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USDA to close 250 offices, including Dothan
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 8:49 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 11:08 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today
it will close more than 250 offices around the U.S., including one in Dothan
, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation.
U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack said the closures are meant to meet evolving needs of the agricultural economy. It's a "Blueprint for Stronger Service," according to a statement this morning from the USDA.
"The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago," Vilsack said in a prepared statement. "We must innovate, modernize, and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. We must build on the record accomplishments of farm communities in 2011 with a stronger, more effective USDA in 2012 and beyond."
The move is based on a review of USDA operations conducted as part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, a plan launched by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to "make government work better and more efficiently for the American people."
The closures are expected to save $150 million annually, and the department says that figure could eventually increase.
Micor to add 40 employees
By Eric Fleischauer
Micor Industries of Decatur expects to add 40 employees with a $3.1 million expansion, according to president and founder Mike Heath.
The State Docks Road contract manufacturer and machining company, which added 15 employees last year, employs 62. The additional employees will add $1.25 million to the company payroll, officials said.
"This year looks like a growth year for us, especially large components in the energy sector," Heath said. "The equipment is very, very expensive, and square footage becomes more of an issue because the components are much bigger."
Heath said the company, which previously focused on defense systems, is expanding into the energy sector, including sub-sea oil-drilling equipment, offshore rig parts and nuclear-plant components. Customers served by the expanded facility would include original equipment manufacturers in the energy sector, such as Exxon.
He said the expansion will add about 30,000 square feet to Micor's footprint.
Heath started Micor as a small machine company in 2000, incorporating in 2004. By 2008 - when the Alabama Technology Network and the Business Council of Alabama named it the emerging manufacturer of the year - it had 50 employees, annual sales over $7 million and seven five-year contracts with the Department of Defense.
Tuskegee Airmen museum expanding tours to celebrate release of "Red Tails"
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 8:12 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 10:30 AM
TUSKEGEE, Ala. - The museum in Tuskegee that honors the Tuskegee Airmen will offer an extended schedule of tours Jan. 20-22 to celebrate the release of the new George Lucas film about the airmen called "Red Tails."
Superintendent Sandy Taylor says the public can watch the release of the movie on Jan. 20 and then visit the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and Museum at Moton Field in Tuskegee. Six guided tours will be offered each day at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
State tourism director Lee Sentell says he hopes the movie will encourage tourists to visit Tuskegee to see planes used by the black pilots in World War II and experience real history.
What's the matter with Kansas? (Talbot column)
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 7:37 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 10:46 AM
By George Talbot Press-Register
The German word is "schadenfreude" - pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.
Schadenfreude was the natural reaction among Mobile leaders upon the news last week that Boeing Co. was shutting down its operations in Wichita, Kan., at the end of 2013.
Mobile absorbed plenty of abuse from Kansas politicians during the five-year war for the Air Force tanker contract. The competition pitted the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., which proposed to build its tankers in Mobile, against Boeing, which promised to build its planes in Everett, Wash., and Wichita, Kan.
Boeing, boosted by the influential support it received from the Washington and Kansas delegations, captured the tanker contract in 2011, dealing bitter disappointment to EADS and Mobile.
Wichita, where Boeing has done business for more than 80 years, was riding high on the prospect of 7,500 jobs modifying Boeing tankers for decades to come. The loss of that work was an economic and psychological blow to a city closely tied to the aerospace industry.
But any pleasure at Wichita's misfortune was short-lived, particularly when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced that, after being spurned by Boeing, the state would turn its full recruiting power to EADS unit Airbus.
"Don't think for one second that we are not exploring our opportunities to go out and recruit Airbus," said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, a former Boeing business manager. "We are making those phone calls."
Airbus, as anyone following the tanker competition knows, has a long-held ambition to establish commercial production on U.S. soil. The tanker loss was a major setback, but local and state officials are continuing to pursue the company and its suppliers. The prospects improve with each new sale Airbus adds to an impressive backlog of orders at its headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Wichita, nicknamed the Air Capital of the World, could be a formidable competitor. The city has a rich legacy of aircraft production, a deep pool of experienced workers, a mature network of parts suppliers and - with Boeing's departure - plenty available infrastructure.
But if Wichita calls, don't look for Airbus to come running.
"Good luck," said aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton of the Leeham Co. in Issaquah, Wash. "Nothing like insulting someone for years then turning around and asking for favors."
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