Our Annual Governor's Cup Ranks Top 10 Southern States for Site Selection Incentives - Global Trade Magazine
  January 10th, 2020 | Written by

Our Annual Governor’s Cup Ranks Top 10 Southern States for Site Selection Incentives

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  • Amazon opening a major operations and logistics office hub in Nashville that creates 5,000 high paying jobs.
  • Things are moving in Nashville and elsewhere in Tennessee, Global Trade’s top state for site selection incentives.
  • Airbus will roll its first single-aisle A220 passenger jet out of its second Mobile campus later this year.

A funny thing happened on the way to compiling Global Trade’s latest Annual Governor’s Cup feature on state site selection incentives: the preponderance of states from the South that offer more attractive benefits than just about anywhere else in the country.

Rather than cast the net wide enough to include non-southern states for the sake of comprehensiveness, we decided to this year focus more strongly on the country’s hottest region. There are 16 states in the American South, and based on data and statistics from the U.S. government and various business, industry and media entities, we have ranked the top 10.

It must be mentioned that differing sources had Tennessee and Georgia as the top state among all 50 when it comes to site selection incentives. We did not flip a coin but instead gave The Volunteer State the ever-so-slight edge based on the quality of incentives offered. Really, you would do well to start up or relocate in either state or, heck, any of the 10 that follow.

1. TENNESSEE

Capital: Nashville

Population: 6.77 million

GDP: $287.77 billion (2-16)

Largest cities: Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga

Targeted industries: Business Services, Chemicals, Plastics & Rubber, Food & Agribusiness, Distribution & Logistics, Aerospace & Defense, Transportation, Healthcare & Medical Devices, Energy Technology, Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing

Site location success story: Amazon opening a major operations and logistics office hub in Nashville that creates 5,000 high paying jobs and pumps $230 million into the local economy.

Key agency: Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Fast Track Economic Development Fund, which provides grants to local communities to reimburse companies for eligible expenditures not covered by infrastructure or job training grants, including relocation of equipment, temporary office space, capital improvements and retrofitting.

*Job Tax Credit of $4,500 per job to offset up to 50 percent of franchise and excise taxes (F&E) in any given year with a carry forward for up to 15 years so long as businesses create at least 25 net new full-time positions within a 36 month period and invest at least $500,000 in a qualified business enterprise.

*Enhanced Job Tax Credit, which allows an additional annual credit for locations/expansions in designated Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 Enhancement Counties and can offset up to 100 percent of F&E liability.

*Industrial Machinery Tax Credit of 1-10 percent for the purchase, third party installation and repair of qualified industrial machinery used in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution and at headquarters and call centers.

*Sales and Use Tax Exemptions at headquarters or for industrial machinery and reduced sales tax rates for utilities at qualified call centers, data centers and warehousing, distribution and manufacturing facilities.

*Research and Development sales tax exemption.

*FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program for new or expanding companies that provide funding to support the training of net new full-time employees.

*Export Assistance that includes networking, training and free planning services and trade and travel assistance.

2. GEORGIA

Capital: Atlanta

Population: 10.52 million (2018)

GDP: $461.1 billion (2016)

Largest cities: Atlanta, Columbus, Augusta, Macon

Targeted industries: Call Centers, Cybersecurity, Financial Technology, Food Processing, Logistics, Automotive, Life Sciences, Aerospace, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Headquarters

Site location success story: Brazil’s Guidoni Group, which is one of the leading producers and exporters of ornamental stones in the world, locating a manufacturing facility in McRae-Helena that creates 455 jobs and invests $96 million. The project is slated to open in 2020’s third quarter.

Key agency: Georgia Department of Economic Development

Key site selection incentives:

*No real or personal property tax, no state property tax on inventory and 5.75 percent corporate income tax.

*Inventory Tax Exemption, where counties and municipalities have the option of enacting a local property tax exemption for four classes of inventory at 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 percent of the value.

*Investment Tax Credit for companies to upgrade or expand as long as they have operated a manufacturing or telecommunications facility (including corporate office and other support facilities) for at least three years in the state.

*Mega Project Tax Credit, which is available for companies that employ at least 1,800 net new employees, and either invest a minimum of $450 million or have a minimum annual payroll of $150 million.

*Port Tax Credit Bonus rewards new or expanding companies that increase imports or exports through a Georgia deepwater port by at least 10 percent over the previous or base year. It can be used with the Job Tax Credit program or the Investment Tax Credit program.

*Quality Jobs Tax Credit for jobs that pay higher-than-average wages.

*Research & Development Tax Credit for Georgia companies performing qualified research and development in manufacturing, telecommunications, broadcasting,

warehousing & distribution. R&D, processing and tourism.

3. SOUTH CAROLINA

Capital: Columbia

Population: 5 million (2017)

GDP: $183.8 billion (2016)

Largest cities: Charleston, Columbia, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant

Targeted industries: Advanced Materials, Distribution & Logistics, Aerospace, Automotive, Office/Shared Services, Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing

Site location success story: AIRSYS Cooling Technologies Inc., global information, communication and technology cooling solution provider, establishing operations in Spartanburg County, where more than $5 million is to be invested and 116 new jobs created.

Key agency: South Carolina Department of Commerce

Key site-selection incentives:

*Economic Development Set-Aside Program that assists companies in locating or expanding in South Carolina by providing financial assistance for road or site improvements and other costs related to business location or expansion.

*Single Factor Sales Apportionment for a company whose primary business in the state is manufacturing, distribution or selling or dealing intangible personal property. The apportionment formula is advantageous for a company whose majority of sales occur outside of South Carolina.

*Corporate Headquarters Credit of 20 percent based on the cost of the actual portion of the facility dedicated to the headquarters operation or direct lease costs for the first five years of operation.

*Credit for Revitalization of Abandoned Buildings, of which at least 66 percent has been closed continuously or otherwise nonoperational for at least five years.

*Fee-in-lieu of Property Taxes may be offered by a county to companies with a total investment of $2.5 million or greater on new buildings and equipment.

*Investment Tax Credit that allows manufacturers a one-time corporate income tax credit for a company’s investment in new production equipment.

*Job Development Credit that can refund a portion of state withholding tax liability for 10-15 years.

*Port Volume Increase Credit for manufacturers, distributors or entities engaged in freight forwarding, freight handling, goods processing, cross-docking, transloading or wholesaling of goods that use state port facilities and increase base port cargo volume by at least 5 percent over base-year totals.

*Research & Development Tax Credit equal to 5 percent of the taxpayer’s qualified research expenses in the state.

4. NORTH CAROLINA

Capital: Raleigh

Population: 10.2 million (2017)

GDP: $538.3 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham

Targeted industries: Biotech & Pharmaceuticals, Automotive, Aerospace & Defense, Agribusiness & Food Processing, Business & Financial Services, Information & Communication Technology, Truck & Heavy Equipment

Site location success story: Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, investing $57 million to establish a filling and packaging line for the company’s RotaTeq vaccine and create 55 jobs in Wilson.

Key agency: Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

Key site-selection incentives:

*Job Development Investment Grant that provides cash grants to new and expanding businesses to help offset the cost of locating or expanding in North Carolina.

*One North Carolina Fund that allows the governor to respond quickly to competitive job-creation projects that do also require a local match.

*Building Reuse Programs for renovation and upfitting vacant industrial and commercial buildings.

*Singles Sales Factor Apportionment that determines how much of a corporation’s income is subject to state tax based solely on its revenue from sales located in or sourced to North Carolina.

*Sales and Use Tax Exemptions for specified manufacturing, fulfillment, data centers and more.

5. ALABAMA

Capital: Montgomery

Population: 4.87 million (2017)

GDP: $211 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile

Targeted industries: Aerospace/Defense Manufacturing, Automotive Manufacturing, Chemical Manufacturing, Agricultural Products/Food Production Manufacturing, Steel/Metal Manufacturing, Distribution & Logistics, Information Technology

Site location success story: Airbus’ first single-aisle A220 passenger jet rolling out this year at its second Mobile campus, which opened last year.

Key agency: Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Key site-selection incentives:

*Alabama Department of Commerce’s Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) Program offers an alternative to conventional bank financing to accommodate a slightly higher risk profile and provide a more flexible structure for growing businesses in the state.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds, which are tax-exempt and issued at rates lower than conventional sources, may be used as long-term financing of up to 100 percent of a project for acquisition of land, buildings, site preparation and improvements; building, furnishing and filling structures; and “soft costs” such as architectural and engineering, interest incurred during construction, cost associated with bond issuance, etc.

*Investment Credit for a qualifying project for up to 10 years and can be taken against the Alabama income tax liability and/or utility tax liability.

*Jobs Credit annual cash rebate up to 3 percent of the previous year’s gross payroll (not including fringe benefits) for eligible employees for up to 10 years. The rebate rises if at least 12 percent of employees are veterans.

6. TEXAS

Capital: Austin

Population: 28.3 million (2017)

GDP: $1.7 trillion (2017)

Largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin

Targeted industries: Advanced Technologies & Manufacturing, Energy, Information & Computer Technology, Petroleum Refining & Chemical Products, Biotech & Life Sciences, Aerospace & Defense

Site location success story: United Alloy Inc., a serial production metal fabrication and powder coating company, building its new state-of-the-art, 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 27-acre site in Seguin, which benefits from at least 100 new jobs and $35 million in total capital investment over a three-year period.

Key agency: The Governor’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism | Gov.texas.gov/business | (512) 936-0100

Key site-selection incentives:

*Capital Access Program financing for small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits which face barriers to accessing capital or fall outside of guidelines of conventional lending.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds that provide tax-exempt financing for land and depreciable property for eligible industrial or manufacturing projects.

*Spaceport Trust Fund financial support for the development of infrastructure necessary or useful for establishing a spaceport in Texas.

*Texas Enterprise Fund awards “deal-closing” cash grants to companies considering a new project for which one Texas site is competing with other out-of-state sites.

*Texas Product Development & Small Business Incubator Fund long-term, asset-backed loans to product development companies and small business incubators/accelerators located in Texas.

*Business Relocation Tax Deduction & Exemption for qualified businesses relocating to Texas.

*Renewable Energy Incentives for any qualifying Texas business that exclusively manufactures, sells or installs wind or solar energy devices.

*State Sales & Use Tax Exemptions for rented, leased or purchased machinery, equipment, replacement parts and accessories that have a useful life of more than one year or 12 months, and that are used or consumed in the manufacturing, processing, fabricating or repairing of tangible personal property for ultimate sale.

*Texas Economic Development Act incentives for large-scale manufacturing, research and development and other large capital investment projects that locate in Texas.

*Texas Enterprise Zone Program state sales and use tax refunds for private investment and job creation in economically distressed areas of the state.

*Texas Research & Development Tax Credit sales tax exemption when buying materials, software and equipment directly used in qualified R&D purposes.

 7. KENTUCKY

Capital: Frankfort

Population: 4.45 million (2017)

GDP: $202.5 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Louisville, Lexington-Fayette, Bowling Green, Owensboro

Targeted industries: Automotive Related Engineering & Manufacturing; Aerospace; Advanced Manufacturing; Logistics & Distribution; Food & Beverage; Aluminum & Steel Related Manufacturing; Chemicals, Plastic & Rubber

Site location success story: The first Kentucky operation for Precision Pulley & Idler, a supplier of idlers, pulleys, bearings and other products for the major bulk and material handling components industries. The $10.75 million production facility in Maysville creates more than 100 full-time jobs over the next decade.

Key agency: Kentucky Association for Economic Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Direct Loan Program loans at below-market interest rates for fixed asset financing for agribusiness, tourism, industrial ventures or the service industry. Retail projects are not eligible.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance manufacturing projects and their warehousing areas, major transportation and communication facilities, most health care facilities, and mineral extraction and processing projects.

*Kentucky Enterprise Fund and Rural Innovation Fund seed-stage capital for companies that are commercializing a technology-based product or process.

*Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund seed stage capital to support the development and commercialization of alternative fuel and renewable energy products, processes and services.

*Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative and Small Business Loan Program loans for small businesses engaged in manufacturing, agribusiness or service and technology.

*Angel Investment Tax Credit of up to 50 percent of an investment in Kentucky small businesses; the investor and business much each apply.

*Kentucky Business Investment Program income tax credits and wage assessments to new and existing agribusinesses, regional and national headquarters, manufacturing companies, alternative fuel, gasification, energy-efficient alternative fuels, renewable energy production companies, carbon dioxide transmission pipelines and non-retail service or technology related companies that locate or expand operations in Kentucky.

*Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act tax breaks for new or expanded companies engaged in manufacturing, non-retail service or technology activities, agribusiness, headquarters operations, alternative fuel, gasification, energy-efficient alternative fuels, renewable energy production companies, carbon dioxide transmission pipelines, or tourism attraction project in Kentucky.

*Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act tax credits for the rehabilitation of manufacturing or coal mining and processing operations that are in imminent danger of permanently closing or that have closed temporarily.

8. VIRGINIA

Capital: Richmond

Population: 8.47 million (2017)

GDP: $508.7 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond

Targeted industries: Cyber Security, ­ Software Publishing, Data Centers, Information/Communications Technologies, Corporate Services, ­ Headquarters, Supply Chain Management, Food & Beverage Processing, Advanced Materials, Aerospace, Automotive, Wood Products, Life Sciences, Unmanned Systems

Site location success story: Cascades, a Canadian packaging and tissue products producer, paid $40 million and plans to invest up to $300 million more to replace the Bear Island paper mill that shut down in Hanover County in 2017. The facility that’s planned to reopen in 2021 will employ 140 workers.

Key agency: Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Key site-selection incentives:

*Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant for those locating significant headquarters, administrative or service sector operations in the state.

*Virginia Investment Performance Grant for companies involved in added capacity, modernization, increased productivity or the creation, development and utilization of advanced technology.

*Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant Program for companies that locate new maritime-related employment centers or expand existing centers in the Commonwealth that foster the port’s growth.

*Virginia Small Business Financing Authority programs for small businesses that need access to capital for growth and expansion.

*Rail Industrial Access Program connecting businesses to freight rail service by funding the construction or improvement of railroad tracks and facilities to serve industrial or commercial sites where freight rail service is currently needed or anticipated in the future.

*Corporate Income Tax Credits for multiple industry and business sectors.

*Property Tax Exemptions for multiple types of industry and business property, equipment and tools.

*Sales & Use Tax Exemptions on gross receipts derived from retail sales or leases of tangible personal property, unless the retail sales or leases are specifically exempt by law.

9. MISSISSIPPI

Capital: Jackson

Population: 2.98 million (2017)

GDP: $111.7 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven, Hattiesburg

Targeted industries: Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Shipbuilding, Agribusiness, Automotive, Forestry & Energy, Healthcare

Site location success story: Amazon leasing a 1 million-square-foot facility in DeSoto County’s Olive Branch for a fulfillment center that brings 500 new full-time jobs. Just 11 months ago, Amazon disclosed plans for its Marshall County fulfillment center that’s employing 850 workers.

Key agency: Mississippi Economic Development Council

Key site-selection incentives:

*Development Infrastructure Grant Program to finance infrastructure projects for manufacturers, warehouses and distribution centers, research and development facilities, telecommunications and data processing facilities and national or regional headquarters.

*Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Program for businesses and other eligible entities that are increasing energy efficiency in their buildings, equipment and processes.

*Standard Property Tax Exemptions that local governing authorities may grant businesses locating or expanding in their areas for up to 10 years.

*Industrial Revenue Bond Program to finance companies’ location or expansion projects in the state.

*Advantage Jobs Incentive Program for businesses that create new, high-quality jobs through locating or expanding in the state.

*Growth and Prosperity Program state income tax, franchise tax and property tax exemptions for up to 10 years, as well as a sales and use tax exemption on equipment and machinery purchased during initial construction or an expansion at an approved facility.

*Jobs Tax Credit equal to a percentage of payroll for each newly created job for a five-year period for eligible businesses.

*Mississippi Aerospace Initiative Incentives Program is a 10-year income and franchise tax exemption and a sales and use tax exemption for the start-up of a new facility or expansion of an existing facility that manufactures or assemble products for use in—or that provides research and development or training services to—the aerospace industry.

*Mississippi Clean Energy Initiative Program is a 10-year income and franchise tax exemption and a sales and use tax exemption for the start-up of a new—or expansion of an existing—clean energy business.

*Mississippi Data Center Incentives for a business enterprise certified by the state as a data center.

*National or Regional Headquarters Sales Tax Exemption for an eligible business that creates or expands its national or regional headquarters in the state.

*Property Tax Exemption for Industrial Revenue Bond Financing.

*Property Tax Exemption on In-State Inventory (finished goods that will remain in the state).

*Research and Development Skills Tax Credit for a five-year period for each position requiring R&D skills.

10. LOUISIANA

Capital: Baton Rouge

Population: 4.68 million (2017)

GDP: $246.3 billion (2017)

Largest cities: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Metairie

Targeted industries: Software Development, Energy, Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Process Industries, Agribusiness, Water Management, Entertainment

Site location success story: Testronic, a leading quality assurance firm in the digital gaming industry, launching a new 150-job testing facility in New Orleans that will result in another 169 new indirect jobs, for a total of 319 new jobs in New Orleans and the Southeast Region.

Key agency: Louisiana Economic Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Competitive Projects Property Tax Exemption for non-manufacturing industry sectors, including corporate headquarters, distribution facilities, data services facilities, research and development operations, and digital media and software development centers.

*Economic Development Award Program financial assistance to influence a company’s decision to locate, relocate, maintain, rebuild and/or expand its business operations in Louisiana.

*Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which offers an attractive tax incentive for manufacturers who make a commitment to jobs and payroll in the state.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, BusinessFacilities.com, Site Selection Group, Area Development.

 

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