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.


Southbound – Fall 2017

The South’s economy has never been better

By Michael Randle, Editor

In 2016, the 15-state American South contributed a record $6.12 trillion (that’s with a “T”) to the United States’ economy, which saw a GDP totaling $18.57 trillion. The West contributed $4.61 trillion, which was more than any other region. Take California out of the West, and its GDP totals a mere $2 trillion.

In fact, the U.S. economy remains the largest in the world by a wide margin. China, the second largest economy on the planet, generated a GDP of $11.2 trillion in 2016 in U.S. dollars, according to the World Bank, and that means something. Last year, 64 percent of all transactions world-wide were traded in dollars. Still, the dollar reigns supreme of all known central bank foreign exchange reserves.

No other country’s currency — even multi-country currencies — comes close in transactions (the Euro is second at 19.7 percent.) Which means that although we may not be the best savers — as a nation and as citizens — no international body in its right mind would challenge U.S. debt. Not now, anyway.

The new “gross regional product” numbers for 2016 mean that the South’s economy is more than half the size of China’s. Pretty dang impressive.

There are several ways the South has accomplished this incredible feat seen in 2016. It has diversified its economic base like no time ever. Its in-migration from other U.S. regions is back to levels not seen since the 1980s, 1990s and before the Great Recession. Well-educated immigrants from other countries now want to live in the South as opposed to other regions because the South remains the least expensive place in the world’s largest economy to live and operate a business.

Furthermore, the South is unlike any of the other three regions in demography. No U.S. region has the number of mid-major markets the South has — Austin, San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville, Orlando, New Orleans, Richmond, Birmingham, Louisville, Greenville and so many others. Sure, we are home to mega-markets such as Atlanta, Dallas-Fort

Worth, Houston, South Florida and D.C. But it is the vast number of mid-majors that solidify the South’s economy and help spread the wealth.

Want proof? Name a major market in Illinois other than Chicago? Name one in New York? Florida and Texas have 10 mid-majors each.

So, here is a new trophy earned by the American South. New data from the World Bank shows that the region’s 2016 GRP has forced us to make a change to our masthead. The South is no longer the fourth largest economy in the world. GDP and GRP data shows that the American South is now the third largest economy in the world with $6.12 trillion in GDP churned in 2016. For almost two decades, our masthead read, “Economic Development in the World’s Fourth Largest Economy.” Not anymore. The South is No. 3 in the world!

Here are the top 10 economies in the world, with regions of the U.S. factored in when it comes to GDP in 2016. The values are based on U.S. dollars:

1. United States$18.6 trillion
2. China$11.2 trillion
3. U.S. South$6.1 trillion
4. Japan$4.9 trillion
5. U.S. West$4.6 trillion
6. U.S. Northeast$4.2 trillion
7. Germany$3.4 trillion
8. U.S Midwest$3.4 trillion
9. U.K.$2.6 trillion
10. France$2.5 trillion

Source: World Bank


Top Deals – Fall 2017

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Fall 2017 Quarter

1. Denso1,000$1000EMaryville, Tenn.Auto Parts
2. Toyota800$80EGeorgetown, KyAuto Assembly
3. Mercedes-Benz600$1000EVance, Ala.Auto Assembly
4. New Flyer550N/ANShepherdsville, Ky.Bus Assembly
5. Bocar300$115NHuntsville, Ala.Auto Parts
6. Fritz Winter300$110NFranklin, Ky.Auto Parts
7. Continental145N/AEBurke Co., N.CAuto Parts
8. Perrone Robotics127$4EAlbemarle Co., Va.Robotics
9. Nucor Steel100$23EHickman, Ark.Auto Grade Steel
10. Highline Aftermarket91N/ANMemphis, Tenn.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com


Top Deals – Summer 2017

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Summer 2017 Quarter

1. Sentury Tire1,000$530NLaGrange, GaTires
2. BMW1,000N/AEGreer, S.C.Auto Assembly
3. General Motors850N/AEArlington, TexasAuto Parts
4. Bolta350$49NTuscaloosa Co., Ala.Auto Parts
5. Minth Group200$13NLewisburg, TennAuto Parts
6. Carcoustics200$6NBuford, Ga.Auto Parts
7. Rudolph Logistics150$18NGreer, S.C.Auto Parts
8. Hyundai Dymos150$9EWest Point, Ga.Auto Parts
9. Continental100$113ESeguin, TexasAuto Parts
10. Frimo Group100$4NGreenville Co., S.C.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com


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.


December 2017

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, go to www.SB-D.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com.

Bosch expanding South Carolina plant
Bosch Group is investing $152 million in an expansion in Anderson, S.C. The company, which will hire 130, makes electric components for the automotive industry at the plant.

German supplier to locate plant in Alabama
German auto supplier SAS Automotive Systems, an automotive module assembler, is launching an operation that will support Mercedes-Benz and its plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The project will create 170 jobs.

Korean auto supplier opens second plant in Montgomery
Korean auto supplier, Guyoung Tech USA, plans to employ 130 people at a second North American plant in Montgomery, Ala. The project represents an investment of $7.5 million and the company will supply the local Hyundai assembly plant.

Parts distribution center to open in South Texas
Cardone Industries is opening a new automotive parts distribution center in Harlingen, Texas. The deal will create 515 jobs.

Nucor to build new plant in Missouri
Charlotte-based Nucor, the most active steelmaker in the South, plans to build a $250 million rebar micro mill in Sedalia, Mo., located 90 miles east of Kansas City. The company considered other locations in Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina and Florida for the plant. The factory is expected to house 255 workers. Nucor also announced it is looking to build another micro mill somewhere in the Southeast.

A new U.S. plant for Nissan?
Japanese automaker Nissan is exploring a new U.S., plant, according to its chairman, “At some point, we may need it,” said Jose Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America in an article published by Automotive News. Munoz said that its plants in Tennessee and Mississippi are “maxed out.”

Equipment installation underway at new Mercedes van plant in South Carolina
In 2015, Mercedes-Benz Vans announced it would build a new production facility for its Sprinter Van model in Ladson, S.C., near Charleston. The plant is nearing completion as equipment installation — including 182 robots — began in the fall quarter. Mercedes is expected to hire about 1,000 workers for the plant that have been trained at other Sprinter Van plants in Australia and Spain.

Bus manufacturer setting up shop in Kentucky
New Flyer of America, a manufacturer of transit buses, is setting up a 300,000-square-foot parts fabrication facility in Shepherdsville, Ky. The project is expected to house up to 550 workers.

Nissan to export Mississippi-made Titan pickups to China
The Nissan Titan has only a 1.7 percent share of the large U.S. pickup truck market as of October. Capacity of the truck at the Japanese automaker’s plant near Jackson, Miss., is limited, but whatever is left off of U.S. sales will now be exported to China, where the vehicle is popular. Other potential export markets for the Titan include Australia, Russia and the Middle East. As of the end of October, the full-sized Titan had sold about 40,000 models, which is about the number of Ford F-series pickups sold in three weeks in the U.S.

Big German automotive supplier picks Bama
German Tier 1 supplier Bocar, is investing $115 million in a new plant in Huntsville, Ala. The company will break ground on the facility next year and production will begin in 2020. The project is expected to create 300 jobs.

Automotive supplier to establish new plant in Franklin, Ky.
South Korea-based Taeyang Metal Industrial Company, a manufacturer of fasteners and cold-rolled steel products for the automotive industry, will establish a plant in Franklin. The $15.6 million facility, which will house 76 full-time jobs, is the first for the company in the U.S.

Aluminum plant opens $400 million Kentucky expansion
In the fall quarter, Belgium-based Aleris Corp. opened its $400 million expansion in Lewisport, Ky. The expansion will add new capacity to produce aluminum auto body sheet for the automotive industry. The company houses about 1,000 workers at the mill.

Mexican auto supplier expanding in Alabama
Nemak USA, a Mexican aluminum auto parts manufacturer, is investing $34 million in its plant in Talladega County, Ala. The company makes engine blocks and structural components. The deal will create 67 jobs.

Auto parts supplier expanding in Tennessee
Magnum Manufacturing, a company that supplies metal stamping, seat frames and doors for the automotive sector, is investing $2 million to expand its plant in Erin, Tenn. The move will create 50 jobs.

How many people do Japanese companies employ in the U.S.?
President Trump ruffled some feathers when he said during a visit to Tokyo in the fall quarter, “try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over.” Well, they do. A quick fact check shows that Japanese companies employ more than 850,000 in the U.S. (almost all of them are American citizens). And the Japanese pay well, too, more than U.S.-based companies on average and more than any other country other than Germany in the U.S.

North Carolina megasite adds 370 acres, awaits Toyota-Mazda
Officials with the Greensboro-Randolph County Megasite have added 370 acres, bumping up the site to 1,900 acres. Reports indicate the site is in the running for the prospective Toyota-Mazda project.

Mercedes-Benz will invest another $1 billion in Alabama plant

Mercedes-Benz announced in the fall quarter it will invest another $1 billion in its Vance, Ala., plant to assemble electric SUVs for the German automaker’s EQ brand. As part of the expansion, Mercedes will build a new one million square foot battery plant next to the assembly plant. This latest expansion will add 600 jobs.


November 2017

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, go to www.SB-D.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com.

BMW CEO threatens to pull out of Southern Auto Corridor if trade restrictions are passed
BMW employs nearly 10,000 at its plant in Spartanburg County, S.C. That doesn’t count tens of thousands more American workers that supply the German automaker’s only U.S. plant. . .its second largest plant in the world. The facility is the only place where X models are made, and last year the company exported $10 billion X models through the Port of Charleston to over 140 countries. In the fall quarter, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said on BMWblog.com that he is optimistic that trade restrictions will not be implemented by the U.S. But if they are implemented, Krueger said, “If we would have trade barriers, maybe we would need to shift that production from here (South Carolina) to somewhere else because it can no longer be affordable.” It should be noted that all of the 19 major automotive assembly plants in the Southern Auto Corridor export their vehicles.

Nissan to expand Smyrna, Tenn., battery plant
Crews will expand the battery plant at the Nissan automobile factory by 26,450 square feet after the Smyrna Planning Commission approved the plans in October.

Fritz Winter opens Kentucky foundry
Germany-based Fritz Winter North America opened the first phase of its iron casting foundry and manufacturing facility in Franklin, Ky. The large-scale project will produce brake rotors and bring roughly 200 new jobs to the Bluegrass State. The company invested $110 million in the initial phase, which could grow to about $194 million with a planned expansion, and total employment could surpass 300.

Toyota debuts new Kentucky center
Toyota has opened its $80 million, 235,000-square-foot Production Engineering and Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, Ky. The facility will employ approximately 800 people, including 600 production engineers. The Georgetown facility will also help innovate and develop new technology for Toyota’s manufacturing plants across North America.

Royal Technologies expands Cullman, Ala., plant
Royal Technologies plans a $14 million expansion of its manufacturing operation in Cullman. The project is expected to create 25 jobs. The company produces polymer products, primarily plastic and foam, for the automotive, furniture and consumer goods industries.

Battery maker invests $35 million in new KC facility
Georgia-based Exide Technologies, an automotive and industrial battery manufacturer, has invested $35 million to create a state-of-the-art facility in Kansas City that will create up to 50 jobs.

Trucast expands operations in Newberry, S.C.
Trucast, a manufacturer of components for automotive engines and power generation, will invest $3 million to expand its operations center in Newberry. Part of the United Kingdom-headquartered Doncasters Group, Trucast supplies automotive manufacturers such as Borg Warner, Cummins and Honeywell.

SMW Manufacturing acquires Caterpillar operations in Lafayette County, Miss.
SMW Manufacturing is taking over operations at the former Caterpillar facility in Lafayette County. The company plans to invest in excess of $15 million and hire up to 50 employees, mostly former Caterpillar employees. SMW manufactures components for the heavy truck, automotive, mining, construction and industrial markets.

Nucor Steel announces $230 million expansion, 100 new jobs
Officials at Nucor Steel in Hickman, Ark., made a major announcement during their 25th anniversary celebration near Blytheville recently. A $230 million expansion means 100 more jobs. Company VP Mary Emily Slate said the new mill is the first of its kind. “This is the first mill in America that will take deeper reductions on higher strength steels so we can make stronger and lighter steels for many customers, including those in the automotive industry,” she said.

Hankook opens $800 million plant in Tennessee
The South Korean-based company unveiled its first U.S. manufacturing site in October at the grand opening event at Hankook’s new $800 million tire plant in Clarksville. Officials estimate 1,600 employees could be hired there.

Toyota and Mazda partner on EVs
Toyota, Mazda and Denso have signed a new partnership through which they will jointly establish a new company for the development of electric cars. Neither Toyota nor Mazda offer fully electric vehicles in their lineup yet, so the new partnership will give both automakers the basic structural components for EVs.

Auto parts company selects Memphis for new home
An auto parts supplier created in the merger of Memphis-area companies, has put its head office in Memphis. Highline Aftermarket will invest $500,000, add  91 jobs and expand its primary distribution center in Shelby County.

Plant expansion to bring 145 jobs to Burke County, N.C.
Governor Roy Cooper came to Burke County in October to tout the expansion and creation of 145 jobs at Continental’s Morganton plant. The investment coincided with the German auto parts plant’s 25th anniversary.

Toyota investing in Southern plants
Toyota just upped the stakes to remain the top manufacturer of hybrid vehicles worldwide with a $373.8 million investment in five U.S. manufacturing plants to support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain. Of the total investment, Bodine Aluminum in Troy, Mo., receives $17 million, and $14.56 million will go to the Bodine plant in Jackson, Tenn. The automaker’s plant in Georgetown, Ky., will get $120 million to expand production of the 2.5-liter engine. Other plants in line for additional investment are located in West Virginia and Alabama.

Perrone Robotics expands in Albemarle County, Va.
Perrone Robotics, a developer of autonomous car software, will invest $3.8 million to expand its research and development operation in Albemarle County, Va. The company expects to create 127 new jobs.

Denso investing $1 billion in Tennessee plant, creating 1,000 jobs
Japan-based global automotive supplier Denso announced that the company will expand its operations in Maryville, Tenn. Denso will create approximately 1,000 jobs and invest $1 billion to make its Blount County facility a primary manufacturing center in North America for electrification and safety systems.

Giti opens in South Carolina
Giti Tires, headquartered in Singapore, has opened its first U.S. plant, set to bring 1,700 jobs to Chester County. The global company partnered with Wal-Mart as part of the retailer’s commitment to purchase $250 billion in products, supporting American jobs.