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Here is today's summary of economic development news, presented by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. 


in this issue:
Goodrich to host job fair at Foley plant Saturday - Press Register
Alabama Department of Transportation to delay construction of Northern Beltline for in-depth study - Birmingham News
Experts predict 5 years for Alabama to recover all jobs lost in recession - Birmingham News
Boeing's Huntsville site earned top rating from Software Engineering Institute - Huntsville Times
Oil spill claims offices to close Tuesday in Mobile and Orange Beach - Press Register
Birmingham Mayor William Bell to BBA: Jefferson County bankruptcy won't sink Birmingham - Birmingham News
First Navistar jobs to be filled - Times Daily
Tort Reform Boosted Mississippi Job-Creation, Barbour Tells Governors Gathered in Nashville - Missouri News Horizon


Goodrich to host job fair at Foley plant Saturday
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 7:00 AM  
By David Ferrara, Press-Register Press-Register

FOLEY, Alabama -- Officials at Foley's Goodrich Aerostructures plant are hosting a job fair Saturday to find workers to construct housing for Airbus engines.

"In here, you earn your money," said Linda Howser, human resources manager at the plant. "But it's gratifying because the pay is good."

Baldwin County's largest industrial employer, with roughly 800 employees at the site, Goodrich is looking to hire 40 workers who have experience in heavy construction, automotive, sheet metal or heating/air conditioning.

In the apprenticeship, workers would learn to construct a nacelle, the cover housing that encases the engine for the Airbus A320.

The new jobs came about because of increased demand, Howser said.

Anyone interested should bring two copies of his or her résumé and proof of high school graduation or a GED to the plant at 1300 W. Fern Ave. in Foley between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Goodrich officials declined to say how much the job paid, but Howser said the company offers a "market competitive total compensation package," including health care and 401k.

Goodrich started the program in 2007 and has hired 76 apprentice assemblers since January 2009, according to company spokesman Patrick Palmer.

More than 90 percent of those workers completed the program, which lasts between 10 and 20 weeks. That includes on-the-job training and classes in torque training, seal training, shop math, precision measuring and blueprint reading.






Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 6:15 AM     Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 6:52 AM
The Alabama Department of Transportation has withdrawn its application for a permit to build the first segment of the proposed Northern Beltline  until an in-depth study of the whole 52-mile route is completed.  

ALDOT had applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permits needed to begin construction on a 3.4-mile segment of the six-lane beltline that would connect Alabama 75 and Alabama 79 near Palmerdale in northeast Jefferson County. ALDOT has spent $15 million acquiring the needed right-of-way and had indicated construction could begin as early as next year.

ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris said ALDOT is still in the midst of a new study that will look at the Beltline project as a whole and evaluate its impact on the economy and environment. The permit application will be resubmitted after the study is completed.

"I can't speculate on when the re-evaluation will be completed because the ongoing work is very detailed," Harris said. "Obviously, the reevaluation must be completed before the project can advance, so I can't guess at when the section of the Beltline between Highways 75 and 79 will be completed."

During the public comment period on ALDOTs permit application, environmental groups had urged the Corps to reject it and were pleased ALDOT was withdrawing the application.

"I think ALDOT is doing the right thing and waiting until the reevaluation is complete," said Sarah Stokes, a staff attorney with the Birmingham office of Southern Environmental Law Center. "We are eager to see what the reevaluation contains. Hopefully, it will thoroughly study the cumulative and indirect impacts of the project and look at alternatives for investing that $4.7 billion."

The SELC represents Black Warrior Riverkeeper in a lawsuit that charges ALDOT hasn't performed required analysis needed to justify the project and determine the best route



Birmingham News 






Experts predict 5 years for Alabama to recover all jobs lost in recession
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 6:00 AM     Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 6:10 AM

It will take Alabama until late 2016 to recover all the jobs lost during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, longer than originally predicted, Massachusetts-based economic forecasting firm IHS Global Insight says.

That's three years longer than IHS Global's first estimate, issued in 2009, which said Alabama would reach pre-recession job levels in 2013.

But Alabama is not alone as the jobs recovery lags, because the firm's examination of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found most well below pre-recession employment levels. The median average for that recovery, according to IHS Global, is the fourth quarter of 2014.

Among the eight other states in the Southeast, only Louisiana is projected to recover jobs lost during the recession within three years. Florida and Georgia, like Alabama aren't expected to return to pre-recession employment levels until well into 2016.

Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Mississippi are projected to recover lost jobs sometime in 2015, according to IHS Global.

Alabama's unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in September, down from the recession peak of 11 percent in early 2009, but three times as high as it was in late 2007. Metro Birmingham's jobless rate was 8.9 percent in September, nearly three times as high as it was in October 2007.

IHS Global based its analysis on state industry breakdowns, population growth and demographics, according to its website.

The report largely echoes a separate analysis by the Brookings Institution, which found that as of October, the nation employed 12.3 million fewer people than before the recession. Brookings' Hamilton Project was even more pessimistic, finding that the nation would have to create 208,000 jobs a month to make up for job losses, meaning it would be 2024 before employment returned to previous levels.



Birmingham News






Boeing's Huntsville site earned top rating from Software Engineering Institute
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 1:20 PM
By Kenneth Kesner, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times 
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Boeing's site here recently earned a top "Level 5" rating on the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration scale.
Basically, the CMMI scale rates how advanced an organization's software development processes are, evaluating them against standards developed by industry and government.
Boeing's Huntsville site got the Level 5  rating in the CMMI disciplines of systems, software and hardware engineering.
"Achieving a CMMI Level 5 is a competitive discriminator in today's marketplace," said Tony Jones, vice president for Operations and Boeing Huntsville site executive. "It not only gives our customers greater confidence in our ability to execute on our current programs, but also strengthens our site's capability to win new business, as CMMI rankings are becoming a prerequisite for many competitive proposals."

The certification process for the Boeing Huntsville site was conducted by independent auditor American Systems and included an extensive review and analysis of development processes, documentation, measurement systems and quality assurance tools used by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense and International Space Station programs.

SEI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and operated by Carnegie Mellon University.



Huntsville Times







Oil spill claims offices to close Tuesday in Mobile and Orange Beach
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 1:19 PM     Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 3:03 PM
By Press-Register staff Press-Register

The BP oil spill claims offices in Mobile and Orange Beach will close Tuesday, Gulf Coast Claims Facility officials announced today.

The offices to close are at 325 East I-65 Service Road in Mobile and 24039 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach.

Two others will remain open. One at Dauphin Island Town Hall on Bienville Road, which is open every other week, and the other in Gulf Shores at Palm South Plaza on Gulf Shores Parkway. 

A statement on the Gulf Coast Claims Facility website states, "The consolidation of these offices continues the effort of the GCCF to optimize and provide the most efficient way to assist claimants by consolidating and reassigning our most knowledgeable staff with experience in GCCF processes and procedures to the busiest GCCF Claims Office facilities experiencing the highest volume and frequency of visiting claimants."

The facility has paid out more than $5.8 billion since the spring 2010 oil spill.

"We're ready for them to be gone," Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said today. "It's a reminder of what happened. They told me they get four to five people a day in the office, at the most. At City Hall we're still here to fight for anyone who needs help."

But, the cleanup of the beach is something that will continue until it's 100 percent cleaned up, he emphasized. The work crews at the beach are expected to be there for another year or two, he said.

For information on filing a claim or questions on the claims process go to gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com.




Press Register







Birmingham Mayor William Bell to BBA: Jefferson County bankruptcy won't sink Birmingham
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 10:44 AM     Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 1:36 PM  
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The head of Birmingham Business Alliance said area business leaders feel better about the region's future after receiving assurances from Birmingham Mayor William Bell that last week's  Jefferson County Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing  won't have a major impact on Alabama's largest city.

Bell addressed the BBA's executive committee this morning in a special called address in which he shared his thoughts on how the filing of the nation's largest ever municipal bankruptcy will affect the city of Birmingham.


"It gave the BBA an opportunity to hear how not all area municipalities face the same financial challenges that Jefferson County does," said Brian Hilson, president of the Birmingham Business Alliance. "It was a very good meeting and gave business leaders a chance to ask the mayor questions about this issue." 

Hilson said there is no question that Jefferson County's bankruptcy filing seeking to address its $4.2 billion debt, mostly related to its sewer system, hurts Birmingham's image. He said it can be overcome by pointing out that despite the county's economic woes, the region as a whole is on sound financial footing.

"While Jefferson County does have challenges, the metro area economy is in good shape, it's growing and very diverse," Hilson said. "Outside of Jefferson County's financial situation, we feel very good about the region and its future."



Birmingham News







Honda to add 100 jobs as it boosts investment in Alabama auto plant (update)
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 10:30 AM     Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 12:07 PM
 By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
LINCOLN, Alabama -- Honda will add 100 new jobs and invest an additional $84 million at its Alabama auto plant, the company announced today.

The announcement comes as Honda celebrates its 10th anniversary of production at the Lincoln factory. Gov. Robert Bentley and other officials are on hand at a ceremony at the plant marking the milestone.

Honda also said it is raising capacity at the plant to 340,000 vehicles and engines a year, up from 300,000 now.

Combined with previous investments announced earlier this year, Honda is adding a total of $275 million and 140 jobs to increase manufacturing flexibility and production capacity at the Alabama operations.

The latest $84 million investment is tied to the upcoming addition of the Acura MDX SUV to the plant's assembly lines. Workers now build the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup.

The automaker also is filling more than 50 professional-level positions in Lincoln.
The plant now employs more than 4,000 people. The total investment there will top $2 billion by 2013.



Birmingham News







West Corp. to hire more than 100 customer service reps in Huntsville

Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 9:53 AM     Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 10:01 AM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- West Corp., a provider of technology-driven, voice and data solutions, plans to hire more than 100  full-time customer service representatives in Huntsville. The positions are to meet an increased need from a pharmacy benefit management company, the company said in a news release today.

These representatives will assist customers and pharmacists with prescription refills, new prescription orders, prescription drug prices and insurance plan information and insurance coverage details.

"We are very excited about having 100-plus positions to offer to the Huntsville area, especially during these tough economic times," said Sherry Vest, director of human resources. "West looks forward to expanding our workforce and playing a significant part in boosting the local economy for the holiday season. "

The company is also hosting a job fair at its Huntsville location, 5000 Bradford Drive, Tuesday from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Applications are also accepted weekdays at the Huntsville office during normal business hours or online at www.westemployment.com (select Huntsville when searching for positions). 



Huntsville Times






First Navistar jobs to be filled
By Bernie Delinski  Staff Writer

Navistar International Corp. announced Monday the company will start hiring up to 120 workers by the end of the year for its new facility at Barton Riverfront Industrial Park.


This will be the first wave of hirings for the company, which takes over the existing National Alabama railcar plant Jan. 1.

In addition, company officials offered jobs to the existing 95 workers at the National Alabama plant, said Ray Koopman, director of manufacturing and business development.


"We offered jobs to the 25 salary and 70 hourly employees already there, and had 100 percent acceptance of the offers," Koopman said.


That means more than 200 workers could be at the facility by Jan. 1.


Company officials are not commenting on how many employees they intend to hire, but Gov. Robert Bentley has said it could be about 2,200 after three years.


Koopman said the company will hire the initial 110 to 120 workers from an existing Alabama Industrial Development Training pool. The names in that pool already had been screened for possible National Alabama jobs.


After that, Navistar will continue to look into the AIDT pool. Anyone interested in applying should do so through the agency. Koopman said Navistar will hire workers in groups of 20, beginning this week.


Navistar announced Sept. 26 it planned to purchase the National Alabama plant from the Retirement Systems of Alabama.


National Steelcar, a Canadian company, announced in 2007 plans to operate a railcar plant in Barton under the name of National Alabama that would bring in as many as 1,800 employees. The weak economy and other problems thwarted those plans, causing RSA, which invested nearly $600 million in the project, to take over ownership of the plant nearly three years ago.



Times Daily






Tort Reform Boosted Mississippi Job-Creation, Barbour Tells Governors Gathered in Nashville
November 15, 2011 | Filed under: Tennessee | Posted by: Tennessee Report



When the Tennessee Legislature debated tort reform earlier this year, with a lot of discussion of how the issue had played out in Mississippi, it was difficult to pin down lawmakers on exactly how to quantify the job creation involved.

But Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was in Nashville Monday, and if there was any doubt about whether tort reform made a difference in his state, Barbour attempted to smack down any debate about it.

"Toyota told us they would not consider Mississippi unless we got rid of lawsuit abuse, period," said Barbour, who participated in a National Governors Association regional summit hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam. "They told us we would not be on the list."

Barbour went on.

"The CEO of Caterpillar wrote the Speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and me a letter," he said. "We have five Caterpillar plants in Mississippi.

"He wrote and said, 'Don't think lawsuit abuse only affects companies when they're trying to decide where to site a new plant. It also affects companies that are trying to decide which plants to close.' The fact Caterpillar had a plant in the speaker of the House's hometown - who happened to be the biggest opponent of tort reform - I thought made it a particularly effective letter."

Barbour's conclusion: "We were the worst state in the United States three years in a row in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit abuse rating. It was killing us on getting companies to come to our state. That, just very directly right out of the customer's mouth, is how I know it."




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