Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Two-year colleges to help shape Alabama's 'economic future,' chancellor says
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 2:14 PM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 3:55 PM
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- The head of the Alabama Workforce Training System said this morning that her organization will be involved in all aspects of the economic development plan being created as part of the new Alabama Economic Development Alliance.
"Alabama's economic future rests on the backs of the two-year college system," Freida Hill, chancellor of the
Alabama Community College System, told members of the Economic Development Association of Alabama at a conference at the Perdido Beach Resort.
The new economic development plan for the state calls for recruitment, retention and renewal.
On the recruitment side, the state's Workforce Training System has AIDT , which is a potent incentive that promises to train workers for the jobs created when an company locates to the state. Hill said AIDT has trained 448,000 workers for 3,000 companies since it was formed.
On the retention side, the Workforce Training System has the two-year colleges that work with local companies to create classes and programs that produce workers with the skills they need.
On the renewal side, the Alabama Technology Network boosts the high-tech skills needed for those advanced industries that come out of universities, research centers and business incubators in the state.
Alabama Power's Ken Novak to head economic development group
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 12:22 PM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 1:01 PM
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- The Economic Development Association of Alabama has a new president.
Ken Novak, head of economic development for Alabama Power Co., will lead the organization for the next year, taking the gavel from Tate Godfrey, head of the North Alabama Industrial Development Alliance, who has served as president for the past year.
Other officers are Valerie Gray, executive director of the Chambers County Development Authority, first vice president; Jeremy Nails, president of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, second vice president; and Hollie Pegg, senior project manager with the Alabama Development Office, secretary and treasurer.
Board positions also were set at the meeting at the Perdido Beach Resort. Caudia Zimmermann of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce , Wayne Vardaman of the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority, and Greg Knighton of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will serve full terms, while Luke Slayton of the Lawrence County Industrial Development Authority will serve a one-year term.
The approval of the new officers comes on the final day of the EDAA summer conference, which Ron Scott, executive director of EDAA, said was a success.
NewsFlash Note: Congratulations to our own Greg Knighton for being named to the board and for doing a great job as Chair of the EDAA summer conference!
Site consultant Ed McCallum: Communities must be ready for projects
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 11:36 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 11:43 AM
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- Economic development site consultants are using information available about communities online to make initial cuts, and the communities left in the running had better be able to act quickly if they want to remain a finalist for a contested project, a site consultant told economic developers.
Ed McCallum, partner in McCallum Sweeney Consulting , said it is more critical than ever that communities have available sites and other issues wrapped up when a consultant or project comes calling.
"By the time a community is contacted today, they are a finalist," McCallum told members of the Economic Development Association of Alabama at a conference at the Perdido Beach Resort. "If you don't have a sit available, you're eliminated."
McCallum pointed to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama's AdvantageSite program as what he means by "available." That program certifies sites that have all ownership, utility, environmental and other questions answered in advance.
"Dirt won't do," he said, meaning just having property is not the same thing as having a legitimate site.
McCallum said incentives won't fix a bad site.
"There is no amount of incentives that will make a bad location good," he said. "But incentives will make a good location better."
NewsFlash Note: For more on the AdvantageSite program, visit the EDPA website
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama to target childhood obesity, CEO Terry Kellogg says
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 3:34 PM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 3:46 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
plans to take aim at what the company boss today called one of the most serious health and financial problems in the state: childhood obesity.
Terry Kellogg, Blue Cross' president and CEO, told the Birmingham Rotary Club
at the organization's regular weekly luncheon that Alabama ranks second in the union in overweight kids.
Treating later health problems such as diabetes, for which the state ranks No. 1, is costly, Kellogg said.
"Sometime in the next year or so, we are going to find a way to address this problem," said Kellogg, head of the largest Alabama health benefit company.
Kellogg said he was unable to elaborate on what form his plan might take, only that he has directed his staff to begin working on one.
"And I am talking about something more than just throwing money at it. School might be a good place to start."
The chief at Blue Cross, which covers about 2.2 million Alabamians, said 6.6 percent fewer people in the state are now covered by employer-sponsored plans than in past years.
Birmingham's Well Fargo Tower sells in $68.5 million deal
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 10:04 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 10:12 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Wells Fargo Tower has a new out-of-town owner.
Newton, Mass.-based Commonwealth REIT
, an office and industrial real estate investment trust, has purchased Birmingham's tallest office tower for $68.5 million, according to CoStar Group
, a commercial real estate information firm. The price equals $130 per square foot.
The seller was New York-based AREA Property Partners
, CoStar said.
The 34-story tower last exchanged owners in a deal seven years ago valued at $55 million, or $107 per square foot, the firm said.
Built in 1986 for SouthTrust Corp., the 515,000-square-foot building at 420 20th Street North is home to Wells Fargo, Burr & Forman and Baker Donelson, among others. It was previously known as the Wachovia Tower.
Opening of helicopter flight test center at Redstone Arsenal part of BRAC's impact on area
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 6:25 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 1:07 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A big - a very big - symbol that the Base Realignment and Closure moves to Redstone Arsenal
are nearing completion came Tuesday with the official opening of the new Rotary Wing Center at the airfield.
"Welcome to Building 4880, also known as the BRAC hangar," said Maj. Greg Fortier, commander of the Aviation Flight Test Directorate. "I absolutely stand in awe of this facility."
It is 127,000 square feet, about 40 percent of it for offices and technical shops. The rest is pristine space for work on Chinooks, Apaches, Kiowas and other aircraft.
The Rotary Wing Center is where new equipment and avionics, modifications, procedures and upgrades for helicopters are thoroughly tested and evaluated before they are implemented by contractors and used by soldiers. The facility and the flight test directorate are now part of the new Redstone Test Center, created after the 2005 BRAC decision ordered the relocation of helicopter flight test operations at Fort Rucker and its more than 400 jobs to Redstone Arsenal, where they merged with what was then Redstone Technical Test Center.
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- Alabama's HudsonAlpha Institute is among those leading a wave of biotechnology innovation that could rival the information technology wave of the past several decades, an institute official said Tuesday.
Just as sequences of ones and zeros were the basis of a wave of computer and information technology innovation, it's genes and DNA that will form the foundation of the coming wave, said O'Neal Smitherman, executive vice president of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.
"This is our opportunity to be in on the next new wave of knowledge revolution for humanity," Smitherman told developers at the Economic Development Association of Alabama summer conference at the Perdido Beach Resort.
It's already happening at HudsonAlpha. Built just three years ago, the biotechnology research and commercialization center is home to 20 associated companies, including 16 for-profit biotechnology companies, Smitherman said. He said two companies have been bought out by larger ones and a third one has been bought out twice.
HudsonAlpha even has a patent pending for a prostate cancer screening process using human genome mapping.
Registration for the first Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference Open
Date: September 23, 2011
Time: 9 a.m. - 4. p.m.
Place: Wynfrey Hotel, Birmingham, Ala.
Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation, presents the inaugural Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference, a "Launchpad" to bring together and engage the various groups seeking to grow Alabama's entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
Innovation and entrepreneurship is vital to Alabama's economic development efforts, and we must facilitate forward momentum for the development of these activities within the state.
Join us to examine activities already taking place inside the state, and be a part of the next step forward for Alabama.
Registration (limited, so register early, save, and guarantee your place): http://www.innovatealabama.com/registration.html
Sponsorship (for levels, see pdf at bottom of page): http://www.innovatealabama.com/sponsors.html
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Wendy Wallace Johnson