It's not easy attracting big, multimillion (or billion!) dollar investment projects. Site-location competition is intense, especially from emerging second- and third-tier cities eager for tax dollars. And with the wobbly economy, companies interested in relocating or expanding expect to be courted by local, regional, and state economic development organizations - often it's the combined cooperation of all three, plus company-specific incentives, that seal the deal.
Area Development's Annual Shovel Awards recognize the economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes, and promotions that attract employers and investments in new and expanded facilities. The Gold Shovel is presented annually to the state that has achieved the most success in terms of job creation and economic impact. For the Silver Shovel awards, states are compared only to other states in their tier based on population. Here's how the data was collected and analyzed: Each of the 50 states was invited to submit information about its top-10 job-creation and investment projects for 2007. Only those projects that materialized, i.e., made an investment, broke ground, began an expansion, commenced hiring, etc. in 2007 were considered. Based on the number of new jobs in relation to state population, the dollar amount of the investments, number of new facilities, and diversity of industry, Area Development awarded the Gold Shovel to the state with the highest weighted score overall. Silver Shovels were then awarded to the highest scorers in three population categories: over 10 million, 3 to 10 million, and under 3 million. This year the Gold Shovel is being awarded to the state of Texas, which achieved the highest weighted score. (Texas won a Silver Shovel in last year's competition).