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.
Lawrence County industrial authority hires Tony Stockton as executive
Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 11:57 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:03 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Tony Stockton, a 26-year veteran of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, has been hired as the top economic development official in Lawrence County.
The Industrial Development Board of Lawrence County today announced Stockton's hiring as executive director, making him responsible for developing and implementing strategies for attracting companies to locate industrial, distribution, service or retail businesses within Lawrence County. He starts Thursday.
"Mr. Stockton is well qualified to take on the role as executive director for attracting new industries and promoting economic opportunities in Lawrence County," board Chairman Kenneth Brackins said in a statement.
At Lockheed, Stockton most recently served as senior facilities project manager and strategic planner, the board said. He oversaw the construction of a $33 million facility in Huntsville, as well as facility projects in Virginia, Maryland, and Louisiana, according to the board's statement.
Hyundai produces record number of vehicles in Alabama
Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 11:33 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:04 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Korean automaker Hyundai said today that it produced 338,127 vehicles at its Montgomery auto plant last year, its highest annual total.
That output is a 12.5 percent rise over the number of vehicles produced in 2010, when the factory surpassed its annual capacity of 300,000 for the first time.
The plant's employees are working overtime to keep up with strong demand for the Sonata sedan and the Elantra compact, both top sellers for Hyundai.
During 2011, workers built 225,462 Sonatas and 112,665 Elantras, and the vast majority of the vehicles are sold in the U.S. But, about 15 percent of the plant's output was produced for the Canadian market, and a small fraction goes to Guam and Puerto Rico.
The overtime schedule at Hyundai's Montgomery operations continues this month. There are two 10-hour shifts, five days per week, along with two eight-hour shifts planned for Saturday, Jan. 14.
Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 11:29 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 6:39 PM
Political gridlock in Washington and a looming European debt crisis will continue to trickle down to south Mississippi and Alabama economies in 2012, serving to stifle both business and consumer confidence, economists said.
"The weak economy globally has really found its way to businesses locally, and the European sovereign debt crisis has really been an issue for a couple of years now," said Gerry Dugal, treasurer for Gulfport-based Hancock Holding Company, parent of Hancock and Whitney banks. "From a psychology/confidence perspective, it's really impacted businesses across the country."
Besides the uncertainty, lack of action in Washington, D.C., has also served to make businesses wary about hiring, he said.
"(Ben) Bernanke (chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System) has been criticized throughout this crisis ... but he has done everything possible he could to help offset the recession and help solve the panic," Dugal said. "The politicians, however, on a fiscal responsibility basis, have done nothing."
Hancock in its winter 2011 economic market review predicts that economies and markets will "remain hostage to politics and policy" in 2012. While a bearish outlook predicts another recession, the bullish outlook held by most area industry leaders calls for slow growth and a "muddle through" year, the review said
University of Alabama economists see recovery in the state slowing, but not stalling as a result of the tenuous national and global situations.
US Airways announces nonstop flights from Birmingham to Washington, D.C.
Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 10:03 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 10:10 AM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- US Airways announced today it will expand service for its Birmingham customers with daily, nonstop flights to Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport for the first time.
Through an agreement with Delta Air Lines, US Airways will begin flights on March 25, according to a press release announcing the new flights. The additions are part of the airline's focus on its core service areas, which are Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Phoenix and Charlotte.
"US Airways' wholly owned subsidiary PSA Airlines and Express partner Air Wisconsin will operate service to Birmingham on 50-passenger Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ200) aircraft," according to US Airways.
Eufaula manufacturing CEO sees time of opportunity for aerospace, defense industries
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Of all the industries to be strongly affected by the economy - i.e., budget cuts - the defense and aerospace sector may be catching the most flak.
And, they make up the backbone of the Huntsville economy.
"Business is not going to be the same, certainly not in our industry, where we have had a growth for the past 12 years in aerospace and defense."
Those are the words of Chad White, whose Eufaula-based company - JKM Manufacturing - is an aerospace and defense subcontractor.
Despite the angst over federal spending locally, White said this is a time for opportunity in the industry.
"I see the trend is opportunity," he said. "In any volatile market, it's not business as it was. The leaders and the laggards can switch places very quickly."
JKM builds products used on guided missiles, military aircraft, flight simulators, helicopters, tanks, industrial robots and sonar test equipment.
White said he also sees change in the industry, to go along with the chance for opportunities.
"Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty and fear; what that leads to is volatility," he said. "The last defense military vehicle show I went to was in Detroit, where there were a lot of primes (contractors) that weren't there. What that means from my perspective is businesses will be reduced.
"It's going to change our industry."
And part of the change will come in the ways that companies sell themselves, as well as their products.
White said there is pressure now on companies to make those products affordable, as opposed to the cost-plus style of bidding.
"Historically, we have been a cost-plus industry: Whatever it costs, you just tack on a reasonable fee or profit," he said. "But now, with the pressure on affordability, the companies that will survive and thrive will be those that can adapt quickly and come up with new ways to add value for their customers."
CBER 2012 Economic Outlook Conference registration online through Jan. 6
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Online reservations for the 2012 Economic Outlook Conference presented by The University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) can be made through Friday, Jan. 6.
The conference will be Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel in Montgomery. CBER is part of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration. The conference keynote address, "The Economy: View from the Fed," will be delivered by David Altig, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
The Alabama Outlook, a state forecast and review of metro areas, will be presented by Ahmad Ijaz, CBER's Director of Economic Forecasting, and Carolyn Trent, Socioeconomic Analyst at CBER. Dr. Samuel Addy, Associate Dean for Research and Outreach at the Culverhouse College of Commerce, will present the luncheon address, "Critical Issues for U.S. Economic Recovery and Growth."
The 2012 conference sponsors are the Alabama Council on Economic Education; the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs; Alabama-Mississippi Intermodal Complex; Alabama Power; Alabama SBDC network; BBVA Compass; BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama; Boeing Company; Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama; Kuykendall and Associates; Mercedes-Benz U.S. International; Riley and Jackson; ServisFirst Bank; Sterne Agee; and Vulcan Materials Company.
The registration fee of $150 and includes a copy of the "Alabama Economic Outlook 2012," conference materials and lunch. Registration may be made online at http://cber.cba.ua.eduor call 205-348-6191.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson