Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Jobs, economy remain Gov. Bentley's main focus
Published: Monday, November 07, 2011, 4:52 PM Updated: Monday, November 07, 2011, 5:46 PM
Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News>
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Gov. Robert Bentley said the economy and job growth remain his top priorities and economic development projects on the horizon along with those already announced could give the state a total of 10,000 new or future jobs this year.
Bentley spoke at the annual Birmingham Business Alliance luncheon today where he touched on a number of hot-button issues along with the less polarizing need to improve the economy and create jobs.
"Creating jobs is the No. 1 issue we need to face every day," Bentley said.
Bentley pointed to his creation of the Alabama Economic Development Alliance as one key in that process. The Alliance joins the forces of the Alabama Development Office, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, local economic developers, the state's research universities, the two-year college system and worker training program and certain major corporations. They are developing a statewide economic development plan they will begin implementing in early 2012.
In Birmingham, the key will be UAB, he said, as its research and science become commercialized and are turned into companies that create jobs. It will also help attract new professionals and industry to the area, he said.
Brian Hilson, chief executive of the BBA, said Bentley has become an ally in the recruitment and expansion of industry.
Automakers' drive into Southeast misses Florida
Car companies, attracted by incentives, invest $6 billion to build plants in other Southeast states.
Over the past 20 years, the automobile manufacturing industry roared into the Southeast like a high-powered race car.
Lured by lucrative incentives and the promise of cheaper, non-union labor, carmakers invested $6 billion to build eight plants in five states - Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. Those plants today employ 27,000 people, plus tens of thousands more at companies supplying vehicle parts for the plants.
Jacksonville, and the rest of Florida, got none of that action.
Check out an interactive of how other Southeastern states have benefitted
Cecil Commerce Center, which fits the bill as a site for a mega-manufacturer, sits stuck in neutral.
Florida's shortage of manufacturing jobs has spurred examination at both the state and local level about how to catch up. Think tanks have weighed in, saying export-driven manufacturing would diversify an economy reliant on agriculture, tourism and construction. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has embraced development of Jacksonville's port, which would make the region more attractive for manufacturers.
"If somebody could figure out what the silver bullet is for it, I would buy that silver bullet," City Councilman Ray Holt said. "It's just a slam dunk to bring manufacturing to Jacksonville."
Cecil Commerce Center is shovel-ready for a mega-plant, and the city's port gives access to international markets, said Ed McCallum, senior principal at McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a Greenville, S.C., firm that has worked for automobile companies selecting plant sites.
"For so many years, the state didn't think it had a chance," he said of Florida. "I don't think that's the case anymore."
Most Solar Makers Will Disappear by 2015: Trina CEO
By Natalie Obiko Pearson - Nov 8, 2011 8:09 AM CT
Most of the biggest solar-equipment makers may disappear in the next few years as plunging prices erode margins and drive the weakest out of business, according to Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL), the fifth-largest supplier of solar panels.
"This is the decade of mergers and acquisitions," Jifan Gao, chief executive officer of Changzhou, China-based Trina, said in an interview. "From now until 2015 is the first phase, when about two-thirds of the players will be shaken out."
Three U.S. solar companies including Solyndra LLC have gone bankrupt this year and more, led by First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., slashed sales and margin forecasts, reflecting slower growth in demand and stiffer competition. SunPower Corp. (SPWRA) and Roth & Rau AG (R8R) of Germany agreed to takeovers.
Gao, who founded Trina in 1997, predicted that only about five companies may survive through 2020 in each of the three major manufacturing segments. He defined those as photovoltaic panels, ingots and wafers, and the raw material polysilicon.
"Globally, that would be stable and sustainable," Gao said last week in Singapore, without naming survivors or his expectations for his own company.
SunPower and First Solar, the largest U.S. solar-gear manufacturers, this month said they will reorganize after cutting their forecasts.
Job Openings in U.S. Hit Three-Year High as Employers Prepare for Recovery
By Shobhana Chandra - Nov 8, 2011 9:25 AM CT
The number of positions waiting to be filled in the U.S. rose in September to the highest level in more than three years, indicating some companies are preparing for an improving economy.
Job openings increased by 225,000 to 3.35 million, the most since August 2008, a month before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. intensified the financial crisis, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. Hiring advanced by 185,000 to 4.25 million, and firings also climbed.
Payrolls grew by 80,000 workers in October, and gains in the prior two months were revised up, Labor Department figures showed last week. At the same time, hiring is short of the pace needed to reduce unemployment hovering around 9 percent, helping explain why Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has said the recovery is "frustratingly slow."
"The economy is continuing to grow with positive job creation and slight improvement in the unemployment picture," Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial in New York, said before the report. Even so, "we are still far from the robust levels needed to dent the elevated level of unemployment."
Openings increased 7.2 percent in September from a revised 3.13 million in the prior month that was higher than previously estimated.
Aerospace Industries Association says 24,600 Alabama jobs on line
Published: Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 9:17 AM Updated: Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 9:26 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama would lose more than 24,600 jobs if a Congressional committee fails to reach a compromise on budget cuts, triggering deep cuts in defense spending, a group warns.
The Aerospace Industries Association
said more than 1 million U.S. jobs would be lost if the deficit reduction select committee fails to reach agreement on alternative balanced budget solutions and total cuts to the defense sector reach $1 trillion. The group says 350,000 of the job losses would be in the aerospace and defense industry, with the rest in other industries from suppliers to service companies to small businesses in affected communities.
"Our analysis reveals bleak outcomes for both the defense industry and the economy as a whole if the budget sequestration trigger is pulled and $1 trillion is cut from defense," said Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University
and Economic Modeling Specialists Inc
Fuller's conducted an analysis
on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association.
California would be the hardest hit state, with 125,800 job losses, according to the analysis.
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville hosting workshop on America Invents Act
Published: Monday, November 07, 2011, 1:57 PM Updated: Monday, November 07, 2011, 2:10 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville is hosting a free luncheon workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 15 designed to help biotechnology professionals better understand the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act passed by Congress.
The workshop is from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at HudsonAlpha, located at 601 Genome Way in Huntsville.
Workshops will also be held Nov. 16 at Innovation Depot in Birmingham and Nov. 17 at the Alabama Institute for Manufacturing Excellence in Tuscaloosa.
The workshops are produced by the Biotechnology Association of Alabama and sponsored by the law firm Ballard Spahr.
"This is an economic development issue for one of the brightest industries in Alabama's future economy," said BAA President Dr. Kathy Nugent, in a release. "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."
According to Dr. Mary Ann Merchant, a Ballard Spahr attorney, the America Invents Act is the most comprehensive patent reform legislation that the United States has seen in a generation.
Space is limited to first 40 registrants per location. To register, visit workshop.bioalabama.com
2012 EDAA Winter Conference
January 23 - 25, 2012 at the Wynfrey Hotel, Birmingham, AL.
Room reservations can be made by calling 1.800.996.3739.
Room rates are $162.00 per night. Reservations must be made before December 30, 2011 to guarantee the conference rate.
WHEN: Monday, January 23, 2012 12:00 PM - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:30 AM
WHERE: The Wynfrey Hotel
1000 Riverchase Galleria, Birmingham, AL 35244
Please feel free to forward along to someone who can use it by clicking on the "I'd like to forward this to a contact" link below the green bar.
Note also, that you can now make changes to your e-mail address and contact information through the link at the bottom.
As always, if you have news or suggestions, please forward them along to me.
Wendy Wallace Johnson