March 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.

Automotive headquarters settling in Atlanta
In the winter quarter, PSA Group chose Atlanta for its North American headquarters. The French automaker that builds Peugeots and other brands is making a comeback in the U.S. General Motors also picked Atlanta for one of its four innovation centers and employs over 1,000 workers. Mercedes-Benz just moved into its new North American headquarters in Atlanta and Porsche also operates its headquarters near the Atlanta airport.

The Toyota-Mazda joint venture in Alabama will be a new company
Near the end of the winter quarter, officials with Toyota and Mazda were still working on plans for their new North Alabama plant, which was announced in January. The $1.6 billion, 4,000-employee complex is being built on a Huntsville, Ala.-annexed site near I-65 in Limestone County. The new plant will build the Toyota Corolla model and a new Mazda SUV. Brian Krinock, senior vice president in charge of Toyota plants in North America, said in Automotive News that there is more to the facility than simply being a joint venture between Mazda and Toyota. “It’s a new company,” Krinock said. “Not Toyota and not Mazda, but a new company. There’s no name for it yet.”

BMW’s South Carolina plant top exporter
For the fourth consecutive year, the BMW plant in Spartanburg County, S.C., was the nation’s largest automotive exporter based on value in 2017. BMW exported 272,346 vehicles, most of which were shipped through the Port of Charleston, in calendar year 2017. The vehicle exports were valued at $8.76 billion.

California newspaper publishes op-ed titled, “Why California should be more like Alabama — seriously”
In the winter quarter, Tom Manzo, president of Timely Industries and founder of the California Business and Industrial Alliance, penned an opinion piece that was published by the Orange County Register. Manzo cited the Toyota-Mazda plant that was announced in January that will be built in Huntsville, Ala. “California has a well-earned reputation of being business unfriendly, and according to one analysis has lost over 1,700 companies in the past decade” (to other states), Manzo wrote. “Fifteen states were competing for the Toyota-Mazda joint venture; California was not even on the bench” (for the project).

“Yes, our climate is great — but talented young professionals can find great culture and a great food scene in Birmingham just as well as Berkeley. They can also afford to live there,” Manzo continued. (The median home price in Alabama is $126,500. It is just under $500,000 in California).

Manzo finished his op-ed with this: “As the state legislature returns to Sacramento for a new session, my hope is that they’ll choose to be less like themselves — and more like Alabama. The future of our state’s small and mid-sized businesses depends on it.”

Topre America expanding again in Cullman, Ala.
Topre America, a manufacturer of stamped parts for Honda, Toyota and Nissan, is investing $80 million in its plant in Cullman, Ala. The new capacity will supply parts to the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., for the Altima model. The deal will create almost 100 jobs.

Ford investing in Louisville Truck Plant
Ford Motor Co. is adding capacity of large SUVs at its plant in Louisville. The automaker is investing $25 million to increase production by 25 percent of its Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models. No new jobs will be created, but 400 new robots will be added.

Cooper Tire expanding in Mississippi
Cooper Tire & Rubber is locating its largest distribution center in the U.S. in Marshall County, Miss. The company will lease a new 1-million-square-foot facility and will spend $50 million in the deal that will create 100 jobs.

French automaker chooses Atlanta for North American HQ
Groupe PSA, a French manufacturer of cars and motorcycles, has chosen Atlanta for its North American headquarters. Its brands include Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall cars. The company joins Porsche and Mercedes-Benz with headquarters in Atlanta.

Molding company expands in Mississippi
Richardson Molding, a manufacturer of custom plastic-injection-molded products for the industrial lead battery sector and automotive market, is investing over $5 million to expand its plant in Philadelphia, Miss. The deal will create 53 jobs.

Metal treatment manufacturer lands in Arkansas
Applied Process, a metal treatment company that does work for the aerospace and automotive industries, is opening a new plant in Fort Smith, Ark. The $2.5 million project will create 30 new jobs.

BASF expanding Louisiana plant
BASF will nearly double production of MDI at its plant in Geismar, La. MDI is used to produce polyurethane foams for insulation, construction and automotive products. The project calls for an investment of $150 million.

New jobs coming to Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
MARTIN Technologies announced it will locate in Lawrenceburg and employ 250-plus workers. The company, headquartered in New Hudson, Mich., was founded in 1996 by engineer and drag racer Harold Martin, and provides solutions to the automotive, marine, aerospace and defense industries.

Auto parts distributor locates in Mullins, S.C.
DMA Holdings is locating new operations in Mullins with a $4.7 million investment and 34 new jobs. The company’s product line consists of shocks and struts, mount kits, brake wear sensors and other auto replacement parts.

Denso invests $190 million, adds 320 jobs in Athens, Tenn.
Auto supplier Denso is expanding its operations in North America through a $190 million investment in its Athens, Tenn., facility. The investment will add four new production lines and 320 jobs. In September, DENSO announced a $1 billion investment in its Maryville, Tenn., facility, creating 1,000 jobs focused on electrification and safety systems.

Two manufacturers make $15 million investment in Alabama facilities
An auto parts maker and a dietary supplements manufacturer are expanding in Lee County, Ala. Mando America Corp. manufactures auto parts such as brakes, suspensions and steering systems. It is investing more than $10 million at its headquarters in Opelika.

Pharmavite, based in California, manufactures dietary supplements and is investing approximately $5.6 million it its Opelika facility

Magna Seating planning $8 million expansion, 130 jobs
A BMW supplier that recently opened in Spartanburg County is already planning to expand. Magna Seating has asked the county for $120,000 in additional infrastructure credits for an $8 million expansion that would create 130 full-time jobs. The revised fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement would grant Magna a total of $810,000 in special source revenue credits through 2020, with a total planned investment of $37 million and the creation of 610 jobs.

Meritor expanding operations in York County, S.C.
Meritor, a global supplier of drivetrain, braking and aftermarket solutions for commercial vehicle markets, is expanding its existing operations in York County. The $7.8 million investment is projected to create 26 new jobs.

Blue Springs, Mo., gets new auto parts manufacturer
A leading automotive technology company, Faurecia, will build a new $60 million, 250,000-square-foot facility in Blue Springs, Mo., creating 300 new jobs. The plant will manufacture and assemble door and instrument panels.

Thirty new automotive jobs for Marion County, S.C.
DMA Holdings is locating new operations in Mullins, S.C. The automotive parts distributor is projected to create 34 new jobs with a $4.7 million investment.

Fort Smith, Ark., gets a boost
Fort Smith’s notoriety as a manufacturing town was given a boost over the past couple of weeks with two jobs announcements that will add about 180 jobs to the local economy. A majority of those jobs – 150 — will come from Chesterfield, Mo.-based Silgan Plastics. Another 30 jobs will come from Allied Process, a metal treatment company that does work for the aerospace, automotive and railroad industries.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle