Georgia Georgia has one of the steadiest economies in the South, thanks to its diversity and state-led workforce development program. Most key industries have shown steady growth, including aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, data centers, energy, food processing, IT, life sciences, financial services, telecommunications, and headquarters.
More than 250 automotive-related facilities operate in Georgia. About 20 percent of all East Coast automotive exports leave through Georgia’s ports, averaging $9.5 billion a year. Big announcements in 2015 include Mercedes-Benz USA selecting the Atlanta region for its new $74 million headquarters. Vanguard National Trailer Corporation, a leading semi-trailer manufacturer based in Indiana, will invest $30 million in a new manufacturing facility in Trenton. NIFCO KTW, a German automotive supplier of injection-molded components, will locate its first U.S. operation in Toccoa, providing parts to BMW and Mercedes-Benz USA.
2015 Top Projects: Georgia
Population: 10.25 Million
|1.||Kaiser Permanente||Atlanta||N||900||$22.3 million||Health IT|
|2.||Mercedes-Benz||Sandy Springs||N||800||$74 million||Headquarters|
|3.||Lincoln Financial||Sandy Springs||N||600||$20 million||Regional Headquarters/Call Center|
|4.||VXI Global Solutions||College Park||N||570||$1.8 million||Call Center|
|5.||Suniva, Inc.||Norcross||E||500||$96 million||Solar Headquarters|
|6.||ADP, Inc.||Augusta||E||450||$20 million||HR Management Systems|
|7.||Vanguard National Trailer Corporation||Trenton||N||400||$30 million||Tractor Trailers|
|8.||Sandler AG||Perry||N||140||$86 million||Nonwoven Textiles|
|9.||NIFCO KTW||Toccoa||N||200||$27 million||Automotive|
|10.||National Beef Packing Company||Moultrie||E||200||$9 million||Food Processing|
“Local and regional connectivity is the basis for our success in Germany and we strive to do the same in the U.S. We would like to offer our qualified and motivated employees pleasant and attractive surroundings. In the City of Toccoa, we have found the perfect partner in North America for this goal,” says NIFCO KTW Managing Director Roland Furtmayr.
The greater Atlanta region continues to show strength as an IT/financial center and preferred location for headquarters operations. Atlanta has added a significant 77,000 jobs over the past year, accounting for roughly 60 percent of total job gains in the state. Corporations with world headquarters in the Atlanta MSA are Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, Delta Air Lines, and Turner Broadcasting. Newcomers in 2015 include Lincoln Financial ($20 million, 600 workers), Kaiser Permanente ($22.3 million, 900 workers), and Suniva ($96 million, 500 workers).
Michigan Michigan’s unemployment rate — once the worst in the nation — was one of the best in 2015 and is expected to continue to drop in 2016 and 2017. Job growth is largely related to booming auto manufacturing. The state unemployment rate for 2016 is expected to be below 5 percent.
2015 Top Projects: Michigan
Population: 9.92 Million
|1.||Clemens Food Group||Coldwater||N||810||$255.7 million||Food Processing|
|2.||ZF North America, Inc.||Northville||N||606||$71.2 million||Automotive|
|3.||Brose North America||New Boston||E||475||$97.6 million||Automotive|
|4.||Magna International of America, Mimco Inc.||Plymouth Township||E||466||$59.2 million||Automotive|
|5.||Forest River Manufacturing LLC||White Pigeon||N||396||$7.1 million||Automotive|
|6.||Sakthi Auto Group USA||Detroit||E||350||$31.9 million||Automotive|
|7.||MOVE Systems||Grand Rapids||N||318||$4.5 million||Alternative Energy|
|8.||Notions Marketing Corporation||Grand Rapids||E||250||$33 million||Warehouse/Distribution|
|9.||Magna Cosma International||New Hudson||N||250||$56.1 million||Automotive|
|10.||ARAUCO North America||Grayling||N||250||$313.1 million||Wood Products|
Almost half of Michigan’s manufacturing output is related to the auto industry. Light vehicle sales for September 2015 were reported to be 18.1 million units — at the time the best month for light vehicle sales since July 2005. Continued growth in this category should sustain this momentum through 2016. Impressive announcements include ZF North America, which plans to build a $71.2 million, 210,000-square-foot technology center in Northville Township for the design, development, and testing of vehicle components and systems.
Michigan’s automotive industry is not just about cars. Indiana-based Forest River Manufacturing, a producer of recreational vehicles, has selected White Pigeon, Michigan, for a $7 million manufacturing plant. The new facility will require 396 employees over the next five years.
And ARAUCO North America will build the largest continuous press particleboard mill in North America in Grayling. The $313 million project will produce 424 million square feet of panels per year. “This investment will improve the logistics of our entire manufacturing footprint and support the growth of our customers in the Midwest,” says ARAUCO North America President Kelly Shotbolt.
Other manufacturing sectors with significant capital investments include food processing (Clemens Food Group, $255.7 million, 810 workers), alternative energy (MOVE Systems, $4.5 million, 318 workers), and warehousing/distribution (Notions Marketing, $33 million, 250 workers).
North Carolina North Carolina has always had one of the strongest and most diversified economies in the South — a mix of traditional industries and knowledge-based sectors. Traditional industries such as agriculture, textiles, and furniture are still going strong. For example, Ashley Furniture plans to build a new $8.7 million facility in Davie County and hire 454 workers over the next five years.
2015 Top Projects: North Carolina
Population: 10 Million
|1.||Novo Nordisk||Johnston County||E||691||$1.2 billion||Pharmaceuticals|
|2.||Iberdrola Renewables||Pasquotank County||N||10||$600 million||Wind Farm|
|3.||Butterball, LLC||Hoke County||N||367||$66.8 million||Food Products|
|4.||Sanderson Farms||Robeson County||N||1,100||$139 million||Food Products|
|5.||Fidelity Investments||Durham County||E||600||$10 million||Business & Financial Services|
|6.||Ashley Furniture Industries||Davie County||N||454||$8.7 million||Furniture|
|7.||Lidl Stiftung||Alamance County||N||200||$125 million||Warehouse/Distribution|
|8.||Dimensional Fund Advisors||Mecklenburg||N||316||$105 million||Business & Financial Services|
|9.||O’Neill Data Systems||Union County||N||250||$90.7 million||Business & Financial Services|
|10.||Republic Services||Catawba County||N||455||$6.8 million||Business Services|
In the food processing industry, Butterball, the largest producer of turkey products in the U.S., will undertake a $66.8 million expansion of its operations in Hoke County and create 367 new jobs over the next three years. In Robeson County, Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms plans to build a $139 million processing plant and hatchery, creating about 1,100 new jobs during the next three years. “When a strong, successful company like Sanderson Farms brings this number of new jobs to North Carolina, especially a rural community, it is a game-changer,” states North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
North Carolina is also home to a number of high-tech industries; in fact, North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park is a long-enduring model for high-tech cluster development. Key industries are aerospace, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, energy, and finance/IT. One of the biggest announcements is Novo Nordisk’s $1.2 billion expansion of its bio-manufacturing operations in Johnston County, where it will hire nearly 700 new workers. Business and financial services projects include O’Neill Data Systems ($90.7 million, 250 workers), Republic Services ($6.8 million, 455 workers), and Fidelity Investments at Research Triangle Park in Durham County ($10 million, 600 workers).
“Fidelity has found North Carolina to be a great place to grow,” says Joan Vinas, senior vice president and North Carolina regional leader for Fidelity Investments. “More than half of our North Carolina employees are building careers in technology, operations, and customer-facing positions, and we plan to hire more of the state’s diverse and talented workforce.”
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.