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.
Airbus Mobile: It's official - big jets will be manufactured in Alabama
Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 6:49 PM Updated: Monday, July 02, 2012, 11:57 PM
MOBILE - Governor Robert Bentley on Monday joined with Airbus executives, economic development leaders, and other officials in formally announcing that Airbus has chosen Alabama as the site of its first U.S.-based production facility.
The facility at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile will be used to assemble the industry-leading family of A319, A320, and A321 aircraft. The entire project represents a $600 million total investment and is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs within the production facility when it reaches full capacity. In addition, the construction phase of the project is expected to create nearly 3,200 construction-related jobs over a three-year period.
"When Airbus aircraft take to the skies, Alabama's pride and workmanship will soar along with them," Governor Bentley said. "We have worked a long time and have put in many hours to make this announcement a reality. This project will createthousands ofwell-paying jobs that the people of this area need and deserve. Alabama has the best workforce you'll find anywhere in the country. Airbus has recognized all that this state can offer expanding industries, and the company is making a significant new investment in Alabama."
The Airbus project is a strong example of the economic development projects targeted by Accelerate Alabama - a long-term strategic plan for attracting a broad range of industries and new jobs. Accelerate Alabama was created by the Alabama Economic Development Alliance, which was established by Governor Bentley last year.
Aerospace is one of 11 specific business sectors that Alabama is pursuing for additional development as part of the Accelerate Alabama plan.
"Winning the Airbus project will, indeed, accelerate Alabama," Governor Bentley said. "This type of project is exactly why I created the Alabama Economic Development Alliance. This is why we have the Accelerate Alabama strategic plan. With the Airbus project, we are seeing positive results that will lead to new jobs while strengthening the state's economy and advancing our position in the global marketplace."
The Alabama Department of Commerce is the lead agency administering the Accelerate Alabama plan. The agency is led by Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, who was appointed by Governor Bentley.
Outside media says rock concert atmosphere fits importance of Airbus announcement
Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 5:09 PM Updated: Monday, July 02, 2012, 5:13 PM
The scene at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center was more rock concert than company press conference, but that didn't surprise Reuters aerospace and defense reporter Karen Jacobs.
"This is what the companies do when they have big news that they want to announce," she said.
Jacobs was among the more than 500 politicians, media, aerospace dignitaries, airline executives, Airbus suppliers and company officials who witnessed Monday's announcement that Airbus would build a $600 million final assembly complex in Mobile.
Paris-based Nicola Clark, who covers aviation and air transport for The New York Times, said the event reminded her of the fanfare that Airbus gave the first flight of its A380 superjumbo plane in Toulouse, France in 2005. "Clearly they reserve that kind of demonstration for big strategic moments and this is clearly one of them," Clark said.
Clark said the media attention surrounding Mobile is to be expected, given the fierce competition between Airbus, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., and The Boeing Co.
The two companies are the largest airplane makers in the world and were rivals in the just-concluded U.S. Air Force tanker competition, which Boeing won.
Airbus is adding to its presence in a state where Chicago-based Boeing already has about 2,600 employees working in and around Huntsville.
Eurocopter putting high-speed concept aircraft through its paces in Huntsville for Army audience
Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 5:20 PM Updated: Monday, July 02, 2012, 8:56 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - The silvery-blue helicopterish craft showing off at Huntsville International Airport this afternoon looks more likely to carry James Bond than a squad of soldiers.
But Eurocopter hopes its X3 - as in "X-cubed" - influences the future of military aviation, said Tim Paynter, a spokesman for EADS North America.
The X3 isn't for sale. It's a technology demonstrator that shows what Eurocopter, a division of EADS - the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. - thinks future vertical lift aircraft might look like.
"It's like a concept car," said Dominique Fournier, flight test engineer.
The X3 is a high-speed hybrid of helicopter and fixed-wing airplanesaid Herme Jammayrac, experimental test pilot. Just beneath the overhead rotor blades are two short wings angled down over each side of the curvy, sculpted cabin.
Each little wing has a forward-facing five-bladed propellor, similar to a twin-engine airplane. Instead of a traditional helicopter's tail rotor, the X3 has an airplane-like twin-rudder assembly. A pair of turboshaft engines sends power to the overhead rotor and to the propellors, which change pitch as the pilots work the rudder pedals to swing the aircraft left or right.
"In hover, it's just like any other helicopter," Jammayrac said.
Alabama Education fund to avoid cuts this year
Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 5:30 AM Updated: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 5:57 AM
David White -- The Birmingham NewsThe Birmingham News
MONTGOMERY -- Alabama's Education Trust Fund will collect enough state income taxes and other levies to meet its spending target for this fiscal year and avoid cuts in budgeted spending from proration, state officials predicted Monday.
"We continue to estimate that there will be adequate receipts in the Education Trust Fund in fiscal year 2012 to meet the appropriations to schools and education institutions of the state," Assistant Finance Director Bill Newton said.
The trust fund collected $4.25 billion in October through June, an increase of $269.9 million, 6.8 percent, from the same period a year earlier, the state Finance Department reported Monday. Tax collections by the trust fund, the main source of state tax dollars for public schools and colleges, need to grow by roughly 5.6 percent in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, to reach this year's budgeted spending total of $5.63 billion.
Lawmakers in May also approved taking an additional $40 million from the trust fund in this fiscal year, putting it in a reserve and spending it in fiscal 2013, which starts Oct. 1. The trust fund's tax collections need to grow by roughly 6.3 percent in this fiscal year to meet the combined budgeted spending and put away the planned money in reserve for next year.
Newton and Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, both predicted the trust fund would raise at least $5.67 billion this year.
HudsonAlpha research helps advance biofuel, solve coal mystery
Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 7:35 AM
Lee Roop, The Huntsville TimesThe Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Huntsville genetic researchers say a 360-million-year-old fungus may make future biofuels easier to develop.
Jeremy Schmutz, a faculty genomic researcher at Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is one author of a study on the fungus published last week in the journal Science.
The research is drawing attention because it also says that same fungus could explain why the Earth contains only one big subterranean band of coal.
Schmutz and his colleagues at HudsonAlpha sequenced 31 plant genomes to date the widespread emergence of the white rot fungus to around 300 million to 360 million years ago, roughly the end of the Carboniferous period.
What helped white rot fungus grow, Schmutz said Monday, was its ability to decay a polymer in wood and ferns known as lignin. Breaking down lignin gave the fungus access to the cellulose in the plants to feed its own growth.
Lignin is not only what provides "strength and rigidity to wood," the study notes. It's where coal comes from. Scientists knew that organic carbon had accumulated "at an exceptionally high rate during the Carboniferous and Permian (eras)," the paper says. The result was "vast coal deposits, derived primarily from lignin." Those vast deposits, or seams, are what American mines scrape for coal today.
Airbus plans for Mobile could help company in seeking defense, other commercial contracts
Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 5:31 PM Updated: Monday, July 02, 2012, 5:38 PM
"It can only help," said Tim Paynter, spokesman for EADS North America.
He was in Huntsville on Monday to help demonstrate a "concept helicopter" made by the company.
EADS - European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. - is the parent of Airbus.
"Our industrial footprint has grown a thousand-fold with today's announcement," Paynter said.
The company announced Monday that it will assemble A319, A320, and A321 aircraft at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex. The $600 million project is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs within the production facility when it reaches full capacity, according to the governor's office.
The construction phase is expected to create nearly 3,200 jobs during a three-year building period.
"When Airbus aircraft take to the skies, Alabama's pride and workmanship will soar along with them," Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. "We have worked a long time and have put in many hours to make this announcement a reality."
Bentley concluded: "Airbus has recognized all that this state can offer expanding industries, and the company is making a significant new investment in Alabama."
Steris workers cheered: Employees given credit for planned $11M expansion
11:55 PM, Jun. 29, 2012 |
In announcing an $11 million expansion Friday at a Montgomery manufacturing facility, area leaders were unanimous about who deserved the credit. They stood, turned and applauded the nearly 300 current Steris Corp. workers around the room.
"The real reason they're expanding is right here in this room because if you were not doing the job, they wouldn't be doing this," Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said. "They'd be finding somewhere else. And, guys, that's from the heart."
Strange said Thursday all those current jobs could have left the city if the surgical equipment maker hadn't chosen Montgomery for the expansion.
Instead, the city facility will add at least 80 jobs, get updated machinery and renovate its current structures as part of the expansion. The initial renovations will begin on Monday, and the expansion is expected to be finished by March of next year.
The Steris announcement follows a surge in recent manufacturing announcements for the area, led by the automotive industry.
Hyundai currently is in the final stages of hiring and training 877 new workers for a third shift at its Montgomery plant. In May, Toyota announced an $80 million expansion of its Huntsville engine plant and plans to add 125 jobs.
Last week, Nufab Rebar LLC broke ground on a $7 million facility in Riverside. Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Airbus plans to build its first U.S. plant in Mobile. Airbus denied that a final decision had been made, but a news conference is planned for Monday.
Marubeni continues expansions
Japan-based Marubeni, which recently purchased grain merchant Gavilon and its Decatur facility, is expanding its U.S. holdings.
Marubeni-Itochu Steel America Inc. announced today it would become sole owner of RSDC of Michigan, which processes steel sheet for the automotive industry. It bought out Steel Technologies' interest in the company.
Marubeni-Itochu recently moved operations at a Michigan steel-blanking plant to a Birmingham facility.
Marubeni-Itochu is a joint venture of Marubeni America Corp. and the metals division of ITOCHU International Inc.
Marubeni's Gavilon Grain plant in Decatur, formerly DeBruce Grain, is located in the old Cargill facility. The plant is in the midst of a $10.3 million expansion that will add three to eight jobs.
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