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That's The Randle Report for May 27, 2015
Join us again tomorrow morning for all of the American South's business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window above to find your favorite stories from yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Click on the headline to access Southern Business & Development magazine.
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At Lear Corporation (LEA), And Elsewhere, Southern Manufacturers Grapple With Increasing Labor Agitation (Editor's note: Michael Randle is quoted in this story from International Business Times)
By choosing South Carolina to host its first auto factory in the United States, Volvo followed a trend set by dozens of other manufacturers before it: setting up shop in the American South, where labor costs are relatively low and the threat of unions is diminished. However, recent agitation in Southern manufacturing casts doubt on the notion that newly arrived employers can take labor peace for granted. Alfonzia Richardson, 46, makes $14 an hour in the materials department of a Lear Corp.-owned auto parts supplier in Brookwood, Alabama. The factory opened last summer to service a nearby Mercedes-Benz assembly plant outside of Tuscaloosa. Last month, Richardson and his co-workers publicly announced their intent to form a union. International Business Times
Submitted 13 hours ago

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As Activism Rises, U.S. Firms Spend More on Buybacks Than Factories
U.S. businesses, feeling heat from activist investors, are slashing long-term spending and returning billions of dollars to shareholders, a fundamental shift in the way they are deploying capital. Data show a broad array of companies have been plowing more cash into dividends and stock buybacks, while spending less on investments such as new factories and research and development. Activist investors have been pushing for such changes, but it isn’t just their target companies that are shifting gears. More businesses sitting on large piles of extra cash are deciding to satisfy investors by giving some of it back. The Wall Street Journal
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Perry to Senate Presidential Candidates: Go Home and Run for Governor
Former Texas governor Rick Perry has a message for three of the current Republican White House hopefuls: Run for governor before you run for president. Speaking about Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, all three U.S. senators, Perry said in an interview last week with THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he's hearing from GOP voters that they want executive experience. "I’ve had more than one individual say, 'You know what, if you want to be the president of the United States, you ought to go back to your home state and be the governor and get that executive experience before you go lead this country,'" said Perry. Weekly Standard
Submitted 14 hours ago

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Fed’s Fischer: Weaker-Than-Expected Foreign Growth Could Mean Slower Approach to Raising Rates
The Federal Reserve could take a slower approach to raising interest rates if weaker-than-expected growth overseas affects the U.S. economy, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said. “The tightening of U.S. policy will begin only when the U.S. expansion has advanced far enough — when we have seen further improvement in the labor market and when we are reasonably confident that the inflation rate will rise to our 2% goal,” Mr. Fischer said Tuesday in remarks prepared for delivery in Tel Aviv that were largely similar to an October 2014 speech in Washington. The Wall Street Journal
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Austin's clean technology sector finally quantified — and it equates to billions
The clean technology industry employs nearly 20,000 workers and contributes an estimated $2.5 billion to the Central Texas economy, according to an Austin Technology Incubator report. The report, released Wednesday, also indicates that growth in local clean tech jobs is projected to outpace state and national growth trends. Austin-area cleantech jobs are expected to surge 11 percent by 2020 compared with projected overall job growth of 9.3 percent statewide and 6.3 percent nationally. Austin Business Journal
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$460M and counting: Big corporate investments fueling Rutherford County, Tenn.
It’s been an active year for Brian Hercules and Rutherford County’s economic development team. Nashville’s southeastern neighbor has had a flurry of corporate expansions and deals this year, landing thousands of new job commitments and about half-a-billion dollars in capital investment from major employers like Nissan North America and General Mills. Hercules, the vice president of economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, says the county’s recruitment strategy goes beyond manufacturing – long Rutherford’s bread and butter with the likes of Nissan, which announced in March a $160 million investment to build a supplier park on its massive Smyrna campus. Nashville Business Journal
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Dell adding hundreds to its Nashville sales workforce
Dell is adding approximately 250 sales representatives to its Nashville-area team, the company announced today. The growth announcement comes at a time when the technology company has been shrinking some of its other Nashville operations, including shuttering a customer support unit earlier this spring. “We have tremendous opportunities for 250 people who want to apply and cultivate their talents at Dell,” Eric Coffey, co-site leader for Dell’s Nashville operations, said in a news release. “We have the most robust and technically advanced product line in our history, with industry-leading performance from the living room to the datacenter. And we need energized sales representatives who can help our customers understand and appreciate these solutions.” Nashville Business Journal
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Amazon hiring 450 more workers in Haslet
Amazon.com is hiring in Haslet again. This time the company said it needs to fill about 450 full-time positions in addition to the 1,500 people that already work there. These jobs are part of 6,000 that Amazon said on Tuesday that it needs to fill at 19 of its more than 50 fulfillment centers in the U.S. In April, Amazon said it needed to hire 400 more people at its 1.1-million-square-foot facility in Haslet. Its bigger than its Coppell center. Both opened in 2013. Dallas Morning News
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Tennessee closing in on high school graduation goal
Tennessee is closing in on its goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate. The state is posted at 86.3 percent graduation rate in 2013, according to the "Building a Grad Nation" report, making it No. 8 in the nation for high school graduation. The state's goal calls for a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. Tennessee ranked high for on-time graduation rates for students from low-income backgrounds with an 80.7 percent graduation rate. The national average in this subcategory was 73.3 percent. Memphis Business Journal
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Features & Opinion

 Top Ten Places in the South for Relocating California Companies

Urban areas have all kinds of assets that are easy to spot. They have the population, so the labor shed is not usually an issue. Urban areas are also connected by better roads, rail and air service and many have river and deep water ports. Usually Internet access and other forms of communication are more efficient in urban areas. And you have a larger array of quality of life options to choose from, such as the cultural assets found in metropolitan areas.
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

 FEATURE  
By Stacy Randle
Demographer Wendell Cox recently analyzed the largest gains in holders of bachelor's and post-graduate degrees between 2007 and 2012 in the 51 metro regions in the U.S. of 1 million residents or more. The results were published in Forbes magazine and the South dominated the ranking.
 

 Business News in the South - Randle Report

FEATURE     
After I finished the cover story for this issue, I read an interesting article by economist Paul Krugman, the op-ed columnist for the New York Times, titled, "Partying like it’s 1995." Generally I side with Krugman, even though I am a journalist, not an economist. Occasionally, though, I read some of his stuff and ask myself, "What planet did Krugman come from?" Like when he predicted a shift of automotive assembly to Canada after Toyota announced a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario in 2005 because of "free healthcare," among other benefits. That Toyota deal was the last major automotive assembly plant announced in Canada and I predict it will be the very last one for the Canadians.
 
 Nashville Mayour Karl Dean
If you have ever seen one of my presentations, then you know about the word "reshoring" and how that phenomenon has lifted the spirits of even the most skeptical Southerners regarding the future of the region's economy. After all, in the last four decades, manufacturing has suffered a bloodletting never before seen in U.S. history. The biggest factor behind the slow and long meltdown that began in the 1990s was the herd mentality to offshore manufacturing capacity to cheaper locales, primarily by U.S.-owned companies.
 


 

 

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