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Tennessee Repeats as BF’s U.S. Automotive King

For an unprecedented third consecutive year, Tennessee has been named the top-ranked state for Automotive Manufacturing Strength in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report.

“Fueled by a national revival in the auto sector, Tennessee’s assembly lines and supplier networks continue to get bigger and better,” said Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers.

“VW is ramping up production at its new plant in Chattanooga, Nissan is rolling out the all-electric Leaf in Smyrna and General Motors has given a new mission to the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill. The Volunteer State is putting the pedal to the metal as our undisputed automotive king,” Rogers said.

Tennessee was followed in our annual automotive sector assessment by Kentucky, which surged from last year’s fourth place finish to the no. 2 slot in this highly competitive category.

“Kentucky’s long-term deal with Ford — which is investing more than $1 billion in its Louisville facilities — has cemented a century-long relationship that stretches back to the Model T,” Rogers noted. “When you factor in the ongoing expansion of Toyota’s huge assembly complex in Georgetown, GM’s commitment to build next-generation Corvettes in Kentucky and a new advanced battery tech center, you have the makings of a 21st century automotive powerhouse.”

Kentucky’s renewed partnership with Ford was the Gold Award winner of BF’s 2011 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition.

Rounding out the top five in BF’s Automotive Manufacturing Strength ranking are South Carolina, home to BMW’s North American manufacturing hub; Georgia, which is rapidly developing a supplier network to support Kia’s new plant in West Point, GA; and a resurgent Michigan, which has supplemented the boost from the federal auto bailout with a burgeoning effort to produce lithium batteries and all-electric vehicles.

Business Facilities’ Automotive Manufacturing Strength ranking places a heavy emphasis on growth potential as well as current production statistics. Labor and utility costs, workforce availability and the size of regional supplier networks are factored into the ranking, as is a state’s commitment to the development of advanced automotive technologies. Long-term plans by major automakers to ramp up production and assemble new vehicles at specific locations also are part of the growth potential assessment.

Rogers noted that this year’s automotive rankings reflect an impressive across-the-board revival in the U.S. automotive industry.

“The obituaries that were written for the U.S. auto industry were premature. This recovery is being led by manufacturing that is now globally competitive on a cost-effective basis — and the manufacturing surge is strongest in our revived automotive sector, which is hitting on all cylinders,” Rogers said.

“The United States has risen from the canvas and reclaimed its automotive heavyweight championship. When you factor in the demand from emerging overseas markets in Asia and South America, the U.S. is poised to dominate once again wherever the rubber meets the road,” he added.

Here are the top 10 states in BF’s automotive ranking:

BUSINESS FACILITIES 2012 STATE RANKING REPORT:

AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING STRENGTH

1 TENNESSEE
2 KENTUCKY
3 SOUTH CAROLINA
4 GEORGIA
5 MICHIGAN
6 ALABAMA
7 OHIO
8 INDIANA
9 MISSOURI
10 TEXAS

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