. Commerce) and the South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports) announced that the state’s 2022 export sales totaled $31.5 billion, up 6 percent over 2021, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The state remains the nation’s top exporter of completed passenger motor vehicles and tires.


Big building materials deal in the Palmetto State

IKO, a manufacturer of roofing products, announced it will establish its first South Carolina operations in Chester County. The company’s $363 million investment will create 180 new jobs.


Laser technology manufacturer relocating headquarters to Greenville County, S.C.

Erchonia Corp., a global laser technology manufacturer, announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Greenville County. The company’s $6.7 million investment will create 51 new jobs.


Investments in Louisiana topped $20 billion in 2022

Companies invested nearly $21 billion in capital in 2022, according to Louisiana Economic Development. The investments created about 18,000 new jobs.


Danish toymaker hiring 500 in Richmond MSA

Lego is hiring 500 at its $1 billion Chesterfield County manufacturing facility by the end of this year.


Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to lead Tenn-Tom Waterway Authority

Gov. Andy Beshear will be heading up a four-state effort to promote the development of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and its economic and trade potential. A release from Beshear’s office announced his election as the 2023 chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority.


Record-breaking year for Georgia trade

In the spring, Gov. Brian Kemp joined the Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) in announcing that the State of Georgia achieved a record-breaking year for international trade for a second year in a row. In 2022, Georgia’s total trade exceeded $196 billion across 221 countries and territories.


Manufacturer investing over $10 million in rural Tennessee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter and The Robinette Company officials announced the company will invest $10.3 million to construct a new, 100,000-square-foot facility in Piney Flats, Tenn. With a headquarters in Bristol and manufacturing operations in both Bristol and Piney Flats, the new facility will be The Robinette Company’s fourth location. Through this expansion, the company will create 70 new production jobs in Sullivan County. The company employs more than 450 in Northeast Tennessee.


Meta expands in Durham, N.C.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced in the spring it will create 100 jobs in downtown Durham. Meta joins other large tech companies such as Microsoft and Google that have operations in the Research Triangle.


Tuskegee, Ala., captures Korean auto supplier

Samkee Corp., a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, will open a $128 million factory in Tuskegee, its first U.S. operation. The project will create 170 new jobs.


Virginia backs out of Ford deal; project goes to Michigan

Ford Motor Co. announced it will build at $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan. The plant will house about 2,500 workers. Virginia dropped out of the running for the deal in February.


Steel manufacturer to locate first U.S. plant in Memphis

MSS Steel Tubes USA plans to open its first U.S. plant in Memphis, the Greater Memphis Chamber announced in the spring. The Portuguese-owned company will hire 129 in the deal.


North Carolina reloading megasite portfolio

After announcements by Toyota and others, most of the existing megasites in North Carolina are now occupied. The North Carolina legislature has passed funding to replenish the state’s lineup of sites of 1,000 acres or more.


Big semiconductor-related deal in South Carolina

Pallidus, a silicon carbide (SiC) wafer semiconductor manufacturer, announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations to York County, S.C. The company’s $443 million investment will create 405 new jobs. Founded in 2015, Pallidus leverages its proprietary M-SiC technology to increase the quality and lower the cost to produce silicon carbide wafers used in semiconductors.


GE Appliances to invest $50 million in South Carolina

GE Appliances (GEA), a Haier company, announced plans to expand its South Carolina operations with a distribution center in Greenville County. The $50 million investment is projected to create 45 new jobs. The company also has manufacturing facilities at its Kentucky headquarters and in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.


Seoyon E-HWA joins list of Hyundai suppliers in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp announced that Seoyon E-HWA, a global auto parts supplier that manufactures both interior and exterior components, will create 740 new direct and indirect jobs and invest almost $76 million in a new manufacturing facility in Chatham County, Ga.


UAB Birmingham economic effect: $12 billion, over 107,000 jobs.

A report from the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that the school and its massive healthcare complex generated more than $12 billion to Alabama’s economy in 2022. This includes wages, job generation and other factors. In comparison, UAB was responsible for $4.6 billion in economic impact in 2008. The University also sustained or supported over 107,000 jobs and $256 million in local taxes last year.


Boom Supersonic breaks ground in North Carolina

Colorado-based Boom Supersonic broke ground on its Overture factory at a 62-acre campus at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C. The final assembly line facility and delivery center will house up to 2,400 workers. The company, which has orders for 130 aircraft, will build the Overture airliner that will fly at twice the speed of today’s commercial jets.

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