This region has several large projects underway but is still suffering from an unemployment rate at or above the national rate of nine percent. The good news is that the construction projects now underway are quite large.
Three large utility projects are being built in Mississippi: the $2.4 billion Kemper power plant; a $550 million upgrade at the Grand Gulf nuclear power plant; and a $190 million biofuel plant in Columbus, Miss. Ford is spending $300 million to renovate a factory in Louisville, Ky., German chemical manufacturer Wacker Chemie has a $500 million renovation underway in Charleston, Tenn.; there's a $175 million addition and renovation project at the Birmingham, Ala., airport; and Nashville's 800-room Omni Convention Center Hotel broke ground in June. Housing is still in the dumps in this region, with total building permits through August down 18 percent. Birmingham is the only major metro in the region showing any increase in building permits thanks to a huge increase in multi-family building permits.