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2006 Gold Shovel Awards

Both domestic and foreign firms are continuing to invest in the United States, creating jobs and bolstering the economies of the states recognized by Area Development's premiere Gold and Silver Shovel awards.

Area Development Special Presentation (Jun/Jul 06)
(page 2 of 4)
Silver Shovel Winners
Under 3 Million Population

"Receiving the Silver Shovel award underscores why Idaho is the best place in the country - and therefore the world - to live, work, and operate a business," says Idaho Commerce & Labor Director Roger B. Madsen. "The Idaho legislature has reinforced our progressive business climate with several incentives designed to maintain our low business operating costs and strengthen our broadband connectivity, work force training, community development, science and technology, and international trade programs." This probusiness climate helps to win new projects, including those that follow:

Wisconsin-based Marathon Cheese broke ground on its new $27 million Mountain Home plant last October. The facility should be completed this fall and eventually employ 550 people. The company currently packages about one million pounds of cheese daily at two plants in Wisconsin and one in Mississippi. Also impacting Idaho's diary industry, Gossner Cheese completed a $25 million Swiss cheese factory at the Burley/Heyburn Industrial Park in October 2005. Gossner will ultimately purchase over one million pounds of milk per day from southern Idaho dairy farmers.

And, Buck Knives first rolled product off the assembly line February 2005 at its new headquarters in Post Falls. Faced with increasing utility and workers' compensation costs in San Diego, management relocated the headquarters and all production to Idaho in an effort to literally save the company. The firm constructed a 128,000-square-foot facility, investing $10 million in the project and employing nearly 250 workers.

"We are pleased to be recognized by this award for our success in becoming partners with companies expanding in the state of Iowa," says Mary Lawyer, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. "Iowa is committed to creating new jobs in advanced manufacturing; life sciences; and insurance, financial services, and information solutions."

For example, fast-growing Nationwide Mutual Insurance has broken ground in Des Moines on a 286,000-square-foot addition to its Locust Street building. In the near future, the company will start construction of a freestanding building directly west of the headquarters. The company has committed $142 million to a multi-phase expansion that will add 656,000 square feet of space and create about 1,600 jobs overall.

Additionally, Farmland Foods Inc. is constructing an $81 million, 165,000-square-foot addition to its pork-processing facility in Denison, expected to add 219 new jobs when completed, and Genencor International (a division of international biotech company Danisco, based in Copenhagen) has begun a $35 million expansion at its Cedar Rapids plant.

"Over the past few years, we have seen our state's economy turn around and steadily improve. We have had growth for the past 24 out of 26 months. This is good news for Kansas and the economy. Our strategy is simple: we work to retain the jobs and industries we already have, attract new businesses, and keep our economy strong and growing," says Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Examples of some key projects that qualified Kansas for a Silver Shovel award are as follows:

Infonxx hired 500 people last year when it opened its Wichita call center and plans on hiring about 840 more in 2006/07. The firm answers 411 information calls for cell and landline phone customers. Company officials say they chose Wichita for the $16.36 million investment because the building was available and the work force was ready to start as well as "dedicated and genuine." They also liked that fact that local call center managers invited them for visits, and treated them not as competitors but as members of the community.

And General Motors (GM) invested $200 million to expand its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City last year, a move that will also add 280 jobs to its work force of 3,000. GM cited cooperative relationships with regional governments and labor unions - and a successful track record with the plant - as to why Kansas City was a strong candidate for expansion activity. Local government officials committed $146 million in revenue bonds and five years of tax abatements to help sweeten the deal.

Rhode Island
"Since 2003, over $5 billion of new private investment activity has been recently completed, is under construction, or has been announced for Rhode Island," says Saul Kaplan, acting executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. "This is a profound expression of confidence by the private sector in Rhode Island's economic future."

For instance, GTECH Corporation has a new $80 million, 210,000-square-foot headquarters in Providence. It will be home to 500 employees and generate over $20 million in annual taxes for the city.

Additionally, Bank of America opened a new contact center last year in East Providence to mainly serve its consumer customers. It will create 900 new jobs. Anne Finucane, president of the bank's Northeast Market, says her company has been "extremely impressed" with the qualified work force. "The forward-thinking business environment, combined with the skill levels found in the region and particularly this state, is conducive to expanding and enhancing our service capabilities for the benefit of customers located across our geographic footprint."
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