California — 12+ Million Population Category California’s unemployment rate has fallen 1.2 percentage points over the past year to about 5.4 percent, driven largely by strong growth in the state’s technology and professional services sectors. The Golden State continues to attract investment for its high-tech sectors. Foreign direct investment (FDI) to the U.S. jumped by more than 30 percent in 2015, with California getting approximately one-quarter of total FDI.
As a leading life sciences and biotechnology center, California’s top clusters are located in San Francisco and San Diego. A major capital investment in this sector is BioMarin’s $50 million expansion in Novato, which will require an additional 1,600 workers. Other key high-tech sectors are electronics and aerospace, where Northrop Grumman is expanding its operations across the state ($520.3 million, 1,359 workers), and ICON Aircraft is increasing its capacity in Vacaville ($69.3 million, 509 workers).
2015 Top Projects: California
Population: 38 Million
|1.||* Tesla||Fremont||E||4,426||$2.39 billion||Automotive|
|2.||Northrop Grumman||Los Angeles County|
Santa Clara County
|3.||BioMarin||Novato||E||1,600||$50 million||Human Biotechnology|
|4.||Stri-pe||San Francisco||N||1,400||$73 million||Online Payment Processing|
|5.||Medline||Tracy||E||500||$75 million||Medical Devices|
|6.||ICON Aircraft||Vacaville||E||509||$69.3 million||Aerospace|
|7.||Applied Materials||Santa Clara||E||500||$50 million||Semiconductors|
|9.||Hyundai Capital||Fountain Valley||E||310||$105 million||Auto Financing|
|*An Automotive Project of the Year|
When it comes to high-tech automotive manufacturing, look no further than Tesla’s enormous $2.39 billion, 4,426-employee planned expansion in Fremont, where the latest manufacturing technologies will be employed. Innovative, high-precision equipment will also be required for semiconductor production when Applied Materials completes its $50 million expansion in Santa Clara, hiring 500 workers.
With its ports and interstates, California is also a prime logistics and distribution location. Medline Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies and services, has started construction on its $75 million, one-million-square-foot distribution facility in Tracy. And QVC plans to build a $40 million, 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse in Ontario, its first West Coast distribution center.
Ohio — 8+ to 12 Million Population Category Ohio is steadily coming back from the Great Recession. The state’s annual employment growth rate last year was about 2 percent, thanks in part to growth in the manufacturing sector, which contributes nearly $100 billion to the Ohio GSP. Key manufacturing sectors are small appliances, steel, and automotive.
2015 Top Projects: Ohio
Population: 11.61 Million
|1.||Vadata/Amazon||Dublin, Hilliard, New Albany||N||120||$900 million||Information Services & Software|
|2.||*Amazon.com||Etna Township, Village of Obetz||N||2,000||$180 million||Fulfillment Centers|
|3.||ADVICS Manufacturing Ohio Inc.||City of Lebanon||E||260||$150 million||Automotive Parts|
|4.||Fuyao Glass America||Moraine||E||750||$130 million||Automotive Windshields|
|5.||D-MAX, Ltd.||Moraine||E||150||$96 million||Automotive Engines|
|6.||Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Inc.||Mason||E||100||$80.8 million||Automotive Parts|
|7.||Kroger Co.||Blue Ash||E||649||$46 million||Grocery Administration|
|8.||GOJO Industries, Inc.||Wooster||N||244||$43 million||Sanitation Products|
|9.||NuVasive Manufacturing||West Carrollton||N||195||$35 million||Surgical Instruments|
|10.||Big Heart Pet Brands||Orrville||N||400||$34 million||Pet Foods|
|*An E-Commerce Project of the Year|
Northeast Ohio is home to many auto assembly and auto parts plants because of easy access to steel, glass, and rubber. Ohio produced more than 1.5 million cars and trucks last year at six different assembly plants across the state. Forecasts suggest that automotive employment will increase 19 percent by 2024.
Major automotive projects include ADVICS Manufacturing Ohio, which is spending $150 million to expand its Lebanon operations to produce electronic parking brakes, requiring an additional 260 workers. Fuyao Glass America is undertaking a $130 million expansion and adding 750 workers at its Moraine facility for increased production of automotive windshields. D-MAX is also undergoing a $96 million expansion of its diesel engine-related manufacturing plant in Moraine to provide products for General Motors and Isuzu, hiring 150 more workers.
Other important economic sectors in Ohio with big investments in 2015 are food processing, IT, distribution and logistics, business services/administrative support, and advanced manufacturing sectors such as aerospace and biomedical. For example, after looking at sites in Tennessee, Texas, and overseas, global medical device company NuVasive decided to establish a $35 million operation in West Carrollton, creating nearly 200 new jobs.
Tennessee — 5+ to 8 Million Population Category The year 2015 was literally the best year on record for economic development in Tennessee. The state landed 161 company commitments totaling $5.5 billion in investment capital, calling for more than 25,000 new jobs. About 40 percent of that investment came from foreign countries, led by Japan, Canada, and China.
2015 Top Projects: Tennessee
Population: 6.55 Million
|1.||Community Health Systems Inc.||Nashville||N||1,500||$66.2 million||Business Services|
|2.||* Nissan North America, Inc.||Smyrna||E||1,000||$160 million||Automotive|
|3.||Aegis Sciences Corporation Inc.||Nashville||E||740||$31.1 million||Forensic Sciences|
|4.||Ryder Supply Chain Solutions||Spring Hill||N||606||$16.5 million||Trucking|
|5.||Advanced Munitions International||Alcoa||N||605||$553 million||Headquarters|
|6.||FICOSA North America||Cookeville||N||550||$57.9 million||Automotive Parts|
|7.||Gestamp Corporation||Chattanooga||E||510||$180.2 million||Automotive Parts|
|8.||DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.||*Maryville||E||500||$400 million||Automotive Parts|
|9.||Morgan Olson||Loudon||N||500||$45 million||Vans|
|10.||Lifetime Products Inc.||Knoxville||N||500||$115 million||Kayaks|
Many of these projects are in the manufacturing sector. Automotive is the top manufacturing industry in the state, employing more than 100,000 workers — accounting for about one third of all Tennessee manufacturing jobs. The biggest automotive project announced in 2015 is Nissan North America’s $160 million expansion in Smyrna. Also, FICOSA North America is building a $58 million facility in Cookeville, where it plans to hire 550 new workers. Gestamp Corporation, a European automotive supplier, will invest another $180 million and add 510 jobs at its Chattanooga operations, making chassis components for VW. Also, DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee is expanding its automotive components plant in Maryville, Blount County, investing $400 million and creating 500 jobs.
Manufacturing includes more than just automotive in Tennessee — companies such as Whirlpool, Electrolux, Eastman Chemical, and Delta Faucet have major operations in the state. One state asset in particular — Oak Ridge National Laboratory — attracted Advanced Munitions International, which plans to build a $553 million global headquarters and state-of-the-art munitions manufacturing facility in Alcoa, hiring 605 workers. And afer a year researching East Coast locations, Lifetime Products Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor equipment, has decided to open a new $115 million manufacturing facility in Knoxville that will employ about 500 people.
Manufacturers also depend on a strong transportation system and logistics/distribution support. Ryder Supply Chain Solutions will expand its warehousing and transportation operations in Spring Hill, investing $16.5 million and creating 606 new jobs in Maury County.
South Carolina — 3+ to 5 Million Population Category Employment grew 3.3 percent in South Carolina in 2015, thanks to increased output from key industry sectors, especially aviation and automotive. Both Volvo Car Group and Mercedes- Benz Vans plan to build $500 million manufacturing operations in the Charleston area that combined will employ nearly 3,800 workers.
2015 Top Projects: South Carolina
Population: 4.83 Million
|1.||* Volvo Car Group||Berkeley||N||2,500||$500 million||Automotive|
|2.||Red Ventures||Lancaster||E||1,500||$90 million||Call Center/Marketing|
|3.||* Mercedes-Benz Vans Manufacturing, LLC||Charleston||N||1,300||$500 million||Automotive|
|4.||Rite Aid Corporation||Spartanburg||N||600||$90 million||Distribution Center|
|5.||Dollar Tree||Cherokee||N||400||$104.4 million||Distribution Center|
|6.||Schaeffler Group USA Inc.||Chesterfield/Spartanburg/York||E||443||$166.8 million||Ball & Roller Bearings|
|7.||Haier America Refrigerators Company||Kershaw||E||410||$72 million||Refrigerators|
|8.||Carolina Poly, Inc.||Chester||N||300||$100 million||Polyethylene Film|
|9.||Akebono Brake Corporation||Lexington||E||100||$40.5 million||Brakes|
|10.||Orchids Paper Products Company||Barnwell||N||134||$110 million||Paper Products|
|*An Automotive Project of the Year|
This also means that many of the more than 200 automotive suppliers in the state are in growth mode. For example, Schaeffler Group USA is investing $166.8 million to expand its ball and roller bearings manufacturing plants in Chesterfield, Spartanburg, and York counties, eventually hiring 443 workers. Akebono Brake Corporation is expanding its existing Lexington County operations, investing more than $40 million in the project, which will create 100 new jobs in West Columbia, Lexington County.
Thanks to its interstates, rail systems, and the Port of Charleston, the second-largest container port on the U.S. Atlantic Coast, South Carolina is a preferred location for distribution and logistics operations. Target, Walgreens, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, and QVC all have distribution systems in South Carolina. Recent announcements include Rite Aid Corporation in Spartanburg ($90 million, 600 workers) and Dollar Tree’s plans to build a $104.4 million distribution facility near Spartanburg that will hire 400 workers over the next five years.
“Dollar Tree has been extremely impressed with the South Carolina transportation infrastructure that will support our new distribution center,” states Dollar Tree Chief Logistics Officer Stephen W. White. “The current Interstate 85 widening project and the efficiencies associated with the Greer Inland Port were instrumental in our site selection process.”
Nevada — Fewer Than 3 Million Population Category Nevada has struck gold twice — not only with its robust mining industry, but its diversified economy. Most private-sector industries are adding jobs — over 50,000 new jobs are expected in 2016, bringing the state back to its pre-Great Recession employment levels. Key industries are agriculture, aerospace, IT, energy, logistics, mining, and manufacturing. Impressive projects announced for 2015 include business support, financial services, automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing, and data centers.
2015 Top Projects: Nevada
Population: 2.83 Million
|1.||Teleperformance||**Reno||N||500||$7.2 million||Business IT Ecosystems|
|2.||Scientific Games||Las Vegas||N||202||$5 million||Gaming/Entertainment Headquarters|
|3.||Barclays Services||Henderson||E||150||$8.2 million||Financial Services|
|4.||Switch, Ltd.||**Reno||N||50||$1.7 billion||Data Center|
|5.||Machine Zone, Inc.||Las Vegas||N||78||$50 million||Data Center|
|6.||* Faraday Future||North Las Vegas||N||4,500||$1.4 billion||Automotive|
|7.||Sutherland Global||Las Vegas||N||230||$5.4 million||Business Process Outsourcing|
|8.||Xtreme Manufacturing LLC||Henderson||E||87||$12.7 million||Heavy Equipment|
|9.||eBay, Inc.||**Reno||N||50||$341 million||Data Center|
|10.||Clear Capital||**Reno||N||400||$1.7 million||Headquarters/Digital Real Estate Analytics|
|*An Automotive Project of the Year|
Expanding its high-tech presence in Nevada, Switch, a Las Vegas company, announced plans for a $1.7 billion, three-million-square-foot data center near Reno. It will be connected to the main Switch campus in Las Vegas via a new fiber loop, which will also extend to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Switch clients include global giants such as eBay, Google, Cisco, and Microsoft.
Access to Switch was a key factor in game manufacturer Machine Zone’s decision to locate a $50 million data center in Las Vegas. It plans to purchase up to 4,000 servers, which will be housed at Switch. “We examined multiple locations throughout the western states and decided to locate our operations into the best data center in North America,” says Machine Zone Chief Legal Officer Victoria Valenzuela.
Real estate data analytics company Clear Capital is moving its headquarters from Truckee, Calif., to Reno, with plans to employ 400 workers and pay an average salary of more than $60,000 per year. And another California-based company — futuristic, electric carmaker Faraday Future — made headlines with its purchase of land in North Las Vegas on which it would build a 900-acre factory employing 4,500 workers. Ground was broken on the 3.4 million-square-foot facility in April.
Utah — Fewer Than 3 Million Population Category Most experts expect Utah to show the same robust economic performance it displayed in 2015, when Utah was one of the top states in the U.S. for job growth. Major economic development projects in 2015 include solar energy, IT, transportation equipment, financial services, healthcare, and aerospace.
2015 Top Projects: Utah
Population: 2.94 Million
|1.||* SolarCity||Utah County||N||4,000||$94 million||Headquarters|
|2.||* Vivint Solar||Utah County||N||3,143||$91 million||Regional Headquarters|
|3.||EMC Corporation||Salt Lake County||E||700||$62 million||IT|
|4.||Stadler Rail||Salt Lake County||N||1,001||$30 million||Rail Vehicles|
|5.||Prosper||Salt Lake County||N||539||$10 million||Financial Services|
|6.||Procter & Gamble||Box Elder County||E||200||$400 million||Consumer Goods|
|7.||CHG Health||Salt Lake County||E||503||$9.2 million||Healthcare Headquarters|
|8.||RAM Company||Washington County||E||139||$11 million||Aerospace|
|9.||Health Equity||Salt Lake County||E||200||$10 million||Healthcare Headquarters|
|10.||Health Catalyst||Salt Lake County||N||291||$7.6 million||Healthcare Headquarters|
|* A Solar Project of the Year|
Much of Utah’s growth has been driven by significant investment in IT, including computing, data analytics, and software development. Technology jobs grew 7.7 percent in Utah last year. EMC Corporation, for example, is investing $62 million and hiring 700 new workers for its operations in Draper to focus on cloud computing, big data analytics, and security.
Utah has always attracted headquarter locations and expansions. SolarCity recently announced plans to open a regional corporate headquarters, investing $94 million over the next 10 years and creating about 4,000 jobs, as did Vivint Solar, which will spend $91 million on a 3,100+-employee regional headquarters facility.
The state is also drawing healthcare headquarters, including an expansion for Health Equity ($10 million investment, 200 workers) and a new facility for Health Catalyst ($7.6 million investment, 291 workers) in Salt Lake County.
“We feel the region is one of the best places in the U.S. today to operate as a healthcare technology company,” indicates Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst. “We are grateful that Utah is working with private companies like Health Catalyst to nurture an even stronger environment for innovation and job growth.”
2016 Gold Shovel Awards: The Winning States
- South Carolina
2016 Silver Shovel Awards
12+ Million Population Category
8 to 12 Million Population Category
- North Carolina
5 to 8 Million Population Category
3 to 5 Million Population Category
Under 3 Million Population Category
2016 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Small Cities’ Projects of the Year
|Liberty Mutual Insurance||Plano, TX||5,000||$355M|
|Capital One Financial||Plano, TX||1,200||$35M|
|Mars Candy||Joliet, IL||500||$130M|
2016 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Automotive Projects of the Year
|Polaris Industries||Huntsville , AL||2,000||$140M|
|Tesla||Fremont , CA||4,426||$239B|
|Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.||Lafayette, IN||1,204||$140.2 M|
|Ford Motor Co.||Louisville, KY||2,000||$1.3B|
|Faraday Future||North Las Vegas, NV||4,500||$1.4B|
|Volvo Car Group||Berkeley, SC||2,500||$500M|
|Mercedes-Benz Vans Manufacturing, LLC||Charleston, SC||1,300||$500M|
2016 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Solar Projects of the Year
|SolarCity||Utah County, UT||4,000||$94M|
|Vivint Solar||Utah County, UT||3,143||$91M|
2016 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: E-Commerce Projects of the Year
|Amazon||San Marcos, TX||1,000||$191M|
|Amazon.com||Etna Township, Village of Obetz, OH||2,000||$180M|
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 2015 (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 — six states achieving the highest weighted overall scores were awarded Area Development’s 2016 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 were awarded 2016 Silver Shovels.