Job Creation

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 – walmart.com)

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

Ubisoft (photo – ubisoftgroup.com)

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.

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 – dymos.co.kr)

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.

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.com)

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 – google.com)

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.

Power Construction Company Relocates Headquarters to Chicago

Power Construction Company, LLC, which is currently based in Schaumburg, Illinois, announced that it is relocating its corporate headquarters from the suburbs to the City of Chicago.

Power Construction Company, LLC

Photo – powerconstruction.net

The company will invest millions of dollars on the 35,000 square feet of space they are taking up on two floors of Triangle Plaza in Chicago.

The relocation project will bring the company’s 200 existing employees to Chicago, and will additionally create 30 new jobs.

Power Construction Company cited availability of new construction contracts in downtown Chicago as one of the reasons for the move, along with outdated office space in Schaumburg, anticipated employee growth and changing workforce demographics.

The company has recently broken ground on 10 major projects in Chicago, and has committed to expanding its workforce by 15 percent during the next few years to match their customers’ expansion plans.

Ken Gorman, vice president of Power, said these projects are creating opportunities for literally hundreds of union workers over the next few years.

However, the company wasn’t committed to Chicago for the relocation right from the beginning. They also considered relocating out of the state to Indiana.

Discussions about the project had been ongoing for the past 12 months. The Office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel were both involved in the project, along with World Business Chicago and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

In order to keep Power in the state, retain their existing 200 jobs and secure the planned addition of 30 new jobs, the company has been offered tax credits worth $2.4 million under the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program that is administered by DCEO.

These are performance-based tax credits based on the company fulfilling its job creation commitments, and available to Power over a 10-year period against their corporate income tax.

DCEO Director Adam Pollet said they were pleased to have worked with Power in finding a location that matches the company’s needs and allows them to continue expanding. He said they would work together to provide Power with workforce development resources as the company continues to create new jobs in Illinois.

Apart from the tax credits, Power is also getting a $15,000 grant to provide technical training for its workforce. This grant is being provided under the ETIP (Employer Training Investment Program) grant program.

Power Construction Company was founded in 1926 in Chicago, and is now one of the Midwest’s largest contractors with annual revenues of around $600 million.

Shaw Industries Planning $40M Expansion in Tennessee

Shaw Industries announced that is planning to expand its engineered hardwood manufacturing facility in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Shaw Hardwoods

Shaw Hardwoods (photo – shawfloors.com)

The $40 million expansion project will increase the Marion County plant’s capacity by 60 percent, and will create 25 new jobs.

The facility already has 200 associates, including 65 new hires added this year because Shaw increased the number of shifts at the plant.

The South Pittsburg facility, formerly a yarn plant, is now among the most technologically advanced hardwood facilities in Shaw’s portfolio, and is also the world’s largest engineered flooring facility of its kind.

Shaw entered the hardwood flooring business in 2006, and is now the second largest manufacturer in the market, and the fastest in terms of growth. They now have now nine hardwood manufacturing facilities.

This $40 million expansion is the latest in a series of expansions and new operations announced by the company. Shaw recently spent $26 million on automation and technology upgrades for improving efficiency and safety, lowering costs and reducing waste at their hardwood facilities in Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

In Georgia, which hosts the company’s headquarters, Shaw is planning to build a new carpet tile plant in Adairsville, in addition to an expansion of its extrusion and distribution operations. They’re also opening a new carpet tile plant in China, but that one will primarily serve the Asian market.

Shaw Chairman and CEO Vance Bell said that the South Pittsburg expansion was an important component in the company’s overall hardwood strategy.  He said all the investments made in the various hardwood facilities were enhancing their ability to offer the widest mix of products, innovative design and the best service and quality for customers.

Marion County Mayor John Graham said they were pleased to see the commitment of new jobs and additional investment being made by Shaw Industries. He said they appreciated the company’s confidence in the community and its citizens.

South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins likewise said the expansion provided confirmation of Shaw’s long-term commitment towards South Pittsburg, Marion County and Tennessee.

Dalton, Georgia-based Shaw Industries Group, Inc. is a vertically integrated manufacturer producing hardwood, stone and other types of flooring and synthetic turfs, in addition to carpets and rugs. Their annual sales exceed $4 billion.

Shaw is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., and has more than 23,000 employees across its facilities worldwide.

PPG Consolidation in Pennsylvania to Create 300 Jobs

PPG Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PPG) announced that they are establishing the North American headquarters of their architectural coatings business in Butler County, Pennsylvania, and will move their architectural coatings R&D to an existing technology center in Allegheny County.

PPG facility in Harmar Township, PA

PPG facility in Harmar Township, PA (photo – ppg.com)

The project will require PPG to invest more than $14 million for equipment, infrastructure and workforce training.

PPG expects to create 300 jobs in the two counties, and the projects are also credited with helping retain PPG’s existing 2,500 jobs in the state.

The 120,000-square-foot headquarters facility in Cranberry Township, Butler County will consolidate the company’s existing architectural coatings operations in Dover, Delaware; Strongsville, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.

PPG’s Technology Center in Harmar Township, Allegheny County already houses their glass and fiber glass R&D and business activities.

This technology center will now be expanded to include their North American architectural coatings R&D division, including all the personnel and laboratory equipment currently located in Strongsville, Ohio and Springdale, PA.

This whole consolidation in the two Pennsylvania counties is a result of PPG’s acquisition of Dutch multinational AkzoNobel’s North American decorative coatings business a few months ago in April.

PPG now wants to consolidate AkzoNobel’s headquarters and lab facilities in the U.S. with PPG’s own facilities in order to improve collaboration between the two sets of employees and reduce travel spending and time between multiple facilities engaged in the same activities.

In order to secure the company’s consolidation in Pennsylvania, PPG has been offered an incentives package from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that includes $618,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and another $1.25 million grant through the Pennsylvania First Program grant.

PPG is also getting $42,750 as a training grant to support training for its new workforce. They are also getting a $2 million loan for the consolidation projects from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.

The project was handled by the Governor’s Action Team (GAT) at the state level, working in coordination with local officials and the economic development teams of Allegheny County and Butler County, with support from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Charles E. Bunch,chairman and CEO of PPG Industries, said they appreciated the continued support of the county leadership and the Governor.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the announcement shows how successful the region can be by working together on economic development projects. He said that without the joint efforts made by Governor Corbett, Allegheny County, Butler County and their economic development teams, the outcome might have been very different.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PPG Industries, Inc. was founded in 1883 and is now a global company with 120 manufacturing facilities and 35,000 employees spread across operations in more than 70 countries. Last year, the company generated $15.2 billion in revenue.

Ontario Commits Support for BlackBerry Workers

Waterloo, Canada-based BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced that it is laying off 4,500 employees, or 40 percent of its global workforce.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry (photo – ca.blackberry.com)

The company cited a steep drop in sales of Blackberry smartphones in the second quarter of 2013, and said operating losses for the period would be in between $950 million to $995 million.

BlackBerry said it was essentially pulling out of the consumer market, and would refocus on enterprise and prosumer markets with end-to-end solutions and services.

The lay-offs are part of BlackBerry’s plan to reduce operating expenditures by around 50% by the first quarter of FY 2015. The company also said in its statement that the Special Committee of the Board “continues to evaluate strategic alternatives,” as in looking for a buyer.

This latest round of 4,500 job cuts comes in the wake of last year’s announcement of 5,000 layoffs by BlackBerry. At that time, the company said it was reducing its operating expenses by a billion dollars in order to be competitive ahead of the launch of its new flagship Z10 smartphone.

The layoffs will affect Ontario and Canada more than any of the company’s other locations. After BlackBerry’s announcement, the Government of Ontario said that it is providing assistance to BlackBerry workers who are being laid-off.

The statement by Ontario notes that BlackBerry is an integral part of the province’s IT industry, and a global icon that represents Ontario innovation.

John Milloy,the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre, said he had every confidence that Waterloo’s technology industry, which includes almost 1,000 companies employing 30,000 people, will continue to thrive.

Ontario has extended the contract of a job action center called Tech Jobs Connex in the Waterloo area. It is part of the province’s “Rapid Re-employment and Training Service,” and will ensure that the laid-off workers regain employment quickly.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, said BlackBerry was undoubtedly facing challenging times, but nobody should forget what the company has accomplished.

Hoskins said the government will work with the company and its workers, other business leaders, and with regional and local municipal leaders, to find the best way forward.

BlackBerry still remains a fiscally sound company, with cash and investments worth around $2.6 billion and no debt. Even after this latest round of 4,500 layoffs, they will still have a workforce of about 7,000.

Wingspan Portfolio Advisors To Add 532 New Jobs in Louisiana

Dallas, Texas-based Wingspan Portfolio Advisors LLC announced the acquisition of JPMorgan Chase’s home mortgage finance customer service operations facility in Monroe, Louisiana.

City of Monroe, Louisiana

City of Monroe, Louisiana (photo – ci.monroe.la.us)

Following the acquisition, Wingspan announced that they will invest $2 million at the Chase center building and occupying 71,000 square feet.

Wingspan also said they were retaining the existing 400 Chase employees at the customer service center, and would add another 532 jobs at the facility over the next ten years.

On top of that, Chase said it plans to retain some space on two floors of the seven-floor building, and will continue to house around 109 employees in the legal affairs section and for offering support services for U.S. military members.

Apart from these 109 employees, Chase also has 1,200 employees at another mortgage records and imaging facility close to the Monroe Regional Airport. Overall, Chase continues to employ 4,200 people in Louisiana.

Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates that the Wingspan project will support creation of another 609 indirect jobs, adding up to a total of more than 1,100 new jobs for Northeast Louisiana.

Wingspan Portfolio Advisors CEO Steven Horne said the new addition expands Wingspan’s ability to respond to client needs. He said they often have to scale quickly and effectively to help clients as their priorities change, and this new acquisition will help the company respond with significant speed and high quality.

In order to secure the project, LED’s Business Expansion and Retention Group (BERG) offered Wingspan an incentives package that includes a $600,000 performance-based grant as reimbursement of the company’s lease costs, and a $500,000 grant as reimbursement for renovation costs. These are performance-based grants that will be paid out in instalments.

Wingspan is also eligible for incentives under Louisiana’s Quality Jobs Program, and will receive recruitment and workforce training support from LED FastStart.

Monroe Mayor James E. “Jamie” Mayo, who himself has more than two decades of experience working for companies such as Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. and Allstate Insurance, said they were excited to welcome Wingspan to the community. He said their initial meeting with the Wingspan leadership not only helped retain much-needed jobs, but will also create additional opportunities for Monroe residents.

This is Wingspan’s third such acquisition this year. In February, Wingspan concluded a similar deal with JPMorgan Chase for acquiring a mortgage-servicing facility with 400 employees in Melbourne, Florida. All told, Wingspan now has more than 2,000 employees across all their facilities.

Sue Nicholson, president and CEO of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, said Wingspan’s acquisition of the JPMorgan Chase facility in Melbourne and the subsequent transition was very successful, and said they were anticipating an equally successful acquisition in Monroe too.

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