Attracting big investment projects in a weak economy requires quick recognition of the site location needs of corporations, plus quick responses to shape competitive incentive packages - at local, regional, and state levels. It is often outstanding communication and the willingness to find common ground that win companies over. Time is always of the essence, too - companies want to finish the deal quickly so they can take advantage of lower material, land, and construction costs in this down economy.
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 2008 (only those projects that actually "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 - Tennessee, which achieved the highest weighted overall score, is the recipient of Area Development's 2009 Gold Shovel Award.
Commenting on this honor, Tennessee's Governor Phil Bredesen said, "We have maintained our focus on creating the infrastructure and work force to attract higher skilled, better paying jobs for Tennesseans despite these challenging economic times, and this recognition by Area Development is evidence our efforts are yielding success. The business expansions and new companies we've recently welcomed to our state have favorably positioned Tennessee for the next generation of new jobs and increased growth."
Silver Shovel Awards go the "runner-up" states, which were ranked according to three population categories (greater than 10 million, 5-10 million, and less than 5 million). An overview of the accomplishments of all the winning states is presented below, and the accompanying charts highlight the 10 projects each of the award-winning states submitted for consideration.
Tennessee Wins the Gold Shovel Award
In recent years Tennessee has been on everybody's radar. In fact, from July 2008 to February 2009 alone, Tennessee landed more than $3 billion in new investments. And in 2006, the state was awarded a Silver Shovel in our premiere report. More
2009 Silver Shovel Awards Over 10 Million Population
Michigan, a bastion of the automotive industry, is working hard to diversify its economic base, with new investments in alternative energy, the life sciences, and military support industries. Pennsylvania has also jumped on the alternative energy bandwagon and garnered some significant investment in distribution facilities. Texas, always an economic powerhouse, saw major 2008 investments in the petroleum industries as well as plastics and textiles. More
2009 Silver Shovel Awards 5 to 10 Million Population
Among a field of many mid-size states in terms of population, these four stand out. Several auto-related companies made large investments in Georgia to supply the new Kia assembly plant in West Point, which helped Georgia to garner our Gold Shovel in 2007. North Carolina's Research Triangle Park is seeing expansions in medical devices production, and Indiana also has some new life sciences projects. Virginia's 2008 investments run the gamut from aircraft engines to furniture manufacturing. More
2009 Silver Shovel Awards Under 5 Million Population
The only state with a population under 3 million to win a shovel, Arkansas is home to numerous new manufacturing facilities in the alternative energy and energy services sectors. Home to Mercedes and GM plants, Alabama continues to see auto-related investments, as does BMW's home, South Carolina. More