Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Task force: Use Trinity site for federal research facility if hospital moves
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2011, 7:00 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Trinity Hospital's 120-acre Montclair Road campus should be turned into a federal medical and research facility, if Trinity succeeds in its effort to relocate to U.S. 280, a task force has recommended.
In a report to Mayor William Bell obtained by The Birmingham News, the Montclair Redevelopment Task Force outlined its work between November 2010 and May 2011, settling on two main recommendations.
In its most ambitious recommendation, the task force encouraged the city to pursue possible government uses, saying "the property is ideal for a multitude of federal uses, including, but not limited to, federal medical and research facilities."
Members of the task force met with representatives of the offices of the congressional delegation to push the Montclair campus for specific uses, according to the report, by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense -- possibly as a Southern branch of a military medical center -- as well as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other agencies.
In an interview Friday, Dave Hofstetter, head of real estate acquisition for the General Services Administration's Southeast office, said the Montclair campus appears able to meet the general requirements necessary for federal government use, though minor changes would be needed depending on which agencies are looking for space, he said.
"You would like to have -- in the cases of the VA, CDC and agencies like that -- a campus-like environment where you could have a number of different functions that may be performed by a single agency or the consolidation of multiple agencies," he said.
The task force's other recommendation calls for bringing in a team from the Counselors of Real Estate, a group of national commercial real estate experts, to help formulate a master plan for the property. The CRE's Consulting Corps, which only takes on a handful or projects a year, is expected to come to Birmingham this fall for an intensive, week-long study of the Montclair property and provide a comprehensive redevelopment plan.
"It is anticipated that the end result of that process will be a strategy for focusing on a development that is residential, commercial, healthcare-related, educational or mixed-use in nature," the report said.
Alabama's new finance chief Marquita Davis eyes big picture
Published: Monday, August 29, 2011, 7:30 AM
MONTGOMERY -- Gov. Robert Bentley said he was looking for three things when it came time to pick a new finance director: Intelligence, character and tenaciousness.
Marquita Furness Davis, 44, fit the bill, he said.
"She'll make tough decisions, and that is what you need," Bentley said.
Davis takes the reins as state finance director next month, making history along the way as the first woman to serve in the position. Davis has served as commissioner of the Department of Children's Affairs since 2008.
And despite her rise in state government, she is a self-professed independent voter and political outsider who said she initially found the political waters of Montgomery tough to navigate.
"I found my fit in Birmingham, but I'm very much an outsider in Montgomery," Davis said.
Davis grew up in Peoria, Ill. Her mother was a teacher. Her father, a former paratrooper and semiprofessional football player, worked for Caterpillar Inc. and died at the age of 37.
Davis, who is fourth-generation college educated on her mother's side, said she was raised to focus on academics. When Davis headed to college, she assumed like many 18-year-olds in the 1980s that a career in business and a fancy BMW would be in her future. But plans changed when the Generation Xer was drawn to a future in public service.
"I always knew I was interested in public service, helping children and families," Davis said.
She earned a bachelor's degree in family social services from Northern Illinois University. She wanted to attended a historically black college for graduate school and picked Alabama A&M. She then received her Ph.D. in early childhood education and child development from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Lack of the right skills prevents full employment (editorial)
Published: Monday, August 29, 2011, 5:04 AM
IN HIS campaign to grow jobs in Alabama and reduce 10 percent unemployment, Gov. Robert Bentley could use all the help he can get.
The latest food for thought comes from a report by the National Skills Coalition, released during the Southern Governors Association meeting in Asheville, N.C. The report reveals a surprising gap between the skills that Southern employers need compared with the skills that Southern workers have.
A whopping 51 percent of all jobs in the South, the report says, fall into the "middle-skills" category - that is, requiring training beyond high school but short of a four-year degree. Yet only 43 percent of the region's workers are trained to that particular level, it said.
In Alabama, specifically, the gap is similar. Middle-skill jobs accounted for 56 percent of all jobs, while middle-skill workers made up only 49 percent of the labor market.
Robot technology park: The next Silicon Valley?
By Bayne Hughes, For the TimesDaily
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.
DECATUR - A developer of the Alabama Robotics Technology Park is expecting the impact of the newly constructed Phase 2 will be huge for the economy.
Jason Putman, chairman of the robotics park executive board, believes this is the phase, with its research and development focus, that could begin the predicted economic development that will change the region.
The park on U.S. 31 is a partnership of the Alabama Industrial Development and Training Institute and Calhoun Community College.
Putman said the new $8.3 million research and development center could create an area similar to the Research Triangle in North Carolina or Silicon Valley in California.
"This gives the area an opportunity to take research and development in robotics to another level," Putman said.
Center offers new opportunities
Published 5:04am Saturday, August 27, 2011
PHIL CAMPBELL - Northwest-Shoals Community College took major strides on Thursday to adequately prepare Franklin County's workforce with the official grand opening of the new Multi-Skilled Training Center at the college's Phil Campbell campus.
NW-SCC President Dr. Humphrey Lee said the facility was a great addition to the college and something that would help current and future students after they graduate.
"I believe the community college is really a part of the community," Lee said. "We don't want to ask the students to come here and then say we'll build a facility like this. We want to already have it here for them so they're ready to start learning."
The $1.2 million facility was constructed over a two-year time period with money from the college's institutional funds. Funding for the advanced technology and equipment housed in the facility was made possible through a $335,000 Advanced Manufacturing Training Technology grant secured with assistance by Congressman Robert Aderholt in 2008.
"Everything we can do from the federal level to provide jobs and employment is important," Aderholt said on Thursday. "This facility was imperative to meeting those goals."
Franklin Co. Times
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Wendy Wallace Johnson