2017 Year in Review and 2018 U.S. Site Selection Forecast
In 2017, site selection announcements in the U.S. continued to be robust in terms of dollar investment size and job creation. Continued growth across most regions of the U.S. has been fueled by moderate GDP growth, controlled inflation, low energy prices, global economic growth and increasing demand. Key site selection announcements span a variety of business sectors including technology, automotive, ecommerce, logistics and chemical.
Examples of the largest 2017 announcements (Table 1) include two $10 billion investment announcements. One of those announcements, Foxconn, anticipates creating at least 3,000 jobs. Amazon projects to create 2,700 jobs at its new air freight facility in Hebron, Kentucky.
Top US Site Location Investments in 2017
|Company Name||Location||Investment in Billions of USD||Number of New Jobs Created||Product/Facility Type|
|Foxconn||Racine County, Wisconsin (South of Milwaukee)||$ 10.00||3000||LCD Screens (Apple Supplier)|
|Exxon Mobile||Corpus Christi, Texas||$ 10.00||600||Ethane cracker (Produce ethylene)|
(Southwest of Cincinnati)
|$ 1.49||2700||Amazon Prime Air Freight Hub|
|Toyota||Georgetown, Kentucky||$ 1.30||1200||Automobiles|
|Braidy Industries||South Shore, Kentucky||$ 1.30||550||Rolled aluminum for automobiles and aerospace plating|
Outlook for 2018
Like last year, 2018 appears to be setting up well for continued growth in site selection projects and announcements. Site selectors report strong project backlogs for a variety of project types and sizes. An announcement is anticipated from the highly publicized Amazon HQ2 project and Toyota/Mazda recently announced their joint venture location in Alabama.
Continued availability of affordable energy from abundant and low cost shale gas should result in ongoing significant investments in energy export facilities and growth of chemical operations that benefit from the US’s strength in this energy sector.
Potential challenges to growth in 2018 include the need to verify the U.S. direction on NAFTA and the tightening labor site market resulting from the eight-year recovery that has followed the recession of 2008 and 2009. Geopolitical concerns related to North Korea could also impact new investment as well as inflationary pressures and rising costs of labor, raw materials, transportation and fuel.
Even with these challenges, the prognosis for new announcements in 2018 remains positive.