Job Creation

Facebook Announces $300M Data Center in Altoona, Iowa

Facebook has officially announced that it has chosen Altoona, Iowa as the site for its third data center in the United States and fourth in the world, following existing data centers in Prineville, Oregon and Forest City, North Carolina, in addition to another one in Luleå, Sweden.

Rendering of Facebook data center in Altoona, IA

Rendering of Facebook data center in Altoona, IA (photo – Facebook)

Facebook will invest a minimum of $299.5 million for the project, which is expected to create 31 jobs at average hourly wages of $23.12.

This investment will be for the first phase of the project, and will be used to build a 476,000-square-foot energy efficient data center with an outdoor cooling system.

Facebook has applied for and got approval from the City of Altoona for a total of three such phases.

The total investment for all phases combined at this time is estimated to be a billion dollars, with the possibility of the project being further expanded to 1.4 million square feet for a total investment by Facebook of $1.5 billion.

Facebook is planning for a green design for the building that will enable it to apply for LEED Gold certification.

Altoona Mayor Skip Conkling said he wanted to thank all parties involved for helping the city secure the project.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) held a meeting today during which it approved $18 million in incentives for Facebook under the state’s High Quality Jobs program. This includes $8 million in sales tax refunds for equipment and construction material purchase, and another $10 million in tax credits.

The City of Altoona has additionally agreed to a 20-year property tax abatement.

Jay Parikh, vice president of infrastructure engineering for Facebook, said that they were excited about having found a new home in Iowa with its plentiful wind energy and a great talent pool that would help them build and operate the data center.

Facebook will break ground on the site this summer, and will have the facility operational by next year.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was also on hand for the announcement in Altoona, and said that Facebook’s selection of Altoona for its data center would further cement Iowa’s status as a destination for tech companies.

Coincidentally (or not…), the same IEDA board meeting also approved a request by Google for more tax credits for another $400 million expansion of its Council Bluffs, Iowa data center.

This will be on top of the initial $600 million investment and the $300 million expansion announced last year by Google, for which the state had approved $9.6 million in tax incentives. Google had applied to have it increased to $16.8 million to facilitate this latest $400 million expansion.

North American Lighting Announces $50M Expansion in Paris, IL

Automotive lighting supplier North American Lighting Inc. announced that it plans to invest $50 million for an expansion of its manufacturing plant in Paris, Illinois.

North American Lighting

North American Lighting (photo –

North American Lighting is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan-based Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and is the largest of North America’s non-affiliated lighting suppliers.

The expansion involves addition of 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space and new equipment for additional production lines that will create 300 new jobs.

The company already has 250,000 square feet of space at the Paris facility, which has more than 870 employees. The company has more than 2,600 full-time jobs in the region.

Greg Conrad, president and COO at North American Lighting, said the auto industry’s recovery meant more business for the company, which in turn meant that they were able to bring new business to Illinois. Conrad added that they were standing by their commitment to serve as an economic anchor for southeastern Illinois.

It helps, of course, that the state agreed to provide $4.4 million in incentives. This includes performance-based EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) tax credits worth $3.2 million over a 10-year period.

Another million dollar grant is being offered through the Large Business Development Program. Lastly, the company is eligible for $150,000 in training grants under the Employer Training Investment Program.

Adam Pollet, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), said the new North American Lighting jobs in Paris would help energize (pun intended?) the area communities.

Pollet said the expansion was secured by Illinois because they had kept in touch with company officials ever since North American Lighting moved its corporate HQ to Paris, and knew exactly what the company needed in order to go ahead with the expansion.

Paris, IL has been the corporate headquarters of North American Lighting since 2005, and they have additional Illinois manufacturing facilities in Salem and Flora. North American Lighting has a production facility in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and a technology center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Grand Design RV to Add 500 Jobs and open HQ in Elkhart, IN

Newly formed recreational vehicle manufacturer Grand Design RV, LLC announced plans to set up its headquarters and expand manufacturing in Elkhart County, Indiana.

Solitude - Grand Design RV

Solitude – Grand Design RV (photo –

The company plans to add 500 new jobs by 2016, in addition to the 115 existing jobs that have been created in the first four months of the company’s existence.

Back in 2012, three Keystone RV leaders decided to set up their own company. Grand Design RV President Don Clark, along with co-owners Bill and Ron Fenech, had just left their jobs and invested $11.1 million to purchase and equip the vacant Four Seasons Housing facility in the Town of Middlebury.

The 67-acre facility has four plants which add up into 400,000 square feet of manufacturing space which had been used by Four Seasons for production of mobile homes.

That was a grand enough design, but they probably outdid their own expectations by getting their only model – an extended fifth-wheel named Solitude, out into the market in January 2013 and quickly selling 100 units by March 19, 2013.

On the same day, they also announced that the company had hired its 100th employee. That number has now crept up to 115, with another 500 administration, sales, distribution and manufacturing positions to be filled over the next few years as the company solidified plans to set up their headquarters in Middlebury, add a second RV model and produce 1,750 RVs this year.

Don Clark said they were always going to choose Elkhart County, and were very much interested in Middlebury in particular, because of the experienced RV workforce and supplier network that was readily available.

Not to mention that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) provided additional motivation to stay put in Indiana with $2.85 million in performance-based tax credits and another $200,000 in the form of a training grant. Middlebury is providing additional local incentives.

Elkhart County Council member David Hess said that Grand design could have gone to a neighboring state, but they chose Elkhart County because of the local expertise in recreational vehicles and the automotive sector.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said that there was no better place for Grand Design to set up their operations than the RV capital of the world.

As per the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, the industry as a whole produced 26,100 RVs in February this year. More than 83 percent of all U.S. RV production is centered in Indiana.

Kentucky Approves $146.5M Incentives for $531M Toyota Expansion

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) has preliminary approved $146.5 million in tax incentives in order to secure a possible $531.2 million expansion of the Toyota plant in Georgetown, KY.

Toyota Georgetown, KY plant

Toyota Georgetown, KY plant (photo –

The expansion to add capacity for producing 50,000 units of a new vehicle model will create 750 new full-time jobs at average hourly wages of $26.

Of the total $531.2 million, building construction and improvements will require a $63.2 million investment. Equipment purchase will need $326 million, and the remaining $142 million would be required for tooling and packaging.

If Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) goes ahead with this expansion, the agreement with KEDFA calls for at least 570 of the 750 new jobs being created to be filled by Kentucky residents.

In return for adding the new jobs and retaining the existing 6,169 full-time jobs at the Georgetown plant, TMMK will get a total of $146.5 million in tax incentives over a 10-year period, starting with $50 million in the first year and $25 million for each of the subsequent two years.

TMMK gets these incentives only if they fulfill a commitment to invest $100 million in the first three years, and retain at least 6,066 full-time jobs at the plant over the 10-year period of the agreement.

The state is paying most of the $146.5 million in incentives through the Kentucky Jobs Retention Act, while Georgetown and Scott County are chipping in with 10 percent each.

This preliminary approval of the incentives package has been provided to TMMK so that it can successfully compete with other Toyota plants for the $351 million expansion. Toyota North America has not yet finalized which plant should get the new model, production of which has to begin in fall 2015.

TMMK is already Toyota’s largest facility in North America, and has an existing capability for manufacturing 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines per year. Toyota has invested $6 billion in the Kentucky plant to-date since the plant was established in 1986.


Minnesota Introduces Legislation to Secure $300M Baxter Project

Deerfield, IL-based healthcare company Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX) and the State of Minnesota are close to finalizing what could be a $300 million biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant project in Brooklyn Park, MN.


Baxter (photo –

The company has already purchased the shuttered Genmab facility in Brooklyn Park for $10 million, and plans to spend another $60 million to make improvements to the plant’s cell-culture manufacturing capabilities.

This initial phase would create 190 new jobs with average annual wages of $75,000. In the second phase, Baxter would expand the existing 215,000-square-foot facility.

This expansion would require a $100 investment for construction and another $150 million for equipment purchase, and the company is holding back on this investment decision because they want incentives for the expansion.

Without naming the company, Gov. Mark Dayton said the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) had been working on this project for months.

Their efforts seem to have paid off, because State Representatives Melissa Hortman and Ann Lenczewski introduced legislation (HF 1781) yesterday that amends Minnesota statutes to offer an unnamed biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility sales and use tax exemptions.

All this was done without the company’s name being disclosed to even the lawmakers, except under the code name of “Project Fern.”

The bill approving sales tax exemptions for construction material and equipment purchase was included in and pushed through at a hearing on Tuesday as part of the House Omnibus tax bill. The company will also be provided a $5 million forgivable loan.

At the local level, Brooklyn Park is offering about $1.5 million in property tax abatements. It works out to $4,000 to $8,000 in property tax rebates per new job created for the next ten years.

In the U.S., Baxter has around 19,000 employees across 80 facilities, which includes 13 manufacturing plants.

Their global headquarters and other locations in Illinois have more than 5,400 employees, with additional operations in Arkansas (800 employees), California (2,800), Florida (400), Indiana (1,000), Mississippi (650) and North Carolina (1,900).

Baxter has 50,800 employees around the world, and generated 2012 sales of $14.2 billion, of which $6.2 billion was in biosciences.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Announces $250M Expansion in Devens, MA

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMS) announced that it is planning to spend $250 million for an expansion of the company’s biologics manufacturing facility in Devens, Massachusetts.

Bristol-Myers Squibb facility in Devens, MA

Bristol-Myers Squibb facility in Devens, MA (photo –

The expansion will include the construction of two new buildings on the 89-acre Devens campus 45 miles west of Boston for introducing clinical trial manufacturing and biologics development capabilities to what is now a purely manufacturing site.

The project will create 350 new jobs. The company already employs 400 people at the Devens facility, spread across 400,000 square feet in six buildings. The expansion into two new buildings will add another 200,000 square feet.

Lou Schmukler, president, Global Manufacturing & Supply at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said that biologics were a growing component in the company’s pipeline of potential therapies, and this expansion would accelerate development by closely aligning their manufacturing process with biologics R&D.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has not applied for incentives for this particular expansion, offered by the state through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC). When the New York-based company first decided to set up the Devens facility back in 2006, Massachusetts had to provide an incentives package of around $100 million, mostly in the form of tax breaks.

At that time, Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to invest at least $650 million and create 350 new jobs, with another 200 jobs to be added afterwards. They have already invested $750 million for the Devens facility, which has been operational since 2009.

The company also acquired Waltham, MA-based biologics company Adnexus in 2007, so they have another 60 employees in Waltham now.

Combined with this latest $250 million expansion, Bristol-Myers Squibb will have invested a billion dollars in Massachusetts and created 750 new jobs, which means their performance has been a lot better than what was agreed to.

MA Gov. Deval Patrick said that the state’s economic development team had been working closely with Bristol-Myers Squibb as they were looking at locations for the expansion, and added that he looked forward to the company adding more jobs and providing economic opportunities in Massachusetts.

Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC, said that Massachusetts was adding jobs in the life sciences industry faster than any other state, with nine of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies now having established a presence in Massachusetts.

She added that these companies were attracted by the renowned academic institutions, a vibrant cluster of innovative startups, a talented workforce, and the billion-dollar Life Sciences Initiative.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will begin construction later this year, and complete the expansion by 2015. In the meantime, they are getting started by relocating some of their biologics process development to a nearby temporary 30,000-square-foot facility in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia to Add 200 Jobs in Columbus

Jennifer Wade, vice president of operations and resource planning at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, announced that they were adding 200 new jobs in Columbus, GA to ensure smooth implementation of federal health care reform policies under the Affordable Care Act.

Blue Cross Blue Shield announcement in Columbus

Blue Cross Blue Shield announcement in Columbus (photo –

BCBSGa President Morgan Kendrick said that the new positions are being created specifically to help customers navigate through the changes they will face as the ACA is implemented in Georgia.

Some 40 million people across the U.S. who are currently uninsured will join the ranks of the insured next year. Out of this, 1,592,479 are non-elderly and uninsured people in Georgia who will qualify for tax credits to purchase coverage the health insurance marketplace.

BCBSGa is hoping to get around a million of these new customers, to add to their existing 2.4 million customers.

Kendrick added that the new jobs were important and would provide solid benefits for the hired employees. The jobs were for both managerial and entry level positions in customer service, training, claims and other back-office operational activities.

BCBSGa already has 3,000 associates in eight separate locations in the state, including 1,200 in Columbus not including the 200 new jobs.

Of the existing 1,200 jobs, only around 700 are full-time office jobs, while the rest are telecommute positions. The new hires will have to come to the Blue Cross office complex in Columbus for training, but some of them might be allowed to telecommute afterwards.

The company is hoping to fill some of the initial positions available right now through a job fair planned for April 20 in partnership with the Georgia Department of Labor. The rest of the new positions will be filled in stages over the next few months.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the new jobs would give a boost to the local economy, and they were looking forward to working closely with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia as they implemented the expansion.

Mike Gaymon, Columbus Chamber president and CEO, said they believed in and practiced regionalism, so when one company such as Blue Cross of Georgia wins, the whole region wins.

Anderson County, SC Snags SMF Inc. Manufacturing Plant

Minonk, Illinois-based metal fabrication company SMF Inc. announced that it will be opening a new manufacturing facility in Anderson County, South Carolina.

SMF Inc.

SMF Inc. (photo – Anderson County, SC)

SMF will invest $5.8 million, and the project is expected to create 146 new jobs in the next five years at average hourly wages of $16.50.

The new plant will be able to begin operations as early as July, since they are setting up the plant in an existing building.

Brian Brown, president of SMF Inc., said South Carolina was an excellent location that would aid in their regional business development plans. He added that the state had a good business environment and the kind of workforce talent they needed. Brown also said they appreciate all the support they got from local and state officials during the process.

The South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved SMF for job development credits. Anderson County, for its part, did a lot of the spadework for this project under the codename of “Project EMB” without revealing the real identity of the employer.

SMF has been offered a 30-year PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) deal . They would start by paying $46,487 in 2014, and their adjusted payments over time would add up to more than $504,000 over the next 20 years. Over the course of the next 30 years, SMF is expected to pay Anderson County nearly $700,000.

The county also offered a $50,000 waiver on the permitting fees the company was required to pay. Francis Crowder, chairman of the Anderson County Council, said SMF’s choice of the county was proof of their growing success in attracting quality companies.

This is the second major manufacturing plant jobs announcement by Anderson County in this week. A couple of days ago, they announced that McLaughlin Body Company – the first supplier to follow Caterpillar into South Carolina, would be setting up a new $22 million manufacturing plant in Anderson County that would create 250 new jobs.

South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt called it part of the state’s “manufacturing renaissance” and added that South Carolinians knew how to make things, and make them well.

Drew Industries Getting $4.3M in Tax Credits for Relocation to Indiana

In Feb 2013, Drew Industries Incorporated (NYSE: DW) had announced plans to relocate their corporate headquarters from White Plains, New York to Elkhart, Indiana.

Drew Industries

Drew Industries (photo –

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has now announced more details about the relocation project.

The corporate relocation coupled with a $12.7 million expansion of its manufacturing facilities in the cities of Goshen and Elkhart will create 800 new jobs by 2017.

To be specific, the expansions are for Lippert Components, Inc. and Kinro, Inc., wholly owned Drew subsidiaries which produce components for recreational vehicles and manufactured homes.

The corporate relocation makes sense because over the last few years, Drew has repeatedly chosen the sites in Goshen in Elkhart for expansions and new plants, while its corporate headquarters is far away in Upstate New York.

When it announced the relocation, the company had said in a statement that it would be cost-effective and also ‚Äúresult in an even greater exchange of ideas and expertise between Drew’s management team and executives across the RV and manufactured housing industries.‚Äù

Jason D. Lippert, chairman and CEO of Lippert Components and Kinro, said the relocation of their corporate headquarters made sense because most RVs made in the USA are actually manufactured in Elkhart County.

Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore said this would further solidify Elkhart’s position as the world’s RV capital.

To secure the project, IEDC offered Drew $4.3 million in conditional tax credits, along with another $200,000 in the form of training grants tied to the company’s job creation performance. The cities of Goshen and Elkhart are additionally providing tax abatements as local incentives.

Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman said the county is fortunate to have Drew Industries, which has become one of the county’s largest employers.  Drew has a total of 5,200 full-time employees in 30 factories spread across the U.S., out of which 3,400 jobs are located in Indiana.

Governor Mike Pence said the company’s decision to relocate its corporate headquarters and expand manufacturing in Indiana builds on the state’s strength as the RV capital of the world, and is more proof of Indiana’s talented workforce and competitive tax environment.

South Carolina Plans $120M Incentives For $1B Boeing Expansion

Boeing Co. has told South Carolina officials that it plans to invest $1 billion at its North Charleston 787 facility.

Boeing plant in North Charleston, SC

Boeing plant in North Charleston, SC (photo –

The expansion will create an estimated 2,000 new jobs by 2020. Boeing already has 6,000 employees in North Charleston.

Around half the new jobs created will be IT jobs for a new center of excellence the company plans to set up in North Charleston, while the rest will be production or engineering jobs for the 787.

As per the Post and Courier, SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell plans to introduce legislation to raise $120 million in bonds to provide Boeing with an incentive package for its expansion. State Sen. Hugh Leatherman will be a co-sponsor for the legislation.

Back in 2009, when Boeing chose the North Charleston plant as its first aircraft assembly site outside Washington, they were offered $450 million in incentives by South Carolina. In return, Boeing had agreed that they would be investing at least $750 million and would be creating at least 3,600 jobs.

Boeing broke ground on the 1.2-million-square-foot facility in Nov 2009. Production kicked off in July 2011, and the first 787 Dreamliner rolled out of the plant in April 2012. This plant is one of three sites in the world capable of assembling and delivering twin-aisled commercial airplanes.

The company also has a plant nearby that produces 787 interior parts for the main assembly and delivery facility. The company has already delivered on its part of the agreement by investing over $1 billion in South Carolina since 2009, and now has more than 6,000 workers at the plant.

The 1,000 IT jobs and the new “Center of Excellence” North Charleston is getting is part of an IT consolidation plan by Boeing to move around half of its IT work to three main locations, with North Charleston being one of these three.

The stated reason for the move is that the company is facing increased demand for IT services, and this consolidation helps them meet it without adding more costs.

Boeing has a total of 7,900 IT personnel, and many of the 1,000 IT positions being created in South Carolina are likely to be filled by some of these existing employees.

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