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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:
Aero-mark to reopen Fairhope aircraft systems facility - Press Register
Birmingham Business Alliance makes education a top business issue - Birmingham news
Rain holds off as Jackson County breaks ground for Jack Daniel's mill - Huntsville Times
Five Questions: James McManus handing over reins at Birmingham Business Alliance - Birmingham News
Southern Research partners with New Jersey molecular design firm - Birmingham News
Futaba expansion includes new manufacturing facility at Jetplex Industrial Park near Huntsville airport - Huntsville Times
Telephonics opens new facility - UPI





Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 12:01 AM 


FAIRHOPE, Alabama -- Aero-mark will return to Fairhope with a plant to build, assemble and repair military aircraft system parts,

The operation, to be known as Aero-mark MRO, will open in January at the Fairhope airport.


The company has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for a repair station license. As soon as the license is approved, Aero-mark will begin work on commercial aircraft components, according to a company statement.

Aero-mark owned, a repair station at the airport that was sold to Fokker Aircraft in 2006, according to the statement. Fokker closed the plant last October and moved operations to LaGrange, Ga. At the time the plant was closed, the facility had about 70 workers.

"Aero-mark is excited about the opportunity to once again be in south Alabama, which is one of the strongest talent pools for commercial aviation employees in the US," Brad Caban, chief operating officer of Aero-mark, said in a statement. "The quality and dedication of the local workforce makes it easy to compete in the US and international aviation markets."

Aero-mark plans to employ about 25 workers in the first year and increase the number of employees to about 60 in three years, said Josh Thornton, alliance vice president. He said the new company will be similar in many ways to Fokker's.

"They'll also manufacture aerospace components, which is different from the Fokker operation," Thornton said. "(Fokker) didn't do any manufacturing."

He said Aero-mark will invest about $2.3 million in the operation, which will be housed in a 26,000-square-foot building on Greeno Road. 



Press Register 




Birmingham Business Alliance makes education a top business issue

Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 5:15 PM     Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 5:41 PM


Harlem Children's Zone., took over today as the new BBA chairman. He said the crowd heard Canada's message loud and clear. Johnny Johns, the chief executive of Protective Life Corp  

 "I have become convinced that if the country continues on the present path as it relates to educating our children we will not remain a super power for long," Canada told the 1,100 in attendance at the meeting. "The people who have to care about this are the folks in the business community. This is something the business community has to lead on."




"What he had to tell us applies not only to our schools, but also to the community and the region," Johns said. "No one is coming to help us with our problems. We're going to have to solve them ourselves."


Brian Hilson, chief executive of BBA, said nearly every other issue the metro area faces has a connection to education.



Birmingham News


 Rain holds off as Jackson County breaks ground for Jack Daniel's mill


Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 1:47 PM     Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 1:55 PM

STEVENSON, Alabama -- Overcast skies and a threat of rain clouds failed to dampen the spirit today in Jackson County as officials broke ground on a mill to produce wood for Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey barrels.


Gov. Robert Bentley was joined at this morning's ceremony by Vice President Jill Jones and Vice President/General Manager Greg Roshkowski of Brown-Forman Cooperage, a subsidiary of Brown-Forman Corp., which produces Jack Daniel's.

Also on hand were Stevenson Mayor Ricky Steele; "Dus" Rogers, president of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority; Alabama Development Office Direct Greg Canfield; state Sen. Shadrack McGill; state Rep. John Robinson and Jackson County Commission Chair Sadie Bias.


"It was a tremendous turnout," said Rogers. "This is a good boost to the area by a great companyand a great reputation.


"There were a lot of people involved in this ... it was a good team effort."


The mill, at a 55-acre site just north of Stevenson, will produce white oak stave and heading material that will be used to produce the whiskey barrels.





Five Questions: James McManus handing over reins at Birmingham Business Alliance

Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 9:30 AM     Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 9:55 AM .


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- In a year when the Birmingham Business Alliance decided to be more vocal on issues, James McManus was often its voice.


The chief executive of Energen Corp. will hand over the BBA chairman's gavel to his successor at the BBA's annual meeting today, but we gave him one more opportunity to weigh in on where the metro area's primary business organization stands and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


The BBA with McManus as chairman was an organization that seemed to recognize its clout when it comes to shaping the economic and political landscape. McManus hopes you noticed.


"I think we've started to take positions on issues that are weighty for the region. That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to make our voice heard and not be silent to the issues," he said. "We needed the business community to step up and show some leadership. We're doing that in a very significant way as evidenced by the position we've taken on issues over the last 24 months. That doesn't mean our way is going to happen on every issue we take a position on. But we've at least tried to be constructive and make our arguments to convince people that the position we were taking on an issue is the right one."


In doing so, the business community, through BBA, is demonstrating real clout.


"I think the organization does carry some clout," he said. "Through our membership we have a lot of businesses large, medium and small. You would hope that when we make statements, people would look at them and they would have some force behind them."


When Protective Life Corp. CEO Johnny Johns takes the reins from McManus today, he will become the new mouthpiece and the wielder of that clout.


Q. What do you think was the biggest accomplishment at BBA this past year?

A. Perhaps the most significant thing we had to do was fill that CEO's job. Some people thought that process took a little longer than maybe it should have, but to us it wasn't as important how long it took as it was that we get it right, and with Brian Hilson I feel like we got it right.



Birmingham News


Southern Research partners with New Jersey molecular design firm

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 8:33 AM     Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 8:43 AM  

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southern Research Institute said it's reached an agreement for a New Jersey-based molecular design firm to use Southern Research technology to discover new treatments for disease.

Birmingham-based Southern Research signed an agreement with BioLeap, a company that specializes in computational fragment-based molecular design, meaning it uses proprietary software to increase the speed and cost-effectiveness of the development of drugs. BioLeap said in a prepared statement that Southern Research technology and drug discovery experience will quicken the drug discovery process partially through allowing chemists to create new molecules. The companies said terms of the agreement won't be disclosed.

"Given our focus and expertise in drug discovery and development, we are always interested in assessing new approaches to possibly advance research," Mark J. Suto, vice president for drug discovery at Southern Research, said in a prepared statement. "This investment allows us to properly evaluate a technology that could prove useful in leading to new drug candidates."

Southern Research was founded in 1941 and has facilities in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. The nonprofit scientific research organization employs more than 550 people and has clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace and environmental and energy industries.



Futaba expansion includes new manufacturing facility at Jetplex Industrial Park near Huntsville airport  

Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 1:51 PM     Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 2:07 PM

The authority's board on Tuesday authorized granting certain statutory tax abatements related to the construction of improvements by Futaba - a one-time abatement of an estimated $292,500 in non-educational sales and use taxes and abatement of an estimated $47,822.50 a year for 10 years in non-educational property taxes.




Telephonics opens new facility
Published: Dec. 16, 2011 at 6:08 AM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Telephonics Corp.'s Radar Systems and Communication and Electronic Systems Divisions have a new facility in Alabama.

Telephonics, a subsidiary of Griffon Corp., said engineers at the Huntsville, Ala., facility will conduct analysis of air and missile defense threat systems and engineering, high-fidelity modeling and simulation, and missile, radar and combat systems.

High-technology engineering for integrated information, communication and sensor system solutions for military applications and platforms will also be performed.

Sharing the facility is a subsidiary, Systems Engineering Group Inc.

"This facility will enable Telephonics and SEG to provide hardware, technical support, maintenance and high-end systems engineering services to our customers," said Joseph Battaglia, president and chief executive officer of Telephonics, which has headquarters in New York state.

"The proximity to the Redstone Arsenal will facilitate our ability to expand our role with new and existing customers, not only as a provider of the engineering, advanced systems, and technologies they need to better perform their missions but also to ensure these systems are reliable, meet the users' operational and mission requirements and are available at all times when needed.

"We also see tremendous opportunities to foster the continuing economic development of Huntsville and of Madison County."




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