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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:
Governor Bentley Announces New Project Agreement
Mercedes aims to boost sales of its Alabama-built SUVs in Asia
Birmingham entrepreneur not finding much 'bliss' over shipping delays
Geneva County Industrial Park receives AdvantageSite designation
Will Tier 2 Suppliers Be the 'New Pinchpoint' for the Auto Industry?


Governor Bentley Announces New Project Agreement, Additional Job Creation with Austal USA

MOBILE - Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced a new project agreement with Austal USA that will see the shipbuilder add up to 1,000 new full-time jobs in Mobile.


The Phase V Agreement is a five-year, $5 million agreement that will help Austal continue its workforce expansion efforts.  As part of the agreement, the company will also receive employee training services from AIDT - the Alabama Industrial Development Training program.  AIDT is renowned for providing quality workforce development for Alabama's new and existing businesses.  Once the overall expansion is completed at Austal, total employment at the Mobile complex is expected to reach approximately 4,600 people.


"With this new project agreement, we are creating new jobs and new opportunities for the people of Alabama," Governor Bentley said.  "We are moving forward with our Accelerate Alabama plan for long-term economic development.  We are committed to creating a broad range of new jobs while also supporting existing companies.  Austal USA's plans for expansion fit perfectly in the Accelerate Alabama plan.  The company is a leader in building defense and commercial vessels, and we appreciate leaders at Austal for strengthening their commitment to Alabama."


"Since forming an official public/private partnership with the State of Alabama, Mobile County, and the City of Mobile, Austal's employment numbers have increased from just over 100 to nearly 3,000, and we are working to grow our operation to more than 4,000," Austal USA's Interim President and Chief Financial Officer, Brian Leathers, said.  "The success of this partnership represents the American dream of hope and opportunity along the Alabama Gulf Coast.  Austal is very appreciative of the support of Governor Bentley, the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Industrial Development Training, and those within the Governor's Administration who are responsible for the success of the Phase V Agreement."


[Office of Governor


Mercedes aims to boost sales of its Alabama-built SUVs in Asia, creating 45 jobs in state

Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012, 5:33 PM

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News 


VANCE, Alabama -- Mercedes-Benz is trying to gain a foothold for its Alabama-made luxury SUVs in fast-growing Asian markets through a new partnership with a logistics firm that has created at least 45 jobs in Tuscaloosa County and the potential for more.

Today, the German automaker and BLG Logistics outlined details of their plan to produce and ship SKD, or Semi Knocked Down, kits for the M-Class and GL-Class SUVs to India, Indonesia and Thailand.

The auto parts kits will be assembled in those countries -- and the vehicles sold there -- avoiding high tariffs that are put on products not made locally.

Markus Schaefer, head of Mercedes' Alabama operations, said sales of the Tuscaloosa County plant's products are stymied by those countries' tariffs, which make an M-Class, for example, cost roughly the equivalent of $200,000. In the U.S., the M-Class starts at about $50,000.

"There is tremendous customer potential, but we can't unlock it unless we go in those countries and do the SKD assembly," he said.




[Birmingham News



Birmingham entrepreneur not finding much 'bliss' over shipping delays

Published: Monday, August 13, 2012, 4:30 PM

By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times 


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Things were starting to click for Birmingham entrepreneur Benny Bliss.


About a year ago, he started traveling up and down the East Coast to visit prospective vendors for the magnet hooks that can be used to hang items from ceilings.


In that time, he found a manufacturer for his Magnetic Bliss product.


"It's not just been a long road," he said. "But also a whirlwind."

Speaking of, well, whirling winds:


Last week, just as the Chinese manufacturer was ready to load container of Magnetic Bliss onto a ship, a typhoon blew into the harbor, bringing a halt to the operations.


Then another typhoon struck. And another.


Three typhoons pummeled the area within a span of a week, killing about two dozen people and causing billions of dollars in damage.


And it delayed Magnetic Bliss from reaching this country for another week or so.

"Nothing I can do about it," Bliss said.


Bliss, an Auburn graduate, came up with the product a little more than a year ago while visiting stores and classrooms as a marketing director for Long's Electronics.




[The Huntsville Times


Geneva County Industrial Park receives AdvantageSite designation

Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 13 


Geneva County Industrial Park has received an AdvantageSite designation.


The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama's AdvantageSite program awards designations to

community development organizations that successfully complete a comprehensive site documentation

process. Required documentation is specific to a proposed industrial site and requires data related to

ownership/control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, as well as infrastructure status. Sites must

also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.


"The AdvantageSite designation of Geneva County Industrial Park is extremely important to our business

recruitment efforts," said Frank Thompson, Executive Director at the Enterprise Coffee Geneva Economic

Development Corp. "This designation proves to our clients that this site is ready for any prospective

industry and that we are able to meet short project timeframes."






Will Tier 2 Suppliers Be the 'New Pinchpoint' for the Auto Industry?

Aug. 10, 2012

By: Josh Cable


The feel-good story of the auto industry's comeback could take a dark turn if the OEMs don't take a hard look at their suppliers' abilities to ramp up in lockstep with demand.

That was the message from two speakers at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., where analysts projected that U.S. vehicle sales will exceed 14 million units this year -- up from 13 million in 2011 -- and will hit 16 million units by mid-decade.

If demand continues to grow as expected, there's concern that Tier 2 suppliers could be overwhelmed.

"The capacity that went offline in the last few years -- in some cases sitting idle or scrapped -- and the capacity that's going to have to come back online to support the continued growth is going to be the new pinchpoint in the industry," said Larry Jutte, president and COO of Ernie Green Industries Inc., a Dayton, Ohio-based automotive-parts supplier.




[Industry Week

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