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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 
in this issue:
Mercedes plans to invest $2 billion in Vance plant
Notebook: Mercedes sends message that it's back on top
Birmingham Business Alliance makes high-level hires
Revised Alabama business law creates longer waits to register companies
Macon county auto supplier receives grant for training
Alabama loses jobs in June, with unemployment pushed up by government job cuts
Save the Date: Alabama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference Sept. 23



Mercedes plans to invest $2 billion in Vance plant
At M-Class unveiling, company leaders hint at more additions
VANCE, July 21 | The head of Mercedes-Benz flew into Tuscaloosa on Wednesday afternoon and gave Alabama an economic shot in the arm, announcing that the luxury automaker would invest $2 billion in its Vance auto plant during the next few years.
The amount is one of the largest single manufacturing investments in the state's history, and it will equal Mercedes' current $2 billion investment at the Vance plant, which was made over the past 17 years.
Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG, Mercedes' parent company, said the money would be spent between now and 2014, when Mercedes will be in full production of its C-Class sedans in Vance.
Mercedes announced in late 2009 that it would move its C-Class production for most of the Western hemisphere to Vance starting with the 2014 models. Production of those models will start in 2013. The C-Class is consistently one of Mercedes' top-selling models.
"The $2 billion in new investment is for the M-Class, GL-Class and the C-Class expansion," Zetsche said.



Tuscaloosa News  




Notebook: Mercedes sends message that it's back on top


Published: Sunday, July 24, 2011, 1:31 PM

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News


VANCE -- Inside the Mercedes-Benz museum on the grounds of the German automak­er's Tuscaloosa County plant last week, a well­-heeled crowd of business and political power brokers sipped cocktails and munched hors d'oeuvres.


The invitation-only soiree followed the formal produc­tion launch of the third-gen­eration M-Class SUV, the plant's flagship model that kicked off the company's Al­abama operations -- along with the state's auto indus­try -- more than 14 years ago.


There were lots of laughs and back slaps as guests milled around the museum, all in all a celebratory scene that has been scarce in re­cent years.


The party, as well as the earlier celebration inside the plant with its 2,800 employ­ees and the new M-Class, sent a clear

message: Mer­cedes is back on top.


Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes parent Daimler AG, flew in from Germany for the event, bringing with him the board of Mercedes-Benz Cars.


"Bama and Benz is a win­ning combination," Zetsche said during the M-Class launch, no doubt comfort­ing words to employees, economic developers, gov­ernment leaders and others across Alabama who have a vested interest in the health of the plant.


The global auto downturn that stretched through 2008 and 2009 shook the faith of some, as the automaker slashed its Alabama output and shrank the plant's work force. For a while, the as­sembly lines were running just four days a week, a slowdown that trickled down to suppliers and other Mercedes support busi­nesses, which shed more jobs.


But now a recovery has taken over, as production and sales are surging, and Zetsche predicted brighter days ahead.

"This plant has a great fu­ture," he said.



Birmingham News  






Birmingham Business Alliance makes high-level hires

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --  TheBirmingham Business Alliance has filled three key  economic development positions. 

In a message sent today to BBA investors, the BBA said it has hired a vice president of business retention and two project managers to actively work at recruiting industry to the metro area. The message said the hires would be formally announced Tuesday.

They are:

>>>Mark Brown will be vice president of business retention and expansion. Brown was previously with the 
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, where he was director of workforce recruitment. 
>>>Jeff Traywick will be the new senior project manager for the BBA's economic development efforts. He was previously senior economic development specialist for the Bessemer Industrial Development Board. 
>>>Marvin Price will be project manager working directly with projects in business recruitment. Price recently earned his master's degree in community planning from Auburn University and spent the past summer at the 
Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 



Birmingham News  


Editor's note: Congratulations, Marvin!



Revised Alabama business law creates longer waits to register companies



MONTGOMERY, Alabama - A reorganization of Alabama's business and nonprofit laws has created an unintended consequence for some people looking to do business in the state. They're having to wait up to six weeks to get their companies registered with the Secretary of State's office, unless they pay double the standard $100 fee.


Registering with the state is a relatively simple step in the process of setting up a business. But would-be businessman Charles Richardson of Montgomery is afraid the wait could result in the loss of a franchise opportunity for him. The 34-year-old has invested about $3,000 of his own money in equipment he said he'll need for his Background Screeners of America franchise. In six months, he hopes to be making enough money that he can quit his current job. In a few years, he hopes he'll be hiring his own employees. But first, he has to be registered with the state.


On June 24, he filed his paperwork and paid his fees with Montgomery County ($55) and the Secretary of State's office ($100).


 Birmingham News 





Macon county auto supplier receives grant for training

Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 5:13 PM

By Christine Kneidinger, al.com al.com


MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded a $30,000 grant to help boost the skills of 10 workers at an automotive industry supplier in Macon County.


The grant will help Halla Climate Systems Alabama train the workers in methods to improve production efficiency. Opened in 2004, the facility supplies heating and air conditioning systems for vehicles made at Hyundai's Montgomery plant.


"In today's challenging economy, Alabama businesses and workers must improve processes and upgrade skills to remain competitive," Bentley said. "Putting these new skills into practice will not only strengthen the company, it will improve job security and expand opportunities for employee advancement."






Alabama loses jobs in June, with unemployment pushed up by government job cuts


After faltering for months, the job recovery petered out in Alabama in June, as a shrinking government sector overwhelmed small growth in the private sector.

The state's unemployment rate jumped to 9.9 percent from 9.6 percent in May. That's well above the 9.3 percent rate in June 2010, when the jobless rate was moving in the right direction.

After falling to 9.1 percent for five months in late 2010, the state's jobless rate is now closer to the 10.4 percent peak that it hit for four months in late 2009.

The unemployment rate had been rising this year because people were entering or rejoining the labor force more quickly than jobs were being created. But the number of people who said they had a job fell by more than 1,000 from May to June, the first time that employment numbers fell in 2011.

The number of unemployed Alabamians rose to nearly 214,000 in June, the highest level since February 2010.



Press Register



Innovation Conference Save the Date, Sept. 23


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Wendy Wallace Johnson
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