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.
SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES - CANADIAN PROVINCES ALLIANCE
Join the Alabama delegation!
May 20 - 22, 2012
Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort at Grande Dunes
5th Annual Conference
The Southeastern United States - Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP) is a strategic partnership between states in the southeastern United States and member provinces from Canada. The alliance works to pro-mote trade and investment opportunities between and among its member states and provinces. Member states include Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Member provinces include Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Delegations from each jurisdiction of the Alliance convene annually for a business-to-business conference. Delegations, led by state governors, provincial premiers or their designees, comprise business and industry leaders from a wide array of industry sectors. With over 300 Canadian and U.S. business and government leaders in attendance, the SEUS-CP Conference is a great opportunity to build linkages with key international leaders. The business program will connect companies, researchers, organizations and associations, including distributors, agents/brokers, manufacturers, information technology service providers and universities or other researchers who work in the manufacturing, intellectual technology, energy and advanced research, who are seeking new business partners, sales, collaboration and investment partnerships. Over 1 ½ days of meetings will be arranged for business delegates at no extra cost. Meetings will be with fellow delegates and with recognized major corporate buyers from across the Alliance. To encourage valuable interaction, delegates will also attend topical plenary sessions, discussion forums and networking events.
The Alabama Development Office will pay the $425 registration fee on behalf of all Alabama small businesses who qualify. Those who are interested in participating in this international trade event should contact: Dara.Steele@ADO.Alabama.gov.
For more information and/or to register for the Conference, please visit www.seuscp.com.
Alabama Development Office International Trade Division Tel: 334.242.0442
Hilda C. Lockhart, Director Hilda.Lockhart@ado.alabama.gov
Dara Steele, International Trade Specialist Dara.Steele@ado.alabama.gov
Birmingham's Protective Life looks for new image starting with logo on its building
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:15 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- In its 105 years of existence, Protective Life Corp. has kept a low profile, not even slapping a logo on the company's massive headquarters off U.S. 280 in Mountain Brook.
Chief Executive Johnny Johns even joked that some people probably assumed the unmarked building was the location of a CIA operation.
But the Birmingham-based company now is looking to bring sharper definition to its identity, both inside and out, as it launches a rebranding campaign, as well as other initiatives to energize employees and better serve customers. The whole effort will cost between $15 million and $20 million.
Johns said the company is working to build the Protective brand from the foundation up. The effort includes investing $10 million in call centers to improve efficiency. The insurer also is looking close to home for ideas on how it can better operate.
"We have so many great ideas among our employees but we've never sourced their wisdom," he said.
To change that, the company has created what chief operations officer Carolyn Johnson called an "idea rocket" -- derived from the suggestion of propelling ideas. The internal software works like posts on Facebook, where employees can write up an idea and their peers can like it, dislike it and make comments. Suggestions with the most "likes" rise to the top.
"It's kind of a suggestion box meets social media," she said. "It's a way of gathering their ideas."
One of the most visible marks of the rebranding campaign is the blue arc in the new Protective Life logo. The logo first showed up last month, when it was installed on the company's headquarters. It's now been seen in print advertisements.
The design, created by Birmingham-based Slaughter Group, has multiple meanings. The way Johns describes it, it's meant to be a dome -- like on a church -- symbolizing protection and safety. It's also supposed to look like a person extending their arms.
Baldwin County tourism outlook looks good in 2012 but workers are needed
FOLEY, Alabama -- This summer is expected to bring a record number of tourists if 2011 growth rates continue as expected, but one challenge might be to find the workers to meet the increased demand of an almost $2.5 billion industry, Baldwin County business officials said Monday. At a quarterly lunch meeting of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Herb Malone, director of Gulf Shores-Orange Beach Tourism, and Bob Higgins, vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, discussed the economic prospects for 2012.
Malone said tourism has rebounded to continue to be a major source of jobs and revenue for Baldwin.
"Tourism itself is economic development and it is because both are associated with growth of jobs," Malone said. "That's what it's all about. The more we can do for our economy here, the more our jobs grow and the better quality of life we have for our citizens."
After the drop following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, tourism rebounded in 2011, Malone said. In 2007, lodging revenue reached a record $232 million on the Baldwin coast, he said.
"Not only did we surpass our pre-spill condition, we surpassed our previous record year. It actually jumped up to about $277 million in gross revenue," Malone said of 2011. "That speaks well to the economic resilience of our cities and everybody working together."
Malone said groups such as the Coastal Resource Center, Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the convention and visitors bureau also worked together to help the recovery take place.
While all numbers are not in for 2011, Malone said he expects the totals to exceed the pre-spill revenue from 2009, when tourism brought 4.6 million visitors to the area to spend $2.3 billion.
Now, businesses are having trouble finding people to meet that demand, Higgins said. "If there's one thing we're starting to hear a lot of right now as restaurants and retailers especially try to staff up for this coming season is we cannot find enough people," Higgins told chamber members. "We cannot fill the jobs that we have open and that's in spite of having 6,500 or 7,000 unemployed people in Baldwin County."
In working to rebound from the spill, chambers and cities will continue to use programs developed to survive the economic impact of 2010 to prepare for the future, Higgins said.
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