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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:
New report shows Calhoun Community College with highest return on investment of state's two-year colleges
What does modern Huntsville, Alabama owe Wernher von Braun? Some say everything
untsville International Airport sets all-time cargo record
Alabama unemployment in January falls to 7.8 percent
Coffee County to get tire processing center

New report shows Calhoun Community College with highest return on investment of state's two-year colleges
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8:26 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8:42 AM



HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A new report estimates the Alabama Community College System's total economic impact to be about $2.4 billion, with Calhoun Community College showing the greatest impact - more than $279 million - of the state's 27 community and technical colleges.

According to the report, Calhoun had the highest return on state investment - at 12.1 - while the return on investment for the entire system was reported to be 7.0, meaning that for every $1 of state appropriations, the system contributed $6 of additional goods and services to Alabama's economy.

The report, "Economic Impact and Return on Investment Analysis: Alabama Community College System," was prepared by Dr. M. Keivan Devari, an economics professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, and Barbara Buchanan, a research specialist at AUM. It was prepared for the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.

The primary data covered the fiscal years 2008-2010, with the data averaged over that period. Detailed financial data and student enrollment information was collected from each of the schools.

"Calhoun continues to make a tremendously significant impact to the state of Alabama's economy, and the information contained in this report demonstrates just how significant that impact truly is," said Calhoun President Dr. Marilyn Beck, in a release.


Birmingham News


What does modern Huntsville, Alabama owe Wernher von Braun? Some say everything
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 7:15 AM
By Lee Roop, The Huntsville TimesThe Huntsville Times


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- When Charles Bradshaw came to Huntsville in 1951 to work with Wernher von Braun, he remembers there being "two restaurants in town." He remembers a courthouse square where cotton brokers met farmers in front of Cotton Row brokerages teetering on the edge of the Big Spring cliff.


There was clearly more to Huntsville than those first impressions. When Bradshaw arrived, the "nice little cotton town" was nearly 150 years old and rich in Alabama and American history. And there's certainly more to Huntsville today. The city is the center of the second-largest metropolitan area in Alabama; the economic, medical and cultural focus of north Alabama and southern middle Tennessee; and a worldwide brand name for missiles and rockets. It boasts America's second-largest research park and a population where almost 40 percent has a college degree.


There is no question that von Braun helped change Huntsville. It grew from about 13,000 people during World War II to 180,000 today. But how much of today's city is due to this German-born scientist who led the early rocket work of both the Army and NASA in Huntsville?


All of it, say many who were there. All of it springs from one man who could inspire a dream of space in a congressional committee or a coal miner and knew how to get from that dream to the launching pad.


Before considering von Braun's impact on Huntsville, it must be said that by landing Americans on the moon, von Braun's Huntsville team of Germans and Americans did something much bigger than grow a city. They did something no other nation had done or has done since. When historians look back 500 years from now, some believe what they did will be, along with computers and sub-atomic physics, what the 20th century is known for. And however that history is told, it will say that they did it in Huntsville, Alabama.


Here's how von Braun changed Huntsville, according Ed Buckbee. He was von Braun's young public relations officer at NASA in the 1960s and the first director of the Alabama Space & Rocket Center von Braun helped to start. It's called the U.S. Space & Rocket Center today.



Huntsville Times



Huntsville International Airport sets all-time cargo record
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 11:28 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 11:34 AM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Huntsville International Airport handled more cargo in 2011 than ever before, according to a news release sent out this morning.

The airport said it handled more than 206 million pounds of cargo (206,040,435 pounds, to be exact) last year, a 32 percent increase over 2010. The 2011 figure was 17 percent higher than the previous record year in 2007, said Rick Tucker, the airport's executive director.

"We are please that air cargo has had such a strong performance this year," Tucker said. Currently, we are ranked 16th in the national for international air cago and see a bright future for new cargo opportunities."

Panalpina Group, which operates its U.S. air freight network out of Huntsville, operates 10 scheduled flights per week at Huntsville International Airport from Europe, Mexico, Hong Kong and Brazil.

"Huntsville airport is definitely a corner stone of our airfreight product. (Huntsville) will gain even more importance as we will add the new 'B747-800' to our fleet," said Benno Forster, senior vice president over U.S. air freight for Panalpina. "The addition of this new plane type will allow us to operate more efficiently and environmentally friendly. We are excited to welcome these new planes in Huntsville later this spring."

Alabama unemployment in January falls to 7.8 percent
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8:41 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8:50 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama's jobless rate in January fell to 7.8 percent from 8 percent in December, the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations announced this morning.
Metro Birmingham's rate rose to 7.5 percent in January, from 6.9 percent in December.

Mobile's rate was 9.4 percent, up from 8.6 percent in December.

About 169,000 Alabamians said they were unemployed in January, down from the 174,000 in December. In January 2011, the unemployment rate was 9.3 percent, or 205,000 people.
said in a statement that it's "encouraging" to see numbers at their lowest in three years, since the financial crisis began in 2008.

"Still, we must continue to make sure everyone who wants a job is able to find one," he said. "We will continue our efforts to create new jobs and to help retain the employers we have here in Alabama."

Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama DIR, said he's also seeing initial unemployment compensation claims and benefit payments are at levels from 2008. He also said the active job orders in the statewide jobs database is higher than they've been in four years. Both are signs of recovery, he said.

Coffee County to get tire processing center
Published: March 12, 2012 Updated: March 12, 2012 - 1:57 PM 

An agreement to bring a regional tire processing center, along with jobs and potentially more industry to the area has been finalized, Coffee County Commission Chairman Jim Thompson announced Monday.

Seeking to address a more efficient way to dispose of scrap tires collected from ditches and roadsides, county officials began discussions with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management about six months ago.

Discussions quickly turned to the creation of a regional tire processing center, which will take tires collected from the Wiregrass area and shred them. The shredded product can be used for items such as playground equipment, mats, fuel and construction aggregate, Thompson said.

"Our hope is to greatly reduce the illegal dumping of tires," he added.

An ADEM grant will fund the construction of the center, which will be located on some of the land at the county's industrial park on Alabama Highway 125 across from the landfill. The cost of the center is expected to be $5.8 million, making the grant the largest Coffee County's government has ever received, Thompson said.

The center is also the first of its kind in the state, Thompson said. County Administrator Rod Morgan said ADEM hopes to create a few more of these plants throughout the state, using the Coffee County center as a model.

In October, the commission created the Solid Waste Authority to help in the creation of the center. The SWA will oversee the center's operations.



Dothan Eagle

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