5 things to know about Elon Musk’s growing empire outside Austin

Out beyond the new Tesla Gigafactory, Elon Musk’s crews at SpaceX and The Boring Co. are trading land between the businesses, dealing with environmental concerns and ramping up to hire and build even more.

Musk and his companies have a reputation for being pretty tight-lipped — Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) even disbanded its media relations department in 2020 — which means some mystery remains around what exactly the companies are up to in Central Texas. But property records, other public documents and social media posts from the companies and Musk himself help shine a light.

Here are five things to know about the billionaire’s dealings on the east side of the metro — aside from Tesla’s electric vehicle plant and headquarters, which is the fastest-growing business the Austin area has ever seen.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has taken over more land in the billionaire’s growing hub along Farm to Market Road 1209 in Bastrop County as Musk’s other company – tunneling startup The Boring Co. – transferred 73 acres to the space and rocket pioneer in October, according to Bastrop County property records. Austin Business Journal

Atlanta job growth strong in October to start holiday season

Metro Atlanta outdid the rest of the state in job growth in October, a sign that despite the pressures on consumers and companies alike, holiday spending in the region started strong, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

The region added 23,500 jobs last month, 84% of the state’s expansion, the department said.

October is historically a month in which holiday hiring gets traction and metro Atlanta was true to that pattern. Growth was most robust in sectors affected by seasonal spending and the movement, storage and delivery of goods — transportation, warehousing, retail and hospitality.

Metro Atlanta has added 64,900 jobs during the past 12 months and 180,000 jobs in the past two years, 71% of the state’s growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Multinational firm plans to double San Antonio workforce

Up to 200 new clean energy jobs are coming to San Antonio courtesy of a federal grant.

Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), a multinational sustainable building company, has been awarded a $33 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains to help increase domestic production of electric heat pumps, the company wrote in a news release.

Johnson will use the grant to expand its manufacturing sites in Wichita, Kansas, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio to scale production of its York line of heat pumps, creating approximately 1,000 new jobs – including up to 200 new jobs in San Antonio.

The new hires would effectively double Johnson’s existing workforce at its San Antonio facility, says Katie McGinty, vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer of Johnson Controls.

“We’re certainly driving for at least 100, and maybe up to 200,” McGinty said in an interview with the Business Journal. “To put that in perspective, … our current team is about 220 employees. So, this is a major investment in San Antonio and into the world-class capabilities we have at that facility.” San Antonio Business Journal

Ralph Lauren to expand North Carolina facility to 1 million square feet

Ralph Lauren is expanding its distribution facility in High Point to more than 1 million square feet.

The city of High Point recently approved a building permit and related work for an expansion of 200,623 square feet to its distribution center of 805,000 square feet at 2755 N.C. 66.

The company was listed as High Point’s largest employer, with 2,687 workers, in High Point Economic Development’s 2022 annual report.

In a statement to the Triad business Journal, the company didn’t disclose the expansion’s effects on employment at the distribution center.

“For more than 30 years, we have called North Carolina home to critical logistics operations. We look forward to expanding our presence with a more than 200,000 square feet addition to our NC66 facility, which will allow us to continue to serve our customers with efficient fulfillment and delivery of orders across North America.” Triangle Business Journal

Northrop Grumman to establish $200M Waynesboro, Va. Facility

Falls Church-based Fortune 500 defense contractor Northrop Grumman will invest more than $200 million to establish an advanced electronics manufacturing and testing facility in Waynesboro, creating an estimated 300 jobs over the next five years, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Tuesday.

“Northrop Grumman’s expanding Virginia footprint sends a powerful message that the commonwealth is a magnet for investment underpinned by a next-generation workforce,” Youngkin said in a statement. “This global leader’s cutting-edge facility in Waynesboro will provide job opportunities that attract and retain high-quality talent and create a transformational ripple effect for the entire region.”

The 315,000-square-foot building will be on Shenandoah Village Drive, and Pennsylvania-based Equus Capital Partners will be the project’s developer, according to the governor’s office. Construction will “begin soon,” according to a Northrop Grumman spokesperson. The company anticipates the building will open in 2025 and be ready for production in 2026. The facility jobs will be varied engineering and manufacturing roles, according to the spokesperson.

Northrop Grumman employs roughly 95,000 employees — 6,800 in Virginia — and reported $36.6 billion in 2022 revenue. The company ranked No. 413 on Fortune magazine’s Global 500 list for 2023, and No. 113 on its annual 1000 list of U.S. corporations for the year. Virginia Business

ZF Group expands automotive transmission plant in Laurens County, S.C.

ZF Group, an original equipment supplier for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, today announced it is expanding ZF Transmissions Gray Court, its manufacturing facility in Laurens County. The $500 million investment will create 400 new jobs.

Since opening in 2013, the facility has produced eight- and nine-speed transmissions for passenger vehicles. As mobility transforms and shifts toward electrification, ZF Transmissions Gray Court continues to evolve and invest in advanced equipment and technologies that will meet the changing needs of the industries it serves.

By investing in the existing facility, located at 2846 N. Old Laurens Road in Gray Court, ZF Transmissions Gray Court will be able to build next generation propulsion systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Production operations for new products at the plant will start later this year. South Carolina Department of Commerce

How does Huntsville fill the need for more workforce housing? By getting creative

Build it and they will come.

The line from the movie Field of Dreams isn’t entirely the solution to the growing problem of the lack of workforce housing in the Huntsville metropolitan area.

But it is a start, according to city officials and business leaders who attended a meeting hosted about the issue by the Huntsville Committee of 100.

“Supply isn’t the only cure,” said Dennis Madsen, the city of Huntsville’s manager for urban and long-range planning. “But supply is part of it. We need to put units on the ground, plain and simple. To make sure you are getting folks at the lower end of the wage scale, in some cases you’ve got to be more creative about it. But step one is to get more housing on the ground because we have more people moving here.” AL.com

Biden-Harris Administration Designates 31 Tech Hubs Across America

WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), today announced the designation of 31 Tech Hubs in regions across the country. This is the first phase of the new Tech Hubs program, which is an economic development initiative designed to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy technology that will advance American competitiveness.  The program invests directly in burgeoning, high-potential U.S. regions and aims to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers. Greater Richmond Partnership

Nashville is first stop on CNBC’s new ‘Cities of Success’ hourlong national primetime spotlight

Nashville is used to being on primetime television, but not in the way announced on Wednesday.

CNBC will air an hourlong nationwide special about Nashville to kick off its new “Cities of Success” series, intended to “highlight the entrepreneurial spirit that has attracted capital, companies and employees.” The cable business news network selected Nashville and other cities based on the growth of their population and personal income, low unemployment rate, GDP growth over an 11-year span and the rise in home prices since 2022.

CNBC host Carl Quintanilla will anchor the show, featuring interviews with:

  • Former Tennessee Govs. Bill Haslam and Phil Bredesen, both of whom have major business investments in Nashville.
  • Country music icon Garth Brooks
  • Holly Sullivan, who grew up in the area and led the site search for Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) that resulted in its 5,000-job downtown office hub. Sullivan, whose title is vice president of worldwide economic development, made that historic jobs announcement five years ago this month. Nashville Business Journal

Amazon HQ2 had an early — but waning — impact on Arlington, Va. housing market

The announcement that Amazon.com Inc.’s would build its second headquarters in Arlington County led to an immediate bump in single-family home prices and activity in both the immediate National Landing neighborhood and the county overall.

But the impact in the five years since that announcement is harder to pinpoint.

That’s the synthesis of five years of data collection from economists at North Bethesda real estate data shop Bright MLS Inc., which issued a report Monday on the tech giant’s impact on the housing market. Washington Business Journal