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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
TVA revamping program that encourages solar use
Published: Friday, September 09, 2011, 2:25 PM Updated: Friday, September 09, 2011, 2:30 PM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Valley Authority is revamping its pilot Generation Partners program that encourages solar energy projects after a surge of requests from large commercial interests.
John Trawick, TVA senior vice president of commercial operations and pricing, told the Knoxville News Sentinel the program is returning to its original focus on small solar installations for houses and small businesses
Gil Melear-Hough, president of the Tennessee Solar Energy Institute, said the project is a victim of its own success.
There is a $5 million shortfall between what TVA pays Generation Partners participants for power and how much money is provided from Green Power Switch customers who agree to pay more to buy energy generated by solar, wind and biomass.
Currently, the Generation Partners program accepts projects that will generate up to 200 kilowatts of power a year, but after Sept. 16, it will accept applications only for projects generating up to 50 kilowatts, TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said.
Austal rolls out first joint high-speed vessel
Published: Friday, September 09, 2011, 6:00 AM Updated: Friday, September 09, 2011, 7:01 AM
MOBILE, Alabama -- The tip of the Spearhead emerged Thursday, followed by the rest of it.
Austal USA rolled its first joint high-speed vessel, the future USNS Spearhead, out of the shed where it was being put together onto a dry dock floating in the Mobile River. The high-speed transport was floated down to BAE Systems, where it is scheduled to be put into the water Sunday.
Austal spokesman Craig Hooper said that the ship is almost 90 percent complete and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy early next year, a delay from the previously announced goal of December. After being launched from the dry dock, tugs will tow the Spearhead back upriver to Austal, where it will be completed and readied for sea trials this fall, first by the Australian-owned shipyard and then by the Navy.
"Launch is an event that signifies a high level of readiness," Joe Rella, president and chief operating officer of Austal USA, said in a statement. "The incident-free roll-out today reflects extremely well on the Austal JHSV team."
Spearhead is scheduled to be christened Sept. 17. It is the first JHSV in a $1.6 billion, 10-ship contract awarded to Austal in 2008. The Navy ultimately wants dozens more. Along with the littoral combat ship, the transport work is a cornerstone of Austal's expansion. The shipyard already has 2,300 workers, making it the largest industrial employer in southwest Alabama.
Mobile Chamber of Commerce gets gloomy report in Washington
Published: Thursday, September 08, 2011, 9:49 AM Updated: Thursday, September 08, 2011, 10:50 AM
WASHINGTON - The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce met with like-minded officials in the nation's capital on Wednesday, but they heard little good news.
From predictions of more slow economic growth to discussions of federal budget woes and "onerous" regulations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned its Mobile counterpart of a gloomy climate for business interests.
Fittingly, the skies over Washington were rainy and gray.
Karen Harbert, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. chamber affiliate Institute for 21st Century Energy, told the Mobile group that more domestic energy production is vital to the economy's recovery. But the Obama administration is slowing the process, instead of speeding it up, with increased safety regulations, she said.
"We have, you know, a project in another part of the chamber that looks at the number of energy projects that have been stalled over the last three years because of our completely onerous, burdensome, Byzantine regulatory environment that has stopped ... billions of dollars worth of investment," Harbert said.
When she finished the roughly 10-minute talk, the room was silent.
"Aren't I so uplifting?" she asked.
Leading Democrats have defended the increased scrutiny of drilling after the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers and spawned the largest oil spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico. They argue that precautions are necessary to prevent repeat occurrences.
The Mobile chamber flew in to Washington Tuesday and is scheduled to stay leave today. In addition to visiting the U.S. Chamber, the group also set meetings with Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, as well as Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile.
Education, training - and jobs
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board Associated Press
Sep 08, 2011
| If higher education and jobs are inseparable parts of Alabama's economic recovery, then the goal should be singled-minded: get an education, get a job.
As if it were that simple.
We'll excuse you if the cavalcade of data concerning the marriage of higher education and jobs is confusing. That's understandable.
One day, the message is traditional Census Bureau fare - the more education you have, the better chance you have of staying out of the unemployment line.
The following day, the sermon surrounds "middle-skill" jobs that don't require Ph.D.s to earn and employers say they can't fill. In this sermon, the opportunity provided by community colleges is the central point.
In past months, the state has gone full-on in its efforts to publicize its "Go Build Alabama" program that emphasizes the abundance of jobs in fields such as welding, construction, road-building, carpentry, sheet-metal work and the like. In these blue-collar fields, it's job-specific training that's required, not a bachelor's degree in liberal arts or the sciences.
Oh, and to add to the confusion, the Associated Press has recently reported that certain traditional white-collar fields that require specialized, highly trained degrees are no longer automatic hires. The best example: Law school graduates, some of whom are struggling to get their foot into a firm's door despite their new J.D.s. Post-graduate hiring rates for lawyers are at their lowest levels in 15 years, the AP reports.
Q4 2011 Alabama Business Confidence Index Survey Open through September 15
The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at The University of Alabama invites the state's business executives to take the Q4 2011 Alabama Business Confidence Index™ (ABCI) survey. Participation from a wide range of firms in terms of location, industry, and size contributes to this broad-based assessment of business prospects for the fourth quarter.
The Q4 2011 ABCI survey is open now and closes on September 15. This makes 40 consecutive quarters that CBER has surveyed Alabama business confidence. Business executives can take the brief, six-question online survey at http://cber.cba.ua.edu/abci.
ABCI results newsletters for the state and the Birmingham-Hoover, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery metros are also available at http://cber.cba.ua.edu/abci.
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
Defining the Future:
Developing Leaders, Building Strong Communities Conference
Alabama Community Leadership Network (ACLN) and
Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE)
October 5-6, 2011
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa
Thom Gossom, Jr.
Make Your Hotel Reservations NOW!!!
more information: ACE website
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Wendy Wallace Johnson