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.
German company to build plant near Vance
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
By Patrick Rupinski
TUSCALOOSA | Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to be in Tuscaloosa this afternoon to announce a new manufacturing plant that will be built off Brookwood Parkway.
The manufacturer, a German automotive supplier, will make exhaust systems for the next generation of C-Class sedans that will be built at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International automotive assembly plant in Vance, starting in 2014.
The company, whose name has not been made public, is expected to invest about $34 million in the plant and equipment and will create about 99 new jobs when fully operational.
The company operates state-of-the-art plants in Germany, according to local officials who have toured its facilities there. In addition to Mercedes, they said its customers include German car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen and British car manufacturers Bentley and Rolls-Royce and the commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN.
They said the company employs about 1,900 workers at 10 plants and had 2011 had sales of about $1.22 billion.
DNA research breakthrough features Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012, 12:00 PM
By Lee Roop, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Vast parts of the human genome thought to be "junk DNA" are really filled with millions of cellular "switches" helping choreograph the roles genes play in human life and disease, scientists said today.
Researchers from 32 laboratories around the world, including Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, announced the simultaneous publication of 30 scientific papers detailing new discoveries in the ongoing ENCODE Project, short for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements. It is funded in the United States by the National Genome Research Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health.
Scientists at HudsonAlpha, working with a group at the California Institute of Technology led by Dr. Barbara Wold, are research contributors, and Dr. Rick Myers, president and director of HudsonAlpha, was one of five researchers briefing reporters on an international conference call today.
Instead of believing that only 2 percent of the genome is controlling cells, the ENCODE project has now proved that at least 80 percent of DNA has some function in cellular creation and growth, Myers said. ENCODE collaborators have also identified 4 million of the so-called genetic switches that determine whether genes are turned off or on in the overall cellular wiring diagram.
[The Huntsville Times]
Foley industrial park named AdvantageSite by EDPA
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012, 10:13 AM
By Kelli Dugan, Press-Register
FOLEY, Alabama -- Foley Beach Express Industrial Park entered elite company Wednesday when the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama named the light industrial park an AdvantageSite.
Joe Bullock, chairman of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, called the certification a "great recruiting tool" the city, county and state can now leverage in marketing the property "to both national and international businesses."
The 176-acre park is located on the Foley Beach Express, 20 miles from Interstate 10 and 32 miles from the Pensacola Regional Airport.
Foley Mayor John Konair said the designation allows the city to "afford our citizens the potential for great paying jobs in our hometown."
Lee Lawson, president and CEO of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, applauded Konair and his team for withstanding the program's rigorous and time-consuming documentation process in order to boost the park's competitive edge.
"Having the Foley Beach Express Industrial Park certified as an AdvantageSite further increases our competitive advantage in recruiting 21st-century corporate investment to Baldwin County," Lawson said.
Work to begin soon on fourth wing of big Von Braun Complex at Redstone Arsenal
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012, 7:19 AM
By Kenneth Kesner, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A groundbreaking ceremony this morning will mark the beginning of work on a fourth wing of the Von Braun Complex on Redstone Arsenal.
A Missile Defense Agency spokesman said construction will begin in October on the nearly $59 million, five-floor, 225,000-square-foot Von Braun IV building. It is expected to open in fall of 2014 and will provide offices for about 850 Missile Defense Agency employees who now work elsewhere on the arsenal and in Huntsville.
Among the speakers expected at today's ceremony are Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and Congressman Mo Brooks.
[The Huntsville Times]
Muscle Shoals Center for Technology and Wise Alloys partner for program
By Lisa Singleton-Rickman
Wise Alloys and the Muscle Shoals Center for Technology have partnered to offer a co-op program that's training high school students in the field of engineering.
Currently, four students from the center are interning at the plant, learning a variety of jobs from researching and revamping technical drawings of equipment to other projects using their drafting skills.
The student interns are Nicole Burleson, Matthew Craft, Montana Goss and Josh Monroe.
Center Principal Gary Dan Williams said the program began in January and has been beneficial for both the students and Wise. Students are eligible to interview for an internship after they've completed two drafting classes. The work they do is related to drafting.
"It's a great program and one we're hoping will grow," Williams said. "These students are all highly motivated and are go-getters. They're getting good experience using the AutoCAD (computer aided drafting) system."
As for the students, they're working hard to make good impressions. All four said they are interested in engineering careers.
Muscle Shoals High School senior Nicole Burleson joined the program in June. She said her internship is an opportunity of a lifetime.
"Since my first drafting class it just clicked, and I've wanted to be a mechanical engineer," she said. "I'd love to work at Wise, so this is a great way for me to get my name out there and show them I'm a hard worker. The more I've learned about this field of work, the more I've wanted it as a career."
Birmingham-based McWane acquires majority interest in Synapse Wireless of Huntsville
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012, 12:27 PM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Synapse Wireless, a local startup and pioneer in the "Internet of Things", was bought by McWane, a nearly-century old Birmingham company.
McWane acquired a majority interest in Synapse and its wireless mesh network platform called SNAP. No price was given for the transaction.
According to company officials, the move allows Synapse to "accelerate its technology expansion and products" for the rapidly growing machine-to-machine (M2M) communications market, also referred to as the "Internet of Things."
"Synapse's SNAP solution has already been chosen by many important commercial and government applications," Synapse President/CEO Wade Patterson said in a statement. "And now, McWane's financial strength and long term vision will give us the stability to develop our products and capabilities even further to meet our customers' needs on a much broader scale than ever before.¨
The SNAP Network Operating System gives machines a way to interact with each other directly, over the Internet or through cloud services.
Established in 1921, Birmingham-based McWane has been a global leader in water infrastructure products and is one of the largest privately held companies in the country.
[The Huntsville Times]
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