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The State of the Rural South's Economy

Selling your Rural Community's Assets

Small Town's with Unique Assets

Highly touted reshoring event hits speed bump, says A.T. Kearney. Really?

Chinese investment surfacing in the South? Yes, finally.

The performance of this Southern industry sector of late has earned an official name: the "Southern Aerospace Corridor."

A success story from the Mississippi River Delta

The 50-year economic development war in the U.S. is over; the South won.

The big dogs are about to eat: Soon, the automotive industry will light up the Southern Auto Corridor again 

Kentucky: The Spirit of the South

New Build-Ready Program Making More Sites Ready-To-Go

A Perfect Partnership

Next Gen KIH Program Taking Broadband to Every Corner of the State

Digital Version

Aerospace Industry Takes Off in the American South

Launching Pad for Growth and Innovation

In "Plane" View

"The Best Airplane Built in America"

Aerospace Industry State Overviews

Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Non-Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Ten Reasons Why Manufacturing is Booming in The South

The Most Southern Place on Earth

Ensuring a resilient Delta Region by training a skilled workforce

Driving toward success in Alabama's Black Belt

Arkansas's Big River Steel has found its home in the heart of America's Delta Region

Building a healthy economy and a healthy workforce in Illinois

Innovation and collaboration are building a Work Ready Kentucky

Louisiana's industry off to a fast start

Perfected in Mississippi

Certifying Southeast Missouri and beyond

Select Tennessee sites offer competitive edge

Reshoring and its potential effect on the Mississippi River Delta region

  
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 Small Town South News
April 2017
 
The South leads all U.S. regions in population growth
With a 6.8 percent growth in regional population, the South led all U.S. regions in growth from 2010 to 2016 according to the Census Bureau. The West was close behind at 6.5 percent, followed by the Northeast with 1.6 percent and the Midwest at 1.5 percent. 
 
Pew Research says without immigrants, U.S. workforce would shrink significantly
For decades, economists could rely on about 200,000 people a month joining the workforce in the U.S. The last two years has seen that figure drop to about 70,000. And with Baby Boomers retiring in droves over the next decade, Pew Research says a steady flow of immigrants will be needed to keep the workforce growing. Pew claims that if the current rate of both legal and illegal immigration continues, the number of working-age adults (24 to 64) will rise to 183.2 million in 2035. Without immigrants, the workforce will fall from today's 174 million to 165.6 million in 2035. It should be noted that immigrants currently are responsible for nearly half the population growth of the U.S., and that illegal immigration has dropped significantly in the last five years. 
 
U.S. enters third-longest economic expansion
In March, the U.S. entered the 93rd month of economic expansion, surpassing the 92-month expansion of the 1980s. That makes this 93-month growth in GDP the third-longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Only the expansions from 1991 to 2001 and 1961 to 1969 were longer. 
 
The U.S. economy has reach "Goldilocks" state
John Williams, the head of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, declared in late March to the Forecasters Club, a group of economists in New York, that with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate the nation is "at full employment." He also declared that with inflation "nearing" the Fed's goal of 2 percent, the U.S. has achieved the not-too-hot, not-too-cold "Goldilocks economy." 
 
Arkansas employment falls to 3.7 percent, lowest on record
In February, Arkansas' unemployment rate continued to fall to the lowest on record at 3.7 percent. The rate was 3.8 percent in January 2017 and 4.1 percent in February 2016. 
 
First "smart" steel mill now in production in Arkansas
San Francisco-based artificial intelligence (AI) firm Noodle.ai has teamed up with Big River Steel to develop the first smart steel mill production facility in Osceola, Ark. Sensors have been positioned throughout the mill, optimizing a variety of functions. The AI enables the mill to react to production challenges automatically as the facility itself learns how to be more accurate and efficient in the same way a driverless car learns with each trip. Much of the steel made at Big River is used in the automotive industry. 
 
Automotive industry in Mississippi keeps growing
Mississippi is home to two OEMs, the Toyota assembly facility in Blue Springs and Nissan's plant in Canton. The two plants support an estimated 31,700 direct and indirect jobs, and an annual payroll of $722 million, not including almost 200 suppliers to the plants. 
 
Honda investing $85 million in Alabama assembly plant
Honda's $2.2 billion, 3.7 million-square-foot assembly plant in Lincoln, Ala., is about to get bigger. The Japanese automaker announced in the spring the first phase of a multi-phase project to improve manufacturing, logistics and prepare for future technologies at the plant. The facility produces the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV, Ridgeline pickup and the Acura MDX SUV. The plant also produces V-6 engines for each of those models. Honda's Alabama assembly plant employs more than 4,500 employees and has drawn about 30 tier one suppliers that employ another 7,600. 
 
Auto supplier expands in Tennessee
Toledo Molding & Die is one of the newest manufacturers in Fayetteville, Tenn., but it already is expanding. The company expects to add 250 to 400 jobs within the next year and will double the size of its plant in 2018. 
 
Disposable products manufacturer to set up shop in Morristown, Tenn. 
Wisconsin-based Rockline Industries is investing $40 million in a new plant in Morristown and hiring 250. The company makes everything from coffee filters to wet wipes. 
 
Ford supplier investing in Kentucky plants
Tower Automotive is investing almost $50 million in two existing facilities in Bardstown and Shepherdsville, Ky. Operations at the two plants include stamping, welded assemblies and frames for a variety of vehicles assembled in Kentucky. The projects will create 60 jobs. 
 
Monster Moto opens HQ, manufacturing facility in Ruston, La. 
Monster Moto has opened its new headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Ruston. The plant assembles minibikes, go-carts and other vehicles. Combined, the two deals will create 287 jobs. 
 
South Carolina port breaks ground on inland port
The South Carolina State Ports Authority broke ground on its second inland port in the spring quarter in Dillon County, S.C. The $40 million Inland Port Dillon facility will be served by CSX, where containers from the Port of Charleston will be loaded onto trains. 
 
$40 million investment in Virginia dairy farm
Shamrock Farms, one of the largest family owned dairies in the U.S., is investing $40 million to expand its operation in Augusta County, Va. The project will double the farm's production capacity and add 70 jobs. 
 
Steel Dynamics opens new $100 million paint shop in Columbus, Miss. 
Gov. Phil Bryant, CEO Mark Millett and local representatives gathered in late March for the grand opening of Steel Dynamics' new $100 million paint facility. The project created 40 new jobs.
 
Hershey adding jobs in rural Virginia
Hershey Chocolate is expanding its plant in Stuart Draft, Va. The plant is Hershey's second largest U.S. plant with more than 900 employees. This latest expansion will add 69 new jobs. 
 
Apparel company acquired; 133 jobs to be added in North Carolina
Sri Lanka-based MAS Capital, an apparel and textile manufacturer, has purchased Acme-McCrary's assets in Asheboro, N.C. The new company is investing $20 million in the plant and adding 133 jobs to the existing workforce. 
 
$100 million solar farm to be built in South Carolina
Dominion announced in the spring it plans to build, own and operate two solar generating facilities in Jasper County, S.C. The $100 million project will be built on 900 acres and will generate 81.4 megawatts of power. 
 
Manufacturer expanding in rural Mississippi
KeyTronicEMS, a contract electronics manufacturer based in Spokane, Wash., is investing $500,000 and adding 75 jobs at its plant in Corinth, Miss. The company current employs 230 at the facility. 
 
Manufacturer relocating to West Virginia
Elgin Industries is moving its plant to Princeton, W.Va., from Virginia. The $1.8 million project will create 79 jobs. 
 
Baxter Healthcare creating 90 jobs in North Carolina
Baxter Healthcare is expanding its IV solution bag manufacturing facility in McDowell County, N.C. The company makes about 1.3 million IV bags a day at its 1.4 million-square-foot plant in North Cave. Baxter is investing $7.4 million and adding 90 jobs. 
 
Goods-producing jobs added most jobs in 17 years
In February, goods-producing industries, which include mining construction and manufacturing, added 95,000 jobs, the most since 2000. In February, employers added an above-forecast 235,000 jobs. 
 
$450 million refinery to rise in West Texas
Austin-based MMEX Resources announced it will build a $450 million refinery in the Permian Basin in the West Texas county of Pecos. When operating, the project will have the capability of processing up to 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day, converting crude into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. 
 
$50 billion worth of petrochemical capacity to come online this year and next
Cheap and plentiful natural gas brought about by the shale gas boom is transforming the Gulf Coast with tens of billions of new petrochemical plants coming online this year and in 2018. The U.S. is expected to see a wave of $50 billion in new plant openings -- mainly ethylene -- in the next two years, followed by another wave of over $75 billion from 2020 to 2023. In total, the plants being built could generate 80,000 direct jobs. Between 2000 and 2010, some petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast were closing, but shale has allowed the industry to come back like never before. The large ethylene plants are so energy intensive that it is now cheaper to operate them in the U.S. -- specifically the South's Gulf Coast -- than in any other country in the world. One petrochemical plant can consume 75,000 of barrels of oil equivalent a day. 
 
Toyota and its suppliers support nearly 30,000 jobs in Kentucky
Toyota's assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky., is one of the largest in the world. According to a study by the Center for Automotive Research, in 2015, Toyota and its suppliers accounted for $1.8 billion in payroll and supported nearly 30,000 jobs in Kentucky. The study also showed that Toyota's 30-year impact on the Commonwealth's economy stood at $6.6 billion. 
 
Poultry producer hiring 100 in rural Georgia
Aviagen, a broiler breeder, is investing $18 million in a hatching facility in Brooks County, Ga. The project will create 100 jobs. 
 
New distillery opens in Kentucky
Bulleit Distilling Co. opened its new distillery in Shelbyville, Ky., in the spring quarter. The $130 million project will create 30 jobs. 
 
Auto supplier investing $129 million in South Carolina
Madrid, Spain-based Gestamp is investing $129 million in its plant in Union County, S.C. The maker of metal automotive components is also adding 130 jobs. 
 
Canadian company picks West Virginia for new plant
Bidell Gas Compression will repurpose a 100,000-square-foot building in Weirton, W.Va., to fabricate natural gas compression equipment. The project will create 130 jobs. 
 
Honda investing $100 million in Georgia transmission plant
Japanese automaker Honda Motor Company is investing $100 million at its transmission plant in Tallapoosa, Ga. The investment will enable the plant to produce the world's first 10-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles. The 10-speed transmission will first be installed in the 2018 Odyssey minivan model that is assembled 58 miles to the west of the Georgia plant at Honda's assembly facility in Lincoln, Ala.
 
Chinese manufacturer expanding in rural Alabama
GD Copper USA, a subsidiary of China-based Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group, is adding 40 jobs at its plant in Wilcox County. The company, which employs about 300, produces about 100 million pounds of copper tubing each year.
 
Energy recovery systems manufacturer adding jobs in rural Virginia
Munters Corp., a manufacturer of energy recovery systems and custom air-handling equipment, is investing $2.5 million to upgrade its plant in Buena Vista, Va. The deal will create 100 jobs. 
 
Another auto supplier expansion in Laurens County, S.C.
Fukoku America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Fukoku, is investing $13.9 million to grow its operations in Laurens County, S.C. Fukoku is the largest producer of wiper blade rubber in the world. The deal will create 65 jobs. 
 
  
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