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Sunday, September 24, 2017
 News Archives

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

 Small Town South News
June 2017

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to For all projects announced in the South, go to For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to
Texas, Florida at the top of Chief Executive magazine's ranking
For the 13th straight year, Texas sat atop Chief Executive's "2017 Best & Worst States for Business." The ranking is based on a poll the publication puts out to CEOs. Florida came in second, followed by North Carolina and South Carolina. Making up the rest of the top 10 were Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin. 
Tennessee is the first state in the nation to make community college free to all adults
Tennessee lawmakers approved legislation in the spring quarter that will expand the Tennessee Promise education program, launched in 2014, which made community college tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates. Now, adults who do not have a two- or four-year degree can also attend for free beginning in the 2018 fall semester. 
Kentucky sets annual investment record in first five months of 2017
Kentucky has set its annual capital investment record in May, thanks to investments by Toyota, Amazon and others earlier in the year. Gov. Matt Bevin announced May 26th that the state has raised $5.8 billion in investment commitments from companies locating or expanding in the Commonwealth. The previous record was $5.1 billion in calendar year 2015.  
China automaker Great Wall Motor to build North American plant
In May, the CEO of China's Great Wall Motor Company said that the company is searching for sites in Mexico and the U.S. to build a new assembly plant. Great Wall is China's largest SUV and pickup truck manufacturer. Officials with the company told Reuters that the site choice will depend on trade issues among the U.S., Mexico and China. 
Automotive, aerospace industries prompt big deal in Eastern Kentucky
In the spring, startup aluminum manufacturer Braidy Industries announced it will build a 2.5 million-square-foot, fully integrated aluminum rolling mill in Eastern Kentucky that they say will be the "most technically advanced mill in the U.S." The plant will produce about 370,000 tons of aluminum per year. The $1.3 billion project will create 1,000 construction jobs and 500 full-time, high-paying jobs in Greenup County. Growth in the automotive and aerospace industries and their increased use of aluminum as a lighter replacement of steel prompted the building of the new mill. As of May 2017, Eastern Kentucky has lost over 8,000 coal jobs, meaning the mill located near Ashland on the Ohio River should have plenty of labor available in what is an ever-increasing tight labor market in the American South. 
Big Louisiana project is now even bigger
The previously announced LNG export facility on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Cameron Parish, La., was originally an $11 billion project. Now G2, who is building the facility, is adding a petrochemical plant, bringing total investment on the two plants to $23 billion. At buildout, the two projects will create 6,000 construction jobs and 700 permanent positions. 
Hino adds production line in Marion, Ark. 
Hino Motors Manufacturing, a division of Toyota, has started a new production line at its plant in Marion, Ark. The company is now producing rear axles and other components for the Toyota Tacoma. Over the last few years, Hino has invested more than $280 million in the plant that also produces suspension components, stampings and frames for a variety of Toyota models. 
China textile company announces big Arkansas deal
Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, a manufacturer of yarn for textiles, announced in the spring it will invest $410 million to repurpose the former Sanyo plant in Forrest City, Ark. It's the first North American plant for Ruyi. The company, which will process more than 200,000 tons of Arkansas-grown cotton, will hire 800 in the deal. 
TVA approves $300 million strategic fiber expansion
The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors approved a $300 million strategic fiber initiative that will expand the company's fiber capacity of its transmission system. The expansion will meet the power company's bandwidth to accommodate new distributed energy resources. TVA's expanded fiber network will also make available added capacity to local communities in rural areas of the South to help attract jobs. 
Large solar farm slated for rural Arkansas
Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy is building a 475-acre solar farm near Stuttgart, Ark. Once completed, the facility will be home to more than 350,000 solar panels. NextEra will build, own and operate the solar farm and the energy will serve Entergy Arkansas customers. 
Distribution center slated for East Mississippi
Texas-based BWI Companies, a farm and garden retailer, has broken ground on a new distribution in Marion, Miss., near Meridian. The project will create 40 jobs. 
Electrolux investing in South Carolina plant
Charlotte-based Electrolux is investing $200 million to upgrade its plant in Anderson, S.C. The company will add 800,000 square feet. No additional jobs to the 1,300 already housed at the plant will be created.  
Vinyl manufacturer expands in Tennessee
Homeland Vinyl, a manufacturer of vinyl deck, fencing and railing, is expanding its plant in Hawkins County, Tenn. The company is adding 50 jobs. 
Apple investing $200 million in Kentucky plant
Apple is investing $200 million in Corning's Gorilla Glass plant located in Harrodsburg, Ky. The glass is used in iPhones. No jobs were given in the announcement. 
Aluminum manufacturer expanding in Georgia
Douglas, Ga.-based Elixir Extrusions is investing $8 million in its plant in Coffee County, Ga. The company makes custom aluminum extrusions and parts in a 250,000-square-foot facility for a variety of industry sectors. The expansion will add space and 100 jobs at the facility. 
Another tire manufacturer captured by Tennessee
Finland-based Nokian Tyres announced in the spring it will build a $360 million tire production plant in Dayton, Tenn. It is the largest foreign direct investment in Rhea County's history. The new 830,000-square-foot plant will house 400 workers. 
Manufacturer picks Dyersburg, Tenn., for plant
Frazier Industrial Co. announced in the spring it will build a new manufacturing plant in Dyersburg. The company makes structural storage racking systems. The $17.4 million, 175,000-square-foot deal will create 120 new jobs. 
Glass manufacturer in Wichita Falls breaks ground on expansion
Vitro Architectural Glass broke ground this spring on an expansion of its facilities in Wichita Falls, Texas. The company makes glass for commercial facilities. The $55 million project will create 50 jobs. 
BAE adding jobs in Aiken County, S.C.
BAE Systems, which integrates electronic and tactical vehicles, and provides IT security services at its facility in Aiken County, S.C., is upgrading its facilities there. The company will invest $8.4 million and add 120 jobs.   
One of the largest yarn spinners in the world adding jobs in rural Alabama
Frontier Spinning Mills, the second largest yarn spinner in the Western Hemisphere, is adding new equipment and jobs at its plant in Elmore County, Ala. The company will invest $6 million and add 18 jobs to the 120 that are housed at the plant now. 
Big deal in Northeast Louisiana
Graphic Packaging and DHL are teaming up to inject millions into facilities in West Monroe and Monroe, La. Graphic Packaging announced it is investing $120 million in its West Monroe mill, and will also pump $70 million into a new 1.27 million-square-foot folding carton plant on the 726-acre Millhaven Road property on Interstate 20 in Monroe. DHL Supply Chain will also invest $84 million in the new facility. 
TVA's 49 reservoirs created $12 billion economic impact last year
According to a study from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, the total economic effect from recreational and visitor uses of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 49 reservoirs totaled $11.9 billion in calendar year 2016. TVA is the nation's largest public utility and provides electricity to about 9 million people in seven Southern states. 
Kia rolls out one-millionth Sorento model at Georgia plant
In the spring quarter, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia celebrated the assembly of its West Point, Ga., plant's one-millionth Sorento model. KMMG launched production of the Sorento in November 2009. The $1.1 billion plant supports more than 15,000 jobs in West Georgia. 
Natural food company locating facility in South Carolina
Moore's Food Resources, a manufacturer of natural foods, is opening a $15 million bakery in Piedmont, S.C. The deal will create 180 jobs. 
Food processor adding jobs in Georgia
Lake Foods, a provider of food products to food processing companies, is investing $8 million to expand its plant in Hart County, Ga. The project will create 130 new full-time jobs. 
Frozen food plant to be built in Missouri
Ajinomoto Windsor is building a new frozen appetizer plant in Joplin, Mo. The deal will create 200 jobs. 
Kraft Heinz opens expanded plant in Missouri
Kraft Heinz has opened its $250 million expanded plant in Kirksville, Mo. In 2016, the company announced it would add seven new Oscar Mayer meat production lines, nearly tripling the size of the plant to over 450,000 square feet. Two hundred jobs were created in the expansion. 
Healthcare firm opens new headquarters in rural Mississippi
Avectus Healthcare Solutions has completed the expansion of its headquarters in Corinth, Miss. The company has added 130 jobs. 
Auto parts supplier expands in Kentucky
Kobe Aluminum is investing $51 million in its plant in Bowling Green, Ky. The parts supplier will increase its headcount from 500 to 629. 
Eastman expanding Virginia plant
Eastman Chemical will invest $11.7 million at its plant in Henry County, Va. The company will expand capacity for performance films used in a variety of industries. The deal will create 15 jobs. 
Delta Regional Authority to spend $460,000 on new arts initiative
The Delta Regional Authority announced in the spring its new Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative. The plan is to contribute about $460,000 to stimulate economic development through the Delta region's arts and culture sectors. 
KPS Global expands in Northeast Tennessee
KPS Global, a walk-in cooler, freezer and environmental chamber manufacturer, is expanding its plant in Sullivan County, Tenn. The company will invest $1.5 million, add space and hire 64 new workers. 
Door manufacturer growing in Tupelo
Renin Corp., a manufacturer of interior barn doors, closet doors and hardware, is expanding its plant in Tupelo, Miss. The company is investing $1 million and adding 50 jobs. 
Pet food maker expands in Missouri
Blue Buffalo, a maker of Heartland Pet Food, is expanding its manufacturing campus in Joplin, Mo. The company is adding 112,000 square feet of space to its current 416,000-square-foot facility. Blue Buffalo officials have pledged to create more than 160 full-time jobs. 
Big aluminum mill announced in Kentucky
Tri-Arrows Aluminum will build a new cold rolling mill that produces aluminum sheets that are used for beverage cans and automobiles. The $125 million plant will be located next to the Logan Aluminum plant in Logan County, Ky., and will house 60 workers. 
Charlotte-based Nucor expanding Kentucky mill
Nucor Steel Gallatin Mill will expand its plant in Ghent, Ky. The plant produces rolled steel sheet used in automotive and agricultural equipment. The $176 million expansion will generate 75 jobs. 
Georgia-Pacific upgrades Alabama plant
Georgia-Pacific is investing $50 million to upgrade its paperboard machine at the company's mill in Brewton, Ala. The company recently invested $388 million to make energy improvements to the plant. 
HVAC component manufacturer to open new plant in Oklahoma
Ductmate Industries has purchased a 198,000-square-foot building in Wagoner, Okla., to open a HVAC system components plant. The project will create 60 new jobs. 
Glass fiber plant expands in Aiken County, S.C.
AGY Holding has invested in upgrades of equipment at its glass fiber plant in Aiken County, S.C. The project will create 80 jobs. 
James Hardie investing $220 million in new Alabama plant
Dublin, Ireland-based James Hardie Building Products announced in the spring it will invest up to $220 million to open an advanced fiber-cement building products plant in Prattville, Ala. The project will create 205 jobs. The company makes several types of fiber-cement products under the brands of HardiePlank, HardiePanel, HardieTrim and ColorPlus. 
Manufacturer expanding in South Carolina
Itron, a company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water, is adding a new production line at its plant in Oconee County, S.C. The company is investing $8 million and adding 100 jobs to add a natural-gas-meters manufacturing line. 
New plant slated for West Virginia
Canada-based Shaw Almex is moving into an existing facility in Wayne County, W.Va., that will be a center for new product development in material handling and conveying solutions. The project will create 25 employees. 
Dollar Tree investing $110 million for Missouri distribution center
Virginia-based Dollar Tree is investing $110 million to build a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution facility in Warrensburg, Mo. The center, that will be served by 200 inbound and outbound trucks a day, will house 375 workers.

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