Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina Awarded 2009 Silver Shovels in the Less than 5 Million Population Category
Mark Crawford (June/July 09)
Arkansas - A skilled work force, solid infrastructure, and generous incentives have attracted manufacturers to Arkansas for decades. Manufacturing industries include aerospace/aviation, automotive assembly, food production, steel, life science, and alternative energy.
Nordex USA, a manufacturer of wind turbines, is locating its U.S. manufacturing operations in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Nordex will invest approximately $100 million in the new facility, creating 700 jobs. "This new plant is a key pillar in our international strategy," said Nordex CEO Thomas Richterich. "It will enable us to come closer to our objective of generating 20 percent of our revenues in the United States."
New York-based Nice-Pak Products is also setting up in Jonesboro; the company is building a $40 million manufacturing plant that will employ 300 people. Nice-Pak manufactures premoistened wipes for a variety of uses through its consumer, commercial, healthcare, and contract divisions.
Further development is taking place in Paragould, Arkansas, where Axis LLC - a joint venture between American Railcar Industries (ARI) and Missouri-based Amsted Industries - is constructing a 135,000-square-foot, $75 million axle manufacturing facility. The plant will produce axles for railcars and "have no equal in North America," according to Jim Cowan, COO for ARI.
Alabama - About a dozen Alabama cities including Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Florence, and Gadsden - all key manufacturing and assembly centers - were recently named by Forbes as some of the best places in the country to do business. In Gadsden, for example, Pennsylvania-based Keystone Foods is more than doubling its operations by investing $118 million in a new facility and adding 150 new jobs. The new plant will process chicken and beef for the restaurant industry.
Stankiewicz International is spending $16.4 million to locate an 85,000-square-foot regional manufacturing plant in Vance, Alabama, to produce automotive components for Mercedes and General Motors. Stankiewicz chose the Alabama site because of the proximity to its customers, as well as generous state and county tax incentives and training programs.
And as part of a new strategy for improving customer service and efficiency, The Home Depot is building a $33 million distribution center in McCalla, Alabama. The 657,000-square-foot facility will eventually employ 400 people. The project received about $2.2 million in county tax breaks.
South Carolina - Also in the Southeast, South Carolina continues to support its long-established core industries as it builds its high-tech industries such as biotech, alternative energy, IT, and telecommunications.
Alorica, a leading customer-service management firm, is teaming up with Samsung Networks America to create Samsung Networks' North American customer care center in Mauldin, South Carolina. The $24 million project will create 1,000 new jobs over the next several years.
Online career and recruitment company Monster hopes to find success at its new state-of-art customer service center in Florence, South Carolina. The $28 million operation is part of an initiative to bring more customer support in-house. "Florence is an ideal location because it's a rapidly developing labor market with the talent we need to bring best-in-class service to our customers," said executive vice president Art O'Donnell.
And Shaw Industries Group, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, is investing about $60 million to boost its polymer chip production in Lexington County. "With the aid and support of Lexington County and South Carolina economic development personnel, we were able to complete development and approval of this project quickly and effectively," said Richard Stuckey, regional director for Shaw Industries Group.