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Four projects were cited for Honorable Mentions in Business Facilities’ 2012 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition. The projects/locations singled out by the judging panel of industry experts and leading site selection consultants for special recognition included:
- Mobile (AL) Area Chamber of Commerce for Airbus’ selection of Mobile as the site of its final assembly facility.
- Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development for eBay’s Utah campus.
- Georgia Department of Economic Development for Caterpillar’s choice of Athens, GA as the site of its new production facility.
- South Carolina Department of Commerce for Bridgestone Americas’ tire plant.
Airbus announced in July that it will invest $600 million in an aircraft assembly facility at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile. The plant, which will assemble A319, A320 and A321 passenger aircraft is expected to commence operations in 2015, creating 1,000 new jobs. The plant will hit full capacity in 2018, when it is expected to produce up to 50 aircraft per year.
“Mobile’s selection as the only site in the Western Hemisphere assembling aircraft for Airbus cements Alabama’s status as an up-and-coming aerospace manufacturing giant,” said Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers.
Mobile’s victory in the fierce competition for the Airbus plant was the culmination of a seven-year effort by state and local officials to land the prize from Europe’s aerospace giant. The triumph also marked a stunning turnaround from the disappointment of the U.S. government’s reversal of a 2008 decision to award Airbus’s parent, EADS, a huge U.S. Air Force refueling tanker project. EADS had selected Mobile as the site for tanker production, but in 2011 Congress rebid the project and awarded it to Boeing.
The decision by eBay to construct a new 40-acre campus in Draper, UT will directly bring 2,200 new jobs to the state, creating more than $1.6 million in new wages over the next 20 years.
“The ongoing eBay expansion is another success story for Utah’s burgeoning software and IT industry cluster,” Rogers said, noting that industry giants including Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe and IM Flash already have put down roots in the Beehive State.
Rogers added that the Economic Development Deal of the Year judging panel was impressed by the cooperation between eBay and Utah to develop alternative energy resources, including wind energy power generation, which will be used to provide electricity to the Draper facility.
Caterpillar reviewed proposals from more than 100 locations in the U.S., as well as sites in Canada and Mexico, before selecting Athens, GA to be the home of its new $200-million factory. The Georgia plant, which will employ 1,400, will manufacture construction equipment previously produced in Sagami, Japan.
An emphasis on the availability of workforce training, including presentations from Georgia Quick Start and Athens Technical College, helped seal the deal. The Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Economic Development Authorities of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, and Electric Cities of Georgia all played a role in shaping the proposal for the Caterpillar project.
“Georgia put its best foot forward in presenting all of its resources to this industry giant,” Rogers said.
Bridgestone Americas $1.2-billion investment in the construction of a new 1.5-million-square foot off-road radial (ORR) tire manufacturing facility on a greenfield site in Aiken County, SC—and a 474,000-square-foot expansion of an existing tire plant nearby marked the largest single initial capital investment in South Carolina’s history.
“Bridgestone’s decision to transplant technology and manufacturing to South Carolina that had been exclusive to its facilities in Japan is another indication of the Palmetto State’s emergence as a world-class manufacturing competitor,” Rogers said.
Projects nominated for Business Facilities’ annual Economic Development Deal of the Year competition are asked to submit an Economic Impact Analysis for the project (using standard analysis methods including RIMS II, REMI or IMPLAN) and a narrative detailing how the project came together.
The judging panel, including industry experts and leading site selection consultants, evaluates the overall impact of the project and assesses the effectiveness and innovation of the location’s approach to landing the deal. Key factors in the evaluation include creative use of incentives, regional cooperation, partnerships with higher education resources, potential for growth and execution of overall economic development strategy.