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.
The E&BD team provides comprehensive location advisory services to companies looking to expand or locate new operations.
AEP provides comprehensive location advisory services to companies looking to expand or locate new operations. This includes property searches and screening; custom community and site analysis; and introductions to local economic development partners and industry resources. In 2017, we supported 125 projects that will bring more than 18,000 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.
We have a focused effort to generate business development opportunities from prospective and current customers. AEP’s National Accounts team manages corporate relationships with many of our largest customers. The team works closely with these large energy users on expansions and energy solutions and services that can optimize their consumption and costs.
Beyond current customers, we have staff and a network of consultants focused on proactively identifying and managing business relationships with companies in target industry sectors 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. FDI is a key source of capital, job creation and innovation.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. remains an attractive FDI destination due to its large consumer base, workforce productivity, legal protections and innovative business environment. The 2017 Federal Tax Reform puts the U.S. corporate tax rate more in line with those levied by other major developed nations, which is also favorable for our ability to attract foreign investment.
We work with consultants in target markets in Europe, Asia and North America and participate in events in key international markets to identify and engage with prospective international companies. One event is the SelectUSA Investment Summit. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, this summit brings together global executives and business leaders, targeting companies looking to grow in the United States. AEP has participated as a sponsor of this summit since its inception in 2014.
Our work with Sofidel, S.p.A. - a leading manufacturer of domestic and hygienic tissue paper based in Italy, is one example of how we can support international companies. Conversations about their interest in U.S. expansion began during the 2015 SelectUSA Summit. With assistance from AEP Ohio and a large coalition of economic development organizations representing the central Ohio region, Sofidel selected Circleville, Ohio, as the location for its first U.S. greenfield investment, a nearly $300 million integrated paper mill. The 280-acre site selected by Sofidel required major infrastructure work to prepare the site for construction, including moving an AEP transmission line that ran through the middle of the property. The facility is scheduled to begin operations in 2018 and will employ approximately 300 workers.
In March 2018, Sofidel further expanded its U.S. presence by announcing a second greenfield investment to build an integrated plant in Inola, Oklahoma. The land for the new facility is owned by Public Service Company of Oklahoma and is part of AEP Quality Sites program. The $360 million investment in the new Oklahoma facility is expected to support 300 jobs and to be operational by mid-2020. PSO worked with Rogers County and Inola leadership to prepare the site, which was the location of a canceled nuclear power plant.
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 2017, we added 16 new industrial properties to our Quality Sites Program, bringing the total number of sites to 45. We also sold five sites to support business expansion and relocation in our service territory:
- Daleville, Virginia – Botetourt County Greenfield Industrial Park - Eldor
- Findlay, Ohio – Midwest I-75 Logistics Park – Campbell Soup Company
- Tulsa, Oklahoma – Cherokee Expressway Industrial Park Site – Allen Edwards Construction
- Longview, Texas – North Business Park - Dollar General
- Ashland, Kentucky – EastPark Industrial Site – Braidy Industries
Economic & Business Development Awards
In 2017, AEP was named one of the nation’s top utilities for economic development by Site Selection Magazine, for the sixth consecutive year. AEP was recognized for its effort to cultivate commercial and industrial business development and for creating new jobs. The magazine reviewed 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.
In 2017, AEP was awarded the Bronze Excellence in Economic Development Award for its redesigned website, in the General Purpose Website category, from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
Redesigned in 2015, aeped.com is the digital platform for AEP’s Economic & Business Development organization. The responsive website was built to provide relevant and timely information through a user-friendly interface to key audiences – site selectors, expanding companies and community economic development partners.