February 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.

Big win in Missouri 20 years ago comes to a close
One of the most sought-after projects in the South in the late 1990s is coming to a close. Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson is closing its motorcycle assembly plant in Kansas City, Mo. The plant opened in 1998. Production is being shifted to the company’s York, Pa., plant. The closing affects about 800 workers in Kansas City.

U.K. diplomat says what kept Toyota-Mazda from North Carolina would not be a problem for Jaguar Land Rover
In an article published by the Raleigh News & Observer in January, British diplomat Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, the United Kingdom’s Atlanta-based consul general, was in Raleigh in January and was quoted as saying that Jaguar Land Rover could be a future target for North Carolina leaders that want to land the state’s first automaker. Toyota-Mazda passed on North Carolina and picked a site in Huntsville, Ala., for the latest plant in the Southern Auto Corridor. Reports indicated North Carolina did not have a large enough existing parts supplier base. Pilmore-Bedford said that would not be an issue with Jaguar Land Rover because if the British carmaker built a plant in the U.S., it would “start from scratch” by bringing in its own suppliers.

North Carolina adds fifth certified megasite
In addition to sites in Chatham, Randolph and Edgecombe counties, a new megasite has been certified in North Carolina. The new, 1,394-acre site is in Person County, north of Durham.

Nissan expects to build new U.S. plant within five years
Hiroto Saikawa, CEO of Nissan, told attendees at the Detroit Auto Show that the Japanese automaker will need to build a new U.S. plant in four to five years. The company operates its largest North American plant in Smyrna, Tenn., and another in Canton, Miss., in the Southern Automotive Corridor.

VW to invest $3.3 billion in North America
Volkswagen announced it will invest $3.3 billion in North America over the next three years to increase market share. About $1.2 billion will be invested in the U.S. VW’s only U.S. plant is in Chattanooga, Tenn., where it employs about 3,500 workers.

Tennessee official: Memphis megasite needs $80 million in infrastructure improvements
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolf said in January that the Memphis Regional Megasite will need another $80 million to make it “shovel ready” for a larger user. Toyota and Mazda passed on the site since it was not fully served.

With vehicle sales declining slightly, why did Toyota and Mazda make quick work of another plant?
The Toyota-Mazda site search that ended up on a TVA certified megasite at a Huntsville-annexed site in Limestone County, Ala., was really, really. . .and I mean, really. . .on the fast track. From conception in the summer of 2017, the site search ended in Alabama in January 2018.

With vehicle sales down slightly to 17.1 million in 2017 from 17.5 million in 2016, why did Toyota and Mazda work so fast to locate the $1.6 billion plant in the Southern Auto Corridor? For one, Mazda will make an entirely new SUV at the Huntsville facility that will open in 2021, and we all know Americans love their SUVs. Mazda plans to assemble 150,000 of those SUVs at the Alabama plant.

The other factor is that Toyota is evolving its North American production capacity. The Japanese automaker ended production of the Corolla in Canada in order to make more RAV4 models, and decided not to assemble the sedan at a new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico that is still under construction. There, it will assemble a much needed vehicle, the Tacoma pickup truck. So, Toyota needed more Corolla capacity, which it will get with the North Alabama plant.

Corollas are also made 150 miles away from Huntsville at Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs, Miss. And, the engines for the Corolla are already being made at Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville, just down the road from the new plant. So, everything was in place at the Alabama site for Toyota, and Mazda needed a partner to build the 4,000-employee, $1.6 billion plant to launch their new SUV for U.S. consumption.

Mercedes-Benz assembles 3 millionth vehicles in Alabama
Mercedes-Benz celebrated a milestone in the winter quarter. The German automaker assembled its 3 millionth vehicle in January, a diamond silver GLE 350 SUV. The company began production in 1997 at the Tuscaloosa County plant.

North Carolina megasite now at 1,900 acres
The Randolph County, N.C., megasite that reportedly came in second in the Toyota-Mazda site search has added about 140 acres. The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation now owns approximately 1,900 acres.

Kentucky to get $300 million plant
A division of an Indian conglomerate will invest about $300 million in an aluminum sheet factory just north of Clarksville, Tenn., in Guthrie, Ky. Novelis plans a 2020 opening for a new plant to prepare aluminum for use as automobile parts such as hoods, doors and fenders. Novelis plans to hire about 125 people.

Auto supplier investing $7.1 million In Alabama expansion
A German company that provides third-party logistics services to automotive manufacturers is expanding its operations in Tuscaloosa County. BLG Logistics is investing $7.1 million in an expansion of its plant in Vance, Ala., creating 43 new jobs in the process.

Spartan Light Metal Products expands Missouri plant
Spartan Light Metal Products, an advanced manufacturer of custom die cast aluminum and magnesium products for the automotive and consumer products markets, will expand into a new multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located 120 miles west of St. Louis, in Mexico, Mo. The expansion is expected to add more than 100 new jobs.

Innovative Vehicle Solutions expands South Carolina complex
Innovative Vehicle Solutions (IVS), a builder of custom commercial vehicles located in Ladson, is expanding its existing operations in Charleston County, S.C. The company’s $2.5 million investment is expected to create 108 new jobs. Launched in 2012, IVS is a commercial truck body builder and upfitter.

Groupe PSA chooses Georgia for new North American HQ
Groupe PSA, a French multinational manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles, will locate its new North American headquarters in Fulton County. With its five world-renowned car brands — Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall Motors — Groupe PSA is one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, and the second largest in Europe.

Automotive supplier to create 150 new jobs in Upstate
Grupo Antolin, a designer and manufacturer of components for the automotive industry, said it plans to establish three facilities in Spartanburg County, S.C. The $50 million investment is expected to create more than 150 jobs over the course of five years.

Mickey Truck Bodies plans 50 jobs in North Carolina
Mickey Truck Bodies will expand the workforce at its High Point, N.C., operations for the second time in less than a year by creating up to 50 jobs. The family-owned company makes truck bodies and trailers and is adding the jobs during the first quarter to meet increased demand for delivery bodies and specially engineered vehicles.

Newcan moving to Pulaski, Va., creating 40 jobs
Newcan Corporation is moving its headquarters and main production facility from Holbrook, Mass., to Pulaski. The move will bring 40 new jobs and an investment of $4 million to Pulaski County. Newcan produces precision stampings and perforated components. . .a major supplier for the automotive industry.

Amthor International Expands in Gretna, Va.
Amthor International, the largest tanker truck manufacturer in North America, will invest $7.1 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Gretna. The company will build a plant to accommodate increased demand for fabricated tanker trucks, and will designate the new Gretna facility as its corporate headquarters. The company will retain 110 existing jobs and create 90 new jobs in Pittsylvania County.

Tristone Flowtech USA plans North Carolina manufacturing plant
Tristone Flowtech USA, a subsidiary of a German automotive supplier, will invest $23.6 million to locate its first manufacturing facility in the United States in Mooresville, N.C. The company plans to create 302 jobs in Iredell County to provide engine and battery cooling systems for the automotive industry.

Daesol Material Georgia creating 110 jobs in Harris County
Daesol Material Georgia has completed the construction of its new Harris County manufacturing facility, which will create 110 jobs. Daesol Material Georgia, a manufacturer of automotive fiber padding, invested $35 million in the construction and equipping of the facility.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle