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.
The recession put a damper on sales of automobiles, but Alabama's OEMs are now experiencing some growth, creating new jobs at all levels of the industry.
By Laura Stakelum - Business Alabama
Even when times are tough, Alabama's economy is strengthened by the automotive industry in the state. Often the effects of the industry can be felt in unexpected places.
Most folks in Alabama are aware of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). When a recognizable, successful global company moves to the state of Alabama, it makes the news. But the economic impact of these companies isn't only felt in the communities where they are located. The effect of the investments made by OEMs, like Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa, Honda in Lincoln, Toyota in Huntsville and Hyundai in Montgomery, can be felt all over the state. Suppliers who provide parts and services to these plants are all over Alabama and keep the supply chain of the automobile industry strong. When all the links in the chain work together, the strength of the chain is reflected in the economy of the entire state.
Steve Sewell is executive vice president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, a nonprofit organization that works to attract new business and industry and support existing industry. Sewell also serves on the board of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association. According to Sewell, the industry hit its all time high in 2007, producing 738,000 vehicles in Alabama. In 2008, when the global economic crisis hit, the automobile industry was impacted. Consumer demand diminished and automobile sales dropped, both globally and in the United States. By 2009, only 468,000 vehicles were produced in Alabama. However, the numbers began to rise again in 2010 with the production of 711,000 vehicles, and continued to rebound in 2011 with 730,000.
Despite the decline in production during the past few years, the companies remain committed to their workers, community and state. In times of crisis, like the aftermath of tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, several companies donated funds to help with cleanup. Moreover, some let their employees use company time for volunteer cleanup work. Charities, nonprofit and civic groups have benefited from the generosity of the automotive industry in Alabama at one time or another
$90M medical products plant to open in Auburn in 2013, employ 300 people
State, city leaders attend groundbreaking for SiO2.
By Laura Stakelum - Business Alabama
By: Chris Anthony
Published: April 09, 2012
Updated: April 09, 2012 - 4:14 PM
State and local officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday for a new biomedical company locating in Auburn, touting the hundreds of high-paying jobs it will bring to the city.
Auburn Mayor Bill Ham said the new SiO2 Medical Products facility "will be one of the most important and significant announcements in the history of the city of Auburn."
"We believe this is a new frontier for us, a new beginning of a lot of high-end, biomedical jobs," Ham said.
In March, SiO2 announced its plans to open a $90 million facility that will produce pre-filled syringes, cartridges and vials. The new plant, which will be located in Auburn Technology Park West off Beehive Road, will eventually employ about 300 people.
Ham said many of the workers at the facility will earn between $85,000 and $100,000 a year.
SiO2 is already operating a pilot facility on Enterprise Drive that employs about 40 people, and the company has long had roots in Auburn. SiO2 chairman Bobby Abrams is also the founder of Capitol Vial Inc., which has been located in the city since 1994.
The Retirement Systems of Alabama is partnering with SiO2 to bring in the new plant, making a $50 million commitment to the project's first phase.
Abrams said having the backing of the RSA and its CEO, David Bronner, were critical to the project locating in Auburn.
"Without the help of the RSA, the project probably couldn't have been built here in Auburn ..." Abrams said.
As a physician, Gov. Robert Bentley said the project naturally piqued his interest. But more importantly, Bentley said, SiO2 will bring in new jobs that will hopefully keep the state's unemployment rate moving downward.
Opelika Auburn News
ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA earns quality certification
Published: Monday, April 09, 2012, 3:25 PM Updated: Monday, April 09, 2012, 3:31 PM
The process certification, known as ISO 9001:2008, identifies the Calvert stainless steel manufacturer as working within the International Organization for Standardization's requirements for the production of stainless steel metals, according to the news release.
"To put it frankly, without this certification our current and even possibly future customers would really cease to do business with us," said John Garrett, business development specialist for ThyssenKrupp Stainless. "Without that certification, there is no guarantee that we've been tested and our processes evaluated to make sure they're sound and that we're following those processes.
"Customers are going to be looking for that seal of approval."
ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA operates a 550-worker facility in north Mobile County, and workers are finishing a stainless melt shop there that, when complete, should push employment toward a target figure of 900.
It is part of a larger complex that also includes a carbon steel operation.
ThyssenKrupp Stainless spent more than a year developing and honing its processes before requesting the audit for eventual certification, according to Garrett.
Jeremy Arthur to Head Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama
RELEASE - The Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama has named Jeremy Arthur, current president of the Prattville Chamber of Commerce, as its new executive director. Arthur will assume the position in mid-May.
"We are extremely pleased and fortunate to have a person with the unique blend of experience and professional ability that Jeremy Arthur brings to the executive directorship of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA)," said CCAA board member William J. Canary, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. The BCA and the CCAA, through a unique relationship known as The Partnership, together represent the interests of some one million working Alabamians through its member companies and over 120 local chambers of commerce. "We have known and enjoyed working with Jeremy for the past eight at the Prattville Chamber," said Canary, "and we look forward to working even closer in our new partnership on all matters important to our state in his new capacity at CCAA."
Arthur brings several years of experience in chamber of commerce work to the CCAA job. In 2004, he was named executive vice president of the Prattville Chamber, and subsequently was named president of the organization that has more than 875 members in one of the fastest-growing areas of Alabama. Before joining the chamber, he was an outreach research assistant for the Economic Development Institute at Auburn University. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in public administration, and is a doctoral candidate in public administration and public policy, all from Auburn.
"I am excited about the new opportunity that awaits me," said Arthur. "Under the leadership of CCAA Board Chairman Jan Wood and the entire CCAA Board of Directors, I look forward to helping achieve the CCAA's goal of 'building a better Alabama through strong chambers of commerce.'"
Arthur is a member of several national organizations, including the board of directors of the Auburn Alumni Association, the American Society for Public Administration and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. He was also elected vice-chairman to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Regents representing the Southeast Institute for Organization Management (IOM). He is an active member of numerous statewide organizations, including the board of directors of the CCAA, and the Economic Development Association of Alabama, where he is currently serving on its Conference Committee.
University of Alabama in Huntsville roundtable to feature Koch distinguished speaker, entrepreneurs and the economy
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 8:15 AM Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 8:25 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the area will join a pair of nationally renowned economists at a two-day forum next week hosted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Serial entrepreneur David Karabinos, who is president/CEO of PointClear Solutions, and David Kingsbury, a mentor to high-tech entrepreneurs, will take part in "The Entrepreneurs Roundtable" April 16 in the Chan Auditorium.
Joining them are Bama Jammer co-owner/President Natalie Hasley, who was named Young Professional of the Year at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Awards; Tasia Malakasis, owner and president of Belle Chevre, an award-winning artisan cheese producer in Elkmont; and Mark Spencer, founder/chair/chief technology officer at Digium, an open-source telecommunications supplier in Huntsville.
They will talk about their experiences launching and growing successful businesses in North Alabama.
On April 17, Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo, and Koch Distinguished Speaker Dr. Bruce Yandle of UAH will speak at the National and Regional Economic Outlook Forum at 6:30 p.m. at the Huntsville Marriott.
"Trading With the World"
Ag Commissioner Outlines "Global Approach" to Grow Alabama's Largest Industry, Creating Jobs and Opportunity
MONTGOMERY - Alabama agriculture exports, now at $1 billion, must double in the next decade if we are to keep up with world food demand and remain competitive in the international marketplace, according to Commissioner John McMillan of the state Department of Agriculture & Industries.
Alabama farmers and agribusinesses must adopt what McMillan calls a "global approach" to agriculture production. To this end, the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries on May 15 will hold a one-day conference for farmers and agribusinesses to provide insights on international trade and how to export products to foreign markets.
"Exports mean jobs and greater opportunity for Alabamians. Our competitors, especially Canada, have in recent years moved aggressively into international markets and taken a major position in agricultural exports," McMillan said. "Conditions for international trade are improving, one of which includes recent passage of Free Trade Agreements with three nations."
McMillan announced the one-day conference, entitled "Trading With the World," to be held at the Birmingham Marriott. Registration is open to farmers and agribusinesses. There is no charge for attendance and registration is limited to 125. Deadline is April 30.
Department of Agriculture and Industries Press Release
EDPA Community Partner Spotlight:
Located on I-65 in the central River Region of Alabama, Prattville (pop. 32,000) lies just across the Alabama River from the state capital of Montgomery (MSA pop. 370,914).
While maintaining the feel of a "charming New England-style village nestled in the heart of the Deep South," Prattville is now recognized as a progressive community, attracting new retail opportunities and expanding manufacturing interests, all in a proactive business setting.
As the "Birthplace of Industry in Alabama," Prattville's rich history spans the life and accomplishments of its founder Daniel Pratt, the great industrialist, and continues to attract business and industry today with a MSA labor force of 171,198.
Excellent educational opportunities, exceptional healthcare, world-class recreation, as well as local culture and history showcase Prattville as "the Preferred Community of the River Region." Prattville Area Chamber of CommerceMontgomery Metro ProfileAutauga Co. ProfileAutauga Co. BuildingsAutauga Co. Sites
Community Trivia: Prattville's Robert Trent Jones Senator Course at Capitol Hill has hosted the Navistar LPGA Classic since 2007. The 2012 event is scheduled for September 17-23.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson