AlabamaThe state has been advancing in a major way as a locus of automotive and aerospace manufacturing over the last several years, and its biggest economic development wins of 2014 strongly reflected this important trend. For instance, the state beat out more than two dozen others to land Remington Outdoor Co.’s decision to open a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant with more than 2,000 workers in Huntsville. The iconic firearms and ammunition brand plans an investment of $110 million in a site previously occupied by Chrysler manufacturing. Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong maintained that the Huntsville area won the plant because of “our pro-business environment, along with the region’s extensive manufacturing experience.”
Meanwhile, Alabama also landed other major projects in the aerospace and automotive sectors, positioning the state’s three assembly plants to produce more than one million vehicles in 2015, which would comprise about 6 percent of the expected U.S. sales total of about 17 million vehicles this year. However, the state does have some work to do: Governor Robert Bentley is working on programs to boost career- and college-readiness in the state and to modernize incentives for job creation, while reducing Alabama’s reliance on borrowing for incentives.
2014 Top Projects: Alabama
Population: 4.83 Million
|1.||Science and Engineering Services||Huntsville||E||450||$70 million||Aerospace|
|2.||International Automotive||Anniston||E||359||$35 million||Automotive Components|
|4.||Baxter International||Opelika||E||200||$300 million||Medical Eqpt. & Supplies|
|5.||Oxford Pharmaceuticals||Birmingham||N||200||$29.4 million||Biosciences|
|6.||Regions||Birmingham||E||195||$18.6 million||Corporate Operations|
|7.||Remington Outdoor Co.||Huntsville||N||2,410||$110 million||Aerospace/Defense|
|8.||GE Aviation||Auburn||E||100||$50 million||Aerospace|
|9.||Evonik Corp.||Theodore||E||79||$113.7 million||Advanced Mfg./Chemicals|
|10.||Honda Mfg. of Alabama LLC||Lincoln||E||150||$71.8 million||Automotive|
KentuckyKentucky is one of a number of states in the nation’s heartland that has been benefiting from the boom in U.S. auto sales and the general expansion of American vehicle exports. Four of its top economic development wins in 2014 stemmed from car output, including Ford’s decision to invest another $209 million into its longstanding assembly plant in Louisville, generating an additional 650 jobs there. Other auto projects include Quiver Ventures’ plans to invest more than $150 million to create 80 jobs initially in a plant in Bowling Green to make aluminum panels for vehicles. Not only will it comprise the single-largest capital investment in the region in more than a decade, but the aluminum capacity will tap right into the nascent industry trend to use aluminum to “light-weight” vehicles, signified by Ford’s new F-150 pickup truck.
Kentucky is also one of the leading locations in the country for the aging-care sector. Kindred Healthcare plans to build a six-story facility in downtown Louisville that will consolidate several company operations, creating 500 new jobs. “This expansion will allow us to significantly increase the training and educational opportunities in Louisville for many of our employees, as well as enhance their clinical expertise,” explained Kindred CEO Benjamin Breier upon making the expansion announcement. Meanwhile, Kentucky also introduced the idea of “home rule” for the right to work, late in the year in Warren County. The Bluegrass State has yet to adopt a statewide right-to-work rule.
2014 Top Projects: Kentucky
Population: 4.39 Million
|1.||Ford Motor Co.||Louisville||E||650||$209 million||Automotive|
|2.||Quiver Ventures, LLC||Bowling Green||N||80||$155.9 million||Aluminum|
|3.||TPUSA, Inc.||Louisville||N||750||$13.3 million||Customer Service|
|4.||Faurecia Seating||Simpsonville||N||410||$18.7 million||Automotive|
|5.||Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc.||Louisville||E||500||$35.7 million||Healthcare Hdqtrs.|
|6.||eBay Enterprise||Walton||E||354||$52 million||E-Commerce Distribution|
|7.||TeeSpring, Inc.||Hebron||N||299||$21.9 million||Apparel|
|8.||Diageo Americas Supply, Inc.||Bagdad||N||31||$115 million||Distilled Spirits|
|9.||Champion Petfoods USA, Inc.||Auburn||N||147||$85.3 million||Food Mfg.|
|10.||Metalsa Structural Products, Inc.||Elizabethtown||E||247||$70.4 million||Automotive|
LouisianaLouisiana has gotten the attention of site selectors as never before. In a decade since Hurricane Katrina and under business-minded Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana has “demonstrated that even a state with entrenched bureaucracy and a poor tax structure can improve its appeal when determined to change its policies,” as Chief Executive put it. As a result, Louisiana climbed to No. 7 in the magazine’s 2015 list of “Best States for Business” from No. 9 in 2014.
In fact, as 2015 dawned, in the energy industry’s biggest retrenchment in the United States, Sasol — the South African state oil company — delayed an expansive $14 billion project in southwestern Louisiana to make diesel out of natural gas. But downstream processing remains more insulated against the oil-price fall than the exploration business, and downstream is where most of Louisiana’s business lies. In 2014 the state got announcements of major new investments in that area from Yuhuang Chemical, which plans to invest $1.9 billion in a methanol plant in St. James Parish, bringing 400 jobs, and a $1.2 billion project for making fertilizer by AM Agrigen Industries in St. Charles Parish, offering 150 jobs.
The biggest success for Louisiana’s economy, however, has been diversification, and 2014 punctuated that strength. Computer Science Corp., for example, broke ground on a new technology center in Bossier Parish, which represents a $34 million investment and is expected to produce 800 jobs, while CGI announced a $13 million technology center in Lafayette Parish that is expected to create 400 jobs.
2014 Top Projects: Louisiana
Population: 4.62 Million
|1.||Computer Science Corp. (CSC)||Bossier Parish||N||800||$34 million||Technology Center|
|2.||CGI||Lafayette Parish||N||400||$13.1 million||Technology Center|
|3.||Yuhuang Chemical||St. James Parish||N||400||$1.9 billion||Methanol|
|4.||4th Source||Jefferson Parish||N||320||$100,000||Software/IT Operations|
|5.||IntegriCo Composites||Webster Parish||N||300||$20 million||Plastics Products|
|6.||Perficient, Inc.||Lafayette Parish||N||245||N/A||Software Development|
|7.||AM Agrigen Industries||St. Charles Parish||N||150||$1.2 billion||Fertilizer Mfg.|
|8.||Cheniere Energy||Cameron Parish||E||120||$6 billion||Industrial Gas (LNG)|
|9.||Venture Global LNG||Cameron Parish||N||100||$4.3 billion||Industrial Gas (LNG)|
|10.||Castleton Commodities Int’l.||Plaquemines Parish||N||50||$1.2 billion||Methanol|
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
5 to 8 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.