2004 SB&D 100 Top Deals and Hot Markets
By Lee Burlett
The results of this year's SB&D 100 indicate that the
South's economy is coming back from the lows seen last year
and in 2002. No, the points, jobs and investments found in
the 2004 SB&D 100 do not remotely compare with years'
1996-2000. But at least things are looking up. Job and investment
announcements made by the South's most important companies
improved over last year. It's been a while since that has
happened. As written, every year since 1998 we've seen job
losses on the SB&D Job 100. That is, until this year.
One indicator the South's economy is getting back to normal
are this year's comeback performances by Georgia, Texas and
Florida. Over the years, especially the dominating years of
the mid-to-late 1990s, those three large states, along with
Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, led the way in job
and investment generation in the region.
Meanwhile, the South's small states, such as Alabama and
Mississippi, have led the South in deal-making performance
on a per capita basis since 2001. That's the case again this
year with Alabama No. 1 and Mississippi No. 2. Other small
Southern states like Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia
have also fared well, or at least held their own, since jobs
and investments began to drop a few years ago.
Small states in the South (those under 5 million) still performed
well this year, even though only three of nine performed as
well as they did in the 2003 SB&D 100. If six of the South's
nine small states lost points this year, then how can they
be performing well, you might ask? Although small states'
points are down compared to last year, they are still above
their historic averages, for the most part. Last year was
an incredible one for states such as Alabama, Mississippi,
Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Meanwhile, large Southern states experienced their worst
year ever in the 2003 SB&D 100. Texas, Florida, Georgia,
Maryland and North Carolina set 12-year record lows in points
earned in the "100." The South's other two large
states, Tennessee and Virginia, merely maintained average
scores last year.
In this year's Hot Markets report, you'll also see some familiar
local markets being recognized. That is, familiar if you were
a reader of this magazine in the mid-to-late 1990s. One is
the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Like the state it is located
in, D/FW's total number of big deals turned dropped dramatically
from 2001 to last year. Yet, in this SB&D 100, Dallas/Fort
Worth has settled back into the No. 1 position again in its
And D/FW is not the only market magically reappearing from
the good old days of the pre-recession. And like every year,
there are newcomers to this section as well.
The 2004 Top Deals and Hot Markets section is sprinkled with
"new economy" (2001-2004) and "old economy"
(1993-2001) states and markets. This year, we have a nice
mix of small states being recognized as well as large states.
During the "old economy," which certainly was a
better one in job and investment generation in the South as
a whole, large Southern states dominated. In the "new
economy," or since early 2001, small Southern states
emerged from the muck and performed better than ever, while
large states suffered. With that performance history in mind,
it's nice to see a combination of the two earning recognition
this year. By the way, the Top 10 Deals of Year follow the
Hot Markets profiles.
ALABAMA: STATE OF THE YEAR (280 POINTS)
This is Alabama's second consecutive "State of the Year"
award. No small Southern state had won State of the Year until
'Bama did it last year. This year they did it again with a
hefty 280 points. Alabama also earned the No. 1 per capita
ranking in points earned per million persons. Obviously the
automotive industry is largely responsible for both the 2003
and 2004 State of the Year designations earned by 'Bama. This
state is humming along as if they drew up the blueprint for
large job and investment announcements. One thing that's occurring
with Alabama is that it is distancing itself from similar
sized state markets such as South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland
and Louisiana in the South and quickly moving into that upper
echelon of destination states such as Tennessee, Georgia,
Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Florida. That's exactly
what Tennessee did in the late 1990s.
GEORGIA: SPECIAL RECOGNITION (260 POINTS)
Here's another state that has been missing from the Hot Markets
section for quite a while. Atlanta was a job-generating monster
throughout much of the 1990s; however, we would refuse to
recognize Georgia as a whole because big deals were non-existent
in the rest of the state back then. But this year companies
announced big deals throughout the state, including virtually
every mid-market and more small and rural markets than ever
before. The Peach State also saw one of the largest increases
in points, from a record low of 135 last year to 260 this
LOUISIANA: SPECIAL RECOGNITION (235 POINTS)
Louisiana has only been recognized once in the state category
and that was in 1998. We have been reluctant to recognize
this state over the years, even when it earned record point
totals, because almost all of its points were earned on the
investment side. This year, Louisiana turned 11 big job deals,
its best performance ever.
KENTUCKY: HONORABLE MENTION (180 POINTS)
Kentucky also saw a healthy points increase with 180 this
year, up from 120. The automotive industry was behind the
Bluegrass State's point surge, accounting for 65 of the 180
points. That total was second best to Alabama in the critical
automotive sector. It's the first time we have ever recognized
VIRGINIA: HONORABLE MENTION (415 POINTS)
This year's SB&D 100 saw Virginia post 415 points, which
ties it with Florida with the second-highest total in the
entire South. Yet, while 415 is an excellent score, it isn't
close to the 600-plus point years this state has earned twice
before. We have recognized Virginia more times than any other
Southern state, with three State of the Year designations
(1996, 1999 and 2001) and three Honorable Mentions. Make that
four Honorable Mentions. Of all the large states in the South,
Virginia has remained the most consistent.
DALLAS/FORT WORTH: MEGA-MARKET OF THE YEAR (260 POINTS)
Back in 1996, 27 of the top 100 job deals announced in the
South came from the Dallas/Fort Worth market. That's a record
that will probably never be broken. Since the downturn of
2001, though, D/FW has dropped out of sight, paving the way
for Tampa Bay being named Mega-Market of the Year in 2002
and 2003. This year D/FW is back with a vengeance with 260
points. D/FW also landed the Deal of the Year with Texas Instruments
new chip plant being built in Dallas.
BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON/NORTHERN VIRGINIA: SECOND PLACE (160
In D/FW's absence this large market has jockeyed with Tampa
Bay for Mega-Market honors, winning it three times in 1999,
2000 and 2001. Big government deals helped the Capital region
to second place this year.
TAMPA BAY, ATLANTA, MIAMI/FORT LAUDERDALE: TIE FOR THIRD
PLACE (70 POINTS)
Tampa Bay's two-year Mega-Market reign is now over. This
year, Atlanta and South Florida tied Tampa Bay for third place
in the Mega-Market division. Look for all three markets to
have better years next year. The financial services industry
should increase Tampa Bay's and Atlanta's points next year
and the biotech industry will surely see spin-off deals from
the Scripps development in South Florida.
ORLANDO: MAJOR MARKET OF THE YEAR (100 POINTS)
This is the second Major Market of the Year award that Orlando
has earned. It earned its first in 2002 with an honorable
mention sandwiched between 2002 and this year's No. 1 ranking.
Orlando's big deals were varied, from Jet Blue's $170 million
operations center at Orlando International Airport to a 300-employee
recording studio. As we mentioned last year, Orlando's deals
each and every year are just more interesting (actually we
used the adjective "sexy') than deals turned elsewhere.
This Central Florida market is really on a roll.
SAN ANTONIO, HAMPTON ROADS, KANSAS CITY: TIE FOR SECOND
PLACE (90 POINTS)
Two newcomers are being recognized in the Major Market category.
San Antonio and Kansas City have never earned recognition
in this division. But this year they deserve recognition in
a big way. San Antonio earned 90 points, 20 of which came
from one deal, Toyota's new pickup truck assembly plant. That
deal will draw even more to our lists in coming years, so
expect San Antonio to be in this spot next year and beyond.
Kansas City's efforts in the life sciences arena are really
paying off. The Cerner deal is huge. And Hampton Roads, which
was recognized in our 10th Anniversary issue as the No. 1
Major Market between 1993 and 2002, has put another feather
in its cap. Hampton Roads is a deal-making machine, year-in
MEMPHIS, RICHMOND, NEW ORLEANS: TIE FOR THIRD PLACE (70
Memphis and Richmond are regulars at the top of this division,
each winning at least one Major Market of the Year award over
the last dozen years (Richmond's won two). But this is a first
for New Orleans, which earned the bulk of its points from
big industrial investment deals announced just west of the
BILOXI/GULFPORT/PASCAGOULA, MISS: MID-MARKET OF THE YEAR
The Mississippi Gulf Coast region is no stranger to this
ranking, winning its first Mid-Market of the Year in 1997.
This, the second Mid-Market of the Year for Biloxi/Gulfport/Pascagoula,
means this market can now be recognized as one of the most
consistent in its division. Only two other Southern Mid-Markets
can claim they have performed as well as the Mississippi Gulf
Coast over the last dozen years and that's McAllen, Tex. and
Tri-Cities, Tenn. But neither of those two have come as far
economically as the Mississippi Gulf Coast has in the last
MACON, GA., MCALLEN/EDINBURG/MISSION TEX: TIE FOR SECOND
PLACE (35 POINTS)
It's refreshing to see a new face in this spot in Macon,
Ga. As we wrote earlier about Georgia, more markets in that
state benefited from new job deals than ever before. Macon
particularly benefited. Earning a second-place in the Mid-Market
division is McAllen, Tex. So, what's new? McAllen has won
Mid-Market of the Year twice and placed second or third two
other times. This South Texas border Mid-Market is one of
the fastest growing in the country and has patented the art
of job creation.
GAINESVILLE, FLA: THIRD PLACE (30 POINTS)
This major university town has never ranked near the top
of its division until this year. Gainesville is quickly becoming
a significant distribution hub with Wal-Mart, Dollar General
and Nordstrom's operating big distribution centers in the
area. Look for some significant deals in the life sciences
field in the near future. The University of Florida is a huge
research center and with Scripps building down the road, Gainesville
will get its fair share of deals from that industry.
GREENVILLE, ALA., ENNIS, TEX: TIE FOR SMALL MARKET OF
THE YEAR (25 POINTS)
The Small Market division is our favorite to rank each year
because new faces almost always land at the top. That's the
case with Greenville, Ala., which turned several large automotive
deals and Ennis, Tex., which landed a large distribution deal
that earned it 20 points. In most SB&D 100 years, small
markets in the South just need to turn one or two really big
deals and they will find themselves in this spot.
LUVERNE, ALA., ALEXANDER CITY, ALA., DECHERD, TENN., BUCKINGHAM,
VA., FORT VALLEY GA., BOWLING GREEN, KY: TIE FOR SECOND PLACE
All of the markets that tied for second place in the Small
Market division, except for Buckingham, Va., earned their
ranking from deals coming from the automotive industry. That's
a major indicator that automotive is the rural South's champion.
MADISON CO., FLA., ELIZABETHTOWN, KY., COLUMBUS, MISS.,
JESSUP, MD: TIE FOR THIRD PLACE (15 POINTS)
Elizabethtown and Madison have been ranked in the Small Market
category before. But this is a first for Columbus, Miss. and
Top 10 Deals of the Year
||First new chip plant in the South in
||San Antonio TX
||First auto plant in Texas in decades
||Palm Beach FL
||Big bio deal creates talk of 40,000 jobs
||Kansas City MO
||My taxes went to Iraq and
||Fort Worth TX
||Now that's a corporate campus
||Howard Hughes Medical
||Loudoun Co VA
||Life sciences perking up
||How many billions is that over the years
||Lost some of its shine, but Austin remains
||Ohio Co WV
||Deal of the Year in the Rural American