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That's The Randle Report for January 26, 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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Germany Bets on ‘Smart Factories’ to Keep Its Manufacturing Edge
AMBERG, Germany—The next front in Germany’s effort to keep up with the digital revolution lies in a factory in this sleepy industrial town. At stake isn’t what the Siemens AG plant produces—in this case, automated machines to be used in other industrial factories—but how its 1,000 manufacturing units communicate through the Web. As a result, most units in this 100,000-plus square-foot factory are able to fetch and assemble components without further human input. The Amberg plant is an early-stage example of a concerted effort by the German government, companies, universities and research institutions to develop fully automated, Internet-based “smart” factories. The Wall Street Journal
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Euro’s Big Drop Puts U.S. Economy, Federal Reserve to the Test
The European Central Bank’s launch of an aggressive program this week to buy more than €1 trillion in bonds poses important tests for the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve. Europe’s new program of money printing—and the resulting fall in the euro—means the U.S. economy must deal with a rapidly strengthening dollar that will make American goods more expensive abroad. The stronger dollar could slow both U.S. growth and inflation, giving the Fed some incentive to hold off on its plan to raise short-term interest rates later this year from near zero. U.S. officials have been playing down that scenario, and, more broadly, resisting talk of a global currency war—competitive devaluations by countries eager to keep their currencies as low as possible to protect exports. The Wall Street Journal
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Texas leads nation in drilling rig losses - again
In Texas everything is bigger, or so the saying goes. So it should come as no surprise that the Lone Star State leads the nation, for the second week in a row, in the loss of rigs searching for oil and natural gas, according to Baker Hughes, the Houston-based oilfield services company. There were 13 fewer active rigs, leaving 753 still operating in Texas. Counting the 44 rigs pulled last week, there are 57 fewer crews working in the field, Baker Hughes reported. Since Jan. 2, the number of rigs working in Texas has dropped by 87, the company reported. The number of rigs nationally dropped by 43 to 1,633 — 1,317 rigs exploring for oil and 316 for gas. A year ago, there were 1,777 rigs active, the Houston firm said. Star-Telegram
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Texas adds 45,700 jobs in December, 457,900 for the year
Texas ended 2014 with 457,900 new jobs for the year and tacked on the fifth consecutive month of record-breaking annual job growth. Reports from the Texas Workforce Commission show the state gained 45,700 jobs in December, marking 51 straight months of employment growth. Riding that trend, Texas' unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent for the month – the lowest rate since May 2008. The professional and business services industry lead December's job growth, adding 14,800 positions. Education and health services grew by 6,800 positions and construction expanded by 5,100 jobs. Dallas Business Journal
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Gov. Scott: Florida added 728,500 private-sector jobs in four years
Florida businesses have added 728,500 private-sector jobs since December 2010, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday. In addition, since December 2010, Florida's unemployment rate has dropped 5.5 percentage points from 11.1 percent to 5.6 percent in December 2014. Florida's unemployment rate has declined or held steady over the month for 49 of the last 52 months. "Last year was the best yet in Florida's recovery, with 225,700 private-sector jobs added, record levels of job demand, a falling unemployment rate and nation-leading labor force growth," said Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. "Good policy is driving Florida's growth. And we're not done." Orlando Business Journal
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San Antonio company to lease part of Alliance Airport facility, hire 600
FORT WORTH -- GDC Technics of San Antonio, which bills itself as one of the largest aircraft modification companies in the world, is looking to expand to Alliance Airport in north Fort Worth and could hire as many as 600 workers within five years, a top company executive said Friday. The Alliance Airport Authority Board, which consists of City Council members, on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on authorizing a lease with the company for 840,000 square feet of hangar and warehouse space at the former American Airlines maintenance facility at the airport. The company would be leasing less than half of the 1.8 million-square-foot facility. Once a lease is signed, the company expects to begin operations at the facility in 90 to 120 days after some work is done, said Mohammad Alzeer, general partner of GDC Technics. The space would allow the company to double in size, he said. Star-Telegram
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Record revenue and soaring profit boost Kansas City Southern
A surge in rail shipping led to record fourth-quarter revenue and a sharply higher profit at Kansas City Southern, the company said Friday. The Kansas City-based railroad reported quarterly growth in five of its six freight-hauling groups, led by a 13 percent increase in automotive and 9 percent gains in chemicals-petroleum and energy. However, agriculture and mineral revenue declined 5 percent, mostly because of a decline in grain shipments compared with a strong 2013 fourth quarter, the company said. Overall, shipping volume was 5 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2013. KansasCity.com
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Thirty years since arriving at St. Louis' Lambert Airport, Southwest's dominance takes hold
LAMBERT AIRPORT • It began with one gate and just a handful of destinations. Legendary Southwest Airlines founder Herbert D. Kelleher was on hand to usher in the discount carrier’s modest St. Louis presence back in March 1985. The Dallas-based airline launched with a total of 17 flights a day. Service began with four destinations: Chicago, Houston, Kansas City and New Orleans. Southwest now dominates the landscape at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport with 82 daily flights to 36 destinations. During peak times, the number of daily flights reaches 92. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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BP's finances 'better today than prior to the oil spill,' can handle $13.7B fine, witness testifies
BP's financial position is "better today than it was prior to the oil spill," leaving the company more than able to pay the maximum $13.7 billion penalty the government is seeking for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a forensic accounting expert testified Friday (Jan. 23). Ian Ratner, a partner at GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group based in Atlanta, was the final witness called by the U.S. government during the first week of the penalty phase of the civil trial over the 2010 oil spill. The trial began Tuesday. During this phase, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the vast and complex oil spill litigation, will determine how much BP pays in Clean Water Act fines for the 2010 disaster. NOLA.com
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Features & Opinion

 Top Ten Places in the South for Relocating California Companies

Just look around at what's happening in the aerospace industry in the American South. Aerospace is really making a move to become one of the region's top two industry sectors. It’s not there yet, but if large project counts are any indication, aerospace may soon challenge the petrochemicals sector as the second largest industry in the region. Never before has the aerospace industry been so important to the South's economy. Oh, what's the No. 1 industry sector in the South? Automotive is, of course. That industry hasn't been challenged much for 25 years in this region, or since we’ve been counting.

 

 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     
This is our annual "Made in the South" issue and it's timely because there is a new player in the South's manufacturing universe. For almost two decades, economic developers and politicos in the South and the U.S. have been chasing Chinese projects with little or nothing to show. Want proof we've been chasing ghosts in China for years? Okay, go ahead and name a Chinese brand that's made in the South? Tick. . .tick. . .tick. Give up?
 
 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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