Hot United States FDI Sectors: Advanced Manufacturing
Mark Crawford (Location USA 2012)
Improved technology and cutting-edge engineering can be applied to almost every type of manufacturing industry today. Foreign companies are finding plenty of opportunities to invest in manufacturing across the country, including steel fabrication, advanced materials, information systems, semiconductors and electronics, alternative energy, chemicals and plastics, heavy equipment, appliances, and rubber products.
German company SGL/BMW is building a $100 million plant in Moses Lake, Washington, to manufacture a special carbon fiber material for BMW's "Megacity" vehicle. The carbon fiber will be shipped to Germany, where the vehicle will be manufactured. The incentive package includes $200,000 to cover training costs for new workers.
In the U.S. Heartland, Canadian company Bombardier Learjet is expanding its manufacturing facilities in Wichita, Kansas, to build the company's newest business jet - the eight-passenger, intercontinental Learjet 85. The plant will cost about $50 million and employ up to 600 workers. Kansas provided Bombardier with $27 million in bond financing to keep the plane's assembly in Wichita.
With its long history of manufacturing excellence, transportation infrastructure, and skilled work force, the Southeast also continues to attract foreign investment in diverse sectors. In Louisiana, Africa-based Sasol North America will construct a $175 million gas-to-liquid tetramerization unit in Westlake - the first of its kind in the world. Nearby in Iberville Parish, Shintech Louisiana LLC (Japan) is undertaking a $1.3 billion expansion of its PVC manufacturing operations, creating 80 new jobs. Incentives include Louisiana FastStart work force training assistance and eligibility for industrial tax exemption and enterprise zone programs.
Alabama has also scored several big projects, including China-based Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube, which will build a $100 million copper tube plant in Thomasville, resulting in 300 jobs. In return, the city will give Golden Dragon a 50-acre parcel that includes a $1.5 million, 50,000-square-foot building that the city constructed in 2009 to attract business investment. Thomasville will also spend about $300,000 to extend water and sewer connections. Golden Dragon is the first recruited Chinese company to build a new plant in Alabama, thanks in part to a new state bill that gives non-U.S. businesses with an investment project of more than $100 million and at least 100 local jobs tax reductions or exemptions from the state.
"This is the first, but it will not be the last, Chinese company that comes to Alabama," promised Governor Robert Bentley. "Alabama needs more jobs, especially well-paid jobs, and we hope to create those with the help of Chinese enterprises. Hopefully we can attract Golden Dragon's main clients and raw materials providers. I'm also expecting more cooperation between China and Alabama in biotech - many Chinese enterprises are doing well in this sector. In these days of global economy, we need to do our best to erase trade and investment barriers, rather than working on our own."