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.
Special session will include redistricting, immigration
9:57 AM, May. 17, 2012 |
Nine hours after ending the 2012 Regular Session, the Alabama Legislature reconvened Thursday for a special session that will take up reapportionment, financial incentives, needed taxes for the General Fund and changes to the state's immigration law.
The redrawing of the state's legislative districts will be the focus of the session, and likely its most contentious issue, with lawsuits already threatened over maps proposed by the Legislature's Republican majority. The legislature will also have to pass measures moving 25 percent of the state's use tax to shore up the General Fund.
Gov. Robert Bentley said at a press conference Thursday morning he would also call for the refinancing of economic incentive bonds that he said would free an additional $130 million to lure large companies to the state.
The governor also plans to amend the state's immigration bill to remove a provision requiring schools to collect information on students' immigration status at time of enrollment, and move to strike language that would require the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to post a list of names on its website of undocumented aliens who appear in court for violations of state law.
Bentley said he felt the aims of the provision could be reached by substituting numbers in the place of names.
"By asking Homeland Security to continue to do that, that's something I'd rather not do," Bentley said. "It's something that's not necessary, (and) it really doesn't clarify the bill."
Bentley also said he had reservations on the school data provision.
"I just don't want children to be asked about their parents' legal status," he said.
NASA's economic impact in Alabama last year put at $2.8 billion
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 10:40 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- NASA's economic impact in Alabama last year was $2.8 billion, Marshall Space Flight Center Acting Director Gene Goldman said today. Goldman told an annual community briefing that the center awarded $817 million in contracts to state companies, and 26 percent of the companies were small businesses.
Goldman spoke to several hundred industry and government leaders at the annual Marshall Center Director's Breakfast. He discussed center accomplishments, goals and challenges. Awards for top contractors included SAIC, IT services; Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, top product provider; and HMI, contractor for Marshall's occupational health services.
Goldman stressed NASA's effort to form more partnerships with industry and academia. Marshall alone has more than 250 Space Act Agreements with business and academia, he said, and it has cut the average time of negotiating such agreements from 285 days to 30 days. The main challenge remains making sure that the center isn't competing with private industry, he said.
NASA is "hoping for success" of this Saturday's launch attempt by SpaceX of a supply satellite to the International Space Station, Goldman said. NASA's ability to explore deep space depends on the success of commercial space companies providing lower-cost access to low-Earth orbit.
Marshall is working on the new heavy-lift rocket for the Space Launch System that will take humans into deep space, Goldman said. "We have a design that we think is the right one for the country and the times we're in," Goldman said. The center is currently building a new office building to house that effort, he said.
Army Contracting Command's first general takes reins at Redstone Arsenal
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 7:00 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The young Army Contracting Command is celebrating a milestone as Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols becomes its first commanding general in a time-honored flag ceremony this morning on Redstone Arsenal.
"It's such an incredible honor to be sitting in here," she said Wednesday during an interview in her new office. "To command at all at this level in the Army is just amazing for me, personally."
It also shows the ACC is progressing, realizing the Army's vision for the command, she said. "What we bring to the table, what we support and how we support the warfighters and the general Army mission ... you couldn't have even dreamed this."
The ACC and its subordinate Expeditionary Contracting Command were formed in 2008 after a study found, among other things, that the Army wasn't sufficiently prepared to handle the kind of contracting support needed for missions like Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The ACC has since been led by Jeffrey Parsons and then by Dr. Carol Lowman, two Department of the Army civilian executive directors. It is one of the Army Materiel Command's subordinate commands.
Nichols, then a brigadier general, was named the first ECC commander in September 2008. She enlisted in 1975 in her hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y., and went on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an engineer officer after graduating in 1981.
After "standing up" the ECC in 2008, Nichols served as commanding general of the U.S. Central Command's Contracting Command, responsible for activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.
The ECC is the overseas, "tactical" side of the organization, she said. In addition to providing for deployed troops, contracting has become part of counter-insurgency operations. Local contracts can spur economic development, create new businesses and jobs providing money that allows the citizens to put down arms and help rebuild their country.
Another ACC subordinate, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command, takes care of operations and families at garrisons such as Redstone Arsenal, Nichols said. And there are contracting centers responsible for supporting the Army program executive offices that acquire the aircraft, tanks and all the gear soldiers need around the world.
Regions Financial chief Hall says dividend and acquisition prospects better now
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 10:55 AM Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 10:55 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --
. Chief Executive Grayson Hall said at the company's annual meeting today that a return to a normal capital structure will allow the state's largest bank to consider raising the dividend and acquiring other financial institutions.
Hall told shareholders gathered at the bank's downtown headquarters that selling
The consequence, Hall said, is that the metro-area's largest private-sector employer can begin to consider a "return to a more normalized dividend and pursuing opportunistic acquisitions."
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