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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
WestPoint Home to close Greenville plant - Greenville Advocate
Gulf Coast effort to serve as example for state - Press Register
Alabama business leaders more optimistic about economy - Press Register
Rebirth of Wise Alloys plant means jobs for Muscle Shoals region - Times Daily
Biotech company iXpressGenes creating new DNA for research at Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute - Huntsville Times
2011 EDAA Winter Conference - Registration deadline tomorrow


WestPoint Home to close Greenville plant

Published 4:26pm Monday, January 31, 2011

WestPoint Home will close its manufacturing plant in Greenville, the company reportedly told employees on Monday. Plant operations will be moved to Chipley, Fla., where the company also has a plant.



The plant employed 130 full-time employees and 60 temporary workers.


WestPoint Home has operated in Greenville since 1999.


The plant makes pillows and bedding.


The Advocate will update this story as more news develops.



Greenville Advocate link  



Gulf Coast effort to serve as example for state

Guy Busby Press-Register Jan. 31, 2011
FOLEY, Alabama -- The spirit of cooperation, drive and innovation shown by south Baldwin residents and business owners during the oil spill will be a model for the state in developing a strategic plan for the future, the director of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama said.

Bill Taylor, president of the partnership since July 2009, was the main speaker at the 67th annual meeting of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce on Friday night. Before his appointment, he was chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.

After the BP PLC oil spill in April, Taylor met with local officials, educators, chamber of commerce members and others who organized the Coastal Recovery Coalition, meeting in what became known as the War Room. He said members worked together to find solutions to problems in a way that can be a model for the entire state.

"I think some of the things that we've done, that we've learned through oil spills and

Bill Taylor, director of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, addresses the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce on Friday night. (Guy Busby/Press-Register)

hurricanes, tornadoes, events like that, we can apply those to recessions also," Taylor said. "I think some of the same skill sets come to the table, because what's happened to folks across the board, I don't care what business you're in, we've all been affected."

Taylor said Gov. Robert Bentley told him to develop a strategic development plan for the entire state, a move that will also take cooperation and innovation.

"The first step in this task, really goes back to that War Room that was created here in this county during that oil spill," he said. "We have to gather some people together and align them."

Press Register link 


Alabama business leaders more optimistic about economy


Published: Monday, January 31, 2011, 5:30 PM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register


MOBILE, Ala. -- Alabama business leaders are feeling better about the economy, and Mobile's industry chiefs are more optimistic than their brethren in the rest of the state.

The University of Alabama's business confidence index rose to 55 for the first quarter of 2011. That's well above the midpoint of 50 that signals expansion, and up from 47.9 in the fourth quarter.

It's a sharp improvement for the business yardstick, which surveyed 247 executives in early December about their outlook for the first three months of the year. The survey asked business people if they believe the national and state economies will expand or contract in the coming quarter, and how they expect sales, profits, hiring and capital spending to change in their own industry.

In 2010's third quarter, statewide confidence moved into positive territory for the first time since late 2007. But it dipped back into negative outlook in the last three months of 2010. The improvement in this survey indicates an economic recovery that's on firmer ground, wrote Carolyn Trent, an analyst with the university.



Press Register link


Rebirth of Wise Alloys plant means jobs for Muscle Shoals region


Published: Monday, January 31, 2011, 9:30 AM

By Bernie Delinski -- The Florence Times-Daily

FLORENCE - The parking lots appear full outside the massive Wise Alloys Listerhill plant.

Inside, coils of aluminum and 15-ton castings are rolled out.

Major deals with Anheuser-Busch InBev and Coca-Cola - two giants in the beverage can industry - have made long-term expectations high. Jobs appear secure for the 1,000 Wise employees as production levels are reaching nearly 1 billion pounds of product per year.

Joe Pampinto, senior vice president and plant manager, said the figure is impressive considering most of its product weighs less than in previous years because it's a lighter aluminum gauge for cans.

"We've added about 75 to 100 direct jobs in the last year," Pampinto said. "With increased volume comes increased spending in the community.

"We're definitely positioned for a very bright future, and there's a lot of exciting things down the line."

Today's announcement of another $25 million expansion that will bring 43 more workers to the plant is further evidence that Wise Alloys is on solid footing in the Shoals.



Times Daily link


Biotech company iXpressGenes creating new DNA for research at Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute


Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Lee Roop, The Huntsville Times


HUNTSVILLE, AL - A Huntsville startup company is using the emerging science of synthetic biology to create "biological Legos" scientists can use to modify living organisms. Dr. Joseph Ng's company, iXpressGenes, is making genes "from scratch" now in a laboratory at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. "Scratch" is the key word, Ng said last week. "Instead of cutting and pasting existing genes, we are creating new ones," Ng said.

The new genes can, in turn, control the biological functions of the organisms in which they are placed. Ng and others in the emerging field believe that will lead to such things as molecules that absorb and metabolize oil or light up in the presence of pathogens. An example of the latter would be wall paint that changes color in the presence of certain chemicals. "That's already being done," Ng said.

Other projected uses include creation of new biofuels and diagnosing and targeting diseases. What makes a biosensor better than current sensors? "You cannot beat the sensitivity of any biological system," Ng said, citing the example of a shark's nasal receptors that can sense blood across a kilometer of ocean.

Synthetic biology is the latest outgrowth of the history of genetics. First, the human genome was charted and links established between certain genes and certain diseases, then scientists began replicating, cutting and splicing genes for research and to modify agricultural products such as corn and wheat.



Huntsville Times link


2011 EDAA Winter Conference

February 7-9, 2011 

Montgomery Renaissance Hotel & Spa, Montgomery, AL.

201 Tallapoosa Street, Montgomery, AL 36104



Room reservations can be made by calling 1.877.545.0311.

Room rates are $139.00 per night. Reservations must be made before January 7, 2011 to guarantee the conference rate.


Monday, February 07, 2011 12:00 PM -

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 11:00 AM



Agenda and registration available online: click here 


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Enjoy the day,  
Wendy Wallace Johnson
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