Job Creation

Ford Announces C$700M Investment in Oakville, Canada

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) announced a C$700 million investment in the Ford Oakville Assembly plant. Oakville is a Toronto suburb in Southern Ontario.

Ford Edge made in Oakville, Canada

Ford Edge made in Oakville, Canada (photo – ford.com)

The investment will expand manufacturing capacity at the plant, and ensures the retention of more than 2,800 Ford jobs at the facility.

Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas for the Ford Motor Company, said the investment positions Oakville as one of the most important and competitive facilities in the Ford system.

Hinrichs said Ford is now planning to bring production of several new global vehicle models to the Oakville plant to meet demand in North America and around the world.

The additional investment means that Ford will now spend an extra C$200 million on auto parts provided by Canadian suppliers, bringing Ford’s total annual purchase to almost C$4 billion.

This expansion in Oakville is a part of Ford’s overall plan to maximize manufacturing assets in North America in order to match production to surging consumer demand. Ford’s sales in North America are rising up to their pre-recession levels.

The 2013 U.S. sales of the Ford Edge Crossover, produced by the Oakville plant, are on track to beat the previous record of 130,000 vehicles set in 2007. Apart from the Edge, the Oakville plant also manufactures the Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT vehicles.

Shifting the Oakville plant to global manufacturing enables Ford to keep their production plans flexible based on consumer demand. Hinrichs explained that if consumers suddenly change their buying habits, Ford can follow seamlessly and change the production mix without having to idle a plant.

Dianne Craig, president and CEO, Ford of Canada, said that Ford’s investment shows that Canada can be globally competitive through strategic partnerships. She said they had secured a bright future for the Oakville Assembly employees by working closely with both the government and labor.

The investment announced includes an increase in the company’s fuel efficiency and sustainability R&D capacity in Ontario for supporting studies on stationary emissions reduction at industrial facilities, and vehicle light-weighting. Ford’s powertrain research facilities in Windsor will be looking into advanced engine development.

This C$700 million investment brings Ford’s total investment in Canada over the last ten years to more than C$2 billion, including a C$1 billion investment announced in 2004 to introduce flexible manufacturing at the Oakville Assembly plant. In 2010, Ford announced a C$590 million investment at the Essex Engine Plant in Windsor.

Will Cowell, plant manager, Oakville Assembly, said this had been an incredible year for them. This is the plant’s 60th anniversary, and they also produced their millionth Edge in 2013.

eBay Enterprise Planning $45M Expansion in Louisville, KY

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based eBay Enterprise, an eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) company, is expanding its operations in Louisville, Kentucky.

eBay Enterprise

eBay Enterprise (photo – ebayenterprise.com)

eBay Enterprise will invest $45 million for the expansion, which includes new construction that will combine with two recently acquired buildings to add 270,000 square feet of space near the company’s existing Louisville facility on Trade Port Drive.

The project will create more than 150 new and full-time jobs. eBay Enterprise already has more than 500 employees in Louisville, and is adding more space and employees to meet growing business demand.

The eBay Enterprise division in Louisville specializes in developing and running online stores for brands and retailers who need help with setting up and operating online shopping platforms.

In 2012, the company, which serves more than 1,000 brands and retailers, processed 45 million orders and shipped 146 million units, sending 58 billion e-mails in the process.

Tobias Hartmann, head of eBay Enterprise’s omnichannel operations, said they have always considered the community in Louisville as a strategic partner for the company’s success. He said the talented workforce in Louisville has allowed the company to grow their business while providing a leading consumer experience for clients.

To secure the expansion and new jobs, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) offered eBay Enterprise up to $1.5 million in tax incentives via the Kentucky Business Investment program.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the eBay Enterprise announcement represents the sort of expansion and investment in the logistics and distribution sector that was crucial for the local economy.

Louisville is home to UPS Worldport, which has attracted more than 140 companies to relocate or expand in the region in order to stay close to the Worldport and its global logistics network. UPS itself has invested more than $2 billion on Worldport, and employs more than 23,000 employees in Kentucky.

Craig Richard, president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., said they were delighted to be part of the team that worked creatively and diligently for meeting the needs of eBay Enterprise, one of the region’s most important distribution companies.

eBay Enterprise has a long history in Louisville that dates  back to 1999 when it was first launched as Global Sports Inc., and subsequently opened its first fulfillment center in Louisville in 2000. They diversified into other retail categories and changed the company’s name to GSI Commerce Inc., which was acquired by eBay Inc. in June 2011.

Spring Venture Group Relocates to Kansas City, MO

Spring Venture Group (SVG), a sales and marketing organization which provides insurance quotes for comparison shopping, has relocated its headquarters to the Crown Center area in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

SVG Offices in Crown Center area, Kansas City, MO

SVG Offices in Crown Center area, Kansas City, MO (photo – springventuregroup.com)

The company was until now located in Leawood, a Kansas City suburb across the state line in Johnson County, Kansas.

SVG has moved into a bigger space in Crown Center to accommodate planned growth that includes the addition of 400 new jobs, most of which will be positions in sales. The company already has more than 100 employees.

Chris Giuliani, CEO at Spring Venture Group, said they were fortunate to be growing at such a rapid pace, and added that the new location allows them to hire up to 500 new employees.

Giuliani also noted that being in Central Kansas City would allow them to hire quality talent from all areas of Kansas City, including Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas, and North Kansas City and Jackson County in Missouri.

Back in June 2011, SVG relocated within Johnson County from its original location in Prairie Village to the recently vacated offices in Leawood. At that time, SVG had said that it planned to add up to 150 employees over several years.

As a result, the Kansas Department of Commerce had awarded SVG $1.8 million in tax incentives over the seven year agreement period. The tax incentives were provided through the Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK) Program.

Tim Danker, the company’s CEO back in 2011, said at that time that SVG was pleased to be partnering with the State of Kansas on economic development in the region.

Their relocation from Kansas to Missouri means they won’t be fulfilling the requirements for the tax incentives, and stand to lose some part of the incentives provided by the State of Kansas. No information was disclosed about whether Kansas City and Missouri have offered any local and state incentives for the relocation.

Jeffery Anderson, COO at Spring Venture Group, said they truly believed at SVG that the company’s people were its biggest assets, and they want to provide the staff with the best possible tools and environment to succeed.

Spring Venture Group was founded in 2007, and is backed by Prairie Village, Kansas-based Five Elms Capital, which invests in companies that make use of disruptive technologies and the web for rapid growth.

Chinese Footwear Company Relocates Manufacturing Facility To Tennessee

Tianjin, China-based Merchant House International Group is relocating its footwear manufacturing facility from its headquarters to Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

TN ECD (photo – tn.gov)

The announcement was made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, accompanied by Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, and officials from the Merchant House International Footwear Division.

The company will invest $5.4 million to establish what will be its first U.S. manufacturing facility. They will be making men’s leather shoes and boots in a 40,000-square-foot building in the Jefferson City Industrial Park

The new U.S. facility, to be known as Footwear Industries of Tennessee, Inc. (FIT), will be operational by March 2014. The company is planning to create 109 new jobs, and will start hiring employees by the end of this year.

Merchant House International makes leather footwear, Christmas ornaments and gift items, and kitchen-use textile items such as cotton towels. Their main export markets are the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

Merchant House International’s Footwear Division has an annual production capacity of more than five million pairs of shoes, and has been supplying major retailers in the U.S. for over three decades. Their customers include Walmart, Sears and Kmart.

The company is now moving footwear production from China to Tennessee because of an increase in domestic demand in the U.S for their products.

Gov. Haslam welcomed the company to Tennessee and thanked them for the investment. He said that when a global company chooses to move its operations to Tennessee, it speaks volumes about the state’s workforce and business environment.

Commissioner Hagerty likewise noted that Merchant House International’s decision to move their production to Tennessee underscores how an increasing number of global companies are reevaluating the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing overseas.

Loretta Lee, founder of the Merchant House International Group, said Jefferson City was an excellent location for the company because it was centrally located in the Eastern United States, offers excellent logistics infrastructure, and has an apparel industry workforce that is experienced and skilled..

Max Fultz, chair of the Jefferson County Economic Development Oversight Committee, said this project to recruit Merchant House International to Jefferson County was a team effort. He thanked the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and Bob Thornton of Baker Realty.

Jefferson City Mayor Mark Potts said they were delighted to welcome Merchant House International. He said the county’s citizens have an unparalleled work ethic, and they will help make the company successful as a business and a great corporate citizen.

Boeing, HP, Oracle, Blue Cross Announcements at Montana Jobs Summit

Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced tan expansion of their manufacturing facility in Helena, Montana.

Montana Jobs Summit

Montana Jobs Summit (photo – montanajobssummit.com)

The announcement was made by Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney at the sixth Montana Economic Development Summit currently in progress in Butte.

The summit agenda included more than 40 job-creation panels, and the keynote speakers included Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Oracle’s Safra Catz and Tesla’s Elon Musk, among others.

The Boeing Helena facility makes complex hard metal parts for the 737, 747, 767 and 787 models using metals such as titanium.

Boeing will be spending almost $35 million for adding 55,000 square feet of space to this facility, bringing the total manufacturing space to 167,099 square feet.

The expansion will create 20-25 new jobs, adding to the facility’s existing 144 jobs.

McNerney said that Boeing’s further investment in Montana was a testament to the ability of Helena team to deliver on their commitments and establish themselves as reliable and globally competitive supplier for Boeing’s commercial airplane programs.

U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who helped bring Boeing to Helena a decade ago, said that Boeing knows first-hand what Montana has to offer, and their decision to expand shows the world that Montana is a great place for state-of-the-art manufacturing investments.

Chicago, Illinois-based Health Care Service Corporation, which owns Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Montana, announced that it would be opening a new call center in Great Falls and would create at least 100 new jobs by 2016.

The new workers at the call center, who could number up to 150, will be providing customer support for policy holders and providers across Montana, Illinois and three other states.

Another customer service-related announcement was made at the Montana Jobs Summit by Oracle President and CFO Safra Catz, who said Oracle was very impressed with the quality workforce and growth opportunities in Bozeman.

Cloud-based customer service provider RightNow Technologies, which is based in Bozeman, was acquired by Oracle in 2011. Oracle has since announced plans for making Bozeman its global cloud center as the headquarters of their entire cloud-related business.  Katz said he looked forward to continuing to grow Oracle jobs in Montana.

HP President and CEO Meg Whitman announced that the company would work with educational institutions in Montana to grow entrepreneurship training opportunities. HP plans to work with interested faculty to integrate the HP LIFE e-Learning initiative into colleges and universities.

Benteler Breaks Ground On $975M Steel Project in Louisiana

Benteler International AG broke ground on the first phase of the $975 million steel manufacturing project at The Port of Caddo-Bossier in Louisiana.

Benteler steel plant

Benteler steel plant (photo – benteler.com)

The project, first announced in Oct 2012, will create 675 new jobs with average annual wages of $50,000 plus benefits.

In this first phase, expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2015, Benteler is building a hot-rolling seamless steel tube facility.

In the second phase, they will build a steel mill with an electric arc furnace, which is slated to be completed by 2020. All put together, the project on a 330-acre site spans 1.35 million square feet of space.

Benteler selected The Port of Caddo-Bossier for the project after an extended and competitive site selection process during which they considered more than 100 sites across 13 states.

In order to secure the project, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) offered the company and the port incentives worth $57.4 million for site development, equipment and infrastructure costs. Another $12.75 million grant has been offered to Benteler as reimbursement for relocation and internal training.

Additional local incentives from Caddo Parish, The Port of Caddo-Bossier and the Red River Waterway Commission add up to $11.6 million.

As part of the incentives package, the state is also funding the development of the BPCC Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Bossier Parish Community College. The center will first focus on meeting the workforce training needs of Benteler, and subsequently for other manufacturers in the region.

The Paderborn, Germany-based Benteler Group has more than 30,000 employees across 170 locations in 38 countries. This project in Caddo Parish is Benteler’s first U.S. manufacturing facility.

Matthias Jaeger, president and CEO of Benteler Steel/Tube GmbH, said the new facility was a critical part of their strategy for global growth. He said more than 25 percent of the company’s production is already flowing into the U.S., and demand is expected to rise up even more.

Jaeger said the new Caddo Parish facility is poised for a critical role in supporting the domestic energy industry in the U.S.

Apart from the 675 direct jobs, an economic impact analysis by Louisiana State University estimates the project will support the creation of another 1,540 indirect jobs. Not to mention around 1,000 construction jobs.

Over the next two decades, the project is expected to generate $2.7 billion in new earnings for the Northwest Louisiana region, with a cumulative $16.2 billion in economic impact associated with the project.

Laird Technologies Gets $2.5M Grant for PA Tech and Innovation Center

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced a $2.5 million Economic Growth Initiative grant for Laird Technologies Inc. to support the construction of Laird’s Hermitage Technology and Innovation Center.

Laird Technologies

Laird Technologies (photo – lairdtech.com)

The $16.3 million construction project in the City of Hermitage in Mercer County, PA is expected to help support creation and retention of more than 500 jobs.

The 70,000-square-foot facility will be used by Laird for high-tech electronics research and development and manufacturing operations.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based Laird Technologies is a unit of British company Laird PLC. Laird Technologies has more than 10,000 employees across 39 facilities in 13 countries.

The company makes electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding to protect devices from heat and electromagnetic interference. They also have a wireless division which develops antenna solutions and products for enhancing wireless connectivity.

Laird’s Hermitage Technology and Innovation Center will be located in the LindenPointe Innovative Business Campus. The exact location of the Laird expansion within Mercer County was a keenly contested affair between the City of Hermitage and Sharpsville Borough.

Laird first came to Pennsylvania when it acquired Sharpsville-based Cattron Inc. in 2010. By then, Cattron had outgrown its existing space in Sharpsville and was spread out into four different buildings. The company started looking for a place to expand its operations.

Hermitage city officials worked with the Penn‚ÄêNorthwest Development Corp., the regional economic development agency, to put together an economic development project for the company, including helping Laird get a state grant for the new building.

Hermitage suggested the 115-acre LindenPointe as a natural fit for Laird, because of the many existing technology companies and the eCenter@LindenPointe tech incubator already located in the park.

The company’s choice of LindenPointe was approved by parent company officials in the United Kingdom, and Mercer County managed to retain the existing Cattron jobs while securing the new jobs the company expects to create after the new facility is operational.

Laird will begin site preparation and construction in LindenPointe next month, and construction of the new facility is expected to be completed within a year.

Pennsylvania’s Economic Growth Initiative grants support local communities for acquisition and construction of historical, economic, civic and cultural projects.

Gov. Corbett said that with the new facility, Laird Technologies was taking a major step forward in making Western Pennsylvania a home for the high-tech manufacturing sector. He added that the company would be a welcome addition to LindenPointe, and would create well-paying, high-skilled jobs in Mercer County.

Daimler’s $150M Consolidation in Portland Creates 400 Jobs

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced plans to consolidate its corporate headquarters operations in Portland, Oregon.

Daimler Expansion in Portland, OR

Daimler Expansion in Portland, OR (photo – Business Oregon)

As part of the expansion, Daimler is investing $150 to build a new 265,000-square-foot headquarters building and a parking garage.

This new building in the Swan Island campus will consolidate all the Daimler employees working on both sides of the Willamette River.

It will also provide enough space for Daimler to add another 400 new jobs, which the company said it expects to create to support anticipated future growth. Daimler already has nearly 2,000 employees in Oregon.

Daimler has been offered almost $20 million in state and local incentives for the investment and creation of new jobs.

DTNA said the new headquarters would be built to create an environment-friendly workplace, and built to achieve LEED Platinum certification. They are also working with the Port of Portland to enhance the riverfront greenway.

Martin Daum, president and CEO, DTNA, said the new headquarters in Portland, whose plans are being developed with assistance from Portland-based architecture firm Ankrom Moisan, would enhance their employee experience in a contemporary, technically advanced and environment friendly facility.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales were among those present for the announcement.

Gov. Kitzhaber said that Oregon continues to be among the most competitive states for advanced manufacturing, and the Daimler expansion in Portland bolsters that position.

Mayor Hales said he was thrilled that DTNA had announced Portland for the expansion. He said the expansion was great news for the local workforce, including those who worked for DTNA as well as those working for the company’s suppliers, partners and subcontractors.

Mayor Hales also noted that the company was a committed community partner and a proven industry leader.

Along with the announcement for the corporate headquarters building and the 400 new jobs, DTNA also announced nearly $330,000 in donations under the Pathways in Manufacturing and the Daimler Educational Outreach programs.

These are both part of Daimler’s Education in Motion campaign, which includes the company’s corporate giving initiatives that benefit Career and Technical Education (CTE) and science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) programs in 34 schools across the Portland metropolitan area and in Southwest Washington.

DTNA COO Roger Nielsen said there was a significant gap between the pool of skilled workers and available jobs in Portland. He said that by supporting students get ahead in STEM, they were hoping to encourage students to stay in school and prepare for pursuing the manufacturing careers that were available to them.

School Improvement Network Adds 700 Jobs in Salt Lake City

Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network is planning an expansion of their offices in Salt Lake City, and will be creating more than 700 new jobs in the next 10 years.

School Improvement Network

School Improvement Network (photo – schoolimprovement.com)

School Improvement Network is a teacher training organization that partners with schools, school districts and educators in North America to increase student achievement.

Recent legislation enacted in Utah has caused a growth in demand for teacher improvement resources, and School Improvement Network is expanding its operations to meet that demand.

The company has entered into a 10-year agreement with the state, under which it is being provided with incentives for creating jobs and making capital investments.

Over the course of the 10-year agreement period, School Improvement Network will make capital investments of at least $10 million in its Utah offices.

It will create 470 new jobs with average annual wages that are at least 125 percent above the county’s prevailing average annual wage, including benefits. Another 230 jobs will be created with varying pay rates in the next few years.

All put together, School Improvement Network will pay out additional state wages of almost $6 million during the course of the agreement period. The expansion project will generate additional state taxes worth $15 million over the 10-year period.

In order to secure this expansion, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) approved performance-based tax credits of up to of $3,114,789 for School Improvement Network as incentives.

This is 20 percent of the taxes the company is expected to pay during the agreement period. The tax credits will be provided in the form of an EDTIF (Economic Development Tax Increment Financing).

Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert said that growing the state’s economy and improving education are two of his top priorities, and this expansion by School Improvement Network will help educators teach better while creating good-paying jobs for Utah residents.

Chet Linton, CEO and president of School Improvement Network, said they were proud of the company’s Utah roots, and shared the understanding that strong education will build a strong economy.

Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, said it was a win-win-win, with new jobs for Utah citizens, expansion of a program that aids in improving education systems, and the continued success of a business that was founded in Utah.

Custom Foods Expansion in Bath County, KY Creates 200 Jobs

Custom Food Products LLC is expanding its food processing operations in Bath County, Kentucky.

Bath County, KY

Bath County, KY (photo – bathcounty.ky.gov)

CTI Foods, the parent company which acquired Custom Foods in December last year, is investing another $44 million for the expansion.

The project will create 200 new jobs, adding to the existing 150 jobs at the Owingsville plant.

Wilder, Idaho-based CTI Foods now has 2,000 employees nationwide across seven locations.

The facility manufactures processed chicken, beef, turkey, pork, soups, tacos and sauces for foodservice restaurant chains and branded food companies in North and Central America.

This expansion and the acquisition of Custom Foods by CTI Foods are both a part of the company’s strategy to expand on the East Coast.

Bobby Horowitz, president and CEO of CTI Foods, said that CTI had been looking to expand into the East Coast market for several years, and spent a lot of time in Owingsville as part of their investigation before the acquisition. He said they were impressed with the skills, desire and attitude of the Custom Foods employees to make the business successful.

Horowitz also noted that they looked at several other options on the East Coast, but it became clear to the management team that eastern Kentucky would be the best place for a significant expansion.

CTI foods has an existing food manufacturing facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Custom Foods has another plant in Carson, California, which was also its headquarters before the acquisition.

CTI foods additionally has plants in Azusa, Calif.; Wilder, Idaho; and two plants in Saginaw, Texas.

To secure the project, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) approved Custom Food Products LLC for up to $3 million in tax incentives.

These incentives are being offered under the Kentucky Business Investment program, which allows recipients to recoup a part of their investment through wage assessments and corporate income tax credits, subject to their meeting job creation and investment commitments.

Custom Foods is additionally getting $100,000 under the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, as a reimbursement of part of the company’s sales and use tax liability on purchase of construction material, R&D equipment and electronic processing equipment.

Owingsville Mayor Gary Hunt said the project would have a tremendous positive impact on the economies of Bath County and the entire region, and he was grateful to everyone who had a role in facilitating the Custom Foods expansion.

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