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.
Alabama's strategic plan for growth: Development office targets key sectors
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 12:00 PM Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 12:07 PM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
From autos and airplanes to steel and chemicals, the business sectors targeted for growth under Alabama's new strategic plan for economic development aren't strangers to the state.
Alabama Development Office Director Greg Canfield, who unveiled the plan last week at the Economic Development Association of Alabama's Winter Conference in Hoover, said many of the recruiting targets, such as the automotive and biosciences sectors, already are well-represented.
"We've got a platform to build from in the state," he said.
And that's an advantage, said Bill Taylor, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and a member of the Alabama Economic Development Alliance, which drafted the plan.
"We understand these industries well enough to drill down deeper into them," he said. "We're not opposed to new sectors also, but this is our starting point."
Accelerate Alabama is a comprehensive plan that goes beyond recruiting, with goals that address retaining existing businesses, strengthening the state's workforce and capitalizing on existing research and development at universities and in the private sector.
EDPA also wants communities in the state to draft their own economic development plans that would tie into Accelerate Alabama, Taylor said.
"Overall, the state plan is a great catcher's mitt, and we're really working hard to get communities to formalize their plans and make those transparent so the state can help deliver," he said.
Here's a look at the 11 business sectors that are targeted by Accelerate Alabama, along with their potential for growth and key advantages the state has in each area:
OUR VIEW: Pulling together on jobs
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.Last Modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
A unified group working in an organized fashion toward a defined goal is going to accomplish a lot more than a bunch of free agents flailing away in umpteen different directions. That's just common sense.
And that's why we like the new economic development strategy unveiled last week by Gov. Robert Bentley to put Alabama's economy back on track and get more state residents working.
Dubbed "Accelerate Alabama," the plan is the culmination of six months of work by the Alabama Economic Development Alliance that Bentley created. The alliance held meetings across the state and picked the brains of business, education and political leaders to come up with ideas.
"Accelerate Alabama's" objectives over a five-year period: Recruit new business, keep existing business and come up with some new, innovative twists from the state's research and development resources on products that can be made in the state.
Its targeted industrial sectors: aerospace and defense, agriculture and food, automotive, biosciences, chemicals, corporate operations, distribution and logistics, enabling technology (designed to increase the user's capabilities and performance level), forestry, information technology and steel and metals.
Its game plan for success: Centralize economic development and job-creation efforts on the state level and promote cooperation rather than bitter competition between local leaders on those fronts.
New plan can boost Birmingham
Birmingham Business Journal Date: Friday, January 27, 2012, 5:00am CST
On Jan. 24, state officials unveiled a new economic development plan for Alabama.
The wide-ranging plan, dubbed Accelerate Alabama, includes industries to target, initiatives to attract and retain jobs and several other action items designed to grow the state economy.
While the plan is likely overdue - some of the action items will only catch Alabama up to its competition - it also has the potential to be a major catalyst for our economy.
And once you read the details of the plan, it's clear that Accelerate Alabama could mean big things for Birmingham.
Alabama Economic Development Association outlines its 2012 agenda for the state Legislature
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 3:00 PM Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 4:01 PM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama's economic developers are pushing a raft of proposals that would create new tax incentives and put in place other measures that could help attract data centers, manufacturers and other businesses to the state.
"The driving force behind any legislative agenda is usually getting legislation passed to give local economic developers more tools to effectively recruit any industry to the state," says Ron Scott, executive director of the Alabama Economic Development Association. "I think the agenda we're looking at is certainly going to do that."
One of the main priorities of Scott's group is passing new tax incentives for companies that build data centers in Alabama, Scott said, as these are "very, very hot projects." A similar bill died on the last day of last year's legislative session, but Scott said he hopes Alabama lawmakers will pass it quickly this year.
Data centers are basically massive warehouses for computer systems, and companies invest huge sums to establish them. Wells Fargo & Co., Southern Co. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama all operate data centers in Jefferson County, and hospital operator Community Health Systems is establishing one.
Legislators study ways to lure new industries
By Dana Beyerle
Montgomery Bureau Chief
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012
MONTGOMERY | The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Thursday previewed proposed legislation that would help industry recruiters.
Some recruiters said Alabama's illegal immigration law is making their job harder.
The committee discussed a package of bills to be presented in the 2012 legislative session, which begins Feb. 7. Not included, however, were any bills that would revise the illegal immigration law, considered one of the toughest in the nation.
The Legislature passed the law last year. It gained national attention, including criticism that it is unconstitutional, racist and unduly harsh. Some legislators who voted for the bill have since said they would consider changes but would not rescind it altogether.
The controversy it created, however, has been enough to discourage some prospective businesses and industries from considering Alabama, and other states are using the law to their advantage, economic development experts told the committee.
"Companies concerned about that issue cross us off their list," said Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority.
Birmingham attorney Alex Leath III, who writes much of Alabama's economic development legislation, said a colleague sent him an email that showed South Carolina is using Alabama's illegal immigration law as a tool to woo foreign prospects.
Sikorsky aids employees in wake of layoffs
Published 9:23am Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Troy Sikorsky facility wasn't immune to economic setbacks as more than 50 employees were laid off from their jobs Thursday.
Paul Jackson in the Sikorsky communications office said the cuts came as part of a restructuring plan announced in October and November of last year.
"...we had informed employees of the necessity to reduce cost structure to remain competitive amid the tightening global business environment and reduced government defense spending," Jackson said. "The workforce reductions that occurred (Thursday) are part of that previously announced restructuring."
Jackson said the company wasn't "disclosing any numbers," but employees at the Troy facility who wished to remain unnamed, along with Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, said the number of people laid off was more than 50. "Anytime there are layoffs of any size it is sad," Lunsford said. "Even one is too many."
Several years ago, employees at the Troy location totaled 175. Before the Thursday cuts, 750 people worked at the facility. Lunsford said, though, that he has confidence in Sikorsky's management team in Troy and in Connecticut and feels the number of local jobs will bounce back soon. "I think that as they ramp back up, Troy will be one of the places where you see them ramp up," Lunsford said.
Steel firm buys plant for $2.34 million; Yogurt Plus coming soon
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 5:12 AM
By Kathy Jumper, Press-Register Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- Joah Metals & Steel Supply Corp. paid $2.34 million for the former McPhillips Manufacturing on 11 acres at 301 Yeend St., in Mobile, according to Julie Martin and Joe Winans of Port City Realty, who worked for the buyers. The purchase includes a 35,000-square-foot building and several smaller structures, Martin said. Richard Weavil and Cameron Weavil of The Weavil Co. represented the sellers.
Boeing's Dreamliner lands in Huntsville to give employees look at aircraft they helped create
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 9:35 PM Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 9:36 PM
By Kenneth Kesner, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Rocket City engineers helped Boeing turn its vision for the future of airline travel into the reality that landed in Huntsville for the first time Friday afternoon - the super-efficient, super-comfortable 787 Dreamliner.
"What better way to start 2012, our 50th year in Alabama," said Tony Jones, Boeing vice president and Huntsville site executive.
A crowd of employees and guests watched as Capt. Mike Bryan - a 1979 Grissom High School graduate - brought what Boeing calls "the first all-new airplane of the 21st Century" to a stop at Huntsville International Airport.
"I knew I wanted to do this trip," he said after being greeted by his mom and dad, Ardith and Lee Bryan, and other family. "How could I not? It was just a real joy to bring it in here."
Capt. Bryan, Boeing's 787 Engineering Project Pilot, and crew flew the Dreamliner here directly from Dublin, Ireland, as part of a worldwide "Dream Tour" for the new aircraft. The plane's weekend stop in Huntsville is a "thank you" to the more than 600 engineers and others in Boeing's Huntsville Design Center and Advanced Systems Group who contributed to its design.
Their unique experience on programs like the International Space Station and Ground-based Midcourse Defense were needed to make the Dreamliner's combination of complex technology and materials work, said Kevin Crowley, a director of the 787 program, based in Everett, Wash. The airplane engineering also kept many of them employed here as missile, space and other programs ended or were cut back.
Alabama-based call center to add 200 jobs
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 11:00 AM Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 11:03 AM
By The Associated Press The Associated Press
DOTHAN, Alabama - Executives with an Alabama-based customer service call center say they will add 200 jobs to help launch a new project for a client.
The Dothan Eagle reports that Vantage Sourcing is in the initial stages of training the additional workers.
Call center director Kim Redd says the company will be holding classes of 50 until they have enough workers for the project.
The company has facilities in Dothan and Taylor. Redd says the additional employees will work at the Taylor site.
Vantage Sourcing was started in 2004, and expanded into Taylor in 2010. It handles inbound customer call services for one of the nation's largest wireless carriers.
EADS names Tom Enders as next chief executive, winning applause in Mobile
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 4:52 PM Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 4:30 AM
By George Talbot Press-Register
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. today named Tom Enders to take over the role of chief executive officer when Louis Gallois retires in May, a move viewed as positive step for Mobile in its push for an Airbus aircraft assembly plant.
Enders, 53, has served since 2007 as chief executive of Airbus, the top subsidiary of EADS. His promotion had been expected by analysts last year but was delayed by political wrangling within the company's European board.
Enders was nominated to a five-year term to begin after EADS' annual meeting on May 31, when Gallois, 68, will step down. The company also named Arnaud Lagardere to assume the role of chairman of the board, currently held by Bodo Uebber. Enders will be succeeded at Airbus by Fabrice Bregier, who currently serves as chief operating officer at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Enders was a strong advocate for Mobile during the competition between EADS and Boeing Co. for the Air Force tanker contract, visiting the city frequently and building close ties with state and local business leaders.
Huntsville's Partnership for Biotechnology Research seminar on business of biotech engineering set for Feb. 6
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012, 8:17 AM Updated: Monday, January 30, 2012, 8:24 AM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- So, what do you get when you combine a couple of local industries - biotechnology and defense?
The result is a series of talks presented by the Partnership for Biotechnology Research called "Connections: Engineering and Biotechnology."
The first seminar, sponsored by Nexus, was held in September and addressed green energy and biotech.
Next week, SAIC will host a seminar on the business of biotech engineering featuring Dr. David Ku, director of the Program for Engineering Entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech.
"The series was created to link biotechnology with a variety of disciplines to help grow and diversify our community's economy," said Dr. Adam Hott, coordinator of educational outreach at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and president of the Partnership for Biotechnology Research.
Ku will discuss his experiences bringing biotechnology solutions to the patient's bedside and developing start-up companies through careful selection of methods for product development, Hott said.
Alabama Micro Enterprise Network Forum Planned for Tuesday
Several federal and state small business organizations will co-host the Alabama Micro Enterprise Network Forum on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Montgomery.
The Alabama Micro Enterprise Network Forum will feature speakers from organizations such as the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and many other groups.
The conference will be co-hosted by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, the FDIC Money Smart Program, the Alabama Development Office - Office of Small Business Advocacy, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs - Office of Minority Business Enterprise, the Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Building Alabama Reinvestment, and Community Enterprise Investment, Inc.
Microenterprises are those businesses with five or fewer employees that are small enough to benefit from loans under $50,000.
To register, visit www.microenterprisealabama.org and click on the Events page.
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Enjoy the day,
Wendy Wallace Johnson