Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley heads to Paris Air Show, Mercedes-Benz headquarters
Gov. Robert Bentley departed for Europe Saturday on an industry recruiting tour.
Bentley is leading a delegation of about 50 Alabamians today through Tuesday at the Paris Air Show, where they'll meet with top aerospace executives and rub elbows at a series of social events. Bentley will also visit Germany later this week to tour the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz.
Bentley said he was reluctant to take the trip -- his first overseas -- at a time when state budgets are under tremendous financial strain. But he said it was important to help bring good-paying jobs to Alabama.
Huntsville/Madison County led state in job announcements by new, expanding firms, according to report
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Huntsville/Madison County led the state last year in the number of job announcements made by new and expanding companies.
Sixty-one companies in the local economy's primary business sectors - science and technology, engineering, manufacturing and large office operations - announced 2,901 jobs and more than $152 million in capital investment in 2010, according to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's 2011 Economic Growth Report.
Report: Birmingham economy in middle of pack nationally
The Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area ranks 77th out of 100 metro areas nationally for employment, according to a Brookings Institution report released today.
Employment in the Birmingham metro area has declined 8.2 percent since the first quarter of 2007, while employment nationally has declined 5.1 percent, the report found.
Birmingham was at about the middle of the rankings for unemployment, ranking 44th with an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.
Kia production in Georgia helping companies across Alabama
Korean automaker Kia is deepening its roots in Georgia, and the work is providing a boost for companies across Alabama.
A series of expansion projects is under way at the $1 billion West Point, Ga., factory, which is ramping up its annual capacity to 360,000 vehicles and preparing to add a new product -- the Optima sedan -- to its assembly lines.
All that means more business for Kia's supplier base, which numbers nearly 60 companies in 23 Alabama counties.
SBA opens business recovery centers in Athens and Guntersville
Published: Monday, June 20, 2011, 8:05 AM Updated: Monday, June 20, 2011, 8:22 AM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
ATHENS, Alabama -- With the deadline to file for property damage from April's tornadoes approaching, the U.S. Small Business Administration has opened business recovery centers in Athens and Guntersville.
The Athens center is in the Limestone County Clinton Street Annex, 101 South Clinton St., and the Guntersville center is in the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency building, 3550 Creek Path Road.
Businesses that were damaged by the tornadoes, high winds and flooding that occurred from April 15 through May 31 may be eligible for federal assistance.
The SBA provides disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes.
Interest rates are as low as 2.563 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.
PNC makes RBC Bank purchase official
Published: Monday, June 20, 2011, 7:25 AM Updated: Monday, June 20, 2011, 8:15 AM
By Jeff Amy, Press-Register Press-Register
The second largest bank in coastal Alabama will now be PNC Financial Services, after Royal Bank of Canada made it official this morning that it will sell RBC Bank, its United States retail banking unit.
PNC will pay $3.62 billion for RBC Bank and associated credit card operations, the two banks said. Pittsburgh-based PNC will pay cash and up to $1 billion in its own stock, at PNC's option. The deal isn't expected to close until March 2012, when the banks will convert to the PNC name.
It had been widely reported Friday that PNC, the sixth-largest bank in the United States, had beaten out BB&T Corp. to purchase RBC Bank, based in Raleigh, N.C. RBC is the second largest bank in Mobile and Baldwin counties, where it has 220 employees. Its $1.1 billion in deposits give RBC 12.2 percent of the local market.
"The addition of RBC Bank provides PNC a great opportunity to enter attractive southeast markets in a way that will create value for our shareholders," James E. Rohr, PNC's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "The success of our recent acquisitions demonstrates that when we bring our innovative products and services to new markets we have the proven ability to win clients and take out costs. This transaction represents an outstanding growth opportunity for PNC."
Mobile looks to rebound from air tanker loss at Paris Air Show
Published: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 7:45 AM
By George Talbot Press-Register
Mobile will send a delegation of about a dozen local officials to the Paris Air Show this week.
The group, led by Mayor Sam Jones and Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, departed on Friday and is set to return Wednesday.
Bill Sisson, chief executive of the Mobile Airport Authority, said the city is looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss in the fight for the U.S. Air Force tanker contract. The Air Force picked Boeing Co. for the potential $40 billion deal in February, spurning a bid from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.
EADS had proposed to build its planes at a $600 million aircraft assembly plant at the Brookley Aeroplex. But Sisson said there was a silver lining to the competition.
"The Mobile story and our business and logistical assets are well known now throughout the aerospace industry," Sisson said. "We have a wonderful window of opportunity at this year's show to get in front of prospects to help them better understand why we were chosen by EADS and how our assets can be a business advantage for them as well."
The Mobile group will be joined by representatives from the Mississippi Gulf Coast on several of the meetings and events on the sidelines of the air show.
"We'll be doing a lot in conjunction with Mobile, and that's encouraging," said George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation. "It would be easy, after the tanker loss, to let go of those multi-state partnerships. But it's only enhanced our resolve to work together and build this industry on the Gulf Coast."
Others from Mobile making the trip include Alabama State Port Authority director Jimmy Lyons; Airport Authority chairman Richard Davis; city attorney Larry Wettermark; county Economic Development Coordinator Peter Albrecht; and from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce President Win Hallett, Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development, and 2011 Chairman Robbie Baker.
Confederate Motorcycles to stay in Birmingham
Published: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 5:30 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Confederate Motorcycles has decided to keep its headquarters and motorcycle factory in Birmingham, ending a year-long flirtation with New Orleans to move the boutique bike business back where it started.
The decision to stay in Birmingham means the company can focus on expanding and filling a growing slate of back orders for the its high-end road bikes known for their unique, industrial design.
"The main thing is that most of our staff is from Birmingham and we've come to consider this our home," said Clay Morrison, spokesman for Confederate. "To uproot our operation now with the new Hellcat starting production just did not make good business sense."
That new motorcycle, the X132 Hellcat, already has 39 orders waiting to be filled.
At $45,000 each, the new model is priced at less than half what some of Confederate's other models cost, with some approaching $100,000. The company's two high-end models now in production are the P120 Fighter and the B120 Wraith.
As impressive as the price tags the motorcycles carry is the list of owners of Confederate bikes. Actors Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds and Nicolas Cage own the motorcycles as do musicians Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler and Tim McGraw. Soccer star David Beckham is an owner as are several business leaders and members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
USS Real Estate eyes Oxmoor Valley for growth
Published: Friday, June 17, 2011, 8:00 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- With Dollar General giving its $100 million stamp of approval to a 100-acre site near Alabama 150 and Lakeshore Parkway, the owner of the surrounding 500 acres feels the time is right for that area to reach its long-promised commercial development potential.
USS Real Estate, the property and development arm of U.S. Steel, owns much of the vacant land in the Shannon and Oxmoor Valley, including around 500 acres of developable land at the Lakeshore and 150 intersection. USS sold Dollar General its property for a new 1 million-square-foot distribution center and has developed its own 100-acre office and industrial park across Lakeshore Parkway.
But the current development could be the tip of the iceberg as USS sees more potential for other business parks or large, stand-alone office or industrial properties at the existing intersection and if plans materialize for an extension of Lakeshore Parkway to Interstate 459.
"USS has had a lot of property in this corridor for a number of years," said Peter Allsopp, manager of commercial sales and development for USS in Birmingham. "We've been able to wait for development to move that way. It's there now."
Not only is development there but, thanks to help from USS, Bessemer, the state, Jefferson County, the Birmingham Business Alliance and Alabama Power Co., infrastructure is there or coming.
Gov. Robert Bentley takes part in latest HudsonAlpha groundbreaking
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 5:26 PM Updated: Thursday, June 16, 2011, 8:33 AM
By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The way Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle figures it, the state's $10 million investment into Cummings Research Park could have a ripple effect.
Gov. Robert Bentley has vowed not to receive a paycheck until the state unemployment rate, currently at 9.3 percent, drops to 5 percent. Using state dollars to fund an 88,000-square-foot building on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology campus, however, is expected to generate jobs.
"We're doing everything we can to get you a paycheck," Battle said Wednesday as Bentley attended the groundbreaking for a third building at the research park's 150-acre biotechnology campus.
Bentley said the state has committed $10 million to the building, which will cover the cost of the facility before up to 10 tenants occupy it. The tenants will then finance any needed upgrades.
Because undertermined companies will occupy the building, HudsonAlpha officials said there is no immediate estimate on the number of jobs it may create.
The new building, for which ground has long been broken and is scheduled to be completed later this year, will be on the north side of the 270,000-square-foot HudsonAlpha building. It will also be the first in what co-founder Jim Hudson said he hopes will be "many buildings" along the McMillian Park, which features sidewalks criscrossing to form a double helix, as in a DNA strand.
Lamar County Industrial Park receives AdvantageSite designation
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Lamar County Industrial Park near Vernon has received an Alabama AdvantageSite designation.
The AdvantageSite program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership/control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status. Sites must also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.
"Local leaders in Lamar County have created an industrial park that can compete strongly with any other in its appearance and amenities," said David Thornell, president and CEO of C3 of Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance. "If a company needs to establish a facility in a productive and inviting location in the rural South, they would be wise to take a look at this newest AdvantageSite."
"As Judge of Probate of Lamar County and chairman of the Lamar County Commission, we are very appreciative and excited to have the Lamar County Industrial Park, Alabama AdvantageSite approved," said Judge Johnny Rogers." We are hopeful this will enhance our opportunities to locate manufacturers in our Park."
" We commend the local leadership for pursuing AdvantageSite designation for the Lamar County Industrial park," said Greg Knighton, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama vice president and director of business information. "This is an important step in demonstrating the local commitment to economic development and their willingness to be proactive."
AdvantageSite is a voluntary industrial site preparedness program created in order to make the state more competitive for companies considering a location in Alabama.
The program is jointly sponsored by the Alabama Development Office, Alabama Gas Corporation, Alabama Power Company, EDPA, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
For more information on the AdvantageSite program, please visit www.edpa.org/bsc/advantagesites.asp .
Please feel free to forward along to someone who can use it by clicking on the "I'd like to forward this to a contact" link below the green bar.
Note also, that you can now make changes to your e-mail address and contact information through the link at the bottom.
As always, if you have news or suggestions, please forward them along to me.
Wendy Wallace Johnson