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From Site Selection magazine, March 2024

Top Three Industries See Major Boost

Global project numbers rose in every leading sector throughout 2023.

by Alexis Elmore

 look through the data collected by the Conway Projects Database in 2023 sends a clear signal that the world is under construction. In comparison to the prior year, the top industries only saw one change in the ranks, thanks in part to a multi-billion-dollar project investment boom seen around the globe.

Machinery, equipment & construction snagged the No. 1 top industry spot for the seventh consecutive year. Reflecting a plentiful year of new project announcements, the number of projects for the sector grew significantly by an impressive 441 projects.

Applied Materials announced the industry’s largest project with a $4 billion investment for a semiconductor Equipment and Process Innovation and Commercialization (EPIC) Center. With this new asset the company aims to bring together chipmakers, universities and industry partners to drive new semiconductor technology R&D. The project is landing at Applied Materials’ campus in California’s Silicon Valley. Over the next seven years the investment will be used to construct the 180,000-sq.-ft. facility, featuring collaborative cleanroom space, which is expected to be complete in 2026 and create 2,000 new engineering jobs in the region.


2023 Top Industries-lead-2


The food and beverage industry follows with 1,285 total projects in 2023, a jump of 277 from the new and expansion projects announced in 2022. Transportation and logistics again secured the No. 3 rank, breaking the threshold of 1,000 projects by pulling in a majority of new investment, jumping by 122 projects over the course of the year.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness stated that Red Stripe’s $2.2 billion Cellars Expansion for Beer Production represents a symbol of confidence for the country. The St. Andrew, Jamaica, project led the food and beverage industry investments in 2023, increasing the company’s capacity by 34% (1 million hectoliters) annually, to meet increased demand. In transportation & logistics, among the top projects by investment is a new aircraft servicing and recycling center in the Shuangliu District in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, from Airbus and partner Tarmac Aerosave. Measuring more than 7.7 million sq. ft. and able to accommodate 125 aircraft on a parcel adjacent to an aviation industry park, the project closely followed the announcement by Airbus of a second A320 manufacturing line at its site in Tianjin’s free trade zone.

A slight difference from Conway’s 2022 Top Industries ranking shows that the chemicals & plastics industry came in to replace business & financial services for the No. 4 spot. This industry had the most lucrative investments of 2023, as every project in the top 15 reflected investment of over $2.5 billion for a combined total of over $82 billion. 

The No. 1 project by investment was BASF’s $10.6 billion syngas facility in Zhanjiang, China. Located at the company’s Verbund site, the project will produce syngas and hydrogen for captive use within BASF’s operations. The plant, which will be powered 100% by renewable energy upon completion in 2025, is said to be the first of its kind to use CO2 off-gas to manufacture syngas. 

IT & Communications rounds out 2023’s Top Industries with a total of 863 projects. The industry stayed at the same relative level as in 2022, adding 26 more new and expansion investments globally. This industry will be one to watch as 2024 progresses, as major data center investments continue to dot the globe. Cielo Digital nabbed the last-minute project of the year with a $5.4 billion data center investment in Culpeper County, Virginia. Located in the county’s McDevitt Drive Technology Zone, the 1.4-million-sq.-ft. campus will bring two 96-megawatt (MW) data centers and one 48-MW data center. Cielo’s site will have its own onsite REC substation and backup generators, in addition to onsite water tanks. 

Alexis Elmore
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Alexis Elmore

Alexis Elmore joined Conway Data in 2022 as associate editor for Site Selection. A 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia, she studied journalism and communications before moving back to Atlanta to pursue her career. As an editor for Site Selection and contributor to Conway's Custom Content guides, she writes about economic development efforts and corporate growth happening around the globe.


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