Georgia received a Gold Shovel award in 2007 and Silver Shovels in 2009, 2010, and 2011. According to Georgia State University, Georgia's GDP grew by 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. This year is expected to be a little slower - about 2 percent - but that won't stop the number of big projects going forward in the sectors of healthcare, professional and business services, warehousing and distribution, and manufacturing (especially automotive).
Mando Corporation, a South Korea-based automotive parts supplier, is building a $200 million facility (426 jobs) in Meriwether County to produce electric power-steering gears and anti-lock brakes. "This project will add to west-central Georgia's successes in the automotive and manufacturing sectors," says Chris Cummiskey, the Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "We're committed to being a competitive place for companies like Mando to do business."
Porsche Cars North America also recently announced plans for a $100 million headquarters complex in Atlanta, creating approximately 100 jobs over the next three years. Located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the building will include a technical service and training center.
Logistics is also experiencing good growth. Lowe's is building a $125 million distribution facility in Rome - it's fourth distribution facility in Georgia - and FedEx Ground's $55 million, 215,000-square-foot logistics center in Norcross that will be able to process 15,000 packages per hour is under way.
"Enhancing FedEx Ground's distribution capability in the Southeast is critical to increasing the size and efficiency of our network," says Robert Holcombe, vice president of the southern region for FedEx Ground. "Our new facility is evidence of the Southeast's increased presence in the distribution and logistics business."
Michigan received a Gold Shovel award in 2011 and Silver Shovel awards in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Michigan's economy continues to outpace the U.S. economy when it comes to job creation. From the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter 2011, 1.4 million jobs were created in the United States (a 1.1 percent gain); over that same time period, 69,000 jobs were created in Michigan, a gain of 1.8 percent. Key sectors driving investment and job growth are education and health services, construction, and manufacturing. In fact, almost 30,000 new jobs were added in Michigan's manufacturing sector in the second and third quarters of 2011 - led, of course, by the automotive industry.
In Warren, General Motors will invest $130 million to build an enterprise data center at its technical center campus, which will reduce operating costs and consolidate IT infrastructure. "This new facility will support the tools we need to design, build, and sell our vehicles through digital applications enabling all business functions," says Terry Kline, GM vice president and CIO. "The cooperation between GM, the Warren community, and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority made this investment possible."
Magna Electronics Technology is also expanding its operations in Grand Blanc Township. The $64.8 million investment (385 workers) will increase the company's production of rear-view cameras used in vehicles.
And Plasan Carbon Composites will construct an $18 million facility in Walker to produce lightweight, advanced automotive parts using an innovative carbon fiber processing technology (202 workers). "We chose West Michigan because of its close proximity to our customer base and to the technology center," says Jim Staargaard, president of Plasan. "This area also provides a work force with high-end manufacturing experience."
North Carolina received Silver Shovel awards in 2009 and 2011. Long known as a manufacturing state, North Carolina's economic success is heavily dependent upon the performance of its diverse manufacturing industries. Manufacturing generates about 20 percent of the state's annual GDP. Key sectors are automotive, aerospace, defense, heavy equipment, biotechnology, chemical processing, solar technology, and food processing.
Economic growth is expected to be about 2 percent in 2012 and manufacturing - especially automotive - plays a key role. For example, in Surry County, Pittsburgh Glass Works is constructing an $85 million facility to produce windshields, door windows, and sunroofs for the automotive industry. Celgard, a leading supplier of specialty membranes used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, will invest $105 million to expand its production capacity in Concord, hiring an additional 250 employees over the next two years.
"Celgard is an innovative North Carolina company that is helping us realize the promise of a greener economy," says Governor Bev Perdue. "We are able to create these green-collar jobs because we have invested in education and built an educated, skilled work force."
North Carolina is also known for its information and communications technology (ICT) sector. For example, Red Hat, a leading provider of Linux and open-source technology, will invest $109 million in a new headquarters building in Raleigh, adding more than 500 jobs over the next five years. State officials estimate the total economic impact of Red Hat's expansion at $1.5 billion. "North Carolina has been a strategic partner to Red Hat for more than a decade," says Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. "The talent base we have here has been phenomenal."
Ohio received a Silver Shovel award in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio led the nation in February job growth with 28,300 jobs, beating out Texas and New York. Ohio's credit rating marks were also upgraded for the first time in nearly five years, with all three major rating agencies assessing the state as "stable." Key industries are biomedicine, energy, automotive, plastics, aerospace, food processing, and ICT.
Manufacturing is on the upswing. The oil shale boom in Ohio and other parts of the country, combined with increased automobile production, is putting Ohio steel operations into overdrive to meet the demand. Republic Steel is investing $57.4 million to expand its operation in Lorain, Ohio, adding about 450 jobs. And ArcelorMittal in Cleveland recently announced it would restart its operations, increasing production capacity by almost 500,000 tons and hiring about 150 workers.
Ohio also has a long tradition of automotive manufacturing. Chrysler Group will spend nearly $600 million at its Toledo assembly complex to make the new model Jeep, adding 1,100 jobs by late 2013. Ford Motor Company is planning an expansion that will relocate a truck-assembly operation from Mexico to Avon Lake in 2013. "We've chosen to invest in Ohio because there is a very skilled, knowledgeable, and competitive work force here," says Jim Tetreault, vice president of North American manufacturing for Ford. He indicates that tax credits were "instrumental in the company's business decision to in-source work from Mexico."
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Silver Shovel Awards
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Projects Of the Year
GM Spring Hill Manufacturing
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Area 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 2011 (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 2012 Gold Shovels in four population categories: 9+ million, 5+ to 9 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2012 Silver Shovels.