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 Southern Auto Corridor 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. 
 
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. 
 
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.
 
Alabama assembles more than 1 million cars a year, but makes many more engines 
In 2016, Alabama-based automakers (Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai) assembled more than 1 million cars, SUVs and minivans for the second consecutive year. Last year, Alabama manufacturers produced 1.75 million engines. Toyota led the pack producing a record high 702,014 engines at its plant in Huntsville. Hyundai produced 682,700 engines for use in vehicles made at the Korean automaker's assembly plant in Montgomery and Kia's plant in West Point, Ga. Honda's factory in Talladega County, Ala., built more than 369,000 engines. 
 
Louisville is No. 1 in U.S. for gains in manufacturing jobs
With a manufacturing job growth rate of 27.2 percent between 2011 and 2016, Louisville, Ky., is the nation's No. 1 market in manufacturing job gains. At 27 percent, Nashville came in second and Daytona Beach was third. Also in the top 10 for manufacturing job gains in the South were Cape Coral-Fort Myers; Columbia, S.C.; Lakeland, Fla.; and Sarasota-Bradenton. Los Angeles, Chicago and New York all lost manufacturing jobs. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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.
 
Hyundai marks 5 million Alabama-built engines
In the spring quarter, Korean automaker Hyundai celebrated its 5 millionth Alabama-made engine at its large Montgomery complex. The company made its first Lambda six-cylinder engine in Alabama in May 2005. 
 
Toyota's engine plant in Alabama supports 9,700 jobs
A recent study by the Center for Automotive Research shows that Toyota's engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., supports an estimated 9,700 jobs in the state. The facility is the only place in the world where Toyota makes V6, V8 and 4-cylinder engines under one roof. 
 
Exide to restart battery plant in Northeast Tennessee 
Exide Technology is restarting battery production at its plant in Bristol, Tenn. The company shut down the plant in July 2013 when its parent company filed for bankruptcy. Forty jobs will be created in the deal. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
French automotive supplier lands in South Carolina
Plastic Omnium is building a new plant in Greer, S.C. The company manufactures large exterior auto body parts and supplies them to Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. In the last three years, Plastic Omnium has invested $300 million in four new U.S. plants. 
 
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. 
 
Progress at new Mercedes-Benz van plant in North Charleston, S.C.
In April, all of the new Mercedes-Benz Van plant's buildings in North Charleston were enclosed from weather, a new construction milestone. The $500 million, 1.1 million-square-foot facility that will house 1,300 jobs is expected to be operational by 2019. 
 
Manufacturer expands in Greenville County, S.C.
AVX, a manufacturer of electronic components used in a variety of industry sectors, is investing $35 million in its Greenville County facilities. The deal will create 100 new 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. 
 
Spain-based auto supplier to open facility in Birmingham, Ala.
Grupo Antolin, a supplier of a wide variety of interior components for automakers, plans to build a $10.4 million plant in Birmingham. The company, which has 28,000 employees worldwide, will hire about 150 workers in the deal. 
 
 

  
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