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Econ Focus

Third Quarter 2017


Regional News at a Glance


In late September, Baltimore's Sparrows Point facility held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate its first tenant. FedEx opened a $58 million, 307,000-square-foot distribution center in the historic former steel mill site. Processing up to 15,000 packages per hour, the FedEx center is mostly automated, but it does bring more than 400 new jobs to the area. Other tenants at Sparrows Point include apparel manufacturer Under Armour, which is building a distribution center on the site, and car importer Pasha Automotive, which has leased space to store imported vehicles.


Industrial manufacturer NN, Inc. announced in September that it will move its global headquarters to Charlotte in early 2018. The $10 million headquarters will be the base for 200 workers, 175 of whom NN has promised to hire locally. To lure the company, the city tentatively agreed to provide more than $280,000 in property tax rebates over five years, and the state approved a $3.7 million grant as well as more than $350,000 in community college training funds.


The late August solar eclipse was the state's biggest single tourist event ever, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. South Carolina was the last place in the United States to witness the "totality" of the eclipse. The department's report found that 1.6 million people traveled to or within the state to watch the eclipse and spent about $269 million. The most popular viewing locations were parks, mountain sites, and the coast.


Twelve companies have been selected to participate in the Virginia Economic Gardening Pilot Program, which is administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and is targeted at helping existing Virginia businesses grow. The program focuses on second-stage companies, which are young companies that have transitioned beyond being startups in terms of revenue or employment. The program lasts for six to eight weeks and helps businesses identify new markets and industry trends, refine business models, and raise their online visibility. The participants' revenue and employment growth will then be tracked for 36 months in order to assess the long-term effectiveness of the program.


In a September report, the D.C. auditor found that the district may be forgoing millions of dollars of tax revenue by not properly regulating vacant properties. In D.C., vacant or blighted properties are taxed at rates five to 12 times higher than properties in good repair. The auditor found that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs improperly granted exemptions and did not follow legal requirements, among other issues, leading to an inaccurate count of vacant properties.


Toyota announced in September that its plant in Buffalo will become the first in the United States to make transaxles for hybrid cars. The $115 million project won't create new jobs, but it is expected to provide job security for the 1,600 current employees, who will receive additional training. Production of the transaxles is scheduled to begin in 2020.

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