Florida ranks second among the 50 states for having the best business climate, according to a new survey of U.S. corporate executives released at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) annual conference.
Texas ranked first, Georgia ranked third, followed by South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively.
Conducted by the Development Counsellors International (DCI) every three years, the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey has tracked trends in economic development since its inception in 1996.
Florida is in the No. 2 spot with 22 percent of the respondents naming it as the state with having the most favorable business climate.
Respondents who named Florida mentioned the state’s pro-business environment, favorable tax climate and its strategic location.
Georgia Pacific, a manufacturer of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals, announced that its Palatka mill has been selected for the company’s $400 million expansion in its GP Consumer (retail) tissue and towel business.
Investments to the Palatka mill include building a new paper machine using through-air-dried (TAD) technology, as well as adding associated converting equipment and infrastructure. Engineering and related work is beginning immediately, and startup of the upgraded operation is scheduled for 2019.
Approximately 80 jobs will be created to operate the new papermaking complex, in addition to the mill’s 850 current employees. An average of 160 construction and contract-related workers are expected to be onsite at the mill everyday during the project, with a potential peak of 700 contract workers per day at the height of construction.
“This upgrade to our operations in Florida underscores our long history of investment in the state by Georgia-Pacific and Koch companies,” said Christian Fischer, Georgia-Pacific president and chief executive officer. “We appreciate the ongoing support of the local community, Putnam County and state officials in our efforts to continue making our Palatka mill more competitive for the long-term.
In the last 10 years, capital investment and acquisitions in the Palatka mill have totaled $306 million and statewide investments have totaled $1.5 billion.
“The Palatka mill has been a major economic contributor in Putnam County for 70 years,” said Larry Harvey, chairman, Putnam County Board of County Commissioners. “It is gratifying that Georgia-Pacific continues to see our community as a solid location for significant investment. With this new manufacturing technology coming to the Palatka mill, we look forward to many more decades of opportunity together.”
The Palatka mill currently operates two kraft paper machines, three paper machines manufacturing paper for bath tissue and paper towels, and a number of converting operations producing finished paper products.
The improvements will allow Georgia-Pacific’s current and potential customers to grow their premium private label towel brands, as well as expand the company’s Brawny® premium paper towel brand.
“This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to GP’s consumer business, our hard-working teams and our current and potential customers,” said Kathy Walters, Group President – Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products Group. “It also allows us to further leverage the many advantages we have, including our breadth of offerings, excellence in manufacturing operations and research and development to create products that consumers value.”
In Florida, Georgia-Pacific operates three facilities and employs nearly 1,600 people with total annual compensation and benefits of more than $143 million.