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2012 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Utah awarded Gold Shovel

These states' innovative economic development policies attracted new employers in 2011, as well as catalyzing investments in facility and operating expansions by existing local businesses, driving significant in-state job growth.

Summer 2012
Choose from the winning states in the above tabs and hover over the markers on each state's map to see the top 2011 investment projects, creating high value-added jobs in new or expanded facilities, which lead to that state being recognized as a Gold Shovel winner.

Texas - 9+ Million Population Category
Texas has been honored every year Area Development has presented this award, winning Silver Shovel awards in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011 and a Gold Shovel in 2008. Texas continues on this winning track with some of the best job numbers in the nation: the state added 237,100 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent compared with 1.5 percent for the United States.

Texas' job growth is led by the booming energy sector and increased manufacturing. Top manufacturing projects in the state include M&G Group's plans for a new $900 million plastics plant in Corpus Christi (250 jobs) and General Motors' $331 million truck plant expansion in Arlington.

The state's energy sector is driven by oil and gas exploration and petroleum refining. For example, Kiewit Offshore Services is undertaking a $30 million expansion of its oil-rig manufacturing facility in Ingleside, and BOSTCO is constructing a $400 million, state-of-the-art black oil terminal in La Porte. In San Antonio, Halliburton is constructing a $50 million, 400,000-square-foot facility (1,500 workers) to support its exploration and production efforts in the Eagle Ford Shale.

"This is the biggest announcement San Antonio has had since Toyota," indicates Henry Cisneros, chairman of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. "It is a huge opportunity and will change the southern sector of San Antonio."

Also in San Antonio, Atento is spending $4 million to add 1,600 employees to its call center operations, and Kohl's Corp.'s $15 million expansion is creating 1,000 jobs.

Tennessee - 5+ to 9 Million Population Category

Tennessee received a Gold Shovel award in 2009 and Silver Shovels in 2006, 2010, and 2011. Its economy is benefiting from a recovery in manufacturing, especially automotive, heavy equipment, and the food and beverage sector. Several major projects - GM in Spring Hill ($235 million, 2,350 jobs), MANN + HUMMEL USA in Dunlap ($26.7 million, 204 jobs), and NYX in Linden ($23 million, 400 jobs) - are in the works. In addition, Ireland-based C&F Group is locating a $12.5 million manufacturing facility in Kingsport, creating 450 jobs over a four-year period. The new facility will be the company's first U.S. location.

"After comprehensive review of more than 20 locations in the southeastern U.S. and across several states, Tennessee was the obvious choice for our new location," indicates Tom Hyland, president of C&F Manufacturing USA Inc. "The state of Tennessee, city of Kingsport, and Sullivan County were very supportive during our location analysis process."

In the heavy equipment industry, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products is building a $200 million facility in Memphis and hiring more than 200 workers to manufacture large power transformers. "Our intention is to build the finest, most advanced transformer factory in the world, and we expect to hire the majority of the people right here in Memphis," notes Brian Heery, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products.

South Carolina - 3+ to 5 Million Population Category
South Carolina received a Gold Shovel award in 2011 and Silver Shovels in 2009 and 2010. According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, 2011 exports totaled more than $24.6 billion - a 21.4 percent increase over 2010. The top-10 export industries last year were automobiles, machinery, rubber, electrical machinery, plastics, paper and paperboard, organic chemicals, optics and medical equipment, wood pulp, and cotton fabric.

Automotive production in the state surged 52 percent in 2011. Big expansions included BMW in Spartanburg County ($100 million, 100 new employees) and ZF Group in Laurens County ($80 million, 300 jobs). South Carolina's leadership in another automotive field - tires - is less well known. In 2011 the state ranked first in the nation for tire exports, holding nearly one-third of the share of U.S.-made exported tires.

Leading tire manufacturers continue to expand. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations is investing $1.2 billion to build a 1.5-million-square-foot, off-road radial tire manufacturing plant in Aiken County, creating 850 new jobs. The company also announced an additional 474,000-square-foot expansion of its existing passenger and light truck tire plant. And Michelin North America is investing $200 million to expand its facility in Lexington County, which will require an additional 270 workers.

"South Carolina is poised to become the number-one tire producing state in the U.S., and the tires that we make here are exported all over the world," says Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America.

Utah - 3 Million or Fewer Population Category
Utah, which received Silver Shovel awards in 2007 and 2008, received its first Gold Shovel award this year. According to Forbes' "Best States for Business" report in November 2011, Utah repeated as the best state in the country to do business. Attributes include low energy costs and steady employment growth that has averaged 0.6 percent over the past five years. Utah's corporate tax rate of 5 percent is also among the lowest in the nation.

These are all key reasons why major companies are investing significant capital to open or expand facilities in Utah - especially advanced manufacturing and high-tech firms. "Utah has a young, dynamic economy with a vibrant high-tech sector," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.

Industries that are driving the Utah economy include financial services, life sciences, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and software/IT. For example, IM Flash Technologies, a global leader in flash memory technology, is investing $1.5 billion and hiring 200 new workers to expand its facility in Lehi. "Other companies that support this kind of technology are already here, making it easier for the next company to move in," says Rich Brown, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Utah. "The state's high-tech economy just keeps growing."

That would include EMC's $7.6 million expansion in Draper, where the $20 billion digital storage company just opened a 25,000-square-foot technical support center that will employ up to 500 people by the end of 2015. Also, L-3 Communications is spending about $6 million to expand its Communications Systems West division in Salt Lake City, hiring about 500 high-tech workers.

Utah is also developing a reputation for advanced materials. Hexcel, a leading manufacturer of carbon-fiber composites, will spend $650 million to expand its West Valley City operations over the next 10 years, creating more than 600 new jobs. And ITT is spending $120 million to expand its Salt Lake City composites facility, creating 2,700 jobs. Both are expanding to meet the growing demand for high-strength, low-weight components for aircraft, automobiles, and sports and recreational products.

    Silver Shovel Awards


    North Carolina








    Projects Of the Year

    GE Transportation
    Gentex Corporation
    GM Spring Hill Manufacturing
    Continental Tire the Americas
    Navistar International
    Intel Corporation
    ITT Corporation


    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.

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