Posts by: Economic Development

Michigan Creates New Automotive Industry Office

Michigan has created a new Automotive Industry Office within the Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC).

Michigan Auto Industry

Michigan Auto Industry (photo –

The Automotive Industry Office will be headed up by Nigel J. Francis, who has been named as automotive adviser.

The office and Francis will provide support and collaborate with the state’s business attraction specialists and assist in the effort to define Michigan as a global center for the automotive industry.

Francis has almost three decades of experience as an executive in the global automotive industry. He has previously worked as CTO and COO for Trexa LLC, and before that as an executive vice president at the now defunct startup Bright Automotive where he led the development of hybrid and all EV programs.

His most recent position was with Tata Technologies in Troy and Novi, MI, where he led program management and advanced engineering of new vehicles for the emerging and European markets.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said that Nigel Francis would provide leadership and expertise that will be instrumental for implementation of a strategic plan for driving the state’s automotive industry forward.

Francis himself said that it was a privilege and an honor to serve in this role, especially since Michigan’s automotive industry was now regaining its global competitiveness.

He said he was passionate about stimulating jobs and business in the auto industry, and looked forward to working together with academia and the automotive community for ensuring growth in Michigan’s share of the global automotive business.

MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said that as the state develops strategies for growing business, they recognize the need to have a way for reaching senior automotive industry executives. Finney said it was critical to bring on someone such as Nigel Francis who has large corporate and entrepreneurial experience, as well as industry specific and global cultural awareness.

Michigan has an estimated 21 percent share of the projected 2013 U.S. vehicle production volume of 15.3 million.  New vehicle spending in the U.S. has ballooned 48 percent ($500 billion) since 2009, and Michigan’s automotive employment has followed suit, growing by 31 percent in the same period.

The Big Three – GM, Ford and Chrysler, have all posted double-digit growth in their July 2013 sales as compared to July 2012. Between January and May 2013, auto companies in Michigan have made announcements of $760 million in new investments and created 6,000 jobs.

Michigan’s supplier network includes 61 out of the top 100 auto suppliers in North America, and the state gets 70 percent of the auto industry’s research and development spending.

Morinaga Selects Orange County, NC for U.S. Manufacturing Facility

Tokyo, Japan-based confectionary company Morinaga & Co., Ltd., and its U.S. subsidiary Morinaga America, Inc., announced plans to establish their first U.S. manufacturing facility in Orange County, North Carolina.

HI-CHEW from Morinaga America

HI-CHEW from Morinaga America (photo –

Morinaga makes a wide variety of confectioneries, frozen desserts and food stuffs including HI-CHEW, the fruit-flavored chewable snack.

HI-CHEW is currently made in Taiwan and imported into the U.S., but a huge growth in demand led to the company’s decision to set up a local production facility within the U.S.

Morinaga America COO Terry Kawabe said that starting production in the U.S. made sense for them from a logistical angle, and added that they were proud to say that HI-CHEW would soon be “Made in the USA.”

The company has chosen a 20-acre manufacturing site in the Buckhorn Economic Development District, close to the City of Mebane, NC.

The project requires Morinaga to invest $48 million over the next three years for building a new 120,000-square-foot USDA-spec manufacturing facility.

Morinaga is expected to create 90 new jobs over the next three years with average annual wages of more than $38,000, plus benefits. The total estimated payroll will add up to more than $3.4 million.

Masao Hoshino, CEO of the Irving, California-based Morinaga America, Inc., said North Carolina was well-known as a state that offers a remarkable business environment. He said they were honored to be a member of the community and were determined to do their best in terms of making their business in the U.S. a success as well as contributing to the state.

The Orange County Economic Development Department and the City of Mebane worked with site selection consultant InSpec Group and Durham Technical Community College for more than a year and a half to recruit Morinaga.

Support at the state level was provided by the NC Department of Commerce and NC Department of Transportation.

Before settling down on the aforementioned site in the Buckhorn Economic Development District, Morinaga looked at a dozen other counties within the state and considered offers from at least five other competing destinations outside the state.

The incentives package offered by North Carolina includes a $264,000 performance-based grant provided through the One North Carolina Fund. NCDOT is providing additional state incentives in the form of road access improvements.

More performance-based grants from Orange County and the City of Mebane have also been proposed, and are likely to be approved later this fall. The Hillsborough campus of Durham Technical Community College has offered technical training and assistance for Morinaga’s employees.

A statement issued by Orange County also notes that the use of the quarter cent sales tax approved by voters in 2011 for economic development had a key role in recruiting Morinaga. The county has used these funds for rezoning hundreds of acres for industrial use, and for providing utilities and incentives.

NC Gov. Pat McCrory said that Morinaga’s selection of Orange County means more North Carolina made products being sold in the global marketplace. The Governor said that North Carolina’s attractive quality of life and robust talent pool will be a perfect fit for the growing company.

2013 Top Utilities for Economic Development

The September issue of Site Selection magazine includes their annual list of the top utilities for economic development for 2013.

Utilities and economic development

Utilities and economic development (Photo – Duke Energy)

Listed alphabetically, the utilities that made the cut this year are:-

Alabama Power, Birmingham, AL

American Electric Power, Columbus, OH

CenterPoint Energy, Houston, TX

Duke Energy, Charlotte, NC

Entergy, New Orleans, LA

FirstEnergy, Akron, OH

Florida Power & Light, Juno Beach, FL

Georgia Power, Atlanta, GA

LG&E/KU Energy (PPL), Louisville, KY

Tennessee Valley Authority, Nashville, TN

Apart from the utility’s own facility investments and job creating infrastructure, other factors taken into account by the magazine to rate utilities include:-

- Corporate end-user activity in the past year in the utility’s service area;

- Innovative programs and incentives for businesses;

- Website tools and data; and

- Renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection, said this year’s top utilities know how to help communities, projects and companies hit their growth milestones, and added that they all know it takes much more than special rates to get there.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy’s economic development team and its collaboration with local and state partners is credited with delivering more than $3.6 billion in capital investments and 13,000 new jobs in 2012 across its six-state service area.

Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president of economic and business development, said their merger with Progress Energy last year created what is now the largest investor-owned electric utility in the U.S.

Heishman said they have aggressively formed an enterprise-wide strategy around economic development, with a focus on proactive business development and site readiness.

TVA, another perennial utility on the list, found itself named as a top utility by Site Selection for the eighth successive year.

The magazine credits TVA’s work in fiscal year 2012 with local power companies and its state, regional and community partners across its seven-state service area for helping create and retain more than 48,000 jobs and leverage capital investment worth $5.9 billion.

John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, said it was an honor to receive this prestigious award which recognizes their economic development team’s high performance and dedication to making the Tennessee Valley Authority region a more prosperous and better place to live and work.

For more details about what each of these utilities did in terms of economic development last year to merit mention, read the article on   

Calsonic Announces TN Expansions With 1200 Manufacturing Jobs

Nissan automotive parts supplier Calsonic Kansei North America, Inc. (CKNA) announced expansions of its Tennessee manufacturing facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Smyrna.

TN Gov. Bill Haslam at Calsonic jobs announcement

TN Gov. Bill Haslam at Calsonic jobs announcement (photo – TNECD)

The expansion projects will require the company to invest $109 million and will create 1,200 new manufacturing jobs.

CKNA’s Lewisburg facility makes electronic components used in dashboards, meters and inverters, along with plastics components for vehicle interiors.

This Lewisburg plant in Marshall County is getting a $49.8 million investment for an expansion that includes the construction of a 300,000-square-foot warehousing operation. CKNA will add 526 jobs at this plant over the next three years. These jobs are in addition to the existing 1,117 jobs at the facility.

The Shelbyville facility in Bedford County makes catalytic converters, exhaust units and manifolds. CKNA will invest $57.6 million at this plant and create 489 new jobs over the next three years. These new jobs are in addition to the existing 1,010 jobs at the plant.

CKNA’s Smyrna facility in Rutherford County is actually inside the Nissan plant in Smyrna, and supplies Calsonic parts for use in the vehicles assembled at this plant by Nissan. CKNA is investing $2.1 million at this facility, and will create 183 new jobs to add to the existing 469 CKNA employees in Smyrna.

Bob Masteller, vice president of Human Resources and Legal, CKNA, said the company was pleased to announce their largest ever expansion in Middle Tennessee. He said they were grateful for the cooperation and teamwork with Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), who he said were their partners in the expansion.

Masteller also said they believed Tennessee citizens form one of the world’s best workforces, and the company was pleased to be a part of the community in Middle Tennessee.

Gov. Haslam said that in addition to supporting existing companies, a big part of their economic development strategy was to focus on things they were doing well, and this expansion by CKNA further solidifies Tennessee’s leadership of the auto manufacturing sector.

Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray said he was proud of Calsonic. He said the company started with five people, and they were very excited about Calsonic’s continued growth in the community. Mayor Ray added that the investment the company was making in Bedford County was invaluable.

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said they continued to benefit from the automotive industry’s growth, and added that Calsonic has proven to be a great business partner.

Alabama, Tennessee Team Up to Press for FAA UAS Test Site

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is leading a consortium that is vying to secure one of the six FAA unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites.

NASA unmanned Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD)

NASA unmanned Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD) developed with UAH assistance (photo –

More than 50 groups from 37 states originally submitted applications. There are currently 27 remaining applications still in consideration from groups that each represent one or more states.

The FAA is doing site visits this month and in October, and plans to announce their final choices for the six test sites by the end of the year. Each test site will be used for testing integration of UAS with the National Airspace System (NAS).

Alabama had originally submitted a solo application that ran into a snag because their chosen site was Redstone Arsenal. It was not acceptable to the FAA because it was federal property.

The UAH-led consortium now represents a joint effort by Alabama and Tennessee to secure a test site. It includes more than 160 educational institutions and private companies.

The main test site for the consortium is the ISR Group’s UAS airfield close to Savannah, TN. The core part of this site is the ISR range which is already in use by the company for training, testing and development of drones.

The climate allows for more than 300 days of flight operations in a year, and the terrain (10 sq. miles on the ground and 32 sq. miles in the air) has varying elevations and vegetation that is ideal for UAS testing and R&D operations.

The site has multiple launch and recovery sites, ground-based radar, and observation towers manned by FAA certified personnel. ISR already acquires Certificates of Authorization (COA) from the FAA for UAS flights on the range.

If the site is chosen as one of the six test sites by the FAA, it would be provided with a blanket authorization that would allow for extended testing without having to go through the complicated and time-consuming process of obtaining a COA for each operation.

Apart from UAH and ISR, consortium partners include Science and Engineering Services Inc. (SES-I), University of Tennessee at Martin, and Alabama A&M University, among others.

The consortium is led by Sue O’Brien, acting director of UAH’s Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center.

O’Brien said that the aviation and defense industry in the Huntsville area would benefit from a locally headquartered test site because there was a strong base of expertise available across Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park, NASA and Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee.

O’Brien said adding testing capability would draw more work to the area and provide huge savings as plans could be completed locally and flights would be possible just a short distance from Huntsville.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said that technology developed in Huntsville could be leveraged by the FAA UAS test site into real-time applications that may lead the future commercial industry.

Invest in North America Conference

The “Invest in North America: NAFTA Matters” conference is scheduled to take place on October 1, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.

Invest in North America Conference

Invest in North America Conference (photo –

The conference, which brings together investment promotion agencies and companies interested in investing in North America, is jointly organized by the Embassy of the United States of America, The High Commission of Canada, and the Embassy of Mexico.

Attendees will hear from experts from all three countries about the marketplace and the competitive advantages North America offers.

Learn from service providers who can provide guidance on doing business in America, and have one-on-one chats with representatives of the many investment destinations present at the conference.

The list of exhibiting investment promotion agencies at the conference includes:-

Arkansas Economic Development Commission;

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade;

Enterprise Florida;

State of Georgia – Europe Office;

Greater MSP (Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership);

Invest Atlanta;

State of Iowa – European Office;

JAXUSA Partnership (City of Jacksonville, Florida);

State of Kentucky – European Office;

Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership (City of Omaha, Nebraska);

Oroville Economic Alliance (Oroville, California);

Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development (OIBD);

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania);

South Carolina Department of Commerce;

Greater Richmond Partnership Inc (Greater Richmond, Virginia)

The program begins with the opening of the Exhibition of the aforementioned Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), followed by London Mayor Roger Gifford’s welcome address.

The first panel on “Why NAFTA Matters for Prospective Investors” will be moderated by Deloitte Director Matt Highfield. Panelists include Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters; and Francisco de Rosenzweig, vice-minister of Foreign Trade, Ministry of the Economy, Mexico.

One of the highlights of the event will be a panel discussion on “The Nuts and Bolts of Doing Business in North America” moderated by Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection Magazine. This panel will discuss the site selection, financial, legal and accounting aspects of doing business in North America.

The post-lunch agenda includes meetings with the exhibiting IPAs, followed by presentations by each of the North American countries that will highlight their investment programs and the resources available for investors.

What: Invest in North America Conference

When: October 1, 2013

Where: Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, United Kingdom

E2 Report – Top 10 States for Clean Energy Projects

A new report released just in time for Labor Day by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) reveals that at least 58 clean energy and clean transportation projects have been announced in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2013, and these projects could create up to 38,600 jobs.

E2 Clean Jobs report

E2 Clean Jobs report (photo –

E2 Executive Director Judith Albert said that as Labor Day is here and the nation is focused on the economy and jobs, clean transportation and clean energy projects are creating jobs and continue to drive economic growth from one end of the nation to the other.

It’s no surprise that California led the way with 12 announced solar, wind, transportation and biofuels projects in Q2 2013 that could create more than 9,000 new jobs.

What’s new is that for the first time, Hawaii made the top 10 list of states with the most quarterly clean jobs project announcements, thanks to a $300 million initiative to upgrade government buildings such as airports, prisons, universities and waterwater treatment plants. These projects will create around 5,000 jobs.

Maryland was in third place behind Hawaii, with most of the credit going to the $2.6 billion expansion of Baltimore light-rail system’s Red Line, which is expected to reduce carbon emissions and traffic, while creating 4,200 construction jobs.

Both Missouri and Kansas also ended up on the list, thanks to the announcement of the $2 billion “Grain Belt Express Clean Line” transmission line upgrade project by Clean Line Energy Partners LLC. This project will transmit more than 3,500MW of wind energy from Missouri and Kansas to other states, and is slated to create more than 5,500 jobs during the planning, construction and operation stages.

Other states on the E2 top 10 list for the second quarter include Alaska, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon and Texas. Alaska also made this list for the first time, courtesy of a weatherization project being sponsored by the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. that is slated to create in excess of 600 jobs.

In Nevada, a 350MW solar-photovoltaic generation plant project capable of powering 105,000 homes was announced. This project will create 370 construction and permanent jobs. Another 200 jobs were created in Nevada by the opening of a new K2 Energy battery plant in Henderson.

Read the full E2 report on the Q2 2013 Clean Jobs Project Announcements – Download (pdf)

American Specialty Health Relocates to Carmel, IN

American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH) is relocating its corporate headquarters from San Diego, California to Carmel, Indiana.

Carmel, IN

Carmel, IN (photo –

As part of the relocation, ASH will invest $10 million in Carmel and create 675 jobs at its new Indiana headquarters by 2016.

Around 50 of the jobs will be filled by existing employees from the company’s operations centers in San Diego and Dallas, with the remainder being hired from the Indianapolis region.

The $10 million investment will be used for leasing and equipping 72,693 square feet of space across four floors in the Hamilton Crossing Building owned by Duke Realty, in addition to another 16,362 square feet of space being offered by the Carmel Tech Center.

The relocation of ASH to Carmel is part of a five-year strategic plan by the company to establish operations and redundant office infrastructure across different geographic zones.

They will maintain the San Diego office in the West, and have previously announced an expansion in the South, including an office in Southlake, Texas and a technology innovation center at the Innovista incubator in Columbia, South Carolina.

Explaining the choice of Carmel and Indiana as their new corporate headquarters, George DeVries, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of ASH, said that Carmel was selected for multiple reasons. He said that Ash had outgrown California and was now a national company, and Carmel provided a central location closer to their clients across the nation.

DeVries also noted that the cost of doing business in Indiana was lower and the state had a strong business climate. He said the City of Carmel was a family-oriented place for the company’s employees to work and live, with affordable housing and a lower overall cost of living.

Not to mention the fact that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has offered ASH up to $11.5 million in performance-based tax credits, in addition to training grants worth $250,000 tied to the company’s job creation plans.

The City of Carmel is also providing support for the project. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said they were pleased to welcome the corporate headquarters of ASH to Carmel, and added that they had worked hard to build a vibrant city that appeals to educated professionals and helps businesses thrive.

The new ASH headquarters in Carmel is slated to be ready for an opening in the second quarter of 2014.

American Specialty Health Incorporated is a provider of specialty health care management and fitness programs to 34 million members that are a part of employer groups, health plans and insurance carriers. The company already has more than 1,000 employees.

Toyota Announces $102M Expansions in W.Va, TN, MO

Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia (TMMWV) announced plans for an expansion of transmission production capacity at the company’s Buffalo, W.Va. powertrain plant.

Toyota plant in Buffalo, West Virginia

Toyota plant in Buffalo, W.Va (photo –

The expansion project requires Toyota to make an investment of $90 million, and will create 80 new jobs. The plant already has 1,300 employees.

The announcement was made by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during a visit to the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 77th annual meeting and business summit at The Greenbrier.

In addition to 4-cylinder and V6 engines, the Buffalo powertrain plant already makes half a million 6-speed transmissions for various Toyota models including Camry, Avalon, and Lexus RX350, among others – all cars that are built in North America.

The expansion will enable Toyota to manufacture another 20,000 transmissions per month, for a total of 740,000 a year starting from 2015.

This announcement brings the total investment to-date by TMMWV in the Buffalo plant to $1.4 billion, which includes the initial investment to establish the plant in 1996 and eight subsequent expansions.

Millie Marshall, TMMWV senior vice president of manufacturing and administration, said the expansion will enable them to meet increasing North American demand, and is part of their localization strategy to “build where we sell.”

Gov. Tomblin said that after more than 15 years of being a dedicated corporate citizen, TMMWV’s continued growth was a testament to the company’s hard-working team members committed to producing quality powertrains at the Buffalo plant, and to the business climate in the state that encourages companies to innovate, create new jobs and expand.

Toyota also announced that it will be investing $11 million into its Bodine Aluminum casting part manufacturing plant in Troy, Missouri and another $1 million in the Bodine Aluminum plant in Jackson, Tennessee. These investments will enable both these plants to supply TMMWV with transmission cases and housing parts.

The $11 million expansion in the Bodine Aluminum plant in Troy, MO will create another 25 new jobs.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the Bodine Aluminum expansion in Troy was another important milestone not just for Toyota and Bodine, but also for the community and for the resurgent automotive manufacturing sector in Missouri.

This $102 million investment in the three plants along with the creation of more than 100 new jobs makes it a total of $2.1 billion worth of manufacturing investments announced by Toyota in North America over the past 21 months. These investments represent a total of more than 4,000 new jobs created.

Boeing Launches 787 Flight Training Facility in Miami, FL

Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced the launch of its 787 customer training facility in Miami at an event that was attended by Florida Governor Rick Scott and other state, local and federal officials.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flight Simulator

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flight Simulator (photo –

Back in March, Boeing had announced its intention to consolidate its 787 flight training capabilities in North America in Miami, which has the largest Boeing aviation training campus in the world.

The consolidation required Boeing to relocate 100 jobs to Miami from its Renton Flight Services Division in Seattle, Washington.

Boeing has already moved two 787 full-flight simulators to Miami, which now has a total of 16 flight simulators. One more will be moved in later this year.

The whole project to enhance the Miami campus to get it ready for training flight crews who will be flying and maintaining the 787 Dreamliner required Boeing to add nearly $100 million worth of training assets.

Aeromexico and LAN Airlines will be the first two customers whose crews will be trained on the 787 suites in Miami.

The consolidation of Boeing‚Äôs Americas flight training campuses at a single location is intended to reduce travel time for flight crews by bringing the facility closer to where Boeing’s customers operate.

Max Alvarez, vice president, Fleet Negotiations, Aeromexico, said Aeromexico sees the expanded capabilities at the Miami campus as a positive and beneficial development that will allow savings in transportation time and the associated costs for their airline.

Sherry Carbary, vice president, Boeing Flight Services, said that Miami’s location at the crossroads of the Americas provides tremendous advantages as their preferred location for providing training to airlines in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The Miami campus also gets Boeing customers from China, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Apart from being convenient for airlines, Miami‚Äôs advantages include geographic diversity inside the framework of Boeing’s commercial training network, and its existing status as an international aviation training hub.

Gov. Scott said he was proud to see Boeing consolidate its training capabilities for the Americas in Miami. He said it not only supports more than 100 jobs for families in Florida, but also continues to prove Miami’s status as an international business hub.

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