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2011 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Investment Projects of the Year

Area Development Magazine Special Presentation (Spring 2011)
Project of the Year: Johnson Controls-Saft
Johnson Controls-Saft will build a lithium-ion battery plant in Holland, Michigan, that will employ 1,096 people and create an additional 2,000 indirect jobs. The company will spend about $220 million to convert an existing building into the lithium-ion production facility with an initial capacity of 15 million lithium-ion cells. Johnson Controls-Saft will receive a combination of tax credits and incentives from the state of Michigan totaling $148.5 million. "Battery technology is strategically important to the future of the U.S. automotive industry and the economy at large," comments Alex Molinaroli, president of Power Solutions for Johnson Controls. "This facility is a key element of our broader strategy and commitment to the hybrid vehicle industry in North America." Molinaroli previously noted that, "There is a lot of skilled labor in Holland," and. the future for Holland is outstanding."

Project of the Year: Nucor Corporation
Nucor Corporation will construct a $3.4 billion, multiphase iron and steel project in Louisiana`s St. James Parish that will employ 1,250 people. The five phases of the project include a direct reduced iron (DRI) facility (150 jobs and $750 million capital investment); a second DRI facility (100 jobs and $400 million capital investment); a pellet plant (200 jobs and $500 million capital investment); a blast furnace and coke ovens (300 jobs and $1 billion capital investment); and a steel mill (500 jobs and $750 million capital investment). Nearly 4,800 indirect jobs will also be created by 2019. Nucor evaluated several locations in the U.S. and abroad before selecting its Louisiana site.

"This is a huge win for our state and will ultimately be one of the largest industrial projects in Louisiana history," says Governor Bobby Jindal. "Nucor's decision to come to Louisiana instead of anywhere else in the nation or the world will be a tremendous economic boost for Southeast Louisiana for years to come."

Project of the Year: First Quality Enterprises
First Quality Tissue SE will invest $1 billion and create 1,000 new jobs to support its new production facility in Anderson County, South Carolina, representing the largest economic development announcement in the county's history. The construction phase will generate an immediate impact with an additional 550 jobs. The state's work force development program - called ReadySC - is assisting with hiring and training of employees for the new Anderson County facility.

First Quality selected Anderson because of the skilled labor, positive work ethic, and compatible infrastructure. "As important, however, is the pro-business environment," says Frank Ludovina, company spokesman for First Quality. "Locating in South Carolina would not have been possible without the abundant support from [the governor's office], the team at the Department of Commerce, and officials from Anderson County. We appreciate South Carolina's commitment and look forward to the years ahead."

Project of the Year: KiOR
Biofuel company KiOR announced in August 2010 that it would use its proprietary catalytic conversion process to convert biomass from a variety of feedstock into a renewable crude oil that can be refined into automotive fuel. The company is investing $500 million in five commercial plants in rural parts of Mississippi, creating at least 1,000 jobs in the state.

The first three full-scale production facilities will be located at Columbus, Newton, and another Southwest Mississippi site. About 40 percent of the jobs will be at the company's facilities, while 60 percent are projected to be in the timber industry and related sectors. The plants will process approximately 500 tons per day of wood biomass and produce over 11 million gallons of fuel per year.

"We're very excited to begin commercializing our technology throughout the state of Mississippi," said Fred Cannon, president and chief executive officer of KiOR. "These facilities will bring high-quality jobs to the area, help our country reduce its dependence on foreign oil, and position the state as a leader in the production of domestically sourced biofuels."

Big Expansions Also Equal New Jobs
Economic development agencies are aware that job retention and expansion are just as important as luring new companies to their locales. Several states are recognized for the investment, job creation, and diversity of the expansion projects taking place. Among these are:

Alabama: After winning the Multi-Vessel LCS Contract from the U.S. Navy, Austal USA Mobile will invest $160 million to expand its facilities in Mobile and hire 2,000 new workers.

Georgia: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah will expand its facilities through a $500 million, seven-year plan and hire 1,000 additional employees.

Kentucky: Ford Motor Company plans a $600 million investment at its Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) to build the next-generation Escape for the North America market and will need 1,800 new workers.


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    Methodology
    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 2010 (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 - three states achieving the highest weighted overall score are awarded Area Development's 2011 Gold Shovels. Runner-ups in three population categories - over 9 million, between 4 and 9 million, and under 4 million - are awarded 2011 Silver Shovels..
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