As was mentioned at the onset, we received over 1,000 submissions from all over North America. And culling these down to the top 15 in each category was an arduous task. Our committee debated spiritedly for different projects. We are proud of our final selections, but at the risk of sounding cliché, all of the projects submitted are winners. In working through these, so many great stories came to light. Here is a small sampling.
Auto2Auto.com – Columbia, Tennessee
Both state and local governments cooperated to find an innovative new business to move into a 300,000 square foot industrial space vacated by a closed business. Auto2Auto operates a call center and fulfillment operation which allows customers from across the nation to shop and purchase used vehicles, obtain financing and have the vehicle delivered to their nearest Pep Boys auto parts store. What makes this unique is that the State of Tennessee and local partners worked together to assist the start-up of an innovative new company within a targeted industry sector (automotive). This project adds to the growing reputation of Tennessee as a key player in the Southeastern Automotive movement.
Marathon – Garyville, Louisiana
The Marathon Board of Directors approved a $3.2 billion expansion to their Garyville refinery. The new operations are projected to being refining in late 2009, with construction set to begin in mid 2007. This expansion means an average of 2,000 jobs during the 30-month construction cycle (peaking at 4,000 construction jobs). This will also add another 250 permanent jobs to nearly200 Marathon employees. Upon completion Marathon is estimated to create another 500 jobs in the regional economy. While we received a number of energy-related projects, what makes this noteworthy is the fact that it has been over 30 years since a new refinery has been built in the U.S. This expansion is the equivalent of a new refinery, and will lessen U.S. dependency on oil from foreign refineries.
Menards/Midwest Manufacturing – Shelby, Iowa
This project is a great example of a successful regional effort. This manufacturer of interior and exterior doors was looking for a location near I-80 for an office and manufacturing facility. The state organization worked with a private land owner, two counties, a city, a Rural Electric Cooperative, MidAmerican, and Regional Water just to make sure they could provide the service to make the ground feasible. Then, they extended the city limits to south of the interstate in order to extend the Shelby County Enterprise Zone. They also created an Urban Renewal District in Pottawattamie County which allowed for incentives and tax rebates. The utilities also extended service to the site, while the State of Iowa awarded this project a PFSA, and EDSA. Even the Iowa Department of Transportation participated by awarding money from RISE. Not only did this project create 300 new jobs, but also created a true regional project that the State of Iowa, Pottawattamie and Shelby Counties can take pride in. This project has also spurred other development for this rural community.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa – Bastrop, Texas
The $135 million investment by Hyatt to develop a world class spa in Bastrop proves that economic development comes in many different forms. The 492 room resort has 62,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, 18,000 square feet of spa, an 18-hole championship golf course, a large equestrian center for horseback riding and access to the Colorado River for kayaking and exploring. But what makes this project special are the numbers. In addition to being the city’s largest private employer, the hotel occupancy tax will generate $2 million per year to the city. With those funds, they plan to construct a new convention center near the downtown area. As Joe Newman, president/CEO of Bastrop Economic Development Corporation proudly states “I don’t know if this resort qualifies for inclusion, but this project is going to drastically change our small 7,006 population community!”