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Louisiana and South Carolina (tied), Kansas, and Alabama Receive 2010 Silver Shovels: Under 5 Million Population Category
Dan Calabrese (June/July 10)
 
Louisiana
A cooperative effort between state government and an ambitious poultry processor has revived an old Union Parish processing plant thought to be lost, and put the economic development achievements of Louisiana in the spotlight. The administration of Governor Bobby Jindal worked to find a buyer for the plant. Foster Farms agreed to purchase and operate the former Pilgrim's Pride facility, creating more than 1,000 new jobs.

This was just one story in a year of renewed hope for Louisiana. In Iberville Parish, SNF Holding Co. is investing $350 million to construct a new water-soluble polymers manufacturing facility, which will employ more than 500 permanent, full-time workers. "We are very grateful for the positive reception we received throughout the site evaluation process and the encouragement from state and local representatives to locate the facility in Iberville Parish," said SNF President Peter W. Nichols. "We look forward to getting to know the communities of Iberville Parish and building a strong relationship with local residents." Other economic progress in Louisiana included a new ConAgra plant in Richland, which will cost $211 million and employ 500. Major projects also went forward in the automotive, technology, and other sectors.




South Carolina

In South Carolina local and state officials celebrated the announcement that Boeing would build a new manufacturing facility in Charleston to make interior parts for the 787 Dreamliner. According to area representatives, the project will create some 4,000 direct jobs and represents a $750 million investment and Area Development's third 2009 "Project of the Year." It also signals a strengthening of Boeing's commitment to the area, which will see the company provide an independent source of manufacturing and assembly in South Carolina for 787 final assembly and delivery.

But while Boeing and the 787 may be South Carolina's most high-profile and recognizable project, it is not the only positive news the state had last year. Lancaster County is now becoming home to a new headquarters for Red Ventures, an Internet marketing and sales company that is investing more than $20 million in the new facilities and expects to create as many as 1,000 high-paying jobs over the next five to seven years.

"The area has an excellent business environment that provides a great fit for our growing company and gives us access to a talented labor force," said Mark Brodsky, chief financial officer for Red Ventures. "Red Ventures has experienced strong growth in recent years and we look forward to continuing that growth in South Carolina. We appreciate all the support we've received from state and local officials and look forward to growing our relationship with Lancaster County and South Carolina in the years ahead."

Information services are playing a crucial role in South Carolina, with major projects also coming from Time Warner Cable, Scientific Research Corp., and URS Corp., which project the creation of some 400 jobs each.

Kansas
And then there are projects that seem to materialize without much fanfare. One such project was so hush-hush at one point that Topeka officials referred to it only as "H." But everyone now recognizes the name of Home Depot, and its $24 million investment in a new distribution center will create 300 jobs for Topeka and help cement a solid year for Kansas on the economic development front.

2010 Gold Shovel Project of the Year: GLOBALFOUNDRIES

Overland Park, Kansas, Scores High

Among the communities qualifying their states for Shovel Awards, Overland Park, Kansas, is the only one having the distinction of landing three projects - an expansion by Black & Veatch, and new facilities for J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services and U.S. Bank.
All told, the projects represent an investment of more than $165 million and the creation of 2,500 new jobs.
Black & Veatch - a global engineering and construction firm - looked at more than 40 locations during a two-year period before deciding it would expand and locate its world headquarters in Overland Park. The company already occupies a 600,000-square-foot facility (the largest office building in the state), which will be renovated; and a 250,000-square-foot facility will be built for future growth. State and local support were instrumental in closing the deal, according to Lavern Squier, Overland Park Economic Development Council.
This support was also important in the decision of J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services LLP to lease a building at the Sprint Nextel Headquarters Campus that will house 800 workers in its new headquarters. "This project is a great example of the public and private sector teaming together to help maintain Overland Park's reputation as the Midwest's leading suburban business community, " notes Squier.
Meanwhile, after an extensive nationwide search, U.S. Bank has committed to leasing Capital One Home Loan's former Overland Park headquarters building and will hire 1,200 workers from the community to staff the facility.
In all three projects, "quality of community" helped cinch the deal, says Squier. Overland Park has received accolades for its fiscal responsibility, public safety, and commitment to family life.

The 465,000-square-foot rapid deployment center will service Home Depot outlets in the region and is part of a growth trend in the state that also saw NCO add 750 jobs while investing $10 million in the expansion of its Lenexa customer service center. The business process outsourcing solutions company has nearly completed its expansion, and will handle various contract inbound customer service activities at the site.

The Kansas Department of Commerce contributed investments through its Major Projects and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) program, which allows the state to issue bonds and recoup the costs from revenue generated by the state payroll taxes on the new jobs created.

Other major projects in Kansas included a $300 million expansion by Spirit Aerospace in Wichita, creating 700 new jobs; a $21 million new facility constructed by US Bank in Overland Park, creating 1,200 new jobs; and the retooling of GM's Kansas City plant, which is expected to create approximately 1,300 jobs.

Alabama
Mercedes Benz has long been a poster company for business in Alabama, so it makes sense that a year of strong growth in the state would start with a major expansion commitment on the part of the luxury carmaker.

With a $290 million investment and the creation of 1,000 jobs in Tuscaloosa, Mercedes Benz U.S. International Inc. led a growth trend that saw foreign automotive transplants make big commitments in the state. Buoyed by right-to-work laws that make the state labor-friendly, Alabamans also celebrated the decision of Toyota to expand its Huntsville engine and engine parts facility, adding 240 new jobs in the process.

But in an age when communication continues to be king, Alabama's biggest 2009 job boost came from Ryla Inc., the privately owned provider of call center and customer care services, which will create up to 1,200 new jobs by investing $8.5 million to open a regional headquarters, data center, and customer call center in Saraland, Mobile County.

"We are proud to be expanding into the Mobile area by hiring and creating more than 1,000 new jobs over the next few years," said Ryla President and CEO Mark Wilson. "Ryla applauds the governor, as well as state and local leadership, for approving incentives that fuel economic development and create employment opportunities domestically."

In addition, more than 700 jobs have come from expansion in the poultry processing industry, benefiting Russellville, Franklin County, as well as Coffee County, with additional projects throughout the state in software development, biodiesel, and injection molding.

 
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