Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
GAF again reopening Mobile roofing shingle plant, hiring 60
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 6:00 AM
MOBILE, Alabama -- It's not often that a business closes and then reopens, but roofing maker GAF
is reopening its midtown Mobile shingle plant for a second time.
The company, based in Wayne, N.J., is hiring 60 people and plans to reach full capacity by October, spokeswoman Alyssa Hall said. "It's simply based on the demand in the area," she said. "It has been very up and down, but we're expecting growth."
It's the second time in three years that GAF has restarted production at the factory, which was opened in 1949 by Ruberoid Corp. The plant makes asphalt shingles for houses and roofing membranes for larger structures
GAF, which has almost $3 billion in yearly revenue, closed the Mobile shingle lines in 2007, after the company bought competitor Elk Corp, for $1 billion. GAF closed a series of plants across the country after the merger.
But it restarted production in 2008, saying more people in the Southeast were reroofing houses. Because shingles are so heavy, manufacturers tend to spread production across the country to cut transportation costs.
GAF is the largest roofing and ventilation manufacturer in North America. Selling shingles under Timberline, Sovereign and other brands, the company is largely owned by the heirs of Samuel Heyman.
After the first restart, GAF ended production of roofing paper and felt in Mobile. Late last year, it said it would close the asphalt shingle lines again, laying off more than 50 people at the plant, located at Emogene and Florida streets.
But now workers are coming back again.
"This is not normal procedure," said Hall, who said no other plants were being reopened at this time.
GAF is privately held, but publicly held competitor Owens Corning Corp. told investors last month that its roofing business had achieved increased profits and was expecting business to stay strong over the second half of the year because of demand created by the spring's tornadoes and hailstorms.
Auburn auto parts manufacturer says expansion means more jobs
Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2011, 2:46 PM Updated: Tuesday, September 06, 2011, 2:47 PM
AUBURN, Alabama -- Automotive parts manufacturer Seung Chang Airtech, Inc. has added more than 95,000 square feet to its operation in Auburn Technology Park North.
Now at 214,800 square feet, the expansion was needed at the large manufacturing facility to help the company respond to a growing demand for its products, company officials said.
"Our decision to expand our production is the result of additional business and increased demand from our clients KMMG in West Point, Georgia, and HMMA in Montgomery, Alabama. Our Auburn manufacturing facility strategically places us in a position to grow our company, and provide additional jobs in the community," said Daniel Yu, CEO of SCA.
In a second announcement, SCA said it has already moved into a 20,000-square-foot facility where it will produce vibration and noise-dampening materials used in the automotive, industrial and construction industries. With these two projects SCA will have invested $16.8 million and will have created approximately 200 additional jobs in Auburn.
"We are excited about the announcement by SCA," Mayor Bill Ham said. "SCA became a corporate citizen to Auburn in 2004, creating 40 jobs. In the near future, the company will employ 400 workers. I want to congratulate the leadership of the company and its employees for this achievement," Ham added.
The Auburn automotive parts manufacturer serves the automotive industry with black plastic injection molding parts and the assembly of heater and blower modules.
For more information on SCA, Inc., contact the City of Auburn's Economic Development Department at (334) 501-7270. Individuals interested in employment opportunities at SCA should contact the SCA Human Resources Department by phone at (334) 887-6720 Ext: 114 or by email at email@example.com.
A diverse Mobile makes for good business
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 6:00 AM
Mobile has an interesting and diverse history. It has been called the City of Six Flags: Spain, France, England, Republic of Alabama, Confederacy of Southern States and the United States. I'll submit to you that Mobile is an international city with well over six countries' flags flying here.
The Mobile Bay region benefits from a multifaceted manufacturing base, and its industrial landscape is a veritable United Nations of corporate representation. Let's start with a look at our chemical sector. Huntsman Advanced Materials is headquartered in Belgium, Akzo Nobel hails from Holland, Arkema from France, INEOS Phenol from England, Mitsubishi Polysilicon from Japan, while BASF and Evonik both call Germany home.
Turning the attention to shipbuilding, Mobile's largest manufacturing employer, Austal, is headquartered in Australia, and BAE's native home is the United Kingdom. The region's ever- growing aerospace sector boasts a number of international companies including EADS/Airbus sharing German and French roots; Airbus Military from Spain and ST Aerospace Mobile from Singapore.
Another growing industry in the area is the oil and gas sector. Shell Chemical LP is anchored in England; Technip is from France, Shell Offshore Inc. is based in Holland and Aker Subsea in Norway.
The steel industry is well represented internationally too, with Berg Spiral Pipe and ThyssenKrupp headquartered in Germany and SSAB in Sweden.
SBA here to help inventors, researchers
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 12:00 PM
Could your invention be the perfect solution to our environmental challenges or help rid the world of a deadly disease? Perhaps yours notions are not as grand as these, but if you need a little assistance with funding to make your idea and dream a reality, then the federal government may be able to help.
For those seeking to advance their technological inventions in the commercial marketplace, the U.S. Small Business Administration coordinates the Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR, which targets the emerging entrepreneurial sector.
Although that's where innovation and innovators thrive, the risk and expense of conducting serious research and development are often beyond the means of many small businesses. SBIR funds the critical startup and developmental stages and encourages the commercialization of the technology, product or service, which in turn stimulates the economy and creates jobs.
The program has helped thousands of small businesses compete for federal research and development awards. Their contributions have enhanced the nation's defense, protected our environment, advanced health care, and improved our ability to manage information and manipulate data.
Dr. Nick Hammond and Dr. Lisa Kemp are one such success story. The founders of Ablitech Inc., a Hattiesburg, Miss., firm, received $100,000 in Phase I funding in 2007 from the National Science Foundation. The money was used to develop Versadel, a radical new gene therapy for cancer treatment with innovative uses toward HIV and other diseases resulting from genetic abnormalities.
For future success, it's all about capacity
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 10:17 AM
In economic development circles, short-term wins, often called job announcements, get the headlines. And, with unemployment in lower Alabama in the 9- to-10-percent range, we need all of these short-term wins/announcements we can get.
But as economic developers -- and the same holds true for elected leadership in city, county, state and even national government -- we should be just as, or more, focused on the future as on the present. And the future is all about community capacity.
Think about it in terms of a car. An electric car sounds wonderful: great, great mileage per energy unit. But how much use is the electric car of today's technology to those of us who often go on daily trips of 300 or more miles?
A vehicle that goes 50, 100 or even 200 miles and then requires lengthy refueling is useless to most of us. We need long-range travel capacity and generally compromise on decent mileage per energy unit and choose a vehicle with the capacity to take us 300 or more miles between fueling stops, plus has the ability to refuel quickly.
As in our car example, communities that focus only on short-term successes and do not build capacity for future growth will spend lots of time sitting still, get nowhere fast, and ultimately be left behind in the race for tomorrow's jobs. Communities that focus on tomorrow have comprehensive economic development plans built on new job/company recruitment, existing business support and enhancement, and entrepreneur identification and development.
As chairman of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council (GCBC), I want to congratulate leaders of South Alabama on the creation of the Coastal Alabama Leadership Council (CALC).
We share a common story. Just as the BP oil spill and the Coastal Recovery Commission of Alabama led to the formation of CALC, Katrina and the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal led to the creation of the Gulf Coast Business Council. We also share the visionary leadership of Ricky Mathews who was a founding member and a driving force of GCBC, and now of CALC.
Our missions are aligned. GCBC was formed out of the recognition that we needed a regional, united voice for the business community on public policy and issues critical to the economic recovery and long-term vitality of our region.
It was also recognition that only through strong collaboration between the private sector, elected leadership and the non-profit community can we achieve our collective goal of a vibrant, resilient community.
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we have come a long way toward recovery from Katrina. GCBC has played a significant role in a number of key areas and has facilitated regional cooperation at a level that we have never seen before. We are excited about the potential for broader regional collaboration with a likeminded organization in CALC.
There are a number of challenges and opportunities we share. The link between our futures is undeniable. While ultimately not successful, the EADS bid to build tanker aircraft for the U.S. Air Force was an incredibly positive exercise in regional collaboration at the federal, state and local levels. The emerging Gulf South aerospace corridor will continue to present opportunities to sell ourselves as a united region. Our economic development professionals in Alabama and Mississippi collaborate every day.
Certified megasite marketing shifts to high gear: Baldwin County Alabama has high hopes for 3,000-acre property
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 9:37 AM
Bay Minette, Alabama -- Prospects of landing a major manufacturer on a 3,000-acre certified megasite in north Baldwin County have never been better, to hear elected officials and industrial recruiters talk about it.
Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance Director Robert Ingram said the average successful recruitment campaign takes 18 months.
"A year puts a lot of pressure on us, but we have an incredible team and will develop a winning plan. I would never bet against this incredible community or against the state of Alabama," Ingram said.
Baldwin County commissioners recently voted 3-1 to pay to extend the options on the property for a year. Advertising should reach full tilt by next month as a "diverse and comprehensive" marketing effort gets under way, Ingram said.
For months, local officials courted a Chinese start-up, HK Motors, after that company's leaders chose Baldwin County for a green car manufacturing plant. Those plans never materialized, largely because the company couldn't secure financing.
Baldwin leaders saw a chance more than three years ago to pitch their county as a perfect place for development and focused efforts on gathering acreage to secure a megasite certification.
McCallum Sweeney Consultants delivered the certification in May, based on the size of the site, available rail and four-lane highway access, work force and utilities.
Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2011, 6:35 PM Updated: Tuesday, September 06, 2011, 6:46 PM
Jeff Amy, Press-Register
International Paper Co., the world's largest paper company, said Tuesday it has reached a deal to buy Temple- Inland Inc. for $3.7 billion in cash and $600 million in debt, ending a three-month battle for control of the shipping-box manufacturer. Rock-Tenn Co., which has a mill in Demopolis, rose to 19 percent of the market in January when it agreed to pay $4.5 billion for Chicago-based Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., vaulting it over Georgia-Pacific LLC. International Paper increased its offer to $32 a share, the Memphis, Tenn., company said Tuesday.
Temple-Inland, based Austin, Texas, had previously rejected a June 6 all-cash bid of $30.60 a share as too low.
"The strategic benefits of this combination are clear and we are pleased to be able to move forward on terms that are financially attractive for both sets of shareholders," International Paper Chief Executive Officer John Faraci said in the statement.
The deal would boost International Paper's share of the North American box market to 37 percent, as the sector rapidly consolidates. No. 2
Free: Eastern European Market Briefing Seminars
Export Alabama Alliance will host market briefings on Eastern Europe, focusing on Poland and Hungary, September 13-15, with Silvia Savich, Senior Trade Specialist with the Office of European Country Affairs for Central and Southeast Europe, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Companies and organizations interested in this market are encouraged to attend as useful insights into doing business in these countries will be provided and discussed. A multi-industry mission from Alabama is being planned for March 2012.
Briefings will be held in Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville as follows:
Tuesday, September 13th
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Mobile Chamber of Commerce, 451 Government Street
Wednesday, September 14th
11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Birmingham Business Alliance, 505 20th Street North, Ste. 200
Thursday, September 15th
8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
BizTech, 515 Sparkman Drive
Lunch will be served and there is no cost to attend, however, reservations are requested.
RSVP to Hilda Lockhart, Alabama Development Office, 334-242-0442 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Wendy Wallace Johnson