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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Montgomery school counselors to tour area manufacturing facilities -
Good barbecue - and great workforce - help lure Altair to Huntsville - Huntsville Times
New ozone standards won't affect southwest Alabama's federal funding, say officials - Press Register
EADS tanker loss could shift Brookley Aeroplex future - Press Register
Huntsville companies contributed to a rebound of Alabama exports last year - Huntsville Times
Lakeside Steel gains financing - Press Register
Population shrinks in W. Alabama...Tuscaloosa, Bibb see growth, while Black Belt loses people - Tuscaloosa News


Montgomery school counselors to tour area manufacturing facilities


Published: Monday, February 28, 2011, 12:03 PM Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011, 12:04 PM
By Ben Flanagan,

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Montgomery Public Schools counselors will take a look inside the River Region's top manufacturing facilities Wednesday to help better understand how to prepare students applying for MPS's Academy programs.

About 20 counselors will tour the Montgomery Steris Corporation Plant at 11 a.m. before moving on to the Rheem Manufacturing Company at approximately 1 p.m., where they will meet with managers to discuss skill sets needed for various jobs.

Through these programs, MPS wants to create a partnership with various businesses to match the real world needs of area manufacturers and businesses. The meetings are meant to help ensure students receive the training they need to move from high school to work or to additional training for jobs requiring higher skills.


Good barbecue - and great workforce - help lure Altair to Huntsville


Published: Monday, February 28, 2011, 8:36 AM Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011, 8:40 AM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Michigan-based Altair Engineering, which provides simulation technology and engineering services, has a simple reason for expanding here.

"We wanted to be closer to the barbecue joints," said the company's managing director Joe Sorovetz.

Well, that was one of the reasons, anyway.

"The density of mechanical engineers and the educated base is why we're there," he said. "The proximity to Redstone and NASA is why Huntsville is a choice."

Though Altair has had an office here a few years, today it opens its expanded facilities at 7501 South Memorial Parkway. The site will support Altair's growing business with the area's aerospace, defense and related industry sectors.

"Altair's new office represents not only an investment in the Huntsville area, as we plan to add positions locally, but also an investment in the greater aerospace industry as we provide engineering technologies and services to enhance the nation's war-fighter capabilities and support the space program," Sorovetz said.


New ozone standards won't affect southwest Alabama's federal funding, say officials

Published: Monday, February 28, 2011, 5:00 AM

By Ben Raines, Press-Register


While some have suggested that a change in federal air pollution standards for ozone could prevent new industries from coming to Mobile or make the city ineligible for federal road construction money, federal officials last week called those worries "a complete myth."


However, regulators said "non-attainment" would require additional permitting efforts for major roadwork or new, large polluters. New industry coming to the area will not be allowed to emit significant amounts of air pollution.


State officials also dismissed the notion that pending changes to air pollution standards would block growth in Mobile.


"If you get this non-attainment designation, you don't get a ban on any new industry. You get a ban on big emitters," said Ron Gore with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's air division. "It would be very difficult to locate another ThyssenKrupp plant in Mobile if non-attainment was determined. A cement plant probably couldn't get permitted, but the tanker facility, they would probably be permitted.


"Small and medium polluters would all be allowed."





EADS tanker loss could shift Brookley Aeroplex future



Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 7:00 AM Updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 7:20 AM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register


Gatotkoco Drive is a reminder of the first time the Brookley Aeroplex came close to landing an aircraft plant.

In the late 1990s, city leaders renamed Military Road for a mythical bird in Indonesian culture as officials courted that country's IPTN to build turboprop planes.

The project, which was to cost $100 million and employ 700 workers, was scrapped in 1998 by the state-owned firm when Indonesia's ruler was forced out and the country's economy tumbled.

Brookley was again a finalist in 2003 for Boeing Co.'s 787 plant -- projected to cost $500 million and employ 1,200. But Boeing stayed in Everett, Wash., possibly thanks to billions in tax breaks.

Now European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. officials are mulling whether to appeal the U.S. Air Force's choice of Boeing to supply a new fleet of aerial refueling tankers. Unless they do, Brookley will be passed over for the third time.

This time, Mobile gained EADS' Airbus engineering center at Brookley, not just a tongue-tying street sign.

Site leader David Trent said employment could rise from today's 205 workers to 230 by year's end.  



Huntsville companies contributed to a rebound of Alabama exports last year

Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 6:35 AM

By Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times


HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Axometrics may be a small Huntsville business of 12 employees, but its reach is international.


At its facility on Quality Circle, Axometrics makes equipment used for quality control by LCD flat-screen TV manufacturers.


"Most of our customers are in Asian countries - Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China - so we have to export," said the company's president and CEO, Charles Davis.


Axometrics is among businesses across the state contributing to a rebound of Alabama's exports last year. About $15.5 billion in Alabama-made products was shipped overseas, a 25.5 percent increase over 2009 and close to the all-time high of $15.8 billion in 2008.


"I'm pleased that we're approaching those (record export) levels again," said Anne Burkett, the director of planning and economic development for the Madison County Commission. Burkett is also the executive director of the North Alabama International Trade Association, a nonprofit group that provides international trade education, training and networking to make businesses aware of global markets and how to develop those markets.


Exporting, Burkett said, is "a way to diversify your business and increase revenue."





Lakeside Steel gains financing

Published: Saturday, February 26, 2011, 10:16 PM Updated: Saturday, February 26, 2011, 10:23 PM

By Jeff Amy, Press-Register


Lakeside Steel said that it has increased its ability to borrow by $27.5 million, and plans to use the additional debt to help the construction and startup of the company's new plant in Thomasville.


The Welland, Ontario, company, which makes steel pipe for oil and gas companies, said that it has a $7.5 million term loan and $60 million more in borrowing capacity from CIBC Asset-Based Lending.


The $40 million Thomasville plant, now under construction, is supposed to open in November and eventually employ 120 people





Population shrinks in W. Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Bibb see growth, while Black Belt loses people


By Adam Jones Staff Writer

Published: Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.


Except for Tuscaloosa and Bibb, counties in West Alabama lost population in the past decade, according to census numbers released for Alabama this week.

Also, few cities and towns in West Alabama saw meaningful gains in population between the 2000 and 2010 federal censuses.


The losses are part of the larger trend in Alabama of shrinking populations in rural areas and growth in urban areas, said Annette Watters, demographer for the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research.


No county in the state's Black Belt, an economically depressed region that includes some West Alabama counties, gained people.


"The last decade has been unkind to rural counties, and it was a hard decade economically," she said. "When people can't find work, they move."


The U.S. Census Bureau released county and local population counts for Alabama on Thursday in the bureau's effort to release all data from the 2010 Census by April. The counts are needed to redraw political district lines.


Tuscaloosa County, an important economic engine for much of West Alabama, grew 18.1 percent to 194,656 people in the past decade. Bibb County grew 10 percent to 22,915 people. Bibb is part of the growing Birmingham-Hoover metro area and benefits from jobs in its growing neighbor to the west, Tuscaloosa County




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