Economic and Business Development
Building strong, vibrant and sustainable communities requires innovation, investment and collaboration among state, regional and local business partners. AEP’s Economic & Business Development (E&BD) team puts its expertise and partnerships to work supporting economic development and growth within our local communities. Whether through supporting business expansion or relocation, community training and education or financial support – we are connecting customers with communities to create shared value for all.
Our National Customers team manages corporate relationships with many of our largest customers to provide customized solutions to meet their energy needs. For example, when Cinemark USA, Inc., one of the world’s largest motion picture theaters, needed a partner to help identify renewable energy for its facilities, AEP provided a solution.
In addition to business development, the AEP National Customers team is focused on providing exceptional customer service. Based on feedback from a group of 25 national chain customers, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recognized the team for exceptional customer service in 2018. AEP won the National Key Accounts Executive Award for Sustained Excellence in Outstanding Customer Service. Two of our customer managers were also recognized for their individual performance.
AEP also provides comprehensive location advisory services to companies looking to expand or locate new operations in our service territory. This includes property searches and screening, custom community and site analysis, and introductions to local economic development partners and industry resources.
Beyond our current customers, AEP proactively identifies and manages business relationships with prospective customers in target industry sectors to try to secure investment in new facilities across the AEP system. In addition to pursuing domestic companies, our efforts include attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to our service territory, which is a key source of capital, job creation and innovation.
In 2018, we supported 110 projects that will bring 14,700 jobs to the local economies across our 11-state service territory. Economic development helps our communities in several ways, including increasing the tax base, job development, economic diversification and capacity-building for long-term sustainability.
AEP actively works to support industries experiencing high growth, including petrochemical, data centers and shale gas. Below are examples of economic development projects we supported in 2018.
- JSW Steel returned an electric arc furnace to service in Mingo Junction, Ohio, after nearly 10 years of sitting idle. The reopening of the mill is expected to eventually create 1,000 jobs and will house the largest Consteel® Tenova electric arc furnaces in North America. The company already has expansion plans in the works, including the installation of a second mill in Ohio.
- AEP Ohio helped Amazon Web Services to site three data centers and a distribution center in Central Ohio in 2016. Amazon added the second of five planned data centers at each of three sites served by AEP Ohio; they have plans to continue to grow in Central Ohio. Amazon’s total investment will be approximately $1.1 billion. The combined direct and indirect impacts of Amazon’s investment could create thousands of new jobs in Ohio and hundreds of millions of dollars in new regional income and gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the region.
- Appalachian Power (APCo) celebrated its partnership with the ELDOR Corporation with the grand opening of its first North American plant – a $75 million facility – in southwest Virginia. This Italian auto parts manufacturing facility is located on an AEP Quality Site and will employ 120 workers. The company’s expansion plans could employ 350 workers within four years. APCo’s economic development strategy is focused on new manufacturing and job growth and increased tax base for its communities.
- Sofidel Group, an Italian manufacturer of tissue paper, broke ground on a $360 million integrated paper plant that will create 300 jobs in Inola, Oklahoma. The land for the facility was sold to Sofidel by PSO. Recognizing the need to attract capital investment to the region, PSO worked to prepare the site for industrial development through the AEP Quality Sites Program. We continue to market the remaining Inola property for additional economic development projects. Sofidel’s other greenfield investment in the U.S. is also AEP-served. Located in Circleville, Ohio, the $400 million facility opened in 2018 and, at capacity, will employ approximately 700 people.
- AEP’s service territory overlaps many of the most productive shale gas regions in the U.S. In our AEP Texas territory, this includes the Permian Basin in West Texas and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. These shale plays provide a plentiful supply of natural gas, petroleum, and natural gas liquids for current and future petrochemical facilities including liquid fractionators and cracker projects. In 2018, Cheniere Energy, Inc. opened a $15 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Texas, making the state a competitive player in the global LNG market. The Corpus Christi Liquefaction project will result in the creation of more than 430 permanent jobs when fully operational, and more than 4,000 jobs during peak construction. It is projected to have a $5 billion economic impact in the Coastal Bend region during a nine-year construction period, and $17 billion for the State of Texas during that same time period. We also worked collaboratively with EPIC Pipeline LLC, whose pipeline project will connect crude oil and gas from West Texas to the Corpus Christi markets. We will provide electric service to some of the compression stations along the pipeline. Other petrochemical and LNG export facilities are being pursued in the region.
Quality Sites Program
A primary focus of our activities is the development of build-ready industrial properties across our 11-state territory. AEP’s Quality Sites Program identifies sites that have infrastructure and utilities in place and have completed due diligence studies to help growing businesses minimize overall site location risk, save time and reduce development costs. In 2018, we added three new industrial properties to our Quality Sites Program, bringing the total number of sites to 50. Learn more about this program and the location of quality sites in AEP’s service territory.
In 2018, we were named one of the nation’s top utilities for economic development by Site Selection Magazine, for the seventh consecutive year. AEP was recognized for its effort to cultivate commercial and industrial business development and for creating new jobs. The recognition is based on end-user project activity, website tools and data, innovative programs and incentives for businesses, and the utility’s own job-creating infrastructure and facility investment trends.