January 2018

January 2018

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to www.RandleReport.com. For all economic development projects announced in the South, go to www.SB-D.com.

Alabama captures Toyota-Mazda
It’s been 21 years since workers assembled the first vehicle in Tuscaloosa County at the famed Mercedes-Benz plant there. And in those 21 years, Alabama now has 57,000 workers directly employed by OEMs and suppliers. In early January, Alabama ascended to a place no state in the Southern Auto Corridor has reached. Alabama landed the huge Toyota-Mazda joint plant, giving the state four assembly operations, more than any other state in the South.  The total incentive package for the plant is right at $700 million. The state package came in at $379.9 million, with the city of Huntsville (where the plant is being built) chipping in an additional $320 million. The $1.6 billion project is expected to create 4,000 jobs with a completion date of 2021. Reports indicate that the project came down to a site in the Triad region of North Carolina and the site where the project is being built off Interstate 65 in Huntsville.

Kentucky sets record for investments in 2017
The Commonwealth of Kentucky saw new and expanded economic development investments in 2017 that totaled $9.2 billion, a state record. The three biggest deals from Toyota, Amazon and Braidy Industries totaled $4.1 billion and more than 3,000 new jobs.

Bridgestone unveils its new 30-story headquarters tower in Nashville
The new North American headquarters for Bridgestone was unveiled in the winter quarter in downtown Nashville. The $200 million tower is the fifth largest office tower in Nashville. The building houses 1,900 employees, some of which have relocated from Chicago and Indianapolis. Two floors are empty to account for future growth. Gordon Knapp, CEO of Bridgestone Americas, said at the ribbon cutting, “We look forward to calling Nashville home for the next 50 years.”

U.S. manufacturers are fired up
Unprecedented optimism from manufacturers in the U.S. has been the theme since 2010, when the word “reshoring” was apparently invented. But the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2017, done by the National Association of Manufacturers, rose to unprecedented heights. Of those taking the survey, 94.6 percent say they are positive about their own company’s outlook. It is the highest optimism level in the study’s 20-year history.

Manufacturing unemployment at record low
While the overall unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent, the manufacturing sector has never seen its unemployment rate lower than the 2.6 percent it achieved in December. The rate ties the record low in December 2000.

Manufacturing hiring tops 1 million since 2010
With 31,000 new net hires in November, the manufacturing sector has now added over 1 million new jobs since the end of the recession in the summer of 2009.

Looks like Volkswagen’s electric vehicle future is in Chattanooga
While no official announcement has been made, it looks like VW will build electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The German automaker has began advertising on social media sites such as LinkedIn for specialized positions in Chattanooga to support electric vehicle production and design. Reports say that VW will build four electric vehicles at its only U.S. plant.

Nissan launches new LEAF in Tennessee
Nissan launched production of its new electric LEAF model in the winter quarter at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The new model is a milestone for the 30-year-old plant that houses 8,400 workers that assemble almost 650,000 vehicles a year.

Big deal set for Kentucky
Battery manufacturer EnerBlu is relocating its headquarters and production facility to Kentucky from California. The headquarters operation will go to Lexington and the 1 million-square-foot production facility will be built in Pikeville. The company makes batteries that power buses, trucks, military equipment and other vehicles. The $412 million project will create almost 1,000 jobs at the two locations.

Cardone Industries to build South Texas distribution center
Cardone Industries, a maker of car parts, will soon begin construction on a $50 million distribution center in Harlingen, Texas. The 920,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in December 2018. The center will support “hundreds of jobs.”

Toyota Boshoku expands in Jackson, Tenn.
Toyota Boshoku, a manufacturer of premium automotive interior systems, will invest $31 million in its plant in Jackson, Tenn. The company will add 143,000 additional square feet of space in the expansion, which will also add 139 jobs.

Automotive supplier opens new Georgia facility
Daesol Material Georgia has completed its $35 million facility in Harris County, Ga. The plant produces automotive fiber padding and will house 110 workers.

Parker Hannifin adding workers in Mississippi
Parker Hannifin, a manufacturer of motion and control systems for the automotive industry, is expanding its facility in Holly Springs, Miss. The deal will add 50 jobs.

Aerospace-auto parts manufacturer to locate plant in South Carolina
PG Aerospace, a manufacturer of precision parts for the automotive and aerospace industries, is locating a new facility in Liberty, S.C. The plant will house 22 workers.

Chinese tire plant goes to North Carolina
In the winter quarter, Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle Tyre announced it will invest nearly $580 million in a new plant in Edgecombe County, N.C. The passenger tire plant will be the first U.S. facility for the company. The project will create about 800 jobs.

Belgian manufacturer to build first U.S. plant in North Carolina
Belgium-based Dhollandia MFG, a family-owned manufacturer of hydraulic lifts for vehicles, is building a new, 160,000-square-foot plant in Bessemer City, N.C. The $30 million plant will house 150 to 200 workers.

Automotive supplier locates in Tennessee
Martin Technologies, an engineering and manufacturer for the automotive industry, will invest $6 million to locate a plant in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The operation will include 240 new jobs.

South Carolina company to relocate HQ to Fort Lauderdale
KEMET Corp. will relocate its U.S. headquarters from Greenville, S.C., to downtown Fort Lauderdale. The company, which makes electronic components for the automotive industry as well as other industries, will lease almost 65,000 square feet of space, which will house about 150 employees.

Aftermarket auto supplier adding jobs in South Carolina
Fab Fours, an aftermarket auto accessory manufacturer, will double its workforce at its Lancaster County, S.C., plant. The company will invest $5.7 million and add 88 workers.

Auto supplier expands in North Carolina
Linamar Forgings Carolina, an automotive parts manufacturer, is expanding its facilities in Wilson County, N.C. The company will add two new products — transmission shafts and differential gears. The $6.8 million deal will create 31 jobs.

Tier 1 Hyundai supplier expanding in Alabama
Hwashin America is undergoing another expansion of its plant in Greenville, Ala. The company supplies Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery. The $23 million project will create 100 new jobs.

Auto wheel manufacturer investing in Kentucky
TOPY America, a company based near Frankfort, Ky., is investing $37 million in its plant there. The upgrades will improve both efficiency and work environment for the 325 employees working there. The plant produces 675,000 multiple wheel types a month for automakers such as Ford, Kia, Nissan, GM and Honda.

South Korean parts supplier picks Kentucky for first U.S. plant
DAE-IL, a manufacturer of powertrain parts used in the automotive industry, will invest $50 million in a new plant in Murray, Ky. The deal will create 120 full-time jobs.

Alabama parts supplier adding jobs
Germany-based Boysen Alabama is adding more equipment and 70 jobs at its plant in Vance, Ala. The company manufactures exhaust systems for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance.

Bosch growing Upstate South Carolina plant
Bosch Group, a maker of automotive electric components, is investing $152 million in its plant in Anderson County, S.C. The project will create 130 new jobs.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle