April 2024

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to SouthernBusiness.com. For all projects announced in the South and more, go to SouthernBusiness.com and SB-D.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to SouthernAutoCorridor.com.




Alabama claims No. 1 spot last year for auto-exporting states for the first time

Alabama has become the nation’s No. 1 auto-exporting state, with international vehicle shipments surging past $11.2 billion in 2023 to overtake long-time leader South Carolina, according to new trade data.


Alabama’s auto exports have climbed 45% in value since 2021, when they totaled $7.7 billion, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Alabama’s auto industry has become an exporting powerhouse, with vehicles produced in the state finding markets around the world,” said Ellen McNair, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.


While Alabama’s auto exports have been climbing, South Carolina’s have remained steady at just over $10 billion a year since 2021, the data indicate. Other top auto-exporting states include Michigan, California and Texas.


Alabama auto exports landed in 78 countries in 2023, with major trading partners Germany, China and Canada being the leading destinations, according to Commerce data.


OMCO Solar to hire 70 in North Alabama

Arizona-based OMCO Solar, a manufacturer of steel structures for solar panels, is investing $10 million in its second facility in Alabama in Limestone County. The deal will create 70 jobs.


Southern Roots Nut Co. to hire 120 in Dothan, Ala.

The New Mexico-based company will invest $16.6 million to renovate an existing building and to build a new hub to process, store and distribute raw pecans. The expansion will employ 120 skilled workers.




Americold holds ribbon cutting in Russellville, Ark.

The global leader in temperature-controlled logistics is investing $90 million to expand its operations in Russellville, adding 30 new jobs.


Elopak breaks ground on $70 million production facility in Little Rock

The plant will produce Pure-Pak® cartons for milk and other liquids. The new production facility at the Port of Arkansas near Little Rock, Ark. will employ more than 100 workers.




Apple to open offices in South Fla.

The global tech giants signed a 42,000-square-foot office lease deal in Coral Gables, Fla.


Renewable energy project breaks ground near Orlando

Panacea Global Energy Inc. secured 63 acres in Osceola County for green tech campus, to create 1,200 jobs. A subsidiary of French renewable energy leader, CMG Clean Tech, Panacea Global Energy Inc. will build a flagship green garden village, a first-of-its-kind renewable energy research park. 




Imola Automotive USA establishing a plant in Fort Valley, Ga.

The Italian electric car manufacturer will break ground in the third quarter of 2024, eventually employing 7,500 people.


Meissner Corp. plans $250 million life sciences facility near Athens, Ga.

The company, which specializes in microfiltration and pharma products, plans to build a manufacturing, laboratory and distribution facility in Clarke County.


Fantasy sports company PrizePicks expands in Atlanta

The company will invest $25 million in its new headquarters, hiring 1,000 new workers over the next seven years.


LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels opens world’s first alcohol-to-jet aviation fuel production facility in Ga., to employ 250.

The $70 million facility will produce 10 million gallons a year of sustainable aviation fuel.




FEAM Aero holds grand opening of $45 million expansion in Boone County, Kent.

The company’s new three-bay hanger at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will support nearly 250 full-time positions.


Goose Creek Candles breaks ground on new distribution facility expansion project in Casey County, Kent.

The family-owned candle maker will invest $5 million and employ 160 people.


North American Stainless to celebrate $244 million Carroll County, Ky. expansion Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials and leadership from North American Stainless (NAS) and its parent company, Spain-based Acerinox, to celebrate the one-year mark since the company announced a $244 million expansion at its Carroll County facility, a project creating 70 full-time jobs. The expansion to the company’s 4.4 million-square-foot Ghent facility consists of a new cold rolling mill, new roll grinders, extensive upgrades of anneal and pickling lines to support the new rolling mill, a new temper mill and the expansion of the melt shop building.




India-based pipe and tube manufacturer selects NW Louisiana for first U.S. plant

Global Seamless Tubes & Pipes, a leading manufacturer and exporter of carbon, alloy and stainless steel cold drawn and hot finish seamless tubes and pipes, announced it will invest $35 million to establish its first U.S. production facility in northwest Louisiana.

The India-based company expects to create 135 direct new jobs in DeSoto Parish.


Lincoln Foodservice Equipment, a Welbilt company, to establish operations in Caddo Parish, La.

The producer of commercial-grade foodservice equipment will create 99 direct new jobs with salaries above $50,000.


BBP, am automatons solutions manufacturing company, announces expansion in Baton Rouge, La.

The Louisiana-based company will create 75 new jobs with its headquarters expansion in Baton Rouge.


Horsburgh & Scott Company establishes 32,000-square-foot facility in Slidell, La.

The international manufacturer repairs, services and assembles industrial gearboxes for the defense industry. The Cleveland-based company will create 40 new high earning jobs with its $4.9 million investment in St. Tammany Parish.


Japan-based UBE Corporation will invest $500 million in Jefferson Parish, La.

The chemicals company will establish its first U.S. manufacturing facility to produce battery components dimethyl carbonate (DMC) and ethyl methyl carbonate (EMC), which are used to create electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries.


Agile Cold Storage announces 150,000-square-foot facility in St. Tammany Parish

The diversified storage and logistics solutions company will invest $45.9 million in its new cold storage facility. The project will bring a total of 195 direct and indirect jobs to southeastern La.




CORE X Partners to establish cold storage in Gulfport, Miss.

The global supply chain and cold storage industry leader will break ground this year on a 150,000-square-foot cold storage facility. Serving food producers and manufacturing across the Southeast, the company will create a total of 73 jobs.


Owl’s Head Alloys locating aluminum processing plant in West Point, Miss.

The Bowling Green, Ky.-based company will invest $29 million and create 68 new jobs.


North Carolina


German-based Schott Pharma unveils plans to construct $371 million factory in Wilson, N.C.

The factory, which will produce glass and polymer pre-fillable syringes, will employ 400 by 2030.


New N.C. megasite? Landowner assembles 800-acre site seeking industrial rezoning near Lexington

A Charlotte-area landowner is seeking rezoning of nearly 800 acres of land in several parcels in Davidson County for heavy industrial use to create a site whose size would approach that of state-level megasites. “This property is extremely well suited for industrial development from the standpoint of infrastructure,” the county planning staff noted.


With no Epic Games HQ in sight for prime Cary, N.C. site, expert weighs in on property's future

One of the most exciting announcements in the South from several years no longer seems to be a reality.


From reports: “As the months go by with no word about the future of the former Cary Towne Center property, it seems apparent that Epic Games has no immediate plans to move forward with building a new headquarters on the prime site in a town that's attracting plenty of developers.


“Epic Games, the video game developer based in Cary, said in the winter through a spokesperson that there were no updates to share.


“Real estate watchers in the Triangle are starting to wonder what the future of the former mall property will look like as the town continues its development spree. On the other side of Cary Towne Boulevard, the highly popular mixed-use project Fenton is moving toward starting its second phase. And downtown Cary continues to transform with new retail and residential projects in the works. Meanwhile, west Cary is seeing construction boom for residential and commercial developments.


“Dennis Donovan, a site selection consultant with WDG Consulting, said it might be tough to attract another headquarters campus like the one Epic Games proposed back in 2021 after buying the property, which today has an assessed value of more than $100 million.


“First, there aren’t many HQ relocations,” he said, adding that a stronger possibility for the site, should Epic relinquish it, might be a tech company consolidating office operations, “some of which might already be based in the Raleigh, Durham area.”


“Donovan said the real demand is happening with sites that are ready to go. Starting from scratch, which would be the case in Cary, “becomes very difficult.” -- Triangle Business Journal




Stardust Power selects Muskogee, Okla., to build battery-grade lithium refinery

The company will make a more than $1 billion investment in the lithium refinery.


AAR breaks ground on MRO facility in Oklahoma City

AAR Corp., a provider of aviation services, broke ground on its expansion of its maintenance and repair facility. The new facility will accommodate all 737 variants,


North American Air Exchange grows in Muskogee, Okla.

The heat exchange manufacturer moved to Wagoner in 2023, and is set to bring 100 new jobs.


South Carolina


Scout Motors to be revived in South Carolina

We are seeing just about every conceivable combination there are right now as automakers making a bee-line to electrification. One such effort at taking a brand that was built by International Harvester decades ago is reviving the old Scout brand, which many consider the first SUV. Volkswagen and others have invested in Scout Motors and plan a $2 billion factory capable of making up to 200,000 of the iconic vehicles in South Carolina. Reports state that Scout Motors will build its factory in Blythewood about 20 miles north of Columbia, which will ultimately employ 4,000 people, on 1,600 acres right in the middle of the developing “battery belt.” The plant itself will occupy 1,100 acres of that property.

AESC is spending over $3 billion in South Carolina

AESC, a world-leading battery technology company, announced the expansion of its lithium-ion electric vehicle battery manufacturing operations in Florence County, S.C. The company’s $1.5 billion investment will create 1,080 new jobs. This investment follows AESC’s initial announcement in December 2022 and expansion announcement in December 2023, resulting in a total investment of $3.12 billion and supporting 2,700 new jobs across the local community.


In 2022, the company announced a multi-year partnership with BMW to supply technology-leading battery cells to be used in the next generation electric vehicle models produced at Plant Spartanburg. AESC’s latest expansion will extend the partnership to additionally provide electric vehicle battery components for BMW Group’s Mexico Assembly Operations.


Tech giant Google to build data center in S.C.

The company purchased a property in Dorchester County. The location of the property and Google’s investment amount has not been disclosed.


Delta Children to invest $33.1 million to establish first S.C. operation

The children’s furniture manufacturer selected Orangeburg County to construct a 400,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility, creating 123 new jobs.


Ferroglobe, producer of silicon metal, establishing operations in Marlboro Co.

The company will invest $20 million and hire 19 workers for its quartz filtering operation in Wallace, S.C.


DCC Metal Recycling announces expansion in Dillion County, S.C.

The metal recycling company will create 78 new jobs with its $11 million investment. The new 48-acre site will be the company’s seventh South Carolina operation.




Construction progress at Ford's BlueOval City near Memphis

Work on West Tennessee's BlueOval City is entering a new phase.

Last year, Ford hit peak construction employment in Q3 2023, matching the timing given years ago when Ford first came to town. In fact, when plant manager Kel Kearns first gave that timeline, BlueOval City was still an empty field.


Months later, it was an active construction site about 50% done — with plenty of mud still around — when Ford CEO Jim Farley visited in March 2023. The company has spent billions getting construction and supplies and is now entering the installation phase.


As of April, machinery is being installed in BlueOval City's paint shop, vehicle assembly, and stamping areas. That means work now moves inside the massive facilities on campus, with literal tons of equipment installed in a way that has been planned for months to ensure top-level efficiency.


Now, as the campus begins installing machines, that would be followed by new workers, then Ford starts producing trucks to be delivered to customers in 2026.


Ford doubling down on EVs, hybrids at BlueOval City's T3 gets release window

Ford Motor Co. announced that it is embracing electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles for its Ford Blue division. By the end of the decade, it plans to offer hybrid powertrains on every model.


LG Chem signs $19 billion deal with GM

With construction of LG Chem’s $3.2 billion factory in Clarksville, the largest foreign investment in Tennessee history, the South Korean battery maker has agreed to provide GM with battery materials able to power 5 million all-electric vehicles with a 300 mile range.


Custom Foods of America Inc. to expand in Knox County

The Tennessee-based food product manufacturer will create 249 new jobs with a $51 million investment at its Pleasant Ridge location.


Fiberglass and polymer concrete manufacturer NewBasis, LLC to establish operations in Wilson County, Tenn.

The company will create 249 new jobs.


FreightWise to expand Brentwood, Tenn. headquarters

The logistics data company will create 48 new jobs and invest $2 million in Williamson County.


Baltimore Aircoil to expand in Rhea County

The HVAC and refrigeration manufacturer will create 63 new jobs and invest $16.5 million to expand operations at its Manufacturers Road location in Dayton, Tenn.


Landmarks Ceramics cuts ribbon on plant expansion in Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.

Landmarks Ceramics invested $70 million to add a new kiln to increase production, creating a North American logistics hub for the Gruppo Concorde-owned company.


Bridgetown Natural Foods LLC to expand in Middle Tennessee

The West Coast company will invest $78.3 million to open a manufacturing and distribution center in Lebanon, creating 219 new jobs.


Schneider Electric to expand, add 455 jobs

The energy management and automation company will invest $85 million in Wilson and Rutherford counties, continuing its growth in the energy sector.


Amazon builds facility in Jackson, Tenn.

The 69,000-square-foot, last-mile facility will bring about 100 jobs to the area, adding a distribution facility between Memphis and Nashville.


INTOCAST announces state-of-the-art factory in Carroll County, Tenn.

The German-based company, which specializes in manufacturing refractory products for the steel industry, will spend $15 million and create 103 new jobs. The operation will be the company’s first in the U.S.




Dallas workers' return to office ranks No. 1 among major U.S. cities

Dallas workers are coming back to the office more than other major U.S. cities, a new report says. Placer.ai report analyzing foot traffic data for office properties in the U.S. and Dallas came in first with an average of 18.6 returning to the office after three years of some workers leaving as a result of the pandemic.


Austin's job market ranked best in Texas — here's how it scores nationally

Austin has the hottest job market in Texas, and it's considered one of the best in the country. That's according to The Wall Street Journal's annual ranking of America's hottest job markets. The Texas capital ranked No. 7 overall — tied with Nashville — and beat out Dallas (No. 10), Houston (No. 19) and San Antonio (No. 25, tied with Denver and Boston).


Salt Lake City took the top spot this year, followed by three cities in Florida: Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. Oklahoma City came in at No. 5, followed by Miami at No. 6. Austin, which fell five spots in this year's ranking, had the strongest labor-force participation among large metro areas, according to the WSJ.


Companies like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. have made huge investments in the Austin area, positioning them to add thousands more employees here in the coming decade.


Battery chemicals producer Orion breaks ground on plant near Houston

Orion, a specialty chemicals company formerly known as Orion Engineered Carbons, has broken ground on a new plant near Houston to manufacture battery ingredients. The company, which is incorporated in Luxembourg, began construction on its second plant producing acetylene-based conductive additives on April 9. The deal represents a $140 million investment.


Natural gas power plant slated for Texas east of Austin

Sandow Lakes Energy Company is building a 1,200-megawatt natural gas power plant in Milam County, Texas at the former site of the 31,000-acre Alcoa aluminum plant. It is near where Samsung is building its multi-billion semiconductor campus.




Remember one of the biggest deals ever in the South,  Amazon’s HQ2 in Northern Virginia and 25,000 jobs? Here is an update.

Work has begun at Amazon’s Northern Virginia’s HQ2. Here’s what’s happening.

Construction plans have begun, installing utilities for PenPlace, the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2, which remains delayed but, we’re told, not scaled back.


In March of 2023 Amazon paused development plans for the second and larger phase of its second headquarters. A spokesperson has told SB&D that the e-commerce giant has made “no changes” to its hiring or construction plans, including building a new public school.


Phase one of Amazon HQ2, known as Metropolitan Park — 2.1 million square feet of new office space in two towers — opened to workers in May of 2023.


Conservative group files lawsuit to stop massive wind farm off Virginia Beach

The National Legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit conservative watchdog group based in Falls Church, Va., filed a lawsuit in March against Dominion Energy, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Department of the Interior and other government bodies, to try and stop construction of Dominion’s $9.8 billion, 176-turbine offshore wind farm expected to begin construction this summer 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast.


The group wants to suspend or stop the Commercial Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, claiming the massive wind turbines pose a risk to North American right whales under the Endangered Species Act, not to mention one of the largest military submarine bases in the world. The group also criticized President Joe Biden’s January 2021 executive order mandating an increase in clean energy production, including offshore wind energy.


HP Hood announces $83.5 million expansion in Frederick County, Va.

The national dairy processor will expand its dairy processing operations at its Winchester-area facility.


Arlington-based, RTX subsidiary Raytheon lands $118 million contract with the U.S. Army

The defense company will produce common sensor payloads for the California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-1C Gray Eagle, serving as “eyes” for the unmanned aircraft.


FreezPak Logistics to invest $77.5 million, create 80 new jobs

The cold and dry storage leader will build a 245,000-square-foot facility in Suffolk, near the Port of Virginia.


Tucker Door & Trim to create 50 jobs in Va.

The Georgia-based manufacturer of doors, windows for the construction industry will spend $10 million for its facility in Henrico County.


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