ArizonaArizona enjoys an economy that is growing around all manner of new-era industries including information technology, bioscience, and business services. While the state’s economy actually wasn’t outperforming the nation’s in 2014, a recent forecast calls for Arizona job growth to accelerate from 1.7 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent in 2015, and eventually to 2.8 percent by 2017. Most of the job gains during the period are expected in service-providing sectors, particularly trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality. These four sectors alone are expected to account for 68.3 percent of net job growth during the next three years and will help keep the state’s economy strongly diverse and forward-looking.
In 2014, Arizona’s biggest economic development wins reflected this diversity. Among the biggest jobs announcements were the 1,300 positions that are expected as Zenefits invests nearly $14 million to build a new, 100,000-square-foot hub in Scottsdale to service the cloud-based human-resources technology company. Zenefits began hiring in late 2014 after selecting the Greater Phoenix area for its “talented workforce and an expanding tech community,” said Parker Conrad, CEO and co-founder of Zenefits, according to a state press release. And, in September, Tractor Supply Company broke ground in Casa Grande for a new 650,000-square-foot distribution center for the nation’s largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain, an $88 million investment that is expected to create 267 jobs.
2014 Top Projects: Arizona
Population: 6.67 Million
|1.||Zenefits (Your People, Inc.)||Scottsdale||N||1,300||$13.6 million||Business Services|
|2.||Asurion||Phoenix||N||800||$12 million||Business Services|
|3.||Orion Health||Scottsdale||N||500||$6.1 million||IT/Div. Hdqtrs.|
|4.||Sturm, Ruger & Co.||Prescott||E||390||$50 million||Small Arms|
|5.||Weebly, Inc.||Scottsdale||N||460||$1.2 million||Information Tech|
|6.||Knight Transportation, Inc.||Phoenix||E||400||$14.7 million||Transportation/Warehousing|
|7.||Tractor Supply Co.||Casa Grande||N||267||$88 million||Distribution/Warehousing|
|9.||Shutterfly||Tempe||N||183||$41.6 million||Photo Printing|
|10.||EGS Corp.||Tucson||N||650||$452,000||Business Services|
IndianaThe Hoosier State drew ire from some CEOs in the spring of 2015 as “progressive” businesses reacted to Indiana’s clumsy enactment of a religious-liberties law that was interpreted by gay-rights activists as a discrimination threat. The controversy clouded another year of remarkable gains by the state that arguably has become the leading state in the Midwest for effective economic development. Last year, for instance, Indiana enacted its largest-ever state tax cut, and in early 2015 placed its corporate income tax on a reduction schedule to 4.9 percent. Ranking No. 6 in the latest Chief Executive “Best States for Business” list, Indiana was the highest-placing state from the nation’s traditional manufacturing belt.
Yet Indiana keeps gaining mainly by securing more economic development commitments from its traditional industries, which include manufacturing and, considering its location along the East-West corridor, distribution. For example, Toyota announced a $100 million expansion of its Princeton assembly plant that is expected to provide 300 new jobs for people making the hot-selling Highlander SUV. It will bring Toyota’s total investment in Indiana to $4 billion. Meanwhile, another big win was GE Aviation’s announcement of an investment of $100 million in a new jet-engine facility in Lafayette that is to create 200 jobs. By early 2015, General Electric already had upped its plans by an extra $15 million and 30 more jobs and had begun hiring.
2014 Top Projects: Indiana
Population: 6.54 Million
|1.||Hat World, Inc.||Indianapolis||N||758||$21.8 million||Distribution/Hdqtrs.|
|1.||Ulta, Inc.||Greenwood||N||537||$51.6 million||Distribution Center|
|1.||GE Aviation||Lafayette||N||200||$100 million||Aircraft Engines|
|1.||Lowe’s Homes Centers, LLC||Indianapolis||N||1,000||$20.5 million||Customer Support Center|
|1.||Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc.||Princeton||E||300||$100 million||Automotive|
|1.||Tate & Lyle||Lafayette||E||10||$90 million||Food Processing|
|1.||Maplehurst Bakeries||Lebanon||E||219||$77.8 million||Food Products|
|1.||TOA (USA), LLC||Mooresville||E||220||$72.1 million||Motor Vehicle|
|1.||Fukai Toyotetsu Indiana Corp.||Jamestown||N||195||$73.6 million||Metal Stamping Parts|
|1.||Alcoa (Howmet Castings & Services)||LaPorte||E||329||$100 million||Nonferrous Foundry|
WisconsinThe Badger State is in the midst of a remarkable run up the economic development ladder of visibility. Under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has emerged as a model of fiscal progress and new thinking for a former Rust Belt state whose economy had ossified a bit. Wisconsin began 2015 by becoming America’s 25th right-to-work state, ensuring its place in more siting decisions than before, and continued its recent march up the “Best States/Worst States” rankings by Chief Executive to No. 12 for 2015, two notches higher than a year earlier. Walker told Area Development that one of his main goals for 2015 is “attracting more foreign direct investment in Wisconsin,” partly by taking trade missions to Europe and Asia.
Wisconsin’s biggest economic development wins in 2014 bespoke an economy that remains heavily reliant on gains in its traditional strengths, heavy manufacturing and food processing. They included Schreiber Foods’ announcements of a total of nearly $120 million in two new and existing facilities for cheese-making, totaling more than 300 additional jobs, as well as a $40 million expansion announcement of Pace Industries’ aluminum-castings plant in Grafton. But the biggest listed Wisconsin announcement of 2014 was Meijer’s commitment to build a $146 million distribution center in Pleasant Prairie to support the Michigan-based supercenter retailer’s ambitious expansion into America’s dairy land. Hiring began in March for the first four Meijer stores in the state.
2014 Top Projects: Wisconsin
Population: 5.74 Million
|1.||Meijer Pleasant||Prairie||N||256||$146 million||Distribution|
|2.||SHINE Medical Technologies, Inc.||Janesville||N||141||$88 million||Medical Isotopes|
|3.||Schreiber Foods, Inc.||Green Bay||N||160||$87 million||Dairy Products|
|4.||Niagara Bottling||Pleasant Prairie||N||76||$75 million||Bottled Water|
|5.||Insinkerator||Racine & Kenosha||E&N||1,062||$65 million||Garbarage Disposals|
|6.||TRANE, Inc.||La Crosse||E||496||$62 million||Centrifugal Chillers|
|7.||Agropur||Weyauwega||E||168||$55 million||Dairy Products|
|8.||Pace Industries||Grafton||E||187||$40 million||Aluminum Castings|
|9.||United Natural Foods, Inc.||Prescott||N||314||$37.5 million||Distribution|
|10.||Schreiber Foods, Inc.||Richland Center||E||150||$30 million||Dairy Products|
2015 Gold Shovel Awards: The Winning States
- South Carolina
2015 Silver Shovel Awards
12+ Million Population Category
- New York
8 to 12 Million Population Category
- North Carolina
3 to 5 Million Population Category
Under 3 Million Population Category
2015 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Projects of the Year
|Solar City||Buffalo, NY||3,000||$5B|
|General Electric||Cincinnati, OH||1,400||N/A|
|Volkswagen of America||Chattanooga, TN||2,200||$600M|
|Giti Tire||Chester County, SC||1,700||$560M|
MethodologyArea 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 2014 (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 — five states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Area Development’s 2015 Gold Shovels in five population categories: 12+ million, 8+ to 12 million, 5+ to 8 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2015 Silver Shovels.