May 2022

Auto supplier Shinhwa investing $78 million in second Alabama facility

Shinhwa Auto USA Corp. is expanding its presence in Auburn by adding a second auto parts manufacturing facility as part of a $78 million growth project that will create 42 jobs over the next three years.

 

Nissan considers third U.S. plant to meet EV demand

Nissan is considering adding a new auto plant in the U.S. to keep up with growing demand for electric vehicles, according to a top executive at the Japanese automaker. Nissan now has two auto plants in the U.S. — one in Canton, Miss., makes the Titan pickup truck and Altima sedan, among other models. The other in Smyrna, Tenn., makes the Leaf electric car, Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and other models. The third plant would not just be an added assembly line to an existing plant but a totally new facility, although it may be built as an extension of an existing plant.

 

Summit Polymers will invest $37.5 million In Kentucky

Summit Polymers will build a $37.5 million manufacturing facility in Anderson County, Ky., creating 218 full-time jobs. The Michigan-based company designs and manufactures automotive interior components.

 

Massive EV battery plant planned for Bowling Green, Ky.

Envision AESC, a Japanese electric vehicle battery technology company, unveiled plans in early April to invest $2 billion to open a new manufacturing facility in the Kentucky Transpark. The state-of-the-art gigafactory battery plant will employ 2,000 people to produce battery cells and modules to power electric vehicles.

 

Toyota expanding in the South

Toyota plans to invest $222 million at its manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala. The company will create a new production line for four-cylinder engines, including a hybrid electric version. The project is part of a $383 million company-wide plan that injects new investment into four U.S. manufacturing plants that support powertrain production for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Kentucky (which will add 220 new jobs), Missouri and Tennessee are included, with the Alabama facility receiving the largest investment.

 

Hyundai pours $300 million into Montgomery plant to build EVs

Hyundai plans to start production of its first Alabama-made electric vehicles this fall, part of a $300 million expansion that will create 200 more jobs. The company recently announced that its Santa Fe Hybrid would start rolling off the assembly line in Montgomery this October. It will be the first electric vehicle the company has made in America. The plant will start production of the Electrified Genesis GV70 luxury SUV in December.

 

Georgia wins new Hyundai plant

Hyundai is building facilities dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries in Savannah, marking Hyundai’s first EV-only plant in the U.S. The South Korean automaker will spend $5.5 billion on the new facilities and will receive an additional $1 billion investment from its suppliers. Hyundai expects production at the 2,923-acre site to begin in the first half of 2025, with construction starting in early 2023. The EV factory is set to make 300,000 vehicles per year and will add around 8,100 new jobs.

 

Auto supplier announces $8 million Tennessee plant

A Michigan manufacturer of automotive powertrain and drivetrain systems plans to establish a new facility in East Tennessee. ATC Drivetrain will invest more than $8 million in the new plant in Knoxville. Over the next five years, the company expects the project to create 218 new jobs.

 

EV supplier building $325 million plant near Statesboro, Ga.

Aspen Aerogels is building a $325 million manufacturing plant in Bulloch County that will produce special materials to prevent potentially disastrous fires in electric vehicles. The company will invest a minimum of $325 million to build a factory south of Statesboro for production of aerogel thermal insulating material used in electric vehicle batteries. Company officials expect the plant to create more than 250 advanced manufacturing jobs.

 

Volkswagen Chattanooga’s EV push to fill 1,000 new jobs

Volkswagen is holding a job fair aimed at hiring 1,000 production workers for its assembly plant in Tennessee.

 

VinFast picks North Carolina for $2 billion EV assembly plant

VinFast has selected North Carolina for its first North American automotive assembly and battery manufacturing plant. The Hanoi, Vietnam-based auto manufacturer will create 7,500 jobs and invest up to $2 billion in phase 1 of its project at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County. It will be North Carolina’s first car manufacturing plant.

March 2022

Amazon- and Ford-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian gets a break in Georgia

In the fall of 2021, electric vehicle startup Rivian announced one of the South’s largest-ever economic development deals. The company announced it would build a $5 billion, 7,500-employee facility to make batteries and electric vehicles for U.S. and global consumption. The company is well financed, with major stockholders coming from Amazon and Ford Motor Company, among other major players. But like many mega-projects located near large MSAs (the deal is being built on a site just east of Atlanta in an area bordered by Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties), there is some local opposition. However, the state of Georgia has taken over the project and its site in Stanton Springs. Commissioner Pat Wilson of the Georgia Department of Economic Development said in the winter quarter, by taking the steps to acquire the property, “streamline the entire project process, giving community members a strong voice throughout.” The state’s ownership of the 2,000-acre Rivian site will erase the need for local governments to conduct public hearings on zoning and other controversial developments. Construction on the battery and electric vehicle plants is expected to start this summer and production to begin in 2024.

 

Ford picks construction company for Blue Oval City project in West Tennessee

Detroit-based construction company Walbridge will be the general contractor for Ford Motor Company’s Blue Oval City, a $5.6 billion battery and electric vehicle assembly facility being built in Haywood County, Tenn., between Memphis and Jackson. The campus will be constructed on a nearly six-square-mile site to build Ford’s next-generation all-electric F-series pickups and SK Innovation’s advanced batteries. Ford and battery maker SK Innovation announced the project in September. A joint venture called BlueOvalSK will also construct twin battery plants in Glendale, Ky., in an estimated $5.8 billion investment. The two projects in Tennessee and Kentucky are expected to create an estimated 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint to the South.

 

Another new semiconductor plant expansion under consideration in the South

Germany-based Infineon Technologies is considering putting $700 million into its chip fab plant in Southeast Austin. The company, if the deal is approved, will invest $625 million in new machinery and adding space at the plant. Several large semiconductor plants have been announced in the South as manufacturers struggle to find enough computer chips for automobiles, smart phones and other products. The chip shortage in the automotive industry is expected to cost $210 billion in revenue and has increased car prices by more than 10 percent in the last year. . .over 7 million vehicle units will not be built this year.

 

Nissan Mississippi joins the electric vehicle parade

There are no less than 22 major automotive assembly plants undergoing some kind of large expansion in an effort to build electric vehicles. Some of those single investments total more $5 billion. Add Nissan’s Canton, Miss., plant to the mix. The Japanese automaker is investing $500 million to construct a new electric vehicle line with production beginning in 2025. Nissan is investing $18 billion worldwide to electrify its vehicle line.

 

New mail truck plant to stay — for now — in South Carolina

Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense is sticking with its decision to build a plant in Spartanburg County, S.C., to produce U.S.P.S. mail trucks despite efforts by Wisconsin officials and union leaders to keep the company’s new investment in their state. Company officials said in the winter quarter that the project was too far into development stage to change sites and that there were no facilities available in Wisconsin large enough to house the 1,000 workers expected to be hired.

 

Toyota begins grading North Carolina megasite

Japanese automaker Toyota has begun to prep the Greensboro Randolph County Megasite where it is building a major electric vehicle battery plant. The plant is expected to house 1,700 workers with an annual payroll of over $100 million and will begin production in 2025. Toyota also announced in the winter quarter that it is investing $73 million in a new facility at its Buffalo, W.Va., plant that will produce electric vehicle components.

 

South Carolina exports near $30 billion in 2021

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the SC Ports Authority announced in the winter that the Palmetto State’s exports totaled $29.7 billion last year. South Carolina is the nation’s largest exporter of tires and fully assembled automobiles.

 

Largest private project in Arkansas history breaks ground

In the winter quarter, U.S. Steel broke ground on a new $3 billion steel mill in Osceola, Ark., that will bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Arkansas. The steel mill will be the most advanced in the world and is expected to produce automotive parts such as hoods and roofs that are not available with current steel making technology.

 

Nucor is the latest steel plant to call the South home

Charlotte-based Nucor is bringing a new steel plant to West Virginia, but as of this writing no site in the state has been chosen. Once operational in 2024, the mill will have the capacity to produce up to 3 million tons of sheet steel per year for the automotive, appliance, HVAC, heavy equipment, agricultural, transportation and construction markets, according to the steel and steel products manufacturer. The new plant will feature an advanced high-end automotive line.

 

Nissan investing $500 million in Mississippi expansion

Nissan will build two all-new, all-electric vehicles at its Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi. The automaker will invest $500 million in its Canton facility to support the expansion, which will bring the company’s total investment in Mississippi since 2003 to $4 billion.

 

Carvana adding 3,500 employees in Atlanta

Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana said it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody. The fast-growing firm recently subleased a 21-story building at the suburban State Farm complex, which was the city’s biggest lease of 2021.

 

Louisiana will spend $75 million on EV charging stations

Louisiana is set to receive $75 million in federal funding over the next five years to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways. The funding is part of a $5 billion program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress that is expected to result in $14.1 million allocated to Louisiana for this fiscal year.

 

Tech manufacturer could bring up to 2,000 jobs to Georgetown, Texas

California-based tech company CelLink has plans to put a 300,000-square-foot facility in Georgetown, Texas. The new $130 million factory will supply electric vehicle manufacturers with intelligent wiring systems.

 

Electric truck manufacturer to locate in Osceola, Ark., bringing 800 jobs

Envirotech Vehicles will locate a multimillion-dollar commercial electric vehicle plant in Osceola, with plans to hire up to 800 workers over the next 10 years. The 90-acre, 580,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will be located in a vacant Fruit of the Loom factory in Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas.

 

AutoZone’s new distribution center in New Kent County, Va., creating 352 jobs

AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, will invest $185.2 million to establish a new warehouse and distribution center in New Kent County. The 800,000-square-foot facility will serve as the company’s East Coast distribution operation, creating 352 new jobs.

 

Volvo global HQ for financial services coming to Greensboro, N.C.

Volvo will move its global headquarters for financial services to Greensboro, the company announced during a news conference and groundbreaking ceremony in February. Volvo executives said 360 colleagues will relocate to this new facility. The company is investing $41 million in the Triad to make this happen.

 

DeLorean Motor Co. plans new San Antonio HQ and 450 jobs

DeLorean Motor Co. is planning a comeback that will include electric vehicle production and a global headquarters in San Antonio. The company was previously based in Humble, just outside of Houston. The deal, contingent on final approval of various incentive packages, would bring approximately 450 new jobs to the Alamo City.

 

Australia-based Syrah expands Louisiana graphite processing facility

Syrah Resources is investing $176 million to expand its Syrah Technologies graphite processing facility in Vidalia, La. The project is expected to create 36 new jobs to process graphite into material used in lithium-ion batteries for the electric vehicle industry. The expansion comes on the heels of a December 2021 agreement with Tesla to supply graphite AAM for use in batteries.

 

EV supplier coming to Bulloch County, Ga.

Aspen Aerogels is opening a manufacturing plant in Bulloch County, Ga., that could add more than 250 jobs and $300 million in investment. The plant will make thermal barriers that will insulate batteries on electric cars.

 

Toyota adds hybrid product in Tennessee

Toyota has announced plans to increase the workload at its facility in Jackson, Tenn., known as Toyota Tennessee, by investing $17 million to give the plant the technology to begin casting hybrid transaxle cases and housings.

 

Ford E-Transit shipments begin from KC plant

In February, Ford began shipping its E-Transit van — its second fully electric vehicle EV — from its Kansas City-area assembly plant, which is the first such facility to build both batteries and vehicles themselves in-house. The Claycomo, Mo., plant gained a $100 million investment from Ford and created 150 new jobs to help make the electric version of the popular cargo van, which has more than 10,000 orders.

February 2022

Tesla to delay Cybertruck production in Austin

Austin-based Tesla will delay assembly of its electric Cybertruck vehicle at its new plant near the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport. A change in the vehicle’s features is the reason for the delay in the yet-to-open plant.

New CEO of Virginia Economic Development Partnership wants more investments in large industrial sites

Jason El Koubi, the former executive vice president at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and now the interim president and CEO of VEDP, said in the winter quarter that the Commonwealth needs shovel ready sites to land some of the large projects announced in the South the last six months of 2021. El Koubi was referring to the electric vehicle and battery plants announced in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. In an article in Virginia, El Koubi was quoted as saying, “The cost of not investing in site development has become very clear and very alarming.”

Auto supplier opens in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Dura Automotive Systems celebrated the opening of its new Muscle Shoals manufacturing facility. The $75 million plant, which will employ more than 270 full-time workers at peak production, manufactures battery enclosures for electric vehicles to be made by Mercedes-Benz.

Piston Automotive expanding Kentucky plant

Piston Automotive, a provider of automotive assemblies including electric and hybrid vehicle battery systems, will further expand its operations in Jefferson County, Ky. The $26.3 million project is expected to create 117 jobs.

One thousand more jobs available at Mazda-Toyota plant

Toyota and Mazda are looking for 1,200 more employees to help build vehicles at their new joint plant in Huntsville, Ala. After the recent rollout of Mazda’s first vehicle from the plant — the CX-50 crossover SUV — VP of production Janette Hostettler said, “The team members here have worked so hard and put so much heart and passion into the vehicle, but I still need about 1,200 more of y’all.”

EV company announces $25 million investment in Jax

New Jersey-based Cenntro Automotive will invest $25 million in its proposed 100,000-square-foot facility in Jacksonville, Fla., — its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. — to produce the company’s line of delivery and logistics trucks and vans beginning in the first quarter of 2022. The facility is expected to house a workforce of 34 employees.

Electric bus manufacturer chooses South Charleston, W.Va.

Canada-based electric bus manufacturer GreenPower Motor Company will lease/purchase a 9.5-acre manufacturing facility in South Charleston, W.Va. The company will manufacture zero-emission, all-electric school buses there. The project is expected to create up to 200 jobs by the end of the year, and employment at the facility may reach up to 900 jobs when full production is reached in 24 months.

January 2022

Toyota will build $1.3 billion EV battery plant in North Carolina

Toyota announced on December 6th that it will indeed build a $1.3 billion electric vehicle battery plant near Greensboro that will employ at least 1,750 people and help meet the auto giant’s growing goals of EV sales this decade. Officials gathered to unveil the project on the 1,800-acre Greensboro-Randolph Megasite in Liberty, about 70 miles west of Raleigh, where the plant will be located. It is the largest capital investment in state history.

 

Small Tulsa business expands to Broken Arrow adding 100 jobs

Tulsa-based Automotive Industries, a vehicle fleet repair company, recently purchased a 106,000-square-foot facility in Broken Arrow, Okla., with plans to add more than 100 new jobs. The 40-acre facility will also be the new headquarters for Automotive Industries.

 

Commonwealth Rolled Products investing $167 million in Kentucky mill

Commonwealth Rolled Products is investing more than $167 million in its Lewisport aluminum rolling mill, a project that will create 40 full-time jobs. New equipment and building upgrades are planned for the 2.3 million-square-foot facility to modernize the operation and better position Commonwealth to support automotive and industrial customers.

 

Another EV announcement in South Carolina

Proterra, a leader in the design and manufacturing of zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications, has announced new manufacturing operations in Spartanburg County. The company’s $76 million investment is expected to create more than new 200 jobs. Proterra’s new Spartanburg County operations will produce the company’s battery systems for commercial electric vehicles, including delivery and work trucks, industrial equipment, buses and more.

 

Rivian will build a second, $5 billion EV plant in Georgia

Amazon-backed EV startup Rivian is going to build a second factory in Georgia where it will assemble up to 400,000 electric vehicles per year. Rivian will start construction of the $5 billion facility in the summer of 2022 and expects to start making vehicles there in 2024.

 

Nokian Tyres adding 100 jobs in Tennessee expansion

Nokian Tyres plans to hire more than 100 workers for its Dayton, Tenn., manufacturing plant “in the next couple of years.” Nokian Tyres says the factory grew from 175 to about 325 employees in 2021 after an aggressive hiring campaign at the first of the year. Nokian continues to accept applications.

 

EV maker adding more jobs, opening third facility in Charlotte, N.C.

Arrival, a British electric vehicle company, is expanding yet again in Charlotte, adding 150 jobs and investing $11.5 million in a battery module production facility. It’s the latest announcement from the London-based firm that has brought hundreds of jobs to the region in recent years. Arrival is also opening a microfactory in Rock Hill, S.C., another near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and its North American headquarters in South End.

 

SmartCap to expand in Fort Worth

South African company SmartCap plans to expand operations into Fort Worth. The international vehicle accessories firm will create 250 jobs to work in a distribution center for modular truck camper and bed enclosures and other accessories for recreation and commercial uses. The project has a capital investment of $55 million.

Unions and Pitchforks

Michael Randle

In 2016, our cover story was titled “Wages, Riches and Pitchforks.” The story got a lot of attention by the media. In fact, Amazon (without my consent) still sells the piece I wrote as a cheap PDF. (You can read it for free. Just go to https://sb-d.com/magazine/article/wages-riches-pitchforks.)

Here is an excerpt from that article: Not all right-leaning capitalists are against raising the federal minimum wage. Entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, a self-proclaimed plutocrat and founder or financier of over 30 companies, sees a future of angry mobs with pitchforks in this country if something isn’t done about income inequality. Hanauer explains in one of his TED Talks, “While people like us plutocrats are living beyond the dreams of avarice, the other 99 percent of our fellow citizens are falling farther behind.”

Hanauer continued by saying, “You see, the problem isn’t that we have some inequality. Some inequality is necessary for a high-functioning capitalist democracy. The problem is that inequality is at historic highs today and it’s getting worse every day. And if wealth, power and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top, our society will change from a capitalist democracy to a neo-feudalist rentier society like 18th century France. That was France before the revolution and the mobs with the pitchforks.”

Hanauer claims there is no evidence to support the theory that if low wage workers earn a little more, unemployment will escalate and the economy will collapse. In his TED Talk, he also claims that Seattle
(his hometown), which voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2017 for some companies, has not seen negative effects from having one of the highest minimum wages in the country. “If trickle-down thinkers were right, then Washington State should have massive unemployment. Seattle should be sliding into the ocean. And yet, Seattle is the fastest-growing big city in the country,” Hanauer maintains.

“So I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened.”

“There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. And it will be terrible when they come for everyone, but particularly for people like us plutocrats.”

Given the economic challenges and income inequality, why haven’t unions secured a better foothold in the South?

So, for four decades wage growth has been anemic, we have a stagnant population — an indication that those in their 20s and 30s do not believe they can afford children —
and income inequality where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That being the case, why does organized labor continue to struggle in the 15 Southern states?

Organized union membership is roughly half that in the South compared to the rest of the country, which is around 5 percent of the labor force. There are some states in the South with union rates of 10 percent or more, but that’s rare. 

Twenty-seven states adhere to right-to-work laws; however, every state Southern Business & Development covers is a right-to-work state other than Missouri. A right-to-work law gives workers the freedom to choose whether or not to join a labor union in the workplace. This law also makes it optional for employees in unionized workplaces to pay for union dues or other membership fees required for union representation, whether they are in the union or not.

The law is highly political, with Republicans mostly backing right-to-work legislation in support of big business, and Democrats backing union membership in support of labor and the power of collective bargaining.

While this is not an opinion on right-to-work, there is no question that the South’s efforts to become the engine of the largest economy in the world dilute the influence of labor unions in the region. As entrepreneur Nick Hanauer said earlier in this story, the decline in union membership in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the decreasing shares of income amongst the 90 percent and increasing income in the top 10 percent. Again, you can make that political all you want, but the numbers indicate that as unions lost their clout, the rich got richer and the poor and middle class lost any leverage they had. 

Now, that does not mean right-to-work is not beneficial to the South’s economy. It is. The South’s GDP now makes it the third largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S. and China. As you know, the South was dirt poor 100 years ago. Without right-to-work laws, there is no way the South could have become the fastest growing U.S. region in the largest economy in the world.

Much of that increase in GDP can be attributed to foreign direct investment. Where does Toyota operate most of its assembly plants and its headquarters in North America? Where does Mercedes-Benz have its only U.S. plant and North American headquarters? Where does BMW have its largest North American plant? By the way, none of those facilities are unionized. The answer is all of those facilities operate in the American South.

But that does not mean unions will not try to organize even foreign plants in the South. They have tried with high-profile union drives at Nissan in Mississippi, Boeing in South Carolina and Volkswagen in Tennessee, just to name a few. Workers, especially at large foreign manufacturing facilities, are extremely lucky to have a job at one of those plants. These facilities already pay way more in wages than the average wage in the South.

Regardless, there is about to be a reckoning when it comes to the South and union activity. In the fall 2021 quarter, Ford, a union company since 1941, announced it is investing $11.4 billion to further its electric vehicle production at a site in Stanton, Tenn., (near Memphis) and Glendale, Ky. Ford will invest $5.6 billion to build batteries and assemble the company’s electric F-Series vehicles in Tennessee. The Kentucky site is a $5.8 billion investment and will include twin battery factories. The two sites will house about 11,000 new jobs.

It will be interesting to see what will happen at those Ford plants when they are up and running. If they unionize, it could change everything in the region. If they don’t, then Ford made an awesome bet.

It’s a historic time for automotive in the South

By Michael Randle

We have arrived at Southern Automotive Corridor 3.0. Phase 1 took us to the ’80s, second phase to the early 2000s. Now with electric cars, we are at 3.0, and it is amazing. Huge deals are flying everywhere in the Southern Auto Corridor.

This summer and fall quarter will be remembered 50 years from now as the most transformative period in the history of automotive manufacturing, not just in the South, but in the Midwest, too — the only two regions in the U.S. that are left with automotive assembly.

Even though Nissan, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz and their plants in the South have spent billions on electric vehicle technology, it really wasn’t until the second half of 2021 that just about everyone got in on the act. The billions spent earlier by some automakers in the South looks like chump change compared to what has been announced recently.

Massive EV-based projects were announced in the South in the second half of 2021. Ford announced projects the size of which we have never seen before. . .for example, automotive “cities” in Hardin County, Ky., and in Stanton, Tenn.

Ford announced its plans in September to create Blue Oval City at the West Memphis I-40 megasite in Stanton, Tenn. The new “city” includes an investment of nearly $6 billion to make electric vehicles, including a next-generation electric Ford F-Series model. Blue Oval City will also include (not counting suppliers) up to 6,000 new jobs. Over $800 million has been earmarked in incentives for Ford in the deal. Earlier in 2021, Ford announced it had increased its planned EV investment to $30 billion by 2025.

Here are some other EV automotive-related projects announced in the South just in the last six months:

  • Ford Motor and battery supplier SK Innovation have plans to invest over $5 billion and hire over 5,000 in an electric battery plant at the Glendale Megasite in Hardin County, Ky.,  that will power EV vehicles in the future.
  • The Ultium Cells LLC battery plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., is on schedule as of the fall quarter, company officials announced. The 2.8 million-square-foot facility is a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution.
  • Japan’s Nissan Motor Company will spend about $700 million at its two U.S. manufacturing plants in Mississippi and Tennessee to implement new technologies to make electric vehicles.
  • Mercedes-Benz is opening an EV battery pack assembly facility on a second Alabama campus in Bibb County.
  • Korean automaker Hyundai will begin EV production on the Genesis GV70 EV at its plant in Montgomery, Ala., beginning in 2022.
  • Amazon-backed electric truck maker Rivian is expected to announce a
    $5 billion electric truck and SUV factory in East Georgia.
  • South Korea’s SKC, a maker of plastic films, is set to invest $473 million to locate a semiconductor parts venture at its existing plant in Georgia. SK also is home to SK Innovation, which has invested $2.6 billion to put an electric-vehicle battery plant in Jackson County and plans to ramp up a second plant on the complex as demand grows.
  • Japanese automaker Toyota has chosen the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite for a large electric battery plant to ramp up EV manufacturing in the U.S. The site is a 1,825-acre site rezoned for heavy industry located near the center of the state.
  • Tesla will move its headquarters to Austin, Texas, following through on a threat Elon Musk made last year when tensions between the billionaire and California boiled over. Musk announced his decision in October.

No End in Sight for Lack of Labor

There is no data available about the fact that our labor keeps decreasing, and there may not be for a decade or more. In the last three years, About 10,000 people a day on average retired in the U.S. Compare that to a little over 2,000 joining the workforce by turning working age (16), and you can easily see where the labor issues are. People are aging out of the workforce faster than the rate of people entering it.

But the U.S. should not feel like the Lone Ranger. People are aging out of the workplace virtually around the world. In fact, for most countries — especially the U.S. — “job creation” is no longer the most important factor for an economy. Particularly in the South, the region that has seen the toughest time since the Great Depression, job creation has been paramount. But that is no longer the case. Some years, the South creates as many new jobs as the other three regions combined.

We are now entering an era when our politicians stumping for office should literally slow the promotion of job creation and instead figure out how they are going to fill those jobs. There are well over 10 million jobs available in this country as of October and only 8.4 million people looking for work.

Also affecting the labor market in the U.S. — 15 percent of the population was retired in 2010. In 2020, that figure rose to 20 percent.

So, what to do? Millions of economists say, “not much.” The U.S. can increase legal immigration, which could result in reversing the trend, but for how long? Also, increasing legal immigration under President Trump literally gave it a bad name. His last year office, legal immigration — we are talking about working visas — dropped by 85 percent from over 1 million to 200,000.

Then again, a more productive workforce with the aid of automation and AI could help, too.

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Fall 2021

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

Announcements Made in the Fall 2021 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Rivian7,500$5,000NSocial Circle, Ga.Auto assembly/EV batteries
2. Toyota1,750$1,290NLiberty, N.C.EV batteries
3. Toyota1,400$461EGeorgetown, Ky.Auto assembly
4. Ultium Cells LLC1,300N/AESpring Hill, Tenn.EV batteries
5. Mercedes-Benz600N/AEVance, Ala.Auto assembly
6. Mazda Toyota500N/AEHuntsville, Ala.Auto assembly
7. Toyota450$288EHuntsville, Ala.Engines
8. Dr. Schneider400$22NBaldwyn, Miss.Auto parts
9. NOVONIX300$160NChattanooga, Tenn.EV battery parts
10. Central Wheel145N/AEParis, Ky.Auto parts

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

Sources: RandleReport.com

 

Major Light Vehicle Plants in the Southern Automotive Corridor

Alabama

1. Mercedes-Benz (Vance)

2. Honda (Lincoln)

3. Hyundai (Montgomery)

4. Mazda Toyota (Huntsville)

Georgia

5. Kia (West Point)

Kentucky

6. Toyota (Georgetown)

7. Ford (Louisville)

8. Ford Truck (Louisville)

9. GM (Bowling Green)

Mississippi

10. Nissan (Canton)

11. Toyota (Blue Springs)

Missouri

12. Ford (Kansas City)

13. GM (Wentzville)

South Carolina

14. BMW (Greer)

15. Daimler Vans (Ladson)

16. Volvo (Berkeley County)

Tennessee

17. Nissan (Smyrna)

18. Volkswagen (Chattanooga)

19. GM (Spring Hill)

20. Ford (Blue Oval City – Under construction)

Texas

21. GM (Arlington)

22. Toyota (San Antonio)

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Summer 2021

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

Announcements Made in the Summer 2021 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Ford Motor5,800$5,600NBlue Oval City, Tenn.Auto assembly/EV batteries
2. Ford Motor5,000$5,800NHardin County, Ky.EV batteries
3. Canoo2,000$400NPryor, Okla.EV auto assembly
4. U.S. Postal1,000$155NSpartanburg, S.C.EV auto assembly
5. NOVONIX300$160NChattanooga, Tenn.EV battery parts
6. Firestone250$50EWhitley C., Ky.Auto parts
7. Edelbrock200N/ANOlive Branch, Miss.Auto parts
8. REHAU150$50ECullman, Ala.Auto parts
9. Sungwoo Hitech117$40NTelford, Tenn.Auto parts
10. Gissing116$18NGreenville Co., S.C.Auto parts

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

Sources: RandleReport.com