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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



in this issue:
GE plans in 5-year Hiring our Heroes push to add 5,000 veterans - AP
ZF announces $14.6M expansion for Mercedes axle production in Tuscaloosa - al.com
Mercedes confident that Tuscaloosa expansions will help company thrive - Tuscaloosa News
Alabama Legislature to consider expanding incentives for film industry - Birmingham News
Group questions oversight of Alabama's business incentives packages - AP
The message: Investments make fertile ground - Press Register
Statewide Network of Angel Investor Groups Announced in Alabama - PRNewswire
Selma-Dallas Co. Welcomes New Industry - WAKA






GE plans in 5-year Hiring our Heroes push to add 5,000 veterans
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012, 6:41 AM     Updated:
Monday, February 13, 2012, 11:02 AM
By The Associated Press The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - General Electric Co. plans to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years and invest $580 million to expand its aviation business.

The announcements Monday were part of a four-day event that the global conglomerate is hosting with partners in Washington, D.C., that focuses on issues such as manufacturing and job creation in America.

GE's aviation unit will add more than 400 new manufacturing jobs and open three new plants, including one in Auburn, next year.

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt heads up President Obama's 27-member jobs council, which also includes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AOL co-founder Steve Case and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

GE said Monday that its "Hiring Our Heroes" partnership will help match veterans with jobs. The company, whose products range from jet engines to light bulbs, will also team with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to sponsor 400 veterans' job fairs this year. GE currently employs more than 10,000 veterans and has about 100 U.S. employee reservists currently serving overseas.

In addition, its aviation unit will add more than 400 new manufacturing jobs and open three new plants in Ellisville, Miss., Auburn, Ala., and Dayton, Ohio, next year. GE said that the plants are part of its efforts to create or rebuild 16 facilities and more than 12,000 new jobs. The company started production on its first new appliance line in more than 50 years last week at Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky.








ZF announces $14.6M expansion for Mercedes axle production in Tuscaloosa
Published: Friday, February 10, 2012, 1:40 PM    
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Automotive parts maker ZF announced Friday that a $14.6 million expansion will create 85 new jobs at its manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa.

Gov. Robert Bentley and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox joined ZF officials and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International president and CEO Markus Schaefer at an event Friday morning at ZF's manufacturing plant in the Tuscaloosa County Airport Industrial Park.

ZF will add 60,000 square feet of space to its 157,000-square-foot facility at the Tuscaloosa County Airport Industrial Park later this year after being selected to supply axle systems for the Mercedes C-Class sedan, which will be built at the Mercedes plant in Vance beginning in 2014.

The plant, opened in 1997, currently produces axle systems for the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, R-Class and GL-Class vehicles.

Schaefer said plant manager Ron Davis and ZF have continued to stay successful despite increasing worldwide competition in the industry.

"I think it's very hard to be appointed as a Mercedes supplier and it means a lot, but it's even harder to stay a Mercedes supplier for more than decade," Schaefer said. "ZF proves to be one of our most reliable and best quality suppliers in history. So that's why they were rewarded with the C-Class program."

ZF chassis technology executive vice president Peter Holdmann said Mercedes-Benz is a very important customer for the supplier.

"Of course, we are proud to be a partner of MBSUSI and to be the only partner for chassis systems since the start of production here in Alabama in 1996," Holdmann said. "The nomination for the new C-Class business shows the trust Daimler has in ZF and in ZF performance. For us, of course, to confirm this trust reflects the main commitment for the upcoming years."









Mercedes confident that Tuscaloosa expansions will help company thrive
By Patrick Rupinski, Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.

When the chairman of Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler AG, held his annual press briefing in Germany on Thursday, he specifically mentioned Tuscaloosa as a city that is key to the automaker's future.

The comment came from Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche as he outlined the company's auto sales targets, which included being the world leader in premium car sales by no later than 2020.

"All of this requires increased production closer to our customers in growth markets," Zetsche said. "We are, for example, expanding our manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa to accommodate C-Class production.

"We will team up with our partner Renault-Nissan to produce Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder gasoline engines in Decherd, Tenn. Production will commence in 2014."

That's the year when Mercedes will start its popular C-Class sedan production at Vance in Tuscaloosa County.

The C-Class will be the fourth model to roll off the Vance assembly lines. Last year, Mercedes announced it would add a fifth, still unnamed model to its Vance production in 2015, but Zetsche gave no hint as to what type of vehicle that would be.

Since last year, things have been busy at the Vance assembly plant.

The plant, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, produced a record number of vehicles in 2011, and Markus Schaefer, MBUSI's president, said Friday that it expects to set another record this year.



Tuscaloosa News







Alabama Legislature to consider expanding incentives for film industry
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012, 7:30 AM     Updated:
Sunday, February 12, 2012, 8:54 AM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News
 BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama's Mudbrick Media, which used to make mainly education videos, is in the post-production stages of making its first two feature-length films.

The first, "Counter-Clockwise," is about two scientists who are transported to the future and need to build a time machine to get back to the present. The other, "SkyHook," depicts teams competing to build the first elevator to the outer space.

It's likely that neither would have happened without the incentives program for film projects that Alabama implemented in 2009 -- and now needs to be expanded, according to its backers. The program provides rebates and tax breaks to production companies that film in the state, giving back sometimes as much as 25 percent of the costs to make a film.

For Mobile-based Mudbrick Media, the program helped reduce the gamble of making a movie it would then have to go out and sell, said Frank Hall, the company's production manager.

"It was the incentive that got us over the hump," Hall said. "So without it, we wouldn't be doing this. We might still be doing our science education videos, but we wouldn't be in the movie making business."


Birmingham News









Group questions oversight of Alabama's business incentives packages
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012, 7:03 AM     Updated: Sunday, February 12, 2012, 7:03 AM
By The Associated Press The Associated Press
DECATUR, Alabama - The state and local incentives that Carpenter Technology Corp. was granted to build a steel plant in Limestone County could prove a long-term bargain - as long as government agencies ensure the company fulfills its employment requirement. Yet a corporate accountability group said there's little oversight to determine whether employers carry out their obligations under such agreements.

The Alabama Development Office has not publicly released the incentive package for Carpenter Technology, but the company expects to receive $98 million in incentives to build the $500 million plant.

That figure might seem eye-popping, but it might pan out with the creation of hundreds of jobs - Carpenter said it will hire at least 240 - and possible spin-off development.

Industrial recruiters said such incentives in the form of tax rebates and infrastructure development are becoming more prevalent as competition for jobs increases between states. Meanwhile, a not-for-profit think tank grades Alabama and many other states poorly on how they enforce the terms of incentive agreements.











The message: Investments make fertile ground

Published: Monday, February 13, 2012, 9:17 AM     Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012, 9:23 AM

K.A. Turner, Press-Register Press-Register 

Michael Pierce has a simple message for Mobile's business community: Invest in yourself.

Pierce, the 2012 chairman of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, will spend a lot of time this year securing pledges to the third phase of the chamber's Partners for Growth program.


As he meets with companies, he said, he'll stress that the money is an investment, not an expense.


"A lot of people want to plant today and reap tomorrow, but it doesn't always work that way," said Pierce, who is chairman of Commonwealth National Bank. A Partners for Growth pledge, he said, will help the chamber continue to sell the area to prospects regionally, nationally and internationally. More business in Mobile means more money in the economy and more opportunity for investor businesses to market their products, sell their services or create new customers.

"We're trying to bring business here," Pierce said. "There's no guarantee that it will benefit any specific company, but it does create fertile ground."

Partners for Growth has for years been the umbrella for the chamber's economic development efforts. The chamber has contracts with both the city of Mobile ($390,000 this year) and Mobile County ($208,000 this year) to serve as economic developer. It supplements that money with additional investments by its member companies.

The Partners for Growth five-year campaign that concludes this year drew $10.4 million in pledges, including the city and county funding. The chamber counts 6,176 jobs with an average wage of $52,552 and $1.4 billion in capital investment, thus far. 



Press Register  









Statewide Network of Angel Investor Groups Announced in Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Feb. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Angel Investor Management (AIM) Group announced today the formation of the Central Alabama Angel Network (CANN) to serve the capital needs of entrepreneurs and investors in a seven-county region.

"The Angel Investor Management Group is bringing together a single network of angel investor groups in Alabama. By banding together to share the expenses of operations, the economies of scale will work to benefit all," said AIM Group CEO Dick Reeves. "In this way we expect to increase the number and quality of investment opportunities available to investor members, and to speed up the process for entrepreneurs seeking capital for their companies. The result for Alabama will be increasing angel capital availability to early-stage companies throughout the state."

The AIM Group will manage all aspects of the CANN operations including: deal flow, due diligence, investment negotiation, member meetings, investment closings and long-term portfolio management. Each local angel investor network managed by AIM Group will be led by a member-elected local board of directors and a local executive director employed by AIM Group. All members of local networks managed by AIM Group will have the opportunity to invest in companies that successfully complete AIM Group's due diligence.




PR Newswire







Selma-Dallas Co. Welcomes New Industry

George McDonald 

From the CBS 8 West Alabama Newsroom--   A new industry-- and more jobs-- are on the way to the Selma and Dallas County area.

Wayne Vardaman with the Economic Development Authority announced the 7-million dollar project Thursday morning.

Eovations, L-L-C will renovate and expand the old Louisiana-Pacific facility at Craig Industrial Park and start producing building materials.

Company officials say they plan to run about a dozen production lines and hire about 80 people over the next two years.

Eovations is a subsidiary of Universal Forest Products out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"It's an exciting new business opportunity for us and we expect to begin production by the end of the year," said Director of Corporate Communications Lynn Afendoulis.  "And we'll hire, I think, between fifteen and twenty people by the end of this year and then continue to ramp up production over the next couple of years. 





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