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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Alabama Launchpad in final countdown to aid 2011 entrepreneurs - Press Register
RailAmerica Inc. to buy three Alabama freight railroads - Birmingham News
Fiber optics study establishes JeffMet Lakeshore's capacity as a data center - Birmingham News
Completion delayed for Teledyne Continental Motors sale to Chinese company - Press Register
Huntsville's Toyota engine plant will join other North American facilities in non-production days - Huntsville Times
Bill would provide new economic tool - Wetumpka Herald


Alabama Launchpad in final countdown to aid 2011 entrepreneurs

Published: Monday, April 11, 2011, 3:06 PM Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011, 3:36 PM

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


MOBILE, Ala. -- Relatively few people know about the competition that will act itself out Friday at the University of South Alabama.


But if Alabama is to rebuild its economy by growing small businesses, as Gov. Robert Bentley has emphasized, the Launchpad finals should get more attention.


K.A. Turner's column appears weekly in the Press-Register. E-mail K.A. at kturner@press-register.com


Alabama Launchpad, a partnership among state universities and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, is an organized effort to commercialize the technology developed in Alabama research universities. It is part of the Launchpad mission to support "high-growth entrepreneurship" and innovation.


Launchpad's most visible program is a statewide business plan competition. This year's version culminates Friday with presentations at the USA Library Auditorium.


"It is really a lot of fun," said Reggie Taylor, associate director of USA's Office of Technology Transfer, who encouraged members of the business community to attend the event. Finalist teams will make 12-minute presentations of their business plan, then answer questions from judges. They compete for $175,000 in seed capital.


Interested in attending Friday's competition or getting involved with Launchpad? Call 251-460-6479 and ask for Taylor, or email reggietaylor@usouthal.edu.


Coastal Alabama has a team to root for -- Hurri-Pier & Dock Systems.


Michael Calhoun is chief executive officer of the company that developed and markets a "removable" pier held together by now-patented galvanized steel brackets that replace the wooden cross ties in traditional pier construction. When storms approach, the pier can be taken down, then later reassembled.






RailAmerica Inc. to buy three Alabama freight railroads

Published: Monday, April 11, 2011, 9:04 AM Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011, 9:11 AM

By The Birmingham News The Birmingham News


Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica Inc. said it signed an agreement to acquire three short-line freight railroads in Alabama for $12.7 million.


The three railroads are owned by affiliates of Gulf and Ohio Railways Inc. They are:


>>>Three Notch Railroad, 35 miles of track connecting Georgiana and Andalusia

>>>Wiregrass Central Railroad, a 20-mile railroad that runs between Waterford and Enterprise

>>>Conecuh Valley Railroad, a 15-mile railroad linking Troy and Goshen


The lines serve customers shipping agricultural and manufactured products. Over the next year, RailAmerica expects them to generate $3.7 million in revenue.


"Collectively, the railroads have a solid customer base as well as a number of opportunities for further growth," RailAmerica CEO John Giles said in a statement. "Additionally, the railroads are clustered in close proximity to our existing Alabama operations, which we expect to create significant operating efficiencies."





Fiber optics study establishes JeffMet Lakeshore's capacity as a data center


Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011, 6:45 AM



By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News


 JeffMet Lakeshore is getting plenty of fiber these days, and that should keep it in the hunt as economic developers seek to lure multimillion-dollar data centers to the Birmingham industrial park.

A new independent study shows seven of the nine fiber optic communications carriers in and near the industrial park already service the park, whose full name is Jefferson Metropolitan Park Lakeshore. The study shows it's feasible for the other two carriers to extend service to the park should they or a company desire it.

  "We now have more information on what is more of a hidden asset that we can share with prospects," said Carma Jude, executive director of the Jefferson Economic and Industrial Development Authority, which markets and sales sites at JeffMet Lakeshore. "Other cities we compete against are able to show their sites have multiple fiber options, and it's a big plus for us that we can do the same."


 Birmingham News 






Completion delayed for Teledyne Continental Motors sale to Chinese company


Published: Saturday, April 09, 2011, 12:00 PM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register Press-Register
The closing date for the $186 million sale of Teledyne Continental Motors to a Chinese government-owned aerospace company has slipped past the original projection of the end of March

Teledyne Technologies said in December that it was selling the 400-employee maker of airplane engines, based at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex, to AVIC International Holding Corp.

Rick Heartsill, a spokesman for AVIC International, and Rhett Ross, the president of Teledyne Continental, both said recently that AVIC International is still seeking Chinese government approvals, but that the transaction is likely to be completed in April.

"It required a number of steps and approvals in Washington and it required a number of steps in Beijing," Heartsill said this week. "I think it's fair to say we can expect something this month." 





Press Register 



Huntsville's Toyota engine plant will join other North American facilities in non-production days


Published: Friday, April 08, 2011, 2:28 PM Updated: Friday, April 08, 2011, 2:37 PM
By Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Toyota's North American vehicle plants will suspend production on five days in April, starting next Friday, the automaker announced today, and most engine and component plants, including the engine manufacturing plant in Huntsville, will follow the same schedule.

The company said it's adjusting North American production because of parts supply disruptions following the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Future production plans will be determined later, according to a release from the company.

On the non-production days, the company will keep providing employment for about 25,000 regular North American workers, the release stated. Employees not required to work have three options: Report to work for training and plant improvement activities, use vacation or take unpaid time off.

There was no further comment from Huntsville plant officials. That facility in North Huntsville Industrial Park has 914 employees.

"The situation in Japan affects many automakers and many other industries," said Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, in the release. "Extraordinary efforts are underway to help suppliers recover.


Bill would provide new economic tool


Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 8:00 am

Bill would provide new economic tool
DAVID GOODWIN Political Editor thewetumpkaherald.com | 0 comments

A bill introduced in the House Thursday would give Alabama a new tool to attract industry, while making sure companies create full-time jobs for state residents.

State Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka) introduced the Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act (House Bill 478) to help the state compete with others in the region for top economic development prospects.

The bill would create an incentives fund for qualifying companies to build or expand, with the funds created through rebates of the state taxes they withhold from state employees.

"We've been losing some projects to our sister states because our incentives packages weren't up to par," he said, also noting the state's Capital Improvement Trust Fund has run dry in the economic downturn.

"Our sister states are out of incentive money too, but we're going to be the first ones at the table with something innovative, which should give us an advantage. This is another way to keep us on the path of attracting industry."

For example, a $2 million state income tax rebate, he said, could be used by a qualifying company to back a $25 million bond issue to modernize a production line.

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Wendy Wallace Johnson
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