Economic Development in the World's Fourth Largest Economy
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 Fall 2015


Ten outstanding markets driving large MSA economies

Economic growth is dependent on a number of factors. Infrastructure, workforce, quality of life and cost of doing business can drive companies to, or from, a geographic area. Sometimes, too, a particular location can be an economic hotspot that literally leads the way for a metro area to develop. These are ten of the best when it comes to impacting the growth of an entire metropolitan area.

Anderson County, South Carolina (Greenville)
With more than 200 major manufacturers and 20 international companies in Anderson County, it is a primary driver for the economic success of the Greenville MSA. Top major industries include automotive, metal products, industrial machinery, plastics and textiles, but the county continues to attract new sectors.

In recent years, Anderson County has grown in aerospace, thanks to investment by companies like GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin and Honeywell.

Overall, South Carolina’s Upstate boasts an outstanding, highly trained workforce, which has made it such a magnet for investment. The area leads the nation in international investment per capita. That certainly bodes well for Anderson County continuing to shine in a global economy.

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia (Atlanta)
In October 2013, Caterpillar opened its new manufacturing facility in Athens. The facility is expected to employ 1,400 people when production is at full capacity. It was a significant announcement, but by no means the only major corporate activity taking place in this college town.

Athens is a hotbed for life sciences and biotechnology companies, as well as the aerospace industry. As a matter of fact, the area has a very diverse economy, ranging from food processing to pharmaceuticals, plastics and, now, bulldozers.

Athens is home to a nationally recognized research institution (University of Georgia). And it is very accessible – via Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (80 miles away) and two major interstates.

Chatham County, North Carolina (Research Triangle)
Pictured is SB&D’s Shelly Jo Jacobs and businessman Tim Booras, owner of most of the land that makes up the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site. The 1,800-acre megasite in Chatham County, N.C., sits between the Triangle and Triad regions of the state. Rural Chatham County is perfectly situated for economic impact. Its proximity to the Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) gives Chatham access to leading technology, a well-educated workforce and access to excellent infrastructure. But, it comes with a lower price tag than larger cities.

Obviously, having three top-notch universities (Duke University, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State) down the road is a huge advantage for Chatham County.

Chatham County has several development projects in process now that are expected to significantly impact the economy of the region, including Chatham Park, which is expected to expected to generate $140 billion for the Triangle region in the next 40 years.

With forward-thinking leaders and a progressive population, Chatham County’s influence on the region will continue to exponentially grow.

Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Raleigh-Durham)
A long-time leader in the healthcare industry, Durham has attracted more than $2.28 billion in economic development since 2008, creating more than 6,000 new jobs. It is a sure sign that the area has successfully continued its evolution from agrarian to high tech.

In fact, both high tech and traditional manufacturing jobs are on the rise there. With three nationally-renowned research universities within a short distance, there is an abundance of highly-skilled, specialized workers.

In recent years, development efforts have evolved again – successfully courting life sciences and green tech companies. The Research Triangle continues to prove it can reinvent itself economically and succeed.

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (Louisville)
SB&D publisher Michael Randle (right) with Rick Games, the economic developer in Elizabethtown, Ky. In the background is the Glendale megasite that is directly on Interstate 65. Even as thousands of jobs were disappearing around the country during the recession, the economy of Elizabethtown remained strong. In 2010, the Elizabethtown metro area was the fastest growing in the country, with an economy that grew 14 percent.

With two-thirds of the country’s population within a one-day truck drive, the announcement of the shovel-ready Glendale Megasite opens the door for Elizabethtown to have even greater impact. This 1,551-acre site has direct access to I-65, as well as railroad via CSX, and proximity to one of the world’s premier distribution and logistics centers – the UPS World Port in Louisville.

A pro-business climate, coupled with low cost of living and a large local workforce, should keep Elizabethtown growing.

New Braunfels, Texas (San Antonio)
Last year, three companies (IBEX Global, CBE Companies and Nexus Medical Consulting) brought 1,000 new jobs to New Braunfels. It was part of another record-breaking year for this community in the heart of the Austin-San Antonio Corridor.

The draws for business are numerous – with a workforce within commuting distance of more than 450,000 people. In the last six years, the area has seen more than $400 million in new commercial investments, and the population is growing. The result is a diverse base of businesses that includes distribution, manufacturing, data centers, health-care and aviation.

Sherman/Denison, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth)
By working together, the communities of Sherman and Denison have created a winning partnership built on a strategy of enlightened growth led by experienced civic leaders. This area has long been known as an advanced manufacturing hotbed – home to companies like Texas Instruments, Emerson and Caterpillar. The area’s proximity to Dallas and Fort Worth has always been an attraction for business.

But recently the local economy has expanded and diversified. In December, the $350 million Panda Sherman Power complex was commissioned. The facility will generate an estimated $1.7 billion in local economic impact during its first decade of operation.

That followed an announcement earlier in the year that Ruiz Foods was expanding its Dennison operation again. The company came to Dennison in 2005, and has expanded the local operation twice since – the most recent at a cost of $20 million.

And the National Association of Realtors announced in February 2015 that home prices in the Sherman-Denison area have jumped more substantially during the last three months than any other community in the country. Just another sign that this area is thriving, and should be for years to come.

St. Charles Parish, Louisiana (New Orleans)
South Louisiana is in the midst of the biggest boom it’s seen in decades. National and international energy companies are flocking to the Mississippi River parishes because of the area’s cheap natural gas. The Port of South Louisiana is now the number one energy transfer port in the country, and it’s getting busier.

St. Charles Parish is in the center of all that activity. And its integrated transportation network makes doing business across borders much more efficient – whether connecting with Mexico, Canada, the continental U.S. or even South America.

That’s why the area has seen such economic diversification in recent years. Recent investments in the transportation, alternative fuels and technology sectors have made St. Charles Parish a player in a wide range of industries.

Sugar Land/Fort Bend County, Texas (Houston)
Sugar Land, a planned city 20 miles southwest of Houston, is becoming a popular location for business relocation. The area offers not only one of the lowest tax rates in Texas, but is also easily accessible via highways, rail, sea and air transport.

Since 1999, more than 40 corporations have expanded operations, made construction improvements or relocated to Sugar Land. Currently, more than 15 corporations from last year’s Fortune 500 have a significant presence here.

Not surprisingly, Sugar Land has been garnering national acclaim as a result. With 10 percent local job growth in the past five years, Money Magazine named Sugar Land the nation’s best place to find a new job.

Wilson County, Tennessee (Nashville)
Wilson County is changing the game. This county has not only managed to grow 28 percent in a 10-year period, but also maintain exceedingly low unemployment rates. And the median household income is the second highest in the state.

The secret, it appears, is a growing and versatile economy. In 2014, Wilson County gained an Under Armour distribution center, a Federal Express ground transportation center, a B&G Foods distribution center, a Hollister distribution center and a 700,000-square-foot Starbucks distribution center. In addition, it has added a manufacturing facility for Technotiles, an Italian decorative tiles designer.

With Nashville close by, Wilson County has a strong and skilled workforce, as well as excellent infrastructure. All signs point to this area continuing to be a popular choice for distribution and logistics solutions.

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