EconSouth (Third Quarter 2005)

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

EADS North America has selected Mobile as the site for a $600 million factory that will produce an aerial refueling plane for the U.S. Air Force. The plane will be EADS’ tanker version of its passenger jet.
GKN Aerospace in Tallassee said it will increase its payroll by 50 percent—to about 800 workers—and spend $20 million to expand its factory there, which makes parts for civilian and military aircraft.
According to a United Van Lines report, Alabama ranked fourth on the list of states with the largest number of inbound moves.
Officials at Goodrich Corp., an aerospace manufacturer, said that strong sales and new contracts with major airlines in the Americas and the U.S. military will allow the company to expand its Baldwin County operations and hire 88 workers by year’s end.
International tourism boosted passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport by 20 percent in June 2005 compared to last June, according to a report from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
SeaWorld Orlando announced a new water park attraction that will add about 1,000 employees to the current workforce of 5,000.
WinDoor of Orlando expects to finish constructing a new manufacturing plant by the end of the year. The plant, which will make hurricane-resistant windows and doors, will more than double the company’s employment to 300.
Mitsui OSK Lines, a major Japanese shipping company, will build a $200 million terminal in Jacksonville, doubling the port’s container capacity. The terminal, which will serve as a major Southeast hub for growing regional trade with Asia, will create about 1,800 jobs and is expected to have an $870 million economic impact.
AE Group, a German company, plans to spend $50 million to build offices and a manufacturing plant in LaGrange, adding 300 jobs to the area over the next five years. The project will include a manufacturing facility that makes and sells components for the aerospace and automotive industries.
Gainesville-area development officials expect several million dollars in capital improvements and expansions at Wrigley Co.’s plant there. The plant, which makes chewing gum products, already employs 800 people and is the company’s largest U.S. plant.
According to Smith Travel Research, metro Atlanta’s hospitality and group travel business has maintained steady levels of growth. Occupancy rates are up 5.5 percent, reflecting increased attendance at conventions and a steady return of business travel.
General cargo activity at the Port of New Orleans climbed more than 18 percent in the first quarter of 2005 compared with the same period last year. Exports grew by more than 16 percent while imports rose 19 percent. The port recently announced a $20 million plan to expand the facility.
DuPont Dow Elastomers will proceed with a planned expansion of its LaPlace plant now that a federal agency has committed to maintaining tariffs on rubber imports from Japan. Ending the tariffs would have jeopardized the expansion, which is projected to have a $100 million economic impact on the state.
The U.S. Army plans to order 724 more armored vehicles from Textron Marine and Land Systems for use by American troops and security forces. The contract will require hiring about 400 employees for the new assembly-finishing plant in Slidell and the primary plant in eastern New Orleans.
Chevron Global Refining has unveiled plans to increase the capacity of the Pascagoula Refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking unit by approximately 25 percent. Its current capacity is 63,000 barrels per day.
SteelCorr recently announced the construction of a new mill in Lowndes County that will turn scrap iron into high-grade steel for the auto industry. The new plant represents a $725 million investment and is expected to create 450 new jobs.
June was a strong month for Gulf Coast casinos as gross gambling revenues topped $107 million, an 8.6 percent increase over year-earlier levels. But July revenues dipped because some casinos had to shut down for Hurricane Dennis during what would have normally been a busy weekend.
Louisville Ladder Group is closing its 20-year-old Smyrna plant, moving production of wooden attic ladders to a Monterrey, Mexico, factory and eliminating 110 jobs.
Russell Stover Candies Inc., America’s third-largest chocolate manufacturer, plans to cut about 400 jobs at its Cookeville factory.
Poultry company Perdue Farms recently announced a $17 million expansion of its processing facility in middle Tennessee. The expansion, which will add about 400 jobs, is expected to begin operation in mid-November. The plant employs more than 1,800 workers.
Twin Solutions, a CD and DVD replication and packaging company, will open a new facility in Nashville, initially creating 45 jobs. The company plans to add 120 jobs over the next five years.

This information was compiled by Dave Avery, a senior economic analyst at the Atlanta Fed.

Editor’s note: At press time it was too early to assess the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina on Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We will examine the effects of the storm in future issues of EconSouth.

Illustrations by Jay Rogers


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