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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Air Force tanker contract: Mobile loses all hope for plant as EADS announces it won't protest - Press Register
Lakeside Steel investment in Canada could signal more jobs in Thomasville, Ala - Press Register
Bunge to expand Decatur facility - Decatur Daily
New Birmingham Business Alliance chief Brian Hilson ready to steer development - Birmingham News
Mayor, council discuss marketing with airport board - Daily Home
German group meets in Mobile - Press Register
ONB, Birmingham program works to hold city businesses - Birmingham News


Air Force tanker contract: Mobile loses all hope for plant as EADS announces it won't protest


Published: Friday, March 04, 2011, 11:19 AM Updated: Friday, March 04, 2011, 4:25 PM
By Press-Register staff

MOBILE, Alabama -- The North American arm of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. said this morning that it will not protest a decision by the U.S. Air Force to let Boeing Co. build its new fleet of refueling tanker aircraft, ending Mobile's hopes of landing a $600 million aircraft assembly plant.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said today that he understands EADS' decision not to protest.

"We don't want to challenge just for there to be a challenge," Jones said. "I think we have to respect that decision."

The selection of Boeing's KC-767 tanker, announced Feb. 24 by the Air Force, stunned observers on both sides of the high-stakes competition for the $35 billion deal.

EADS, the parent company of Airbus, met Monday and Tuesday with Air Force officials at the Pentagon for debriefings on why it lost the high-stakes competition to Chicago-based Boeing. EADS spent this week evaluating whether to challenge the award in a formal protest before the Government Accountability Office.


Lakeside Steel investment in Canada could signal more jobs in Thomasville, Ala.


Published: Friday, March 04, 2011, 6:15 AM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register

Lakeside Steel Corp., the Canadian steel pipe firm that's building a mill in Thomasville, says that it's considering additional investment in the United States, but won't say where it's looking to build.

The Welland, Ontario, company said Monday that it would spend between 12 million and 15 million Canadian dollars ($12.3 million to $15.4 million) to add facilities in its hometown, allowing it to further process the pipe that it makes. The company expects up to 80 new employees there.

Ron Bedard, Lakeside's chief executive officer, wrote Wednesday in an e-mail that the company is looking to set up similar capabilities in the U.S.

"Lakeside is currently investigating several U.S. locations with a view to choosing a location that allows the company to best service our customers in the markets that they operate in," he wrote to the Press-Register. "An announcement will be made soon regarding location."

The company is already building a $40 million pipe plant in Thomasville that's supposed to employ 120 people.

Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day said that he's in talks with the company.


Bunge to expand Decatur facility


By Evan Belanger

Bunge North America has unveiled plans for an estimated $85 million expansion of its Decatur soy-refining plant, including a new, 110,000-square-foot packaging facility.

Facility Manager Gene Moore said the expansion will create about 50 new jobs in the community. Jeremy Nails, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Economic Development Association, said those jobs will pay about $1.8 million annually.

"With this investment, Bunge is reinforcing our commitment to the Decatur community. We are seeing increased demand for our products, and we are pleased to be able to share this growth," Moore wrote in a prepared statement.
Bunge currently employs about 136 workers with an annual payroll of $5.36 million.

Divided into two phases, the project will first expand the company's existing refinery operation on Market Street Northeast. Construction on that phase is scheduled to begin this spring.

Bunge will also construct a packaging facility on 11.32 acres it is purchasing across Market Street from the plant. Company officials expect to begin construction on that phase in early fall. Moore said they anticipate both expansions will be complete before the end of next year.

Bunge officials were still finalizing this week the purchase of the property for the expansion's second phase. Morgan County tax records show the property divided into six tracts with six different owners, including the city of Decatur and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Decatur Planning Commission will consider a Bunge site plan for the property during its 3:15 p.m. meeting March 22. It will also consider Bunge requests to consolidate and subdivide the property, and it will issue a recommendation about whether the City Council should vacate an unimproved city right of way to allow the expansion.

Bordered to the south by Church Street Southeast, to the west by Turner Universal and to the east by Riverview Avenue, the property is currently home to two vacant buildings, a TVA equipment site and a United Foam manufacturing plant.


New Birmingham Business Alliance chief Brian Hilson ready to steer development


Published: Friday, March 04, 2011, 6:00 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News

Brian Hilson takes over the top job at the Birmingham Business Alliance at a time when the group is pushing its five-year Blueprint Birmingham growth plan. (The Birmingham News / Tamika Moore)

As far as Birmingham goes, Brian Hilson is both an outsider and an insider, and that may be just what the Birmingham Business Alliance needs in its new chief executive.

Hilson comes from Huntsville, where he steered economic development on a successful course for nearly 20 years. But, before that, he was in Birmingham for nearly a dozen years, working with the Metropolitan Development Board, the area's lead economic development group.

The MBD merged with the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce to create the Birmingham Business Alliance in 2009. This week, the BBA announced that Hilson would return to Birmingham to head the area's most influential business organization.

Hilson knows enough about Birmingham's challenges and attributes to go right to work. At the same time, he's coming from Huntsville with a solid reputation, a clean slate and the ability to do things his way.

"We have got the best possible person for this job," BBA Chairman James McManus, who is chief executive at Birmingham-based Energen Corp.

Hilson sat down with The Birmingham News just after agreeing to take the job to talk about the area's prospects and its challenges as the BBA makes a push to create jobs and broaden economic prosperity through its five-year growth plan, called Blueprint Birmingham. He officially starts the week of March 14.

Q: Has much changed about Birmingham since you were here?

A: I think for the most part it's the same. Many of the same attributes are still in place. That always starts with people, community leaders. They have changed individually, but as a whole, I think this community has always been blessed with fantastic leadership in all respects and I believe they have that today.


Mayor, council discuss marketing with airport board


by Matt Quillen The Daily Home

SYLACAUGA - The mayor and City Council met Thursday with the Merkel Field Airport Board of Directors to discuss marketing strategies and economic impact.

Airport consultants from Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon gave a presentation and discussed recent additions to the facility. Barry Mott, vice president, said based on estimates from departments of transportation, the airport brings between $1 million and $1.3 million into the community every year.

"This is a low, conservative number," Mott said. "ALDOT says that with any functioning (general aviation) airport in Alabama you can expect $1 million in economic activity. And you have things going on here that you don't have at most G.A. airports. They don't have Lifesaver (helicopters). They don't have 24-hour fueling facilities."

Members of the board and the council agreed marketing of the airport could be mutually beneficial. Mayor Sam Wright said he believes the facility is vital to the city's economy.

But Wright also mentioned some of the issues the city and airport board dealt with last year. They include the new fuel system that was not completed until more than a year after its initial planned finish date, several FAA grants requiring a local percentage match and concerns about land near the airport for potential industry.

"We have all got to work together, and we all have to cooperate," Wright said. "It takes us all moving in the right direction."



German group meets in Mobile


Published: Friday, March 04, 2011, 7:24 AM
By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register
MOBILE, Ala. -- Germany met Mardi Gras Thursday night, as members of the AlabamaGermany Partnership gathered at the Battle House to salute the European country's investments in the state.

The non-profit group promotes cultural and business relations between Alabama and Germany, with individual and corporate members. It was created in 1989 in the wake of a Mercedes-Benz plant being located near Tuscaloosa. German companies employ more than 12,000 Alabamians directly.

About 250 members of the group, meeting in Mobile for the first time, took in the Mystic Stripers parade before sitting down for their annual dinner.

The partnership is marking another German business milestone in the state -- the $5 billion ThyssenKrupp AG plant that is building toward full operation in Calvert.

Executive Director Lauren Goodson, though, said the group doesn't want to skip over other large German operations in Mobile, including the Evonik Industries AG chemical plant in Theodore, the Berg Spiral Pipe Corp. plant in the Plateau neighborhood north of downtown, and BASF in McIntosh.

Thursday night, Alabama Development Office Director Seth Hammett recognized 10 German companies that created more than 2,000 jobs with expansions in 2010. Most of those jobs were created at the ThyssenKrupp steel complex.




Seth Hammett to present Recognition at AlabamaGermany Partnership Annual Dinner on Thursday, March 3


Birmingham, AL, March 3, 2011. The AlabamaGermany Partnership (AGP) is recognizing new investments and expansion of German companies in Alabama in 2010. The recognitions will be presented by Seth Hammett, Director of the Alabama Development Office, at the Annual Dinner of the AGP held at The Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile on March 3.

"In the period 2000 to 2010 Germany is the most significant country of origin when looking at foreign direct investments in Alabama. The companies recognized today show the variety of companies and the wide geographic distribution of such investments in

Alabama," explained Seth Hammett. "I want to thank each and every one of the companies for their trust in Alabama and for creating jobs for our citizens." German companies employ an estimated 12,000 Alabamians directly.

"The investment of those eleven companies totals over five billion USD and will create over 2800 jobs in Alabama. The German community can be proud of its contribution for Alabama," added Arndt Siepmann, Chair of the AGP. "With Mr. Hammett's long established track record in support of economic development issues during his time in the legislature we are delighted to have him present our appreciation to the executives of our German companies.

The German companies recognized for their investments in 2010 are:

BLG Logistics, Inc. - Vance; year established in Alabama: 2004, Expansion with an investment of $3.17 million creating an additional 30 new jobs. Company provides third party value-add logistics.
Borbet Alabama, Inc. - Auburn; year established in Alabama: 2008, Expansion with an investment of $18.2 million creating an additional 50 jobs. Company produces aluminum wheels for the automotive industry.
Brose Tuscaloosa, Inc. - Vance, year established in Alabama: 2003, Expansion with an investment of $26 million creating an additional 112 jobs by 2013. Company produces seat adjusters for the automotive industry.
Eissmann Automotive North America Inc. - Pell City; year established in Alabama: 2004, Expansion with an investment of $2.75 million creating an additional 40 jobs. Company produces leather components for automotive interiors.
iSAM - North America - Mobile; year established in Alabama: 2008. New investment in Alabama of $500,000 creating 4 jobs. Company provides automation engineering services in steel, bulk port facilities, pipe forming & welding and aerospace composite industries.
Glaeser, Inc. - Tuscaloosa; year established in Alabama: 2010. New investment of $70,000 creating 3 jobs. Company provides cleanliness analysis/residual contamination analysis as well as laboratory analysis and consulting.
ThyssenKrupp Steel USA - Calvert; year established in Alabama: 2007. New investment of $3.6 billion with 1533 employees to date. Company produces carbon steel.
ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA - Calvert; year established in Alabama: 2007. New investment of $1.4 billion creating 900 jobs (360 to date). Company produces cold rolled stainless steel rolls and sheets.
Tube Technology Systems, Inc. - Auburn; year established in Alabama: 2010. New investment of $1.45 mil creating 5 new jobs. Company produces brake tubes for the automotive industry.
WKW Erbsloeh North America, Inc. - Pell City; year established in Alabama: 2006. Expansion of $25 mil creating an additional 150 jobs. Company produces aluminum trim parts for the automotive industry.
For details of the program and to register for the Annual Dinner on March 3 or the Business Forum on March 4, please go to


ONB, Birmingham program works to hold city businesses


Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011, 6:15 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News

Operation New Birmingham and the city of Birmingham, which frequently attempt to lure new businesses downtown, are launching a pilot program aimed at helping existing businesses stay and grow there.

The ONB Business Retention Program, which began without fanfare this week, is an effort to identify the needs of existing businesses and see what can be done to cut through red tape and address concerns.

"We want to get their input and see if there is something we can do to make their business operate better or easier," said Aimee Scottland, a development information specialist with ONB who is leading the program.

The pilot area will focus on the nine blocks between 17th and 20th Streets and between First Avenue North and Fourth Avenue North.

Scottland said the area was chosen because it has a diverse group of businesses, ranging from law offices to a wig retailer and venues including the McWane Science Center and the Alabama Theatre as well as restaurants and hot dog shops.

"I am literally walking door to door to visit the businesses there and hand them three things: a letter telling them about the program, a survey to get their input and information about ONB," Scottland said.

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