EconSouth (Second Quarter 2007)

The State of the States

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

bullet image ThyssenKrupp, the Germany-based technology company, announced that it will build a steel plant in northern Mobile and southern Washington counties. The $3.7 billion facility, expected to begin production in 2010, will employ 2,700 people and will generate around 29,000 jobs during the construction phase.
bullet image Hyundai announced plans for a $270 million expansion at its Hope Hull plant near Montgomery. The expansion, scheduled for completion in fall 2008, will create 500 jobs when production begins. Honda also confirmed a $65 million expansion of its assembly plant in Lincoln, and Isuzu will build an assembly plant north of Birmingham that will open in 2010.
bullet image Berg Steel Pipe, a division of the German company Europipe, chose Mobile for a new $75 million manufacturing facility. The facility will employ about 100 new workers to produce pipe used in oil and gas exploration and should be operational by mid-2008.

bullet image Construction at the new TraPac Container Terminal at the Port of Jacksonville will add two 1,200-foot berths to the port. The $200 million facility is scheduled to open in late 2008 and will create 1,600 jobs in Jacksonville, according to port officials.
bullet image Existing home sales in the state are down about 25 percent for the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year. Median existing home prices over this period fell 2.7 percent, according to the national and Florida associations of Realtors.
bullet image Visit Florida estimated that 84.6 million people visited the state in 2006. More than half of those tourists arrived by plane, and 78 million were domestic visitors. While this total was higher than 2005's nearly 84 million visitors, the rate of growth for tourism was slower than in the previous three years.

bullet image Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines exited bankruptcy at the end of April after
19 months of bankruptcy court protection. The airline estimates an $800 million-plus pretax profit for this year, the first since 2001.
bullet image Since the completion of a 177,000 square-foot expansion in 2005, the Atlanta High Museum of Art has seen dramatically higher attendance levels, especially for the Louvre Atlanta exhibit. The exhibit's opening in October 2006Ñthe largest exhibit of Louvre Museum works outside of FranceÑattracted 2,900 visitors on the first day, close to double the High's normal attendance level, and has continued to average 2,000 visitors a day through the start of 2007. Membership also grew to 79,000 families, a 17 percent increase.
bullet image Protecht, a Chinese electronics maker, announced plans to build its first U.S. factory in Barnesville. The $30 million facility will employ 350 people. The plant is a joint venture with Atlanta-based Heritage Capital Advisors.

bullet image Lumber company Martco opened a new plant in Oakdale in January. The plant, which makes wood panels, employs 170 workers. At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce 850 million square feet of panel annually.
bullet image Flights and passengers flying to and from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport have increased by 50 percent compared with the start of 2006. However, these numbers are down nearly 30 percent from pre-Katrina levels.
bullet image A recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, using data from the Current Population Survey, found that hurricane evacuees from the Gulf Coast states had higher unemployment rates than the nation. As of October 2006, the evacuees who had not returned to the Gulf Coast had a 16 percent unemployment rate. Evacuees who returned had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, higher than the rest of the country's 4.7 percent.

bullet image Gov. Haley Barbour announced distribution of $869 million in grants to 12,413 families who experienced Hurricane Katrina–related housing damage. Other plans to support rebuilding include $262.5 million to build, rebuild, or repair up to 5,000 units of affordable housing. This plan aims to make forgivable loans of up to $30,000 per unit to owners of small rental properties in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, and Pearl River counties.
bullet image Mississippi passed legislation providing $80 million over the next four years to reduce home insurance premiums. The money, combined with $30 million from the federal government, is intended to reduce premiums for holders of wind pool policies, which provide coverage for homes and businesses in areas insurance companies consider too risky.
bullet image After nearly four weeks on strike, 7,000 Northrop Grumman workers returned in April to the company's Pascagoula shipyard with a $1.68 per hour raise the first year and another 55 cents per hour for the next two years.

bullet image Compared with the year before, total state tax revenues rose 7.3 percent for the 2007 fiscal year through March. The increase in revenues outpaced growth in expenditures, and lawmakers passed funding increases for education in response.
bullet image Tennessee is one of only three states working to turn switchgrass into biofuel. The native tall grass grows easily in the state. With $18 million in state money proposed for research and development on top of the $4 million the federal government has provided, Tennessee hopes to become a leader in producing ethanol from switchgrass and other woody materials.
bullet image Affiliated Computer Services announced plans to hire up to 375 new employees for its call center at an expanded 58,000-square-foot Nashville site. The company currently has about 120 employees in Nashville.
This information was compiled by Sarah Dougherty, an economic analyst at the Atlanta Fed.
Illustrations by Jay Rogers