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.
Automotive parts supplier to bring 200 jobs to Montgomery with new manufacturing facility
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 4:30 PM
-- An automotive parts supplier will begin manufacturing operations expected to eventually bring 200-plus jobs to the Montgomery area.
TheMontgomery Area Chamber of Commerce announced this afternoon that DAS North America, a Hyundai and Kia parts supplier, is building a manufacturing facility in Montgomery. The company will invest $50 million in the operations and create 210 jobs in the city.
"You have shown a lot of faith in us and we will not let you down. We welcome you to the Montgomery family and know that you will be successful here," Lee Ellis, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board of directors, said in the announcement.
DAS, which manufactures automotive seat components, first will operate at a temporary facility at the former Graham Packaging building at Interstate Industrial Park. The company initially will hire 60 employees for the 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. After the temporary facility is operational, DAS will build a permanent manufacturing plant at Montgomery Industrial Park, and will hire an additional 160 employees.
"This is great news for Montgomery that DAS decided to build its first North American manufacturing plant in Montgomery," Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said in the announcement. "We are grateful and appreciate that DAS picked Montgomery and we are thrilled about the new jobs."
Thomasville mayor building economy on metal
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 2:16 PM Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 2:25 PM
By Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register
THOMASVILLE, Ala. -- This town of less than 5,000 is 15 miles from the closest river and more than 50 miles from the closest interstate. It's also one of the hottest spots for economic development in the state.
In the past two years, the city has lured pipemaker Lakeside Steel, steel supplier Metals USA and copper maker Golden Dragon near its part of northeast Clarke County, in addition to a number of smaller suppliers. Officials there are also in the process of building a new water treatment plant and airport.
The development is all part of Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day's plan to transform Thomasville and surrounding rural cities on U.S. 43 between Mobile and Tuscaloosa into "Alabama's Metals Corridor." All told, Day said, a total of about $300 million is being poured into the area over the next few years, bringing with it more than 600 new jobs.
"This is life-changing for the community," he said.
With many areas of rural Alabama stuck in the worst recession of a generation, Thomasville's could provide a blueprint for success in similar areas.
The Thomasville plan, as Day tells it, includes understanding your community's strengths and weaknesses, regional cooperation, a focus on education and quality of life, getting community buy-in, and most importantly, not trying to be something you're not.
Toray CFA to add 43 jobs with $97M expansion
Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. announced today it will begin a $97 million expansion of its Morgan County plant, adding 43 new employees.
The jobs will pay an average of $52,000 a year, not including benefits, Toray officials said.
The expansion will allow the plant to produce more of the carbon fiber used for industrial tanks that hold pressurized natural gas.
The Decatur Industrial Development Board today approved an abatement of non-educational property taxes for the expansion of $245,000 per year for 10 years. During the same period, IDB officials expect the expansion to generate school taxes for the state, Morgan County, Hartselle and Decatur of $285,000 per year.
The board also approved an abatement of state sales and use taxes during the construction period of $1.93 million. During the construction period, school systems in Morgan County will receive about $1.27 million in sales and use tax revenue.
After the expansion, Toray CFA and sister company Toray Fluorofobers will employ 320 with a total annual payroll of $21.8 million.
Toray CFA's Alabama 20 facility is the largest carbon fiber plant in the world.
Read more in Saturday's edition of The Decatur Daily.
Bike to the future: Motus Motorcycles makes home in Birmingham
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012, 6:00 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News
Motus Motorcycles said Thursday that its Birmingham-built bikes will sell for more than $30,000 each and that a network of dealers is already being established across the country.
At an event as part of Daytona Bike Week in Daytona, Fla., on Thursday night, Motus said its MST model will have a base price of $30,975, while the MST-R will start at $36,975. The motorcycles will be produced in Birmingham starting this fall and will be considered 2013 models.
Bike lovers in Birmingham who want to order a Motus will have to go to Georgia or Tennessee for the nearest dealer as there are no dealers in Alabama yet lined up to sell the bikes.
"We hope to have 20 dealers established by the end of the year," Lee Conn, president and co-founder of Motus, said in an interview this week.
"We don't have any dealers in Alabama, but that could change."
Brian Case, design director and co-founder of Motus, said the company already has enough orders to keep its production facility humming through year's end.
"The demand has already exceeded expectations," he said. "When we start production, it is going to take us a while just to feed the demand."
In Thursday's Birmingham News, Motus' leaders said they are actively working with Birmingham officials to find a site for a new corporate headquarters and production facility. The company plans to hire 15 employees in the first year and quickly grow to produce between 20 and 30 motorcycles per month.
Area students learn about opportunities at Gadsden State's Explore Tech Day
Sparks flew to the sound of sizzling metal inside a small building Thursday at the Ayers Campus of Gadsden State Community College.
Ranburne High School junior Logan Butler stood with anticipation, wearing his protective gloves. Butler had for some time considered welding as a possible career choice and was ready to try his hand at putting fire to steel.
"I picked welding because it seemed like a good choice at this time with the whole economy the way it is," Butler said.
"People will always need welding; they'll always need framing for cars and buildings to put together."
If Butler were to pick up welding as a career, he'd be taking advantage of a skills gap labor experts say exists in manufacturing across the country - where despite the sagging economy, there are jobs available, but not enough people with the proper training to fill them.
Butler was one of multiple juniors and seniors from high schools in Calhoun and Cleburne Counties to visit the Ayers Campus Thursday as part of Gadsden State's Explore Tech Day. The college hosts the program each year to give high school students some hands-on experience with possible future occupations in skilled labor such as welding, robotics and electronics.
Audrey Webb, electronic engineering and automotive manufacturing instructor at Gadsden State, said students learning technical skills are finding available jobs due to the skills gap.
"Many companies ... they have positions right now and they don't have students to fill them," Webb said.
Dave Laton, associate director of career and technical education at the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, agreed that manufacturers are having trouble filling certain positions.
"There is an apparent skill gap," Laton said.
EDPA Community Partner Spotlight:
Located on I-59 in northeast Alabama, Gadsden (with an MSA population of 103,000) is a center for precision manufacturing and technology. Its public schools were the first in the state to offer a Tech Prep diploma curriculum.
Gadsden State Community College offers a variety of engineering technology degree programs. And the Alabama Technology Network center in Gadsden was named one of the best in the nation.
Local training is accredited by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, and chapters of NTMA and ASQ provide certification programs.
The actions of Gadsden's Workforce Development Partnership, which includes plant managers, ensures that these and more such opportunities will benefit new and expanding industries.
Gadsden is a Keep America Beautiful national award-winner, a recipient of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' City Livability Award, and was designated an All-America City by the National Civic League.
Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority website
Gadsden Metro Profile
Etowah Co. Profile
Etowah Co. Buildings
Etowah Co. Sites
Community Trivia: Gadsden was at one time in the 19th century Alabama's second most important center of commerce and industry, trailing only the seaport of Mobile. The two cities were important shipping centers: Gadsden for riverboats and Mobile for international trade.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson