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.
Tech and engineering firms giving more college students a hand in important projects, report says
Published: Monday, June 11, 2012, 1:38 PM Updated: Monday, June 11, 2012, 1:39 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- To replace the wave of engineers and scientists nearing retirement, some of the world's most reputable companies in Alabama and elsewhere are looking to college students to fill the gap, even before they have a diploma in hand, according to a report by Bloomberg News
In Huntsville, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
senior Kevin Peterson is working on a rocket-launch system for Boeing Co.
, according to the report. Last year, Peterson helped General Electric Co.
redesign a tool for gas turbines. Many schools are enhancing corporation-university partnerships to provide practical training for students and real help for companies.
Rick Stephens, senior vice president of human resources and administration for Boeing in Chicago, told Bloomberg that universities "need to provide our students with hands-on, real-world practical application from day one, so when they show up at the first job, not only can they find information, not only can they develop it, they can actually do real work."
Bloomberg story link
Birmingham Business Alliance promoting high-tech companies
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 5:30 AM Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 5:48 AM
The Birmingham Business Alliance's Steven Ceulemans, vice president of innovation and technology, says the push to promote existing high-tech companies and recruit more comes at a pivotal time because these firms can be a catalyst for growth as metro Birmingham emerges from the hammering it received during the economic downturn.
"We need to nurture and support inventors and entrepreneurs with great technology innovation opportunities to ensure the future growth of our technology sector," said Ceulemans, hired by the BBA last fall to lead the economic development agency's focus on technology.
As part of an effort to map out a regional strategy for building business innovation and a technology ecosystem, the BBA generated a list of technology companies in fields ranging from biotechnology to information and communication technology and analytical services (IT and medical).
The list, available here on the BBA website, currently includes 773 companies operating in the seven-county Birmingham metro area.
With the growing role of technology in producing goods and services as the U.S. economy becomes more knowledge-based, the Birmingham area is wise to focus on developing high-tech and biotech industries, said John Norris, managing director at Oakworth Capital Bank in Birmingham.
A new kind of magic: Is it right time for Birmingham to go high-tech or stay with manufacturing?
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 5:30 AM Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 4:37 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Birmingham region has lost 5.5 percent of its jobs over the past decade, with the steepest drops seen in traditional strongholds that gave this place the name, The Magic City.
These days, business recruiters hope they can mimic the so-called magical growth brought on by the iron and steel industries of yesteryear in a mecca of high-tech jobs built around the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other area research institutions.
But not everyone is convinced high-tech industry is the future of the metro area's economic growth.
Some say manufacturing is not on the way out, despite recent job data that shows continued heavy losses in the sector.
Since 2000, more than 28,000 non-farm jobs have been lost in metro Birmingham, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Among the worst bleeders in the region's heavily service-based economy were goods-producing sectors such as manufacturing and construction. Gains were seen in the service sectors, particularly health care and government.
"For the past 50 years, we've been seeing a decline in manufacturing employment but not output," said Jeremy Thornton, a Samford University economics professor. "We're actually producing more stuff than ever."
Robots and other automated systems have been behind the declining work force, but the sector is seeing diminishing returns on that, he said.
New abdominal aortic tourniquet, heading into war zones, has Birmingham roots
Published: Saturday, June 09, 2012, 9:30 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- On Friday morning the U.S. Special Operations Command received its first shipment of a medical device that has Birmingham roots and promises to save lives on the battlefield.
The Abdominal Aortic Tourniquet will be used when soldiers or Marines are injured in the pelvis or upper leg by gunshot, shrapnel or a blast, causing a wound that could bleed a person to death within minutes. A medic quickly straps the AAT around the belly of the victim, tightens it with a windlass and pumps in air.
This pushes a balloon into the belly with the force of more than 80 pounds, clamping the abdominal aorta against the spine to cut off blood flow to the legs.
"The idea is you're turning off the faucet," said Dr. John Croushorn, one of the inventors. Croushorn is an emergency department doctor at Trinity Medical Center and a former U.S. Army surgeon, and his start-up company, Compression Works, is based in Hoover.
Four plastic parts of the one-pound AAT are made by Innovative Composite Solutions, a UAB spinoff co-founded by Uday Vaidya, a UAB professor of mechanical engineering. ICS develops and makes high-strength thermoplastic composite components, and it won $100,000 in the 2009 Alabama Launchpad business plan competition sponsored by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation.
Wage gap is beginning to close in Alabama
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Per capita personal income in Alabama continues to trail the national average, but the gap is narrowing.
An economic analysis by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed the state's per capita personal income at 84 percent of the national average in 2010, the latest year for which data has been made available.
A breakdown showed only three of Alabama's 67 counties - Jefferson, Shelby and Madison - exceeded the national average of $39,937.
Tuscaloosa County was at 83 percent of the national average. It fared best among West Alabama's 10 counties, helped by its concentration of manufacturers.
But like the state and nation, per capita income (which includes children, students and retirees not in the workforce), was less in 2010 than it was just two years earlier.
Alabama historically has trailed the nation in per capita income, said Ahmad Ijaz, an economist at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, which posted the Commerce Department's information on Alabama's counties.
The good news is that the state has continued to get closer to the national average, he said.
SSAB starts production at Axis expansion
Published: Friday, June 08, 2012, 9:47 AM Updated: Friday, June 08, 2012, 2:32 PM
MOBILE, Alabama -- SSAB has announced that the $220 million expansion of its Axis steel mill is nearly complete and last week started production.
The Swedish steel firm will finish a 275,000-square-foot expansion by the end of the year that includes a quenching and tempering line for steel plate, allowing the company to strengthen more steel produced at the mill. SSAB already has a smaller heat treating facility in Axis.
The hardened steel sells for higher prices and is often used in heavy-duty applications like mining and construction equipment.
The expansion will create at least 130 new jobs for the Mobile area, primarily in operations. The company currently has 450 employees at the site, including permanent contractors working for SSAB.
SSAB said the new line will increase its capacity of quenched and tempered steel up to 220,000 metric tons annually. The plant's smaller line already has a 100,000-ton yearly capacity.
President of SSAB Americas Charles Schmitt said most of the hiring and training for the new facility is complete, and last week the company made the first finished product to ship to customers. He expects the plant will reach full capacity by January.
Water experts say improved irrigation could put millions into Alabama's rural economy
Published: Friday, June 08, 2012, 2:36 PM Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 4:14 AM
MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- While it may be difficult to believe the only barrier to seeing hundreds of millions of dollars put into the state's rural economy as well as the creation of thousands of jobs is the lack of a widespread state irrigation infrastructure, water experts say this is likely the case. Auburn University will host the Alabama Irrigation Summit on Aug. 15 in hopes of educating farmers from across the state about how irrigation systems can enhance agricultural output and how new incentives may make it to their benefit to consider improvements. The goal of the summit is to develop a strategy for using irrigation technologies and practices across the state and discuss any barriers farmers feel are preventing their adoption. The meeting will include a panel discussion and remarks by the state's principal agricultural leaders and researchers on water.The summit comes only a month after Gov. Robert Bentley signed the Agricultural Irrigation Systems Tax Credit legislation into law. With this new state income tax credit, sponsored by Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, farmers can earn a credit to underwrite part of the cost of the new irrigation technologies."The new law provides that farmers who install new or improve existing on-farm irrigation systems to take advantage of Alabama's abundant groundwater, surface water and rainfall resources can receive a one-time state income tax credit totaling up to 20 percent of the cost, to a maximum of $10,000," said Samuel Fowler, director of the Auburn University's Water Resources Center.
AmeriBolt continues to grow at new facilities in Sycamore
by Mark Ledbetter The Daily Home
Jun 10, 2012
SYCAMORE - Looking to expand, AmeriBolt relocated its operations to Sycamore, securing the Floyd & Beasley facilities.
Co-owners Mike Jones, Dawson Pruett and Randall Hall began operations in Childersburg in a 2000 square foot facility. They quickly outgrew the Childersburg facility and relocated to a plant on East Fort Williams in Sylacauga. Unable to expand at that location, AmeriBolt relocated again, this time to the facility in Sycamore with ample opportunity to expand.
"People wonder how you make money making nuts and bolts," Jones said.
AmeriBolt manufactures and distributes threaded products that include special alloys and coatings. Using special alloys and carbon steels, AmeriBolt produces threaded studs, bolts, nuts and flat washers.
Special orders are made by hand, but large orders are produced on programmable stations. Threaded products include quarter inch to four inch rods.
Engineers order products based on strength, heat and corrosiveness. Many of Ameribolt's products can be found in power generating plants, refineries, and paper and pulp plants.
Starting with one employee in 2005, AmeriBolt, with a smaller operation in Moss Point, Miss., now employs 80 people. Jones said that 98 percent of employees at the Sycamore facility drive less than 10 minutes to work. Shifts begin at 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
To cut costs and increase profits, four forging machines have been installed so nuts and bolts can be manufactured locally.
Josh Thornton resigns from Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance
Published: Monday, June 11, 2012, 3:41 PM Updated: Monday, June 11, 2012, 4:23 PM
By Ellen Mitchell, Press-Register
Josh Thornton is vice president at the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance (Cindy McCrory)
The Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance said this afternoon that Vice President Josh Thornton has resigned to accept the position of vice president of economic development at the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg, Miss., effective July 2.
Thornton will direct recruiting efforts and gain supervisory experience at the ADP, a multi-county organization. He had previously held the position of director of economic development at the BCEDA before being becoming vice president in February 2011.
"Josh is one of the rising young stars in the economic development profession and has done an extraordinary job at the alliance; as our lead recruiter, in managing and expanding our property database, in leading the effort to certify the South Alabama Mega Site and in identifying and certifying smaller sites under Alabama's detailed and complicated Advantage Sites program," the BCEDA said in a statement. "He will be badly missed at the alliance, both for his work ethic and abilities, and his great sense of humor and sincere, outgoing personality."
Thornton's position will not be filled on a full-time basis until a new president/CEO is hired for the BCEDA.
Economic Development Manager : City of Vestavia Hills, AL- Job Opportunity
Job Location - 513 Montgomery Hwy Vestavia Hills , AL 35216-1807
Population - 24,476
Website - www.vestaviahills.net/
Vestavia Hills (VH), one of the fastest growing and most affluent cities in Alabama is looking for its first Economic Development Director. A suburb of Birmingham, VH has a nationally renowned school system, consistently ranked as one of the best in the state and nation. Located along the I-65 corridor, VH is just a few hours away from Alabama's beautiful Gulf Coast, has a strong and vibrant business community, and is home an active, and one of the largest Chamber of Commerce in the southeast.
Within a few miles of several major medical institutions including the nationally ranked Kirklan Clinic, Brookwood and Trinity Hospitals, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, VH is also close to several universities and colleges.
We're looking for just the right person with a solid economic development, real estate and finance background who will build a new program on the success of what the community already accomplished.
Compensation includes excellent benefits, vacation, possible partial relocation expenses, and a competeive salary starting in the $70's or higher depending on qualifications. For more information and to apply online go to www.jobsquest.org
How to Apply
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