Our Annual Shovel Awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities. The Gold Shovels are presented annually to the states that have achieved the most success in terms of new job creation and economic impact.
Each of the 50 states was invited by Area Development to submit information about its top-10 job creation and investment projects. Only those projects that began to materialize in 2010 were considered. Area Development gave the Shovel Awards to the states with the highest weighted scores based on the number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities, and industry diversity.
They break it down by population; under 4 million, 4-9 million, and 9+ million - meaning we were the top amongst the big boys, beating out the states of Texas, North Carolina and Georgia. Granted, it was the batteries that put us over the top, taking the first four slots in our top 10, but automotive projects were also strong in the other Gold Shovel winners Indiana and South Carolina. Dow and BioDri made the list for alternative energy, Four Winns for boats, Diplomat Specialty for a call center - and, here is one that has been in the news lately - Whirlpool for placing its headquarters in Benton Harbor.
In the other economic competition, the 2010 Governor's Cup award from Site Selection Magazine, things got a little weird. They base the award on number of new and expanding companies, job creation, and dollars invested. After placing third for the past couple of years, we slipped down to 7th. Still a top 10 finish, which is good, but for whatever reason they decided to picture the new governors that took office just this year - obviously not in office yet for projects that started in 2010. Texas took the Cup, and Governor Perry went all 10th Amendment in the interview as the reason for their success, also strange since the last we heard Texas hadn't seceded from the nation yet. So, let's back slowly away from a competition that is giving credit to people like Kasich and Corbett and Snyder who weren't even around, and features a guy that uses the award as a platform to advocate for a new civil war.
Point being of all of this, as of the past few years, we still were very competitive with all the so-called low-cost southern states. We will be able to say the same after Snyder and the Republicans finish scrambling our tax code and economic development efforts?
"I want to work with him, I do," said Brandenburg, the Harrison Township Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, "but I can't because he has a $900 million money grab in there, and there's no guarantee that the tax cuts for businesses will generate a lot more jobs."
Guess we will find out, won't we.