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.
Medical equipment manufacturer Steris to add jobs, expand
Company to create 80 to 100 positions
1:52 AM, Jun. 29, 2012 | Written byBrad Harper
Mercedes Benz unveils redesigned GL-Class at Alabama plant
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News
VANCE, Alabama -- Mercedes Benz formally unveiled its redesigned 2013 GL-Class sport utility vehicle today at an elaborate ceremony featuring a former Miss Alabama, top Mercedes executives from Germany and a challenge to the company's Alabama employees.
The new vehicle, more refined and lighter than its predecessor, is expected to push the company to the top of the luxury segment, said Markus Schaefer, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.
"It's looking very muscular, very strong,"Schaefer said after it was unveiled before hundreds of Mercedes workers. "But it's been put on a diet. It's lost some weight."
BAE secures new commercial contract, christens chemical tanker
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 3:00 PM Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 3:29 PM
By Ellen Mitchell, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- BAE Systems today said the shipyard has picked up a contract from Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., to build two dump scows, a project that is expected to add about 125 workers to the company's Mobile shipyard.
Vic Rhoades, director and general manager at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama, said the contract also includes the option for the shipyard to build two additional dump scows, vessels used to transport and dump sediments acquired while dredging waterways.
The 295-foot-long and 62-foot-wide dump scows will be built concurrently, with completion slated for 2013. The additional dump scows, if built, would be completed in 2014.
The announcement came at the christening of the American Phoenix, a 616-foot-long, 105-foot-wide chemical tanker that BAE built for owner Mid-Ocean Tanker Company LLC of South Norwalk, Conn., a joint venture between private equity firm Alterna Capital Partners and Mid-Ocean Marine, a shipping company also based in South Norwalk.
Rhoades said that the completion and delivery of the American Phoenix, the largest vessel ever built in Alabama, is a major event for shipbuilding in the Mobile area and the construction of the vessel has helped the company secure follow-on, new construction opportunities.
"It was the stepping stone to the return to new construction here in the yard," he said on the ship's completion. "Primarily, it's the precursor to industry acceptance in the fact that BAE can build ships and deliver a quality product."
Sea trials and delivery for the ship are scheduled to occur in July. The vessel will conduct trade in the Gulf of Mexico on a time charter to Koch Industries.
The christening marks the end of a long journey for the American Phoenix that began when the BAE yard was owned by Atlantic Marine.
Birmingham biotech firm spins off company, seeks capital to market invention
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 9:43 AM
By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Agenta Biotechnologies, a biotech firm based in the Innovation Depot incubator, has spun off a company to market a new surgical membrane.
The newly-formed Magenta Medical Inc. has filed a U.S. Patent application for its membrane made of chitosan, a sugar polymer created from the shells of shrimp. Agenta President Dr. Arthur DeCarlo and Magenta CEO Tom Dooley said the membrane represents a significant advance because it's flexible, strong enough to hold sutures and it eventually dissolves to be absorbed by the body. The membrane can be engineered to be absorbed at different rates.
Often, such membranes are placed between soft tissue and bone after surgery.
Plans call for a medical device application to be filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year, and international patent filings are planned as well.
Chitosan has long been used in a variety of medical applications, but what makes their new product different is that it combines strength and flexibility, they said. Other such membranes can't easily take sutures. They plan to first market it to oral surgeons, and later for use in orthopedic, plastic and general surgery and dermatology. Grant applications are pending with the National Institutes of Health to develop some of the possible applications.
"This is a game changer for the surgical membrane field," Dooley said.
Firm marks 40 years in Tallassee: Neptune put state industry into orbit
12:40 AM, Jun. 28, 2012 |
Birmingham's Cascades Sonoco remaking itself with environmentally friendly products
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 7:30 AM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham NewsThe Birmingham News
Call it a hazard of his job. It's not that he can't finish the meal; he's just curious to see what kind of to-go carton the restaurant will send home with him.
As plant manager for Birmingham's Cascades Sonoco, Boullay has been overseeing the company's efforts to remake itself amid a decline and consolidation in the paper industry.
While the Pinson Valley plant's key product is paper-based packaging for giant rolls of paper, it's also expanding the lineup with cardboard-like materials that are environmentally-friendly and have a variety of applications, from restaurant to-go boxes to boxes used to collect harvested produce.
"The market is really pushing towards greener products that can be recycled," Boullay said.
Currently, all four Cascades Sonoco plants in North America make the material that their customers transform into all kinds of to-go boxes, including the ones used at Whole Foods grocery stores across the U.S.
The material is coated with a resin that blocks odor, light and moisture to varying degrees, based on the specifications of customers.
It's also recyclable and an alternative to foam to-go boxes.
Meanwhile, Cascades Sonoco also is providing an environmentally-friendly alternative for the sturdy corrugated boxes used by farmers and others in the agriculture industry.
Most corrugated boxes are coated with wax to add structure and repel water, but wax is not recyclable. Cascades Sonoco's product, called Surf Shield, acts as a wax alternative, and it is recyclable.
Agency says it has power to give Ga. water
12:28 AM, Jun. 27, 2012 |
Written byRay Henry Associated Press