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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


In this issue:
A Nation That's Losing Its Toolbox
EGS Commercial Real Estate conducts 156 deals around Birmingham
BCEDA brings Lee Lawson back as president and CEO
Scientific discovery at USA College of Medicine leads to new biotech company

A Nation That's Losing Its Toolbox 
Published: July 21, 2012

By Louis Uchitelle 


THE scene inside the Home Depot on Weyman Avenue here would give the old-time American craftsman pause.

In Aisle 34 is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows. Stacked near the checkout counters, and as colorful as a Fisher-Price toy, is a not-so-serious-looking power tool: a battery-operated saw-and-drill combo. And if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer.


It's all very handy stuff, I guess, a convenient way to be a do-it-yourselfer without being all that good with tools. But at a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship. 


This isn't a lament - or not merely a lament - for bygone times. It's a social and cultural issue, as well as an economic one. The Home Depot approach to craftsmanship - simplify it, dumb it down, hire a contractor - is one signal that mastering tools and working with one's hands is receding in America as a hobby, as a valued skill, as a cultural influence that shaped thinking and behavior in vast sections of the country.   




[The New York Times]

EGS Commercial Real Estate conducts 156 deals around Birmingham 
Sunday, July 22, 2012

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham's EGS Commercial Real Estate conducted 156 transactions through the mid-point of this year, for a total of 7.8 million square feet and $55 million value.


The local highlights in EGS' slate of deals include a 60,000-square-foot lease for Roofing Supply Group on 31st Street North, a lease of 17,819 square feet at Ridge Park Place for law firm Dominick Feld Hyde P.C. and the purchase of 59 acres in Shelby West Corporate Park for a new Hibbett Sports distribution center.


EGS also represented TJ Maxx in a new lease at the Century Shoppes of Gardendale, as well as The North Face, which is making its debut in the Birmingham market with a new store at The Summit. 

EGS President Bill Pradat said the Birmingham area office market has had minimal absorption so far this year, at about 6,000 square feet.


Activity has increased, but most of the deals have been lateral moves, Pradat added. One head-scratcher is the Midtown submarket, where there is a 93 percent occupancy rate in Class A office space, and no new construction.


"I think it just cries out for something to happen in the future," he said of the area generally defined as the over-the-mountain communities and Southside.



BCEDA brings Lee Lawson back as president and CEO (updated)
Published: Friday, July 20, 2012, 11:51 AM 
By Ellen Mitchel -- Press-Register

The Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance said it has chosen Lee Lawson of Fairhope to serve as its new president and CEO. Robert Ingram announced his retirement from the position in June.


Lawson previously served as vice president of economic development for the BCEDA from 2006 to 2008, during which time he was responsible for marketing and the recruitment of new jobs and corporate investments.  


Lawson said he is excited to return to the BCEDA and the organization's opportunities going forward to attract new corporate investment was something he wanted to be a part of.


"I believe in what I'm selling and that's a large part of why I chose to come back here," he said. "It's an attractive place for me and my family and I believe that translates into being an attractive place to recruit business, too."





Scientific discovery at USA College of Medicine leads to new biotech company
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 7:34 AM
By Casandra Andrews -- Press-Register

MOBILE, Alabama -- A scientific discovery made at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine has helped launch a new biotech company in Mobile.


The business, Exscien -- which in Latin means 'for science' -- was recently awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health to support the development of a new drug aimed at preventing and reversing acute lung injury.


Led by Steve and Christine Cumbie, the biotech company's co-founder is Dr. Mark Gillespie, a professor and member of the Center for Lung Biology at USA's College of Medicine.


Medical school staffers are collaborating with Exscien in an effort to quickly develop the treatments that initially will be used in lung transplantation surgeries.


There are no drugs available to effectively manage acute lung injury, Gillespie said, adding that the condition can complicate medical disorders ranging from trauma and infection to transplants.


The $148,000 grant will help fund research to examine the effectiveness of a drug in increasing the number of lungs available for transplant and in reducing lung rejection, school officials said.





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