The southeast, like many other regions of the country, has had to completely reinvent its economy on many occasions. As we have transitioned away from factory work in the US, there have been industries that supported significant pieces of the south that had to undergo radical transformations. Pretty much the entire textile industry has simply been moved to other countries. Entire cities and regions were utterly devastated. From agriculture to textiles, the south has been thwarted again and again.
The sturdy and resilient people of the southeast simply keep finding new ways to boost the economy and draw in large industries from around the world. A number of industries have been attracted by the appealing government incentives and the relative absence of unions. Numerous automotive manufacturing, parts manufacturing, and aerospace/missile manufacturing giants have begun opening plants all throughout the south. Below we will discuss five international businesses that are headquartered here in the south helping to keep our economies afloat.
It is hard to discuss business in the south without talking about this Atlanta-based beverage behemoth founded in 1886. In terms of global reach, there are probably very few places on earth where you cannot find any Coke products. In 2017 Coca-Cola brought in more than $35 billion in revenues and employed nearly 5000 people in Atlanta alone. It is one of the most recognized brands on the planet. While the company has struggled due to falling soda sales, their diversification into other beverages and company restructuring seems to be helping.
Bank of America
When the textile factories left the south, Charlotte and the surrounding areas of North and South Carolina were hit really hard. Charlotte managed to reposition itself as a finance and banking hub of the south. As one of the largest banks in the US, Bank of America set Charlotte on the world banking stage. Bank of America had just over $16.6 billion in net income in 2017 and employed more than 142,000 people worldwide.
Heading back to Atlanta, the United Parcel Service delivers packages across the US and in other countries around the world. They opened in 1907 and operate in 220 countries. Their reputation has earned them a significant piece of the package delivery business. They made $65.8 billion in revenue and $4.9 billion in net income in 2017 and employed 454,000 people worldwide.
The international home improvement store is also headquartered in Atlanta. Home Depot is actually Georgia's most profitable business, so while it may not be as widely known as Coca-Cola, it brings in more revenue. They've also made waves with a move to begin putting solar panels on top of many of their stores. In 2017 they made more than $100 billion in revenue and $8.6 billion in net income. They employ more than 400,000 people worldwide.
The Memphis-based package delivery giant is Tennessee's biggest company in terms of revenue and one of the most respected companies in the world with a great reputation for diversity, women in business, and corporate culture. With delivery trucks in 220 countries, their reach is substantial. In 2017 they brought in $60 billion in revenue and more than $3 billion in net income. Worldwide, they employ more than 425,000 people.
As mentioned above, a number of automotive manufacturers have built factories in the southeast, including BMW, Volvo, Ford, and Nissan. In addition, tire and parts manufacturers, like Michelin, have brought significant economic boosts. For good or for ill, the largest employer in every state in the southeast, aside from North Carolina, is Walmart. North Carolina's largest employer is the UNC system of universities, likely due in large part to the Research Triangle Park, the United States' largest research park.
Creating a diversified economy has been key to revitalizing the south. While there is still quite a way to go, the existence of a number of Fortune 1000 companies in combination with boosts from the automotive and aerospace industries has contributed significantly to southeastern economies. With the addition of educational institutions, banks, and small businesses, the southeast is at a steady pace to a healthy economy that cannot be so easily stripped away.
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