January 2019

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.

Southern Auto Corridor only U.S. region to gain auto jobs
Since the first quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2018, the 15-state American South was the only region to gain jobs tied to the automotive industry. Michigan has lost the most jobs of any state since 2001, with a net loss of 125,000 jobs, according to an Axios analysis of federal jobs data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a net gain of over 25,000, Alabama has gained the most jobs of any other state, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas. Overall, the South has gained 17 percent of its automotive jobs since 2001.

Regional job growth in auto industries 2001-2018

South+17%
West-21%
Midwest-29%
Northeast-47%

Source: Axios and the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Manufacturing posts best job-gain year since 1997
The nation’s manufacturing sector posted a net job gain of 284,000 in calendar year 2018, the best year since 1997. Manufacturing added 207,000 jobs in 2017. The gains are being made because the U.S. is much more competitive for manufacturers than at any time in decades, much of that stemming from energy savings from the natural gas fracking frenzy. Most of the jobs created in manufacturing in 2018 came from the metals and electronics products industry sectors.

Auto supplier sets up shop in Berkeley County, S.C.
VTL Precision, a manufacturer of engine and transmission parts for the automotive industry, is investing $8 million in a new plant in Berkeley County, S.C., and is projected to create 10 new jobs.

Manufacturer with Turkish ties plans Louisiana factory
Advanced Sinter Metal Technologies (known as ASMT) will bring 15 jobs at first, but could eventually bring 43, to St. Tammany Parish. The company manufactures components for electronic equipment for the automotive and other industries using a process called sintering, in which small metal particles are formed into shapes using intense heat.

Marangoni Tread North America announces Tennessee expansion
Marangoni Tread North America, a retread products supplier, announced it had begun expanding its tread manufacturing plant in Madison, Tenn. The company did not provide specific details about the expansion, but did say they would be expanding their workforce at the plant by 10 percent.

DENSO opens new plant in Maryville, Tenn., adding 1,000 jobs
DENSO, a global manufacturer of automotive components, celebrated the grand opening of a new production facility in Tennessee. The plant will produce advanced systems to help automakers transition to electric and autonomous vehicles, and is expected to support 1,000 new manufacturing jobs when fully operational.

Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions expands Bowling Green plant
Less than two years after opening its plant, Japan-based automotive parts manufacturer Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions will expand with a $42 million investment in Bowling Green, Ky. The project will add 90 employees, bringing its total planned employment to 220, and overall investment to $95 million in the state. The plant manufactures aluminum bumper and sub-frame materials.

Bridgestone plans Tennessee plant expansion
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations plans to expand its Warren County, Tenn., production plant as part of a three-year, $40 million project. A business unit of Bridgestone Americas Inc., BATO will add another 32,000 square feet to the commercial truck and bus radial tire manufacturing facility.

HIROTEC to invest $40 million in Tennessee
Automotive supplier HIROTEC America announced that it will construct a new manufacturing facility in Fayetteville. The member of Japan-based HIROTEC Group will invest around $40 million and create more than 100 jobs in Lincoln County over the next three years. The plant will be operational in the third quarter of 2020.

Automotive speaker maker to expand in El Paso
Dozens of new jobs will soon come to El Paso, Texas as a global automotive speaker manufacturer expands its local operations. Foster Electric is investing $4.2 million in the community, retaining 32 employees and creating an additional 40 full-time jobs.

Mercedes-Benz spending $23 billion on battery cells
As the automaker continues to build an electric battery plant in Bibb County near its Vance factory, Daimler announced it is spending $23 billion on battery cells. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the company’s “electric offensive continues to gain momentum.” The battery cell purchase means the company is “systematically pushing forward with the transformation into the electric future of our company.”

Gaston County, N.C., lands 500-job call center
Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive will open a customer contact center in Gaston County, creating 500 jobs and making it the county’s largest office project. Sonic Automotive, one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States, will make an $11.2 million investment in Lowell to establish the center.

Indian manufacturer expanding in Dorchester County, S.C.
Indian manufacturer and supplier Sundaram-Clayton Limited has announced it’s investing $40 million into its facility in the Ridgeville area. The expansion is expected to generate 100 new positions at the facility, which provides aluminium and magnesium castings for the automotive industry.

Metal fabricator building plant in Berkeley County, S.C., creating 600 jobs
A Michigan-based manufacturer of metal fabrications plans to create at least 600 jobs by setting up operations in Berkeley County. W International recently made the $35.2 million announcement, previously known as “Project Whiskey.” At its new facility — an existing 451,000-square-foot plant — the company will support U.S. defense shipbuilding, as well as the aerospace, automotive and commercial business industries.

Check-Mate Industries creating 230 jobs in Georgia
A tool and die, metal stamping and assemblies manufacturer is moving its headquarters from New York state to Thomasville, investing more than $16 million and creating 230 jobs. Check-Mate Industries will operate in the former Caterpillar plant to serve customers in a range of industries from aircraft and automotive to medical, cosmetic and art and communications.

Advanced Plating creating 200 new jobs in Tennessee
Advanced Plating will expand its Middle Tennessee operations by locating a new facility in Portland. The electroplating manufacturer will create 200 jobs and invest approximately $4 million in Sumner County. The company provides electroplating services for the automotive, architectural fixtures and musical instrument industries.

Czech auto supplier locating in Spartanburg, S.C.
A Czech producer of metal parts for the automotive industry is locating its new operations in Spartanburg County. KV Final is investing $2.5 million and will create 50 new jobs.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle