Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Birmingham's Innovation Depot garners CNN Money's attention
Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 1:06 PM Updated: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 1:28 PM
The CNN Money website notes the 140,000-square-foot downtown Birmingham incubator is enjoying success and has its choice of applicants.
"Last year, the Innovation Depot graduated 10 companies and generated $274 million in revenue," the website said.
"This is pretty remarkable given the state of the economy," Devon Laney, chief operating officer of the Innovation Depot, is quoted as saying. "We also received 128 applicants and accepted 18."
The article named Vipaar and CareFusion (formerly MedMined) as two of the Innovation Depot successes. Innovation Depot is supported by the city of Birmingham and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Other incubators that made the list were Oklahoma City's Metro Tech; San Jose, Calif.'s Environmental Business Cluster and its San Jose BioCenter; Sunnyvale, Calif.'s Plug and Play Tech Center; New York's Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen; and Albuquerque, N.M.'s WESST Enterprise Center.
Accolades are nothing new for Innovation Depot. Earlier this year, it captured the "2011 Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year" award at the National Business Incubation Association's International Conference in San Jose, Calif., where it went up against 2,000 counterparts from across the U.S. and 65 other countries.
Five questions: Elizabeth Maples, UAB workplace safety center boss
Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 9:15 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Workplace injuries and accidents kill about 4,500 people a year -- 15 so far this year in Alabama -- and cost U.S. businesses billions.
Elizabeth Maples of UAB is doing something about it.
Maples is the deputy director for the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Ryals School of Public Health. It is one of 17 national academic research and teaching centers chartered by the legislation that created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1971.
"Others include Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, the University of South Florida and the University of Washington," Maples said. "We are in good company."
The center offers graduate-level courses on how to identify, prevent and fix workplace hazards. Students come from all walks -- engineering, business administration, nursing and public health. The curriculum for the future workplace leaders is a mix of class work, lab experiments, research and field trips to factories and offices.
Alabama gets $240K to increase exports
Published: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 4:55 PM Updated: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 4:58 PM
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Nov. 2, 2010, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (The Birmingham News / Michelle Campbell)
MOBILE, Alabama -- Robert Bentley just announced that the state received two grants totaling $240,600 to increase exports by Alabama companies.
The state got $100,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $140,600 from the U.S. Small Business Administration's State Trade and Export Promotion Grants Program.
It will use the money to provide funding for companies to gain a foothold in overseas markets through participating in trade missions and trade shows in emerging markets such as China, Eastern Europe and Latin America, according to a news release.
The grants can provide hands-on assistance through market research and trade leads and help companies identify qualified international buyers, the state said in its written release.
Dollar General begins filling 650 jobs at Bessemer distribution center
Published: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 10:51 AM Updated: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 11:05 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Dollar General will begin hiring this month for the 650 new jobs at its $100 million distribution center under construction in Bessemer.
Applicants are able to apply online at www.dollargeneral.com in the "career" section of the company's website. The company will also take applications at the upcoming Veterans Career Fair and Diversity Job Expo on Oct. 18 at 500 Amphitheater Rd. in Pelham.
"We look forward to building our team, adding new members who are enthusiastic and who thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment," Jerry Ferfes, manager of the distribution center, said in a statement. "Jefferson County has great people who are highly motivated, and Dollar General is thrilled to be opening a distribution center in this community. I feel confident that we will find candidates who are a great fit for our company."
Dollar General is looking to fill both salaried leadership roles and hourly general warehouse positions at the new center. The company will begin scheduling interviews immediately for receiving positions that will be effective by the end of the year. Only one application is needed to be considered for all available positions.
In addition to the 650 distribution center jobs, the company said it plans to add 6,000 employees at its new and existing stores throughout the U.S. over the next year
Goodrich deal points to big expansion in jetliner production
Published: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 5:00 AM Updated: Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 7:10 AM
Just as the economy seemed to teeter on the edge of a new recession in September, United Technologies Corp. stepped up to buy Goodrich Corp. for $18.4 billion, paying nearly double the trading value of Goodrich's stock before the Hartford, Conn., acquirer swooped in.
If the purchase is successful, United Technologies will add Goodrich's holdings, including a 750-employee unit in Foley that makes and repairs engine casings called nacelles.
Why would a company want to spend so much at a time when many other businesses are sitting on piles of cash, apparently unable or unwilling to spend? As United Technologies Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Louis Chenevert told analysts the morning after the announcement, the deal is an attempt to cash in on expected growth in airplane spending.
"I'm bullish on aerospace, and the whole team is bullish on aerospace," Chenevert said. "It's one of the few areas with a brighter outlook today."
He's not alone.
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, told leaders at the four-state Aerospace Alliance summit last month that the aerospace market, especially for the big jets made by Boeing Co. and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.'s Airbus unit, was only slightly scarred.
"We got out of this just fine," Aboulafia said, speaking at the Sandestin resort in Florida. Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are also members of the alliance, meant to jointly market the states to the aviation and space industries.
Robert Ingram: Perception is everything, so we better manage it
Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 6:00 PM
By Gulf Coast Business Press-Register
Perhaps as an inspiration to motivate me to academic excellence, my maternal grandmother, Lonie Watson, frequently told me that she was the valedictorian of her high school.
It was years later that I learned what Lonie never told me, that there were only three students in her graduating class. The added knowledge certainly changed my view of her academic prowess!
Perception is everything.
In the ninth grade, I ran for class vice president. My children were impressed by this until my wife told them I finished fourth in a three-person race, getting beat by a write-in candidate.
Perception is everything.
We have failed to make several cuts on large industrial sites because Baldwin County is perceived to be prone to huge hurricanes, and thus the entire county is unsafe. Yet our mega-site is the same distance away from the Gulf as Houston, Texas, and is 200 feet higher in elevation.
Troy Wayman: We're overcoming oil spill with OffshoreAlabama.com
Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 3:25 PM Updated: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 4:47 PM
In the wake of the oil spill last year, the oil and gas industry suffered a significant blow to its reputation. The financial suffering, hardship and environmental impacts, as well as the damage to perceptions caused by this unfortunate accident, are not to be taken lightly. The responsible parties should be held responsible for the damage. But take a moment to see the positive side of the oil and gas industry and the tremendous positive impacts this industry affords the Mobile Bay region.
Just in our region, the oil and gas industry employs more than 1,600 people directly, with another 200-plus contract workers. The indirect employment numbers are also more than 1,600. That represents more than 3,400 jobs directly tied to the fossil fuels industry. The annual payroll for the direct and contract employees alone is $92 million. And the companies who hire these people have invested more than $4 billion in facilities and equipment in our region. They purchase supplies and services in Mobile and Baldwin counties to the tune of $175 million on an annual basis. Finally, sales and property taxes paid annually by this industry in Alabama total more than $19 million.
Judging by these numbers, it's easy to see the oil and gas industry has a significant impact on our community and our state.
Seeing the importance of the oil and gas sector to our local economy, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce took the proactive step of forming the Oil and Gas Task Force in 2008. This was a direct result of the chamber's business retention and expansion efforts, which are led by Steve Russell. This task force was the genesis of OffshoreAlabama.com, a group committed to raising awareness about the impact of and opportunities for the industry in our region.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available in Alabama Following Secretary of Agriculture Disaster Declaration
ATLANTA, Oct. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Alabama as a result of the drought that began on April 1, 2011.
The SBA's disaster declaration includes the following counties: Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Covington, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Macon, Mobile, Monroe, Pike, Russell and Washington.
"When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to eligible entities affected by the same disaster," said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA's Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.
Under this declaration, the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquacultural enterprises, agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers are not eligible to apply to SBA, but nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.
The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3 percent for private non-profit organizations of all sizes and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.
Monday deadline for EDPA's Alabama Launchpad Business Plan Competition:
Prizes for seed capital and proof-of-concept
Time is running out to submit entries to EDPA's sixth annual Alabama Launchpad Business Plan Competition.
This year marks a change for the competition, with a total value of $400,000 in prizes to be awarded.
Alabama Launchpad has partnered with Frost & Sullivan, a globally recognized Growth Partnership Company to provide rapid Business Opportunity reports for 2011-2012 class participants - a value of approximately $10,000 each. Based on scores from the admissions committee and Frost & Sullivan Business Opportunity assessments the class will be divided into two tracks (Seed Ready and Pre-seed).
Seed Ready companies are the most-ready to move forward and execute their business plan. This group will compete for up to $100,000 in seed capital.
Pre-seed startups are those that need additional proof-of-concept work. These teams will compete for multiple proof-of-concept grants from $20,000 to $25,000 each.
In total, up to $200,000 in cash awards are available for participants and over $200,000 in market assessments.
At least one member of the startup team must be affiliated with one of the six participating universities (Alabama State University, Auburn University, The University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of South Alabama), either as a student, faculty member, university employee, university alumnus of no more than five (5) years, or a former faculty member of no more than three years removed.
For complete rules and eligibility, and more information (including online application) visit:
Alabama Launchpad website www.alabamalaunchpad.com
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Wendy Wallace Johnson