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Here is today's summary of economic development news, a free service of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, representing Alabama's private sector investment in economic development.  If you enjoy NewsFlash, thank an EDPA Partner


in this issue:
Baldwin County approves engineering on 'dynamic' project linking I-10 and I-65 - Press Register
Birmingham Business Alliance calls for immigration law revision - Birmingham News
Alabama ranked sixth friendliest state for entrepreneurship - Birmingham News
Updated: Governor says he's reassuring foreign industries they're welcome in Alabama - AP



Many coastal industries make key ingredients for familiar products

Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 6:45 AM

Laundry detergent, compact discs and computer chips.

Common household items like that might not be synonymous with the Gulf Coast, but they couldn't be made without some of the chemicals produced at facilities in south Alabama and Mississippi.

The chemical, process and energy industries are important parts of the local economy. Here's a look at some of them.

--Aker Solutions employs 180 people at its facility in Theodore. The company makes steel tube umbilicals for offshore oil and natural gas producers. Umbilicals carry fiber optics, electrical wiring and hydraulic fluid from oil and gas platforms to the ocean floor.

--Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals LLC employs about 100 people at a plant in Axis that makes chemical additives, including carbon disulfides, which can be used in everything from construction and oilfield drilling to paint and adhesives.

--Arkema employs about 125 people at its Axis plant, where it makes plastics additives.

--BASF employs 450 in a McIntosh facility that makes a variety of chemicals used to enhance plastics, lubricants, coatings, paper and laundry detergent.



Press Register







Cooper has big plans in new role as CALC leader
Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 6:15 AM


By K.A. Turner, Press-Register Press-Register 
A little more than two months into the job, Colby Cooper is still feeling his way around about a few things.

But the new executive director of the Coastal Alabama Leadership Council isn't shy about where he wants the organization to go.

"Our mission," he said recently, "is to facilitate the development and execution of a bold, optimistic strategic plan" for coastal Alabama.

"We do not always have a sense of regionalism here in coastal Alabama," he said. "We do not have long-term economic and environmental resiliency, though credit needs to go to organizations working in those areas."

Ultimately, said Cooper, the council -- commonly called CALC -- will press questions such as:

  • "Where do we want this region to go?"
  • "Are we satisfied with the status quo?"
  • "Do we want to be globally competitive?"

And perhaps, most important, "If we want to be better, how are we going to get there?" 


Press Register 


Economic development offers opportunities for a new generation

Published: Tuesday, December 06, 2011, 5:15 PM  

By Gulf Coast Business Press-Register

The aging of America -- our growing percentage of population and workforce at or nearing retirement age -- is both a problem and an opportunity for the United States.

It certainly puts a strain on government-related programs such as Social Security and Medicare, but it also opens up great job opportunities for younger workers and tomorrow's leaders.

Probably no profession will be hit harder than that of economic development. Most of my mentors have already retired. Most of my peers are looking for ways to slow down, if not retire, within the next five years.

To my knowledge, only two universities in the United States offer true, pure economic development graduate curriculums, not the planning/community development types of degrees and educational opportunities.

But nearby, the University of Southern Mississippi has the oldest and most comprehensive such program, offering a master's in economic development. Upstate in Alabama, Troy University offers an emphasis in economic development within its MBA program.

Each degree program is excellent and offers many of its individual courses in an executive format. Neither have as many students - especially full-time students - as will be needed to replace all of us "old folks," who will retire in the next five years.









Plenty to be thankful for in Mobile Bay region (Wayman)

Published: Tuesday, December 06, 2011, 4:00 PM

In the spirit of the holiday season, I would like to take stock of some things I am thankful for as an economic developer in this amazing Mobile Bay region.


I'm thankful for our progressive and business-friendly elected leadership. Our mayor, city council and county commission are strong advocates and supporters of our economic development projects and programs.

South Alabama's state legislative delegation stands up for us in Montgomery, and our federal delegation, Congressman Bonner and Senators Shelby and Sessions, always have open doors and a willingness to fight for our city, county and region. These public servants work with us in many ways such as meetings and negotiations with prospects, carrying the torch for various issues on our legislative agenda and addressing infrastructure needs vital to our continued success.

I'm also thankful for our regional partners. My good friend Robert Ingram and his staff at the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance work with us on numerous regional marketing efforts from red carpet tours for consultants and allies to joint prospect visits and presentations. We also work closely with our regional partners along the Gulf coast in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana through the Aerospace Alliance to promote the dynamic I-10 aerospace corridor and the unique assets that make us stand out on an international stage.

Our economic development efforts would fall woefully short were it not for our statewide allies. The leadership and project management team at the Alabama Development Office brings a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience to the process that is unrivaled across the Southeast. Partners at the Alabama Department of Revenue and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management work to make projects happen instead of trying to slow the processes.

The marketing and research capabilities of the Economic Development Partnership have played a major role in Alabama and Mobile's successes, and continue to do so. Economic development teams at Alabama Power Co. and PowerSouth work statewide and regionally to ensure economic development success. And we are thankful.Our local allies like Mobile Gas, MAWSS, the Mobile Airport Authority, the Industrial Development Board, the Industrial Development Authority, the Industrial Park Board and many others all work closely with us to provide seamless project work that shows that we in the Mobile Bay Region are a true team.



Press Register 




 Targeting oil spill fines to ecosystem restoration could be big job generator, report says


Published: Monday, December 05, 2011, 9:30 PM



WASHINGTON -- A new report by Duke University economists says legislation that would target Clean Water Act penalties from last year's BP oil spill to ecosystem restoration could be a big job generator, including for firms facing cuts in oil and gas industry work.


The report was released Monday in advance of Wednesday's House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on legislation that would direct 80 percent of the fines to the five Gulf Coast states, with most of the money, estimated between $5 billion and $20 billion, earmarked for ecosystem restoration work.



"A recurring theme observed in interviews with sample firms is the unsteady nature of demand for coastal restoration work -- in part because of uncertainties and delays in finding mechanisms, and in part because volume of funding historically has been low," the study said. "Additional funding and stability in investment will make it easier to create and save jobs."

The study identified 140 businesses in 37 states, though most are along the Gulf Coast, that would benefit from a major influx of financing for coastal restoration work. Firms that have traditionally assisted with the development of oil and gas exploration could easily transition to do some of the ecosystem work, the study's authors said.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, who will be speaking at Wednesday's hearing on behalf of his legislation to earmark the Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf States, applauded the study.

"This report underscores our claim that Louisiana's coastal wetlands are invaluable, support critical national assets and should be restored immediately, and that by investing in our coast we create economic opportunities for the entire country," Scalise said.




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Wendy Wallace Johnson
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