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 voters provide 2-1 approval of referendum to shore up General Fund with cash from trust fundPublished: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 6:51 AM
By David White -- The Birmingham News
MONTGOMERY -- Alabama voters on Tuesday agreed to transfer more than $437 million over three years from a state trust fund to the state General Fund, which supports courts, prisons, Medicaid and other non-education areas of government.
The yes vote was a victory for Gov. Robert Bentley, who warned that failure of the referendum could have led to "devastating" cuts in General Fund spending.
"I want to thank the voters for approving the state's plan to temporarily borrow funds from our savings account to help get us through these difficult economic times without raising taxes," Bentley said in a written statement Tuesday night.
The General Fund is budgeted to spend about $1.7 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. A no vote could have deeply cut budgeted spending, given strong opposition by Bentley and many lawmakers to broad-based tax increases.
With 88 percent of the precincts reporting late Tuesday evening, there were 349,029 yes votes, 65 percent, in the referendum and 184,713 no votes, 35 percent, according to the Associated Press.
Tuesday's vote rewrote the state constitution to make special transfers of $145.8 million a year for the next three fiscal years from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund.
[The Birmingham News]
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood extols Port of Mobile's virtues Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 11:50 AM
By Kelli Dugan, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood honed in on the Port of Mobile as a regional economic development tool when addressing members of the local business community Tuesday morning at the Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile.
"There's no question that Airbus would not be coming to this country had it not been for the port," LaHood told members of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and assembled guests during a luncheon hosted to address an array of local, state and national infrastructure updates.
The European planemaker announced plans in July to construct a $600 million aircraft assembly plant at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, the company's first on U.S. soil. Such announcements could not be supported, however, without the infrastructure provided by Mobile's port.
"(Ports) create jobs, they create opportunities and they're a real economic engine for a region," he said.
Historically black colleges get $228 million in federal funds, including 15 schools in Alabama Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 2:52 PM
By Greg Garrison -- The Birmingham News
The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 97 historically black colleges will receive $227.9 million in federal funds as part of its annual Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities grants.
Miles College President George French said there's a sense of relief after efforts to decrease federal funding across the board in the Department of Education. "We're happy the funding levels were restored," said French. "This is the second year we had to fight for funding. It's still lower."
Funding was down, but cuts were not as steep as the 10 percent cuts previously proposed for the program, French said. Miles College gets $2,011,679 under the program this year. The previous year, Miles received about $2,028,000, French said. Miles College has a total annual budget of $59 million, mostly based on tuition, donations and other fundraising sources, he said.
Of the 97 colleges receiving funds under the program, 15 are in Alabama. Alabama State University gets about $3.9 million, Alabama A&M University gets about $3.2 million, Lawson State Community College gets about $2.99 million, and Tuskegee University gets about $2.28 million. Other schools on the list receive anywhere from $250,000 for Gadsden State Community College to $1.7 million for Stillman College. It's based on the number of students qualifying for Pell Grants, French said.
[The Birmingham News]
NIH Awards $1.1M Grant to Mitchell Cancer Institute
The National Institute of Health ("NIH") in Washington, D.C. has announced a grant of $1.1M to support Dr. Lewis J. Pannell's work on an early stage screening test for ovarian cancer at the Mitchell Cancer Institute ("MCI") and the University of South Alabama. Dr. Pannell is a professor of Oncologic Sciences, as well as head of the Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at MCI. Dr. Pannell previously worked for over 20 years as a senior investigator at NIH specializing in proteomics and biomarker research.
Currently, there is no accurate and effective screening test for ovarian cancer. Dr. Pannell explained that "because there are few, if any, clear early symptoms, ovarian cancer is not detected until it has already spread. Many women die from ovarian cancer for one simple reason: they are diagnosed too late to be saved. An early stage screening test would potentially save thousands of lives every year. Women would also be spared the rigorous treatment required after the cancer has spread and our health care system would save hundreds of millions of dollars each year by avoiding the cost of later stage treatment."
Dr. Pannell is working with fellow inventors Dr. Michael Finan and Dr. Rodney Rocconi to develop this screening test. This technology was licensed by Swift Biotechnology, whose development plan for this invention was one of the winners in the 2010 Alabama Launchpad business competition. Swift's President, Dr. Michael Chambers, explained, "This grant is a tremendous honor for Dr. Pannell, USA and the entire MCI team. NIH grant applications are rigorously examined through a two-step peer review process manned by the leaders in their respective fields. By law, only those projects with the most promise, creativity and sound science receive these grants."
For more information, contact Michael Chambers at 251-272-4095.
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