Alabama was Area Development's premiere Gold Shovel recipient, and the state's economy continues to expand. Alabama exports sizzled in 2006, growing from $10.7 billion to $13.8 billion, a jump of almost 30 percent. The increase was driven by a hot manufacturing sector, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries. Auto parts manufacturer HS Automotive Alabama, for example, has begun construction on a $23 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion of its factory in Enterprise, which will result in 500 new jobs.
Aerospace Integration Corporation (AIC) will build its 100,000-square-foot Aircraft Completion Center at Albertville Municipal Airport. The $12 million facility will assemble and "missionize" new helicopters for both U.S. military and civil aviation customers.
"This facility, and the 300 new jobs it creates, would not have been possible without the total commitment and daily involvement of both the State of Alabama and the City of Albertville," comments AIC CEO George Gonzalez.
Automotive, metal fabrication, food products, machine tools, and plastics are well-established manufacturing sectors in Kentucky. Nippon Piston Ring Company is locating its newest manufacturing facility, NPR Manufacturing Kentucky LLC, in Bardstown. The $48.7 million Japanese investment will result in the creation of about 150 jobs. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority will grant up to $4 million in tax benefits to the company.
Kentucky's efforts to attract knowledge-based companies through its New Economy initiatives are also paying off. For example, GSI Commerce Solutions Inc., is locating a 540,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Richwood that will ultimately create more than 500 new jobs. "We chose northern Kentucky because the region has a qualified and available work force, a facility that meets our requirements, and the state also provided attractive economic benefits," says GSI Commerce Executive Vice President Bob Wuesthoff.
Missouri's manufacturing strengths include wood products, automotive, and warehousing and distribution. Kelsey-Hayes, a subsidiary of TRW Automotive, is utilizing an 84,180-square-foot facility in Fenton for a "just-in-time" assembly operation to serve DaimlerChrysler in Fenton. Kelsey-Hayes plans to employ 100 workers and estimates the capital investment for the project at $12 million. And a new distribution center for Green Bay-based Schreiber Foods will be established in Carthage. The company is investing $80 million in the project, which will result in 50 new jobs.
Information technology is another rapidly growing sector in Missouri, with about 4,000 IT firms established in the state. Cingular/AT&T has started construction on a state-of-the-art, 75,000-square-foot customer care center in Joplin. The facility will bring approximately 600 new jobs to the area and have an estimated economic impact of more than $25 million. Additionally, National Asset Recovery Services, a global IT firm, has opened its first facility in Cape Girardeau, which will ultimately employ nearly 500 people.
Manufacturing is a key economic driver in Wisconsin, especially automotive, heavy machinery, metal fabrication, biotechnology, lumber, and food processing. Bremner-Ripon Foods, Inc. will receive $3 million in Enterprise Development Zone (EDZ) tax credits to help fund a $7 million upgrade and expansion of its Ripon plant. The project will create 100 new jobs over the next two years.
Another food leader, Kettle Foods, which makes the number-one selling brand of natural potato chips in the country, is building a 70,000-square-foot facility in Beloit. The $18 million plant will employ at least 100 workers who will process 50 million pounds of Russet potatoes annually, boosting overall company production by 50 percent.
And Direct Supply Inc., a rapidly growing supplier to the nursing home industry, is spending nearly $70 million to add 500,000 square feet to its headquarters in Milwaukee. The project includes constructing seven multistory buildings that will connect the nine existing buildings on the company campus. The company plans to initially hire 1,000 workers to staff the new facilities.