Texas — 12+ Million Population CategoryTexas receives the 2015 Gold Shovel award in its population group. However, for the first time in several years, the supremacy of Texas as an economic giant and a job-producing machine is being challenged. The 2014 plunge in global oil prices has slashed demand for the state’s most abundant commodity, and the Texas economy is taking a hit in employment and overall economic activity as a result. Now comes the biggest test yet of Texas’s continued leadership in U.S. job growth and economic vitality.
The early signs are promising. Once again CEOs have deemed Texas the best state in the nation for business, according to the annual survey by Chief Executive magazine. Texas moved into 2015 still leading all other states in job growth and nudging its unemployment rate down. An increasingly diverse economy that also includes manufacturing, technology, and healthcare is helping keep Texas afloat.
And thanks to its aggressive attempts to bring more companies to Texas, the state landed one of the biggest economic development prizes of 2014: the decision by Toyota’s U.S. arm to move its headquarters to northern Texas from southern California, along with 3,650 jobs, over the next couple of years.
Other big announcements included the planned addition of 1,250 jobs as 7-Eleven constructs a new headquarters in Irving, Texas, and a passel of investments by energy companies in downstream processing of oil and gas.
2014 Top Projects: Texas
Population: 26.96 Million
|1. ||Toyota Motor North America, Inc. ||Plano ||N||3,650|| $345 million||Hdqtrs.|
|2. ||7-Eleven, Inc. ||Irving ||N ||1,250 ||$56 million ||Hdqtrs.|
|3. ||ADP ||El Paso ||E||1,100 ||$41 million ||Human Resources Management|
|4. ||Active Network ||Dallas ||N ||1,000 ||$13 million ||Hdqtrs.|
|5. ||JGC America ||Houston ||N ||1,000 ||N/A ||Engineering|
|6. ||Freeport LNG ||Freeport ||N||350 ||$11 billion ||LGN Exports|
|7. ||Formosa Plastics ||Point Comfort ||E ||200 ||$2 billion ||Olefins|
|8. ||Natgasoline LLC ||Beaumont ||N ||240 ||$1.9 billion ||Methanol|
|9. ||Phillips 66 ||Old Ocean ||N||25 ||$1.5 billion ||Ethane, Propane, Butane|
|10. ||NRG Energy/JX Nippon Oil & Gas ||Thompsons ||E ||N/A ||$1 billion|| Power Plant|
Georgia — 8 to 12 Million Population CategoryGeorgia finished a very strong year in economic development in 2014 and didn’t even catch a breath in 2015 before the state landed a major new coup: stealing the U.S. headquarters of Mercedes-Benz from New Jersey, where it had been for a half-century. Along with 1,000 jobs, it’ll now move to near Atlanta.
The Mercedes-Benz jobs will add to what already is a very strong automotive sector in Georgia, which saw a 149 percent increase in investment in fiscal 2014 and a 15 percent increase in jobs in the state. In other strong sectors, Georgia saw a 57 percent increase in company investments in the aerospace industry during the fiscal year, and a 25 percent increase in jobs. In logistics and distribution, another key part of the Georgia economy, there is a 152 percent increase in investment. In fiscal 2014, 69 percent of total new projects were expansions of existing businesses, and 31 percent were from companies investing in Georgia for the first time.
Information technology also is vibrant in Georgia, and among the IT projects announced in 2014 was a $7 million headquarters of a Unisys operation that will be new to Georgia. Adding to its 23,000 jobs already in the state, Unisys has begun hiring for the 700 jobs it will create at the new facility in Augusta. Another exciting announcement was that Keurig Green Mountain would make its new cold-pod brewing systems at a new plant in Douglasville, Georgia, investing $337 million and creating 550 jobs there.
2014 Top Projects: Georgia
Population: 9.99 Million
|1. ||Unisys ||Augusta ||N||700 ||$7 million ||IT|
|2. ||Chime Solutions Inc. ||Morrow|| N ||1,120 ||$4.6 million ||Business Process Outsourcing|
|3. ||Beaulieu Int’l. Group ||Cartersville ||N ||350 ||$200 million ||Textiles|
|4. ||Acuity Brands ||Conyers ||E||700|| $16 million ||Light Fixtures|
|5. ||Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. ||Douglasville ||N ||550 ||$337 million|| Food Processing|
|6. ||The Kroger Co. ||Morrow ||N||120 ||$175 million ||Distribution|
|7. ||Fiserv, Inc. ||Alpharetta ||N||500 ||$41 million ||Financial Services|
|8. ||TSYS ||McDonough ||N ||450 ||$2.5 million ||Payment Processing|
|9. ||Castellini Foods ||Conley ||N||300 ||$51.5 million ||Food Processing|
|10. ||WorldPay US, Inc. ||Atlanta ||N||595 ||$9.6 million ||Payment Processing|
Tennessee - 5 to 8 Million Population CategoryTennessee continued to build on its credentials as a nexus of manufacturing, especially automobiles, and as a logical mid-country focus for distribution and logistics industries that has its roots in the fact that FedEx is headquartered in Memphis.
The state was ranked No. 4 in the 2015 Chief Executive list of “Best States for Business,” fresh off the momentum of the announcement of Volkswagen’s expansion of its auto plant in Chattanooga with plans to add 2,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs at the site, with an investment of $600 million. The contretemps over unionization of the plant was a reminder to other site selectors of the state’s strong anti-union culture. Tennessee’s still-growing status as an automotive headquarters also was augmented by supplier announcements, including expansion of the SL Tennessee plant in Clinton, with the investment of $80.5 million to create 1,000 jobs, and $65 million by Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors in Chattanooga, promising 300 jobs at a new facility.
Tennessee also landed three major wins in distribution and logistics, with an announced $250 million-plus in investments in three new facilities by Target, Academy Sports & Outdoors, and Under Armour, and the planned creation of nearly 2,700 jobs.
2014 Top Projects: Tennessee
Population: 6.49 Million
|1. ||Volkswagen Group of the Americas || Chattanooga|| E|| 2,000|| $600 million ||Automotive*|
|2. ||Under Armour, Inc. ||Mount Juliet|| N ||1,500|| $102 million ||Distribution/Logistics|
|3. ||SL Tennessee, LLC ||Clinton|| E ||1,000|| $80.5 million ||Automotive|
|4. ||Academy Sports + Outdoors || Cookeville ||N ||700|| $100 million ||Distribution/Logistics|
|5. ||Fresenius Medical Care ||Knoxville ||N ||665|| $140 million|| Medical Devices|
|6. ||Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC ||Nashville ||E ||607 ||$232.6 million|| Tires|
|7. ||Mohawk Industries, Inc. ||Dickson ||N ||320 ||$180 million ||Ceramic Tiles|
|8. ||Target Corp.|| Memphis|| N ||462|| $52.3 million ||Distribution/Logistics|
|9. ||Beretta USA Corp. ||Gallatin|| N ||300|| $45 million ||Aerospace/Defense|
|10. ||Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors, LLC || Chattanooga ||N ||300 ||$65 million|| Automotive|
South Carolina — 3 to 5 Million Population CategorySouth Carolina just keeps adding to its momentum in gaining manufacturing jobs, with Volvo announcing in May of this year that it would invest $500 million to build a plant in Berkeley County, S.C., employing 4,000. The factory, just outside of Charleston, will make the latest generation Volvo models for the U.S. and export markets, expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018.
In fact, job creation in the Palmetto State is expected to grow by another 1.9 percent in 2015, echoing the 2 percent increase last year, according to a University of South Carolina economist. Manufacturing job growth at giant employers such as Boeing and BMW has been fueling South Carolina’s progress. So have business-friendly policies including top-notch workforce-training programs and incentives. “South Carolina has been winning tremendous new business per capita,” says Andy Mace, managing director of Global Business Consulting, Supply-Chain Solutions, for Cushman & Wakefield. “That state is punching above its fighting weight.”
Among the major punches landed by South Carolina in 2014 were the $560 million Giti Tire plant that has broken ground in Chester County and that will employ 1,700, as well as BMW’s planned $1 billion expansion of its Spartanburg assembly complex and the addition of 800 jobs. Other major manufacturing wins included a new $1 billion carbon-fiber manufacturing plant by Toray in Spartanburg County, adding 500 jobs, and a $115 million plant by Wyman Gordon in Dillon County, yielding 400 jobs, that will supply the aerospace as well as power-generation industries worldwide.
2014 Top Projects: South Carolina
Population: 4.77 Million
|1. ||LPL Financial Holdings ||York County ||N ||3,000|| $150 million ||Broker/Dealer Service|
|2. ||The Lash Group ||York County ||N|| 2,400 ||$57.3 million ||Healthcare Services|
|3. ||Giti Tire ||Chester County|| N|| 1,700 ||$560 million ||Tires*|
|4. ||BMW ||Spartanburg County|| E ||800 ||$1 billion|| Automotive|
|5. ||Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. ||Spartanburg County ||N ||500 ||$1 billion|| Carbon Mfg.|
|6. ||Ruiz Food Products, Inc.|| Florence County ||N|| 500 ||$55 million ||Food/Packaging|
|7. ||Esurance ||Greenville County|| N ||450 ||$2.1 million ||Insurance|
|8. ||Wyman Gordon|| Dillon County|| N ||400|| $115 million ||Aerospace|
|9. ||GE Power & Water||Greenville County|| N|| 80 ||$400 million ||Mfg. Process Development/Prototyping|
|10. ||Portucel, S.A. ||Greenwood County ||N ||70 ||$110 million ||Wood Pellets|
Nevada — Fewer than 3 Million Population CategoryThe economic development coup of the early 21st century was won by Nevada in 2014 when it landed the $5 billion Tesla battery plant that promises up to 6,500 jobs over time. In a state that long has depended on boom-and-bust businesses such as mining and tourism, plopping the Tesla “gigafactory” down in the middle of the desert will ripple through the economic sands for decades.
But it’s not as if Nevada has been standing still otherwise, and it gained a number of new facilities in 2014. Some echoed Tesla’s decision, such as with the establishment of a $20 million new electric-vehicle plant in Reno by Cenntro Motor, and a $32 million plan for expansion of a lithium-ion battery plant, producing nearly 400 jobs, by K2 Energy Solutions in the Las Vegas MSA.
“We have found the Reno-Sparks market offers a diverse workforce that is rich in talent,” commented Kevin Neal, Cenntro’s U.S. VP of Operations and Human Relations, to state officials, “and we have identified a wealth of suppliers within the state that understand our commitment to delivering a cost-effective, quality product to market.”
Other decisions underscored the state’s emergence as a center of digital technology and other growing businesses. For example, drone manufacturer Ashima Devices announced a new plant in Reno with a $75 million investment that is to produce 100 jobs. And Ghost Systems has opened its $222 million new cybersecurity facility in the Reno area that is expected to fill 150 jobs.
2014 Top Projects: Nevada
Population: 2.80 Million
|1. ||Tesla Motors ||Reno MSA ||N ||6,500|| $5 billion|| Lithium Ion Batteries*|
|2. ||Switch, Inc.|| Las Vegas MSA ||N ||440|| $225 million ||Business IT|
|3. ||Ashima Devices ||Reno MSA ||N|| 100 ||$75 million ||UAVs (Drones)|
|4. ||Petco Animal Supply Stores, Inc.||Reno MSA ||N ||150|| $32.4 million|| Logistics/ Operations|
|5. ||K2 Energy Solutions Inc.||Las Vegas MSA ||E ||371|| $32 million|| Lithium Ion Batteries|
|6. ||Catamaran, LLC ||Las Vegas MSA|| N ||353|| $23.3 million|| Prescription Benefit Mgmt.|
|7. ||Cenntro Motor Corp. ||Reno MSA ||N ||300|| $20.1 million ||Electric Vehicles|
|8. ||Ghost Systems ||Reno MSA ||N ||150 ||$222.1 million ||Business IT|
|9. ||Amazon.com.kydc LLC ||Reno MSA ||N ||600 ||$10 million ||Logistics/ Operations|
|10. ||Asurion ||Las Vegas MSA|| N ||800 ||$4.4 million ||Business IT|
2015 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Projects of the Year
|Volkswagen of America
||Chester County, SC
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 2014 (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 — five states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Area Development’s 2015 Gold Shovels in five population categories: 12+ million, 8+ to 12 million, 5+ to 8 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2015 Silver Shovels.