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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:
Michigan, auto industry begging for $100,000 engineers
Huntsville-based Connected Logistics among Inc. 500 fastest growing private companies
Alabama tourism leaders back Gulf Coast convention center
Airbus may lift aerospace workforce
CNNMoney Ranks Auburn a "Best Place to Live"



Michigan, auto industry begging for $100,000 engineers amid economic recovery

By Jeff Green and Mark Clothier
August 19, 2012

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Andrew Watt says he figures the shelf life of an auto engineer looking for a job in Michigan is about three days. Companies that wait longer than that will have to get back in line for the next candidate.


"If their skills are even on the edges of automotive, they can get a job," said Watt, whose iTalent LLC in suburban Detroit finds engineering and information technology workers for companies in nine states. "There's an extreme shortage. There's way more demand than supply."


Michigan's unemployment was the worst in the U.S. at 14.2 percent in August 2009, shortly after General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC emerged from a U.S.-backed rescue, and has since plunged to 8.6 percent, roughly in line with the national average. Employment in skilled positions is rising, reversing a decline under way since the turn of the century.


Recruiter Watt said the demand for engineering and IT workers is requiring additional pay and bonuses, with the normal pay range of $80,000 to $120,000 commonly stretching toward the high end. A recent recruit got a $17,000 raise and bonus of as much as 20 percent to move from Tennessee to Michigan, he said.


Engineers, who help design cars and parts and need specific -- and, in some cases, advanced -- degrees, have been in demand throughout the U.S. for years. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said part of the problem in has been a gap between what companies need and what the educational system produces.



Huntsville-based Connected Logistics among Inc. 500 fastest growing private companies

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 8:01 AM    

By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times 


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Last year, Connected Logistics was ranked 10th in the Inc. 500 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies.


This year, the Huntsville-based small business fell to No. 74, a move that surprised CEO Forrest Burke.


But, it was in a good way.


"I didn't expect to break into the top 100," he said. The list was based on revenue and forecasts, and Burke wasn't expecting his company to have performed that much better than other companies.


"Other private businesses have been as fortunate as us," he said. "It shows the economy is not doing as well as predicted."


No matter, for the second year in a row, Connected Logistics was the fastest growing private company in Alabama.


Also, Washington Technology magazine placed the business on its Fast 50 list, ranking the fastest growing small businesses in the government contracting market based on their compound annual growth rate. It is No. 3 on the list of all government contractors for 2012.




[The Huntsville Times


Alabama tourism leaders back Gulf Coast convention center

Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 6:15 PM    

By George Talbot 


POINT CLEAR - Alabama tourism leaders said today that a new conference center on the Gulf Coast should be a top priority for the state.


"That's the No. 1 item on our wish list," said Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell.


Sentell spoke on the sidelines of the Alabama Governor's Conference on Tourism, held Sunday and Monday at the Grand Hotel. He said the lack of a large-scale, beachfront convention center is costing Alabama up to $300 million in annual spending.


"We're losing that business to the Florida panhandle because we don't have the facilities to accommodate demand," Sentell said. "It's a huge financial loss for Alabama."


Bentley, who addressed the conference on Monday, said he remains strongly supportive of a proposal to construct a lodge and conference center on the Gulf Coast.


"It is one of my major projects to help support the Alabama Gulf Coast," Bentley said, adding that he'd been a proponent of the project since before coming into office.








Airbus may lift aerospace workforce

Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 9:48 AM    

By Ellen Mitchell, Press-Register 


MOBILE, Alabama -- The July announcement of an Airbus final assembly plant in Mobile leaves the region with an unanswered question: Can a new top-tier aerospace employer co-exist with existing mid-wage companies in the same industry?


The recent back-and-forth between Mobile and Pensacola over ST Aerospace Mobile brings the issue into focus.


Earlier this month, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said he expects that an aerospace company now operating in Mobile will expand to his city.


He did not identify the company, but speculation has centered on ST Aerospace Mobile, and officials with that company have confirmed meeting with Pensacola officials.


One of the city's largest industrial employers, ST Aerospace has about 1,500 workers at Brookley Aeroplex, where it maintains and overhauls large airplanes.


Ed Castile, director of Alabama Industrial Development Training program, said it's good to have jobs at a wide range of pay levels within the same industry sector. But, he said, it's also typical that existing companies are nervous when larger industry players such as Airbus or Mercedes Benz come to an area.


"They're concerned they'll lose people, and if the new company pays more per hour, they may lose some employees," he said. "But I think that just by Airbus being there, companies are going to be propelled into other business. All boats are going to rise in this water."







CNNMoney Ranks Auburn a "Best Place to Live"


Auburn, Ala. - CNNMoney.com has has named Auburn one of the top 100 "Best Places to Live" for 2012. Auburn is the only Alabama community to make the list, which focuses on "America's Best Small Cities." Auburn is also ranked 14th for the shortest commute in a breakdown of quality of life elements. The article calls Auburn a "serious college town," with a downtown area that exudes "a surprising amount of variety and vibrancy."

Auburn Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. said "We're proud of this recognition of Auburn as a great place to live. We're passionate about our home here in Auburn, and we'll continue to work hard to make sure that Auburn continues to be one of the best places to live in the U.S."

Previous national recognitions for Auburn have included U.S. News & World Report's 2009 list of the "Top 10 Best Placed to Live in the U.S." Earlier this year, Forbes.com ranked Auburn as 17th on its list of "Best Small Places for Cities and Careers," and newgeography.com ranked Auburn as 64th on its list of "Best Cities for Job Growth."




[City of Auburn

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