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 plant will put a dent in unemployment and boost economy, ratings agency says
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012, 11:30 AM Updated: Monday, July 16, 2012, 2:25 PM
By Robert McClendon, Press-RegisterPress-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- The arrival of Airbus in Mobile will make a measurable impact on the city's economy, enough to render the city, and even the entire state, better bets for lenders, according to a recent report by Moody's Investor Service, a rating agency.
While the company did not officially adjust its investment-grade, Aa2 rating for the city, Moody's called the Airbus development "credit positive" for the Mobile.
Mayor Sam Jones said that, though the city currently has no plans to return to the bond market, the city's credit rating is "extremely important" as it is a measure of the economic strength of the community as a whole.
The 3,200 temporary construction jobs required to build the company's assembly plant at the Brookley Aeroplex could drop the city's unemployment rate by 1.7 percent, according to the Moody's analyses. The 1,000 permanent positions the plant is expected to create when the plant is fully operational should reduce unemployment by .5 percent, according to the report.
Those figures do not include jobs created by spin-off businesses that could flock to the area to supply parts for the plant.
Airbus' archrival, Boeing Co., recently built a larger assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C. that employs 5,000 people. Since the plant opened, there has been an influx of suppliers that have also made large investments in the area.
Similar spin-off growth is expected to benefit Mobile.
EADS plant sparked explosion of industry in Mississippi town; is Mobile next?
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012, 6:00 AM
COLUMBUS, Mississippi - The addition of a 335-worker EADS aircraft manufacturing plant has helped transform this town from a sleepy country outpost, with little industry to speak of, to a growing industrial powerhouse that has attracted companies from around the world - all in less than 10 years - area leaders said.
One independent measure of economic strength ranked Columbus in the top 400 among similarly sized cities eight years ago, when American Eurocopter started assembling helicopters here.
In 2012, it cracked the top 50.
What will the addition of a $600 million, 1,000-worker EADS aircraft manufacturing plant do for Mobile and south Alabama, which already feature a steel plant, shipyard, port and several other industries?
"I think you're in for a big ride, a good ride, notoriety. ... I can only guess what kind of other business opportunities you'll have through vendors and suppliers," said Joe Max Higgins Jr., chief executive officer of the Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK. "I just think it's another rung in making them a world-class city."
Mississippi's Lowndes County is now home to the plants of companies based in France, Russia, Switzerland, Israel, Norway and Germany, said Harry Sanders, president of the county Board of Supervisors and a lifelong Columbus resident. Companies are watching the movement of multiple industries to the area and considering whether to follow.
But before the spark that American Eurocopter provided, the area's main draw was the "cheap labor" that attracted companies in the middle of the 20th century, according to Sanders.
"They came here because we were a third-world country, you might say," Sanders said.
Birmingham's Sandner Commercial Real Estate plans to expand its business through a new partnership with a top global real estate company, Colliers International.
Sandner will become Seattle-based Collier's only office in Alabama in a move that is set to be announced Monday. The Birmingham firm will remain an independent company but change its name to Colliers International.
Principals Joe Sandner III and his son, Joe Sandner IV, say the partnership will allow them to offer more expertise and resources to their clients through the Colliers network. The Sandners also plan to expand their firm's retail market business and set up offices in other Alabama cities.
"We see it as a great vehicle for our growth, as a great vehicle for recruiting quality brokers and a way to continue to service our expanding client base," Joe Sandner III said in an interview. "Many of our clients have offices here and elsewhere, and Colliers' strength in multiple markets enables us to, on a consistent basis, serve our clients' needs with quality brokerage services in those markets."
Mississippi helicopter plant to be model for Airbus Mobile plant
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012, 6:00 AM
COLUMBUS, Mississippi - Less than a decade ago, EADS subsidiary American Eurocopter broke ground on a $100 million helicopter plant in the middle of a dove-hunting field here.
The plant has since grown to 335 employees from 33. Once relegated to assembling helicopters built in Europe then disassembled for shipping overseas, it now manufactures them from the ground up - and much more efficiently than its European counterparts.
The facility will serve as a model for the $600 million airplane assembly plant to be built in Mobile starting next year by Airbus, another EADS subsidiary, according to Fred Gerard, the Mississippi plant's senior director of lightweight utility helicopter production.
Project leaders have been visiting the small east Mississippi city, and are scheduled to do so again next month, for tips on starting operations in Mobile, he said.
"I can tell you that we are working diligently and very close with the Mobile team, with the Airbus team," Gerard said. "They are going to do something very comparable with what we have been doing."
American Eurocopter builds several types of helicopters in Mississippi, for military, law-enforcement, civilian and other customers. Every year, it delivers about 80 altogether, 50 of them for the U.S. Army, according to Human Resources Manager Robert Boman.
B.C. Rain High getting aviation academy, just in time for Airbus
Published: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 7:12 AM
By Rena Havner Philips, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- Maybe it was a coincidence. Perhaps it was foresight.
As Airbus announced this month that it would build a $600 million aircraft assembly plant in Mobile, officials with the Mobile County schools were already busy planning the curriculum for a new aviation academy to be established at B.C. Rain High, just three miles from the Brookley Aeroplex.
"This is perfect timing for Mobile," said Larry Mouton, executive director of workforce development for Mobile County Public Schools. "Coming out of our economic slump, this is going to put us into a great position to motivate our students to become more involved in career-technical education, and to be prepared for high-wage, high-demand jobs."
The long-struggling B.C. Rain is in the midst of a $15 million renovation and is improving its academics with an $8 million federal grant.
The Dauphin Island Parkway school will pilot its new Aerospace and Aviation Academy in the upcoming 2012-13 year with up to 80 students, Mouton said.
Freshmen and sophomores enrolling in the academy will take classes introducing them to the aerospace and aviation fields. They'll go on field trips to aerospace companies and visit post-secondary training facilities. They'll also participate in hands-on science labs involving aerodynamics and rocketry.
$75,000 grant further funds west Alabama entrepreneur development
Published: Friday, July 13, 2012, 2:35 PM Updated: Friday, July 13, 2012, 2:35 PM
By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A $75,000 grant for the University of Alabama will allow the university to expand resources for west-Alabama entrepreneurs.
The grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission grant will fund the university's Alabama Entrepreneurial Research Network, which plans to open centers in Lamar and Hale counties for the program. There are already centers in seven other counties -- Macon, Pickens, Bibb, Chambers, Tallapoosa, Fayette and Marion. The centers help current and potential future entrepreneurs develop business plans and seed secure funding to start or expand their business. The university also provides staff to help with business consultation training.
"Expanding business opportunities in low-income rural areas of Alabama is essential for creating jobs and improving the quality of life," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a prepared statement announcing the funding. "I commend the university for partnering with local governments and chambers of commerce in west Alabama to help residents turn ideas into viable businesses."
The grant will help the centers buy office equipment, books and software for the new centers. Matching funds of $34,012 will supplement the grant, according to joint a statement from the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs and the governor's office. The program was created in 1965 to promote economic development in the Appalachian Mountain region, which includes 37 Alabama counties.
Sanoh America growing fast in Scottsboro
Published: Friday, July 13, 2012, 1:24 PM Updated: Friday, July 13, 2012, 1:44 PM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times
SCOTTSBORO - David Holder has seen Sanoh America grow, literally, from the ground up.
And, 12 years later, the company's growth has caused it to go across the street for its new Sanoh Welding and Technical Division - its sixth expansion.
"We purchased a building across the street," said Holder, the Southeast regional manager of Sanoh America.
Holder said he was hired at then-Hisan a month before it opened in July 2000. Hisan manufactured tubes for brakes and fuel lines.
"I was hired before the plant was completed," he said. "In that first year, we had 13 employees and $9 million in sales and 22,500 square feet."
With Thursday's announcement, Sanoh will have nearly 130,000 square feet and will employ almost 200 people.
"They're looking at another expansion," said Rick Roden, president/CEO of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. "They're a very good company in Scottsboro Industrial Park."
The new division - SWAT - will add 10 manufacturing jobs the rest of this year and eight more next spring, Holder said.
"We've added a Southern corporate office, and we hope to have about three to five people in it," he said. "We've grown so fast."
UA 'triage teams' vet ideas by researchers
11:39 PM, Jul. 15, 2012 |
BIRMINGHAM - Dan Daly looks for the cream of the crop when he hunts for students to join his University of Alabama "triage teams."
Birmingham News via Montgomery Advertiser
UA lures Montgomery native from Texas Tech to be its president
Guy Bailey to lead alma mater
12:02 AM, Jul. 12, 2012 | Written by Jay Reeves Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA - Guy Bailey, hired away from Texas Tech University to become president of the University of Alabama, said Wednesday he wants to increase research funding and spending and keep Crimson Tide athletic programs in the hunt for national championships.
AP via Montgomery Advertiser
Bentley awards grant to help create jobs in Albertville
Gov. Robert Bentley awarded a $200,000 grant to help bring 60 new jobs to the city of Albertville.
The Community Development Block Grant will help Newman Technology construct a $15 million plant to produce components used in automobile manufacturing. Newman supplies parts for Honda, Acura and Subaru vehicles.
"My administration is committed to doing whatever we can to encourage companies like Newman Technology to locate and provide jobs in Alabama," Bentley said. "I am grateful to the dedicated local and regional officials who worked to make this project a reality and I applaud the company for placing its trust in Alabama's exceptional workforce."
The city of Albertville will use the grant to provide water and sewer services to the 21.3-acre site at George Wallace Industrial Park where the manufacturer will build its 143,000-square-foot plant. The city has committed an additional $50,000 for the infrastructure project that also will benefit other businesses that might locate at the park in the future.
Newman's Albertville facility will provide door sash and exhaust components for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln.
Bentley awarded the grant from funds made available to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant.
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