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.
Airbus could open U.S. manufacturing facility
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:42 PM ; Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:44 PM
Airbus SAS, whose parent lost out in a U.S. tender to supply refueling aircraft to Boeing Co., may add a final assembly line in the U.S. to buoy sales in the world's No. 1 market for single-aisle planes, an executive has said.
The European planemaker, which has final assembly lines in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany, as well as Tianjin, China, may find that adding a similar operation in the U.S. increases visibility with potential clients, Hans Peter Ring, chief financial officer of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Co., said Tuesday in an interview.
While the Asia Pacific region is the most promising market for future sales of large, wide-body planes, North America is the single-biggest market for short- to medium-haul ones such as Airbus's A320. With North American carriers needing to replace thousands of aircraft in coming years, the European planemaker could have a commercial advantage in showing customers that its models are put together locally.
"The U.S. market is for the foreseeable future the biggest single-aisle market in the world, so there is some logic to be in the U.S.," said Ring after EADS and Airbus officials gave briefings in Hamburg on the business outlook for 2012. "It's certainly something that new management will need to look at."
EADS Chief Executive Officer Louis Gallois is retiring in May after the annual shareholder meeting and is expected to be succeeded by Tom Enders, now chief of Airbus. EADS shareholders Daimler AG and Lagardere SCA have held off on final decisions about the shape of future management.
"I have to tell you there is no decision at all," Ring said. He declined to comment on the specifics of the management succession or whether he expected to retain his position as CFO of EADS.
Airbus last year broke Boeing's two-decade stranglehold on supplying AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, with an order for its A320neo, a single-aisle plane offering more fuel-efficient engines. It lost out in a contest with Boeing to supply Delta Air Lines Inc. and is currently competing against Boeing to win an order from UAL Corp.'s United Airlines. United is looking at the purchase of as many as 200 jets.
North America is "critical" for the sale of single-aisle planes, Airbus CEO Enders said today.
Call center project called a major win for Birmingham
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 8:00 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham beat out Nashville and Pensacola to lure Accretive Health and its 250 specialized call center jobs to an office building in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, officials say.
A final victory in the derby for the project hinges on the Birmingham City Council approving $210,000 in incentives for the company, which the council plans to take up at its meeting today. The state has committed an additional $250,000 in incentives for the project.
Getting the deal took St. Vincent's Health System, the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Alabama Development Office, the BJCC and the city persuading the company Birmingham was where it needed to be.
John O'Neil, chief executive of St. Vincent's, learned in August that Chicago-based Accretive was looking to establish a Southeast service center for its growing customer base in the region, which includes St. Vincent's parent company Ascension Health. O'Neil put BBA on the recruitment of the project.
The recruitment was given the code name "Project Shadow" and economic developers for the state, region and city worked on it.
"John O'Neil really wanted to win it," said Marvin Price, a project manager at BBA who worked on the recruitment. "I think the incentives deal we were able to put forward made Birmingham too competitive in the end."
If the city approves the incentive package, Accretive plans to invest $2.25 million to create its Southeast service center in two or three floors of the BJCC Medical Forum office building.
The BJCC has offered to make significant lease and tenant improvements to win the project. Accretive will lease the space from the BJCC.
Accretive will use the center to provide appointment reminders, registration, insurance verification and customer billing and collections services to hospitals, doctors and other health care businesses.
OUR VIEW: After a decade as chancellor of the University of Alabama System, Malcolm Mack Portera leaves the system and the state a better place
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 5:45 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 7:17 AM
Malcolm Portera's tenure as the University of Alabama System chancellor could have looked like a ride on the Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia.
During the past decade, the state's largest public university system rode a whipsawing roller coaster of public funding, with budgeted spending soaring from $381 million in the 2003 fiscal year to $610 million in the 2008 fiscal year. Yet, by the last fiscal year, budgeted spending for the system -- the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Huntsville -- had plunged to $434 million.
Crippling cuts in state funding could have led to crippling cuts in programs and staffs at the three universities. There was some belt-tightening, and federal stimulus dollars helped soften the budget blows. But Portera found a way for the UA system not only to survive, but to thrive as public funding shrunk to embarrassingly low levels.
Part of his genius as chancellor was his view that the state's circumstances, both financial and political, would not hold back the system. And they didn't.
In 2002, when Portera became the UA System's fifth chancellor, the system received 20 percent of its budget from the state. By 2011, state funding had shrunk to 10 percent of the budget pie. Meanwhile, the pie grew, from $2.1 billion in 2002 to $4.6 billion this year.
Part of the spectacular growth came from the burgeoning student population, which, as state dollars shrank, paid higher tuition. The number of students in the system's three schools jumped from 45,000 in 2002 to 58,000 in the current school year.
But Portera, with trustee support, was intent on expanding the system's budget in other ways to offset dwindling state support, including: encouraging strategic partnerships in health care, such as managing and governing the Montgomery Baptist Health System (a $1 billion budget increase); pushing to expand the number of grants and contracts the three schools receive from federal and private sources; growing annual gift-giving to record-setting levels; insisting that bookstores, food services, residence halls and the like be run as businesses.
Blue Ocean Technologies to expand in Innovation Depot
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 7:50 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 7:50 AM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Blue Ocean Technologies, a provider of cloud-based telephony and VoIP technology products, is expanding its offices at Innovation Depot in downtown Birmingham.
The firm, which has eight employees, will use the new space to better equip its sales and technical staff as the company continues to expand its list of customers.
"Blue Ocean has grown over the past three years, they're well positioned to to serve their customers in Birmingham and across the state," Devon Laney, chief operating officer of Innovation Depot, said in a prepared statement
Blue Ocean has been housed at Innovation Depot for three years. The new space will provide about 15 percent more area for the company than the 1,700 square feet it has. The previous office was a large room with cubicles, but the area is a collection of offices divided by department. The next move will be to offices outside of the Innovation Depot, as most companies have a goal of "graduating" from the business incubator after five years.
Two job fairs for Hyundai planned this Saturday in Elmore County
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 1:10 PM Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:31 PM
WETUMPKA, Alabama -- Two job fairs are set for Saturday, Jan. 21, in Elmore County for people interested in jobs at Hyundai Power Transformers USA, according to an announcement on the county's website.
The company will be seeking potential employees to work as production workers and design engineers.
plans to hire approximately 400 new employees over the next three years.
The release states those attending the job fair need to arrive on time to ensure they do not miss the 15 minute introductory presentation and Hyundai personnel's 30-minute video, which will take place at the start of the event.
Those seeking salaried positions should bring a current resume for submission. Hourly job seekers will be asked to fill out a form with about 10 questions regarding their skills.
The two job fairs are sponsored by the Elmore County Commission, the Elmore County Economic Development Authority and the Alabama Industrial Development Training
The first job fair will be at the Stanhope Elmore High School Gym in Millbrook from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. The second job fair will be at the Wetumpka High School commons area from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
2012 PARCA (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama) Annual Meeting
Friday, January 27th
The Harbert Center, Birmingham.
9:45 am through lunch
The luncheon address will be given by Governor Robert Bentley.
The morning program will feature discussions of two significant governmental issues that affect not only Alabama but also other states:
· The State's Role in Local Financial Emergencies. Presenters include Phil Dotts, President of Public FA, Inc., and Immediate Past Chair of the Business Council of Alabama; Merceria Ludgood, Mobile County Commissioner; David Eichenthal, Senior Managing Consultant for PFM Consulting Firm; and Auburn City Manager Charles Duggan.
· Performance Management in State Government. Presenters include David Perry, Chief of Staff to Governor Robert Bentley; and David Thorpe, Director of Customer-Focused Government for the State of Tennessee.
In addition, Dr. Randolph Horn of Samford University will present the results of the annual PARCA public opinion survey on issues related to state finances.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson