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From Akron to Hunstville: The month in new U.S. manufacturing plants

Posted by IndustryNet on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

100000337_ROCKETSU.S. manufacturing started out the year with a bang, with the ISM reporting a rebound in industrial activity in January, and U.S. industrial output posting its largest increase in ten months, as reported by the Federal Reserve.

Even with the uncertainties of the government shutdown and import tariffs plaguing the U.S. economy, the U.S. manufacturing sector has remained largely unfazed, with employment, production, and new orders on the upswing.

Related: How the government shutdown impacted manufacturing

From Rubber City (Akron, OH) to Rocket City (Huntsville, AL) here are just a few of the major manufacturer announcements made in January.

Intel announces massive new chip plant

After months of rumors, it looks like Intel’s big plant expansion at its Hillsboro campus is going ahead, with The Oregonion reporting that construction of the new facility will begin this summer.

Related: Oregon manufacturing employment soars in 2018

The new facility will focus on production of a next-generation 7-nanometer computer chip. Utilizing a technology called extreme ultraviolet lithography, the new chip will be able to hold 1,000 times more information than chips currently on the market.

Said Intel Vice President Ann Kelleher: “Having additional fab space at-the-ready will help us respond more quickly to upticks in the market and enables us to reduce our time to increase supply by up to roughly 60 percent.”

The Hillsboro expansion is part of an international investment, with Intel also planning to build facilities in Israel and Ireland.

Rocket company ready for take-off in Huntsville

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a leading rocket propulsion company serving the aerospace and defense industries, announced its long-awaited facility in Huntsville is nearly completed and ready to open. Aerojet unveiled plans last year to consolidate several facilities and would relocate operations in Huntsville, AL.

This is a major boon for the Rocket City, with the new $27 million facility expected to create 140 well-paying jobs.

The new facility will produce solid rocket motors and liquid propulsion engines.

Aerojet has been focused on finding skilled workers for the plant, and several local educational institutions have put together special degree programs to provide a pipeline of talent to employers like Aerojet.

Related: Top resources for finding skilled manufacturing workers

Bridgestone to roll out new tire plant in Akrontire_manufacturing

Bridgestone Americas announced February 6th, that it plans to open a new racing tire plant in Akron, which will support and existing tire plant in the city.

The new plant will be called the Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Center and will supply tires to the NTT IndyCar Series, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Nizar Trigui, Bridgestone’s CTO said in a statement: " We are proud to ensure that Firestone race tires will be built in Akron for many years to come, soon in a new facility that will be as cutting-edge as the tires it produces."

The new facility is scheduled to break ground in the Rubber City over the summer, with the first tires rolling out by the end of 2020.

This recent announcement adds to the major investments the Ohio’s manufacturing sector has seen in the post-recession era. For an in-depth look at growth in the state, see our post Ohio manufacturing job growth picks up speed.

Industrial automation plant to set up shop in S.C.

Late last month, Eclipse Automation announced plans to establish a facility in York County, South Carolina, representing a $4.6 million investment in the state and promising 90 jobs.

Eclipse manufactures automated systems for a range of industries, including energy, transportation, mining, and the electronics/telecommunications sector.


yellow_pair_welding robots_worker_in_distance

Says Steve Mai, Eclipse Automation President and CEO: “The Rock Hill facility is the perfect location to support our long-term growth plan and ongoing commitment to our customers.

Eclipse is focused on delivering innovative automated solutions worldwide, and we believe that South Carolina has an impressive reputation in quality manufacturing and developing skilled resources. Both will provide a solid foundation for success at our new location.”

Foxconn flip flops in Kenosha

When Chinese electronics giant Foxconn announced plans in 2017 to establish an LCD panel factory in Wisconsin, the news was seen as a major victory for Wisconsin officials and the Trump administraton.

"This is a great day for American workers and manufacturers and everyone who believes in the concept and the label 'Made in the USA,' " said President Donald Trump in response to Foxconn's announcement.

The company initially planned to open a massive 20 million square-foot LCD panel factory outside of Kenosha. The Foxconn project was estimated to bring an estimated 13,000 jobs to the area, promising an average annual wage of $53,875.

FoxconnThe proposed Foxconn plant was billed as the largest economic development investment in the state’s history, and one of the largest in U.S. history.

But, then on January 30th, Foxconn suddenly seemed to reverse course, with the Associated Press reporting Foxconn would be using the facility for R&D, staffing it with scientists and engineers, not manufacturing workers.

Suddenly, it appeared the state of Wisconsin had been duped, and the massive tax incentives used to lure the company to its borders, a historic waste of taxpayer money (as many critics of the proposal had been saying all along). 

But then, on February 1st, Foxconn appeared to recommit to the Kenosha plant after meeting with president Trump. Foxconn officials, citing “productive discussions” with the Trump administration, stated they would go ahead with construction of the factory, and adhere to the original goal of hiring 13,000.

Related: Inside Wisconsin’s manufacturing boom

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

However, it's unclear what Foxconn ever really intended to reverse course, or if was simply considering options in the face of changing global economic conditions. 

In any case, all eyes are on Kenosha. 

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