Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Topre to announce expansion next week
By Trent MooreThe Cullman Times Sun Jul 31, 2011, 08:23 AM CDT
CULLMAN - One of the largest industrial expansions in local history is set to be announced next week in Cullman.
Auto parts manufacturer Topre America is reportedly eyeing a "massive" expansion to the current Cullman location.
Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama Development Office (ADO) Director Greg Canfield are scheduled to join local officials and Topre officials in making the announcement at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5 at city hall.
Full details will be released at the official announcement.
Local economic officials say they are extremely excited about the project, noting the community will certainly be pleased with the scope of the expansion.
Topre America was announced in 2002 and opened in Cullman in 2004. The company is based in Japan, and the local operation was the first division to open in North America.
Gov. Robert Bentley to name Chuck Malone as Supreme Court chief justice
Published: Monday, August 01, 2011, 7:33 AM Updated: Monday, August 01, 2011, 12:56 PM
By George Talbot Press-Register
Gov. Robert Bentley is set to name Chuck Malone as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, according to administration officials and others close to the decision.
Malone, 57, is a former presiding circuit judge from Tuscaloosa who left the bench in January to serve as Bentley's chief of staff. He would serve out the remaining term of Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, who announced her resignation in June and formally left office at midnight Sunday.
Bentley was scheduled to announce the appointment at a news conference today in Montgomery.
Malone's departure as chief of staff would cost Bentley a trusted adviser and create a significant vacancy within his cabinet. Insiders named David Perry, head of the Alabama Finance Department, as the choice to replace Malone in a staff shake-up that could be announced as early as today.
Malone, a Republican, would stand for election next year if he wants to retain the seat beyond January 2013. The race is expected to one of the most competitive on a thin statewide ballot in 2012.
Alabama's pre-recession 4% jobless levels may lock in at about 8% by 2015
Published: Sunday, July 31, 2011, 1:14 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- If you are unlucky enough to be out looking for work these days, you have probably bumped into today's harsh reality -- job searches are taking longer, there is intense competition for openings and companies are running lean, with few actually hiring.
The New Normal, as it's being called, is brutal on the job seeker. Worse, the new era shows no signs of passing.
Some experts say metro Birmingham's labor market has reset to levels of unemployment that many had thought gone forever.
In June, experts were caught off guard when the jobless rate in metro Birmingham spiked to 9.8 percent from 8.8 percent a month earlier and 8.4 percent in April. Four metro area counties -- Jefferson at 10.2 percent, Chilton at 10.4, Walker at 11.2 percent and Bibb at 12.4 percent -- re-entered the double-digit zone.
Fairhope's Fokker AIRINC to close by October, as many as 55 jobs at risk
Published: Friday, July 29, 2011, 1:56 PM Updated: Friday, July 29, 2011, 2:07 PM
The Fokker AIRINC parts repair facility in Fairhope
will close by October, shifting operations to a sister aircraft parts repair facility in LaGrange, Ga.
Fokker Technologies said that some of the 55 Fairhope employees could be offered transfers. Employees were told of the closing Thursday.
Frans van de Pol, vice president of component repair, said the parent company continues to wait for its business to recover from the recession. Some other aerospace firms, such as Goodrich Corp. and ST Aerospace, have said their businesses have turned up in the last 18 months.
"We don't seen those signs of recovery yet," van de Pol said.
He said that the LaGrange facility is larger than the one in Fairhope, and is closer to the Atlanta airport. Fokker Services mainly repairs parts for U.S. airlines and other parts suppliers.
Fokker will offer some employees jobs in LaGrange.
Gov. Robert Bentley visits Honda plant in Talladega County
by Jason Bacaj
Star Staff Writer Anniston Star
Jul 29, 2011 |
LINCOLN - Gov. Robert Bentley took a whirlwind tour of Lincoln's Honda manufacturing plant Thursday morning in the first of a two-part tour of northeast Alabama automobile manufacturers - an industry that may hold key pieces of Alabama's economic recovery.
He watched a few Odysseys roll down the line and sent the plant's first-shift workers off to lunch with a smile and a handshake. The visit to the Lincoln plant and Huntsville's Toyota plant are part of the administration's reiterating its commitment to job creation and growth in Alabama, said Jennifer Ardis, the governor's press secretary.
"We're going to continue to work hard to create jobs in Alabama because that's what we said we were going to do," Bentley said after the tour.
Unemployment increased statewide in June to 9.9 percent, up from 9.6 percent the month before. It is also higher than the state's 9.3 percent unemployment rate in June 2010.
Bentley said the unemployment rate represents a "snapshot" of the economy and noted that Alabama's figures rank among the lowest in the Southeast.
About 37,000 jobs have been added during the first six months of 2011, said Ahmad Ijaz, director of economic forecasting at the University of Alabama. They were added among an array of industries, including leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, steel production and fabricated metals, he said.
While that signals a hint of economic recovery, it is a recovery that is proceeding slowly, hindered by changes to the national economy, Ijaz said. Roughly 11 percent of people work in manufacturing jobs nationwide and, after layoffs, employers can find ways through technology to maintain a steady level of production with fewer workers, he said.
Hyundai's Alabama plant builds 1 millionth Sonata
Korean automaker Hyundai today marked a milestone at its Montgomery factory, as workers produced the 1 millionth Alabama-built Sonata sedan.
The milestone vehicle was a silver 2012 limited edition 2.0 turbo model.
SEC commissioner: Jefferson County financial crisis shows need for transparency in municipal bonds
HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- Jefferson County's financial crisis is a perfect example of why transparency is necessary in
the municipal bond market, a Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner told bankers and regulators at an SEC hearing in Homewood this morning.
Investors in municipal bonds also often are residents of the communities that issue them, giving them a doubly vested interest in the investment, said Commissioner Elisse Walter.
"The case that may most starkly illustrate the alignment of investor and taxpayer interests happened right here, in Jefferson County," she said.
Jefferson County officials are considering bankruptcy and county residents face fast-rising sewer rates as the county in a financial quagmire with $3.14 billion in sewer debt.
UAB professors, students push Wilcox County, Alabama economic development
Students and professors from UAB's business school are helping to develop a marketing plan that aims to bring a little prosperity to one of Alabama's poorest counties.
Six students and two faculty members from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have spent the past two weeks in Wilcox County, from July 18 through today.
David Klock, dean of the UAB School of Business, said the idea to help Wilcox County came after he met some of its residents at a conference last year. Klock said they asked if the business school could help them develop ways to create economic growth.
"They said, 'We don't need someone to come down and study us,'" Klock said. "They needed someone to come and actually do something."
Wilcox faces challenges. About 36.5 percent of the county's 12,552 residents live below the poverty line, compared to 15.2 percent of individuals in Jefferson County, according to U.S. Census data from 2005 to 2009. The estimated median family income in Wilcox County was less than half of that in Jefferson County: $26,960 compared to $56,971. In Alabama, 16.8 percent of families live below the poverty line and the estimated median family income was $51,989.
Huntsville summit to help small businesses seek defense contracts
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A small business summit here next month is being likened to a business matchmaking event with a slight twist. Instead of small businesses being matched with large companies without knowing the project, the Huntsville Advanced Defense Technology Cluster Initiative (HADTCI) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Summit has small businesses that know what they want to work on and find someone to work with.
The summit is Aug. 11-12 at Lockheed Martin's Building 406, at 4800 Bradford Drive, and the theme is "Collaboration: Connect, Communicate, Commit." It is designed to establish partnerships between small businesses, primarily in North Alabama, and universities to compete for STTR funding.
To register, visit http://STTRsummit.vcsi.org by Aug. 1. For small businesses to receive a discount rate, put in the code "HTimes"
The "commit" part of the summit puts a unique face on the gathering - as opposed to a traditional matchmaking activity, according to organizer Markeeva Morgan. The two-day exercise gives small businesses the chance to commit to partnerships.
AlabamaSAVES is pleased to announce the addition of two new financing partners:
- Banc of America Public Capital Corp (BAPCC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of America N.A., joins the program through Banc of America Leasing which is the largest U.S. bank-owned equipment financing company and has a significant global presence, providing equipment financing solutions to more than 100,000 clients. Together with affiliated companies, BAPCC offers product expertise and tailored solutions to small businesses, middle-market and large corporations worldwide.
- Philips Lighting, a global leader in LED lighting technology and design, will offer tailored lighting solutions and Philips Lighting Capital will provide private financing options for projects throughout the State. This approach will provide Alabama businesses with access to the funding needed for turnkey lighting systems that include design and implementation built around specific business needs and goals.
These partners join Metrus Energy to bring private capital to the program, leveraging the State Energy Program funds to expand the impact of AlabamaSAVES for local businesses. As Shannon Smith, CEO of Abundant Power Group stated in a recent press release, "Private capital partners create sustainability for energy efficiency financing programs. Our innovative structure leverages public funds with private capital to expand energy costs savings to more businesses, create more jobs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels - improving both our operating and living environments."
Mobile port agrees to $2.5 million sale of oil tanks
MOBILE, Ala. -- The Alabama State Port Authority gave approval Tuesday for officials to sell three 125,000-barrel oil tanks for $2.5 million to an arm of Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline L.P.
The tanks are at a terminal operated by Plains near the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge. That terminal has the capacity to store about 2 million barrels of oil. Plains also owns a 3-million-barrel terminal in the Ten Mile area.
Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons said Plains has been using the tanks on a lease, and the company decided to buy them because the lease was about to expire.
Officials with the Plains terminal could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The company owns terminals, pipeline, trucks, barges and other equipment associated with the storage and transportation of fuel throughout the U.S. and Canada. The company handles more than 3 million barrels per day of crude and refined oil products.
'Project Apollo' could put Mobile back on the aerospace map
MOBILE, Alabama -- There is Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Microsoft and even Alabama vs. Auburn.
But there is nothing on earth quite like the cutthroat rivalry between Airbusand Boeing Co.
The 2 aerospace superpowers square off each day in a global war for aircraft sales. Their wins and losses are measured in billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, making their battles among the fiercest in international business.
Mobile had a front-row seat for one of the longest and bloodiest contests, backing Airbus and its parent company, EADS, in a losing bid against Boeing in the U.S. Air Force tanker competition.
Boeing's prize wasn't just a $40 billion contract. The Chicago-based firm extended its 60-year monopoly on the Air Force's refueling business and earned a strategic triumph by keeping its foreign rival from establishing a foothold on American soil.
The win - and EADS' unwillingness to challenge it - effectively ended plans for a $600 million, 1,500-worker aircraft assembly plant at Mobile's Brookley Field.
But fortunes change quickly in this game of high-stakes poker.
Boeing already is grappling with the cost of its victory, projecting losses of more than $300 million on the tanker contract's initial phase.
Marshall County Company Adding Jobs
Arab- A Marshall county company is bringing some good economic news to Arab. Sandvik Medical Solutions in Arab is expanding. This year the Marshall County plant has increased staff from 58 workers up to 110.
Sandvik is a Swedish company that employs 42-thousand workers world wide. The Arab location produces surgical instruments made from stainless steel. Doctors use the products for orthopedic and spinal implant procedures. Rachel Grimes is one of the new employee's happy to have a good job. "I really enjoy working here everybody is friendly and nice" Grimes said. "And its a good environment and I like to stay busy and theres a lot of work to do".
Bob Latham is the Director of Operations, he says the company plans to hire even more new workers at the plant. That will take the staff up to 125 employees.
"Well we are proud of our ability to be able to do recruiting right now" Latham said. "And the opportunity it generates and the revenue it brings into the community".
The average salary at the plant in Arab is 25 to 50-thousand dollars. Sandvik Medical employs semi skilled positions such as: assembly workers, machinists and engineers
Vina spec building progressing
Published 9:19am Saturday, July 30, 2011
VINA - Construction at Franklin County's newest speculative building in the Vina Industrial Park is underway as officials prepare to market the building to businesses and industry across the country.
Site prep for the spec building started in January, but Franklin County EDA Executive Director Mitch Mays said the crew has experienced multiple delays since that time due to bad weather.
"We received a few heavy snowfalls this year and you can't move the dirt in those conditions," Mays said. "We're hoping for good weather as we try to finish up this project and get the building ready to market.
"We have finished the site prep, poured the concrete and we have begun the actual erection of the building," Mays added. "We think the building erection should go pretty quickly."
On Monday, Sen. Roger Bedford as well as other officials toured the construction site to view the progress.
"This building will be a great benefit not only to Vina but for all of Northwest Alabama," Bedford said. "Retaining jobs that we already have here and attracting new ones is a top priority."
Mays said funding for the spec building was secured by Bedford through a bond issue from the state that will cover 100 percent of the costs. Mays added the bond issue also provided for a sewer system at the Phil Campbell Industrial Park as well as the Vina Industrial Park.
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