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.
Fras-le to expand Prattville plant, add jobs
PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Fras-le North America, one of the world's largest manufacturers of friction materials, says it will make an $11 million investment in its Prattville plant, adding new equipment and approximately 100 employees.
The official announcement is set for Thursday.
The company says this will be the first time it has ever made brake lining in the United States. The Prattville plant currently produces disc brake pads.
The additional employees will be hired throughout 2012 and 2013 as the company expands its supply capabilities for North American commercial vehicle business customers.
The announcment, "demonstrates our expanded commitment to the North American market and our desire to grow the business even more," said Daniel Randon, Fras-le CEO and president. "We appreciate all the support we've received from officials in Prattville to help facilitate our company's expansion. We are excited to be a part of bringing new jobs to the area."
Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie praised the company's decision saying, "During these tough economics times, this announcement is certainly a blessing for our community." Mayor Gillespie added, "I also want to express my gratitude for their commitment to Prattville. We wish them much continued success in all of their endeavors."
Fras-le said it currently makes braking lining in Brazil and China for distribution around the world, but the expansion of the Prattville plant will significantly increase its global capsity.
The company's products are found in a wide variety of on- and off-highway commercial vehicles, trucks, tractors, trailers, buses, dump trucks, light vehicles and other specialty vehicles and equipment.
Transactions to bring much-needed cash into MDA's coffers
by Laura Camper Anniston Star
Jan 26, 2012
The McClellan Development Authority was able to breathe a little easier Wednesday after the board members approved three property sales, a short-term lease and a property swap garnering $459,500.
The authority's cash balance had dwindled to just $157,000 and it had been forced to finance its insurance payment in an effort to protect its reserves, according to finance director Garland Heare's report earlier in the meeting at the MDA's office.
But that's not the only reason Robin Scott, executive director of the authority, is excited about the sales.
The sales represent a step toward making the master plan for the former Fort McClellan reality, Scott said.
One sale, to Gary Wilborn, takes the last two lots in Summerall Estates off the authority's hands. Wilborn plans to build single-family homes on the lots.
Another sale, to Medi Klean, a company that sterilizes medical waste with steam, brings a new business into the newly created industrial park.
The largest sale, 58 acres to the Economic Development Council of Calhoun County, will bring the authority $412,500 and a partner in developing the portion of the industrial park bordered by Iron Mountain Road, Berman Road and Eglin Avenue. The council also has an option to purchase another 16.5 acres on the other side of Berman Road.
Raising Alabama's economic competitive edge in experts' sights
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 5:45 AM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama's top economic development official says job-hunting agencies across the state don't need to see each other as the competition.
"We can't eat each other's bait, and we don't," said Greg Canfield, director of the Alabama Development Office.
Canfield, speaking to development officials at the Economic Development Association of Alabama's annual winter conference on Wednesday at Hoover's Wynfrey Hotel, said progress was made last year to increase Alabama's competitiveness in attracting companies and creating jobs. But more will be done this year, he added.
The agency, he said, is planning more international visits and could mount trade missions to countries such as Poland, Colombia, China and Japan. ADO also aims to revamp incentives packages and work with developments groups to help win jobs.
Trade is one of the best tools the state has to create jobs, Canfield said. In 2010, Alabama exported goods worth $15.5 billion -- a 25 percent increase over 2009. He said the ADO hopes to see exports double over the next few years.
Offering competitive incentives won't necessarily seal the deal and bring in new companies, but it's still necessary to have them, he said.
Incentives 'get us to the dance'
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 11:47 AM Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 2:27 PM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The state's top economic development official says more will be done in 2012 to increase Alabama's competitiveness in attracting companies and creating jobs.
Greg Canfield, director of the Alabama Development Office, says the agency is planning more international trade visits, revamping incentives packages and working with groups to help them win jobs.
Competitive incentives won't necessarily win bids for bringing new companies, but it's still necessary to have them, he said.
"We get to the table," he said. "We make the cut if we have competitive tools."
Canfield was the final speaker today at the Economic Development Association of Alabama's winter conference at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.
Grant from Gov. Bentley to help create 30 jobs in Stevenson
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 3:25 PM Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 3:25 PM
By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- The Jackson County economy got a boost today when Gov. Robert Bentley announced a grant that will help create 30 jobs in Stevenson.
In a press release by Bentley and Jim Byard Jr., director of the state Department of Economic and Community Affairs, a $150,000 grant has been secured to the city of Stevenson.
The funds will help the city with improvements that will enable Magnolia Investments of Alabama to build a 15,000-square-foot sawmill to produce components for white oak barrels, according to the press release. The barrels will be used by the Jack Daniels Distillery in nearby Lynchburg, Tenn. and other affiliated distilleries.
The Community Development Block Grant funds
CDBG funds will allow the city to expand public water to the facility which will be located on a 55-acre site off U.S. 72 north of Stevenson, the press release said. The city has pledged $68,113 for the project.
Ala. House panel to discuss economic development
By BOB JOHNSON
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 4:31 a.m.
The start of the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature is more than a week away, but one legislative committee is getting a head start.
The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss some of the bills expected to come before the committee in the session, which starts Feb. 7.
Bringing new jobs into the state is expected to be a priority for the Legislature during the early weeks of the session.
Committee chairman Republican Rep. Barry Mask of Wetumpka said committee members will look at economic development bills and possibly establish priorities on what bills may come up first during the session.
The committee members can discuss proposed legislation, but can't vote on bills because the session has not started.
Mobile's film industry big for employment, creative diversity
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 10:11 AM Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 10:11 AM
By Michael Dumas, Press-Register al.com
MOBILE, Alabama -- Mobile was that close.
Up until recently, it looked very possible that Tom Hanks, director Paul Greengrass and a large studio production was going to descend on the Port City to film a drama centered around captain Richard Phillips, who was rescued by Navy SEALS from pirates who had hijacked his ship, the Maersk Alabama.
Yes, Mobile was that close to having a Somali village smouldering on the shores of Dauphin Island. But when issues arose regarding the container ship the production was to use locally, filming was moved to Morocco.
And so, with thoughts of unbuilt tanker planes and an empty cruise terminal lingering, some in and around the Bay area sighed that old familiar sigh: "We were that close."
Such wasn't heard from those actually working in the film industry in Mobile, however. They're far too busy.
During a record year spanning from October 2010 to September 2011, 72 projects came through the Mobile area, according to the folks at the Mobile Film Office, which helps facilitate location scouting, casting and other services for local and visiting productions.
Fourteen of those projects were feature films, but the majority were projects ranging from commercial shoots to music videos to television programs. These projects may not have the budgets of a Hollywood blockbuster, but their frequency keeps Mobilians employed and lays the foundation for future big-budget productions.
University of Alabama analyst Carolyn Trent upbeat on jobs, business for Birmingham in 2012
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 7:15 AM Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 7:29 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Carolyn Trent knows more than most people about how Alabama's major metro areas are rebounding from the downturn.
As a socioeconomic analyst for the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research, her job requires her to perform constant analysis of statewide economic trends. Trent says she sees bright signs on the horizon for the Birmingham metro area in 2012, with many projects expected to create jobs.
"Most business leaders were pessimistic in the fourth quarter, but there is cautious optimism for this year," Trent says.
In an email interview, Trent discusses the first-quarter results of the center's Business Confidence Index survey as it relates to the Birmingham metro area.
Q. Birmingham area business leaders are expressing more confidence as 2012 begins. Why do you think this is the case?
A. The Birmingham-Hoover metro saw a lot of positive developments during 2011, despite the negatives of Jefferson County's financial troubles.
Many of these developments build on existing strengths in transportation and warehousing, biomedical research, health services, and leisure and hospitality. The Children's of Alabama hospital expansion, Norfolk Southern's intermodal facility, Dollar General's Bessemer distribution center, and many other projects scheduled for completion in 2012 will help the Birmingham area continue to recover the jobs lost during the recession.
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