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.
Oktoberfest named Ala. festival of the year
By Trent Moore
September 23, 2012
CULLMAN - After shattering attendance records last year, Cullman Oktoberfest has officially been named the festival of the year by the regional tourism group North Alabama Mountain Lakes.
Earlier this week the agency awarded the Cullman festival the Peak Award for outstanding festival, following Oktoberfest's first-ever nomination.
"It's quite an honor, because there are so many worthy festivals in Alabama," Oktoberfest board member Elaine Fuller said. "This is the first year Cullman Oktoberfest was nominated and we're very honored to win. It's always nice to be recognized for the service and work of the volunteers."
The festival was founded in 1982 and has grown from a two-day affair to a full eight days of festivities. Fuller noted the first Oktoberfest netted approximately 150 attendees, while last year's event packed downtown with more than 25,000 throughout the week.
Tax Credit in Doubt, Wind Power Industry Is Withering
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: September 20, 2012
FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. - Last month, Gamesa, a major maker of wind turbines, completed the first significant order of its latest innovation: a camper-size box that can capture the energy of slow winds, potentially opening new parts of the country to wind power.
But by the time the last of the devices, worth more than $1.25 million, was hitched to a rail car,Gamesa had furloughed 92 of the 115 workers who made them.
"We are all really sad," said Miguel Orobiyi, 34, who worked as a mechanical assembler at the Gamesa plant for nearly five years. "I hope they call us back because they are really, really good jobs."
Similar cuts are happening throughout the American wind sector, which includes hundreds of manufacturers, from multinationals that make giant windmills to smaller local manufacturers that supply specialty steel or bolts. In recent months, companies have announced almost 1,700 layoffs.
At its peak in 2008 and 2009, the industry employed about 85,000 people, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's principal trade group.
[New York Times
Ground broken at equestrian park
By Kellie Singleton
September 24, 2012
HODGES - A large crowd turned out Friday morning to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a Franklin County tourist attraction that officials believe will be an important asset to the community in years to come.
Town, county and state officials broke ground for the Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park, which is a recreational area made possible through grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs; the Resource, Conservation and Development Council; Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow; and Sen. Roger Bedford.
When completed, the park will include over 55 miles of equestrian, walking, hiking and biking trails; a 160-acre campground; an equestrian center and an arena for entertainment.
Friday's groundbreaking was for Phase I of the project, which includes 15 miles of the trail, the day-use pavilion, two bathrooms and the exit and access roads.
[Franklin County Times]
University of West Alabama grant to help workers School's $2.2 million will improve workforce training
By Kim Eaton
Friday, September 21, 2012
The University of West Alabama has received a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in an effort to improve workforce training.
The department awarded $500 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative. The $2 billion, four-year initiative promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers. This is the second installment of the initiative.
UWA had applied for a grant last year but did not receive it, so the recent announcement about this year's award caused quite a stir among campus faculty and administration.
"We're so excited," said Rebecca Harvard, director of sponsored programs at UWA. "This provides wonderful opportunities for us and a focus that we did not have before."
Bentley backs amendment to allow borrowing for economic development
The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
MOBILE | Alabama should approve a constitutional change allowing its government to borrow money to pay for economic development incentives, Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday.
That measure is the second of 10 state constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 election ballot. It would allow Alabama to issue bonds worth $130 million. Bentley used an appearance before roughly 200 members of Manufacture Alabama, one of the state's leading industrial groups, to urge passage of the measure.
"It's important that we compete with other states," Bentley said, according to the Mobile Press-
Register. "If you don't have money for incentive packages, you will not be in the game. And we're going to be in the game."
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