Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Laura Kelly of Kansas are covered extensively in this issue as the winners of the 2021 Governors’ Cups — the former for total qualified capital investment projects last year and the latter for total per capita projects. The governors of the other ranking states in these facilities races also deserve recognition. All governors are their states’ main salesmen and women when it comes to landing the transformative projects that add billions of dollars to their economies and create hundreds or thousands of jobs.
Quite a few such projects have been announced in recent months, many of which are the largest private investments in the history of the state they picked. These include Texas Instruments in Texas ($30 billion); Rivian Automotive in Georgia ($5 billion), with new developments addressed in this issue’s Georgia Spotlight; Toyota in North Carolina ($1.3 billion); and Ford’s BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky ($5.8 billion).
Speaking of Kentucky, I interviewed its governor, Andy Beshear, in early February for a publication we produce for its Cabinet for Economic Development. Asked how the Bluegrass State won the Ford-SK project, he had this to say: “First, we had a good site with the necessary infrastructure that was of the size needed to build one of the largest production plants we have ever seen. Second, Ford developed confidence in us. This is their biggest investment in their history, and it will be absolutely critical to the future of their business.
“I looked them in the eye and said, ‘We will not let you down. We will get this done,’” he added. “We could show them that politics does not get in the way of economic development here in Kentucky. The General Assembly was able to pass a bill giving some extra flexibility for what is the largest economic development project in our history. That was a big help, and we give them credit.” These are likely among the reasons Kentucky placed third in the per capita Governor’s Cup contest, as it did last year.
Mayors of cities and towns play no less a role in attracting investment and jobs to their communities. That’s why we recognize Top Metros — for total projects and per capita projects — in three population tiers and Top Micropolitans in this issue. Most have economic development offices and chambers of commerce to help with the heavy lifting, but local leadership’s involvement can be a deal winner.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief