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.
Officials expect hundreds of new jobs from Korea trip: Meetings could result in projects coming to state
7:05 AM, Apr. 25, 2012 |
Written byBrad Harper
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said Tuesday that he expects overseas meetings with Korean businesses last week to produce "significant job creation" in the next few months.
"We won't make any announcements (today)," Strange said. "There will be significant developments to come from this."
Alabama Department of Commerce Director Greg Canfield said discussions involve an expansion of an existing industry and the possible relocation of another industry to Alabama.
"These projects represent hundreds of potential new jobs," Canfield said.
The April 13-17 trip was Gov. Robert Bentley's first to Korea since his election, and Bentley said it may prove fruitful for the state.
Others who joined Bentley for the trip included Alabama Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's Ellen McNair, as well as Canfield and senior project manager Hollie Pegg.
The group first visited the headquarters of Hyundai Heavy Industries, which opened a power transformer plant in Montgomery last November.
In detailing the trip to a gathering of elected officials Tuesday in Montgomery, Strange said Hyundai Heavy Industries president and CEO Lee Jai-seong "talked about his vision of other things that could go on" in Alabama. Strange said regulations in Korea force the company to move some of its work offshore, which could mean more good news for the state.
Distribution center for Ashley Furniture HomeStores to open June 1 in Loxley
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 7:17 AM
LOXLEY, Alabama -- A regional distribution center for Turner's Ashley Furniture HomeStores will open June 1 in Loxley, company officials announced Tuesday. The new facility will service the Turner-owned Ashley Furniture HomeStores in Alabama and Florida.
"Generating new jobs is an accomplishment that makes us all very proud," said Russell Turner, president. "We will have 26 full- and part-time employees at our new facility. That will bring our work family to almost 275 people, several of which have been with our company for over 30 years. To me, that is the success of our 97-year family legacy."
Russell Turner's Thomasville, Ga.-based company represents the fourth generation of Turner family-owned furniture companies. What began as a hardware store in Pelham, Ga., in 1915 has grown into a very successful family-owned business, he said.
Turner Furniture Holding Corp.'s 2011 furniture, bedding and accessory sales were estimated to be $47 million. The company owns 11 Ashley Furniture Home Stores across the Southeast, including those in Mobile, Spanish Fort, Biloxi, and Pensacola. The company also owns two Russell Turner's Weekend Furniture Bargains stores, in Florida and Georgia.
Startup Summit draws 100-plus entrepreneurs to WorkPlay in Birmingham
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 6:30 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- More than 100 start-up founders and aspiring entrepreneurs attended the inaugural Startup Summit at WorkPlay Theatre on Tuesday with hopes of learning more about building innovative Birmingham businesses.
Startup Summit's founders created the day to inspire those with ideas for companies as well as those already building some.
The event featured 10 local startup founders as speakers on a number of challenges associated with founding and nurturing a business. Those included topics such as when to turn an idea into a real product, how to sell that product, how to raise capital for the business and how to find the right employees.
Tony Summerville, founder of Birmingham startup RareStep, and Daxko Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Sides organized the event. Another goal they had was to provide a venue for fostering relationships within the Birmingham startup ecosystem. To create those opportunities, they intentionally inserted 30-minute coffee breaks and a long lunch into the day to provide ample time for attendees to converse.
"We want to keep the momentum going -- people talking about startups and people thinking about startups," Summerville said.
Planning began in October, and Summerville and Sides said they were satisfied with the turnout and success. Throughout the day, they observed participants scribbling notes on paper or iPads and talking with other attendees and speakers. Some are already talking about follow-up events in the coming months.
"This has been a good melting pot of bringing people together in the startup world," Sides said.
Baldwin County buys 2,400 acres for industrial megasite
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 2:08 AM
BAY MINETTE, Alabama -- Baldwin County's purchase of 2,400 acres off Interstate 65 near Bay Minette could be a major step toward luring manufacturing plants and thousands of jobs to the region, said local officials and industrial recruiters who hailed the Tuesday action.
The County Commission voted unanimously to buy the tract from the Crosby Trust for $25,975,000. Most of the money for the purchase will come from a $25 million, three-year loan from Regions Bank also approved Tuesday.
The proposal calls for the deal to be completed within 45 days.
The tract comprises most of a 3,000-acre area designated as an industrial megasite. County leaders have been working for more than three years to recruit manufacturers to the site.
"I'm really encouraged by what's happened today and this makes our prospects much stronger to bring green, manufacturing jobs to north Baldwin County," Robert Ingram, director of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said after the Tuesday vote.
"We've shown the property to people and we've got some interest, but it's a much stronger position to say, 'We own it,' than 'We've got an option.'"
The county is working to buy the other 600 acres at the site, commissioners said Tuesday.
A Chinese startup company, HK Motors, had announced a multibillion-dollar venture to place a complex at the site to build green-energy-powered cars. Those plans were canceled in 2011 when HK could not secure financing.
AAR Summa announces massive layoff With loss of Army contract, company cutting 200+ positions
By Trent MooreThe Cullman Times
Wed Apr 25, 2012, 10:51 AM CDT
CULLMAN - With the loss of a major Army contract, AAR Summa in Cullman has announced a massive layoff of 213 local positions - totaling the brunt of the area plant's workforce.
The company has manufactured the U.S. Army MK 1077 Flat Rack transportation device for more than 15 years, growing to employ nearly 250 people in the Cullman area. Company officials have now learned its only major bid will not be renewed. Instead, the Army has opted to contract with a Canadian company for a similar transport product.
Employees at Summa were notified today, and phased layoffs are expected to begin June 25. The manufacturing shutdown is scheduled to be complete by the end of July. The economic impact from the layoffs is estimated at approximately $44.5 million.
The company has been working for several months to learn if they would even be eligible to bid for their product, due to a new initiative to limit the bid to businesses with less than approximately 300 employees. Though Summa fits that requirement locally, the company is now owned by the international firm AAR, which employs thousands worldwide.
"We've been faced with the potential that we would not get a chance to bid on the project, and we've been waiting on a report the Army was supposed to be issuing," AAR Summa Government Affairs spokesperson Christine Wayne said. "We met with the Army on March 27, and the Army indicated they would not be purchasing any flat racks. We were told they're going with a different but simliar product called the Enhanced Container Handling Unit (ECHU), manufactured by a Canadian company."
DYNETICS OPENS NEW SOLUTIONS COMPLEX
226,000-SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY WILL EXPAND COMPANY'S HARDWARE CAPABILITIES
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 25, 2012 - RELEASE (Dynetics) - The new Dynetics Solutions Complex opened here today at 1004 Explorer Blvd. will expand capabilities in research and development and production for aerospace, cyber and defense products in Huntsville. It is a high-tech prototyping facility, incorporating the latest resources available to produce quality products rapidly and affordably for both commercial and government customers. The opening of the new facility is intended to add 250 to 300 additional jobs over the next three years.
The Solutions Complex, conveniently located on the company's campus in Cummings Research Park, is 226,500 square feet, expanding Dynetics' hardware prototyping capabilities in Huntsville to more than 300,000 square feet. It is designed to accommodate commercial and government programs and to provide flexibility for specific customer requirements.
Dr. Marc Bendickson, Dynetics CEO, said, "The name of this facility, 'The Solutions Complex,' is intended to convey to our customers our goal to provide a solution here locally to their expanding set of requirements."
The new facility will provide space for the company's hardware integration programs; small-quantity specialty item production; large-scale Targets programs; space systems work (including satellite integration); and specialized systems, subsystems and tools development. It will enable consolidation of electronics fabrication and assembly, as well as mechanical test equipment including a thermal vacuum chamber and a shaker table.
The complex will offer the ability to locate government and industry engineers together for collaborative research and manufacturing.
Tom Baumbach, president, said, "Examples of successful projects that have involved collaboration between government and industry engineers include FASTSAT (the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology SATellite) and lunar lander testbeds, as well as several classified Army missile programs."
Dynetics employees working on the mating and integration system for Paul Allen's Stratolaunch air launch system will be located in The Solutions Complex, and more employees will be added to accommodate future projects.
David King, Dynetics executive vice president, said, "Last week, we announced two contracts for which we are competing, the Engineered Prototyping Solutions (ESP) contract with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) procurement. Should we be selected for these procurements, much of the work will be performed in this facility."
Dynetics is also bidding on the Test Execution Services and Launch Augmentation (TESTLA) procurement for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, which will require the capabilities available in the new facility.
The Open House and Ribbon Cutting for The Solutions Complex was held today on the 23rd anniversary of Dynetics' becoming an employee-owned company under ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan).
Incentives important in industry recruiting process
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 11:03 AM Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 11:22 AM
MOBILE, Alabama -- Incentives have become standard practice in today's industry recruiting process.
Like it or not, they are not going away. In the current economic situation it becomes more challenging to remain competitive.
Team Mobile, which includes the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the city of Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama Power Co., Mobile Airport Authority and the Alabama State Port Authority, among many others, has to be more creative in its approach, especially in the discretionary arena.
The Alabama State Legislature has always been cognizant of the benefits of economic development -- the capital investment and job creation involved in the multitude of projects Alabama has been fortunate enough to land. They have been proactive, along with the Alabama Department of Commerce (formerly known as Alabama Development Office) in creating legislation to keep the Mobile Bay region competitive in the global marketplace, while remaining good stewards of taxpayers' money.
A great example of this is the recently passed maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) legislation. This allows aerospace MROs across the state to benefit from certain sales tax relief related to parts for the services they provide. It will have an immediate positive impact on ST Aerospace Mobile, which is located at the Brookley Aeroplex. Several other states already offered this relief, so this legislation levels the playing field for our existing companies as well as new companies looking for a location for a new facility.
Another example is the Alabama Jobs Creation Act. This legislation is a creative approach to make Alabama even more attractive to companies seeking a new home. If we are not competitive in the site location game, tax dollars for education will not grow. Opponents of the legislation express concerns over losing dollars that would be allocated to education. That is an understandable and admirable concern. Economic developers are deeply committed to having a strong statewide education system remain strong, grow and be a sharp arrow in the state's quiver.
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Wendy Wallace Johnson