Fall 2023

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

Electric vehicles are reinventing the automotive supply chain

The 2023 Deloitte Automotive Supply Study expected that revenues for internal combustion engines, as we as fuel and exhaust systems are expected to decline 44 percent through 2027. Meanwhile, revenues for electric drivetrains, batteries and fuel cells are expected to rise to 245 percent. An internal combustion powertrain has about 2,000 parts. Battery electric vehicle powertrains have about 20 parts. For more information on the South’s automotive industry, go to SouthernAutoCorridor.com

CNBC’s top states for business in 2023; North Carolina takes No. 1 for the second straight year

The South is slouching. For years, the CNBC “Top States for Business had 10-out-of-10 Southern states in the top 10. Not this year. North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia made up the top four best states for business. But Minnesota, Washington, Michigan and Utah also were named in the top 10 from outside the South. Texas and Florida also made the top 10 list for CNBC.

Age Demographics 2021

10,800 people per day are born in the U.S. = 3.94 million a year

10,700 people per day turn age 65 = 3.90 million per year

2,800 migrants per day enter the U.S. legally and illegally = 1.02 million a year

9,607 deaths per day in the U.S. = 3.50 million

Total: Net loss in the workforce of minus 6,707 per day = 201,000 lost workers per month = 2.40 million lost workers per year

Source: Census

Hyundai rushing to open $7.6 billion Savannah area EV plant

Korean automaker Hyundai has put construction in high gear as it tries to open the largest EV facility in the U.S. The quicker the plant can open, say officials, the more incentives the automaker can receive in federal electric vehicle incentives. Hyundai Motor Group is the parent company of Kia, which also has a plant in Georgia. Hyundai operates its other U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala.

Hyundai pouring more cash into Alabama plant; Kia to invest $200 million to make EV SUV in Georgia; adds to Korean Automotive Corridor that started in Montgomery, Ala.

South Korean automaker Kia is investing $200 million in its West Georgia (West Point) factory to begin production of an electric-powered SUV, the EV9 large, three-row SUV. The company made the announcement in the summer quarter.

Over 40 percent of Kia vehicles sold in the U.S. are assembled at the plant near LaGrange, Ga., which is just over 80 miles from its mother ship company, Hyundai, and its plant in Montgomery, Ala.

Hyundai’s multi-billion-dollar plant being built near Savannah means the Korean automakers have established a $50 billion (or thereabouts) beachhead for manufacturing their vehicles in North America, as well as their suppliers, over a 320-mile span from Montgomery, through West Georgia to Savannah.

In October, Hyundai announced plans to invest another $290 million in upgrades for the next-generation Santa Fe SUV.

Alabama is all-in on finding 11,000 auto industry workers

There are more than 11,000 jobs in Alabama among its hundreds of auto industry suppliers and OEMs, like Toyota’s engine factory in Huntsville, down in Montgomery at Hyundai, in Tuscaloosa at the Mercedes plant and out east with Honda.

Alabama has implemented what they call the “Shift” campaign to recruit those workers. “Shift” is a campaign crafted by Birmingham-based Big Communications to reach beyond Alabama to potential workers around the South who may be seeking their first jobs, or better ones.

Startup EV maker Rivian gets go ahead in Georgia to build its $5 billion plant

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal contesting the legitimacy of Rivian’s expected property tax breaks for its new $5 billion EV facility in the state. Rivian first announced plans for a massive 2,000-acre, $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Georgia in December 2021. At fully operational, the complex east of Atlanta will be capable of assembling 400,000 vehicles annually.

Hyundai, LG to build $4.3 billion EV battery plant in Georgia

The electric vehicle battery plant near Savannah in Bryan County will become the second battery plant Hyundai is building in the state. The project is a part of its previously announced, $5.5 billion complex in Bryan County, which will bring 8,100 jobs.

What is expected to be the largest economic development project in North Carolina history broke ground officially on in the summer. Last year, the Vietnamese automaker announced plans to build a 7,500-job facility at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite near Moncure as part of a $4 billion investment. The company filed site plans with Chatham County that revealed the factory will be more than 2.8 million square feet with eight buildings.

Toyota invests an additional $2.1 billion in North Carolina

The automaker’s latest investment in its EV battery plant near Greensboro brings the total investment there to nearly $6 billion. The company has yet to announce employment numbers, but expects to hire a similar number to the expansion last year, which grew job numbers by about 350.

Bosch to expand in Lincolnton, N.C.

Robert Bosch Tool Corp. will invest $130 million in a major expansion of its manufacturing operations in Lincoln County, creating 404 jobs. The new positions will have minimum average wages of $53,204.

Gov. Andy Beshear tours BlueOval SK plant in Glendale, Ky.

In August the second electric vehicle battery plant broke ground at Ford and SK’s BlueOval’s battery facility in Hardin County, Ky. The $5.8 billion complex will house 5,000 workers who will produce advanced batteries for Ford and Lincoln brand electric vehicles. The megasite in Glendale had been available for more than two decades, with Hyundai checking it out among other large users more than 20 years ago. Hyundai eventually took its plant to Montgomery, Ala. The two battery plants in Kentucky will go online in 2025.

$240 million investment starts at MAGMA tech facility in Bowling Green, Ky.

O-I Glass has begun construction on a revolutionary greenfield glass facility, utilizing MAGMA technology. The technology is used for manufacturing flexible, modular glass production.

Largest project in Northeast South Carolina breaks ground

In the summer quarter, a groundbreaking ceremony was performed for AESC in Florence, S.C. The Japanese battery facility will employ over 1,000 workers at an average salary of $65,000 a year. The project, according to Florence County Economic Development CEO Gregg Robinson, AESC’s deal is one of the largest economic development deals in the county’s history. AESC will supply battery cells used in next generation electric vehicles produced by BMW near Greenville.

BMW breaks ground on new S.C. battery plant

German automaker BMW broke ground on its new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff, S.C. in the summer. The 1-milion-square-foot facility, with an investment of $700 million, will support the company’s $1 billion in investment to supply and build fully electric BMW X models at its plant in Spartanburg.

Construction pauses on $2 billion Scout Motors EV plant in South Carolina

Volkswagen, which has a plant in Chattanooga, is trying to revive a brand that many believe was the forerunner to modern-day SUV. Construction has temporarily ceased on the Scout Motors EV facility in Blythewood, S.C. is being done to give time for the company to continue clearing land and obtaining wetland permits. The finest EV model is expected to meet its planned opening in 2026. Scout and VW say 4,000 jobs will be created.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear joins Toyota Boshoku at the auto parts maker’s announcement

Toyota Boshoku announced in October that the auto parts maker is investing $225 million in Hopkinsville, which will create 157 jobs.

6K Energy to invest $166 million in battery material manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tenn.

Governor Lee announced the company will invest in a full-scale PlusCAM™ battery material manufacturing plant. With its initial investment, 6K Energy plans on expanding to $250 million in future phases. The company will also be using its $50 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for the factory.

Magna International plans $790 million, 1,300-job facility in West Tennessee

The automotive supplier will build three facilities to supply Ford’s BlueOval City. Magna International is the fourth-largest auto parts supplier in the world and the biggest in North America.

TVA will invest $15 billion to meet the region’s growth over the next three years

Tennessee-based Tennessee Valley Authority’s Board of Directors announced in late summer the utility will approve $15 billion in investments over the next three years to build additional generation and upgrade systems “to ensure the region continues to benefit from affordable, reliable power.” TVA CEO Jeff Lyash said,”It took us 90 years to build our current power system which positively changed the life of millions. In the next 30 years, we will have to double or triple the current systems at a speed unlike any other time in TVA history.”


Available workers per 100 jobs openings in the South

State              Workers

Texas                          89

Kentucky                   66

Louisiana                  60

Florida                       59

Georgia                      57

Tennessee                 56

D.C.                             55

Mississippi                55

North Carolina         55

South Carolina         53

Virginia                      51

Oklahoma                  50

Alabama                     45

Arkansas                    44

Source: SB&D and Visual Capitalist


U.S. Regional Populations 2022

Region                                  Population

South                                     128,000,0000

West                                       74,000,000

Midwest                                 69,000,000

Northeast                               57,000,000

Source: Census


Telsa breaks ground on its in-house lithium refinery near Robstown, Texas

A major investment by Tesla, the plant will produce battery-grade lithium and manufacture battery materials. The first of its kind in North America, the facility will adopt an industrial refining method using acid-free lithium routes.

America Is In A Factory Boom Again. Even A Recession May Not Bring It Down This Time

On a warm Saturday morning in July, as Kathie Leonard planned to set out on her boat for a day on the water off the coast of Maine, her phone rang. The call was from the head of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, asking if Auburn Manufacturing — the specialized textiles maker Leonard runs — would be interested in hosting “the president” in the coming week.

At first she replied, “President of what?” Leonard told CNN. Then the Maine official clarified she was referring to President Joe Biden.

“I was like, ‘Really? Is this a true call?’” Leonard said. “But I was eventually convinced and said yes, of course we’re going to do it. I mean, you don’t say no to such an opportunity.”

The following Friday at Auburn Manufacturing, located about an hour north of Portland, Biden touted the success of his economic agenda, pointing to manufacturers’ rising investments in construction projects as evidence.

In the growth of blue-collar work, Biden has much to celebrate. In July, construction spending from manufacturers rose about 71% from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data, and manufacturers had 106,000 more employees in August compared to a year earlier, despite business surveys showing softening consumer demand. CNN

SK Battery Ushered EV Sector Into Georgia. Now It Is Cutting Some Jobs

SK Battery America in Jackson County, among the foundational manufacturers in Georgia’s electric vehicle ecosystem, is laying off workers after years of rapid expansion.

SK Battery declined to say Tuesday evening how many positions are involved, but the company has confirmed that a group of workers have been laid off in Commerce, about 70 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, where the subsidiary of South Korea-based SK Innovation has two lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities.

Automakers and suppliers have announced tens of billions of dollars in promised EV investment in Georgia and tens of thousands of new jobs, courted with billions in state and local government incentives. But Tuesday’s news marks what may be the Georgia EV sector’s first significant loss.

Ford Pausing Work On $3.5 Billion Michigan Electric Vehicle Battery Plant

Ford is pausing work on a new, $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan, even as the transition to electric vehicles has become a major sticking point in a United Auto Workers strike against automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis.

No final decision has been made on whether the plant will, ultimately, become operational, said Ford spokesman T.R. Reid.

If completed, the plant will be located on a 950-acre site in southern Michigan near the town of Marshall. Ford’s plans were to employ 2,500 people when the plant opened for production in 2026. Ford had had announced plans for the battery factory last February. CNN

Construction Underway For All On-Site BlueOval Suppliers Near Memphis, But Mysteries Abound

Posted on September 27, 2023 by William Randle

Ford’s BlueOval City will feature at least six supplier facilities, and construction is underway on all of them, according to the Megasite Authority CEO Clay Bright.

Bright, providing a supplier park update to the wider board on Wednesday, Sept. 20, said that he is “pushing” for the suppliers to wrap up agreements and get their requests for economic incentives finalized with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD).

“I have no idea how long it’s going to be. I’ll tell you this, there’s six items on there,” Bright said at the meeting. “I’m pushing all these suppliers to go ahead and come to terms with the lease agreements. The PILOT program is something I keep pushing them to go to TNECD, but the onus is on them as far as getting that done.” Memphis Business Journal

Author: Michael Randle