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TOP DEALS OF 2017
From Site Selection magazine, May 2018
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Beautifully Big Business

Top Deals

There’s no denying the power of large-scale investments from companies that already have scale.

by ADAM BRUNS

Startups are great. Mayors, governors and university leaders love them. So do the whip-smart, serial entrepreneurs who found them and flip them. And so do the multinational behemoths looking to gobble them up, even as they do their best to inculcate their minions with that special “startup spirit.” But when it comes to economic development impact, could those big companies themselves still pack the most punch?

That notion doesn’t jibe with the American storyline that small businesses are the drivers of economic growth and job creation. But Information Technology Innovation Foundation President Robert D. Atkinson and Michael Lind argue in their new book “Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business” (MIT Press) that such received wisdom “is a myth that governments go out of their way to promote based on a confused mix of populist and free market ideology.”

Sure, all big businesses at one time were small. And yes, there are good reasons to resist when they verge on monopoly. But the authors conclude that, on average, large firms have superior track records on job creation, productivity, innovation, and virtually all other economic benefits — including such progressive priorities as diversity, wages and environmental protection.

“Large firms are the foundation of not only U.S. but regional and local economies,” Atkinson tells Site Selection. “On average, they pay higher wages and provide more generous benefits, provide longer-lasting jobs and are more likely to export and conduct research and development. That is why states with a higher share of jobs in large businesses on average enjoy higher per-capita incomes.”

The authors argue for shifting to a “size-neutral” approach to economic development policy that encourages all companies to grow “rather than enshrining the Jeffersonian anachronism that small businesses should operate in the heroic mold of yeoman farmers.”

Here we salute the yeoman efforts of corporate and community officials alike in bringing off the biggest corporate facility investment deals of 2017 — nearly all from global corporations, but with enough spin-off and supply-chain potential to warm the hearts of the small business champions whose business may very well depend on those giants.

Based on news tracked by Site Selection’s Conway Analytics colleagues and our proprietary Conway Projects Database, the top economic development deals of 2017 are presented here in alphabetical order by company, in two sections: Top 20 in North America, and Top 20 everywhere else. The list is based on job creation and capital investment, economic impact, competition for the project and significance to their chosen regions.

(Editor’s Note: An expanded web edition covering these deals in further detail will be available by mid-May at SiteSelection.com, where readers can also discover past reports about the chosen projects.)

NORTH AMERICA TOP DEALS


Amazon.com

Hebron, Kentucky
$1.5 billion, 2,000 jobs

Everyone’s waiting for HQ2, but there’s no waiting in Greater Cincinnati. Amazon decided to locate its first air hub at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, where it signed a 50-year lease on 900 acres to support its fleet of 40 Prime Air cargo planes. The multi-state site search began more than six months prior to the Jan. 31 announcement. CVG beat out the two other locations to land the prize in Kentucky, where Amazon already had 10,000 employees and 11 fulfillment centers. Candace S. McGraw, CEO of the CVG Airport, told Site Selection speed to market and infrastructure improvements already under way helped CVG win. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development sealed the deal by making Amazon eligible to receive up to $40 million in state incentives over 10 years.

“As we considered places for the long-term home for our air hub operations, Hebron quickly rose to the top of the list with a large, skilled workforce, centralized location with great connectivity to our nearby fulfillment locations and an excellent quality of living for employees,” said Dave Clark, Amazon senior vice president of worldwide operations.

Braidy Industries

Wurtland, Kentucky
$1.3 billion, 600 jobs

Even after finding out its original site couldn’t support the deep-bore foundations necessary for the 300,000-ton aluminum rolling mill it wants to build in Greenup County, Braidy is still full steam ahead after finding an alternative site at EastPark Industrial Center in Wurtland, adjacent to a river port, rail and major highways. Ashland Community Technical College — which is co-developing a Braidy Industries associate’s degree program with the company — is located next door.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) last spring approved the company for tax incentives up to $10 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. Gov. Matt Bevin credited the state’s right-to-work legislation as a crucial factor. “Eastern Kentucky has significant competitive advantages, including its proximity to the leading automotive and aerospace customers, low energy costs and a skilled and available workforce for heavy manufacturing,” said Dr. Michael E. Porter, professor at Harvard Business School, global expert on competitiveness and a Braidy Industries board member.

Costco

Fremont, Nebraska
$300 million, 800 jobs

As Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told Site Selection in our March 2018 issue, it was teamwork that helped land this game-changing poultry processing plant, which is expected to have an overall economic impact of $1.2 billion annually drive business for a dedicated network of poultry producers in the state. When officials from the Seattle retailer came to the state, “the Fremont and Omaha chambers turned out over 100 business people to welcome them,” Ricketts told us. “It was great team effort between the chambers, the local governments, the Departments of Agriculture, Economic Development, Transportation, Labor and Environmental Quality. The plant, expected to process up to 100 million chickens a year at capacity, is expected to open in spring 2019.

DENSO

Maryville, Tennessee
$1 billion, 1,000 jobs

Japan’s DENSO in October said this project will “significantly increase the role North America plays in the global trend toward vehicle safety and electrification.” It announced a $400-million investment in Maryville in 2015, adding 500 jobs and consolidating various warehouse operations into one central location. Tennessee — where DENSO has had a presence for over 30 years and invested a total of $2 billion — has added 22,000 automotive-related jobs since 2011. The company has two locations in the state – Maryville and Athens – and employs roughly 4,500 people. The Maryville campus, which is DENSO’s largest U.S. manufacturing facility, consists of four manufacturing plants and is Blount County’s largest employer.

"This is an investment in the future of DENSO, and also the future of transportation,” said Kenichiro Ito, chairman of DENSO's North America Board of Directors and CEO of DENSO International America. “We are seeing dramatic shifts in the role of transportation in society, and this investment will help position us to meet those changing demands.”

Digi-Key Corporation

Thief River Falls, Minnesota
$300 million, 1,000 jobs

This global distributor of electronic components announced in March 2017 it was reviewing several options for this fulfillment, value-added manufacturing and warehouse center, including at its hometown HQ in Thief River Falls, in a state where it already employed 3,200. By June the company had made its decision to put the new project next door to the HQ, with a plan to add 100 employees a year on average over the coming decade. “Huge cost and competitive hurdles needed to be overcome compared to other location options,” said the company. As the incentive package hung in the balance, North Dakota (where Digi-Key has a facility already in Fargo) wooed the company. But "the State of Minnesota and local Thief River Falls and Pennington County leaders took decisive action to support our growth,” said Dave Doherty, Digi-Key's president and COO, at the June announcement. That reference was to “an important legislative solution” in the form of sales tax exemptions, infrastructure funding to the city and a forgivable loan.

Digi-Key's current operations generate approximately $1.5 billion in economic output and add over $940 million to the state's gross state product. This project’s economic return for the state of Minnesota will be approximately $184 million in new annual state revenue. On 26-percent growth in 2017, Digi-Key already has added 140 new jobs in Thief River Falls, and doubled the scope of the project from 1 million sq. ft. to 2.2 million sq. ft.

DXC Technology Co.

New Orleans, Louisiana
2,000 jobs

Representing what state leaders call Louisiana’s largest tech project to date, this Digital Transformation Center from the IT services firm will hook into the talent pipeline via a higher education initiative that recalls similar programs put into place for such companies as IBM and EA. The State of Louisiana will spend $25 million to expand the number of degrees awarded annually in STEM-related studies. The Louisiana State University System, University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System will guide the initiative primarily through four lead campuses: LSU in Baton Rouge, the University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, and Delgado Community College in New Orleans.

Company officials identified New Orleans as a talent-laden, culturally diverse, high quality-of-life city. DXC will hire 300 during 2018, then ramp up to 2,000 jobs over five years and an annual payroll exceeding $133 million by 2025. The LSU Economics & Policy Research Group estimates the DXC Technology project will translate to $64.3 million in new Louisiana taxes, $868.4 million in new Louisiana earnings and total economic output of $3.2 billion from 2018 through 2025.

Egger Wood Products

Davidson County, North Carolina
$700 million, 770 jobs

Ground was broken in March 2018 for the North American corporate offices of this Austrian furniture and flooring supplier, in the region of the US most strongly identified with those two sectors. Future operations planned for the site include a particleboard manufacturing plant. The project, announced in July 2017, is the first major investment in the county-owned I-85 Corporate Center near Linwood, a location that was among the finalists a decade ago for a Toyota plant that went to Blue Springs, Mississippi.

The company’s finalist sites chosen from 50 overall also included sites in South Carolina and Georgia. “The three sites were very close, but if you use an Olympic analogy, Davidson County’s workforce, its proximity to the timber industry and overall infrastructure helped it win our gold by a nose,” Michael Egger, a co-owner of the company, told the Winston Salem-Journal. Partnering with N.C. Commerce and the EDPNC on the project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina State University, Davidson County Economic Development Commission, N.C. Railroad, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Duke Energy, Norfolk Southern and the Golden LEAF Foundation.

EnerBlü

Pikeville and Lexington, Kentucky
$372 million, 985 jobs

In yet another coup for Kentucky, this Riverside, California–based company in December announced it was moving its HQ and R&D from California to Lexington (110 jobs), creating a manufacturing campus in the Eastern Kentucky town of Pikeville by moving manufacturing back to the US from China (875 jobs), and investing $412 million overall in the state. The Pikeville facility will make high-powered, high-cost lithium-titanate (LTO) batteries used in transit, aerospace and military vehicles, among other applications.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, other states in the running for the investment included Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Washington. EnerBlü leaders noted the state’s logistical advantage of being within a day’s drive of 65 percent of the US population, the availability of a trained workforce in Eastern Kentucky and low costs for industrial power in the region. According to One East Kentucky, there are over 10,000 skilled workers in the area who are ready and willing to work. The Pikeville campus will rise on the site of the former Marion Branch coal mine at a park now rechristened as Energy Innovation Park. EnerBlü will partner with the University of Pikeville, the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and with other colleges and universities for research, materials science and technology development through incubation.

Foxconn

Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin
$10 billion, 13,000 jobs

Site Selection EVP Ron Starner called his exclusive story about this deal “Bagging the Big One,” and there’s no denying Wisconsin did just that, landing the largest capital investment in state history in a 20-million-sq.-ft. (1.8-million-sq.-m.) advanced electronics manufacturing complex for 8K liquid crystal display TV screens from Taiwan’s $136-billion Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. (Foxconn).

As Starner put it, the big Wisconsin win was the story of a bunch of other “Ws”: Gov. Scott Walker, involvement from the White House in Washington; the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; water; workforce; the Wisconsin Energy Corp.; and the Wisconsin education system. Among the facts Starner discovered: The site search in the US began on April 28 and lasted only four months. Wisconsin was neither the high bidder nor the low bidder. And the presence of the world’s largest supply of freshwater in the Great Lakes immediately elevated Upper Midwest locations to the top of the project short list.

“The overriding factor — the one that separated us from our competition — was the fact that we were ready,” Gov. Walker told Site Selection. “We changed our business climate. We cut our tax burden. We wiped out almost all the tax liability for a manufacturing project like Foxconn’s. We became a right-to-work state. We adopted regulatory reform. Some states were just not ready. I had been working on this six years ago.”

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (ExxonMobil/SABIC)

Corpus Christi, Texas
$10 billion, 600 jobs

Part of ExxonMobil’s “Growing the Gulf” initiative, this project will result in the world’s largest ethane cracker. “In the chemical business you need a competitive feedstock and a market to sell your products in,” ExxonMobil Chemical Co. President Neil Chapman told Adam Jones-Kelley, president and publisher at Conway, Inc., parent company of Site Selection, just after the official announcement in Corpus Christi in April 2017. “You have to be able to compete against the local chemical provider in China.”

The shale gas revolution in the US was the competitive breakthrough. “Natural gas liquids allow us to process these chemicals in Corpus Christi and ship it cheaply to China,” said Chapman, lauding the “tremendous resource base in Texas for hydrocarbons.” The San Patricio County site beat out three other sites in Texas and Louisiana. Rob Tully, GCGV venture executive, said, “The large area of land with a single owner, its ready access to rail and deepwater port facilities, the existing infrastructure, its proximity to raw materials, a positive business climate and a ready workforce for construction and operations made this our preferred site.”

The project is expected to generate more than $22 billion in economic output during the construction phase and more than $50 billion in economic output during the first six years of operations. Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan, vice chairman and CEO of SABIC, told us other states and communities can learn a valuable lesson from the project: “You need to understand the values the project brings and understand whom you are dealing with,” he said. SABIC’s growth strategy calls for being one of the top three players in North America by 2025.

Infosys

Indianapolis, Indiana
3,000 jobs

In May 2017, the giant Indian business process outsourcing firm announced 2,000 jobs would come to this first of what it said would be four Technology and Innovation Hubs in its plan to hire 10,000 US workers in just two years. In an interview with Site Selection Senior Editor Gary Daughters, Infosys President and Deputy COO Ravi Kumar said, “We could potentially do five, because we’re very excited about this plan.” Other hubs have subsequently been announced in North Carolina; Connecticut and Rhode Island. In April 2018, the project evolved, as Infosys reached an agreement to occupy a permanent site at the former Indianapolis International Airport, and declared its intent to hire 3,000 people by 2023 at the hub, now refocused as a U.S. Education Center to train U.S. workers and develop next-generation digital technologies.

Infosys’ vision will lean on best practices from Infosys’ Global Education Center in Mysore, India — the world’s largest corporate university— and partnerships with academia and education providers. “Our first batch of campus hires are being trained at Purdue University,” Kumar told Site Selection last August. “We are excited about the academic ecosystem in Indiana. A lot of technology companies are using Indiana as their Midwest hub.

“We reached out to multiple states in the US,” he said about the search. Indiana’s penchant for racecar-style speed won the day. “I went and met with the Indiana government in April. Within a week’s time they visited India” to pledge their commitment, he said. Within a month or so, “the government was so agile, so fast and so prompt in dealing with all our needs that we decided on it.”

Intel

Chandler, Arizona
$7 billion, 3,000 jobs

Intel in February announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Expected to be the most advanced semiconductor factory in the world, it’s targeted to use the 7 nanometer manufacturing process. The announcement was made by U.S. President Donald Trump and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the White House. Combined with the indirect impact on businesses that will help support the factory’s operations, Fab 42 is expected to create more than 10,000 total long-term jobs in Arizona.

“Intel’s business continues to grow, and investment in manufacturing capacity and R&D ensures that the pace of Moore’s law continues to march on, fueling technology innovations the world loves and depends on,” said Krzanich, citing the 50-year-old prediction by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that computing power will become significantly more capable and yet cost less year after year. “This factory will help the U.S. maintain its position as the global leader in the semiconductor industry.

“America has a unique combination of talent, a vibrant business environment and access to global markets, which has enabled U.S. companies like Intel to foster economic growth and innovation,” Krzanich said. “Our factories support jobs — high-wage, high-tech manufacturing jobs that are the economic engines of the states where they are located.”

Inter Pipeline

Strathcona County, Alberta
C$3.5 billion, 180 jobs (13,000 construction jobs)

Calgary-based Inter Pipeline Ltd. in December announced that its board of directors had authorized the construction of a C$3.5-billion integrated propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant — the Heartland Petrochemical Complex — near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, near the company’s Redwater Olefinic Fractionator (ROF), which along with other third-party fractionators in the region will supply propane feedstock. The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will be designed to convert locally sourced, low-cost propane into 525,000 metric tons per year of polypropylene, a plastic used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

“Alberta is an ideal location to construct a world-scale propane based petrochemical operation,” said Christian Bayle, Inter Pipeline’s president and CEO. “Driven by attractive feedstock and utility costs, the Heartland Complex is expected to be one of the lowest cost polypropylene producers in North America.” The company will benefit from C$200 million of royalty credits received from the Government of Alberta’s Petrochemical Diversification Program in December 2016. Along with available land, well advanced permitting and ready rail and pipeline infrastructure, the company also pointed out that the “lack of major project development in Alberta results in favorable engineering, procurement and construction environment, including availability of skilled labor.”

Pluralsight

Draper, Utah
$372 million, 2,400 jobs

Datelining its announcement from “Silicon Slopes,” enterprise technology learning firm Pluralsight in February 2018 followed up on its original September 2017 announcement by revealing that its new HQ would be a 350,000-sq.-ft. campus on more than 30 acres in Draper, Utah, where the company will break ground this summer.

"Our new worldwide headquarters will provide us with the space we need to bring our entire Utah workforce together in one collaborative environment," said Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO. The location offers immediate access to I-15, a future TRAX stop, and a campus-like setting that has the capacity to grow, said Pluralsight. Once completed in late 2019, Pluralsight will consolidate existing operations from Farmington and South Jordan to their new campus. "What began in Utah will stay in Utah," said Aaron Skonnard, CEO and co-founder of Pluralsight, last year. "Silicon Slopes' deep talent pool for software engineers and other technical jobs is thriving. That's why we plan to keep investing in this community.”

Samsung Electronics America

Newberry County, South Carolina
$380 million, 950 jobs

Samsung announced in June that it will open its first U.S. home appliance manufacturing facility in rural Newberry County, a $380-million investment that is to generate some 950 new jobs over the next three years.

“When we selected South Carolina,” says Hyun Suk Kim, president of Samsung’s Consumer Electronics division, “we chose a state and a community that believe in the power of innovation and [have] the workforce to back it up.”

Only six months after taking possession of the plant, Samsung was already making ship-ready washing machines on two production lines, and announced plans to produce 1 million washing machines at the Newberry County facility in 2018 and increase its hiring target to over 1,000 by 2020. Another benefit: In December, Samsung announced a new R&D partnership with the State of South Carolina, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina to create the Palmetto Consortium for Home Appliance Innovation.

Samsung
Samsung celebrates the ribbon cutting of the first commercial washers being produced at the Newberry, South Carolina plant.
Photo by Renee Ittner McManus/RIM Photography

Simmons Prepared Foods

Decatur, Arkansas
$300 million, 1,500 jobs

Simmons in September announced it will build a new chicken facility in Benton County between Decatur and Gentry at a site that already employed 800. Across its three business affiliates, Simmons employs over 3,700 people in the state of Arkansas.

Like the Costco project in Nebraska, the facility will also create new contracts with local Arkansas farmers, aiming to reach capacity to sell approximately 850 million pounds of poultry meat annually at full production. The company, which considered Oklahoma and Missouri for the project, expects to begin new operations in 2019. “We’re thrilled to bring this project to our community and are grateful for the cooperation from the Cities of Decatur and Gentry, local officials, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the State of Arkansas,” said Todd Simmons, CEO of Simmons Foods, Inc. and Affiliates.

“This announcement comes just two months after the company held a ribbon-cutting at its new pet food ingredient facility in Siloam Springs,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson, “which goes to show the faith they have in the area’s workforce and their commitment to the state.”

Spirit Aerosystems

Wichita, Kansas
$1 billion, 1,000 jobs

Spirit announced this major investment in December, a major shot in the arm for an area known for its rich aviation heritage, but which has experienced its ups and downs. The project is one of the largest one-time investments in Kansas history. The growth, Spirit said, is fueled by increasing production rates on existing commercial aircraft programs, growth in Spirit's fabrication and defense businesses and other new business pursuits. Part of the investment is a new Five-Axis Center of Excellence that opened in February 2018 in the city where Spirit and its previous parent Boeing has been operating since 1928.

"Wichita is our headquarters and the hub of our operations," said Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile. "Our workforce is unparalleled, with generations of aircraft employees who have worked in our plant. And now future generations will have those same opportunities. We are proud to partner with the city, county and state to bring new jobs and investment to the community and help ensure Wichita remains the Air Capital of the World."

“It's a tremendous win for Sedgwick County and all of us in south-central Kansas, including the dozens of aviation suppliers here," said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh. "It is further validation of the county's investment in the National Center for Aviation Training more than a decade ago as this community is uniquely equipped to help Spirit tackle the demands for a ramp-up of this magnitude."

Toyota

Georgetown, Kentucky
$1.3 billion, 1,209 jobs

This investment — the highest of any automaker in Kentucky and the second-largest in state history — will make Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) the first plant in North America to begin producing vehicles using Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). It’s part of Toyota's plan to invest $10 billion dollars in the U.S. over the next five years.

Toyota Kentucky is the automaker's largest plant in the world, employing 8,200, an all-time high. The plant has produced more than one-third – 11 million – of all Toyota vehicles manufactured in North America since 1986. A recent study by the Center for Automotive Research shows Toyota Kentucky supports nearly 30,000 jobs across the state (direct, indirect, and spin-off). TMMK employees live in 80 Kentucky counties, and currently Toyota has more than 100 suppliers located across the Commonwealth.

Toyota
Team members at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) work on the engine sub-assembly line. Toyota’s record $1.33 billion investment will introduce Toyota New Global Architecture and other next generation improvements that will position the plant for long-term success.
Photo courtesy of Toyota

Triangle Tire

Rocky Mount, North Carolina
$580 million, 800 jobs

This Chinese manufacturer in December announced it had selected Edgecombe County for its first manufacturing facility in the US and first outside China. It will be a two-phased project making passenger tires first and commercial tires second. Once at full capacity in 2023, the complex located at the 1,449-acre Kingsboro megasite near US 64 and I-95 and adjacent to CSX rail service will produce 6 million tires annually, in a state that already has welcomed several other recent tire-making investments.

“The more I learn about North Carolina, the more strongly I feel that North Carolina is the right choice for Triangle,” Triangle Tire Chairman Ding Yuhua said. “In addition to its strategic location which provides cost-effective transportation, the citizens of North Carolina are diligent and enthusiastic. The state has a large working age population, healthy economic development environment and well-established education system.” Gov. Roy Cooper said the project is the largest manufacturing investment in a rural county to date.

Volvo

Berkeley County, South Carolina
$520 million, 1,910 jobs

In September 2017, two years after the groundbreaking on its first US factory but before a single car had rolled off the line, Volvo announced this project, which brings its collective investment to more than $1 billion and local payroll to 3,900 jobs. The plant, located adjacent to I-26 just northwest of Charleston, will be the global production home for the S60 sedan, and Volvo plans to add an additional product line for the next-generation XC-90 in 2021. The investment also brings a new 300-worker office complex that will serve as a training center and house R&D and operations management activities, as well as a southern regional sales office.

To facilitate the deal, the S.C. Department of Commerce went before the Joint Bond Review Committee and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to request $46 million in bonds to offset eligible items of infrastructure under the Economic Development Bond Act. Those funds were approved in October.

INTERNATIONAL TOP DEALS

APM Terminals

Limon, Costa Rica
$1 billion, 550 jobs

The new deepwater facility on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is scheduled to open in February 2019, “propelling Costa Rica into a new role as a key global logistics hub for the region,” says APM, which in February held a ceremony with Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera to commemorate the arrival of the facility’s first three ship-to-shore (STS) cranes and six rubber-tire gantry cranes (RTGs). After construction issues delayed the completion of the terminal by a year, it is now expected to open in February 2019.

More than 60 percent of the terminal’s capacity will be devoted to refrigerated container handling: In addition to exporting coffee, clothing and electronics, Costa Rica is currently the world’s largest exporter of pineapples, and the third-largest exporter of bananas.

"Costa Rica is preparing to inaugurate much more than a Container Terminal,” said Morten H. Engelstoft, CEO of APM Terminals. “The country is inaugurating a new era in its commercial relations with the world; and this will have a direct impact on the country's economy and an important advance in the global connectivity ranking.”

APM
Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera early this year welcomed new cranes to APM’s $1-billion terminal in Limon.
Photo courtesy of APM

Boeing/Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC)

Zhoushan, Zhejiang, China
$55 million, 2,000 jobs

The March 2017 announcement by Boeing marked what Caixin Online called the culmination “of years of lobbying by Beijing to move some production to a market that’s set to pass the U.S. to become the world’s largest for civil aviation in the next decade.” The facility in the coastal city is Boeing’s first aircraft completion and delivery center outside the United States (Airbus already has two plants in China), and will have the capacity to produce 100 planes annually. Among the infrastructure improvements to accommodate the new operation is a major expansion of the area’s Putuoshan Airport, as well as establishment of a new aviation industrial park.

"Zhoushan and Seattle are located at the two sides of the Pacific Ocean,” said He Dongfeng, president of COMAC. “In the past, most people living in Seattle didn't know about Zhoushan, but now they come to work here. Our completion center has linked us together."

DP World

Posorja, Guayas, Ecuador
$1.2 billion, 1,000 jobs

A groundbreaking ceremony in September followed the the 50-year concession the company won last year from the Government of Ecuador to build a facility with 750,000 TEU (twenty-foot container equivalent) of capacity. According to DP, Phase 1 includes the purchase of land, dredging of a new access channel, a 20-km. (12.5-mile) access road and a 400-m. (1,312-ft.) berth equipped to handle containers and other cargo. The site is 65 km. (40 miles) from the country’s main business city of Guayaquil. In addition to the terminal, a logistics and industrial park with Special Economic Development Zone status will be developed adjacent to the port.

This is an important landmark in Ecuador’s growth story,” said DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. “We’re celebrating today the first public-private partnership that will benefit the local economy and change forever the way it trades with the world.

GlobalFoundries

Chengdu, China
$9 billion, 2,500 jobs

In addition to launching a JV to build a 300-mm. fab, the company (GF) and city in May announced a $100-million investment to spur innovation in China’s semiconductor  through development of an ecosystem including multiple design centers in Chengdu and university programs across China. The investment of more than $100 million is expected to attract leading semiconductor companies to Chengdu, making it a center of excellence for designing next-generation chips in mobile, Internet-of-Things (IoT), automotive and other high-growth markets.

“MediaTek established our site in Chengdu back to 2010,” said Joe Chen, EVP and co-COO of MediaTek. “Chengdu is quickly becoming an international destination for cutting-edge technology companies.” In 2016, the High and New Technology Development Area of Chengdu, home to 115 Fortune Global 500 firms posted total trade amounting to $24.9 billion.

Hixih Rubber Industry Group

Jining, Shandong, China
$410 million, 2,000 jobs

According to Rubber & Plastics News, Hixih plans to add annual capacity for 12 million passenger tires and 2 million truck/bus tires at its Shenzhou Tyre and Tongli Tire Co. Ltd. subsidiaries in Jining, located halfway between Qingdao on the coast and Zhengzhou. The car tire project alone will generate the 2,000 new jobs. Together, the two projects will encompass more than 8 million sq. ft. of new production area.

The company got its start in 1989 making conveyor belts, and didn’t add tires to its mix until a 2005 JV with Pirelli, whose technology will be deployed in the new facilities.

Jiangsu Jinpeng Industry Co.

Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China
$393 million, 3,500 jobs

This project at Jinhai Science and Technology Industrial Park in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, is expected to produce hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles, forklifts and cleaning equipment. “Together with Jinpeng New Energy Automobile Base, which was put into production in October 2016, the annual production capacity of Jinpeng electric four-wheeled vehicles will reach 250,000 units, ranking the top in the industry,” said a Chinese media report.

Jiangxi Chelan Network Co.

Yongxiu, Jiangxi, China
$1.5 billion, 5,000 jobs

According to Jiujiang News, Jiangxi Chelan Investment Group Co., Ltd. and Yongxiu County in January 2017 signed a strategic cooperation agreement, marking the official settlement of the New Energy Auto and Key Component Industrial Park project in Yongjiang, in order for the county to promote the development of “organic silicon new materials, high-end equipment, new electronics and incubators, ‘3 +1’ industry, and comprehensively create a modern industrial new city.”

The project, whose construction is expected to take five years is located in Makou Industrial Zone, Yunshan Economic Development Zone, Yongxiu, and will cover 2,000 mou (a Chinese unit of measurement) or 330 acres. “After all the projects are up to production,” said the news service, “the focus will be on the R&D and production of key components of new energy vehicles, supporting the sales of the nation's major new energy vehicle vehicle manufacturing plants, and exporting overseas and developing new energy special vehicle manufacturing and new energy special machinery.”

JSW Steel

Paradip, Odisha, India
$8.5 billion, 30,000 jobs

This integrated steel mill and 900-MW captive power plant will pump out 12 million metric tons of steel a year, and include its own port and a slurry pipeline for iron ore concentrate from nearby Joda. The complex is landing on the very same 2,700 acres that South Korea’s Posco chose more than a decade ago for a $12-billion steel plant that was eventually scuttled due to public opposition — or what Telegraph India recently referred to as “anti-displacement agitation by the land-losers.” Eventaully Posco gave back 1,700 acres to Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corp. Both the pipeline and the steelmaking plant have been approved by Odisha’s High-Level Clearance Authority.

Northvolt

Skellefteå and Västerås, Sweden
$4.7 billion, 2,500 jobs

Northvolt (formerly known as SGF Energy AB) in October announced a partnership with the Swedish municipalities Skellefteå and Västerås in northern Sweden for the establishment of Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing complex. According to Northvolt Founder and CEO Peter Carlsson, as Europe moves quickly toward electrification, "Sweden has a unique position to establish large-scale battery production to support this transition with its clean and affordable energy, proximity to raw materials, and a strong industrial tradition deep in its DNA."

The green factor was one reason the Nordic region made sense for the facility, as Northvolt seeks cradle-to-grave life-cycle management, and the Nordics' largely carbon-free power base starts the venture off on the right foot. But it was not the only reason the Nordic region made sense. Clean water and a stable grid were key, said the company. "Furthermore, several critical minerals can be mined in the region," said Northvolt. "There is strong academic competence at hand, a highly educated work force as well as a large number of multinational companies with strong interest in energy storage and battery technology." The company has global ambitions, stating on its FAQ page, “We believe there is a long-term market for 100-150 factories of our size.”

Sweden
The Skellefteå coast, in Swedish Lapland on the coast of the Baltic Sea, has an archipelago with stunning views, midnight sun in the summers and, soon, a major lithium-ion battery manufacturing campus from Northvolt.
Photo courtesy of Image Bank Sweden

SAIC/GM/Wuling Automobile

Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia
$700 million, 3,000 jobs

Inaugurated in July 2017 by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and other dignitaries, this plant in GIIC Industrial Zone Deltamas will produce the Confero S car for the Indonesian market and for export. The 60-hectare (148-acre) parcel is split between the assembly plant and a supplier park. China’s Wuling brought with it 15 suppliers, who work with more than 20 local component suppliers. About 200,000 of the 1.1 million cars a year will be exported.

According to The Insider Stories, “The government is targeting automotive production to penetrate 2.5 million units by 2020 to compete in the global arena,” said Indonesia Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartarto, in keeping with a national strategy aiming to grow the steel industry’s production to 10 million tons by 2025, and use other raw materials from the country. “The availability of raw materials for the automotive industry, especially steel, resin, synthetic rubber, and aluminum is expected to be fulfilled domestically by 2019,” he said.

Sakai Display Products

Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
$8.8 billion, 15,000 jobs

The company — a Hon Hai Precision Industry/Sharp Corp. JV whose majority shareholder is Foxconn Founder and CEO Terry Gou — broke ground in March 2017 for its 10.5-generation display industrial park (G10.5), which is being built in partnership with the city government. The new G10.5 facility in Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, will be at the center of a strategy “to leverage Industrial Internet and intelligent manufacturing technology to develop innovative display screens, smart TVs, electronic whiteboards and other cutting-edge display products and solutions.”

The plant will compete with another new plant from China’s BOE Technology Group, which plans to start up in Hefei sometime this year, and with yet another from TCL Corp. in Shenzhen.

“In the last 30 years, we have continuously invested in expanding our operations in the Pearl River Delta — from Shenzhen to Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, and Guangzhou today. Our goal is to support the building of an information technology highway across the Pearl River Delta, similar to Silicon Valley’s Highway 101, and to develop an industry supply chain that generates a multiplier effect of five to seven times on GDP for every dollar of output.”

Samsung

Thai Nguyen, Vietnam
$3 billion, 15,000 jobs

According to a story from The Economist this spring about the company’s presence in Vietnam, this complex in the country’s north employs more than 60,000 already (part of a nationwide Samsung workforce of 100,000), and those 60,000 workers consume some 13 metric tons of rice daily. “It churns out more mobile phones than any other facility in the world. It and Samsung Electronics’ other factories in Vietnam produce almost a third of the firm’s global output.” That comes from eight factories and one R&D center, into which the company has invested $17.3 billion.

It’s just part of more than $35 billion in FDI from South Korea alone since 2007, a current that’s run especially strong since the 2015 signing of a trade agreement between the two countries. Vietnam continues to open its economy to foreign investors, and is on the brink of signing a trade agreement with the EU.

Samsung said in April 2018 it plans to invest even more in Vietnam, planning to attract employees to smart city campuses in Bac Ninh and other locations. A Reuters report said Samsung factory exports from Vietnam totaled $54 billion in 2017 — a quarter of the country’s entire export revenue.

Samsung

Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
$13.5 billion

After two years of construction, the fabrication line that opened last year at the Pyeongtaek campus is currently the largest single fab in the industry. The complex is focused on the production of Samsung’s fourth-generation V-NAND (64 layers). “With the dedication and support of our employees, customers and partners, our new Pyeongtaek campus represents a new chapter in Samsung’s semiconductor operations,” said Oh-Hyun Kwon, vice chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics. Samsung plans to make more than KRW 37 trillion [US$33 billion] in investments to its global production facilities. By 2021, about 80 percent of that total is headed to Pyeongtaek.

The motivation echoes Foxconn’s (or vice versa): “Recent emerging IT trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), big data and automotive technologies [have] sharply increased demand for next-generation components,” the company said. Out of the 296 front-end facilities and lines tracked by industry consortium SEMI’s World Fab Forecast, 30 facilities and lines with over $500 million in fab equipment spending were growing in 2017. Ten of these fabs are in Korea.

Samsung
Samsung’s $13.5-billion investment in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, is just one plank in a massive investment strategy in its home country.
Photo courtesy of Samsung

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Tainan, Taiwan
$17 billion, 4,000 jobs

After the announcement last year, ground was broken in January 2018 for TSMC’s Fab 18, Phase 1 facility at the Southern Taiwan Science Park. Once all three phases enter production, the 950,000-sq.-m. (10.2-million-sq.-ft.) facility’s estimated annual capacity will exceed 1 million 12-inch wafers.

“TSMC’s Fab 18 represents three important commitments from our company: our commitment to future growth, our commitment to continue moving technology forward, and our commitment to Taiwan,” said Chairman Dr. Morris Chang. TSMC currently employs more than 10,000 people in the Southern Taiwan Science Park, and once Phases 1,2, and 3 enter volume production, more than 14,000 TSMC employees will be living and working in the Tainan area. “TSMC hopes the multiplier effect of the jobs and economic value created by the Company and its supply chain will bring prosperity to Tainan and further underscore the Company’s value to society, said the company, thanking the Taiwan government for its support in access to water, power, land, and other resources.

Turkmengas

Kiyanly, Balkan, Turkmenistan
$3.4 billion, 1,300 jobs

Originally awarded to a consortium of engineering arms from Toyo, Hyundai and LG, this massive ethane cracker complex is scheduled to be complete this year. It will produce ethylene, high-density polyethylene, and polypropylene from natural gas produced on the Caspian Sea shelf. Polymer products will be exported and sold mainly in the Asia, EU and Turkish markets. “Turkmenistan is a country boasting abundant reserves of natural gas, and it has been maintaining high economic growth with the export of natural gas,” Toyo noted. “The country is a promising market with strong investment potential, especially in petroleum and gas fields. Toyo will be contributing to Turkmenistan’s economic development through the execution of this project as well as expanding further its business in Russia and CIS countries.” Turkmenistan is No. 6 in the world in natural gas reserves.

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries

Hinobaan, Western Visayas, Philippines
$300 million, 5,000 jobs

This ship recycling and reuse yard in the Negros Occidental province will be on the newly established 285-hectare (-acre) Southern Negros Industrial Estate, created by the expropriation of property from the defunct Insular Lumber Co. and other private lots by the provincial government. The project continues to move forward though there have been protests by groups claiming the project displaces and negatively affects the community due to its location on productive agricultural lands in Barangay Bacuyangan, according to reports in The Freeman. According to a November 2017 report in Sunstar Philippines, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said the company’s arrival “would be a big help to the economy not only of Hinobaan but the entire province as well since it will generate jobs.”

Volkswagen

General Pacheco, Buenos Aires, Argentina
$667 million, 2,500 jobs

In November 2017, Volkswagen Argentina this investment in a technological and plant infrastructure modernization, the implementation of the new global MQB A platform and a new painting plant in the Industrial Center Pacheco. The investment is part of the company’s Transform 2025 + strategy, which has among other objectives a goal to increase the VW’s SUV offer in the world, along with regionalizing the Volkswagen brand. The new platform will allow VW to produce in General Pacheco Argentina’s first SUV, for sale across all of South America. "Volkswagen believes in the great potential of the South American continent,” said Volkswagen South America's CEO Pablo Di Si. “The investments create the optimal conditions for the efficient production of our new SUV — built in Argentina for the markets in South America.”

Welspun Group

Kutch, Gujarat, India
$293 million, 5,000 jobs

The $2.3-billion industrial conglomerate is pursuing three large textile projects at once. "Our continuous investment in the state is a testament to our long term commitment to Gujarat,” said Welspun Group Chairman BK Goenka. “It is our aim to make Gujarat the textile hub of the world.”

Key to the family of projects is a new Textile Manufacturing Zone. It’s part of the Indian government’s Sagarmala project. One of the facilities will focus on technical textiles for such professions as public safety and health care, while another will focus on applications for aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. Indirect employment in Kutch is projected to total nearly 15,000. Among other investments in Gujarat by Welspun, its facility in Anjar employs more than 30,000.

Winbond Electronics

Kaohsiung, Taiwan
$11.1 billion, 1,000 jobs

Located at the Kaohsiung Science Park on a 25-hectare (-acre) parcel, this semiconductor manufacturing plant will make DRAM and flash memory products. The company also is expanding production capacity at its 12-inch fab in Taichung to increase from 44,000 to 48,000 wafers by the end of 2017, and further to 53,000 wafers by 2018, according to the Commercial Times. Taipei Times reported in September that Winbond would continue to move forward with the investment “despite lingering power concerns” after a power plant incident and repeated power rationing over the previous summer.

Like so many other Top Deals, this one involves the mysterious potential of the IoT. In its application to the science park, the company stated that it was seeking “next-stage growth stemming from the Internet of Things and emerging applications demand.”

Zhongce Rubber Group

Anji, Zhejiang, China
$620 million, 8,000 jobs

ZC Rubber is largest tire maker in China and 10th largest globally. This 9.25-million-sq.-ft. (859,325-sq.-m.) plant, where construction began several years ago, has planned annual capacity of 35 million motorcycle tires, 40 million electric-bicycle tires and 120 million inner tubes. ZC Rubber President Shen Jinrong called the plant an “an important investment for ZC Rubber’s further development in the future. We have seen the increasing and different global demand and the building of new factory is moving ahead with the strategy to help expand the global market and better serve more customers around the world. The foundation of (this) new factory is a critical step forward in the company’s further development to be a world-class tire manufacturer.”

Adam Bruns
Managing Editor of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

   




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