RTW Wins, Even When Amazon Doesn’t Help

Since January 2015, the Foundation has tracked announcements of expansions, relocations, and greenfield investments published on Area Development‘s website. Founded in 1965, the publication “is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. … Area Development is published quarterly and has 60,000 mailed copies.” In an explanation to the Foundation, its editor wrote that items for Area Development‘s announcements listing are “culled from RSS feeds and press releases that are emailed to us from various sources, including economic development organizations, PR agencies, businesses, etc. We usually highlight ones that represent large numbers of new jobs and/or investment in industrial projects.”

In April, of 12,954 projected jobs, 8,210 — 63.4 percent — were slated for right-to-work (RTW) states:

While RTW states prevailed for the 28th straight month, compulsory-unionism states fared rather well, scoring above average. But their performance warrants two significant caveats. A massive Amazon investment in New Jersey — 2,500 jobs — represented 52.7 percent of the jobs to be created in non-RTW states. (The online retailer is expanding rapidly in every corner of the country, and doesn’t appear to care much about RTW vs. non-RTW.) In addition, Missouri is a special case. The Show-Me State passed a RTW law earlier this year, but it does not go in effect until August. Yet Missouri accounted for 21.2 percent of non-RTW employment.

As for the sub-metrics the Foundation scrutinizes:

* Seventeen domestic companies based in non-RTW states announced investments in RTW states. Just three announcements went the other way.

* RTW prevailed in foreign direct investment, too. Sixteen projects are headed to RTW states, with three to occur in non-RTW states.

Marquee RTW investments included:

* Kentucky, which recently became RTW, landed the “new headquarters complex” for Interapt, “a tech development startup focusing on business innovation services and workforce development” that plans to hire 250 workers

* BeijingWest Industries, a China-based company “that designs and manufactures brake and suspension systems for the automotive market,” will hire 411 at its “first U.S. production facility,” to be built in Indiana

* Alabama — a real aerospace state — is slated to receive 800 new jobs, as part of Rocketdyne’s consolidation plan that will see the elimination of 1,100 positions in non-RTW California

Methodological specifics:

* All job estimates — “up to,” “as many as,” “about” — were taken at face value, for RTW and non-RTW states alike.

* If an announcement did not make an employment projection, efforts were made to obtain an estimate from newspaper articles and/or press releases from additional sources.

* If no job figure could be found anywhere, the project was not counted, whether it was a RTW or non-RTW state.

* Non-border-crossing relocations were not counted, border-crossing relocations were.