Measured by an index awarding points for high capital expenditure and high job creation, then evaluated for their overall projected economic impact, here, in alphabetical order, are the Top Deals for North America and for the rest of the world as tracked by Site Selection in 2018. (For an expanded edition with detailed citations about the International Top Deals beyond North America, visit siteselection.com after May 9, 2019.)
The HQ2 deal was the most lucrative, complex and scrutinized of any ever covered in this publication’s 65 years. In contrast to the other part of HQ2 in Long Island City, New York, that the e-commerce and data center giant withdrew from early this year, this project, announced in November 2018, continues to move forward steadily, taking advantage of a regional talent base and progressive transit-oriented development in and around the nation’s capital.
The proposal team led by five economic development organizations headed by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership involved the collaboration of dozens more organizations and institutions, and hundreds of individuals. Approved incentives include $195 million toward critical infrastructure improvements from the Virginia General Assembly in addition to $570 million of regional government infrastructure commitments, a regional compact to invest $500 million annually in Metro system improvements, and a $23 million performance agreement unanimously approved by the Arlington County Board in March 2019.
State funding also includes $250 million toward Virginia Tech’s planned $1 billion Innovation Campus at National Landing and $125 million planned for new Master’s degree programs in computer science and related fields at George Mason’s Arlington campus. The County of Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth also have collectively dedicated $225 million to fund a range of low-income and workforce housing initiatives. (Home prices, as expected, have risen since HQ2 landed.)
In April Amazon finalized several lease and land purchase agreements totaling 4.6 million sq. ft. (427,340 sq. m.) with Maryland-based REIT JBG Smith at the National Landing site straddling Arlington and the City of Alexandria and next to Ronald Reagan National Airport. Amazon will begin moving in by the end of next year.
Announced on the same day as HQ2, this technology center investment has been acclaimed as perhaps the shrewdest move by Amazon and the most beneficial to its chosen region — a market many would call among the hottest in the nation. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development put it this way in March 2019: “For Tennessee, the new Operations Center of Excellence will be transformational. Tennessee, Davidson County and the city of Nashville will benefit from $1 billion in new tax revenues over the next 10 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation.”
“We think this can be a catalyst for Nashville to be a tech hub,” Amazon’s head of worldwide economic development, Holly Sullivan, told the agency. A Tennessee native and University of Tennessee graduate, Sullivan early in her career worked for economic development agencies in Wilson and Rutherford County.
State officials have said their incentive agreement with Amazon will be sealed for five years, citing an exception to the state public records law that allows records deemed to be of a “sensitive nature” to be held confidential.
Amazon in April 2018 welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the company announced plans to create an additional 3,000 jobs in fields including e-commerce technology, cloud computing, and machine learning at its expanding Vancouver Tech Hub — part of a Canadian network of Amazon operations that employs more than 6,000. More than 1,000 of those employees already work in research and engineering at the Vancouver site. “Vancouver is home to an incredibly talented and diverse workforce, and these thousands of new employees will invent on behalf of our customers worldwide,” said Alexandre Gagnon, vice president of Amazon Canada and Mexico.
Amazon will expand into a brand new location in QuadReal’s The Post redevelopment when the project opens in 2022. The expansion comes on top of plans to expand into another downtown site opening in 2020. The company expects to grow to 5,000 corporate employees in Vancouver in the coming years across all of its locations in the city.
Apple on December 13 announced this flagship investment along with plans to establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder over the next three year. Apple added 6,000 jobs to its U.S. workforce in 2018, now employs 90,000 people in all 50 states, and is on track to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023.
Apple’s newest Austin campus will be located less than a mile from its existing facilities, which already were the second-largest campus for Apple with 6,200 employees. The new 133-acre (54-hectare) campus will have the capacity to grow to 15,000, and is expected to make Apple the largest private employer in Austin. The campus will include 50 acres of preserved open space and, like all Apple facilities worldwide, its workspaces will be powered by 100% renewable energy.
“Apple and Austin share a creative spark and a commitment to getting big things done,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “We share their commitment to diversity and inclusion. We’re excited they are bringing more middle-skilled jobs to the area. And we’re particularly gratified by their commitment to providing a great place to work for a large and growing number of America’s veterans.”
Big River announced in June it is expanding its LEED-certified scrap recycling and steel production facility in Osceola, part of the Blytheville metro area. The expansion will double Big River Steel’s hot-rolled steel production capacity to 3.3 million tons annually, and facilitate the company’s ability to produce higher grades of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales. “Announcing this investment less than 18 months after beginning operations is a testament to the hard work and great success of the men and women on our team,” said CEO Dave Stickler. Big River is also contemplating working with a steel industry partner to install a coating line focused on automotive applications, and the possibility of producing grain-oriented steel products.
“Thanks to Big River Steel’s commitment to Arkansas coupled with our talented workforce, low cost of doing business and a pro-growth governor, this expansion further solidifies the state’s position as a leader in steel production and industrial manufacturing,” said Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston.
In November the company reaffirmed its commitment to remain independent, and said that in addition to the Arkansas expansion it would advance plans to build a second flat-rolled mini-mill in the southern United States, with Brownsville, Texas, the preferred option but other sites with access to the Gulf of Mexico also under consideration.
This company — sold to McKesson for $1.3 billion — said its new campus in West Franklinton was “inspired by two main pillars: community investment, and creating a remarkable workplace for the future.” Part of the commitment is two new investments with the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) and the hands-on Center of Science and Industry (COSI) to build programs that will create opportunities for kids and adults through training, mentorship, job-skill building and career development.
Among approved incentives were $19 million in tax credits. The Columbus Dispatch reported that CoverMyMeds Co-Founder and CEO CEO Matt Scantland’s twin brother Pete Scantland runs Orange Barrel Media, which owns the land that CoverMyMeds will build on. Built to LEED and WELL building standards, the park-like campus along the Scioto River near an I-70 interchange will be built in two phases, with the first to open in 2021 and the second between 2022 and 2024.
In December, Ford began its renovation of 105-year-old Michigan Central Station in the historic Corktown neighborhood, first announced last summer when Ford acquired the station (abandoned to the elements in 1988) and outlined plans to transform it and surrounding properties into a 1.2-million-sq.-ft. (111,480-sq.-m.) innovation campus where Ford and partners will work on autonomous and electric vehicle businesses, and design urban mobility services and solutions. In addition to the 2,500 Ford employees (most from the company’s mobility team), the project will bring in an additional 2,500 jobs with Ford’s partners and suppliers.
“Corktown will be part of a Ford mobility corridor running from Ann Arbor to Dearborn to Detroit,” the company said, noting that its Dearborn HQ redesign will continue in parallel. “It’s also the latest node in Ford’s research network stretching from Palo Alto to Germany to China.”
They weren’t one deal, they were two. They also weren’t ranging far afield for new locations. But these investments from the nuclear submarine builder for the U.S. Navy in two communities less than an hour apart promise to anchor an entire region’s maritime industrial economy. In May, Connecticut’s then-Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced an agreement that will help the company grow its workforce to 13,000-plus by 2034 and more than double spending with more than 700 in-state suppliers located in 102 Connecticut cities and towns. Key to the company’s growth are a manufacturing training program through the Eastern Workforce Investment Board in partnership with multiple community and technical colleges; a partnership with the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island to create the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology; and an apprenticeship program.
The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will provide incentives that include a $35 million loan for machinery and equipment with loan forgiveness based on supply chain spend and employment, and up to $20 million from Connecticut Innovations in sales and use tax exemptions for capital and new construction. DECD will also provide EB an $8 million grant, which may only be spent on third-party workforce development initiatives; and $20 million for dredging.
In Rhode Island, the expansion at Quonset Point will create 14 acres of manufacturing space. “Electric Boat is once again doubling down on Rhode Island,” said Governor Gina Raimondo, crediting new job training programs, “the work we’ve done over the last three and half years to make it easier to do business in Rhode Island” and the state’s willingness to invest in infrastructure. Rhode Island will invest a total of $34 million for infrastructure improvements, tax credits and sales tax exemptions.
In a blog posted on December 17, 2018, Ruth Porat, senior vice president and CFO of Google and Alphabet, called the company’s new 1.7-million-sq.-ft. (157,930-sq.-m.) Google Hudson Square campus “the next step in our commitment to our New York City presence.” Nearly two decades ago when the company first came to the Big Apple, she wrote, “it was our first office outside of California. It’s now home to more than 7,000 employees, speaking 50 languages.”
Earlier in 2018, Google announced the $2.4 billion purchase of the Manhattan Chelsea Market and shared plans to lease additional space at Pier 57. Coming as protests were mounting against Amazon’s planned HQ2 campus in Long Island City (but before the company’s pullout in February), Google’s announcement highlighted the company’s support for its communities and neighborhoods, including more than $150 million in grants and employee-matched giving to New York nonprofit institutions since 2011. Porat pointed out that to help foster New York’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, the company has funded programs like MotherCoders NYC, provided space to organizations like Black Girls Code and hosted Cornell Tech while its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island was under construction. “With these most recent investments in Google Chelsea and Google Hudson Square, we will have the capacity to more than double the number of Googlers in New York over the next 10 years.”
The company announced in November — subject to the recently passed North Carolina Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) legislation becoming law and the final award of state and local incentives — that it will relocate its global corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte, which it called “a business- and family-friendly city close to several of Honeywell’s businesses in the Southeast United States,” including its Honeywell Building Technologies and Honeywell Connected Enterprise businesses in Atlanta. Honeywell also announced it will relocate the headquarters of its Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS) business group from Fort Mill, South Carolina (part of the Greater Charlotte metro area), to Charlotte proper.
As part of the move, about 150 to 200 New Jersey-based senior management positions and about 100 South Carolina-based positions will relocate to Charlotte by September 2019. The company envisions gradually adding about 500 Honeywell corporate and SPS positions to the Charlotte location over the next five years. “Charlotte is a top-10 destination city in the U.S. that will readily enable us to recruit and retain the world-class talent we will need over the long term to support Honeywell›s strategic focus on leading technology and software solutions within our end markets,” said Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell chairman and CEO. “Our decision does not reflect any issues with the quality of our experience in New Jersey,” where approximately 1,000 Honeywell employees will remain across the company’s six locations in the state.
In May, online job site Indeed announced this expansion plan that will position the online job site as one of the largest tech employers in the city (alongside bigger employers such as Samsung and Apple). “We are committed to growing in Austin, a city that is a proven tech hub with excellent access to talent and a community that encourages innovation,” said Indeed President Chris Hyams of the company’s co-birthplace in 2004, alongside Stamford, Connecticut. The expansion includes two new office developments totaling over 615,000 sq. ft. (57,134 sq. m.), which will join the company’s existing locations along northwest Austin’s tech corridor of Loop 360. The company today already employs more than 1,600 people in Austin — more than 26% of its global workforce of 6,100. “Indeed’s multi-office strategy helps to minimize traffic impact to the city, giving employees options for public transportation, carpooling and alternate routes,” said the company.
In March 2018, Infosys opened its first U.S. Technology and Innovation Hub in Indianapolis and in April the company expanded its hiring plans for Indiana from 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs by the end of 2023. By November, it was breaking ground on its U.S. Education Center, a training campus and residential center for its employees — and the employees of select clients — that will revitalize a 70.5-acre (29-hectare) site on the West Side of Indianapolis on the grounds of the old Indianapolis airport terminal.
“We are excited to break ground on our U.S. Education Center, a physical embodiment of our long-term commitment to reskilling American workers,” said UB Pravin, COO, Infosys. “Continuous learning and reskilling are core components of Infosys’ DNA, and we look forward to the important role this facility will play in our efforts to train our 10,000 new American hires as well as our existing employees and those of our clients.”
“Today is yet another chapter in the airport’s history of intelligent land use that builds a stronger community — and is precisely in line with feedback from residents and local businesses,” said Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. “This massive site will be restored to the local tax rolls, and be transformed into a valuable asset to the West Side that we hope will attract other like businesses to the area.”
The largest single-site food industry investment in the history of Canada’s food industry was announced in November by this Canadian poultry processor. The facility is anticipated to have a $1.2 billion annual economic impact. Significantly, the deal was finalized under the province’s previous Ontario Liberal government, but reviewed and still adhered to by the current Ontario Conservative government, led by Premier Doug Ford. “Maple Leaf and the McCain family have a rich history in this country, investing in great manufacturing jobs,” Ford said at the announcement.
But the project will also boost the fortunes of some 1,100 chicken farmers across Ontario: The London Free Press reported that the new London plant — which will consolidate work done at three existing Maple Leaf plants in St. Marys, Brampton and Toronto — will process about one-third of the birds grown in the province. In a Q&A, Maple Leafs Foods president and CEO Michael H. McCain credited London’s available shovel-ready land, and its location “in the heart of the poultry-growing area” of southwest Ontario. Production of 75 million to 100 million chickens a year will begin in 2021.
As documented by Site Selection Senior Editor Gary Daughters, this January win over both North Carolina and South Carolina came exactly a decade after Huntsville barely lost out to Chattanooga for Volkswagen’s major plant investment in 2008, and then took subsequent actions to improve water and sewer infrastructure and environmental permit completions. The new jobs will pay an average of $50,000 a year. With production to start in 2021, the Huntsville plant will manufacture a new version of the Toyota Corolla, part of a thrust by Toyota to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years. Mazda is expected to build crossover SUVs.
While states that were considered for the plant also included Midwestern players such as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, “a source involved in discussions says that Toyota-Mazda ultimately wanted, and got, a location in the Southeast, where wages are lower and governments more reliably business-friendly,” Daughters reported. “Financial incentives were not the deciding factor. At least two other incentives offers eclipsed Alabama’s,” although the final package totals about $700 million in state and local incentives. “Huntsville’s win was a direct result of the ties it had established with Toyota, which opened an engine plant in the city in 2003,” Daughters wrote. In addition to training incentives, also helping seal the deal was a pre-certified TVA megasite in Limestone County.
As reported by Site Selection Executive Vice President Ron Starner last fall, a place made famous by the Civil War made a different kind of history on August 29 when Micron Technology Inc. announced this investment in the city 40 miles (64 km.) west of Washington, D.C. The average annual wage will be close to $100,000, plus benefits. At the time (10 weeks prior to the Amazon HQ2 announcement), it was the largest private capital investment ever in Virginia by a private company. Part of the plan is a global R&D center for memory and storage solutions where about 100 product engineers will work.
Two out of every three chips installed in automobiles around the world are produced at the Micron factory in Manassas. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Manassas and the Virginia General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to win the project over competition from Japan, China, Singapore and at least one other U.S. state. Boise, Idaho-based Micron will be eligible to receive an MEI custom performance grant of $70 million for site preparation and facility costs. The City of Manassas, Dominion Energy and other entities agreed to provide a broader and more comprehensive package to enable the expansion, including substantial infrastructure upgrades and additional incentives. “We were super-engaged with Micron for many months,” said Stephen Moret, president and CEO of VEDP, of a process that took a year to unfold. “This is the biggest project that the state has worked on since VEDP was created, and one of the biggest manufacturing projects in state history, he said, before adding, “This is not the last billion-dollar-plus deal that we will announce in Virginia this year.”
In its first phase, this new coffee factory, which will process around 20,000 tons of locally sourced green coffee a year, will employ 250 people directly and generate a further 2,500 indirect jobs. “It has the potential to provide 1,200 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs at the end of its expansion, including support for the training of young people through the dual training model,” said Nestlé, whose coffee presence in Mexico already includes an existing coffee plant and sourcing of 68,500 tons of green coffee. “With the new site, Nestlé will have 18 production facilities in Mexico, producing a range of products including coffee, dairy products, bottled water, cooking aids and pet care,” said the company.
“We are very pleased to share joint objectives with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his team,” said Fausto Costa, CEO of Nestlé Mexico, after meeting with the Mexican president. “We both believe in supporting young people, where Nestlé has been a pioneer in the country. We also believe in the strengthening of the Mexican countryside and the importance of accelerating the growth of the Southeast region. This new investment in Veracruz confirms our commitment to Mexico and its people; The country’s economic stability and competitiveness have been key factors to strengthen us as Nestlé’s fifth largest market worldwide.”
After initially planning to build a factory in Buckeye, Arizona, this startup hybrid truck manufacturer switched gears and chose Coolidge after a major order for 800 semis from Anheuser-Busch bumped up the company’s timeline. The project is the second huge vehicle manufacturing win for Pinal County in the past few years, after Lucid Motors’ 2016 commitment to build an electric car plant in Central Arizona Commerce Park in Casa Grande. “The site that they were looking at in Buckeye wasn’t going to be ready in time,” Tim Kanavel, economic development manager for Pinal County, told AZBigMedia.com in November. So Saint Holdings — the owner and developer of the park where Lucid was investing — teamed with the county and the City of Coolidge to recommend the company look at Saint’s Inland Port Arizona site in Coolidge.
“Coolidge had a shovel-ready 430-acre (174-hectare) piece of property with the infrastructure already in place that will shave years off our construction time,” Nikola Motor Co. CEO Trevor Milton said in a prepared statement, noting Buckeye’s collaboration with the shift.
The average salary at the Coolidge plant will be $80,000, with the promised positions to be created by 2025. Between Lucid and Nikola projects, “I think you’ll see a quick move for the region to become quite a hub for automotive manufacturing in the Southwest,” Saint Holdings’ Jackob Andersen told the news outlet. Salt Lake City–based Nikola also will move its HQ and an R&D center to Phoenix, where around 300 more employees will be based.
Passage of a $600 million bond issue by the City of Atlanta to help develop an office tower and redevelop company-owned property in a downtown area known as the Gulch was the final switch that enabled this HQ relocation from the railroad company’s hometown of Norfolk to Atlanta, where it’s long maintained a major operational presence. “Alignment, collaboration, and accountability are the hallmarks of Norfolk Southern’s plan to transform this company and its culture. Our new headquarters in Atlanta advances these key elements of success,” said Jim Squires, chairman, president and CEO, as he addressed on December 12. “Our potential has always been great and now is greater still, as we bring together all of our headquarters functions into a single, integrated team.”
The company is working with Cousins Properties on developing the new campus.
“With a shared history dating back to 1846, we are proud Norfolk Southern now calls Atlanta home,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, approved $23.6 million in tax breaks, in addition to incentives from the State of Georgia. “This relocation was made possible, in part, by the passing of the Gulch deal and is a reminder that great things happen when our public and private sectors work together.”
Raytheon leaders dedicated new facilities in May, part of a wave of new construction that includes an advanced testing facility, multi-purpose building, customer access center, infrastructure and manufacturing upgrades and installation of high-powered computing capabilities. “This project validates Southern Arizona’s strengths in innovation, technology and quality of life for our growing workforce,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, “and has been made possible by the strong collaboration and support of government and private sector partners.”
Those partners include Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Commerce Authority, Pima County, City of Tucson, Sun Corridor Inc., Tucson Airport Authority and Tucson Electric Power. “We literally moved county roads and invested in buffer space because we understand the economic value of Raytheon to Pima County,” said Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez. “With more than 500 suppliers around Arizona and a workforce of nearly 12,000 people, Raytheon continues to have a positive economic impact throughout our state,” Ducey said. Raytheon Missile Systems is Southern Arizona’s largest private employer, with an annual statewide economic impact of more than $2.1 billion.
In the same year this Korean conglomerate broke ground on a new $211 million electric vehicle battery plant in Hungary that will have a production capacity of 7.5 GWh, it announced this investment worth more than seven times that amount, in a facility that will be the largest-scale electric vehicle battery plant in the United States. The Jackson County site is northeast of Atlanta, near I-85, at the aptly named Commerce 85 Business Park.
“SK Innovation is a worldwide leader in the energy industry,” said Jun Kim, CEO of SK Innovation, which already employs nearly 2,000 U.S. workers across 10 states, “and this latest investment will allow us to work with the growing automotive industry in the southeastern United States, ensuring future partnerships for years to come.” Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors are major clients with major manufacturing and administrative presences in Georgia and nearby Alabama.
SK may do even more business in Georgia: The CEO in early January hinted that further investments totaling up to $5 billion may be in the works.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in May announced a C$110 million investment to support this dual investment in two plants, matched by an equivalent amount from the Province of Ontario. In addition to the new jobs, the investments will support more than 8,000 jobs in the region, and around 1,000 new co-op placements. Toyota will also invest $200 million in Canadian R&D over 10 years.
“Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada has always had a strong partnership with the Canadian government,” said Fred Volf, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. “With 30 years of manufacturing experience, our success is a result of TMMC team members, who are known for their dedication, high levels of skill, and challenge mindset. We’re aggressively adopting new technology and innovative processes to ensure our ongoing success.”
The federal support comes via Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, a C$1.26 billion program to support research, development, and commercialization of new products that pave the way for Canada as a global innovation leader and attract investments that create jobs. The automotive sector is Canada’s largest export industry, supporting over 500,000 jobs and contributing C$18 billion annually to the economy.
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.