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.
New plant forms from Huntsville scientists could help feed world's hungry
Published: Friday, September 07, 2012, 6:21 PM
By Lee Roop, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Earth will have 2 billion more people by 2050, scientists believe, and Alabama could help develop the new plants, seeds and fertilizer to feed them.
That's the plan of two new clients of Huntsville's Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, who hope to take those discoveries to market.
The Kirchner Food Security Group and its affiliated Kirchner Private Capital Group announced partnerships with HudsonAlpha in February and are resident tenants at the institute in Cummings Research Park. This week, the food group's advisory board of scientists toured HudsonAlpha's laboratories.
Also on Kirchner's radar is the International Fertilizer Development Center in nearby Muscle Shoals, a world authority on food production.
Kirchner scientists believe crop genetics, plant genetics and animal genetics "are the most important tools in meeting future food needs," advisory board member Edwin Price Jr. said Friday. Price leads international agricultural research and teaching in the Texas A&M University System.
Agricultural research had slacked off in recent decades after years of abundant harvests, Price said, "and we are paying the price now" in food shortages and price instability.
[The Huntsville Times]
Business and Economic Opportunity Expo to offer expert advice for small businesses
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012, 7:59 AM
By Budd McLaughlin, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Featuring one of the nation's top business owners, a presentation by Microsoft and more than 50 exhibitors expected, the 17th annual Business and Economic Opportunity Expo is a must-attend for area small businesses.
"This year is really exciting," said Jackie Reid, board chair of the North Alabama African-American Chamber of Commerce. "Every year we try to do something different, and we did really well this year."
The theme is "United for Business and Economic Success," and Amos Otis, CEO of SoBran, will be the featured speaker at the awards luncheon.
SoBran has been an Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company and a Black Enterprise Top 100 Black-owned Business for several years. Otis is also a director of the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland.
The NAAACC and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University are hosting the daylong event Thursday at the Von Braun Center.
The event's seminars are free to the public, but organizers are asking those who plan to attend to register.
"With presenters from technology giant Microsoft and key economists from the Center for Business Economic Research, conference attendees will be positioned to dream bigger and bolder ideas that will change our community," said Reid, president/CEO of Exodus Technology.
[The Huntsville Times]
After 20 years, Sister Schubert still cooking
Published: 8:33 PM, Sep. 7, 2012
By Brad Harper
Historic preservation is a cause that's close to the heart of Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert's Homemade Rolls. Her belief in its tenants also could be one of the reasons for the company's success.
"If you don't know where you came from, how in the world are you going to know where you're going?" Barnes said.
When Barnes was a little girl, she stood on a stool in the kitchen to help her mother cook. Her grandmother taught her how to make the rolls, which she served to her family on Thanksgiving. That led to a small catering business, a Troy food fair sale and, 20 years ago, the beginning of a bakery that now distributes to stores across the South and Midwest.
Along the way she married business partner George Barnes, but people kept calling her by the nickname her older sibling Charlotte gave the former Patricia Schubert as a child: "Sister."
Barnes celebrated the company's anniversary last week by doing the same thing she did decades ago - laughing with friends and enjoying the rolls - only this time it was with employees and well-wishers at the sprawling Sister Schubert's headquarters in Luverne.
"You have to believe 100 percent in your product or service, and you have to have a good product or service to start with," Barnes said. "Some of (the employees) have been with me the full 20 years, and I said to them, 'I wouldn't be here if you didn't have the same faith that I have.'
The Southern Road: The Next Bend In The Road
In Alabama, they say that Huntsville has the intellect; Birmingham has the money; Montgomery has the power; and Mobile has the bay.
Soon enough, Mobile also will have airplanes, which will be built at a factory that Airbus plans to open in 2016. And from there, the same folks that brought you the southern auto industry hope they can develop a southern aviation corridor.
And while it's still going to be a leap to get from here to there, the South is where the Wright Brothers flew their first flight (Kitty Hawk, North Carolina), where countless thousands of Air Force pilots have been trained, and where there's already a small but growing aviation industry, in places like Columbus and Batesville, Mississippi.
But let's get back to Mobile. I drove down on an August Saturday from Birmingham, a four-hour drive that's legendary in Alabama for its tedium. (Actually, if you break it up with a visit to Peach Park, and you stop for green boiled peanuts and to see Hank Williams Sr.'s birthplace in Georgiana, it isn't that bad.)
Compared with the rest of the Deep South, Mobile is a city apart. For one thing, it's on breathtaking Mobile Bay, which is shaped like an inverted U, with Mobile sitting at the top of the upside U.
In appearance, and atmosphere, Mobile is much more like New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities than it is like other places in the South. It has the same shotgun homes as New Orleans and the same kind of tall buildings in its downtown. Like New Orleans, Mobile is an important port, and it's also more Roman Catholic than Bible Belt.
But Mobile shares something with the auto towns across the South: determination. Airbus' announcement this spring that it would build the A320 in Mobile was the culmination of more than a decade of work to attract an airplane factory. "We've had a long time to get ready," says Bill Sisson, the executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, who joined a big cadre of local, state and national officials to attract the Airbus plant.
The Southern Road: Under The Factory Roof
By Micheline Maynard on Sep 7th 2012 at 9:30AM
I can't stop thinking about Corey Burkett. And Tonya Williams. And the Burton family.
These folks - and thousands more - are southerners who have joined automobile companies to plot new careers and, hopefully, achieve some of their personal and financial goals. And the jobs along the Southern Road aren't just going to people who were born in the South.
During my trip, I met people with roots in Detroit who made a reverse migration from the North, landing positions at the foreign automakers. Others traveled across oceans, from Korea, Japan and Germany.
These are the people you'll see when you take a tour of a car plant. I got to talk to a couple dozen while I was on the Southern Road, and I was struck by the similarities and differences among the people I met.
All of them, it seems, feel the auto industry is their future, and the future of their communities and their states. Numerous times people said they felt "blessed" to have landed jobs for which hundreds of thousands of applications came in.
The pay for these positions generally starts around $15 an hour, but some earn more, and promotions seem to be readily available. These plants aren't union, and there doesn't seem to be any overwhelming drive to organize them.
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