EconSouth (First Quarter 2004)


The State of the States
Recent events and trends from the six states of the Sixth Federal Reserve District

Honda’s Talladega County plant made 167,884 minivans in 2003, 55 percent above the previous year’s production levels. The plant employs about 3,000 people. Completion of a second assembly line by April will bring Honda’s investment in Alabama to more than $1 billion and a full-capacity workforce of 4,300.
GKN Aerospace, an airplane parts supplier with facilities in Montgomery and Tallassee, has received a new contract for a wing panel for an Airbus aircraft under development. The Tallassee plant will add about 100 people to its current 425-person workforce as production ramps up.
Carnival Cruise Line’s decision to use Mobile as a home port should add about $12 million each year to the local economy. The city is building a terminal and parking decks to accommodate the ship, which will sail to Mexican ports starting in October.
 
Expansions in the hospitality industry are back on track. Disney’s new Pop Century Resort recently opened; the sharp downturn in attendance at Disney World after 9/11 led the company to delay the scheduled December 2001 opening. The Ritz-Carlton South Beach in Miami also recently opened after years of delays.
A Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman says tourism in many areas is approaching or exceeding pre-9/11 levels. Spokespeople for the Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau agree that prospects are strong, with winter convention bookings up from the past few seasons.
Despite analysts’ caution, strong sales are encouraging developers to plan or move forward with high-end condo projects in Miami and downtown Jacksonville and along the St. Johns River.
Harris Corp. of Melbourne recently added 700 jobs. The company makes communications equipment for fighter aircraft, satellites, and national security agencies.
 
One of Albany’s oldest factories, Flint River Textiles, closed in March, eliminating 230 jobs. In addition, WestPoint Stevens, the Georgia textile maker that is operating under bankruptcy court protection, will close plants in Georgia that employ 550 workers.
Another firm is relocating its home office to Georgia. Rayovac, the Wisconsin maker of batteries and electric razors, will move about 25 employees, including top executives of the firm, to the Atlanta area this spring.
Convention bookings in Atlanta in 2004 are up over last year. Travel and trade spokesmen are optimistic about the coming year, but filling the city’s growing number of hotel rooms could be problematic.
Although new office and warehouse construction in Georgia is expected to remain weak, medical facilities and retail developments next to new subdivisions are bright spots in commercial construction.
 
Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ Michoud facility, which employs more than 2,000 people, hired 125 new workers in New Orleans to help modify the space shuttle’s external fuel tank.
Although travel industry officials have said that the New Orleans convention business will be down in 2004, developers anticipate a comeback. New projects in New Orleans will add more than 1,500 rooms to the 37,000-room hotel market.
A multimillion-dollar Northrop Grumman contract to build an amphibious transport dock ship for the U.S. Navy will keep workers employed at the Avondale shipyard. The bow stem of the ship—the New York—will be made from 24 tons of melted steel from the World Trade Center.
The closure of a credit card customer service center in New Orleans in October will eliminate 847 jobs.
 
Textron Fastening Systems, a $1.65 billion business unit of Textron, is locating a plant in Greenville. The operation will manufacture a broad range of engineered fastening and assembly products for its automotive and industrial customers. The project represents a capital investment of $35 million and is expected to employ 500 workers.
The Madison Furniture Co. of Canton is closing, laying off 241 people. Production at the plant began phasing out in January. Nearly 27,000 people in Mississippi—about 24 percent of the state’s durable manufacturing sector—work in furniture manufacturing.
Progress on construction of the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi as well as expansions and renovations at hotels and casinos are expected to prop up the state’s hospitality market. A spokesman for the Mississippi Gaming Commission expects the state’s gaming revenues to remain stable overall in 2004 following a 1 percent increase in gaming revenues in fiscal year 2003.
 
A contract for Camel Manufacturing to make the next generation of tents for the U.S. Armed Forces is expected to create jobs and spur economic growth in Campbell County.
Officials of Clarcor Inc., a marketer and manufacturer of consumer and industrial packaging and filtration products, announced plans to move its headquarters to the Nashville area.
On its first day, the Tennessee lottery recorded sales estimated at $10.8 million, about $1.87 per capita. Of that amount, the state made $3 million in profits, all of which go toward education.
Nissan North America continues to ramp up hiring at its Smyrna plant, adding
700 jobs so far since announcing plans to produce the Pathfinder SUV there. The plant produced about 454,000 vehicles last year, up 11 percent from 2002’s figures.
Carrier Corp. recently announced that by the end of 2005 it will close its manufacturing facility in McMinnville, eliminating about 1,300 jobs.
Compiled by the regional section of the Atlanta Fed’s research department
Illustrations by Jay Rogers

 

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