2004 SB&D 100 State Summary
||Per Capita Rank
In an economy such as we've experienced since 2001, few states
in the country can say their economy has never been better.
Currently, Alabama's economy may be the best it has ever been.
Sure, low wage industries have closed up in 'Bama as they
have everywhere else. Yet, it can be argued that no state
in the country is turning more deals per capita than Alabama
right now. The automotive industry has found this state to
its liking in a huge way. If the automotive industry is driving
the South's economy, then Alabama is at the wheel. Alabama
is our "State of the Year" for the second consecutive
For three years now we have predicted that Arkansas is primed
for big deals and each year we've been wrong. This year's
SB&D 100 clearly points to another disappointment for
the Razorback State. However, it is encouraging to see some
significant automotive investments finding Arkansas. But with
only five significant deals for the year, our confidence in
Arkansas is waning. We'll stay on Arkansas' bandwagon for
one more year. After that, we're getting off.
The Sunshine State has been all over the board in the last
three years. In the 2002 SB&D 100, Florida won its second
"State of the Year" with 645 points. Last year it
posted a mere 360 points. This year, it's 53 deals that made
our lists earned 415 points. Tampa Bay, which won Mega-market
of the year the last two years could only muster 70 points
this year. Orlando, on the other hand, won its second "Major
Market of the Year" in the past three years. The Scripps
Research Institute's decision to build in Palm Beach County
was undoubtedly the most interesting deal of the year. Solid
year for Florida, but nothing to call mama about.
For the first time in the 12-year history of the SB&D
100, Georgia's deals were spread throughout the state and
not almost exclusively in the Atlanta metro. Every one of
Georgia's mid-markets, including Macon, Columbus, Augusta,
Rome and Savannah put at least one good deal on the board.
And much smaller markets such as Fort Valley, LaGrange, Vidalia,
Waycross and a bunch of others turned significant deals as
well. We are recognizing Georgia for the first time since
1996 and it's because the wealth was spread to other parts
of the state and not just to Atlanta. Good job Peach State!
Nothing much happened in the way of big deals in Kansas in
2003. It's hard to hammer the Sunflower State because their
state economic development agency just might be the most efficient,
professional and responsive state group that we deal with.
But hammer them we will. Four deals in a year? Come on. The
aerospace and aviation industry, one of Kansas' largest industries,
had its best year in the history of the SB&D 100. Regardless,
only four deals. There's always next year.
Moving on up! Two years ago, Kentucky had its worst year
in the history of the SB&D 100, earning but 100 points.
Last year the Bluegrass State was one of just five states
that improved its points from the year before. While not a
record year, Kentucky improved to 180 points this year, one
of the largest point increases of any Southern state. The
performance earned Kentucky its first "State Honorable
Typically, Louisiana earns the bulk of its points in the
Investment 100 category. This year is no different. We've
maintained for years that we will not recognize Louisiana
until it does a better job at turning large job generating
deals. Surprise! This year it did, with one Job 100 deal and
an impressive 10 "just missed" job deals, its best
performance in seven years. Still, 175 of its 235 points came
from large investment deals. Regardless, a "State Special
Recognition" was earned by Louisiana this year for those
11 big job deals.
Maryland's point totals have dropped by half each of the
last three years from 100 in 2001 to 25 last year. But some
significant government/defense deals landed in Maryland in
2003. Even so, the nine deals and 60 points, while an improvement,
is still a long way from what it needs to be.
Even with the drop in points from 205 last year to 155 this
year, Mississippi continues to impress. Second this year only
to Alabama in points per capita, the Magnolia State benefited
from a variety of industries including ship building, aerospace,
automotive, gaming and metals. The Mississippi Gulf Coast
markets of Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula won their second
"Mid-Market of the Year" honor with 70 points. Columbus
had a fine year as well.
With 160 points, it wasn't a bad year for the Show Me State.
Last year saw Missouri earn 165 points. Maintaining is an
honorable goal in this economy. Missouri would perform better
if it spent more time on recruiting new projects instead of
so much time on the retention of existing industry. Kansas
City performed well, earning recognition in the Major Market
division. But nothing much seems to happen in Missouri's rural
areas. The state should do a better job at creating jobs outside
of its metros.
The Tar Heel State continues to struggle in a big way. Posting
160 points for a second straight year is more than concerning,
it's downright alarming. Since the 2000 SB&D 100, N.C.'s
points have gone like this: 335, 310, 215, 160 and 160. During
this freefall, politicos and economic development officials
have tried everything from tinkering with incentives to sending
videos to the President about outsourced jobs. It's time that
North Carolina officials admit they have a problem instead
of dismissing every good idea that they don't come up with.
In other words, ditch the dadgum skepticism about the way
economic development is practiced today. N.C., you were always
a thoroughbred. Yet, if it wasn't for your brilliant moves
in the biotech arena, we'd label you a nag this year.
There are times when you admire and recognize those who do
well with little resources and then there are times when those
little resources are not enough to do well. The last few years
have seen Oklahoma perform beyond their state economic development
office's capabilities. This year is not one of those years.
Here's another state that has gutted its economic development
department in this economic downturn and the drop in points
shows. But this year should be the bottom for the Palmetto
State. There's new optimism coming out of there and that's
half the battle won when you're struggling. We reported neighboring
North Carolina's point drop since 2000, so we'll do S.C.'s
as well: 215, 225, 265, 180 and 110. If we get off Arkansas'
bandwagon next year, we'll jump on South Carolina's because
the state is primed for big deals.
Tennessee's 28 big job deals rank near the top in the South
this year. It's really a shame that Tennessee doesn't report
all of its investment deals because if they did, we would
call this year a great one for the Volunteer State. In other
words, the 225 points earned by Tennessee this year is not
accurate. It really should be about 350. Regardless, there's
no doubt that Tennessee is one of the hottest states in the
country right now. When you land big headquarter relocations
like Tennessee did in 2003, well, that's about as good as
it gets. Yet, Nashville is getting cocky for no reason. Memphis
has outperformed them for four straight years now, as have
many other major markets in the South.
It's about time. No state has seen its points drop like Texas
in this economy. Since 2000, Texas' points have gone like
this: 825, 675, 610, and 355. This year's 695 almost doubles
their points from last year. But if you want to really impress
us, Texas, ring up another one of those 1,300 point years
you posted from 1996 to 1998. Seriously though, Texas had
to have a year like they had in 2003. The Lone Star State
turned the "Deal of the Year" with the new Texas
Instruments fab in Dallas and they also turned the second-best
deal of the year with Toyota's San Antonio assembly plant.
Another good year posted by Virginia. The Old Dominion holds
the most "State of the Year" crowns with three and
they weren't that far off from winning it again this year.
Virginia's points are up from 355 points last year, but down
from the 615 points earned in 2001. Still, Virginia's performance
year-in and year-out is the most consistent in the entire
South. There's one thing the state of Virginia has learned
in its economic development practices over the years that
we wish all Southern states would learn: you get what you
pay for. In other words, no state has invested in itself or
in its economic development practices more than Virginia has
over the last decade or so.
The South's smallest state acted like it in 2003. Not a whole
lot of big deal activity, but not a horrible year by West
Virginia standards. They've certainly done better, though.
At least W.V. posted deals across the board. Look for a better
year next year.