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.
State targets industry to good effect
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 7:22 AM
"As manufacturing picks up across the United States, Alabama has become an unexpected beneficiary. The state -- best known for agriculture and textiles production -- is enjoying the best pickup in industrial manufacturing in five years as U.S. and foreign companies flock there."
So opens a recent article by Parija Kavilanz of CNNMoney, who goes on to cite experts who credit "the state's low taxes, top-grade trade schools, a statute that curbs union power, and other incentives" with attracting manufacturers to the state.
The Alabama Department of Commerce (the new name for the Alabama Development Office) reports that 70 new projects promising 4,879 jobs were announced statewide in 2011.
Another 313 current manufacturers announced expansions that could add 12,000 more jobs.
The total promised capital investment exceeds $4 billion.
According to the state, 747 of the jobs accompany the $345.3 million in planned investment in Mobile County, and 366 of the jobs and almost $22.5 million in planned investment is in Baldwin County.
Many of the projects announced locally illustrate the benefits of an increasing effort to target the types of industries Alabama recruits, as they involve aerospace, metals, and maritime or shipbuilding companies.
Targeting industry clusters is at the heart of the Accelerate Alabama plan that unites state and local recruitment efforts.
It targets advanced manufacturing in the broad sectors of aerospace/defense, automotive/steel, metals, agriculture/food products, forestry products and chemicals. Other targets include bioscience and technology companies, distribution operations and corporate headquarters.
Bill Taylor, head of the nonprofit Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, watched a supplier operation grow in Alabama during his days leading the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing facility near Tuscaloosa.
National disabilities health center to open in Homewood in about a month
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012, 5:14 PM Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012, 5:20 PM
HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability is set to open at the Lakeshore Foundation campus in Homewood in about a month, officials said today.
The center, which provides information on wellness and physical activity for people with disabilities, has been in Chicago for the last 13 years. A new collaboration between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Lakeshore Foundation brought the center to Birmingham, along with its director, James Rimmer.
"This is a great project for the community," said Rimmer, who is also a professor in the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The center is being funded by a $3 million three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Daily operations will be based at the Lakeshore Foundation campus, while the administrative offices will be at UAB, Rimmer said.
The new center will focus on providing individuals -- both locally and from around the country -- with information on healthy lifestyles and also train health care professionals. The center will have a telephone hotline and a website dedicated to providing information. New health programs to be implemented here and in other states will be developed by researchers at the center.
As Huntsville's investment grows, Redstone Gateway office park marches forward
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2012, 4:16 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The City of Huntsville has now spent about $28 million laying the groundwork for a massive, Department of Defense-oriented office park near Gate 9 of Redstone Arsenal.
At its meeting Thursday night, the City Council approved two more infrastructure contacts for Phase I of the Redstone Gateway project, which includes about 200 acres immediately south of the junction of Interstate 565 and Rideout Road.
Christopher Professional Enterprises of Athens won a $535,815 contract to run electric, phone, fiberoptic and other communication lines along Market Street, the park's planned retail area.
Christopher was also awarded a $254,288 contract to install the water lines serving Market Street.
The four-lane, divided boulevard will eventually be home to 150,000 square feet of hotels, retail and service businesses, said Shane Davis, the city's director of urban planning.
Reed Contracting Services is being paid $5.3 million to build Market Street, as well as a four-lane loop road serving 22 large office buildings in the park's first phase. Reed is also relocating a portion of Overlook Road.
Davis said the city has only two major contracts left to award in the first phase: demolition of a former Huntsville Utilities substation, and final grading for a five-acre lake.
Outokumpu announces managers planned after merger with ThyssenKrupp stainless operation
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012, 11:33 AM Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012, 12:25 PM
Outokumpu Oyj, the planned new owner of ThyssenKrupp AG's stainless steel business, today announced a series of changes to its leadership team that will take place when the merger is completed later this year.
The new management team will be led by Mika Seitovirta as chief executive officer and Esa Lager as chief financial officer. Both now hold the same titles with Outokumpu.
Ulrich Albrecht-Früh, who oversaw stainless production in Calvert as chief executive officer of ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA, will be named head of Stainless Coil EMEA.
It was unclear Friday whether Albrecht-Fruh would continue to be based in Mobile beyond January 2013. EMEA is a widely accepted abbreviation for a geographic region including Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Kari Parvento, currently an Outokumpu executive vice president - group sales and marketing, will be head of Stainless Coil Americas and head of the company's ferrochrome business.
Parvento is a member of Outokumpu's Group Executive Committee.
Outokumpu in January announced an agreement to purchase Inoxum, the name ThyssenKrupp assigned to its stainless steel division in late 2011. The $3.6 billion deal included the stainless operations at ThyssenKrupp's steel production plant in north Mobile County.
Boeing Celebrates 50 Years in Alabama
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Boeing Company today celebrates 50 years in Alabama, where employees play a vital role in building and sustaining the United States' space and defense programs.
The largest aerospace company in the state of Alabama, Boeing maintains its Strategic Missile & Defense Systems headquarters in Huntsville, as well as its largest program, Ground-based Midcourse Defense. Huntsville also hosts Boeing Exploration Launch Systems, which oversees the Space Launch System - NASA's new heavy-lift launch vehicle - and support to the International Space Station.
"Alabama and the Tennessee Valley region are rich in resources that have helped to make Boeing successful here - an excellent work ethic, innovative and talented people, and valued community partners," said Tony Jones, Boeing vice president and Huntsville site leader. "We are very proud, but not surprised, to have achieved this significant milestone.
"This community has been instrumental in creating an environment that is good for business, good for the customers here and good for Boeing," Jones continued. "We're thankful that Boeing and Alabama have been a great team for many years, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship."
Throughout Boeing's 50 years of operation in Alabama, local employees have built a reputation for innovation and engineering excellence in space technology, systems engineering, and missile defense. Boeing engineers have achieved significant technology advances with programs such as the Saturn S-1C booster rocket that delivered astronauts to the moon; the Lunar Roving Vehicle that allowed human exploration of the moon's surface; the Skylab Orbital Workshop; and the crew habitat for the International Space Station.
New bait as we angle for the 'Big Kahuna'
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012, 9:47 AM Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012, 9:49 AM
Need another reason to be excited about our part of the Gulf Coast?
Southern Business and Development magazine recently released a new Top 10 list, this one artfully labeled "Ten megasites in the South for the next 'Big Kahuna.'"
On the list is a new purchase by the Baldwin County Commission -- the site in north Baldwin recently certified by McCallum Sweeney Consulting.
Just listen to the way the magazine describes its unique attributes:
"Certified megasites, with all due diligence complete, are rare. Sites with access to both north-south and east-west interstates, a major international port, two commercial airports and world-class beaches are even rarer.
"There may be only one with over 3,000 acres, potential dual electric service, large water and wastewater capacity, served by the CSX railroad, AIDT, a nationally recognized job training system, and with close proximity to the Port of Mobile."
Yes, Baldwin County went out on a limb to buy the property without a tenant. But the group's action shows faith in the potential that we have along the central Gulf Coast.
Our region boasts an impressive array of inventory for attracting new companies -- the megasite, the Brookley Aeroplex, the Helena Industrial Complex, certified as Project Ready by Mississippi Power Co., even the area around Gulf LNG Energy's liquefied natural gas facility on Bayou Casotte, which Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has said he can market to "corporations and companies not only in the United States, but internationally who use liquefied natural gas to fuel their manufacturing."
Chinese culture to spread through Montgomery Public Schools
Language courses to be taught systemwide more...
12:03 AM, Apr. 26, 2012 |
A new partnership between Auburn Montgomery and Montgomery Public Schools will expand the number of Chinese classes offered to students, making the language courses available in elementary through high school.
The program is possible because AUM recently established its own Confucius Institute. The institutes, located all over the world, are nonprofit public organizations aimed at promoting Chinese culture and language. Neighboring Troy University has one such program.
AUM made its partnership with the Office of Chinese Language Council International, or Hanban, official last month. In doing so, the school now has the resources to help bring Chinese classes to MPS free of charge.
"It's such an exciting project for our school system," Superintendent Barbara Thompson said during Tuesday's Montgomery County Board of Education meeting, where the partnership was officially announced.
Thompson said LAMP and Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet already offer Chinese courses through a grant established several years ago. The partnership with AUM will expand Chinese classes to MacMillan International Academy, Carr Middle School and eventually the new Park Crossing High School when it opens.
"We thought it was something wonderful for our school system," Thompson said. "We're so happy they thought of us."
Shelia Austin, associate dean in the School of Education at AUM, said in an interview Monday that working with the school system was "a natural fit
Briggs & Stratton to trim 250 jobs in Auburn
By: Donathan Prater | Opelika-Auburn News Published: April 27, 2012 Updated: April 27, 2012 - 7:20 PM
Briggs & Stratton will reduce the workforce at its Auburn facility by about 250 workers, the manufacturer announced in a press release this week.
"We're going to start reductions in the December-January time frame and will continue through June 2013," Laura Timm, director of corporate communications, said Friday. "What you're seeing today is really just execution of that strategy."
Timm said the decision was made during an April 26 board of directors meeting.
"The actions that we're taking ... has to do with product line," Timm said. "Production of our horizontal shaft engines is not profitable at this time to continue to manufacture them in the U.S."
Timm said production of horizontal shaft engines and small generators, now manufactured in Auburn, will be moved to an existing facility in Chongqing, China. The Auburn plant, which employs about 460 workers, also produces V-Twin engines, Timm said.
In addition to the job cuts in Auburn, Briggs & Stratton will trim about 210 salaried positions globally and no longer pursue placement of lawn and garden products at national mass retailers, moves that Timm said will save the manufacturer about $40 million by fiscal 2014.
Timm said Briggs & Stratton plans to work with displaced workers to help them find other jobs.
"We're going to take care of our folks," Timm said.
German Ambassador Dr. Peter Ammon will be commencement speaker for UAHuntsville
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Peter Ammon, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States, is scheduled to deliver the UAHuntsville commencement address on Saturday, May 5, 2012. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and will be held at the Von Braun Civic Center in downtown Huntsville.
UAHuntsville is expected to issue 872 diplomas at its spring graduation ceremony - 667 bachelor's degrees, 181 master's degrees and 24 Ph.D.s.
Ambassador Ammon holds a doctorate in economics from Berlin's Free University, and served most recently as the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office. In 2007 and 2008, he was appointed German Ambassador to Paris, France. Prior to this appointment, he served as a career diplomat in London, Senegal, New Delhi and Washingto
"Germany is one of America's most important partners on the international stage, in areas of economics, science and technology research, defense, and education," said UAHuntsville President Dr. Robert Altenkirch. "Our UAHuntsville graduates are entering a complex, dynamic, and rapidly changing world, in which partnerships and collaborations across oceans, languages, and cultures are critical for success and the betterment of all people. Ambassador Ammon has committed his life to building a more peaceful, fair, and prosperous world. As one who works daily to build meaningful international relationships, and to deepen the cooperation between our two nations, we are very honored to welcome him to Huntsville."
During his visit, Dr. Ammon will be awarded an honorary doctorate from UAHuntsville. His visit also precedes the opening of the annual membership meeting of the German-American Chamber of Commerce (South), to be held in Huntsville on May 6-7, 2012.
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