Arizona received a Silver Shovel award in 2006 and continues to develop its reputation for advanced manufacturing - especially in Phoenix. The Brookings Institution recently evaluated manufacturing in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas and ranked Phoenix 16th overall, with 110,072 jobs in that sector. The region is also seventh in the nation for the percentage of jobs that qualify as "very high-tech." Top manufacturing sectors include electronics, aerospace, alternative energy, and ICT.
Cognizant Technology Solutions - a global provider of business, technology, and consulting services - plans to build a new delivery center in Phoenix that will accommodate over 1,000 employees, replacing its existing 500-person facility. "This distributed delivery center model will help us attract the world's best talent and enable our customers to address structural changes brought about by the reset economy," says Gordon Coburn, CFO for Cognizant.
Arizona is also a rapidly growing leader in solar energy research and development. The state's solar work force grew 26 percent from 2010 to 2011. New projects include Rioglass Solar ($95 million, 100 employees), Gestamp Solar Steel ($25 million, 300 employees), Maxwell Technologies ($26 million, 150 workers), and Magna International, whose new 166,000-square-foot facility will employ 150 people to manufacture components for the solar panel market.
"Arizona is taking a global approach to its role in the renewable energy industry," says Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. "Our state is home to some of the world's largest solar companies, the U.S. military's largest solar plant, and the world's premier photovoltaic testing laboratory. With more than 100 significant solar energy businesses already here, Arizona has established itself as one of the world's preeminent locations for solar industry expansion."
Indiana received a Gold Shovel award in 2011 and Silver Shovels in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In Chief Executive's "Best/Worst States for Business 2012," Indiana was ranked the fifth-best place to do business. According to the survey, "Work force quality is the state's single greatest strength, and since it became the 23rd right-to-work state last year, it is likely to punch above its weight competitively in the future."
Anchoring Indiana's diverse economy are key sectors such as life sciences, energy, defense, ICT, logistics, and advanced manufacturing. For example, Cummins Inc., a manufacturer of diesel engines, recently announced it would hire 600 employees to staff an $18 million expansion of its downtown Columbus operations. Other big projects are Fronius USA in Portage ($23 million, 512 workers), Grand Trunk Western Railroad in Gary ($163 million, 251 workers), and Allison Transmission in Indianapolis ($89.4 million, 205 workers).
Nanshan Group, a Chinese company, is constructing a $100 million, 435,000-square-foot aluminum facility in Lafayette that will eventually employ 150 people. This facility is the company's first manufacturing site in the United States and will produce aluminum extrusions for mass transportation, automotive, distribution, electrical, and other industrial sectors.
"Lafayette makes a lot of sense for our business," states Lijun Du, president of Nanshan America Company Ltd. "It is close to our main market and we have technical support from Purdue, a strong work force base, and training capabilities at Ivy Tech Community College. Chinese capital, state-of-the-art equipment from Europe and the U.S., innovative American management, and a talented local work force will be a very competitive combination."
Missouri received a Silver Shovel award in 2007 and is enjoying a strong first quarter in 2012, with 27,500 new jobs added and increased manufacturing exports, especially transportation equipment. During this same time Missouri's unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, nearly one full point lower than the U.S. unemployment rate.
During the first four months of 2012 Missouri gained more than 7,000 new manufacturing jobs - the result of major expansions started last year by Ford in Claycomo and General Motors in Wentzville. These two projects combined represent a total capital investment of approximately $1.5 billion and will create more than 3,200 new auto manufacturing jobs in the state. "The historic expansions of Ford and General Motors in Missouri, facilitated by the signing of the Missouri Manufacturing Act of 2012 by Governor Jay Nixon, have driven the state economy forward," notes John Fougere, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
ProEnergy Holdings, a manufacturer of gas turbine engines, plans to invest $25.7 million in its Sedalia facilities over the next three years, hiring 309 workers. Improvements include a new 110,000-square-foot facility for servicing gas turbine engines and a 225,000-square-foot warehouse for storing engines, turbines, and component parts.
Another sign of Missouri's improving economy is the expansion of professional services across the state. These include Mortgage Research Center in Columbia ($1.8 million, 300 workers) and North American Savings Bank in Kansas City ($5.9 million, 262 workers).
Virginia received a Silver Shovel award in 2006 and 2009. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, Virginia's strongest job growth in 2011 occurred in professional and business services, which gained 12,200 jobs. Scientific and technical services also showed increased activity. Virginia manufacturing is also starting to gain traction - for example, durable goods manufacturing added 1,700 jobs in 2011, an increase of 1.3 percent.
Major manufacturing projects commenced in 2011 include traditional industries, such as International Paper's $83 million expansion in Isle of Wight County, as well as emerging high-tech sectors. For example, United States Green Energy plans to build a $30 million facility in Danville to manufacture photovoltaic cells; the facility will employ about 375 workers when fully operational.
Reflecting the strong increase in professional and business services, ICF International will build a $15 million business process management center in Henry County and hire about 540 workers. Backcountry.com plans to construct a $20.5 million fulfillment center in Montgomery County, and Microsoft will expand its operations in Mecklenburg County with a $150 million data center.
"Microsoft is crucial corporate partner to southern Virginia," says Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "The company's innovative data center design increases efficiency of operations and this expansion will enhance the high-tech capabilities already in place as Microsoft continues to grow its operation."
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Silver Shovel Awards
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Projects Of the Year
GM Spring Hill Manufacturing
Continental Tire the Americas
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Area Development's annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high-value investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. We collected information from all 50 states about their top-10 job-creation and investment projects initiated in 2011 (only those projects that actually had monies invested, "broke ground," began an expansion, started new hiring, etc. were considered). Based on a combination of weighted factors - including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state's population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities, the diversity of industry represented - four states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Area Development's 2012 Gold Shovels in four population categories: 9+ million, 5+ to 9 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2012 Silver Shovels.