Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Birmingham Angel Network hires associate director
Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 12:19 PM Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 12:25 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Birmingham Angel Network LLC
has hired Matt Wright as associate director.
Wright will run the daily operations of the network along with its executive director, Josh Watkins of the Dominick, Feld, Hyde
Wright has 10 years of experience in areas important to fledgling companies, including capital markets, risk analysis, quality improvements and business intelligence.
He currently managing member of NuVault Financial LLC
, a firm that assists seed stage to medium size companies. At NuVault, he helped start-up companies develop strategies, provided them with capital markets advice and helped them develop accounting and finance processes.
The Birmingham Angel Network's primary goal is to introduce entrepreneurs in the metro area to new sources of funding.
Gulf Coast shrimping in tough times after spill and flooding and with high fuel costs
Published: Monday, August 15, 2011, 7:00 AM Updated: Monday, August 15, 2011, 7:20 AM .
Every summer about this time, there's a lull as the brown shrimp season winds down and the white shrimp season picks up. This year, the lull seems more pronounced, giving trawler captains in Alabama and Mississippi something else worry about.
Perhaps, they said, the oil is to blame for some of the skimpy hauls.
"You have to wonder if the brown shrimp we caught early this summer were from the last of the eggs laid before the spill
," said David Wescovich, a Bayou La Batre shrimper.
"It might be just the lull we always get. But maybe it's more."
It's been an anxious year to be a shrimper, processor or a seafood dealer. Gulf Coast shrimpers have had to deal with the aftermath of last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill and a spike in fuel prices. In Louisiana and Mississippi, they were also hit with an influx of fresh water during the Mississippi River's flooding.
"I think that the high water from the Mississippi pushed out most of the shrimp deep into the Gulf before they could get caught," said Keith Delcambre, owner of Bozo's Seafood Market & Deli in Pascagoula. "Even if it turns out to have been an OK year number-wise, it would have been a lot better without the flooding."
Statistics gathered by regulators in the Gulf Coast states indicate that trawlers had a fairly plentiful brown shrimp season. The white shrimp season opened in Alabama on Aug. 3. The inshore fall season will open in Mississippi and Louisiana on Aug. 22.
So far this year, Gulf shrimpers have pulled in about 48.8 million pounds, slightly more than the 48.1 million pounds during the same period in 2009, according to National Marine Fisheries Service data. Last year's season was abbreviated by the April oil spill, bringing in just 28 million pounds.
Space and Missile Defense Conference opens today in Huntsville
Published: Monday, August 15, 2011, 6:15 AM Updated: Monday, August 15, 2011, 6:53 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Despite looming budget cuts and talk of the desire for more "efficiencies" in defense spending - or perhaps because of them - the 14th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference
at the Von Braun Center today through Thursday is expected to be as well-attended as ever.
Exhibit space has sold out and this year will even extend into the arena, said Tony Jones, industry co-chair for the conference. Registrations for the event, presented by the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association, the National Defense Industrial Association's Tennessee Valley Chapter and the Air Defense Artillery Association, are on par with last year.
The economic and political environment is "dynamic" and these are tough times, he said. "But I think people need to hear from leadership. They need to hear from the people who are in charge of strategically and tactically significant programs for our nation and for our military."
To address this year's theme - "Providing Capabilities to the Warfighter" - conference organizers have again brought a number of high-ranking presenters from the military and government.
Pelham-based ProctorU growing as online testing monitor
Published: Sunday, August 14, 2011, 6:30 AM
A Pelham company is capitalizing on an exploding new trend in higher education -- online testing -- by ensuring the old concept of academic honesty.
ProctorU, a firm that monitors exams taken over the Internet by students at 100 universities, has seen dramatic growth, and expects more. The volume of exams it proctors has swollen by 20 to 30 percent each month for most of this year, one of the company's founders says.
"We've been in a constant state of expansion this entire year," said Jarrod Morgan, vice president of business development and a co-founder.
ProctorU -- the company gets its name from the term for a person designated to monitor a test in order to maintain academic honesty -- recently opened a second office in Livermore, Calif. That's where the company's other founder, Don Kassner, is based. More importantly, having a second office on the West Coast allows ProctorU to operate over more time zones.
It's growing in Pelham as well, with plans to double the size of its office there by next summer. All the company's proctors work at either the Pelham or Livermore office, and the number is rising. The company now employs about 70 people -- up from about a half-dozen in December.
"It's been pretty interesting to see this thing grow," Morgan said.
New Mercedes-Benz model could be built at Alabama plant
Published: Saturday, August 13, 2011, 10:30 AM
VANCE, Alabama -- Mercedes-Benz is poised to announce that it could add a new vehicle to the production line-up at its Vance factory, the plant's boss said Friday.
Markus Schaefer, president of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, said an official announcement about a new production model could come in days, though he provided no other details during a presentation to auto industry executives. His comments follow published reports saying the automaker will make a smaller M-Class to compete with the BMW X6 crossover vehicle.
"We want more stability," Schaefer told members of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association on Friday. "We do not want to have one SUV here, which is really depending on fuel prices and success. We want to have more cars here."
Felyicia Jerald, a spokeswoman at the Vance plant, declined to say anything further about the possible addition.
A new M-Class variant would be the fifth model produced at the Vance factory, joining the flagship M-Class sport utility, the GL-Class full-sized SUV and R-Class crossover. Production of the C-Class sedan also is set to arrive there in time for a 2014 launch.
Automotive News Europe, citing unidentified company sources, reported last month that the German automaker had decided to produce a coupe-styled version of the M-Class that could be built in Vance.
Huntsville-based Qualitest Pharmaceuticals to expand with Cummings Research Park location
Published: Friday, August 12, 2011, 5:01 PM Updated: Friday, August 12, 2011, 5:11 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, a Huntsville-based generics pharmaceutical provider, will move its commercial functions to a new facility in Cummings Research Park in October.
The expansion is the result of the "growing demand for generics overall and the growth" of both Qualitest and its parent company, Endo Pharmaceuticals, said Daniel Carbery, Endo's senior vice president, specialty generics and
The move will prepare Qualitest for its planned expansion, including hiring as many as 200 additional employees by the end of this year, Carbery said.
Close to 75 employees have been hired at Qualitest since the beginning of the year.
The manufacturing, distribution and research and development operations will remain at the existing three-building campus in Chase Industrial Park, which is about 10 miles away from the new location on Research Drive.
Alabama gets $31.3M for small biz lending initiative
Birmingham Business Journal - by Antrenise Cole , Staff Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 2:13pm CDT - Last Modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 2:47pm CDT
Alabama was one of 11 states to receive an application approval to participate in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's State Small Business Credit Initiative, which was designed to create new private sector jobs and drive more than $3.6 billion nationally in additional small-business lending.
The initiative is a component of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law last fall.
The Treasury will allocate a $31.3 million to Alabama under the initiative. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will use these funds to launch three new small business lending programs: the Alabama Capital Access Program, the Alabama Loan Guarantee Program and the Alabama Loan Participation Program.
According to a news release, Alabama expects to generate a minimum "bang for the buck" of at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. As such, this $31.3 million allocation for Alabama is expected to support more than $313 million in new private lending in that state.
The applications for SSBCI funding that were approved as part of today's announcement include those submitted by Alabama ($31.3 million), Florida ($97.7 million), Idaho ($13.2 million), Iowa ($13.2 million), Louisiana ($13.2 million), Mississippi ($13.2 million), Ohio ($55.1 million), Oregon ($16.5 million), Tennessee ($29.7 million), Texas ($46.6 million), Virginia ($18.0 million) and Washington, D.C. ($13.2 million).
more...Birmingham Business Journal
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Wendy Wallace Johnson