Published June 27, 2012
ATLANTA — Southeastern states dominated Area Development magazine’s 2012 Gold and Silver Shovel awards for excellence in economic development.
Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina earned Gold Shovels, while North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi picked up silvers.
The magazine, which covers corporate site selection and facility planning, noted that projects announced during the year brought “high-value-added new jobs as well as investment” to the states.
“Our annual Shovel Awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities,” the magazine’s editors said. “The Gold Shovels are presented annually to the states that have achieved the most success in terms of new job creation and economic impact.”
Award categories were based on state’s populations: 9 million or more; 5 million to 9 million; 3 million to 5 million; and less than 3 million.
Here’s a look at what the magazine had to say about the winners:
Job growth was sparked by the energy sector, which includes oil and gas exploration and refining, and manufacturing. Manufacturing highlights includes M&G Group’s plans to invest $900 million in a plastics plant in Corpus Christi, which will create 250 jobs; and General Motors’ announcement to invest $331 million in the expansion of a truck plant in Arlington.
Some of the past year’s major announcements include: GM’s investment of $235 million in its Spring Hill plant, creating 2,350 jobs; Mitsubishi Electric Power Products’ investment of $200 million in large power transformer manufacturing facility in Memphis, creating 200 jobs; NYX’s plans to invest $23 million in a facility in Linden, creating 400 jobs; and Ireland-based C&F Group plans to locate a $12.5 million plant in Kingsport, creating 450 jobs.
The editors said automotive production in the state rose 52% percent in 2011. The year also had major expansions announced at BMW in Spartanburg County ($100 million investment, 100 jobs), and ZF Group in Laurens County ($80 million investment, 300 jobs). The magazine’s editors also noted the state’s growing reputation as being one of the top tire-making states.
The Peach State had 10 projects that combined created nearly 4,000 jobs and more than $800 million in investment. One of the biggest deals was South Korea-based Mando Corp.’s plans to build a $200 million facility and create 426 jobs in Meriwether County. The plant will produce electric power-steering gears and anti-lock brakes.
Manufacturing generated about 20% of the state’s annual gross domestic product. Leading sectors include aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, green energy and heavy equipment. One of the top deals was Celgard’s announcement to invest $105 million and expand capacity at its Concord facility. Celgard makes specialty membranes used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, said the project will create l 250 jobs.
Professional and business services have gained 12,200 jobs. Manufacturing announcements included International Paper’s plans to invest $83 million in Isle of Wight County, as well as emerging high-tech sectors.
In 2011, major automotive deals included Mercedes Benz’s announcement to invest $289 million and create 1,000 jobs in Vance and Topre America’s investment of $109 million in Cullman that will create 250 workers. Carpenter Technology Corp. said it will build a $500 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Athens that will employ 203. The plant will produce premium alloy products for the aerospace and energy industries.
The state, which produces 10% of all vehicles made in the United States, recorded announcements of 71 motor automotive companies to build new plants or expand their operations. The announcements represent $1.1 billion in investment and the creation of 5,000 jobs. The biggest deal was Ford’s $600 million expansion in Louisville that will create 1,300 jobs.
Shipbuilding, paper, lumber, heavy machinery, automotive, and petrochemicals, continued to drive the state’s economy. Major projects include Sasol Limited’s construction of a $10.4 billion gas-to-liquid refinery in Calcasieu Parish, which will create 850 jobs. Cheniere Energy also has a $6.3 billion refinery project under way in Cameron Parish, which will create 148 jobs.
Energy, plastics, chemicals, wood products, and steel, are major drivers of Mississippi’s economy. Although in recent years the state has welcomed businesses in aerospace, automotive, and sustainable energy. About 15% of Mississippi’s workers are employed in manufacturing, the fifth-highest per capita in the United States.