Kentucky, SC, AZ Shine in Business Facilities Awards Contest

Business Facilities has announced the winners of our 2011 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition. The award recipients were chosen by a blue-ribbon judging panel of industry experts who reviewed submissions for 23 big-ticket projects from across the U.S.

Taking the top honor as our 2011 Gold Award winner is the Kentucky-Ford Partnership, submitted by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, working in tandem with Greater Louisville Inc.

What started as a plan to preserve the Ford Motor Co. jobs that already were in Kentucky snowballed into a massive $1.2-billion investment that will create 3,100 new jobs in the coming year. Ford’s decision to go “all-in” on its Louisville facilities–with an estimated direct economic impact to the area of $5.2 billion–was spurred by a creative $240-million incentives package.

“Our judges really were impressed by the creative use of incentives in this project,” Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers said. “The incentive package for the Kentucky-Ford Partnership was structured in a way that it could be renegotiated to induce additional investments made at either of Ford’s plants in Louisville, giving the state more flexibility to negotiate.”

Nearly half of the overall investment is being used to transform Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) into the automaker’s most flexible high-volume plant in the world. Second and third shifts are being added at LAP, which opened in 1955 on the south side of town near Louisville International Airport. Ford has been building cars in Louisville for nearly a century, beginning with Henry Ford’s first Model T in 1913.

The auto giant also is investing $600 million to modernize tooling at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville for next-generation F-Series Super Duty trucks and Expedition/Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

Our Silver Award goes to the South Carolina Department of Commerce for Continental Tire Americas (CTA) new plant in Sumter County, SC, which will bring nearly 6,000 new jobs and an overall economic impact of $1.82 billion to a less-developed part of the Palmetto State over the next 10 years.

The new 1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility, located on a 330-acre Greenfield site off U.S. Highway 521, will be opened in 2013 and is expected to reach its production capacity of 5 million tires/year in 2017. A second-phase expansion is being planned that will take the capacity up to 8 million tires by 2021.

“This world-class, $500-million tire manufacturing facility is the largest industrial investment ever made in Sumter County,” Rogers said. “It will be a huge shot in the arm for the growth potential of the entire region.”

CTA opened its headquarters in Lancaster County, SC in 2009 and currently employs 350 people there.

The Bronze Award in our 2011 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition was snared by the City of Mesa, AZ for its success in bringing the world’s largest manufacturer of thin-film solar panels to the Greater Phoenix area. First Solar’s decision to put the facility in Arizona after a long and highly competitive site search is expected to generate a 10-year economic impact of  nearly $7 billion while creating 1,699 jobs in year one.

“This cooperative regional effort was able to meet First Solar’s unique build-out, utilities, infrastructure and workforce needs — all within an accelerated timeframe,” Rogers noted. “We congratulate everyone in the Greater Phoenix area who brought this important project to fruition for a job well done.”

Six projects also received Honorable Mention awards from our judges, including:

— Oklahoma City Chamber/Boeing Relocation

— Virginia Partnership/Green Mountain Coffee

— GO Topeka/Mars Chocolate North America

— Missouri DED/Wentzville GM Plant

— North Carolina Department of Commerce/Caterpillar-Camo Forsyth

— Utah Governor’s Office/ITT Exelis

Details on all of the winning projects in the 2011 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition will be provided in the Jan/Feb issue of Business Facilities.