Ten More No-Brainer Manufacturing Locations in the American South
Manufacturing has taken over the American South's economy. So, in last year's Ten Top 10 we gave you 10 locations in the South that have a long manufacturing sector history. Here are 10 more.
Greene County, Tennessee
Twenty years ago a forward-thinking group of Greeneville and Greene County leaders dared to step outside the traditional way of thinking to combine four long-standing community organizations into what has become one of the most results-oriented economic and community development organizations in the country. The Greene County Partnership, now comprised of the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development, Tourism, Education & Workforce Development and Keep Greene Beautiful programs, attributes its success to one simple idea: teamwork. "When we have a prospect on the line, we immediately pull together our team of community leaders including mayors, bank representatives, local businessmen and representatives from each utility company," said Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the Partnership. "When you combine this elite group with representatives of the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), prospects have access to all the key decision makers, as well as knowledgeable individuals who can provide attractive incentives." Bringing all the necessary elements together for the prospect's convenience, in addition to having a product (Greene County) that is extremely marketable, goes a long way in helping to "seal the deal."
Mississippi County, Arkansas
Situated at the heart of a great transportation nexus, Mississippi County is served by the Mississippi River, the Burlington Northern Railroad, and Interstate 55. Already one of the largest steel producing counties in the United States, capacity will increase with the anticipated completion of Big River Steel in 2015-16. Home to Nucor Steel and several steel pipe manufacturers, the completion of Great River will allow for the production of even larger grades of pipe manufacture. Arkansas Northeastern College is the largest provider of specialized industrial training in the state of Arkansas. With many full-time engineers on staff, the industrial training arm of ANC turns out a steady stream of graduates in disciplines from A&P aircraft mechanics to people certified in all types of industrial welding. Supported by private funding as well as State and County financing, Mississippi County understands that training and retraining are critical components in the struggle to regain America's manufacturing dominance. Mississippi County, which covers seven school districts, offers new residents ample choice in communities, schools and amenities. In addition, the county is only an hour's drive from Memphis, Tenn., which offers a major international airport as well as the countless attractions of a major American city.
Ascension Parish, Louisiana
In the last three calendar years (2010-2012), Ascension Parish, La., recorded over $4.6 billion in capital investments from 22 new and expanding manufacturing projects. This unprecedented activity has been driven by the parish's strategic location on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, an abundance of competitively priced natural gas and the availability of high-end industrial support services in the area. According to the Ascension Economic Development Corporation's President and CEO Mike Eades, local manufacturers need look no further than the immediate area for support services to keep their operations running at peak capacity. ">From industrial maintenance to vessel fabricators to suppliers of valves and instruments, they're all right here in our community," Eades explained. "When you're running a multi-million dollar petrochemical plant 24/7/365, you simply can't have delays in getting critical parts and services." Added to the Ascension Parish product mix is Louisiana's best public school system and River Parishes Community College, the fastest growing community college in the country. Ascension Parish was recently listed by AOL as one of the ten best places to find a job.
Florence County, South Carolina
With a great location and workforce, Florence County in the northeast region of South Carolina is one of few no-brainers in the country when it comes to manufacturing. Located at the intersection of I-95 and I-20, Florence County offers a premier location rivaled by few other counties in South Carolina. Close proximity to the ports of Georgetown and Charleston in South Carolina and the port of Savannah, Ga., allows companies in Florence a nearly unrivaled access to all major forms of transportation. The area is also dotted with regional and international airports that enhance the county's logistical standing. Along with the location, Florence County's workforce provides prospective companies with world-class labor that can be coupled with workforce training programs from ReadySC as well as the region's three universities and four technical colleges. Florence County also provides a very friendly business environment, with numerous incentive packages available to prospective businesses, all within a right-to-work state.
Monroe, North Carolina
Located adjacent to Charlotte, N.C., Monroe is a hub of aerospace and precision manufacturing. In fact, Monroe has the highest geographic concentration of aerospace firms in both Carolinas (18 companies in a seven-mile radius). While known for its great location and easy access within the Southeast, the workforce is the secret about which everyone should be talking. Monroe has a population of approximately 35,000 with over 40 percent of its labor force employed in manufacturing. There is great diversity among its manufacturing community, from aerospace and medical device to food processing and chemical. Monroe is the county seat of the fastest growing county in North Carolina (Union). Even with the incredible growth the community has experienced, Monroe and Union County have had the lowest unemployment rate within the Charlotte Region for over 12 years running. Monroe is home to companies like UTC Aerospace, ATI Allvac, Tyson Foods, Greiner Bio-One, Assa Abloy, Colfax, Consolidated Metco and many others. In response to their manufacturers' global reach, the community is expanding its airport's capabilities to offer the only general aviation Customs facility in the Carolinas in mid-2014. With Monroe's commitment to precision manufacturing, this community is poised to take off with the surge of manufacturing's "reshoring" back to the United States.
Morristown, Tenn., has its roots in furniture manufacturing like many others in the Southeastern United States. As these factories shifted more production overseas, Morristown quickly learned that they must adapt to the changing economic environment in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. Morristown realized that workforce development was key as many companies left behind a path of workers who required retraining to be competitive in the job market. Facing these challenges, Morristown has adapted and reformed itself as a rural advanced manufacturing hub serving an eight-county region in East Tennessee. Morristown supports over 100 industries while being the third smallest county in land mass in Tennessee. This adaptation has been assisted by Walters State Community College and The Tennessee Technology Center. These learning and training institutions have adapted their curriculum to serve the evolving needs of industry. A major factor often overlooked in rural communities is how well it is connected. Morristown Utilities has made Morristown a Gig City providing dedicated fiber to home and business. This fiber is capable of 1 Gig capacity and is only available in larger markets through the U.S. As Morristown combines an advanced educational system and adaptation of technology, they are seeing high tech, high wage industry tenants as well as many new prospects. Their industry is very heavy in automotive and plastics production, but also is very strong in food production. While most of the nation hovers around 12 percent industrial employment, Morristown usually sits between 22-24 percent. This allows the region to show industry that not only is land plentiful, the manufacturing workforce is plentiful as well.
Paragould, Ark., enjoys continued industrial growth based largely upon its strong workforce. The industrial workforce alone gives new employers reason to relocate and build facilities in Paragould and the Greene County area. It's this labor pool and other incentives such as low taxes and utility rates, access to two national highways and a convenient south-central national location that add to Paragould's appeal. Currently, Paragould supports facilities ranging from railcar manufacturing, plastic and rubber producers, appliance and automotive suppliers, to knowledge-based companies. Tenneco Automotive, American Railcar Industries, General Cable, Teleflora, Utility Trailer and Anchor Packaging Products are a few of the companies investing in Paragould. Paragould continues to support a rich history of investing in the community. The community passed a permanent sales tax for economic development incentives. A 100,000-square-foot spec building has been completed and is currently available. The sales tax will ensure readily available land, buildings and other necessary resources for the continued expansion of the industrial sector. As the area's growth continues, Paragould leadership continues to recruit industries that seek a thriving community in which to manufacture their products.
Dublin-Laurens County, Georgia
Located halfway between Atlanta and Savannah on Interstate 16, Laurens County is uniquely positioned for a variety of manufacturing sectors including automotive and aerospace. The county is also a regional hub for distribution centers thanks to its location. Within one day, a shipment received at nearby Savannah and Brunswick port facilities can travel as far as Memphis, New Orleans or Richmond by open road or rail. Recently, Laurens County welcomed two automotive parts manufacturers. Dinex, a Danish manufacturer of automotive exhaust and emission systems, announced plans to invest $15 million in the former Eldorado Stone plant. That project will eventually create 250 new jobs. Another vehicle supplier, Germany-based Erdrich Unformtechnic GmbH & Co., has invested $39 million in a metal stamping facility -- a deal that will create 178 jobs. Other notable manufacturers operating in Laurens County include Parker Aerospace, MAGE Solar, Flexsteel Industries, YKK AP, QBT Industrial Fabricators and Steelfab of Dublin.
Florence-Shoals Region, Alabama
Manufacturers of all sizes have found this northwest corner of Alabama to their liking of late. The favorable tax environment, reliable energy, competitive wage rates and a skilled workforce enable a company to operate profitably in Northwest Alabama. Over the last 10 years there have been several significant manufacturers invest in the Shoals region. In 2005, North American Lighting, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Koito Manufacturing, announced it was investing in a new automotive exterior lighting factory. That facility has expanded several times since. In 2002, SCA Tissue invested over $200 million in a plant in the region, followed by a $150 million expansion. In 2011, Navistar announced a project that could bring 2,000 jobs to the Shoals region. And in February of this year, FreightCar America announced it would build railcars in the Shoals -- a deal which should create 400 jobs.
Jackson-Madison County, Tenn., has a rich history in manufacturing. Food processing and packaging, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and general manufacturing have prospered in this region of West Tennessee for decades. But manufacturing doesn't just prosper in Madison County. Manufacturers set records in Jackson. For example, Sonoco Products recently celebrated 1 million hours and three years without a lost time injury. Berry Plastics recently printed 6.4 million caps during a 24-hour time period, a record for the company. The LyondellBasell plant recently set records for productivity, reliability and cost. It's obvious that Jackson-Madison County has a large supply of high-quality workers with a dedication and work ethic to match.