Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Hyundai to add 214 jobs in engine plant expansion at Alabama factory
Published: Monday, May 16, 2011, 11:38 AM Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011, 2:18 PM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Hyundai plans to invest $173 million and add 214 jobs in an expansion of the engine plant at its Alabama auto factory in Montgomery.
Gov. Robert Bentley today joined Young Deuk Lim, president and chief executive of the Korean automaker's Alabama operations, for the announcement.
Hyundai will produce the Nu engine, which is replacing the Lambda engine at the factory. The Nu will be used in the Hyundai Elantra compact sedan, which is made in Montgomery. The factory currently imports the Elantra engines from Korea.
Most of the capital investment, $163 million, will be spent on equipment and updated technology for the engine plant. The remaining $10 million will be used to expand the building to more than 360,000 square feet.
The Nu engine plant will produce 300,000 units a year. It also will expand capacity to build the Theta engine, which powers another Montgomery product, the Sonata sedan.
Theta engines built in Montgomery also are shipped to a factory in Georgia operated by Hyundai's sister company, Kia, where they are used in two SUVs: the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento.
Honda to sink $97 million at Lincoln, Alabama, plant to add luxury SUV production
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 7:15 AM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
LINCOLN, Alabama -- Honda plans to invest $97 million and create 20 jobs at its Alabama auto factory in Lincoln, as the company prepares to add the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle to its assembly lines.
The Talladega County Commission on Monday night approved tax abatements for the project, which will involve new equipment at the plant.
Construction, installation and testing are expected to be completed in late 2012. Last week, Honda told employees that production of the MDX would be shifted to Lincoln from a plant in Canada in 2013. The move will give the Japanese automaker more room in Canada to build the popular CR-V SUV.
The $1.5 billion, 4,000-worker Alabama factory now produces the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup, as well as the engines that power them.
Acura is Honda's luxury vehicle division, and the MDX will be the first Acura product built in the state.
Mark Morrison, a spokesman for the Lincoln plant, said the new investment will increase production capacity and improve manufacturing flexibility, as well as support the MDX move.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 14
WHEREAS, the citizens of the State of Alabama shall be given every opportunity to develop necessary workforce skills; and,
WHEREAS, the Office of Workforce Development, as created by Executive Order Number 36, enacted October 5, 2007, is no longer necessary, as its mission can and shall be accomplished through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
NOW, THEREFORE, based upon these considerations, and for other good and valid reasons thereto, I, Robert Bentley, Governor of the State of Alabama, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Alabama, do hereby rescind Executive Order Number 36, enacted October 5, 2007, and hereby direct the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs shall oversee the State's workforce development.
BE IT ORDERED that this Executive Order become effective immediately upon signing and shall remain in force until such time as it is modified or rescinded by the Governor.
DONE AND ORDERED this 10th day of May, 2011.
Office of the Governor
Jobs commission releases report
Published: Monday, May 16, 2011, 2:54 PM Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011, 2:58 PM
By Roy L. Williams -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Alabama needs innovative tax incentives and streamlined access to information to help spur private sector job growth in the state, according to the Speaker's Commission on Job Creation's final report of recommendations released today.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, formed the commission in February, asking a group of 15 business and community leaders to gather ideas that could help improve the state's business climate and boost job growth.
Among the nine policy recommendations outlined in the Commission's report are using temporary state income tax incentives to offset the cost of federal tariffs for international companies locating in Alabama, cutting bureaucratic red tape and streamlining government services, and increasing access to capital.
"I applaud the fine work of the commission in gathering truly inventive concepts and forming them into achievable recommendations," Hubbard said in a prepared statement.
Alabama ranks 13th for export adaptability
Birmingham Business Journal - by Lauren B. Cooper, Staff
Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 2:34pm CDT
Alabama's exports ranked 13th in the nation for adaptability to global demand, according to a new report.
Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research released its U.S. Export Adaptability at the State Level, which examined the adaptability of individual state exports to the changing demand of countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 34-nation international trade group.
The report showed that Alabama's adaptability index score more than doubled in 2009, compared to 1999.
"It is in each state's best interest to shift its production and exports away from the declining markets, including wood, paper, textiles, and footwear/headgear, and into the growing ones - chemical, machinery and electrical products - for the long-term welfare gain from international specialization," said Nalitra Thaiprasert, the center's research economist.
"As the domestic economy emerges slowly from a recession, U.S. companies are recognizing that expansion lies in selling to foreign markets, and U.S. officials are counting on exports to accelerate the recovery."
Topping the Ball State's list was Nevada, West Virginia, Delaware, Utah and Indiana, respectively. Several other Southern states were ranked in the listing's Top 20: South Carolina came in at No. 8; Texas came in at No. 9; Kentucky was ranked No. 10; and Tennessee came in at No. 18.
Birmingham Business Journal
Alabama tornadoes: FEMA coverage limited for storm losses
Published: Friday, May 13, 2011, 9:30 AM
By Robin DeMonia -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Some Alabamians who lost homes in the April 27 storms mistakenly believe the Federal Emergency Management Agency can give them all the money they need to rebuild, storm recovery officials said Thursday.
FEMA's maximum grant for storm victims is $30,200, FEMA spokeswoman Denise Everhart said. While that money may be used to bridge some gaps between insurance coverage and costs to replace a home, it is not enough to rebuild a destroyed dwelling.
In addition, the maximum grant includes any FEMA assistance a homeowner may receive, including the temporary housing the agency can provide for up to 18 months, she said.
Those who need larger sums to rebuild homes and don't have any insurance or don't have enough insurance to cover the cost need to apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration, she said. So far, many aren't doing that.
Randy Luster, a spokesman for the SBA, said that across Alabama as of Wednesday, only 360 people had submitted applications for loans to rebuild homes, repair them or replace the contents. Close to 25,000 people have picked up those kinds of SBA applications, he said.
The deadline for the applications is June 27. The agency is urging those affected by the storms to apply anyway, even if they have insurance. Those who fill out applications and are approved for loans aren't obligated to take the money.
"We are stressing to go ahead and complete the paperwork," Luster said. "Our intent is to make sure they don't leave any money on the table."
Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or rebuild houses, and homeowners and renters can borrow up to $40,000 to replace contents lost in the storm.
Editor's Note: Business owners and economic developers: Please share the June 27 deadline with home and and business owners in your area. SBA is issuing home and personal property loans, business physical disaster loans, and economic injury disaster loans through the U.S. Treasury. Details can be found at:
Northeast in Rainsville among nation's top 120 community colleges
Times Staff Reports
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.
Alabama Community College System Chancellor Freida Hill today announced three of the system's colleges are among the nation's top 120, including Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville.
Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise and Wallace State Community College in Hanceville joined Northeast as those ranked among the nation's top 10 percent of the country's 1,200 community colleges, according to rankings released by The Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit committed to improving community college student outcomes.
"I am extremely proud of our colleges," Hill said in a released statement. "This recognition highlights the importance of community colleges and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that student success is at the forefront of everything we do.
"We know that student success is vital to Alabama's economic turnaround, and we are working hard to ensure that our students are prepared for the next phase of their education or career," she said.
Industrial site ready for development
FLORENCE - A site in the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park is ready for development if a data center industry comes calling, according to a Tennessee Valley Authority study.
The Florence Advantage Site is among 16 in the Tennessee Valley to receive Primary Data Center designation from the TVA economic development study, according to a news release from the Shoals Economic Development Authority.
TVA and Chicago-based Deloitte Consulting conducted the study, which evaluates accessibility, telecommunications infrastructure and availability of reliable electric power, SEDA officials said.
"This ready-for-development designation gives our community a competitive edge when the next data center project seeks an optimal site," SEDA President Forrest Wright said.
"We thank TVA for the opportunity to participate in this valuable program and our community for their diligence in reaching this milestone to compete for new businesses," he said.
Insurer plans data center in JeffMet Lakeshore industrial park
Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 9:33 AM Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 9:46 AM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
A major insurance company is planning to build a data center in Jefferson Metropolitan Park Lakeshore, bringing new jobs and investment to the area.
This morning, the board of the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority approved the sale of 4.65 acres in the park, known as JeffMet Lakeshore. The sale price is about $372,000, or $80,000 an acre.
The board did not identify the company behind the plans or pinpoint the number of jobs and amount of investment involved in the project.
However, it is expected to be comparable to another developing data center in the park. Earlier this year, Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn., purchased 4½ acres and is building a $25 million data center, creating 15 jobs.
Data centers have become a common project in JeffMet Lakeshore, which is served by seven of nine fiber optic communications carriers in the area, according to a recent study.
Four companies already have chosen the park for their own data centers, investing more than $500 million and creating nearly 200 jobs.
Steel service firm to build 40-job plant in Jackson, Ala.
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 6:30 AM Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 6:52 AM
Jeff Amy, Press-Register Press-Register
SET Enterprises said Monday that it would build a steel processing service center in Jackson, Ala., creating up to 40 jobs.
The Warren, Mich., company said it would invest $12 million to construct and equip two steel-slitting lines, with plans to open early next year. The company will cut steel coils into smaller pieces for users and wholesalers.
SET said it would be able to process up to 360,000 tons of steel per year. It said that it could eventually build a second phase, doubling what would initially be a 65,000-square-foot facility.
Sid E. Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of SET Enterprises, said that the expansion is part of the company's plan to diversify "beyond our Midwest-based automotive roots."
"We're just excited that they chose Jackson," said Mayor Richard Long. He said jobs would pay $18 to $20 an hour, on average.
The plant is good news for Clarke and surrounding counties, which have been plagued with particularly high unemployment during the recession, in part because of a depressed wood products industry.
Lakeside Steel to add 80 more jobs in Thomasville, Ala., in $10 million third phase
Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register Press-Register
Lakeside Steel has announced a third phase of its project in Thomasville, bumping employment to 280 and total investment to $57.5 million.
The Canadian firm makes pipe for oil and gas drillers.
Last year, Lakeside announced a $40 million, 120-job pipe mill south of downtown Thomasville.
Then, in March, the Welland, Ontario, firm said it would build a $7.5 million, 80-job facility to harden pipe and shape and machine its ends. That plant will be located at a former Linden Lumber Co. mill north of town.
Now, the firm says it will spend another $10 million to add similar hardening and end-finishing capacity for pipe casing.
Chief Executive Officer Ron Bedard said that expanding its pipe finishing capacity, instead of relying on third parties for processing, would be attractive to customers and increase profits.
"The new end-finishing and heat treatment facilities, when online, will provide increased security of supply to our customer base and will significantly enhance the company's margin," Bedard said in a statement.
Lakeside said it would sell up to 23 million Canadian dollars ($24 million) in stock, in part to pay for the newest expansion.
Gulf Coast Angel Network gives entrepreneurs new funding options
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 9:00 AM
By K.A. Turner, Press-Register Press-Register
K.A. Turner writes a weekly column. Contact her at P.O. Box 2488, Mobile AL 36652-2488, or 251-219-5644.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Inventors and entrepreneurs in the coastal region have a new funding source with the launch of the Gulf Coast Angel Network.
The group, based in Mobile, targets investment opportunities in coastal Alabama and Mississippi, and in the Florida Panhandle, said Michael Chambers of Swift Biotech, its executive director.
It is also part of a larger network of angel organizations in Alabama and across the U.S., Chambers said.
What can happen when an angel network works well? Chambers offers up the example of a similar group in Huntsville.
Founded in 2005 and now with 75 members, the Huntsville group has invested more than $10 million in a "broad group of high-growth opportunities" that generated an additional $6 million in co-investments.
An angel, in this case, is a high-net-worth individual who invests in exchange for an equity share in the company. The Securities and Exchange Commission sets out guidelines for "accredited" angel investors, including annual income in excess of $200,000 in the last two years or net assets (excluding primary residence) of more than $1 million.
Green Enterprise Development Training Series offered by ATN - Part of Alabama E3 Initiative
Huntsville, Ala., - May 17, 2011--The Green Enterprise Development Training Series - developed for manufacturers by Purdue University and SME (Society for Manufacturing Engineers) is being offered for the 1st time in Alabama on May 24th & June 6-10 and at no charge for training to AAMA members or State of Alabama Manufacturers (NAICS 31-33). Other companies are encouraged to also attend the Green Enterprise training to learn how to apply sustainable processes in the workplace.
AAMA (AL Automotive Manufacturers Association) members and Alabama Manufacturers can send employees to attend the upcoming Green Enterprise Development series - Level 1 & Level 2 training modules with training fees waived but will need to pay a $25 consumables fee per attendee per day. Employees can attend all six days of training or select individual green enterprise modules to attend.
The waived training charge for AAMA members & Alabama Manfacturing employees is part of the Alabama E3 Inititative. To meet the requirement to receive the special pricing, AAMA members & Alabama Manufacturer employees attending must bring additional documentation to the training site. Required documentation list is provided on the registration form at www.uahcmer.com.
Alabama Technology Network is offering the training series utilizing UAHuntsville -ATN staff and their on-campus training facility located in UAHuntsville's Shelby Center for Technology. Green Generalist (101) is Tuesday, May 24 with the Green Specialist Level 2 modules from June 6-10. All classes are from 8 am - 4:30 pm. After completion of Level I and Level 2, Level 3 can be achieved by taking the accreditation exam for the SME Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate. Check out www.uahcmer.com for more course & registration details, or call 256.824.LEAN (5326), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Specialist [Level 1] - Tues, May 24
8 hour course on how to apply sustainable, environmentally friendly practices in the workplace. Focuses on education & awareness and includes interactive"live" simulations.
Green Specialist [Level 2] - Monday, June 6 - Friday, June 10
Mon, June 6 - Water Conservation;
Tues, June 7 - Pollution & Green Chemistry (part 1)
Wed, June 8 - Green Chemistry (part 2) & Solid Waste Mgt
Thurs, June 9 - Energy Mgt
Fri, June 10 - Sustainability in Practice
Alabama E3 -- Economy, Energy, and Environment Initiative is a coordinated federal & local technical assistance project that assists communities work with their manufacturing base to adapt and thrive in a new business era focused on energy sustainability - the first of its kind in Alabama. For more information about Alabama E3 and its federal, state, and local partners and the Alabama Technology Network: www.atn.org
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Wendy Wallace Johnson