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.
Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that features Space Camp will air on ABC
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 8:11 AM Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 8:26 AM
By Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that features the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Space Camp will be broadcast on ABC on Jan. 29, with premieres scheduled in five cities, including Huntsville, before then.
And, Dr. Deborah Barnhart, the center's CEO, believes exposure from the movie, "A Smile as Big as the Moon," will drive up the number of Space Camp bookings.
"I hope next month, we can take your breath away," Barnhart said Wednesday at a meeting of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission's executive committee. The center is already getting calls, she said, since the release of a trailer for the movie, which stars John Corbett.
The movie is based on a book by the same name by Mike Kersjes, a high school football coach and special-education teacher from Grand Rapids, Mich., who worked with another teacher to bring some special-needs students to Space Camp in 1988. Kersjes wrote the book with Joe Layden.
"It's perfection," Barnhart said of the movie. "I know I'm biased, (but) it's right on target. It's beautifully told and the characters are engaging and well developed."
The center's goal is to sign up 10,000 trainees in the 2012 fiscal year for its most lucrative weeklong Space Camp programs: Space Camp, Space Academy, Advanced Space Academy and Aviation Challenge, and the 12-day Advanced Academy and Mach 3 programs.
Mobile County board approves tax abatements for Ohio company
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 4:22 PM Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 4:22 PM
By Renee Busby, Press-Register Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- The Industrial Development Authority of Mobile County approved tax abatements Wednesday for a proposed $18.5 million steel slitting facility to be located at the ThyssenKrupp Steel mill site.
Heidtman Steel Products Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, is expected to start out with five employees with an average salary of $45,000 and by the end of the third year will grow to 48 new jobs.
The authority unanimously approved to offer Heidtman ad valorem and sales tax abatements worth more than $546,300 for the first year and over 10 years it jumps to more than $1.3 million.
Ad valorem taxes for education, which were not exempted, will total more than $109,150 for the first year. That amount will increase to more then $2.1 million in a 10-year period.
Scott Carter, vice president of operations for Heidtman, told authority members the steel company has been looking for years to locate the "steel slitting operation" in the South and the ThyssenKrupp seemed like the perfect fit.
Carter said the company would acquire wide steel coils from ThyssenKrupp and then cut the wide steel into narrower steel.
He said the steel coil from ThyssenKrupp would be slit and packaged to customer specifications and shipped from the facility to customers in the region and possibly Mexico.
The company's customers include Ford, GM and Chrysler.
Huntsville-based Adtran has record-setting year for sales
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 11:19 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 11:25 AM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville TimesHUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Adtran saw sales up for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to a year ago, pacing a record-setting year, according to its report today.
For the quarter, sales increased to $175,286,000 compared to $165,329,000 for the fourth quarter of 2010. For the year, sales increased to a record $717,229,000 compared to $605,674,000 for 2010.
Net income was $31,163,000 for the quarter compared to $35,960,000 for the fourth quarter of 2010. Earnings per share, assuming dilution, were 48 cents for the quarter compared to 56 cents for the fourth quarter of 2010.
However, net income increased to $138,577,000 for the year compared to $113,989,000 for the year 2010. Earnings per share, assuming dilution, increased to $2.12 for the year compared to $1.78 for the year 2010.
"Our company had a solid fourth quarter which contributed to a record year in 2011," said CEO Tom Stanton. "Our performance continued to be driven by our core product areas which include broadband access, Internetworking and optical access. Combined, these areas grew 32 percent for the quarter compared to the same period in 2010.
Jefferson County's attorney urges caution in reworking incentive deals
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 7:15 AM Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 9:45 AM
By Barnett Wright -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Jefferson County's lawyer counsels that a proposal to re-tool business incentive packages needs more discussion.
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Jefferson County's attorney on Wednesday cautioned county commissioners against moving forward too rapidly on a proposal to renegotiate incentives contracts with the developers of two major retail centers, saying the matter needed more discussion.
A resolution proposing revised economic development agreements between Colonial Properties Trust and Kimco Realty (through an entity called KD Hoover LLC) needs to be reviewed before coming before the full commission and should be done in compliance with state law, Jeff Sewell said at the commission's finance committee.
Last month, the bankrupt county, in a move to save $12.5 million, voted to end incentives it had agreed to pay to Colonial, Kimco Realty, Innovation Depot, Jim Walter Resources Inc. and the Retirement Systems of Alabama (through an agreement RSA has with the city of Hoover).
During Wednesday's finance committee meeting, Sewell told commissioners that two weeks ago they authorized lawyers to terminate -- legally reject -- the economic development contracts.
more... Birmingham News
Loss of depot jobs likely to hurt local economy
Jan 19, 2012 |With the potential loss of hundreds of jobs at Anniston Army Depot, few aspects of the local economy will likely escape unscathed, according to economists who spoke with The Star Wednesday.
The U.S. Army announced Wednesday it will cut approximately 500 jobs from the depot beginning after March 30 due the ending of the Iraq war and decreased funding. While hundreds will soon be without steady income, the decision is expected to have more far-reaching consequences. From retail to tax revenue to housing, the disappearance of so many jobs will be felt throughout Calhoun County's economy, some experts say.
"The loss of 500 jobs would be a pretty profound impact in any county or city," said Keivan Deravi, professor of economics at Auburn University Montgomery.
Deravi said without steady income, the unemployed workers would spend less at retail business and could find it hard to pay their mortgages. Many of them might also have to leave the county or state to find work, meaning a permanent loss of retail spending and tax revenue for the area. Based on average annual spending trends in the state, he said, the loss of 500 people could mean between $10 million and $25 million in estimated lost annual retail and tax spending for the area - if the laid-off workers stay unemployed.
Deravi said that while the state could expect an economic hit due to the military draw-downs under way, the effect might not be too bad since the overall national economy has shown relative improvement in the past year.
"The best-case scenario is that the economy starts picking up speed as the draw-downs really kick in," he said.
UAH can grow other academic programs without hurting high-tech research, Altenkirch says
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 6:45 AM Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 6:45 AM
By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Can the University of Alabama in Huntsville maintain its status as a nationally renowned research facility while growing other academic programs distant from science and engineering? Absolutely, according to UAH President Robert Altenkirch. But in the current environment of unrest within the parent UA System, area business leaders have circled the wagons to protect UAH's invaluable research ties with the Army and NASA. The worry is resources across campus could be diverted to build other academic programs, such as nursing, at the expense of the high-tech engineering arm that is the school's trademark. Altenkirch has heard those concerns. "I hear it once in a while from folks off campus who haven't thought through the finances maybe. I don't know," Altenkirch said this week in a meeting with The Times editorial board. "But as I said, you have to look at your overall business model, financial model. How does it work? The focus is science and engineering, technological research. There's no doubt about that and that won't change." Still, when the UAH Community Committee - appointed by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Madison County Commission Chair Mike Gillespie - issued a three-sentence statement late Tuesday on the status of its meetings, one of those sentences was devoted to highlighting the importance of science and research at UAH. "While the committee fully supports all of the colleges at UAH," the statement said, "the central focus of UAH must remain on science and engineering, which is the economic lifeblood of our community."
Boeing Job Grab Shows Peril of Offering Tax Dollars for Growth
Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Using $43 million in taxpayer money to build a training center for aerospace workers was a good idea for Wichita, Kansas, the self-styled "Aviation Capital of the World," said Dave Unruh, a Sedgwick County commissioner.
It remains money well-spent, Unruh said, even after Boeing Co.'s Jan. 4 decision to close its 2,160-employee plant in Wichita, the county seat. Hundreds of those jobs will move to Texas and Oklahoma. He favors putting up as much as $100 million more as a "closing fund" to draw new employers.
"We ought to be run out of office if we don't respond," said the Republican, a commissioner since 2003. "We have a community DNA for aviation assets and we're going to compete." Still, Unruh didn't know where the money would come from.
That fund may serve only as a down payment, since the bar to attract new and expanding businesses keeps rising for state and local governments. Boeing, the world's biggest aerospace company, won incentives estimated at more than $700 million in 2009 to build a $750 million factory in South Carolina. At least $200 million will go to aid employers expanding in New Jersey, under a bill signed this month by Governor Chris Christie.
Illinois, which Moody's Investors Service rates lower than any other state, agreed in May to provide $100 million in payroll credits to Motorola Mobility Inc. over the next decade to keep the company based in the state. Last month, lawmakers guaranteed $15 million in state tax breaks for Sears Holdings Inc. to retain its headquarters. Sears subsequently announced plans to shut in more than 100 locations.
Pressure on States
"State officials feel like they have to go on playing the incentives game even when budget pressures are severe," said Phil Mattera, research director for Good Jobs First, a nonprofit organization in Washington. The group promotes "corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families," according to its website.
Bloomberg via Businessweek
Initiative trying to bring more power to Huntsville
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 4:46 PM
By Mike Kelley, 42 staff The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- You're driving around Cummings Research Park on a summer day in 2015 and the ammeter indicates your electric car's battery power is low. No problem, just pull into one of several solar arrays located at major parking lots throughout CRP and plug in for a recharge.
What may sound farfetched now could become reality if Nexus Energy Center is able to bring about its long-term vision of erecting solar canopies in parking lots. A Huntsville startup, Nexus wants to encourage businesses in Research Park to erect large solar canopies to convert the sun's rays to electricity. Plans are underway to eventually install them at seven locations throughout Research Park.
And, says Jay Newkirk, strategic vision chair for Energy Huntsville, those arrays could become part of a national demonstration project for electric vehicles, where the owner of a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, for example, could drive up to charging stations throughout Research Park, plug in, recharge, and drive off.
That's just one of many plans of the Energy Huntsville initiative, which aims to promote the growth of clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy security.
Call it the fifth leg of an evolving Huntsville economic development strategy that aims to broaden Huntsville from a dependence on military, space and aerospace. With Washington budget pressures bearing down, those traditional Huntsville stalwarts are feeling the heat, but Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle wants to redirect part of that supporting intellectual capital into the next big thing.
more... 42 blog
Alabama Launchpad Business Plan Competition entering mentoring phase - Call for Mentors
Final selection of mentors for the Alabama Launchpad Business Plan Competition will take place over the next week.
Want to get involved? Mentors are volunteers chosen from a prospective pool and matched based on specific needs of each participating team.
Mentors volunteer to "give back" by sharing their experience and providing valuable insights and perspectives. They know the predictable pitfalls, have access to higher level resources and professional services, and in general have a more sophisticated perspective to offer the entrepreneur or founding team.
What is expected of the mentor?
Mentors read the latest version of the team's plan, and then to hold a face-to-face visit with the team to discuss their plan and offer guidance. Additional telephone calls, emails and face-to-face visits will be necessary as the team moves its plan along the track with continued involvement and guidance. Geography, your schedule and the team members' schedules should be considered. Teams face deadlines that are inflexible. The mentor's job is not managing, leading, delegating, or doing. Rather, it is that of advising, persuading, counseling, guiding, (and cheerleading!).
Apply now! If you are interested in this rewarding relationship, please send your CV and any applicible background information to Greg Sheek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the competition, visit
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Wendy Wallace Johnson