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2013 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Kansas Awarded Gold Shovel

Area Development Magazine Special Presentation (Q2 / Spring 2013)

Texas - 10+ Million Population Category Texas is far ahead of the game when it comes to economic recovery, according to the latest statistics from the office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts. "Employers are looking at the recent recession through a rear-view mirror," according to the office's "Economic Outlook." The report continues, "Texas replaced all of its recession-hit jobs by December 2011." By March 2013, the state's unemployment rate had dropped to 6.4 percent, more than a percentage point below the national average - it's been below the national average for more than 75 consecutive months now. The state's gross domestic product was up by 3.2 percent last year, well ahead of the national growth rate.

TOP 2012 INVESTMENT PROJECTS

Texas

Fueling the way toward the Lone Star State's Gold Shovel award has been the energy sector, along with chemicals, IT, and other varied sectors. Austin is the home of one of the latest Projects of the Year - Apple's new IT operations center and its 3,600-plus jobs - as well as an 800-job Visa IT center. Another 2,600 jobs come by way of headquarters expansions at Ericsson in Plano and Southwest Airlines in Dallas. When it comes to oil and chemicals, that's where the really big-dollar investments come into play - they're all in the billions of dollars.

Texas has quite a top-10 list - with investments worth more than $11 billion and some 8,000 new jobs. And there's a lot more where that came from. As Gov. Rick Perry proclaimed at a recent business event, "Texas' economy has become the envy of the nation."

Georgia - 5+ to 10 Million Population Category If you ask an economist to tally the state's gross domestic product in current dollars, you'll find that Georgia has weathered the recent economic storm quite well, and much better than average. Its GDP dropped only one year (2009), and since then has grown at an average annual clip of 3.8 percent. That's some solid performance, but not surprising for a Gold Shovel winner. In delivering the most recent economic outlook late last year, Dean Robert Sumichrast of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia predicted the state would outpace the national economy this year, as it often has. "There are two main reasons. First, the massive restructuring of the state's private sector is now complete. Our real estate bubble is in the past. The second reason is the opening of several large relocation and expansion projects, which will provide a tailwind to Georgia's economic growth," he explains.

TOP 2012 INVESTMENT PROJECTS

Georgia

The biggest project is actually a collection of pharmaceutical manufacturing projects from Baxter that add up to a billion-dollar investment and 1,800 new jobs. Caterpillar is not far behind, though, constructing a great economic success story with projects that will create 1,400 jobs. And the fast-growing auto industry is an engine of Georgia growth, too, worth a thousand new jobs at the Kia plant, plus a total of 1,200 more at Toyota Industries and a pair of suppliers. The cream of the crop here is a diverse list that also includes floor coverings, food processing, and distribution.

Alabama - 3+ to 5 Million Population Category Planes, ships, and automobiles. They are the economic movers most responsible for earning Alabama a Gold Shovel. "Transportation equipment manufacturers will be responsible for much of the output and job gains," report economists at the Center for Business and Economic Research in The University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Commerce. A thousand jobs from European aerospace giant Airbus in Mobile, another 1,000 in Mobile pledged by shipbuilder Austal USA, and nearly 900 joining the automaking and engine-building payroll at Hyundai. Not to mention another 650 at two auto suppliers that made the state's top 10 list.

TOP 2012 INVESTMENT PROJECTS

Alabama

Given that boost, the economists expect to see 2.0 percent growth in GDP this year, similar to what happened last year. If the state ends the year 10,000 to 15,000 jobs richer, as the economists expect, that will be a bit stronger than job growth in 2012. Of course, it's not just transportation behind the growth. On the manufacturing side, new plants producing copper tubing and biomedical products are bringing prosperity. So are expansions in financial services, customer contact operations, plus a new coal-mining project.

There's been good news, for sure, but also some room to grow, according to an analysis from J.P. Morgan Chase. "Alabama's economy is supported somewhat by the reviving motor vehicle industry," the analysis notes. Now, the report says, the housing market needs more momentum to help speed up the recovery.

Kansas — Under 3 Million Population Category Unemployment should continue to edge downward in Kansas this year, according to the latest forecasts from experts at Wichita State University. The rate has been lower than the national average for some time, and employers are expected to add some 24,000 jobs this year, increasing total employment by 1.8 percent.

TOP 2012 INVESTMENT PROJECTS

Kansas

The state’s Gold Shovel performance comes through the announcements of a wide range of projects. One of the biggest is in software development and is worth more than 700 jobs. That would be a development in Lenexa from Perceptive Software, maker of process and content management software. “The Perceptive Software campus at Lenexa City Center will be an ideal place for our team to continue to develop the innovative products and solutions that make a difference for our global customers,” Perceptive Software’s President and CEO Scott Coons observed at last year’s groundbreaking.

But in Kansas, there is no single sector that dominates the top-10 list, which of course is every governmental official’s dream. For example, a sports apparel expansion adds more than 600 jobs, as does a new pharmaceutical operation. More jobs come in the brokerage services business, even more in mortgage banking, and still more in insurance. Customer service for those using cloud computing services means jobs for Kansans, as do apparel manufacturing and distribution operations.

2013 Gold Shovel Awards: The Winning States

  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Kansas
Read More

2013 Gold Shovel Awards: Projects of the Year

Project Location Jobs Investment
Apple, Inc. Austin, TX 3,635 $304M
Samsung Semiconductors San Jose, CA 2,000 $300M
Baxter Internationa Atlanta, GA 1,800 $1B
Nissan North America Smyrna/Decherd, TN 2,200 $325M
GE Consumer & Industrial Louisville, KY 1,214 $649.8M
Xactware Solutions Inc. Orem, UT 859 $130M
Read More

MethodologyArea 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 2012 (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 - four states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Area Development's 2013 Gold Shovels in four population categories: 10+ million, 5+ to 10 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2013 Silver Shovels.

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