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.
Alabama's economy creating wrong kind of jobs, labor experts say
Published: Sunday, August 05, 2012, 10:00 AM
By Roy L. Williams -- The Birmingham News
Alabama's economy is finally beginning to create jobs again, but there is a big problem, according to labor experts from Georgetown University and across the state.
It's simply creating the wrong kind of jobs, those that require relatively low levels of education and skill and earning low levels of pay.
"To some extent, there is also a mismatch between the skills set workers possess and the type of skills most firms are looking for," said Ahmad Ijaz, an economist at the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research. "It is a problem which cannot be fixed in the short term, and requires a long term solution of workforce development, education and training."
The misfirings of Alabama's jobs engine is examined at length in a new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce called, "A Decade Behind: Breaking out of the Low Skill Trap in the Southern Economy." It explores how Alabama has been caught in a vicious economic cycle that ensures it will continue to lag behind the nation in creating high-paying jobs and producing workers who can fill them.
Alabama, said report author Anthony Carnevale, is in the double trap of being a state with low educational levels and a "brain drain" of its best college graduates, who flee for other states that have more high-income job opportunities.
[The Birmingham News]
Sports events bring record tourism revenues to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores
Published: Monday, August 06, 2012, 6:14 AM
By Kathy Jumper, Press-Register
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- Have beach? Book it.
Summer lodging revenues are expected to be record-breakers, thanks in part to the sporting events and business gatherings whose participants like to mix work and play with a trip to the Gulf.
"Our sports events have been wildly successful," said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. As of July 31, athletics were responsible for booking 54,000 room nights so far this year, compared to 48,000 room nights for all of 2011, she said.
Group and conference facilities also have been booked up this summer, and managers report a good fall season ahead.
Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, said that lodging revenues in June were up 20 percent over last June, and last year was a record year.
"That's phenomenal growth," Malone said. And June had two weekends "with extreme rain and rough surf," he said. "Our guests stayed and rode it out and went shopping and out to eat."
Gulf Coast shipbuilders struggle to replace aging workforce
Published: Saturday, August 04, 2012, 3:35 PM
By Ellen Mitchell, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- As John Lotshaw sees it, there's a difficult job ahead of him.
The director of operations, workforce training and development at Huntington-Ingalls Industries, the parent company of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, has to hire up to 2,000 new workers for the shipyard in the next 12 months.
It's not new work behind the number of positions available, rather, it's older workers who are retiring and leaving unfilled spaces behind in an industry where the average age of the workforce just keeps climbing.
"The ability to support the industry base for those skill sets at this time is very concerning," said Vic Rhoades, director of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama in Mobile. "The industry really hasn't done a good job in getting the word out to younger generations about this industry. As a result, those of us who are baby boomers want our kids to go to college.
"Young people don't see this as a viable career path."
Many in the industry cite a weak educational infrastructure and lack of advertising as the biggest hurdles in trying to get the attention of young workers. The average age of an employee at a major shipyard in southern Alabama or Mississippi is mid-forties.
"We have to make sure people understand the full picture of what we're offering," Lotshaw said. "There's a very clear and proven career path in shipbuilding that leads to a very good, achievable, transferable career in the manufacturing industry. It is a skill set that a person can fall back on no matter what he does for the rest of his life. We need to make sure we clearly explain that case to government officials and schools."
High-tech Huntsville sending its children to college, attracting industry
Published: Monday, August 06, 2012, 8:48 AM
By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- When Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle had dinner with Verizon Wireless officials a few weeks ago, the topic of education came up.
For Battle, few subjects for conversation could be better.
"You've got a workforce here that we've hired into our call center that has an average of two years of college for each worker," Battle said he was told. "You don't find that kind of education and workforce anywhere in the country.
"That just solidified the deal on Verizon and validated why we came to Huntsville."
And brought more than 1,200 jobs to the Rocket City.
Indeed, the cerebral reputation of Huntsville is grounded in hard numbers - not just the anecdotal rocket scientist jokes.
In the fall of 2011, Madison County had the second-most college students among its residents in the state enrolled as undergraduates in public state colleges with 15,822, according to numbers compiled by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).
[The Huntsville Times]
In Pursuit of Nissan, a Jobs Lesson for the Tech Industry?
By Bill Vlasic, Hiroko Tabuchi and Charles Duhigg -- The New York Times
Published: August 4, 2012
SMYRNA, Tenn. - The dairy farms that once draped the countryside here were paved over so the Japanese carmaker Nissan could build its first American assembly plant. Eighty miles to the south, another green pasture was replaced by a Nissan engine factory, and across Tennessee about 100 Nissan suppliers dot the landscape, making steel in Murfreesboro, air conditioning units in Lewisburg, transmission parts in Portland.
Three decades ago, none of this existed. The conventional wisdom at the time was simple: Japanese automakers would not build many cars anywhere but Japan, where supply chains were in place, costs were tightly controlled and the reputation for quality was unparalleled.
"They were very unfamiliar doing anything outside Japan," said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican who was governor of Tennessee when Nissan opened its factory here in 1983. "They were tentative and awkward even discussing it."
Today, echoes of that conventional wisdom can be heard within the American technology industry. For years, high-tech executives have argued that the United States cannot compete in making the most popular electronic devices. Companies like Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which rely on huge Asian factories, assert that many types of manufacturing would be too costly and inefficient in America. Only overseas, they have said, can they find an abundance of educated midlevel engineers, low-wage workers and at-the-ready suppliers.
Registration for the Second Annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference Now Open!
Date: Oct 2 & 3, 2012
Time: 5:30p.m.-7:30p.m. Oct 2; 8:00a.m.-3:15p.m. Oct 3
Place: Wynfrey Hotel, Birmingham, Ala.
Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation, presents the second annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference, a "Launchpad" to bring together and engage Alabama's most innovative leaders seeking to grow Alabama's entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
Join us to examine activities already taking place inside the state and be a part of the next step forward for Alabama.
We are pleased to announce Peter Goodman, executive business editor of The Huffington Post as a keynote speaker. More details to come!
Registration (limited, so register early, save, and guarantee your place): http://www.innovatealabama.com/registration.html
2011 Agenda: http://www.innovatealabama.com/agenda.html
Sponsorship (for levels, see pdf at bottom of page): http://www.innovatealabama.com/sponsors.html
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