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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
 
in this issue:
Austal's Australian shipyards hurting, may move additional operations offshore - Press Register
Hyundai's Alabama plant sets monthly production record in March - Birmingham News
Birmingham Business Alliance's new chief Brian Hilson challenges metro area to work together - Birmingham News
New unit allows ThyssenKrupp toward selling steel to automakers - Press Register
BAE to finish oil tanker started by Atlantic Marine - Press Register
Regionalism knows no geographic boundaries - Press Register
Ports team up to woo Asian shipping line - Press Register
Take a peek into the War Room - Press Register
Alabama Public Service Commission OKs Alabama Power business rate breaks
Mobile hosts trade conference - Gulf Coast Business
Regions Bank launches Technology & Defense banking group - Birmingham News
Family-Owned and Operated Business Expanding Their Footprint in St. Clair County - Release
Iron and steel council merges with Manufacture Alabama - Press Register
Austal breaks ground on building expansion at Mobile River shipyard - Press Register
Signal International wins $47M contract to build tug-barge for Kirby Ocean Transport Co - Press Register
Mercedes' Alabama plant prepares to launch redesigned M-Class SUV - Birmingham News
Auburn breaks ground on $6.3 million animal nutrition facility
Grant to help manufacturer expand - Montgomery Advertiser
State Ethics Reform and How It Impacts Economic Developers - EVENT

       

Austal's Australian shipyards hurting, may move additional operations offshore
 

Published: Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 2:32 PM Updated: Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 2:44 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register Press-Register

 

MOBILE, Ala. -- Austal may move some commercial operations outside of its home country of Australia, according to a top official quoted in an Australian newspaper.

 

The shipbuilder owns Austal USA, which builds vessels for the U.S. military at its Mobile River shipyard.

 

The U.S. operation has been one of Mobile's bright spots in recent years, increasing employment from about 100 a decade ago to nearly 2,000, with expectations of hiring another 2,000 or so workers in the next few years.

 

Austal chairman John Rothwell, speaking at a business luncheon in Perth on Tuesday, said that the U.S. success has propped up the company's struggling commercial shipbuilding operation in western Australia.

  

 

more... 

Press Register  


       

Hyundai's Alabama plant sets monthly production record in March
 

Published: Thursday, April 07, 2011, 10:25 AM Updated: Thursday, April 07, 2011, 10:27 AM

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News

 

Hyundai's Montgomery factory set a monthly production record last month, as 31,730 Sonata sedans and Elantra compact sedans rolled off the assembly lines.

 

That total is the most the plant's 2,500-plus workers have ever built in a single month since the plant opened in 2005, and it was driven by strong demand for both vehicles.

 

In March, U.S. sales of the Sonata and the Elantra rose a combined 55 percent over the year-ago period and accounted for 68 percent of total Hyundai volume.

 

The redesigned Sonata was launched a little more than a year ago, in February 2010, while the Elantra was redesigned late last year.

 

Rising gas prices have made buyers turn to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, a trend seen across the industry in March sales. The Elantra, for instance, achieves highway fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon.

 

Robert Burns, a spokesman for the Montgomery plant, said it is operating two 10-hour shifts, five days a week. In addition, two eight-hour shifts run one Saturday each month.

  

 

more... 

 

 

 

  


       

Birmingham Business Alliance's new chief Brian Hilson challenges metro area to work together
 

Published: Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 8:00 AM

By Patrick Hickerson, The Birmingham News The Birmingham News

 

Brian Hilson took over at the Birmingham Business Alliance in mid-March.

 

The new head of the Birmingham Business Alliance said Tuesday that the six counties and communities that join Jefferson County and Birmingham in making up Alabama's largest metro area can do more to act in a spirit of regional cooperation without giving up their own identities. Brian Hilson conceded that trying to foster cooperation in the seven-county Birmingham metro area will be a greater challenge than it was in Huntsville and Madison County, which was his charge as the CEO of the chamber of commerce there. That was the job that Hilson left last month to lead the BBA, Birmingham's primary business organization.

 

Speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham at its weekly meeting Tuesday at the Harbert Center, Hilson said work that will be done by the New York marketing firm Development Counsellors International will benefit the entire metro area as that firm seeks to boost Birmingham's image globally. The BBA lined up the services of DCI after Hilson's arrival. The firm had performed image work for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

 

Hilson said the BBA also is the point-of-contact for the metro area when the Alabama Development Office brings representatives of a new economic development project to look at sites in the area. He said sites in all seven counties are pitched to prospects.

 

 

more...

 

Huntsville Times 


       

New unit allows ThyssenKrupp toward selling steel to automakers
 

Published: Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 6:00 AM

By Jeff Amy, Press-Register


CALVERT, Ala. -- "Keep moving" is the imperative on the steel coating line that ThyssenKrupp AG opened last week.

 

ThyssenKrupp coats the steel in molten zinc to prevent corrosion, and also heats the metal, softening its so that customers can stamp out parts. The line is the last major process on the carbon steel side of the $5 billion complex to begin operation.

 

It is the first of four hot-dip galvanizing lines to be built inside two towering buildings visible from U.S. 43. ThyssenKrupp plans to start the second line later this month, followed by the third in June and the fourth in August.

 

Making galvanized steel is a key step toward supplying automakers, one of the key goals that Germany's largest steelmaker has for its first U.S. plant.

 

"This is the bulk of what the automotive industry is going to buy," said Bob Holt, vice president of sales and marketing for ThyssenKrupp Steel USA.

 

more...

 

Press Register 


       

BAE to finish oil tanker started by Atlantic Marine
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 6:07 PM Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 6:09 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register Press-Register

 

 

The Mobile River facility of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards will finish building an oil tanker that was abandoned there mid-construction under a previous owner, BAE announced Tuesday.

 

Mid-Ocean Tanker Company LLC of South Norwalk, Conn., owns the partly completed ship. That company is a joint venture between private equity firm Alterna Capital Partners and Mid-Ocean Marine, a shipping company also based in South Norwalk.

 

Victor Rhoades, director and general manager of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, said in a news release that the ship will be ready to launch in October. Rhoades is based in Jacksonville, Fla., where BAE operates a larger yard. Both the Jacksonville and Mobile facilities were purchased last year from Boston-based Atlantic Marine.

 

The amount of the oil tanker contract was not specified, although a Mid-Ocean official told trade publication Tradewinds earlier this year that the tanker needed about $50 million worth of work.

 

 

more...

Press Register  


       

Regionalism knows no geographic boundaries
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 4:40 PM

By K.A. Turner, Press-Register Press-Register

 


Sometimes we need a reminder that losing, while painful, can also teach valuable lessons.

 

In that vein, welcome to Jack Norris' classroom.

 

"Take the EADS tanker project," Norris, president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council, said recently of the company's lost bid to supply refueling aircraft for the Air Force at Brookley Aeroplex. "EADS' bid wasn't ultimately successful, but we all benefited greatly from the experience of it.

 

"EADS chose Mobile because of the combined assets of the Gulf Coast region," Norris continued. "We need to continue that mindset of regionalism. Our economic development professionals certainly practice that every day. If we continue that mindset, I think there will be big projects in our future."

 

K.A. Turner is editor of Gulf Coast Business.

 

Norris, almost a year into his job with the business council, embraces regionalism on a slightly smaller scale every working day, as the Gulfport-based group is made up of business leaders across Mississppi's three coastal counties.

 

"Our priorities, and the policy issues we focus on, have a regional vision," said Norris, who worked for Gov. Haley Barbour and former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott before taking his current job last spring.

.

 

more...

Press Register 

 

 

 


       

Ports team up to woo Asian shipping line
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 4:20 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register Press-Register

 

MOBILE, Ala. -- Ports usually compete against each other to ship a limited amount of goods.

 

But recently, officials running the ports of Mobile, Houston and Tampa joined in an effort to recruit more Asian service to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Officials from the three ports whisked through a two-week marketing mission to China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan during the fourth quarter of last year. They co-sponsored a reception at a retail conference in Orlando in February and plan to travel later this year to a trans-Pacific conference, said Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons.

 

The goal, Lyons said, is to convince a shipping line to start a dedicated route between Asia and the Gulf ports.

 

CMA CGM, a French company that once owned an interest in the Mobile Container Terminal, has one weekly line that makes stops in Singapore, China and Korea in Asia, and at the Gulf ports of Houston and Mobile. But it's an around-the-world route with stops in several ports along Amercia's Atlantic Coast.

 

 

more...

 

Press Register  

 

 

 


       

Take a peek into the War Room
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 3:25 PM

By Dave Helms Press-Register

 

GULF SHORES, Ala. -- South Alabama's business infrastructure felt the economic aftershocks in April 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.

 

Before oil ever arrived on beaches, vacationers started canceling reservations and changing destinations.

 

Early on, dealing with those problems wasn't hampered by a lack of resources, according to Bob Higgins, vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance. Rather, it was getting all that help organized.

 

"We had pieces of business support all over the place," Higgins said recently. "You had a (Small Business Administration) finance facility over here. You had some career stuff over in Foley for people who lost jobs, you had a small business development center over in Mobile."

 

The problem, as revealed by the crisis that was still gaining momentum a month after the rig exploded, was a lack of coordination and accessibility, Higgins said.

 

Enter the War Room.

 

It has since gotten a less flashy name -- the Coastal Resilience Coalition -- but it is indeed a room and some of the people who still meet there twice a week are deployed from agencies around the country.

 


more...

 

 

Press Register 

 


       

Alabama Public Service Commission OKs Alabama Power business rate breaks
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 12:08 PM Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 12:09 PM

Russell Hubbard -- The Birmingham News  

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- The Alabama Public Service Commission today approved incentives developed in concert with Alabama Power Co. to give small and medium-sized businesses a break on energy costs.

 

Approved was a package of discounts, tax credits and incentives. Some are for small and medium-sized businesses, in a bid to give business owners lower electricity bills. The PSC is the state agency that administers the laws governing electric and natural gas rates.

 

"I have often said that the Public Service Commissions was an unused tool in the state's economic development and job creation efforts, and our actions today finally put that tool to good use," PSC Commissioner Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said.

 

The measures approved today will:

 

Extend a 15 percent electric bill discount good for one year for small and medium-sized commercial customers. The discount applies to any new account established at an existing building or space that has been unoccupied for at least six months.

 

Broaden access to a preferential small business rate for about 8,000 additional customers around the state. Alabama Power said saving will vary, but the total might approach $2.5 million. Companies that might qualify include small churches, financial firms, and real estate offices. Alabama Power said it plans to notify the customers who qualify.

 

Give a two-year discount to business customers who qualify for the Alabama Department of Revenue's Capital Investment Tax Credits. Qualifying customers will receive a 10 percent discount in year one and a five percent discount in year two. The discount will not apply to fuel-related charges or taxes. In order to qualify, the customer must satisfy certain capital investment and job creation thresholds, and add a certain amount of new electric usage.

 

 

Birmingham News 

 

 

 


       

Mobile hosts trade conference
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 10:32 AM Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 11:56 AM

By Gulf Coast Business Press-Register

 

The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce will host the regional World Trade Conference May 1-3 at Marriott's Grand Hotel and Resort in Point Clear.

 

The World Trade Conference is an alliance of organizations in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi who share international business interests. Its event this year will focus on the United Arab Emirates, a gateway to the Middle East and North Africa.

 

Conference events will highlight opportunities, challenges and methods of doing business with the UAE.

 

Register online using the Calendar of Events page on the chamber's website, www.mobilechamber.com, or by calling Christina Stimpson at 251-431-8648.

 

Room reservations at conference prices are limited. Call 1-800-544-9933 and use the group code WDT.

 

 

Gulf Coast Business


       

Regions Bank launches Technology & Defense banking group
 

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 8:59 AM Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 9:03 AM

By The Birmingham News The Birmingham News


Regions Bank said today that it has formed a Technology & Defense banking group to help companies in those industries raise capital for expansion and acquisition activities.

 

The Birmingham bank said it has been increasing its focus on specialty banking groups since 2008 in fields such as energy and health care. The efforts unite the expertise of Regions with its Morgan Keegan & Co. subsidiary, which provides investment banking and advisory services.

 

Regions said it has named David Sozio to head the Technology & Defense banking group. Sozio will be based in Charlotte.

 

"Both technology and defense are strategically important domestic industries and companies in these sectors require financial products, services and expertise tailored to their specific needs in order to be successful," Sam Tortorici, head of Commercial & Industrial banking for Regions, said in a statement.

 

 

 

 

Birmingham News 


       

Family-Owned and Operated Business Expanding Their Footprint in St. Clair County
 

RELEASE - SPRINGVILLE, ALA. - March 31, 2011 - At today's St. Clair County Industrial Development Board meeting, the upcoming expansion of Buckner Barrels was announced. The St. Clair County Industrial Development Board approved a tax abatement of non-educational for the next ten years to aid in this process. This expansion will allow Buckner Barrels to add jobs, be more competitive in their industry and continue to grow their business in St. Clair County.

 

Buckner Barrels is a family-owned and operated company headquartered in Springville, AL with an additional location in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were founded in St. Clair County in 1975

 

They are one of the few companies in the United States that have the facilities required to reclaim the entire spectrum of IBCs, open and closed head steel drums, poly drums, and fibers.

 

Governed by Christian values, Buckner Barrels strives to be good corporate citizen and to provide positive returns to all of their stakeholders (including their customers, employees, and the communities in which they operate). Buckner Barrels pays their employees fair wages, and provides them with excellent benefits. This commitment enables them to provide high quality products on a continuous basis, with extremely low employee turnover (their average employee tenure is more than 17 years

 

 

 

 

 

 


       

Iron and steel council merges with Manufacture Alabama
 

Published: Friday, April 01, 2011, 6:00 AM

By Jeff Amy, Press-Register Press-Register

 

The Alabama Iron & Steel Council has merged into trade group Manufacture Alabama, the council's administrator said.

 

The group had been created by Gov. Bob Riley in 2008 as a public board, but members decided they wanted the freedom of private status so that the council could take stands on legislation and regulation, said Ernie Glenn, the administrator. Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order in February dissolving the public body.

 

The iron and steel group becomes the third industry-specific council within Manufacture Alabama, joining the Chemistry Council and the Pulp & Paper Council. Both of those groups were formerly separate associations that merged into the manufacturers' group.

 

Glenn said a majority of members already belonged to Manufacture Alabama. "There was a pretty obvious synergy there," he said.

 

 

The Iron & Steel Council includes steelmakers ThyssenKrupp AG, SSAB, U.S. Steel Corp., Nucor Corp. and Commercial Metals Co. It also includes iron pipe makers American Cast Iron Pipe Co., McWane Inc. and Mueller Water Products unit U.S. Pipe.

 

more...

Press Register


       

Austal breaks ground on building expansion at Mobile River shipyard
 

Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 6:36 PM Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 6:36 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register Press-Register

 

MOBILE, Ala. -- Austal USA officials and elected leaders broke ground Thursday on a $116 million project to build three new facilities at the shipbuilder's Mobile River complex.

 

The construction should be finished within 15 months, and will enable the Australia-based shipbuilder to hire another 2,000 workers and complete contracts to build both joint high-speed vessels and littoral combat ships for the U.S. military, Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Rella said.

 

Austal currently employs about 2,000 people, with that number expected to rise to at least 3,800 over the next few years.

 

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley keyed in on that employment increase in a speech he gave before the groundbreaking.

 

 

more...

Press Register 


       

Signal International wins $47M contract to build tug-barge for Kirby Ocean Transport Co.
 

Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 5:51 PM Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 5:51 PM

By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register Press-Register

 

MOBILE, Ala. -- Signal International, the Mobile-based ship repair company, won a $47 million contract to build an articulated tug-barge for Houston-based Kirby Ocean Transport Co.

 

Signal will build the vessel at its Orange, Texas, shipyard, raising employment there from 100 to 500 during the 14-month project, Signal CEO Dick Marler said. Kirby has an option for an additional unit that would take 12 months to build.

 

Signal, which is owned partly by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, operates repair yards for ships and oil rig equipment in Mobile, Pascagoula and Texas.

 

"This is a big breakthrough for us," Marler said of the Kirby contract. "This puts us squarely back into shipbuilding."

 

The barge will be 480 feet long and will be able to hold 20,000 tons. The 6,000-horsepower tug will be 125 feet long.

 

Kirby will use the vessel for domestic shipping of dry-bulk commodities such as coal, grain or gravel.

 

Signal employs 700 workers in Pascagoula and about 250 in Mobile, Marler said.

 

 

 

more...

 

Press Register 

 

 


      

Mercedes' Alabama plant prepares to launch redesigned M-Class SUV
 

Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 7:00 AM

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News

 

The Mercedes-Benz factory in Vance is preparing to launch a redesigned version of the M-Class SUV this summer, an event that has far-reaching implications for the German automaker and its Alabama operations.

 

Production trial models of the new SUV, which workers began building last fall, have been spotted on test drives around the plant in recent weeks.

 

"A certain number are built weekly or biweekly," said Felyicia Jerald, a spokeswoman for the Vance operations. "We'll increase the number as we get closer to launch."

 

Spy photos of camouflaged versions of the new M-Class, a 2012 model, have been snapped around testing sites in the United States and Germany.

   

 

 more...

Birmingham News 

 


      

Auburn breaks ground on $6.3 million animal nutrition facility
 

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 6:21 PM

By Press-Register staff Press-Register

 

 

AUBURN, Alabama - Auburn University broke today ground on a $6.3 million facility designed to help animal industries in Alabama and elsewhere ensure production of high-quality feed, university officials report.

 

Animal scientists say high-quality, nutritious feed is key to the success of any poultry, livestock or fish farming operation, but that few U.S. universities have focused their attention on the subject.

 

The new Auburn University Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center, to be built north of Auburn off Auburn Lakes Road, "significantly advances Auburn's teaching, research and extension efforts in the critical areas of feed science, technology and manufacturing," said Don Conner, head of Auburn's Poultry Science Department.

 

A committee of poultry nutritionists and feed milling personnel provided input on technical specifications for the new facility in an effort to make sure it meets the industry's needs now and into the future, Auburn officials said in a news release.

 

The feed mill employs a modular design and will be the first poultry science facility at Auburn's north campus, with a targeted completion date of December 2011. In June 2010, the Auburn University Board of Trustees passed a resolution naming the main building of the center the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Feed Mill and Animal Nutrition Building.

 

more...

 

Press Register 

 


      

Grant to help manufacturer expand
 

10:41 PM, Apr. 4, 2011 |


A $200,000 community development block grant will lay groundwork for Hwashin America Corp., a Greenville manufacturer, to build a 120,000-square-

foot addition to its manufacturing facility and hire up to 50 new employees.

 

Hwashin America produces automobile components for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Montgomery and Kia Motor Manufacturing in West Point, Ga.

 

The grant will fund drainage improvements necessary for it to expand its facility on U.S. 31.

 

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant. The city of Greenville has pledged an additional $40,000 for the project.

 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates CDBG funds to Alabama. ADECA reviews grant applications and determines which projects to recommend to the governor for approval.

 

 

more...

Montgomery Advertiser 

 

 


      

State Ethics Reform and How It Impacts Economic Developers

 

EVENT - 4/28/2011

David Stewart, partner in the Birmingham office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, will lead a presentation on State Ethics Reform. Lunch will be provided.
  
RSVP to rsvp@babc.com by April 20th. Please include your name, company name, job title, and e-mail address.
  
Due to limited seating, registrants will be accepted on a first come, first served basis




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Wendy Wallace Johnson
 
 
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