Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
MONTGOMERY-Governor Robert Bentley has been informed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that Chambers county has been added to the counties designated for disaster assistance to households and businesses as part of Alabama's federal disaster declaration. This addition brings the total of number of counties designated to 39.
"Our Alabama Emergency Management Agency is to be commended for their extraordinary help in getting Chambers county and all the other counties declared federal disaster areas," said Governor Robert Bentley. "Citizens of Chambers county now have the maximum financial resources needed to rebuild their lives."
Counties previously designated are Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Walker and Winston.
The Governor encourages affected survivors and business owners in the newly designated counties to go ahead and apply for assistance by calling FEMA's toll-free registration number, 800-621-FEMA (3362). The hearing or speech impaired can use the TTY line at 800-462-7585. The registration lines are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time. An application may also be completed online by going to www.disasterassistance.gov.
Baldwin County's industrial megasite nears certification
Published: Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 9:08 AM
Ed McCallum of McCallum Sweeney Consultants told commissioners Tuesday that the site near Interstate 65 is "the only area like this left in the state" and "one of very few in the Southeast."
"You are a location that major investors are going to look at," said McCallum of Greenville, S.C.
Baldwin County started the process to have the property certified as a megasite in 2008 under a Tennessee Valley Authority program sponsored by CSX Corp. A year later the site had drawn the attention of Hybrid Kinetic Motors Corp., a start-up Chinese automobile manufacturer.
The megasite property is east of Ala. 287 and south of I-65, straddling the CSX railroad.
A megasite must include at least 1,000 acres usable for industry next to a railroad and an interstate, officials said.
The TVA, a public utility serving parts of north Alabama and six other states, started certifying megasites in 2004 to showcase tracts ready for large factories. Since then, certified sites have been sold to three auto firms, a steel mill and a semiconductor plant.
Baldwin County Engineer Cal Markert said McCallum's company wanted the site certified to the more stringent standards in the TVA/CSX program that give potential clients a guarantee about the site's readiness for industry
Workers approve contract between International Paper and United SteelworkersPublished: Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 7:00 AM
International Paper Co. and the United Steelworkers said Tuesday that workers at 16 paper mills had approved a four-year contract deal with the company. The deal will raise worker pay 6.7 percent, on a compounded basis, over four year.
Among the mills where the new contract will take effect are those in Yellow Bluff, Ala., and Cantonment, Fla. The new agreement will also apply to Alabama mills in Selma, Prattville and Courtland.
A union summary said that the agreement, which covers 6,000 workers, includes a 1 percent wage increase in the first year, followed by 2 percent in the second year, 1.5 percent in the third year and 2 percent in the fourth year. The deal also calls for Memphis-based International Paper to bear a fixed share of health insurance costs, and to make higher retirement savings and pension contributions.
The union and the company agreed to discuss cheaper health insurance options for retirees.
The new contract will take effect on different dates at different mills. Local unions also negotiate additional agreements covering working conditions.
Grant puts regional planning in the spotlight
Published: Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 3:35 PM
By K.A. Turner, Press-Register Press-Register
Talk about regionalism with Sandy Stimpson, and a couple of key concepts emerge.
1)Education is important.
2)Being motivated is nice, but it takes both motive and means to make a real difference.
The chief financial officer at Scotch & Gulf Lumber LLC, Stimpson has served a number of organizations that foster a "regional" perspective -- from past stints as board chairman for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama to work with Envision Coastal Alabama and the state's Coastal Recovery Commission.
He remains involved with the latter group as it transitions to the Coastal Alabama Leadership Council.
"When I think about where we are as a region, we're at a crossroads," Stimpson said recently. "We have a huge opportunity to make something good out of the tragedy of the BP oil spill ... to develop a long-range, regional plan as a result of a collaborative effort that we could then all work together to accomplish."
Regional planning is not a new idea along the Alabama coast. But what makes this moment critical, Stimpson said, is the recent award of a major grant that will drive the planning process.
The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will spearhead use of more than $1 million in federal and private money to create economic development strategies for eight southwest Alabama counties affected by the spill. As reported recently in the Press-Register, EDPA will "partner with state universities and two-year schools to identify industrial targets for each of the eight counties and assess their transportation, work force and health care needs."
Dark days at Redstone Arsenal,
research park may not get electricity until Monday; 59,000 affected
By Tiffeny Owens
HUNTSVILLE - Power is returning to more of Madison County, but two of the county's largest employers, Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park, still may be without electricity until Monday. The tornadoes that struck North Alabama last week spared the Rocket City, the Southern home of aerospace engineering and technology. The city didn't, however, escape a blackout as the storms destroyed many of the Tennessee Valley Authority's main power transmission lines and towers.
Today makes a week since 34,000 employees at Redstone Arsenal and 25,000 at Cummings Research Park have been off work. Many of those reside in the nearby tornado-torn counties of Limestone, Lawrence and Morgan
"We're far from being back to normal," said Tom Baumbach, president of Dynetics located in Cummings Research Park.
The company, which employs 900 people, was without power Tuesday. Huntsville Utilities has restored electricity to 70 percent of the city, said Bill Yell, HU spokesman. But officials still urge citizens to conserve power and water until the entire city regains full electricity.
Storm recovery jobs posted on state site
Birmingham Business Journal - by Antrenise Cole
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 1:58pm CDT
Antrenise Cole Reporter
More than 250 storm recovery jobs have been posted by 12 employers on Alabama's online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov.
"As we are already seeing hundreds of unemployment compensation claims coming in due to last week's storms, it is my hope that these disaster recovery jobs can be filled by those Alabamians affected by the storm," said Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. "I want to encourage business owners who post these jobs to please consider impacted applicants when hiring for these positions, and I'd also like to encourage those who lost their jobs due to the storm to apply."
Some of the jobs posted include: general laborers needed for cleanup, tire technicians to repair tires and wheels on 18 wheelers that were damaged in the storm and equipment operators, among others.
Employers who wish to post jobs should select "Disaster recovery job" and "April Tornadoes" in the drop down box on the site.
Birmingham Business Journal
Higgins honored for oil spill recovery efforts
Published: Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 3:10 PM
By Gulf Coast Business Press-Register
Bob Higgins, senior vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, has been awarded the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce's first Exemplary Service Award.
The honor followed Higgins' work in response and recovery efforts following the Gulf oil spill. Higgins was a leader in developing south Baldwin County's Coastal Resiliency Coalition and its best-known effort, the War Room.
"In redirecting his time and effort to the cause, he provided a steady guiding hand, and an organized, methodical approach in helping our group identify impacts .¤.¤. assess needs, set priorities, develop plans, and implement strategies in dealing with the crisis," chamber and BCEDA officials wrote. "As our business community faced the unprecedented challenges of 2010, Bob Higgins became one of the extraordinary leaders who emerged to help lead the way."
Alabama gets $10 million in federal money for cleanup effort
Posted: May 04, 2011 2:12 PM CDT Updated: May 04, 2011 2:30 PM CDT
Washington D.C. - The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday a $10 million National Emergency Grant to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts in the wake of the severe storms and tornadoes that struck Alabama last month.
"The scenes of devastation in Alabama are heartbreaking," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "[Wednesday]'s grant will help the people of Alabama get back on their feet. I am pleased that my department has the opportunity to offer assistance to clean up and repair the affected communities."
The funds are being awarded to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and will be used to create temporary jobs to assist in recovery efforts.
President Obama has declared the state of Alabama a disaster area. On April 28, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared all 67 counties in Alabama eligible for FEMA's Public Assistance Program. More information on designated disaster areas in Alabama is available from FEMA at
WHNT Tennessee Valley Telethon - business/large donations
This Friday, WHNT NEWS 19 is hosting a daylong "Taking Action for the Tennessee Valley Tornado Relief Telethon." A phonebank at WHNT's studios in downtown will be open from 4:30am-8pm. They will be accepting donations for the American Red Cross to help the tornado victims in north Alabama.
If you are able to volunteer to work the phonebank or if you or your business would like to make a large donation, they are also accepting live check presentations on-air of donations greater than $1,000.
Please contactLori Miller, who is coordinating these efforts on WHNT's behalf if you are interested in either volunteering or making a large contribution to the relief fund.
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I hope this edition finds you safe; please contact us if there are any needs where we can provide assistance,
Wendy Wallace Johnson