Automotive is King in the South!
If Automotive is King in the South, Which Southern States
are King of Automotive?
By Lee Burlett
As written in both the SB&D Job and Investment 100, the
automotive industry has a stranglehold on the top industry
sector position in the South. Let us proclaim what we have
proclaimed for three years now, this time with even greater
gusto: Automotive is the current industry king in the South
and the data found here in our rankings absolutely proves
it. The chart below ranks the top 10 industries in the South
in calendar year 2003 based on points earned in this year's
SB&D 100 - Industry Winners - Top 10
|3. Call Centers
|5. Financial Services
|7. Oil and Gas
|8. Wood Products
|9. Health Care
|10. Computer Products
As you can see, only three other industries are really even
competing with the automotive industry for regional economic
dominance. The financial services industry as well as distribution/warehousing
invest and hire in the South with regularity. But neither
can stand next to the automotive industry and say they're
in the same game. Not with a straight face, anyway.
One industry or sub sector that may compete favorably with
automotive in the near future is the headquarter category.
The South landed more Fortune 500 headquarters relocations
from outside the region in one year -- 2003 -- than it did
in the last 30 years. If that trend continues, expanding and
relocating headquarters could surely compete with automotive
in wages paid, jobs created and in capital investment. Fidelity
National and Philip Morris are just two of many major corporations
that spent hundreds of millions in relocating their headquarters
to the South.
While we can imagine a contender to the South's top industry
spot, it's the automotive industry that wears the undisputable
crown. The growing Southern Auto Corridor (www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com)
is the home to many of the largest industrial announcements
made in the region over the last decade. But now the automotive
industry is placing smaller, supplier-type deals on the SB&D
Job and Investment 100 as well as the "just missed deal"
lists at a rate not seen since Southern Business & Development
first published this ranking in 1993.
What is truly amazing about this industry is the fact that
so few automotive plants have closed during the toughest economy
since the early 1990s. For example, of the 4,300-some-odd
automotive-related businesses that were operating in the Southern
Auto Corridor in 2003, fewer than a dozen significant operations
shuttered their doors. Because of that incredibly low closure
rate, it can easily be determined that the automotive industry
in the South is a happy, profitable and growing group.
Where are the automotive deals?
If automotive is king in the South, which Southern states
are kings of automotive? The Southern Auto Corridor is a large
place, stretching from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas in the west
to Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia
and Maryland to the east.
By studying the adjoining map that includes icons where automotive
assembly sites are located, it's easy to see that the spine
of the Southern Auto Corridor, as well as the South itself,
is Interstate 65 running from South Alabama all the way up
to Louisville. With the data found in this year's SB&D
100, the states in and around that spine continue to garner
more auto-related projects than states farther from it. But,
with Toyota's Texas announcement in 2003 and the DaimlerChrysler
back out in Southeast Georgia, there are indications that
the automotive industry is quickly beginning to be a total
Southern love affair. That love soon should include the whole
body and not just the spine of the American South and the
Southern Auto Corridor.
As you can see by the adjoining chart, 14 Southern states
landed at least one major automotive deal in 2003. Clearly
though, the spine states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee
landed the most with 36 of the 57 big automotive deals announced
in the South in 2003. The three I-65 states also accounted
for 250 points, more than half accounted for by states located
away from the spine.
2004 SB&D 100: State Performance in the Automotive
||# of 100 Deals