Above: Tesla opens its new Texas gigafactory April 8th. (Image source: Telsa)
As U.S. manufacturers continue to grapple with global supply chain disruptions, multiple new manufacturing plants were announced this month, representing billions in investments and thousands of jobs. Signaling hope for a more localized supply chain to churn out products critical to the sector, this month’s theme was emphatically electric vehicle-related, while industries as diverse as biotech, steel and semiconductors announced major new projects across the country.
The Lone Star State is already pretty giga, but this month it got a little bigger when EV giant Tesla officially opened its $1 billion Texas Gigafactory April 8th, celebrating the event with a 5,000-person invite-only “Cyber Rodeo.” Construction of the massive new facility was announced two years ago and the final 10 million-square-foot facility today covers 2,500 acres along the Colorado river. Employing 5,000, Giga Texas is a manufacturing hub for the Tesla Model Y and will eventually manufacture the much-anticipated Cybertruck.
Meanwhile, Vietnam-based electric vehicle maker VinFast selected North Carolina to build its first U.S. automotive facility. The massive $2 billion EV enterprise will create 7,500 jobs at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County, representing the largest economic development in North Carolina’s history.
The site is expected to produce 150,000 vehicles per year once production starts in 2024, including all-electric full-size and mid-size SUVs.
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“North Carolina’s strong commitments in building a clean energy economy, fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation make it an ideal location for VinFast to develop its premium, smart and environmentally friendly EVs.” said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global CEO.
Meanwhile, some notable companies are making waves in the electric vehicle battery industry. In Kentucky, Japanese EV battery company Envision AESC is donning its own “Gigafactory” cap, announcing plans to establish a $2 billion EV battery Gigafactory in Bowling Green. The new 30GWh plant is expected to create 2,000 jobs and will produce battery cells and modules for electric vehicle manufacturers around the world, powering up to 300,000 vehicles per year.
Shoichi Matsumoto, CEO of Envision AESC Group said: “This major investment builds on our commitment to the U.S. market, supports growth of the electrification supply chain and secures high value jobs for future generations in the region.”
In Arizona, LG Energy Solutions announced plans to establish a new state-of-the-art battery manufacturing facility in Queen Creek. Representing an investment of $1.4 billion, the new LG facility will produce cylindrical batteries for electric vehicles, using a cutting-edge smart factory system.
Youngsoo Kwon, CEO of LG Energy Solutions said “With the establishment of our new Arizona plant, LG Energy Solution aims to deliver unparalleled consumer value in the rapidly growing cylindrical battery market,” Kwon said.
Cylindrical batteries offer high-density, compact energy storage and are ideal for electric vehicles.
Intel announced the grand opening of $3 billion expansion of its D1X facility at its Hillsboro, Oregon semiconductor facility. The new expansion provides 270,000 additional square feet of clean room space for next-generation silicon process technologies.
Said Ann Kelleher, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Technology Development. “Semiconductors are fundamental to U.S. technology leadership, our economy, and supply chain resilience. Intel is the only company in the world with the majority of its process and packaging R&D and high-volume leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.”
Also in Oregon, NSI, which supplies gas and chemical equipment to semiconductors announced plans to quadruple its output by moving to a new facility in Sherwood.
Meanwhile, Wolfspeed, Inc. provider of silicon carbide technology and production, officially opened its advanced Mohawk Valley Silicon Carbide fabrication plant in Marcy, NY, April 25th. The state-of-the-art plant is the world’s first and largest 200mm Silicon Carbide fabrication, and will be instrumental for the global semiconductor industry. The new facility expects to employ 600 by 2029.
“We are proud to be a part of the growing semiconductor industry in New York and appreciate the strong, sustained support received from our local partners,” said Rex Felton, Senior Vice President of Global Operations. “This facility showcases our commitment to the highest standards for operational excellence that will lead to more output and therefore, more product in the hands of our customers.”
Above: A JM Steel worker on Nextracker-dedicated production line in Sinton, TX
In Texas, solar tracker solutions company Nextracker and JM Steel announced a partnership to produce a dedicated solar tracker production line at the new Steel Dynamics, Inc. site near Corpus Christie, which opened in October of 2021. Nextracker’s new enterprise will produce low-carbon tracker components for solar power plants throughout the U.S. South.
Nextracker made a strategic decision to focus manufacturing in the U.S., the company said in a statement.
"Customers want protection from steel and logistics cost volatility, and logistics delays associated with shipping, containers, and ports", said Dan Shugar, Founder and CEO of Nextracker. "We are migrating to domestic production to stabilize pricing and achieve superior on-time delivery for our customers.
Once operational, the Nextracker production line will create 50 jobs.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Nucor Corporation announced plans to establish a new rebar micro mill in Lexington. Representing an investment of $350 million, this is Nucor’s third U.S. micromill, joining mills in Missouri and Florida.
"We are very excited to grow our steel business here in our home state of North Carolina. The corridor between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing regions in our nation, and new federal spending for infrastructure will further increase demand for rebar in the region," said Leon Topalian, President & Chief Executive Officer of Nucor.
The new mill will employ approximately 200 workers and will have an annual capacity of 430,000 tons.
In Janesville, Wisconsin, Serta Simmons Bedding announced plans April 12th to establish new 500,000 square-foot bedding plant, for the production of well-known mattress brands such as Serta® and Beautyrest® The company will consolidate two existing facilities in Janesville and Beloit into the new operation, which will employ more than 300.
“Our new Janesville manufacturing facility will become one of the largest dual-branded facilities in our network, enabling us to expand our capacity and continue to meet consumer demand for our trusted brands,” said Terry Litwiler, Vice President of Operations, Serta Simmons Bedding.
Serta Simmons Bedding has a long history of manufacturing in Wisconsin and remains among the largest employers in the state’s southern region.
And in other textile news, Bespoke Manufacturing Company (BMC) announced plans April 26th to establish a new advanced manufacturing facility in Phoenix, AZ, for its tech-enabled print, cut & sew operations for one-off and on-demand garments. The new, 50,000 square-foot facility will be fully operational by June 2022 and will employ more than 250.
In New Hampshire, flexible window screen manufacturer FlexScreen has opened a new facility in Nashua, expanding its partnership with Harvey Building Products. This is one of FlexScreen’s seven facilities spread across the U.S. and Canada.
Regarding the new partnership, FlexScreen Inventor & CEO Joe Altieri said, "Harvey Building Products is one of the most respected window manufacturers in the country, and it's an honor to align FlexScreen with their premium products. New England is one of the only areas in the country without a screen vendor, so we're excited that our new Nashua, NH plant will finally be filling that void."
Alabama got some good new this month when Austal, USA opened a new state-of-the art steel shipbuilding addition to their facility in Mobile.
“We are so excited to see our plans to add steel to our capabilities come to fruition,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said. “The addition of steel capability is a game changer as it opens up our capability to support the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and other customers with high-quality ships.“
The new 117,000 square-foot manufacturing will utilize robotic steel processing equipment to produce ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
In Ogden, Utah, Thermo-Fisher Scientific announced it has officially opened a new $44 million bioprocessing site in Ogden. Encompassing 55,000 square feet, the new facility will produce customizable bioprocess container systems, used in biologics production, including vaccines and gene therapies. The new facility is expected to employ up to 450.
Thermo-Fisher Scientific has invested heavily in Utah, employing 2,000 across the state.
In Elkhart, Indiana, diamond and cutting tool manufacturer Peak Toolworks, celebrated the grand opening of its new manufacturing facility, one of thirteen across North America.
Celebrating 81 years in the carbide and diamond tooling industry, the company is focused on investing in innovative technology and modern production processes.
Said Kerry Baskins, CEO and President of Peak Toolworks, “Our return to the Elkhart area is largely the result of requests by customers to bring our extensive service capabilities closer to the growing market.”
Earlier in the month, Peak Toolworks announced it had acquired Tooling Concepts, Inc. in Elkhart, furthering it presence in the Midwest.
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