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That's The Randle Report for March 31, 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.
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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‘Volvo hunt’ could add more intrigue to ‘religious liberty’ debate
Timing is everything in politics. Last year, the effort to pass “religious liberty” legislation stalled when lawmakers in Georgia saw the wringer that Arizona was being put through on the same issue. Sunday’s disastrous interview of Indiana’s Mike Pence on ABC’s “This Week” – in which the governor was asked six times whether the new law allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians – has likewise sent a shiver up Capital spines. But there may be more than an awkward TV appearance causing heartburn in Atlanta this year. The battle over SB 129 comes just as Georgia recruiters are trying to land what could be one of the biggest economic development deals in more than a decade. AJC.com
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Palmetto Sunrise: Does S.C. have enough ‘secret sauce’ to woo Volvo?
Where is Volvo headed? South Carolina officials have their fingers crossed and a decision either way appears close. Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said a decision on a new U.S. plant would reflect the availability and cost of skilled workers and logistics, including the export of finished cars, according to a Reuters report. Proximity to the Port of Charleston, which exports more automobiles than any other U.S. port, was one factor in Daimler’s recent decision to locate in South Carolina. “We don’t win because we put more money in, we win because we have the best system for success — which is our training and locations,” Bobby Hitt, the state’s commerce secretary, said during the Daimler announcement. PostandCourier.com
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Georgia home to Volvo’s new $500 million plant?
Volvo Cars announced Monday it will build a $500 million plant in the United States. The company says it has a short list of locations being considered for the facility. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina have all previously been mentioned as possible sites for the facility, according to charlestonbusiness.com Atlanta Business Chronicle reported in January that Mercedes’ move to Atlanta is likely to have a domino effect in northern New Jersey, also home to the U.S. headquarters of BMW and Volvo. Beyond demographics (­the South has younger, growing populations) and market realities (auto manufacturing, especially for the imports, has coalesced in the union-free South), is the issue of soaring taxes in the Northeast hubs, ABC’s Urvaksh Karkaria reported. Atlanta Business Chronicle
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Jerry Awards cite contributions of the Charlotte Hornets, Goodwill Industries
The Charlotte Hornets and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont received the Charlotte Regional Partnership's annual Jerry Awards on Tuesday. The partnership presented the honors to the private and public organizations during a luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center attended by 1,000. The Hornets and Goodwill were announced as 2015 recipients as 2015 recipients of the Jerrys back in January. Fred Whitfield, COO of Hornets organization, talked about the return of the Hornets name to NBA franchise in May 2014. For the 2014-2015 season, the club added about 2,000 fans per game and 30 corporate sponsors, he said. And merchandise sales are up 300 percent over the previous season, when the team was known as the Bobcats. Charlotte Business Journal
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Charlotte Regional Partnership optimistic about economic development role
The head of the Charlotte Regional Partnership said Tuesday that he’s optimistic about the group’s role in the economic development landscape going forward, as a study about how the group works with the Charlotte Chamber nears completion. The chamber and the partnership agreed to a joint study of their respective roles and responsibilities last year. Both groups work to lure companies, but the chamber covers only Charlotte while the partnership covers 16 area counties, including four in upstate South Carolina. That left the groups sometimes in a tug of war over their roles. And the state legislature created a new public-private Economic Development Partnership last year that’s taking on a more active role in the state’s regional economic growth, and has a requirement to raise private money that could put it in competition with the Charlotte Regional Partnership for funding. CharlotteObserver.com
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Low Oil Prices Slamming Texas Economy, Manufacturers
The business economy in Texas is taking a beating with fall in oil and gas prices along with the strong dollar, and the outlook for recovery isn’t good. The latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows the state manufacturing index dove -17.4 from -11.2 in January. That number came in well below estimates calling for a -9. Factory activity fell in March, according to those businesses responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. That sent the production index falling to -5.2, the first time the index has been in negative territory in almost two years. Industry Week
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Sasol breaks ground on $8 billion phase of petrochemical complex near Lake Charles
Officials with the state and Sasol Ltd. gathered Friday (March 27) to break ground on the first phase of the company's $8 billion petrochemical complex outside Lake Charles. Construction begins as the South African energy conglomerate delays a decision on whether to build a larger gas-to-liquids plant at the site. The initial phase includes a new ethane cracker and six chemical manufacturing plants to be built near Sasol's existing facilities in Westlake. The ethane cracker complex will cost $8.1 billion. Sasol is spending an additional $800 million on land acquisition and infrastructure and utility improvements at the site. NOLA.com
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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SC jobless rate remains at 6.6 percent; dips further behind US rate
COLUMBIA, SC --The state’s unemployment rate in February held steady at 6.6 percent compared to January, but slipped further behind the national average, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reported Friday. The number of jobless people in February was 148,416, up slightly by 1,476 workers from the month before, the agency’s figures show. The national unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in January, meaning the rate in the Palmetto State by remaining steady lost ground to the United States as a whole, according to the agency’s labor data. The State
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

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Arkansas Jobless Rate Down to 5.5 Percent
The state's unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in February, down a tenth of a percentage point from January, according to data released Friday by the state Department of Workforce Services. The national unemployment rate for January was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7. According to DWS, the state's civilian labor force rose by 4,900 from January to February, a result of 5,800 more employed and 900 fewer unemployed Arkansans. "Arkansas added 5,800 employed this month, a gain of 42,900 since February 2014," said DWS Communications Director Becky Heflin in a statement. "Employment has steadily increased each month since December 2013." Arkansas Business
Submitted 1 years 329 days ago

 

 

 

Features & Opinion

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

For those who still languish over "losing to China" or believe that the economy is still in recession, wake up and smell the data. Economic development in the South was about as good as it gets in calendar year 2015 according to the data. And as for China, borrowing a quote from the late football coach Bear Bryant that he made in the half-time locker room down 15-0 to Georgia Tech in 1960, "We got 'em right where we want 'em." For those of you who don't know the rich history of Alabama Crimson Tide football, Bama scored all of its 16 points in the fourth quarter, kicking a field goal on the last play of the game to beat Tech 16-15.
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

 FEATURE  
By Mike Randle
Today, factories in the U.S. make twice as much product as they did in 1984. And they are doing it with one-third of the manufacturing workforce. In fact, the output of durable goods in 2015 was the highest in the nation's history. So, we do have a strong manufacturing base, at least in the South, much of the Midwest and parts of the West, and it is getting stronger because on a cost-basis, we can compete with any major manufacturing nation in the world.  
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

FEATURE     
The argument for or against a minimum wage hike continues between the reds and the blues, as well as within the economic development community in the South. Should we stay the course with a minimum wage under $8 an hour to better compete with Mexico, the South's biggest competitor for jobs, or set a minimum wage just over $10 an hour, a wage floor most centrists support? That $10 per hour is, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, about right in most states in the South for one adult to be able to cover basic expenses plus all relevant taxes.
 
 Randle Report - Business News in the South
Recent data from the Computing Technology Industry Association (Comp TIA) showed that the technology industry is one of the fastest growing job generators in the South and the nation. The report also indicated that technology job compensation is growing faster than any other sector.
 


 

 

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