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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Eight win Alabama Trade Excellence Awards - Birmingham Business Journal
Carnival Cruise Lines cutting ties with Mobile in October - Press Register
State backs Baldwin Beach Express project with toll option - Press Register
Alabama gets $16M from BP for tourism ads - AP
Alabama Launchpad names finalists - Birmingham Business Journal
Population loss in southwest Alabama cause of relief for some - Press Register
Memorandum: Birmingham a great place to live -- and to work - Birmingham News
Innovation Depot boosts economy in Birmingham by $1 billion - Birmingham News
EADS still likes Mobile for aircraft production - Press Register
Cyber security called both a 'critical mission' and opportunity for Huntsville - Huntsville Times
Robinson named to Federal Reserve's New Orleans branch board... - Press Register
Marketing is next step for robotics park - Decatur Daily
Hartselle industrial park surviving...Site still vital to economy - Decatur Daily

Eight win Alabama Trade Excellence Awards

Birmingham Business Journal

Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 2:49pm CST  

Eight Alabama businesses, including several from the Birmingham metro area, have received the Governor's 2011 Trade Excellence Awards.


The awards honor businesses for their success in exporting.


Local companies who received the honor this year include Irondale's Creative Concepts, Pelham's Process Equipment Inc. and Helena's Scott Machinery & Supply Inc.


Other honorees include:


Baron Services Inc. (Huntsville)


OPICO (Mobile)


Plastic Recyclers Southeast Inc. (Decatur)


Quick Start Marketing LLC (Ozark)


Valley Rubber Inc. (Falkville)


The awards were presented on Thursday at the Capitol in Montgomery.


Birmingham Business Journal

Carnival Cruise Lines cutting ties with Mobile in October

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 2:59 PM Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 3:36 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register


MOBILE, Ala. -- Carnival Cruise Lines is pulling service out of Mobile's Alabama Cruise Terminal this fall, chief executive officer Gerry Cahill said.


Mobile's cruises charged too little and its routes required too much fuel to be financially viable for the future, Cahill said. The service will be discontinued Oct. 22, he said.


Carnival began service from Mobile in 2004 with the 1,452-passenger Holiday. That ship, which was the smallest in Carnival's fleet, was consistently booked above the listed capacity.


In November, Carnival brought in the larger Fantasy, with a listed capacity of 2,052 passengers. In May, the company replaced the Fantasy with the Elation, which is the same size. The Elation is newer than the Fantasy but does not have all of the old ship's upgrades



State backs Baldwin Beach Express project with toll option


Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 1:18 PM Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 1:26 PM
By Connie Baggett, Press-Register

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama - After more than two months of wrangling about priority highway projects in Baldwin County, the state plans to forge ahead with a $113 million extension of the Baldwin Beach Express.

But there was a catch, explained new Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper: it may be a toll road. And the money to pay the state's share will come from shelving the planned interchange at Baldwin County 13 and Interstate 10 in Daphne, he said. That project is now postponed indefinitely, Cooper said. The state will continue with the project to widen Ala. 181 southward to Ala. 104.

"I made that decision on the basis of what we could do and finish. Those two we can do in a reasonable period of time," Cooper said. With state revenue low and federal funding cuts looming, Cooper said charging a toll would likely be an option for any state projects in the near future.  


Alabama gets $16M from BP for tourism ads




Alabama is getting $16 million from BP PLC for a three-year advertising campaign designed to lure tourists back to Alabama beaches after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Robert Bentley announced Tuesday.


Bentley called last year's BP oil spill "the greatest manmade disaster that has hit America," and said he believes Alabama suffered more economic and ecological damage than other states. But he said the beaches and water are now immaculate, and the money will help spread that message to residents of the Southeast, who make up the majority of summer tourists.


"We're proud to say Mobile County and Baldwin County are open for business. If we can get people back down there this summer we are going to be OK," he said.


Bentley said he plans to spend three days in the Fort Morgan area next week.


Luke Keller, executive vice president of the Gulf Coast Recovery Organization, said BP has provided $38 million to support Alabama tourism since the spill.


The Alabama Department of Tourism will administer the money with advice from a panel of Gulf Coast tourism and real estate officials. The $16 million will go for grants for tourism promotion projects, Bentley said.






Alabama Launchpad names finalists


Birmingham Business Journal

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 4:23pm CST


Alabama Launchpad has announced the nine finalists for its annual Governor's Business Plan Competition - and two firms from the University of Alabama at Birmingham made the cut.


The startup companies are competing for $175,000 in seed capital.


This year's finalists (with school affiliations in parenthesis) are:


4K NutriPharma International (UAB)

525 Pain Management

(UA) Decision Innovations (UAH)

Hurri Pier & Dock System (U. South Alabama)

Iolitec (UA)

IPC Foam (Auburn)

KOR Therapies (UAB)

MicroGreen Technologies (UA)

Parent Care Readiness Program (UA)




Birmingham Business Journal 


Population loss in southwest Alabama cause of relief for some


Published: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 9:00 AM

By Russ Henderson, Press-Register

During the past 10 years, the six Alabama counties in the region surrounding Mobile and Baldwin suffered a loss of about 6,800 people. Although a drop of nearly 5 percent, it was a cause for relief.


"Considering unemployment rates in our counties of up to 18 percent, we're encouraged by the fact that this seems to be a relatively negligible loss," said Jim Searcy, executive director the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority.


That group promotes economic development in Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia and Monroe counties.


Since 2009, joblessness in those counties, plus Washington, have hovered between 12 percent and 18 percent, well above the state average of about 9 percent, according to state data.


"There are no jobs in these areas because companies have a hard time locating there because there aren't enough workers. It's a pattern," said University of South Alabama economist Semoon Chang said.


The same sort of pattern, he said, has emptied rural counties across the country, while filling cities.




Press Register


Memorandum: Birmingham a great place to live -- and to work

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 9:02 AM Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 11:00 AM

By Special to The Birmingham News


By Brian Hilson -- chief executive officer of the Birmingham Business Alliance


This "memo" represents my first official opportunity to speak to residents of the Birmingham area in my new capacity as president and chief executive of the Birmingham Business Alliance.


My message today addresses the question, "Why would I move to Birmingham?" -- and more importantly, "Why should others move to Birmingham?"


First, let's define "Birmingham."


Obviously, Birmingham includes the city of Birmingham, but we should also recognize it as a much broader area. For the BBA, and for its collective purposes of growing employment opportunities and attracting and developing the talent to fill those jobs, "Birmingham" consists of the seven-county metro area that represents the economic region around Birmingham. An economic region includes all of the diverse attributes and synergies that make up a unified area. People can pick and choose from among the area's places to live and highly diverse attributes.




Innovation Depot boosts economy in Birmingham by $1 billion

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 8:00 AM

By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News


Birmingham's business incubator, Innovation Depot, has had an estimated $1 billion economic impact over the last four years, boosted in 2010 as sales and employment at its companies returned to pre-recession levels.


Innovation Depot is releasing the results of its annual economic impact study today. The study found the companies in the incubator and those that have graduated in the last five years had $140 million in revenue, investments and grants in 2010, up from the $115 million in 2009. The figure is close to the $141 million posted in 2008, as the recession began taking hold in Birmingham.


The companies' employees had earnings of $76 million, the report found. That's greater than the $68 million of a year ago and higher than the $70 million in 2008.


Susan Matlock, chief executive of Innovation Depot, said she knew about six months ago that 2010 would be a comeback year.



Birmingham News

EADS still likes Mobile for aircraft production
Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 9:09 AM
By George Talbot

MOBILE, Alabama -- Hope is alive on this Ash Wednesday. Mobile fell short in its bid to build tankers for the U.S. Air Force, but prospects remain strong that the city can still become a major center of aircraft production.

Start with the close relationships the city has forged with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., one of the world's premiere aerospace firms. The bond was forged over 6 years in the trenches fighting Boeing Co. for the tanker contract.

The parent company of Airbus has deep pockets, a broad portfolio of products and a robust desire to establish production on U.S. soil.

"We could have made no better choice than to come to Mobile, Alabama," Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said in an interview last week. "The partnership we've formed is real and it is enduring. The fact is, as far as EADS is concerned, Mobile is at the top of the list for any commercial production we might establish in America."

Mobile holds a second ace card in the Brookley Aeroplex. The former Air Force base has prime access to rail lines, interstate highways and a deepwater port.

Brookley also boasts superior runways, hangar space and a ready pool of non-union labor. Those attributes - and more - make it a freak of nature for aerospace manufacturers.

The tanker war kept Brookley tied up for half a decade; now that it's over, the world's finest available site for aircraft production is back on the market.


Cyber security called both a 'critical mission' and opportunity for Huntsville


Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Kenneth Kesner, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Countering the global and growing computerized and electronic threats to U.S. security could be an opportunity for high-tech Huntsville's work force, according to government, academic and industry leaders who gathered for a "cyber breakfast" Tuesday.

"This is such a critical mission area," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Dennis Cavin, vice president of Huntsville Operations for Lockheed Martin, which sponsored the event with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He has been a victim of cyber attacks, having his personal information and identity stolen and finding malware on his "secure" computer.

He said it was a "humbling" experience, but it's frightening to think about attacks that could shut down a financial system, the exchange of vital information along the Internet or the supply of energy.

"Imagine a nation brought to its knees by denied access," Cavin said.

Huntsville can play a key role in keeping that from happening, said Brian Hilson, president and CEO of the chamber. He pointed out the area has a history of rising to meet technological challenges, including moon landings and missile defense.

"We want to leverage what this community does, and does best," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who introduced a "Cyber Huntsville" plan about a year ago. Teams have been created to bring a major cyber security conference to Huntsville, develop a common lexicon for discussing the issues, make sure those issues are addressed at the Space and Missile Defense Conference and other meetings, and much more.


Robinson named to Federal Reserve's New Orleans branch board


Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 6:15 AM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register

T. Lee Robinson Jr. is southwest Alabama's new ambassador to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Robinson, the president of OHC Inc., the former Overseas Hardwoods Co., has been named to the board of directors of the New Orleans Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The seven-member board advises the parent bank in Atlanta about economic conditions in an area running from Baldwin and Mobile counties west across the southern halves of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Directors of the branches answer questions from the Fed's economists, talking to other business leaders in their communities to supply the information. That information then flows up to the Federal Open Market Committee, which makes decisions on interest rates. Some of it appears in the "beige book," an anecdotal survey of business activity published 10 times a year.

"We value our directors greatly," said Gail Psilos, the director of regional economic information for the New Orleans branch. "They really do bring a lot of information to the table."


Marketing is next step for robotics park


By Bayne Hughes

The Alabama Robotics Technology Park could be marketed internationally and through local industries' customers and vendors.

"We can't lose focus that one of the reasons for this investment is to bring and attract jobs," state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said Monday. "The public, particularly the local governments that invested in the park, is expecting a payoff down the road."

Orr and Alabama Industrial Development and Training Institute Executive Director Ed Castile met last week in Montgomery to discuss marketing the Limestone County park across from Calhoun Community College.

"We agreed that we need a full marketing plan to bring prospects to Alabama," Castile told the robotics park's board Monday.

Orr said the meeting last week in Montgomery included new Alabama Development Office Director Seth Hammett.

Orr and Castile said the first step is to bring economic development professionals from across the state and industrial site selectors from around the world to the park.

The park received international and national attention, including from several international magazines, at its Phase 1 grand opening in November.

"We've only had a few classes, and the second two phases aren't complete. There's no way to put a finger or hardly measure what's going to happen because I think it's going to be beyond our expectations," Castile said.


Hartselle industrial park surviving


Site still vital to economy: Morgan development head

By Deangelo McDaniel

HARTSELLE - During its heyday, the Hartselle-Morgan County Industrial Park employed between 800 and 1,000 people.

Now, the 35-year-old park on Thompson Road near Interstate 65 has eight industrial-based businesses that provide almost 500 jobs.

Despite having lost three plants in the past 18 months, the park remains a vital part of the county's economy, Morgan County Economic Development President Jeremy Nails said.

"A lot of these people shop, eat and buy gas in the region," Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

The companies in the park have combined payrolls estimated to be between $2 million and $3 million, Tankersley said.

At the same time, Nails is trying to add to the Morgan County economic base by recruiting businesses to occupy the Morgan Center Business Park, also off Interstate 65. 

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