Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Alabama development official Greg Canfield seeks help luring industry
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 8:30 AM Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 11:31 AM
ORANGE BEACH -- The new head of the Alabama Development Office told economic developers on Wednesday that he is going to need their help to bring new industry and jobs to the state in a real team approach.
Greg Canfield of Vestavia Hills acknowledged that his career as a legislator and in insurance sales and other positions does not include economic development experience. He took over at ADO on Aug. 1.
"I'm not a professional and you know I'm not a professional," he said. "But that doesn't matter because professionals exist at ADO. I'm here to lead. I'm here to promote Alabama."
Canfield said the nation's economic problems impact every state, so Alabama can't use that as an excuse for not expanding its economy.
"We don't know what the future economic climate holds based on what's happening in Washington, D.C.," he said.
"We're not going to let that stop us. Alabama is going to remain focused on what's right for Alabama."
He said the greatest obstacle to growth for companies is uncertainty, and it's the job of Alabama economic developers to reduce or eliminate that.
"We want to create a more certain environment in Alabama," Canfield said.
He said Gov. Robert Bentley is similarly focused, talking or meeting with him every day as Bentley tries to live up to his campaign pledge of returning Alabama to full employment before he receives a salary. Alabama's jobless rate rose to 9.9 percent in June, higher than the 9.3 percent recorded in the prior year.
Canfield said early results show some encouraging signs, because more than 4,000 jobs have been created in the state since January, spread out in 24 counties throughout Alabama.
Birmingham Business Alliance: Jefferson County must avoid bankruptcy
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 2:45 PM Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 4:44 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- On the eve of the Jefferson County sewer debt climax, the Birmingham Business Alliance has again urged members to support and argue for a negotiated settlement as opposed to bankruptcy.
Energen Corp. Chief Executive James McManus, head of the metro-area's chief economic development and industrial recruiting organization, told member companies in an email this afternoon that filing what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history is not the answer.
The message comes as Jefferson County commissioners decide if they can accept a package of rate increases and loan modifications on $3.2 billion of delinquent sewer bonds. The alternative is filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy and letting a judge referee negotiations with bondholders who lent money for the expansion and repair of the sewer system.
"There can be no assurance that in bankruptcy the ultimate level of rate increases will be lower, and there is a substantial risk that they could be much higher than in a proposed settlement," reads the email obtained by The Birmingham News and signed by McManus and Protective Life Corp. CEO John Johns, BBA chairman-elect.
National Alabama to sell 95 railcars
By Mike Goens Managing Editor
Published: Friday, August 12, 2011 at 3:30 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 11:20 p.m.
BARTON - National Alabama Corp. has signed an agreement to sell nearly 100 railcars produced at its Colbert County plant in recent months.
Employees at National Alabama have been working on the railcars for several months, largely as part of a training program for the operation's nearly 120 employees.
The 95 railcars are being sold to a national railcar leasing company, according to John Stein, chief executive officer at National Alabama. He declined to release the company's name or details of the deal. The company will lease the railcars to another company.
"This is a great first step for our company and a milestone," Stein said. "We're delighted this company has the confidence in our product. They are one of the largest lessors of railcars in the nation and they have been a pleasure to work with during this process.
"We're optimistic this is the start of more exciting news ahead. We hope to produce additional cars for this company and we're having discussions with other customers."
The covered hopper railcars are the first to be sold from the nearly mile-long plant at Barton Riverfront Industrial Park in western Colbert County. Construction of the plant was announced in July 2007. Ownership of the plant has shifted from a Canadian company to the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which invests retirement money for state employees and teachers.
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