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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:
About 300 to gather for first Blueprint Birmingham Summit
Hexcel, Gavilon plan expansions
Bill designed to help Huntsville's proposed TVA Megasite clears Alabama Senate
Opelika Industrial Park Receives Certified Food Site Designation
Opelika's downtown plan receives national award



About 300 to gather for first Blueprint Birmingham Summit
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012, 5:30 AM Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012, 5:59 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Birmingham Business Alliance will announce today that the seven-county metro region gained 3,532 jobs and $497.6 million in investment from new and expanding industries since the September 2010 launch of Blueprint Birmingham.

A crowd of more than 300 is expected for the first-ever Blueprint Birmingham Summit. The five-year strategic economic development plan's successes and shortcomings will be discussed beginning at 7:30 a.m. today at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center.

"Jobs and capital investment in the region are the top priorities in Blueprint Birmingham," Johnny Johns, BBA chairman and chief executive of Protective Life Corp., said in a statement that will be issued today. "And since the launch of the plan, hundreds of volunteers have pulled together to work toward realizing Birmingham's full potential as an economic leader in Alabama and the Southeast."

The most anticipated portion of today's presentation will be the "2012 Regional Economic Growth Report" that will introduce regional metrics that gauge how the metro area measures up against its own goals and against 11 other benchmarked cities.

Sam Addy, director of the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research, compiled the report. It measures the Birmingham area against Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery in the state, as well as Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Oklahoma City and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., from outside the state.

Highlighted accomplishments in Blueprint's key areas of economic prosperity, work force development, community and regional stewardship, and public and private leadership include:

BBA officials were involved in pushing the $200 million expansion at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, the $75 million Birmingham Westin hotel/entertainment district project, development around Railroad Park that includes the $64 million baseball park being built for the Birmingham Barons, and ongoing efforts of the Freshwater Land Trust in its "Our One Mile" greenway initiative.



Birmingham News 


Hexcel, Gavilon plan expansions

Hexcel Corp. and Gavilon Grain announced expansions Thursday, bringing Decatur-area industrial expansions in the past six months to $323 million.

Hexcel said it would spend $150.5 million to build a new acrylic fiber line, which will add 35 employees to the 150 it now has.

New employees will average $49,000 in annual wages, not including benefits.

Gavilon, formerly DeBruce Grain, increased an ongoing expansion by $6 million, from $10.3 million to $16.3 million.

The 12-employee grain-handling facility will add three to eight employees. Its new hires will make an average of $53,000 per year before benefits.

City Councilman Charles Kirby said the expansions are a positive economic sign that will assist schools.

"They've been through a number of years of proration, so this obviously comes at a very good time," Kirby said.

The Hexcel project will generate $606,250 in sales-tax revenue for Decatur, Morgan and Hartselle schools during the construction period, this month through 2015.

The school systems and the state Education Trust Fund will receive property taxes of $570,000 a year from the project.

The local benefits come at a cost.

The Decatur Industrial Development Board agreed to abate $463,000 a year in non-educational property taxes for 10 years. It also agreed to abate $4.9 million in sales and use taxes during Hexcel construction.

Hexcel's decision to expand in Decatur was not automatic, according to Morgan County Economic Development Association President Jeremy Nails.

The company first had to go through the bureaucratic hurdles of getting Tennessee Valley Authority to auction off 74 acres of land adjacent to the Hexcel plant.

"There are some obstacles on the TVA site that could have swayed them to go anywhere else, which would have ended expansions," Nails said.



Decatur Daily (subscription)





Bill designed to help Huntsville's proposed TVA Megasite clears Alabama Senate
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 9:55 PM
By Steve Doyle, The Huntsville TimesThe Huntsville Times

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- A bill written to help Huntsville lure a large employer to a proposed TVA Megasite off Greenbrier Road is sailing through the Alabama Legislature.

The state Senate approved the "Major 21st Century Manufacturing" bill on a 31-0 vote Thursday and sent it to the House for consideration.

Sponsored by state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, the bill broadens current tax increment finance, or TIF, laws to include large industrial sites capable of attracting more than $100 million in private investment.

It would allow Huntsville to borrow money up front to buy land, improve roads, add water and sewer lines, and even construct manufacturing facilities at the 1,500-acre Sewell farm in southeast Limestone County - then use the anticipated increase in property tax collections to repay the loan.

The first draft of the bill applied only to Huntsville and Montgomery, but it was amended by the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee to include every Alabama city.

"It's certainly important for Limestone and Madison counties," Orr said Thursday. "And quite possibly, this bill could have a positive statewide impact."



Huntsville Times



Opelika Industrial Park Receives Certified Food Site Designation
Posted: Apr 18, 2012 9:17 AM CDTUpdated: Apr 18, 2012 9:20 AM CDT

Northeast Opelika Industrial Park receives Primus/Garner Certified Food Site designation. A 67-acre parcel of the 2,200-acre Northeast Opelika Industrial Park has received the Primus/Garner Certified Food Site designation. Lori Huguley, Opelika Economic Development Director stated, "We are very excited to have been able to certify a site in our park that will indicate our ability to meet the needs of a food/beverage manufacturer. This industry has remained fairly stable during the economic downturn and this certification will let those companies that are looking for a new location know that Opelika is ready for them." The Primus/Garner Certified Food Site program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership/ control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status.


The presentation of the certification was made at the Opelika Industrial Development Authority meeting on April 18th. Mayor Gary Fuller commended the Authority for supporting the certification. Fuller said, "This is a great example of our community's commitment to do what is necessary to recruit new industry and provide more opportunity for our citizens."








Opelika's downtown plan receives national award

American Planning Association recognizes revitalization at Los Angeles conference

By: Chris Anthony | Opelika-Auburn News
Published: April 19, 2012 Updated: April 19, 2012 - 6:12 PM

A development guide for downtown Opelika was recently recognized by the American Planning Association's Small Town and Rural Planning Division.

Opelika Planning Department members were presented with the Vernon Deines Memorial Award for Outstanding Small Town or Rural Plan during the organization's annual conference in Los Angeles on Monday.

Sponsored by the city of Opelika and Envision Opelika, the Downtown Opelika Development Guide makes recommendations for future updates and changes to the downtown area. The guide was prepared by Montgomery-based architecture/engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood.

"We're always honored to be recognized by our peers," Mayor Gary Fuller said. "I thought this was a great honor for Opelika."

Completed in 2010, the guide was formulated with "a little bit of input from a lot of different groups," Planning Director Jerry Kelley said.





Opelika Auburn News

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