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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Brian Hilson leaving Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce to be president/CEO of Birmingham... - Huntsville Times
New Birmingham Business Alliance chief: City is ready to move forward - Birmingham News
EADS moving quickly on Air Force tanker protest decision - Press Register
Mobile chamber takes many paths to grow economy - Press Register
Economic development not as simple as it sounds - Press Register
Baldwin County ranked No. 6 for corporate expansions among micropolitan areas - Press Register
State of the State Address
UA economists: Auto, health care key to state's rebound - Birmingham Business Journal


Brian Hilson leaving Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce to be president/CEO of Birmingham Business Alliance


Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 6:43 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 6:59 PM
By Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Brian Hilson, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce since 1997, is leaving to become president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, a seven-county economic development organization.

He will leave the chamber job effective March 11 and join the Birmingham organization the week of March 14.

"It's been a fantastic 19 years because the chamber has played an integral role in the community's growth and economic development," Hilson said late this afternoon after meeting with the chamber's staff and executive committee. Hilson joined the chamber in 1992 as senior vice president for economic development.

"I've had one of the best jobs anyone could hope to have in economic development," said Hilson, calling the chamber "a difference maker."

"The opportunities and challenges in Birmingham are significant," Hilson said, adding that's he's looking forward to being able to "make a difference there."

He added: "I'll always be one of Huntsville's biggest supporters."

Charlie Kettle, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, will head the search committee for a new permanent president/CEO, and Tommy Beason, chair of the Chamber Foundation and the 2004 chairman of the chamber's board of directors, will be the interim president.


New Birmingham Business Alliance chief: City is ready to move forward


Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 9:51 AM Updated: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 10:01 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News

Brian Hilson, the new chief of the Birmingham Business Alliance, says Alabama's largest metro area has the momentum to move forward as its business leaders seek to broaden economic prosperity and create jobs.

"I think the opportunity is clearly there for the team we're going to have at the BBA to be a catalyst for many good things that Birmingham has every right to expect in economic growth, the quality of that growth and job opportunities," Hilson said in an interview after his appointment was announced Tuesday. "That's what it's really all about."

He takes over the city's most powerful business group at a time when it is implementing its five-year growth plan, called Blueprint Birmingham.

It took some convincing, but Hilson is leaving his job as the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville and Madison County, where he has been for nearly 19 years. He has been that organization's boss for the 14 years.

His move to the BBA is official March 14.

Hilson said the decision to leave Huntsville was difficult, but the opportunities he sees in Birmingham helped persuade him.

"What happened in my initial meetings in Birmingham is exactly what happened almost 20 years ago when I came to Huntsville to talk," he said. "I walked into a room of true community leaders. There is a sense of urgency and a genuine sense of caring about the community. You start with that."

Hilson said he gets the sense of real momentum and an engaged business leadership in Birmingham.

"The difficulty was not the attractiveness of Birmingham but the concept of leaving Huntsville," he said.

Prior to going to Huntsville, Hilson worked for the Birmingham Metropolitan Development Board for 11 years and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce for a year.


EADS moving quickly on Air Force tanker protest decision


Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 8:35 AM
By George Talbot

EADS is moving quickly to decide whether to challenge the U.S. Air Force's decision to award its refueling tanker contract to rival Boeing Co.

Top EADS officials met Monday at the Pentagon for a 90-minute debriefing on the Air Force's decision, then returned Tuesday for a second round of discussions about the award.

The company technically has a 10-day window to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office, but look for a decision before the end of the week.

It's a tough call for EADS chairman Ralph Crosby and chief executive Sean O'Keefe. The two leaders praised the Air Force for its professionalism during the competition and vowed not to protest unless they saw "egregious" errors as part of the selection process.

So far, there's no indication that any mistakes of that magnitude were made. Air Force officials have described the decision as "bulletproof," and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that he did not anticipate a challenge.

"The view in this building is that there are no grounds for a valid protest," he told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.


Mobile chamber takes many paths to grow economy

Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 9:18 PM

Troy Wayman for  Gulf Coast Business



Economic development means different things to different people.


The efforts of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce's economic development program are multi-faceted to positively affect the business environment and quality of life for the entire area. Within the Chamber's economic development department are housed five main areas of focus. Each is integral to the other, and our team approach helps all the moving parts function as a well-oiled machine.


Let's start with the recruitment duties of economic development. Our team of project managers markets the area to industrial prospects and site location consultants to attract interest and hopefully investment and job creation in the Mobile Bay region. The recruitment game is a marathon, not a sprint. The fruits of these efforts are typically not realized for many months, even years. There is no such thing as overnight success in recruitment.


While attracting new companies is crucial, our business retention and expansion, or BRE, efforts are just as important, if not more so. This past year alone, Mobile experienced job growth of more than 2,000 new jobs from expanding existing industries. Whether its help an existing company with an expansion, being an advocate for them on legislative issues or helping them with a myriad of other issues that face businesses on a daily basis, BRE is a vital part of our economic development program.


Of course, key to any business success, whether new or existing, is the availability of a skilled or trainable workforce. The chamber's workforce development responsibilities tie together recruitment and BRE in working to provide training opportunities and skills needs assessments for the new industries arriving in Mobile as well as the existing companies in the region.




Press Register link


Economic development not as simple as it sounds


Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 9:18 PM
Robert Ingram for Gulf Coast Business

It is an honor to be asked to contribute articles for Gulf Coast Business. The Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance is excited to join other Gulf Coast-region economic development organizations and economic development professionals in an effort to update our shared communities on issues of importance.

Future articles will endeavor to educate, inform and maybe even entertain. Hopefully they will be good reads and add value to the readers' business lives and/or personal lives. On occasion the articles might seem off topic or irrelevant. But in the end, if you enjoy reading each one and look forward to the next, it will have been a journey worth taking.

Economic development is a whole lot like life -- when you think you have it figured out, it changes, or kicks you in the teeth, or even rewards you with something special. It's not a science, it's not an art, it's not fact, it's not theory. In reality, economic development is simply a process, a process of increasing the standard of living in a community through a series of actions aimed at improving quality of life and increasing the flow of dollars within the community.

Great communities have great schools, churches, housing and support services; reasonable taxes; low crime; numerous recreational and cultural attractions; retail diversity; and exceptional infrastructure of all kinds, including, but not limited to, road, water, sewer, telecom/digital access, and again, social/personal support systems.

Unless the community is a retirement community, a military community, a bedroom community or a weekend/retreat type community, it must have jobs for its citizens. In turn, there must be a trained workforce to sustain local employers' needs for labor, and economic activity must be sufficient to generate taxes to fund needed services.


Baldwin County ranked No. 6 for corporate expansions among micropolitan areas


Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 2:53 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 3:22 PM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register

Site Selection magazine has ranked Baldwin County as the No. 6 micropolitan area for business expansions in 2010, counting 10 corporate expansions and relocations in the county last year.

The Thomasville/Lexington N.C. area was ranked first among micropolitan areas with 26 projects. Scottsboro, Ala., was among five areas that tied for 20th with five projects. Micropolitan areas are typically rural counties with more than 50,000 people.

Robert Ingram, president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said that a $7 million, 20-job expansion at Ascend Performance Materials in Foley and a $6 million, 25-job project at Saunders Yachtworks in Gulf Shores were among the county's most significant in 2010.

"Most of what we had were local companies expanding, which is good," Ingram said. "If local companies are doing well, that means they're happy with their workforce and they see improving sales."

Texas was the No. 1 state with 424 projects, while Louisiana was No. 3 with 347. Neither Alabama, with 78 total projects, nor Mississippi, with 41 total projects, made the top 10 among states.


State of the State Address


Lieutenant Governor Ivey, Speaker Hubbard, President Pro Tem Marsh, distinguished guests, my fellow public servants and my fellow Alabamians:

It is with great honor and great privilege that I join you here tonight in this chamber to mark another milestone in our state's history. I am humbled tonight to be addressing this joint session as your Governor. As I deliver my first State of The State address, I do so with the humility of a public servant - but one who has been called to a great task. And I thank you for sharing this moment with me tonight.

As public servants, we are called to put others ahead of ourselves. And I don't believe you'll find anyone with a bigger heart and desire for serving others than your First Lady - my wife, Dianne.

I would also like to thank members of my Cabinet here tonight. Thank you for serving and for joining me in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

Chief Justice Cobb, distinguished members of the Alabama Supreme Court - thank you for the work you do, and for your service to the state.

Today we face great challenges in Alabama. Our state, like so many others in our country, finds itself at a pivotal point in time. We are at a time in our state's history when we must make difficult choices. And what we choose to do - or not to do today - will have far-reaching effects on the future of Alabama and our citizens. But they are choices that must be made. And as your Governor, called to serve our citizens, I am ready to make those tough choices.

I told you many months ago when I decided to run for Governor, my highest priority for Alabama is creating jobs. That has not changed. Stimulating our economy and job creation for the people of Alabama is, and will remain the focal point of my administration.


UA economists: Auto, health care key to state's rebound 



Birmingham Business Journal - by Antrenise Cole, Staff

Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 5:00pm CST


Alabama's automotive industry, health care services and BRAC-related development should be key segments in the growth of the economy this year, according to economists at the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research.


According to a news release, the economists expect the state's economy to improve with a real gross domestic product of 3.4 percent, which is 0.4 percent higher than the forecasted U.S. economic growth.


The release said the state saw steady job gains through most of 2010.


"As more people enter or re-enter the labor force, the state's unemployment rate is likely to stay relatively high through most of this year," the report said.


Business sentiment for first quarter 2011, measured by the Center's Alabama Business Confidence Index survey, is in line with the university's forecast of an improving economy and a stronger Alabama rebound.




Birmingham Business Journal

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