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.
Navistar expands plans
By Bernie Delinski Staff Writer
Navistar Corp., which announced in March it will introduce a new work truck at its Colbert County plant, said Tuesday the plant also will produce the truck's body.
That means the Barton Riverfront Industrial Park facility will produce the entire International LoadStar truck, except for the engine, which will be built at the company's Huntsville plant, Navistar spokesman Steve Schrier said.
This move will allow the Barton plant to assemble the truck at a single location.
"It made sense to integrate it and do it all in one step," Schrier said.
Production likely will start in February, he said.
The truck will have multiple uses for several industries, including waste hauling, concrete pumping and airplane refueling.
The Barton plant has 185 employees. Company officials ultimately plan to have 1,800 employees there.
That, along with spin-off industries, could mean some 2,200 jobs for the Shoals, state officials said.
Company officials said Tuesday they have no new information regarding a dateline for ramping up employment. Schrier said Navistar still is finalizing the product plan and would make announcements after that is completed.
Navistar announced in May it would purchase the intellectual property for the design of the truck, which also is known as E-Z Pack. Navistar did not purchase E-Z Pack's Cynthiana, Ky., plant or employees. The Kentucky plant employs about 120 workers.
It is unclear whether anyone from the Cynthiana plant will be brought to the Shoals.
New industry, 35 jobs coming to Limestone
By Adam Smith
June 05, 2012, 12:05 PM CDT
- The Limestone County Commission Tuesday approved tax abatements for a new industry planning to locate in Ardmore's Dekko Industrial Park.
Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, asked the commission to approve a one-time sales tax abatement of $14,000 for Advanced Technical Manufacturing. The company does business as Advanced Technical Avionics and manufactures parts for the aviation industry.
Hill also asked the commission to approve a property tax abatement of $2,890 per year for 10 years for a total of $28,900. He said the company plans to create 35 jobs within the first three years of operation and will invest $850,000 in the 22,500-square-foot building.
"We have an industry friendly county, and they would like to start spending their money," Hill told the commission.
After approving the abatements, Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said the commission was not trying to push the abatements through, and added he only learned about the proposal on Monday.
Hill said prior to Tuesday's announcement, there were two vacant buildings at the industrial park, which is located about one mile from I-65. Once Advanced Technical Manufacturing is up and running, there will be only one building left, and Hill said there is interest from another industry in the remaining space.
BBVA Compass computer upgrade in Birmingham one of biggest in world
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 5:30 AM Updated: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 6:44 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- One of the biggest financial industry computer upgrades in the world right now is happening in Birmingham, creating hundreds of jobs as BBVA Compass makes an expensive and uncertain investment that would move it worlds ahead of rivals if it all works out.
It is called Project Centric and aims to replace the Birmingham-based bank's main computer system and consolidate disparate customer information into one central file that is updated as credits and debits happen in real time. While that might sound simple to outsiders, it isn't.
The project is expected to cost $400 million, or about 10 percent of the 2011 net income of Spain-based parent company BBVA Group, which earned $3.9 billion last year. Project Centric has already created 300 new jobs in Birmingham, headquarters for the 710-branch overhaul in the seven states where Birmingham-based BBVA Compass operates.
A command center in the Harry B. Brock Administrative Center near Clairmont Avenue has been set up to monitor implementation, and crews of analysts and software experts have been installed at the former Saks department store warehouse on Lakeshore Parkway.
"All eyes are on Compass because no big U.S. bank has successfully moved to a system this modern," said Bart Narter, vice president of the banking group at researcher and consultant Celent. "The costs are huge and most banks that have looked at the costs and benefits have decided to not pull the trigger."
Governor Bentley Welcomes Hong Kong Commissioner, Business Delegation
MONTGOMERY - Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday welcomed Donald Tong, Commissioner of Hong Kong, to Alabama. In a meeting at the State Capitol, Governor Bentley, Commissioner Tong, and business leaders discussed Alabama's interest in attracting new investment in the state and the availability of skilled workers for new jobs in the state.
Hong Kong has been an important trading partner with Alabama for many years, and the business relationship between the state and Hong Kong continues to grow each year. In 2011, Alabama exported $261 million in goods and services to Hong Kong - a ten percent increase over 2010.
"We expect those numbers to continue to grow, and we are very appreciative of the relationship we have with Hong Kong," Governor Bentley said. "I look forward to building on this relationship, and we are glad to have the Hong Kong delegation visit Alabama to see all the opportunities that this state has to offer."
Governor Bentley announced that Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will travel to Hong Kong next week for further discussions with government and business leaders. Canfield will discuss how best to assist Alabama companies expanding globally through the Hong Kong gateway to Asia. Further, Alabama can work with Chinese companies seeking to invest in this state.
"We have already heard from companies that either attended or heard about the Alabama China Partnership Symposium held in Monroeville, Alabama, this past March," Secretary Canfield said. "They liked what they saw and what they heard. We will continue to work with them to help develop jobs for Alabama workers."
Hong Kong official seeks to boost trade with Alabama
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 8:30 AM
Officials are seeking ways to boost trade between Alabama and a city-state that calls itself the gateway into neighboring China, the world's most populous country.
Donald Tong, who is based in Washington, D.C., as Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, has been in Birmingham and Montgomery since Monday meeting with city and business leaders, Gov. Robert Bentley and state officials. He has been touting the trade benefits offered by Hong Kong.
In an interview Tuesday, Tong said the visit has already paid off. Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield will lead a business delegation to Hong Kong next week, and Gov. Bentley has said he wants to lead a separate group of business leaders on his first visit to Hong Kong in October, Tong said.
"That's the reason I'm here -- to tell Alabama business leaders about opportunities in Hong Kong and answer any questions they have in advance of their visit," Tong said. "I believe both Sec. Canfield and Gov. Bentley's visits will pave the way for Alabama businesses seeking trade in Hong Kong."
Honda to add Acura MDX to Alabama plant for sales abroad
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 7:00 AM
Honda is adding the Acura MDX sport utility to the production lineup in Alabama next year, and the move will open up a new export market for the Lincoln plant's products.
Some of the MDX vehicles made at the plant will be shipped to China, Tom Shoupe, head of Honda's Alabama operations, said during a speech at the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham on Tuesday.
A small percentage of the plant's vehicles -- now Odyssey minivans, Pilot SUVs and Ridgeline pickups -- are exported each year to markets including the Middle East, South America and Central America. Pilots are also shipped to Russia.
The MDX, now produced at a Honda plant in Canada, has been exported to China for several years in small numbers, so that will continue after the production switch. Last year, 485 MDX vehicles were shipped to China, Honda spokesman Ed Miller said.
The SUV is sold in the United States. The MDX move will give Honda more room in Canada to build the popular CR-V SUV. Acura is Honda's luxury vehicle division, and the MDX will be the first Acura product built in Alabama.
The move is one of a number of new additions and expansions in Lincoln, Shoupe said Tuesday.
Last year, the Japanese automaker announced new investments at the plant totaling $275 million, along with 140 new jobs. The work is raising the plant's annual capacity to 340,000 vehicles and engines, up from 300,000 now.
Honda's current investment in Alabama tops $2 billion, Shoupe said.
Building for the future: Maritime training academies producing skilled workers, promising careers
Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 5:12 PM Updated: Wednesday, June 06, 2012, 6:47 AM
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- New state-of-the-art maritime training academies promise to help ensure that area shipyards have a steady supply of skilled workers so that another Makin Island doesn't happen.
With workforce scattered after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, what at the time was Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (now Ingalls) was forced to hire inexperienced workers to complete the warship, resulting in defective work, late delivery and a $326 million write-off.
Ingalls learned from those missteps, however, and under the leadership of Irwin Edenzen and Mike Petters has adopted a laser-like focus on quality.
A training facility set to open in slightly less than a year promises to only enhance that focus.
Its opening could dovetail with a ramping back up of employment as Ingalls enters another "flow" period in the constant ebb and flow of workforce.
In Pascagoula, the academy is "going to be absolutely critical in maintaining the level of skills as well of the number of shipbuilders that are going to be needed in the future," former Ingalls president Jerry St. Pe said.
Pilings on the 76,000-square-foot Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy are about 90 percent driven, according to Pascagoula Port Authority Director Mark McAndrews. The authority is overseeing work on the $20 million, federally funded building. Ben M. Radcliff of Mobile is the contractor.
"It's on time, on schedule and on budget," McAndrews said.
St. Pe calls it another example of how the local community, state and, in particular, public-private partnerships have brought about a project that is going to play a pivotal role in sustaining and growing the largest employer in Mississippi.
Soon, people will be able to see the building's skeleton coming out of the ground on the west side of Jerry St. Pe Highway just north of the shipyard, McAndrews said.
The project, funded through a Hurricane Katrina grant, will help Ingalls expand its two- to four-year apprenticeship program to about 1,000 students, shipyard and community leaders have said.
Ingalls will be the sole tenant of the 76,000-square-foot facility, and will eventually own the building once a seven-year lease with the port is up.
In Mobile, meanwhile, both Austal USA and fellow shipbuilders are reaping the rewards of the $12 million Maritime Training Center that opened in January 2011. From the outside, it looks like stacks of shipping containers from around the world; inside, it's split in half with one side for Austal and the other for Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), an arm of the state's two-year college system.
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology receives $125,000 grant to look for causes of ALS disease
Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 3:56 PM Updated: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 3:57 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Research work at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is getting a boost in the study of ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease - through a $125,000 grant from the ALS Association.
The grant is funded by the Huntsville-based Alabama chapter of the ALS Association and is aimed at genomic study of ALS under the direction of Dr. Richard Myers, director and president of HudsonAlpha.
The local ALS Association chapter is the largest in Alabama and the group's annual walk in August is also the largest of its kind in the state.
Stuart Obermann, chairman of the board of trustees and chapter co-founder, said local support made the grant possible.
"The Alabama Chapter of the ALS Association is proud to be able to support this important research project, especially since the research will take place here in Huntsville," Obermann said. "It is because of the many generous donors and supporters across the state that we are able to make this research project a reality, bring research dollars back to Alabama, and help with the effort to find a cure for ALS."
To date there is no cure for ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is defined by the association as "a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost."
But researchers are seeing progress in the fight against the disease, and Myers said the work at HudsonAlpha will follow recent progress. He said several genes have been identified where mutations in them result in the disease.
Lumber facility faces layoffsPlant in Thorsby reducing staff by 40
Jun. 5, 2012 |
The Georgia Pacific wood product facility in the town of Thorsby, about 45 miles from Montgomery, is laying off 40 of its 218 employees.
"It's not a reflection of the work they have been doing," Georgia Pacific spokesman Eric Abercrombie said. "It's just a result of market conditions and their effect on the building products industry and on the wood products facility out there.
"Like everyone else, we've been having to adjust to the market. We've been running kind of lean since April, and we just needed to make (tough) decisions."
Abercrombie said the facility, located north of Clanton, is cutting back from four to two shifts in order to try to match the facility's production with current demand.
He said he hopes some workers can be rehired once the building industry improves.
"We will maintain a layoff list for about 12 months, during which those employees would be considered for any openings, so if market conditions come back, we can look to rehire," he said.
The Thorsby plant creates engineered lumber, which is used in construction applications such as flooring and roofing systems.
The company has eight manufacturing facilities in Alabama, in addition to a treated lumber sales office in Montgomery and wood and fiber supply office at Brewton and Naheola.
Alabama economy shrinking? Some doubt federal estimate for 2011
by Paige Rentz Anniston Star Jun 06, 2012
While numbers out of Washington Tuesday suggest that Alabama's economy is shrinking, local economists think the situation may not be so bad.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis - an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce - Alabama's gross domestic product shrank in 2011. Alabama and neighboring Mississippi each saw a 0.8 percent reduction in GDP, were out-shrunk only by Wyoming, which saw a 1.2 percent decline. By comparison, 43 other states showed growth, and national GDP grew, albeit by a slow 1.5 percent.
But a separate analysis from the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that the state's GDP growth should have registered somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, most likely around 1.5 percent, according to Ahmad Ijaz, the center's director of economic forecasting.
"I think these are just very preliminary estimations which [will] most likely be revised upwards," he said, "because none of the other statistics from 2011 support these numbers."
That's what happened with BEA's projection for Alabama's GDP in 2010. Originally estimated at 2 percent, revised numbers show an even stronger 2010 with a relatively healthy 2.3 percent growth rate.
Survey: Area tops state's small-town economies
By: Jeremy Wise | The Enterprise Ledger Published: June 05, 2012 Updated: June 05, 2012 - 12:38 PM
ENTERPRISE, Ala. --
The Enterprise area has Alabama's strongest small-town economy based on several factors, according to a recent survey.
The POLICOM Corporation, an economics research firm from Palm City, Fla., recently ranked the Enterprise-Ozark "micropolitan" area the 28th strongest in the nation. The firm recognizes 576 micropolitans, which are defined as a city or cluster of cities that have at least one town with a population of 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people.
The micropolitan is the tops on the state, surpassing the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley area, which has the nation's 42nd-best small-town economy. POLICOM lists 13 micropolitans in Alabama.
The overall ranking is a 20-place jump from the 2011 study and is a 60-spot increase from 2010's 88th-place finish.
Area economic leaders are ecstatic about the new results.
"This is a tremendous jump. That's huge for us," said Phil Thomas, Enterprise Chamber of Commerce president. "If you are an existing business and looking at expansion, it's a good indicator."
"Strong economies don't just happen," Frank Thompson, Enterprise Coffee Geneva Economic Development Corporation executive director, added. "It shows you've got a very involved community. A lot of community effort has been put into this."
Jackson County Industrial Park receives AdvantageSite re-designation
Release (EDPA) - The Jackson County Industrial Park, Alabama's first AdvantageSite, has received its re-designation from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
The AdvantageSite 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. Sites must also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.
"AdvantageSite is a great program and a very effective marketing tool that benefits us, our prospects, and site consultants," said Dus Rogers, president & CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority.
"When Tennessee Valley Authority located their in-processing and training center here, they told us the deciding factor was the availability of a spec building located on an AdvantageSite, so our community has already reaped the rewards of the designation and we appreciate EDPA for administering the program," he said.
"Having all due diligence complete and certified saves time and money and makes the whole process of information-sharing more efficient."
The park, which has 281 available acres, is located along Highway 72 and in addition to TVA's training center, is home to KTNA, a manufacturer of automotive interior carpeting.
The site is located in a HUB Zone and has a dual-feed sub-station on site. Geotechnical soil boring data is available, as well as surveys showing clean reports for Phase I Environmental, endangered species, and historical/archeological surveys.
"We often point to the Jackson County site as one of our success stories," said EDPA's Greg Blalock, who coordinates the program. "Examples such as this demonstrate the need for ready sites, and are why we're seeing increased interest in the program."
AdvantageSite is a voluntary industrial site preparedness program created in order to make the state more competitive for companies considering a location in Alabama.
The program is jointly sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Gas Corporation,
Alabama Power Company, EDPA, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association and
PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
For more information on the AdvantageSite program, please visit
Ingram plans exit from Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance
Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 3:20 PM Updated: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 5:08 PM
By Ellen Mitchell, Press-RegisterPress-Register
The Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance said this afternoon that President and CEO Robert Ingram will step down and assume a non-supervisory support role effective Nov. 1 or upon the hiring of a new leader.
In the interim, Ingram will coordinate the search for his successor, guide the organization through its ongoing strategic planning process and continue his role as president and CEO, the alliance said in a press release.
"After coordinating the search for my replacement, I will step back, slow down and assist in the transition, and hopefully continue to help in a limited capacity with investor recruitment and relations, or in other activities requested by the CEO," Ingram said in a statement. "I will always use my contacts and influence to help market the absolute best large industrial site in the U.S."
Baldwin County in April bought 2,400 acres off Interstate 65 near Bay Minette as a site to recruit industry. Site selection firm McCallum Sweeney Consultants certified the site last May, based on the size of the site, available rail and four-lane highway access, work force and utilities.
Ingram became president of the BCEDA in January 2006 after leaving his position as president and CEO of the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation in Mississippi.
He also previously held the position of senior vice president of economic development for the Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce in Mississippi.
more... Press Register
Job Opportunity: President / CEO, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance (The Alliance)
The President/CEO serves as the lead economic development executive for The Alliance. The President/CEO is responsible for the overall leadership and day-to-day operations of the Alliance, serves at the pleasure of The Alliance Board of Directors and reports directly to the Chairman of the Board.
· CEO of the Alliance
· Effectively build relationships with the organization's Investors, City and County governments, Industrial Development Boards, five Chambers of Commerce and state and regional partners to grow and diversify the economy of Baldwin County, Alabama.
· Generate, evaluate and recruit legitimate prospects that result in job creation and capital investment.
· Create a climate that will maximize positive economic growth through creative leadership.
· Create effective channels of communication with all levels of government and the business community.
. Market the South Alabama megasite and other industrial properties, both public and private.
TYPICAL DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES
· Manage the finances and day-to-day operations of The Alliance.
· Implement the organization's strategic plan.
· Build strong relationships with existing industry to insure retention and encourage expansion.
. Implement strategies related to entrepreneurial development and venture capital acquisition.
· Manage the staff as well as personnel issues as they arise.
· Ensure financial stability of the organization.
. Board and committee coordination.
. Investor recruitment and retention.
. Other duties as assigned by the Board of Directors.
PREFERRED EXPERIENCE / DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS
· Proven track record in economic development with documented results, minimum 8 years direct economic development experience, at least 3 at the local level.
· Strong leadership and communication skills.
· Ability to deal in diverse business and political climates and situations.
· Comprehensive understanding of economic development theory and practice, including community development, workforce development and regional development.
· Previous management experience, preferably as CEO of an economic development organization, or strong related experience.
· College Degree required, advanced economic development education/training required, related certification a plus.
Resumes including salary requirements should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information contact Robert Ingram at email@example.com.
The Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer. This company does not and will not discriminate in employment and personnel practices on the basis of race, sex, age, handicap, religion, national origin or any other basis prohibited by applicable law. Hiring, transferring and promotion practices are performed without regard to the above listed items.
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