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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:
Nissan to build Mercedes engines in Tenn. plant - Automotive News
Lee commission approves help for Opelika project - Opelika Auburn News
Birmingham City Council committee gives nod to call center incentives; 250 jobs planned - Birmingham News
Birmingham's O'Neal Steel grows due to business mettle - Birmingham News




Nissan to build Mercedes engines in Tenn. plant
Infiniti, Mercedes models to carry the 4-cylinder powerplants

DETROIT -- Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler AG said they have agreed to produce four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz gasoline engines at Nissan's Decherd, Tenn., engine factory from 2014 to be fitted on Mercedes and Infiniti models.

The companies, in a joint statement, said the operation will have a capacity to build 250,000 engines a year "once full ramp-up is achieved."

The effort expands on a wide-ranging agreement, announced in April 2010, for Daimler and the Nissan-Renault alliance to share vehicle and powertrain technologies.

"This is the newest milestone in our pragmatic collaboration and our most significant project outside of Europe so far," Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said in the statement Sunday. "Localized capacity reduces exposure to foreign exchange rates while rapidly enabling a good business development in North America -- a win-win for the Alliance and Daimler."

Daimler touted the plan as a way to provide a direct supply of engines for the Mercedes C-class vehicles produced at Daimler's plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the plan fits the German automaker's 2020 expansion program.







Lee commission approves help for Opelika project
By: William White | Opelika Auburn News
Published: January 09, 2012 Updated: January 09, 2012 - 8:29 PM

A plan to help Opelika with an economic development project in the city's northeast industrial park expected to create a couple hundred jobs and an investment of as much as $250 million won quick approval from the Lee County Commission during its regular meeting on Monday.


Opelika Industrial Development Authority Chairman Ronnie Wilson and Lori Huguley, director of the Opelika Economic Development Department, asked the commission to approve manpower and equipment to prepare the 60-acre site in the industrial park if the company chooses the city for the project. All other expenses and permits will be covered by the city, the officials said.


Huguley told the commission that Opelika is one of four sites being considered for the project and the only site being considered in Alabama.


She said the city should have a decision on the project in about a month.







Birmingham City Council committee gives nod to call center incentives; 250 jobs planned
Published: Monday, January 09, 2012, 6:39 PM     Updated: Monday, January 09, 2012, 6:41 PM


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A Birmingham City Council committee this evening endorsed incentives to bring a hospital call center's expansion to downtown along with an expected 250 new jobs.

A joint meeting of the Budget and Finance and Economic Development Committees approved the agreement under which the city would give Accretive Health $210,000 in incentive money to locate here. The full council is expected to vote on the agreement next week.

Birmingham competed with Pensacola and Nashville to land the company, said Tracey Morant-Adams, the city's economic development director. The city's money would be paid in equal installments of $70,000 for three years.

Accretive Health provides appointment reminders, registration, insurance verification and customer billing and collections services to hospitals, doctors and other health care businesses. The center will service multiple hospitals from its new Birmingham office in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex's Medical Forum.

Eric Kachin, the company's senior manager for customer management, said Accretive expects to have its first 90 employees in the first 12 months with average pay at $17 an hour.

Under the agreement, Accretive will hire 250 employees within five years. The company would forfeit part of its incentive if it fails to reach its goal and retain those jobs for an additional five years, Assistant City Attorney Jim Stanley told the committee.

In addition to the city's contribution, Accretive has secured $250,000 from the state along with building improvements from the BJCC.

"A lot of that is driven by job creation," Morant-Adams said, explaining the reason for the multiple contributions.










Birmingham's O'Neal Steel grows due to business mettle
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 6:00 AM

By Joe B. Crowe -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News 

Birmingham's O'Neal Industries weathered the harsh winds of the economic downturn and its chairman says the company is poised to advance thanks to a string of acquisitions and improving industry conditions this year.

Last week, the family-owned Birmingham company, which operates metals service centers, said it had acquired Iowa Laser, a Cedar Rapids-based manufacturer of fabricated metal assemblies and components. It called the deal a "significant strategic move" for O'Neal's manufacturing service business unit formed last year as part of O'Neal steel.

"It's just a very strong company," Craft O'Neal, chairman of O'Neal Industries, said in an interview. "It's got a strong management team, good facilities, a good reputation within the industry, and just kind of all the things we look for in an acquisition opportunity."

The purchase was one of five that O'Neal Industries has made since 2008, during what for many companies has been hard economic times.

In 2009, it bought Denman & Davis, a carbon and stainless distributor and processor with locations in New Jersey and Rhode Island. That gave O'Neal a presence in the Northeast. Last year it acquired California-based Plus Ten Stainless Inc., strengthening the company's position in the West and its role in the stainless steel and aluminum plate market.











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