Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Investment in human capital can pay big dividends (Troy Wayman)
Published: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 10:33 PM
The old adage in real estate is location, location, location.
In economic development it can appropriately be said, workforce, workforce, workforce.
After a site is chosen, negotiations are complete and the dust settles for a new or expanding industry, the human capital is the critical component to a company's success. To be successful in economic development, a community must be prepared in many areas, not the least of which is workforce preparedness. The Mobile Bay region is ahead of the game.
Due to the national economy, our workforce development needs have changed over the last few years. We've gone from times of record lows in unemployment where companies were searching for anybody that could fog a mirror, to near-record highs in unemployment where specific skills are vital components in the search for employees. That has changed the dynamic of our efforts to prepare a workforce.
There are many agencies in the region that focus on various aspects of workforce development working to bridge the gap between the gap between employer needs and the available workforce. Various agencies are offering unique programming and setting the Mobile Bay region apart in the workforce development arena.
A good example is the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council's Worlds of Opportunity (WOO) held in September. It gave more than 9,700 students from 75 schools in the eight-county region the chance to see, in a hands-on environment, a plethora of career options in fields ranging from medicine, engineering and aerospace, to construction, automotive and architecture. This was the second year for WOO, which was also attended by more than 950 teachers, counselors and parent chaperones. Some 150 general volunteers worked with more than 500 exhibitor volunteers from 184 companies to enable these students with an incredible opportunity to learn about career options in a multi-sensory environment.
5 questions with Jimmy Lyons
Published: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 3:30 AM Updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 5:05 PM
Q. The Port Authority recently received a $950,000 grant from the EPA. What will it be used for?
Lyons: It's going to help us rebuild the motor on a switching locomotive, which moves rail cars short distances and arranges them for long journeys with national carriers. A regular rebuild with the same motor would cost a half-million dollars. This gives us enough money to do a much more environmentally friendly job, which costs $1.5 million. Basically there are two smaller motors, one of them runs and the other comes on when it needs to, as opposed to a traditional one where you have to keep the whole thing running all the time. This basically reduces emissions and reduces fuel use by 40 percent.
The skinny on Lyons:
What was the last book you read? The time I read is when I'm on a plane, so I want the most mind-numbing books I can find. I don't read quality books.
Las company you bought stock in? Ford Motor Co. It's a good company, they make a good product, and I believe in it. I just bought my sixth Ford in a row.
What is your guilty pleasure? I love ice cream sandwiches. But I eat the skinny-calorie kind.
Q. What other efforts is the Port Authority making to be more energy- and emission-conscious?
Lyons: We've been doing this for a couple years. We bought our first hybrid vehicle four years ago. Last year we converted four of our pickup trucks to propane, which is a cleaner-burning fuel. We had an energy audit done about four years ago, and they came back with whole book of things we could do to reduce our power consumption, which obviously reduces the amount of power that has to be generated. Power is a huge expense for us -- we pay something like $3.5 million a year.
Every time we have to replace lights at a warehouse, we go to the ones that consume less energy. Every time we have motors burn out at McDuffie Coal Terminal, we're going to more energy-efficient motors. We just replaced windows in the administration building, and we're spending extra making them more insulated. We're focusing on equipment acquisitions, buying all electric stuff. Of the 10 cranes we have on the port, only two are not electric.
Terma North America expands into Huntsville
Published: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 8:06 AM Updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 8:11 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Terma North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Denmark-based aerospace, defense and security company Terma, has expanded into Huntsville.
The company has established a business unit here called Joint and Land Systems to support opportunities in the Department of Defense's battle management arena.
The unit will temporarily be at the Lockhheed Martin campus on Bradford Drive in the Battle Management Technology Center, and its staff includes Bobby Dodd, director of Joint and Land Systems, and a senior software engineer.
"In 18 months, we plan to expand and open our own office in (Cummings) Research Park," said Dodd. "Our intention is to increase the staff with three to five engineers in the next year."
Steve Gress, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based Terma North America, said Huntsville is an ideal place for the company to have a presence with its battle management line of business.
GE Aviation breaks ground on $50 million Auburn plant
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011, 4:30 PM Updated: Monday, October 31, 2011, 5:42 PM
Gov. Robert Bentley; U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks; Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn; and Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. joined GE Aviation executives at the event.
The 300,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing plant will produce precision, super-alloy machined parts for GE jet engines that will power future commercial and military aircraft, and also to support the vast fleet of GE jet engines already in service.
The plant is set to complete construction late next year and production will start in 2013.
Some hiring will take place in 2012 with more jobs filled as production increases to eventually employ 300 to 400 people over the next six or seven years.
GE Aviation said it chose Auburn largely due to its access to a skilled workforce and its proximity to universities. The GE plant plans to develop collaborative relationships with Auburn University and Tuskegee University.
"GE Aviation has enjoyed significant success establishing 'Centers of Excellence' that focus on specific aviation components and processes within our supply chain," said Colleen Athans, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation. "We are very excited to add Auburn to our network of manufacturing operations."
The new Alabama facility underscores the growth of GE Aviation, where deliveries of commercial engines for GE and its partner companies will grow in 2012 to near-record levels. GE Aviation employs approximately 17,000 workers in more than 30 manufacturing operations in the U.S.
Combined with GE's military engines, total engine deliveries in 2011 for GE Aviation and its partner companies are expected to reach 3,200 engines.
Pharmavite starts work on $76.5 million Opelika plantPublished: Monday, October 31, 2011, 1:11 PM Updated: Monday, October 31, 2011, 1:17 PM
Pharmavite formally broke ground this morning in Opelika on its $76.5 million, 330,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park.
The facility, which was announced Sept. 13, is expected to create 280 jobs.
While Pharmavite may not be a household name, its products are widely known.
"Pharmavite will bring two internationally known brands -- Nature Made vitamins and dietary supplements and their SoyJoy products," said Greg Canfield, director of the Alabama Development Office. "The company is very well known nationally and internationally and they're the No. 1 seller of dietary supplements around the world."
The Opelika plant will produce Nature Made soft gels and tablets.
"We are honored to officially join the Opelika and greater Alabama community and we're looking forward to accomplishing many great things together," said Mark Walsh, chief operating officer of Pharmavite. "This new facility represents a significant step in the growth of Pharmavite and will serve as a model manufacturing facility for the entire vitamin and supplement industry."
Lakeside races to open Thomasville pipe-making facilities
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011, 10:37 AM Updated: Monday, October 31, 2011, 10:43 AM
THOMASVILLE, Alabama -- Lakeside Steel is almost ready to fill its pipe pipeline.
The Canadian company, anticipating continued robust oil and natural gas drilling, hopes to be turning out pipe for those wells before the end of the year.
Lakeside will make pipe at a site south of downtown Thomasville. It plans to harden pipe and shape and machine its ends at a former sawmill north of town. Between the two sites, Lakeside plans to hire 280 employees and is investing $57.5 million.
The new mill could elevate Lakeside's position in a consolidating industry. The company was created in 2005 when investors bought a Welland, Ontario, mill from a bankrupt Canadian steel company. Lakeside has described the Welland plant as being of "advanced age" in stock filings. The Thomasville complex will give Lakeside more modern capabilities and its 192,000 tons of capacity will almost double the company's ability to make pipe.
The complex will be closer to oil and gas drillers in Texas and Louisiana. It will also increase Lakeside's ability to harden pipe and add connective couplings. Lakeside has said that such finishing capability is a big bottleneck in the pipe industry.
Southern Automotive Conference
Nov. 3 & 4, Huntsville, Alabama
Members of AAMA, MAMA, or TAMA - $145.00
NonMember - $195.00
AAMA will host the fourth annual Southern Automotive Conerence on Nov. 3 and 4 at the Westin Hotel. The regional conference is a joint meeting of AAMA, the Tennesee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA) and the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association (MAMA).
Registration and a complete conference agenda are available online at www.saconf.com
Alabama India Business Partnerships 6th Annual Dinner
Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.
The Club, Birmingham, Ala.
Table of 8 - $520
Seat - $65
Student - $30
Guest Speaker: Aziz Haniffa, Editor, India Abroad
RSVP by Nov. 3 to firstname.lastname@example.org or 334.242.0450
For more information: Navin C. Nanda, M.D., AIBP President, 205.934.8256
Significant Changes in Patent Reform Law Lead Alabama Biotechnology Leaders to Host Free Patent Reform Workshops For Entrepreneurs, Universities, Investors and Inventors.
Birmingham, AL - Three of Alabama's most significant innovation centers will host free Patent Reform luncheon workshops in mid-November. Produced by the Biotechnology Association of Alabama (BAA) and sponsored by law firm, Ballard Spahr, the goal of the workshops is to help biotechnology professionals better understand the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act passed a few months ago by the U.S. Congress.
"As scientists, university professionals, investors and entrepreneurs, we need to know more about how this landmark patent reform will impact us," says Art Tipton, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Directors for the BAA, "Will it take more or less time for an individual to get a patent? What strategy should small biotech companies employ to save money and to compete or collaborate with major corporations in the new application process? What impact will this have on grants received and pursued by major universities? These are just a few of the questions that will be addressed in this workshop."
According to Ballard Spahr attorney, Mary An Merchant, Ph.D., the America Invents Act is the most comprehensive patent reform legislation that the United States has seen in a generation. New areas of the law will allow some patents to be fast-tracked, while others patent applications may take longer to get through the process. According to the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the average cost of filing a patent application for a minimally complex biotechnology patent was about $8,500 in 2008. More complex patent applications averaged closer to $15,000.
BAA President, Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., says, "This is an economic development issue for one of the brightest industries in Alabama's future economy," says Nugent, "Alabama companies, universities and investors need to understand the most fundamental changes to this law that might impact their business models as well as the strategic value of their intellectual property holdings."
Who: Biotechnology Association of Alabama
What: Free patent reform luncheon workshops in Huntsville, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
Space limited to first 40 registrants per location.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
601 Genome Way, Huntsville, AL 35806
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
1500 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203
Thursday, November 17, 2011
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
University of Alabama
Alabama Institute for Manufacturing Excellence
720 2nd Street, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
How To Register: workshop.bioalabama.com
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Wendy Wallace Johnson