Posts by: Economic Development

Hino Motors Announces $55M Expansion in Marion, AR

Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. (HMMUSA) announced that it will expand its manufacturing facility in Marion, Arkansas.

Hino Motors Manufacturing USA - HMMUSA

HMMUSA (photo –

The $55 million expansion project is expected to create 200 new jobs at the facility.

HMMUSA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan-based Hino Motors, Ltd. and is a Toyota Group Company.

HMMUSA manufactures trucks, in addition to supplying parts to Toyota. Hino broke ground on the 400,000-square-foot Marion plant in Arkansas in 2004, and began production in 2006.

It is a stamping and component manufacturing facility. Before this latest $55 million expansion announcement, Toyota has invested more than $241 million for establishing the plant.

The Marion faclity, which has a production capacity of around 300,000 units per year, already has more than 750 employees working in two shifts.

This new expansion will add to the facility’s capacity to manufacture knuckles, axles and suspension components for Toyota models such as Sequoia, Tacoma and Tundra.

Hino General Manager Ed Rowlett said the company appreciates the support they have received from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the City of Marion. He said both had been outstanding partners, going back all the way to the initial site selection meetings in 2004, and continuing throughout without fail.

The Hino expansion project was secured with the help of $1.2 million in incentives that will be provided to the City of Marion for infrastructure improvements associated with the project.

Hino is additionally getting sales tax refunds on their construction material and equipment purchase costs, and a payroll tax rebate on the new jobs being created.

Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman said they appreciated Hino’s investment in the City, and their confidence in the business environment. He added that Hino had been a model corporate citizen, and looked forward to a relationship that was even stronger going forward.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said that when he first took office, Arkansas was struggling to provide an adequate workforce for Hino’s new plant, so it was gratifying that the company was now expanding again. Gov. Beebe said Hino’s continued investment in Marion, and the company’s commitment to the city and to Arkansas, show how far the workforce has come.

Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. has its headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. They have a truck manufacturing facility in Williamstown, West Virginia, a component manufacturing facility in Ontario, California and a parts distribution center in Mira Loma, California.

Walmart Announces New Fulfillment Centers in TX, PA

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced the opening of two new fulfillment centers in Fort Worth, Texas and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for filling online orders.

Walmart Fullfillment center

Walmart Fullfillment center (photo –

The 800,000-square-foot Fort Worth center has already started shipping orders, and will create 275 new full-time jobs.

The Fort Worth facility will be run by Brentwood, Tennessee-based supply chain management solutions provider OHL.

The Bethlehem center, scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014, will have more than a million square feet and will be Walmart’s biggest fulfillment center yet.

The Bethlehem fulfillment center will be run directly by Walmart itself, and will employ 350 full-time Walmart associates.

Apart from the 625 full-time positions created in Texas and Pennsylvania combined, Walmart will additionally add another 600 seasonal jobs at these two centers.

These two centers expand Walmart’s ability to allow seamless shopping across mediums including online, mobile and at physical stores. Customers can order online and accept delivery at their doorstep, or pick up the item at a store, usually on the same day.

In the past two years, Walmart’s delivery speed has increased by 15 percent while the delivery costs have dropped by 10 percent because of the way the company has optimized its shipping process through various fulfillment centers.

They have developed a custom algorithm that figures out which location would be best suited to fulfill an order based on the customer’s address and the item ordered. The two new fulfillment centers in Texas and Pennsylvania will further improve the efficiency of this system.

Texas Governor Rick Perry thanked Walmart for deciding to expand in Texas. He said it was good business for Walmart and good business for the State, and serves as proof that the Texas economy is booming and will continue growing.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett likewise congratulated Walmart for choosing Pennsylvania for this critical expansion. Gov. Corbett said that as Walmart moves ahead with its e-commerce business expansion, his administration would ensure that the Lehigh Valley and all of Pennsylvania would continue to be a part of that growth.

Walmart expects its global e-commerce sales to exceed $10 billion in FY 2013. It’s still only a small part of Walmart’s total FY 2013 sales of around $466 billion. Walmart has 10,800 stores operating under 69 different banners in 27 countries, and employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.

Ubisoft Announces $362M Consolidation in Montreal

Montreuil-sous-Bois, France-based video game maker Ubisoft announced that it will consolidate its American operations for online games in Montreal, Quebec.


Ubisoft (photo –

The consolidation will require Ubisoft to spend $373 million CAD over the next seven years.

Over the same period, Ubisoft will hire another 500 employees in Montreal, pushing up the total number of employees at their Quebec studios to 3,500 by 2020.

Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat said that the expertise of Ubisoft’s Quebec studios has been at the heart of the company’s success and growth in the past 15 years.

Ubisoft Co-Founder and CEO Yves Guillemot said this announcement allows Ubisoft to anticipate future growth needs with the objective of strengthening the company’s proximity to players and creating value for them.

The government of Quebec helped secure the consolidation project for Montreal by offering Ubisoft $9.9 million CAD in financial assistance.

In addition to the cash incentive, Quebec also announced changes to the tax credit for production of multimedia titles. Eligibility criteria have been expanded to include the development of online multimedia titles, development of a community of users of a multimedia title, and technical services to the community.

This means that online video game makers such as Ubisoft will now be eligible for the tax break. Furthermore, Quebec abolished the 36-month time limit for eligible production work, recognizing that updates may be needed for multimedia titles even after the final version was released.

Quebec Minister of Finance and Economy Nicolas Marceau said it was time to adjust this tax measure to the business model of this innovative industry, and added that the 36-month time limit was abolished to reflect the continuous nature of new games.

Jean-François Lisée, Minister responsible for the Montreal region, said the Ubisoft project reflects the company’s deep commitment towards Montreal and Quebec. Lisée added that the project will contribute to the creation of specialized jobs, and to the gaming industry’s growth in Quebec.

Ubisoft has a network of 26 creative studios in 19 countries. The company employs more than 8,350 people across 29 countries. More than 7,000 of these employees are dedicated to production activities. Last year, Ubisoft generated sales in 55 countries worth a total of €1,256 million.

U.S. EDA Services Shutdown With Government Employees Furloughed

Starting 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct 01, 2013, the United States government went into a partial shutdown because Congress was unable to reach an agreement on passing a funding bill.

Government shutdown

Government shutdown (photo –

As a result, hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the board, including those working for the Department of Commerce, have been indefinitely furloughed pending passage of the funding bill.

The Department of Commerce has 46,420 employees, of which 87 percent (40,234) have been furloughed. This includes the 169 employees working for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

As per Commerce’s plan for an orderly shutdown (published Sept 27, 2013), many agencies that come under Commerce, including the EDA, Bureau of Economic Analysis,  Minority Business Development Administration, International Trade Administration and the Economics and Statistics Administration, will all cease offering their services and activities for the duration.

As long as the shutdown is ongoing, there will be no assistance and support provided to recipients of federal grant funding. No new grants will be issued during the shutdown, and existing grant obligations that are due will also not be paid out.

Pending approval of FY 2014 appropriations, no EDA employee other than the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer is required to work more than half a day for not more than three days to implement the orderly shutdown.

Other federal agencies have been hit even worse by the shutdown, if that’s possible. More than 90 percent of the Department of Education’s workforce has been furloughed, and if the shutdown continues beyond a week, they will have to furlough a full 94 percent (3,983 employees out of 4,225).

The Department of Energy is holding on to 1,113 employees out of a total of 13,814. The Department of the Interior has shut down the national parks, and is keeping on only 13,797 of its 72,562-strong workforce. People still camped out in the parks are being asked to leave within 48 hours.

The worst-hit agency is the EPA, which is holding to a bare 3.85 percent of its workforce, or 613 out of 16,205 employees.

A one week shutdown is expected to cost the U.S. economy around $10 billion.

Hyundai Dymos to Establish Manufacturing Plant in West Point, GA

South Korea-based automobile industry supplier Hyundai Dymos Inc. is planning to establish a new manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia for supplying its sister company Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG).

Hyundai Dymos

Hyundai Dymos (photo –

The $35 million project near the KMMG facility in West Point is expected to create 350 new jobs.

Hyundai Dymos makes axles, seats and manual transmissions. This particular new facility they are setting up in West Point will be making seats to be used in the Kia Sorento.

This is the first Hyundai Dymos manufacturing plant in the U.S., although they do have an R&D center in Detroit, Michigan, and existing manufacturing plants in Mexico and Brazil.

The new plant in Georgia will be ready by July 2014. The company expects to begin hiring early next year, and will start production by November 2014.

Jun Mo Yoon, representative director of Hyundai Dymos, explained that they chose West Point because it provides proximity to their customer base. He also mentioned the extraordinary support and interest regarding the project in the community, and said that West Point and Troup County both worked closely with the company to resolve startup issues.

Wylly Harrison, project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), worked with the City of West Point Development Authority, Development Authority of LaGrange, and the Valley Partnership. The GDEcD’s office in Seoul was also involved in recruiting Hyundai Dymos to West Point.

Hyundai is said to have made this decision after Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo met with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in Seoul last month, just before the Governor’s visits to China and Japan.

GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey said that projects like this don’t happen unless there is trust built through relationships, which may be within the community or international ones.

According to news reports published last month in the South Korean media, Hyundai Dymos is receiving a package of incentives that includes tax breaks, infrastructure improvements and workforce training support provided through Georgia Quick Start.

The KMMG facility was Seoul, South Korea-based Kia Motors Corp.’s first manufacturing site in North America. KMMG began mass production in 2009, and now has a capacity of 360,000 vehicles per year.

KMMG is already credited with creating more than 14,000 jobs in the region, including 3,000 direct jobs at the KMMG plant, 7,000 jobs created by their suppliers in Georgia, and another 4,000 jobs created by new startups and additional shifts added by KMMG suppliers in Alabama.

CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference

The 11th Annual CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference is scheduled to take place October 23-26, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

CitiesAlive Conference in San Francisco, CA

CitiesAlive Conference in San Francisco, CA (photo –

The conference is organized by industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), with active support and participation from the City of San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Planning Department.

The conference theme is “Securing urban resiliency with living architecture: Food РWater – Energy.”

This year’s CitiesAlive conference will feature more than 100 presentations, case studies, panel discussions and sessions that will focus on how living architecture improves the resiliency of communities.

Steven Peck, founder and president of GRHC, said the case for greening cities has never been stronger, and the experts coming together at CitiesAlive will explore the many links between a city’s roofs and walls and their role in creating urban resilience.

The welcome address will be given by Peck and Emilio Cruz, assistant manager for Infrastructure, SFPUC. The sessions scheduled for the conference are divided into four tracks – Design; Research; Policy; and a fourth track called “On the Roof With.”

One of the highlights of the conference will be the panel discussion on the “emerging role of the designer to improve resiliency in the face of climate change.”

Panel members for this discussion include:-

Peter Busby, managing director for Perkins+Will;

Jeff Joslin, director of Current Planning, San Francisco Planning Department;

Eric Corey Freed, principal at organicARCHITECT; and

Christina Weber, Business & Community Development at DIRTT Environmental Solutions.

The policy track includes several interesting presentations, including one by Keith Agoada, founder of Sky Vegetables, who will provide detailed insights on the realities of the economics and marketing required for widespread adoption of commercial urban agriculture.

San Francisco Planning Department’s Jeff Joslin will talk about municipal strategies for green roofs and walls.

Dave LaClergue, urban designer for the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, will talk about Seattle Green Factor Рa code standard created to improve the quality and quantity of urban landscaping.

Alice Coker, who works at the Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland, Oregon, will provide updates about Portland’s Ecoroof Program.

John Rahaim, director of San Francisco Planning Department, said that CitiesAlive will serve to highlight San Francisco’s innovative green efforts in the past and future, and will provide an opportunity to learn about best practices as the City further refines and advances sustainability practices and policies.

What: CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference

When: October 23-26, 2013

Where: San Francisco Marriott Marquis, San Francisco, California

Illinois Legislature Scrambles to Retain ADM Global HQ

Last week, Decatur, Illinois-based agriculture processor Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) made a public announcement that it is planning to establish a new global headquarters, and add a new customer center.

Archer Daniels Midland Company

Archer Daniels Midland Company (photo –

Around 100 members of ADM’s corporate team will be relocated to the new global center, and ADM will add another 100 new jobs for the IT tech center over the next few years.

Archer Daniels Midland Co. currently has 4,400 employees in Decatur.

Patricia Woertz, ADM chairman and CEO, said ADM was growing into a customer-centric global company, and their continued success requires a global center that makes it more efficient to travel and meet with employees and customers all over the world.

Woertz added that even as they establish the new global center, they remain committed to colleagues who will continue working in Decatur, and towards the Decatur community’s economic vitality and strength. Decatur will be designated as ADM’s North American headquarters.

To show their commitment, ADM announced $250,000 per year for the next three years towards activities undertaken by the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County. the company also announced another $500,000 per year for the next five years for School District 61 in Decatur.

Even so, Illinois wants to make sure ADM’s new global headquarters stays in the state. A new bill (HB 380) was quickly introduced by State Rep. John Bradley in the Illinois House, specifically crafted to provide ADM with tax breaks if the company creates 100 new jobs and spends $20 million for the relocation.

HB 380 would provide ADM with a 10 percent exemption of its utility taxes for 30 years. The bill would also authorize EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) tax credits for a 15-year period against the payroll withholdings of the 200 employees at the new global HQ and customer center.

ADM said in the statement issued last week that they are considering locations for the global headquarters and are engaged in discussions with advisors and various public officials. If the company does consider accepting the incentives package being offered by Illinois, the City of Chicago will be the leading contender for the relocation.

Archer Daniels Midland Company is a Fortune 500 Company with more than 30,000 employees spread across 460 crop procurement facilities, 265 processing plants and a massive transportation network that moves the harvest to homes in more than 140 countries.

Britco Kicks Off $100M Workforce Housing Project in British Columbia

Langley, British Columbia-based Britco, a division of WesternOne Inc. (TSE: WEQ), is launching a major workforce housing project for Devon Energy Corporation, an oil and natural gas company.

Britco workforce housing project

Britco workforce housing project (photo –

Britco is one of Canada’s largest modular construction companies.

This project involves building accommodations that will make up more than 1,500 rooms.

The $100 million project will create 275 full-time equivalent jobs for a year.

Britco’s modular construction facilities in Agassiz and Penticton, BC will build the homes.

The project launch in Penticton will be attended by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, who said that Britco’s success shows that the plan to attract investments in the BC energy and resource sector will pay off in opportunities and jobs for citizens all over the province.

This is Britco’s second project of this kind for Devon. They recently finished an 880-room workforce accommodation project for Devon in the same region in Northern Alberta.

Chris Seasons, president of Devon Canada Corporation, said these housing projects were an important element of their business success. He said the superior accommodations help attract the brightest and best talent for working on the company’s oil sands projects in Alberta.

Seasons also added that the Britco contract was an excellent example of benefits from the oil sands flowing directly to the province of British Columbia and its people.

Rising demand for workforce housing in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors in Western Canada and the U.S. has helped Britco more than double its workforce in BC in recent years. Britco now has more than 500 employees in Western Canada, and around 1,000 overall.

Rob King, CEO of WesternOne, said that work on projects in the energy and resource sector in BC and Alberta has allowed them to create jobs not just in BC, but also given the company an opportunity for international expansions into the United States and Australia.

Britco’s U.S. modular construction facility is located in Waco, Texas. APB Britco has facilities in three locations in Australia.

Work on the new project for Devon Energy will begin next month, and is expected to be completed and commissioned by December 2015.


Google Breaks Ground on $600M Data Center Expansion in The Dalles, OR

Google executives accompanied by local and state officials broke ground on a data center expansion project in the City of The Dalles, Oregon.

Google data center in The Dalles, OR

Water vapor rising from the cooling towers of Google’s data center in The Dalles, OR (photo –

The $600 million expansion brings Google’s total investment since 2005 in The Dalles to $1.2 billion.

The original data center in The Dalles, which opened in 2006 after a $600 million investment, was the first data center to be owned and operated by Google.

When Google started looking around for a site and chose The Dalles, they worked through an intermediary firm called Design LLC. The project was codenamed “Project O2” in official documents.

At that time, Google, through Design LLC, entered into an enterprise zone agreement with the City of The Dalles and Wasco County under which they were required to invest at least $33 million and create 35 jobs. They ended up investing $600 million and already have 80 employees.

Design LLC has now entered into a second enterprise zone agreement that commits them to investing at least $200 million for the expansion, and creating at least 10 new jobs. Google also agreed to pay $1.2 million in fees right away, to be followed by an additional $800,000 per year for the duration of the agreement.

The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence said this was a win-win agreement for them – Google expands and creates jobs, and everyone benefits. Mayor Lawrence also said the annual payments agreed to by Google would allow the city to invest in progress and jobs for the community.

Dave Karlson, Google Operations Manager, said in a statement that they were excited about expanding the company’s presence in The Dalles. He said this represents Google’s ongoing commitment to Wasco County and the state of Oregon, and added that they were looking forward to continue working closely with the community.

In the past few years, Google has provided $180,000 for funding the infrastructure required for a free WiFi network in the City of The Dalles. They have also awarded grants worth over $777,000 to schools and non-profit organizations in Wasco County.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said that Google’s investment in the state confirms that Oregon is a great place for doing business and helping communities grow, and also noted that a new $600 million investment illustrates the depth of Google‚Äôs long-term commitment towards the state.

Duke Energy Announces Two Wind Power Projects in South Texas

Duke Energy Renewables announced that it is undertaking two new large-scale wind power projects – Los Vientos III and Los Vientos IV, in South Texas.

Vestas wind turbines

Vestas wind turbines (photo –

Each of these projects will be capable of producing 200 megawatts of clean electricity with no emissions. Together, they can provide power for around 120,000 homes.

The company is planning to build, own and operate these two projects, which are to be located near Rio Grande City, about 100 miles due west of Brownsville.

Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf said they were pleased to be bringing economic development, jobs and affordable clean electricity to Texas.

Austin Energy, the Texas capital’s municipally owned electric utility, will buy the output from both projects, and has entered into two 25-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Renewables.

The utility already gets renewable power from Duke Energy’s earlier Los Vientos II Windpower Project. Power from Los Vientos I goes to CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility.

Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said these new projects with Duke Energy will help Austin Energy meet its goal of 35 percent renewable energy a full four years ahead of schedule.

The turbines for these projects will be supplied by Vestas. The order for 200 2.0MW turbines that Duke Energy Renewables has placed with Vestas is the largest order for turbines the company has received since 2010.

The turbine blades, towers and nacelles for the Duke Energy turbines will be produced by Vestas manufacturing facilities in Colorado.

Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada, said they won this deal through a very competitive process. He said the order would keep their U.S. factories busy, and would create jobs for Vistas service technicians.

The V110-2.0 MW turbines that Duke Energy has ordered from Vestas are capable of producing 13 percent more energy as compared to the company’s previous V100-1.8 MW turbine.

Vestas will begin delivering the new turbines in mid-2014, with commissioning slated to begin in 2015 and continue through 2016.

Once both wind farms are fully operational, Duke Energy Renewable’s overall wind power capacity will be in excess of 2,000MW, which puts the company among the top 10 wind energy producers in the U.S.

Apart from the two existing and two planned Los Vientos projects, Duke Energy has five other renewable power projects in Texas. All put together, they have 15 wind farms and 15 solar farms already operational in 12 states.

Duke Energy Renewables is a commercial business unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy.


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