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Winter 2012

Ten Southern markets that are manufacturing location no-brainers

Have you heard? Manufacturing is back in a big way and the South is leading the “build it here” charge. Here are 10 no-brainer locations for manufacturing in the South. 

Columbus, Miss.

Home to two of TVA's eight certified megasites, the Columbus, Miss. area's infrastructure is truly amazing with an abundance of electricity, water, sewer and natural gas. Transportation provided by six railroads, three of which are main lines with connections in all cardinal directions; two US highways built to interstate standards; two ports located on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, America's newest inland waterway connecting to the Port of Mobile; and Mississippi's third busiest commercial airport are all part of the 4,000-acre master-planned GTR Global Industrial Aerospace Park. Major industries such as Severstal, PACCAR, American Eurocopter, Weyerhaeuser, Stark Aerospace, and Aurora Flight Sciences are located in the park. 

Columbus is a cultural melting pot with many foreign parent companies. It's not unusual to hear German, Dutch, Russian, French or Norwegian being spoken locally. Training provided by East Mississippi Community College's Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence and Mississippi State University has created a rich environment for career advancement. Mississippi University for Women and the University of Alabama provide additional support to supply a well-rounded workforce and training facilities. 

Northeast Tennessee

The Northeast Tennessee Valley region has seen a burst of new manufacturing activity since summer 2011 due to its location, access, and affordable cost of living.  Headlining the list of new companies is C&F Manufacturing from Galway, Ireland, which announced plans to hire 450 employees at its first U.S. location in Kingsport, Tenn. C&F, an auto components manufacturer, joins regional automotive sector veterans Koyo Corporation, Nakatetsu Machining Technologies, JTEKT, Meritor, and OTICS, Inc., which are expanding facilities in Northeast Tennessee. Mullican Flooring in Johnson City is contributing to the re-shoring trend in the South by bringing 145 jobs back from Asia.

Tom Ferguson, CEO of the Greene County Partnership, who recently landed the $220 million U.S. Nitrogen investment, indicates that the regional highway system is important to the recent successes. "Interstates 81 and 26 provide outstanding eastern U.S. access as well as direct access to the Port of Charleston, S.C.," Ferguson said. Alan Bridwell, Director of the NETVRIDA regional industrial association, adds that Asian companies have stressed climate-related factors as a key to their decisions to choose the Valley. "The historical lack of storm vulnerability seems to be a real difference maker."  

Martinsville-Henry County, Va.
Masterbrand Cabinets is one of Martinsville-Henry County, Va.’s manufacturers that are operating in the southern Virginia market. Why is Martinsville-Henry County one of the best Southern markets for manufacturing? “The difference is the people,” says Fred Zoeller, President of Laminate Technologies. “In our East Coast search for our fourth facility, we found Martinsville-Henry County to be extremely responsive and helpful in matching our needs with local resources.” From elected officials to private property owners; from utility providers to building inspectors; and from business owners to employees, you won't find a more business friendly community than Martinsville-Henry County.   

With roots in furniture and textiles, the South Virginia market has undergone a transformation of its economy over the past 10 years. It is now home to plastics and polymer processors, logistic and distribution companies, food processors, metal working industries and more. Perhaps best known for the Martinsville Speedway, the community is educated, loyal and hardworking.   

Located on the southern border of Virginia, Martinsville-Henry County is conveniently positioned within a day's drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population. There is an abundance of water capacity, a cost of living index of 87.0, low state and local taxes, access to 800 miles of fiber optic broadband and over 1,000 acres under development for expanding manufacturers. 

Memphis, Tenn.

Over the past 18 months, Memphis has seen several very large manufacturing expansions based on the city's robust resources with all four modes of transportation -- runway, road, rail and river. Electrolux and Mitsubishi Electric both have new manufacturing facilities under construction near the Mississippi River, while City Brewing, KTG, Valero and Cargill are making huge investments in their manufacturing facilities in Memphis. Located closer to more population centers in the U.S. than any other city overnight by truck, Memphis is home to FedEx, five class one railroads, the second largest port on the Mississippi River and is at the intersection of one of the nation's busiest trucking corridors.

Tishomingo County, Miss.

Location is what it is all about in this rural Southeastern USA county. Located at the intersection of waterways and with a port, three barge facilities, and several thousand acres of industrial parks, the metals and composites fabrication industry has taken notice.  

And BIG is in, with some of the largest metal and composite fabrications in the country -- everything from giant rocket parts made of super strong composites to giant high pressure vessels made of exotic metals. FerrouSouth, a metal processing company, is currently installing the world's largest stretcher-leveler to better serve the needs of the metal fabrication cluster.

Tishomingo County has joined with neighbors Alcorn and Prentiss Counties in a regional economic development alliance called the TAP Alliance. The TAP Alliance creates a superlative region for manufacturing and distribution. Along with the region's quality workforce and customized job training, industry finds that aggressive and business friendly governments at the local, regional, and state levels partner with industry to help reduce the front end and long term costs of a new location. 

Henderson, Ky.

If rail, road, river and air are important to your manufacturing decision, then Henderson and Northwest Kentucky need to be at the top of your list. Henderson offers direct access with the Henderson Riverport Industrial Park (200+ acres) offering all four on site along with a Foreign Trade Zone. The 4-Star Industrial Park is located along I-69 with rail access throughout the 1,000-acre park with an expanding Foreign Trade Zone and Big Rivers Electric plant across the street.

The region continues to boast a strong manufacturing culture especially in metals (1/3 of America's aluminum is made within an hour radius of Henderson), automotive and prepared foods. Henderson is home to low-cost leaders Big Rivers Electric Corp. and Kenergy, the nation's largest rural electric cooperative. Henderson Municipal Power & Light is unique in that it not only distributes power but also produces some of the lowest cost electricity in the U.S. And, of course, Kentucky Utilities has long been viewed as a manufacturer's friend.

Henderson and Northwest Kentucky is a manufacturing no-brainer because it's one of the rare places where all three of these (transportation, workforce, and power) all come together.

Calvert City, Ky.

Nestled near the convergence of the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is Calvert City, Ky., one of the South's manufacturing no brainers. You'll find Calvert City where I-69 and I-24 meet, making transportation by river, road and rail easily accessible for industrial development. Calvert City has direct access to the Port of Mobile through its connection to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Calvert City hosts over 20 international and domestic chemical, special metals, metal fabrication, and waterway industries. The city lies within the Tennessee Valley Authority providing any prospective industry an abundance of affordable and reliable energy. Since the completion of Kentucky Lock and Dam in the 1940s, Calvert City has been home to a dedicated and skilled workforce in specialty chemicals and manufacturing.

Cullman, Ala.

Cullman, Ala. has been a leader in Alabama in new and expanding industry in the past decade with capital investment exceeding $1 billion.The county's past successes, unprecedented growth of existing industry and continued commitment by community leaders to invest in industrial properties and the utilities to serve those sites makes Cullman a “no brainer” industry location in the Southeast.

Cullman's location (in the center of North Alabama on Interstate 65 at the heart of the Southern Automotive Corridor midway between Birmingham and Huntsville) has contributed to the construction of manufacturing facilities that are Tier 1 suppliers to Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes and many others. The industrial base has an international flavor with Japanese, Australian, German and Canadian plants located in Cullman. Diversity is also a critical component of the success story including plastics, metal working and machining. Cullman has a strong agriculture base, but is also home to an aerospace company that manufactures guidance systems for missiles and produces parts for America's space stations.

Liberty County, Ga.

Liberty County, Ga., located just 30 minutes south of the Port of Savannah, is strategically positioned for companies, both foreign and domestic, looking to grow their manufacturing operations globally. Approximately 70 percent of the existing industry employment in Liberty County is tied to companies headquartered abroad, and the community's existing industries export to over 70 countries worldwide.

The community is already home to a robust manufacturing base to include foreign-based companies like SNF (France); Interstate Paper (Lebanon); and Firth Rixson Forgings, LLC and International Greetings (United Kingdom), as well as companies headquartered domestically such as Elan Technology and Waltrich Plastics.

Manufacturers will find ample site options in Liberty County's Tradeport Business Center, a 5,300-acre development with foreign trade zone designation. Tradeport East is located less than one mile from I-95, is Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) certified, and has Opportunity Zone designation. In GRAD certified Tradeport West, companies can take advantage of large rail-served sites with immediate proximity to U.S. 17.

Mississippi River Corridor

The Greater New Orleans Region and Baton Rouge area have long been leading locations for advanced manufacturing. The combined ports in the area create the largest capacity in the nation; while three major rail lines, two large-volume airports, and a leading level of truck freight activity form a transportation infrastructure that lives up to the region's appeal cemented by explorers hundreds of years ago.

Home to premier NASA facilities, major high-tech manufacturers and a talented workforce, the region is one of the only areas in the world equipped to manufacture the largest and most advanced products.

Recently, these combined assets have attracted a wide range of manufacturing projects, including the expansion of Bradken's facility in Amite, a new Great Southern Galvanizing facility in Zachary, the consolidation of Folgers' distribution centers to the Greater New Orleans area, the restart of Ormet's alumina manufacturing plant in Ascension Parish, Nucor's $3.4-billion iron manufacturing facility, and participation in NASA's upcoming Heavy Lift program.

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