Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Verizon adds temporary hardware to meet increased demand
Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 12:08 PM Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 2:03 PM
By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Verizon Wireless has set up temporary cell towers, and two "cells on wheels" devices, to boost coverage in areas hardest hit by last week's tornadoes, the company said today.
Cells on wheels, called "COWs," are operating in Tuscaloosa and Pleasant Grove, the company said. Temporary towers are operating in Cullman, Centreville, Jasper and east of Lake Martin to replace towers damaged in the storms.
Verizon also has added capacity on other towers, and more than 99 percent of its Alabama netword is now fully operational, the company said in a prepared statement. Verizon Wireless stores in affected areas are open to residents, regardless of whether they have Verizon service, to assist with making calls or charging phones, the company said
BP oil spill: environmental restoration key to economic recovery, advocate says
Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011, 6:14 PM Updated: Saturday, April 30, 2011, 6:14 PM
By Katherine Sayre, Press-Register Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- When the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded last year, researchers didn't know a lot about the ocean at 5,000-foot depths, where the oil was spewing, one scientist said today.
"But we did know that crude oil is a natural phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico," said George Crozier, executive director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. "The Gulf has quite remarkably digested the bulk of this oil."
Meanwhile, he said, the social and economic impacts of the spill have been of "biblical proportions" for at least 1 million people directly affected along the Gulf Coast. "Why has the human component not responded as effectively as the Gulf?" he said.
Crozier spoke during a panel discussion in Mobile today organized by the League of Women Voters of Alabama. The conversation focused on the ongoing recovery from the 3-month spill.
The public doesn't understand the scientific research, doesn't trust the science and "certainly doesn't trust the government," especially in the tests confirming that Gulf seafood is safe for human consumption, he said.
He said he doesn't know what more the Food and Drug Administration and other health departments can do to prove their findings to consumers.
Of 4,632 interim claims, only 522 have been paid, Higgins said
Bob Higgins, senior vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said that in Alabama, businesses have filed 4,632 interim claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is led by Ken Feinberg.
Of those, only 522 have been paid, Higgins said, leaving many business owners without money needed to continue operating.
"What happened about 2 months after the oil spill, we decided that we need to take care of ourselves in this area," Higgins said. "You can't wait for BP to do it. You can't wait for the government to do it. You certainly aren't going to wait for Ken Feinberg to make you whole."
Higgins said a business support center was established in Gulf Shores and across the bay in Bayou La Batre to unite state and federal resources and help businesses stay open.
So far, those centers have helped 300 businesses in Gulf Shores and 300 businesses in Bayou La Batre.
TVA's 'high-line lineman' working in destruction like they've never seen
Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 7:08 AM
By Lee Roop, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
DECATUR, Alabama - TVA's "high-line linemen" see a lot of damage, but this was something new. "Total destruction," line foreman Brad Cox said Monday of the scene spread before him in the Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park on the south bank of the Tennessee River.
It's the scale that makes even experienced eyes blink. In this one location, a tornado turned a mile-wide stretch of TVA's biggest towers into twisted scrap piles. "I didn't know where to start," foreman Cody Young said of the job he faced last Thursday. "It's like, where are we going to start?"
Young is an expert at erecting the tall towers that carry mega-loads of power from TVA generators to municipal utilities. He erects new ones when TVA expands service, and he erects new ones when old ones are gone.
There are two basic kinds of power conduits: the 135-foot single poles that carry 161-kilovolt lines, and the 165-foot-tall towers with their twin raised arms that carry 500 kilovolts of power.
At Mallard Fox Creek, Young's crews are responsible for replacing two 161-kilovolt lines and two 500-kilovolt lines on the south side of the river. Each line was on the ground for more than a mile.
So far they've replaced one 161-kilovolt line. "It took us three days and three nights to build that one back," Young said. Normally, "it would take a couple of weeks."
"We had 500 lines on top of 161 lines," Young said. "We had a tower back there that's not even on the right of way, anymore. We had 24 conductor lines down in one pile, plus the overhead. It was a mess."
In all, TVA says 311 towers were brought down across North Alabama last week, and each of them has to be replaced. A TVA command post in Chattanooga makes the call on which lines and towers get attention first.
The first priority here was "making sure Browns Ferry was stable," Young said, gesturing north of the river toward the nuclear power plant near Athens. The 161-kilovolt line that has been replaced here takes power to Browns Ferry - not away from it - so engineers can keep the three reactors cool.
Swarming both sides of the Tennessee River here Monday afternoon were a total of about 150 linemen from across the seven-state TVA region. That's more than are working any other TVA disaster site.
22nd Annual Japan American Society of Alabama Annual Dinner May 19 with special guest Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki
JASA will hold its annual dinner Thursday, May 19 at the Huntsville Marriott. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki of the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C. will attend the event, as well as the Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, The Honorable Takuji Hanatani.
Special recognition will go to:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Alabama - 10-yr. groundbreaking anniversary,
Daikin America, Inc. - 20-year anniversary of foundation in Decatur, AL.
Also remembering Mr. Marrion B. Rambeau of Mobile, Alabama- Past Honorary Consul General of Japan in Alabama
and Mr. David Echols, Alabama Development Office in Montgomery, AL.
Continental/ United roundtrip airfare to Japan, Sekisui Restaurant gift cards and other valuable door prizes to be given away.
For information on how to register for the event at the Huntsville Marriott or for booking an overnight stay at the Huntsville Marriott for the evening, go to www.jasaweb.org home page or respond to Tamara at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Industry disaster assistance links posted to EDPA website
Alabama industries needing assistance in the wake of April 27th's historic storms can reference links found on EDPA's website.
EDPA created this resource as a starting point for companies needing assistance. Links to federal, state, and local resources are included, with links to county economic development offices.
Please help us populate this list by emailing email@example.com with information for any resources available.
The list may be accessed through the "Industry Resources" page of the EDPA website.
Visit the website here: Alabama industry disaster assistance
Note: This page was updated 5/3/11 to include additional named counties and FEMA disaster recovery centers.
Mercedes' Alabama operations, Daimler AG to donate $1 million for tornado relief
Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 2:14 PM Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 2:19 PM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
The Alabama operations of Mercedes-Benz, along with its parent company, Daimler AG, plan to donate $1 million for relief efforts in the state following Wednesday's deadly tornado outbreak.
The German automaker is splitting the donation among several organizations, including $800,000 for the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund, $75,000 for The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, $75,000 for the Birmingham area chapter of the American Red Cross and $50,000 for the United Way of Central Alabama.
"Our deepest sympathy is with the casualties and their families," Wilfried Porth, a member of Daimler's board of management, said in a prepared statement. "With our donation, we hope to support the emergency and reconstruction projects and to help the Alabama community begin on this path to recovery."
The Mercedes factory in Vance is just outside Tuscaloosa, where a tornado killed dozens Wednesday afternoon.
The factory itself was damaged early Wednesday morning in a separate line of severe weather that included a tornado. The damage was minor, according to plant officials, and no one was injured.
Markus Schaefer, head of the Vance plant, said everyone is still shocked by the magnitude of the destruction in Tuscaloosa and across the state.
"This is a tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the disaster," he said in a prepared statement. "The priority for anyone who can help is now to reach out to them."
Mercedes shut down the Vance plant Wednesday morning, and it was idled for the remainder of the week. Production started back on Monday.
Altec donates $500,000 to relief effort
Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 2:12 PM Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 2:13 PM
By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Utility and telecom equipment company Altec Inc. will donated $500,000 to assist in relief and rebuilding efforts following last week's tornadoes, the company announced today.
"...We have called Alabama our home for over 81 years," Lee Styslinger III, Chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement. "We are committed to helping our neighbors in the many communities affected by this unprecedented disaster."
The company also announced that employees who volunteer to assist relief agencies will get a paid day off for their work, and that it is collecting donations of cash and goods for the American Red Cross' Tornado Disaster Relief Fund.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson