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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:
National site selection mag rates Alabama among top five for doing business
Southern Research institute opens expanded engineering facility
Alabama must keep welcoming foreign companies
Alabama unemployment falls from August to September


National site selection mag rates Alabama among top five for doing business

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 4:01 PM    

By Kelli Dugan | kdugan@al.com 


MOBILE, Alabama - For the third consecutive year, Alabama ranks among Area Development's top five states for doing business, weighted heavily by its right-to-work status and successful workforce development programs.


The site selection, facility planning and economic magazine's annual analysis revealed Alabama ranks first for competitive labor costs, near the top for workforce development and fourth overall, trailing only Texas, South Carolina and Georgia.


Among Alabama's advantages cited by the national consultants polled were its cost of doing business, corporate tax environment, incentives program and cooperative state government, but its competitive utility rates and certified sites also ranked high.


The magazine attributed Alabama's overall labor ranking, however, to the continued success of the Alabama Industrial Development Training program.


Steve Sewell, executive vice president for the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, credits AIDT with providing "tens of thousands" since its inception for the likes of Austal USA, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International and Lockheed Martin.


EDPA President Bill Taylor said the program's ultimate success, however, is results driven.


"Alabama's competitiveness in recruiting is due in great part to the tremendous success that leading companies achieve once they locate here," Taylor, MBUSI's former chief executive officer, told the magazine.







Southern Research Institute opens expanded engineering facility

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 3:40 PM    

By Stan Diel | sdiel@al.com 


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Southern Research Institute's new $5.6 million engineering facility will broaden the scope of work the institute can perform and allow it to continue its fast-paced growth, executives said today.


Revenue at the institute's engineering division, which works on everything from NASA spacecraft and secret Department of Defense projects to telephone poles, has grown 60 percent in five years. It now tops $36 million a year, said Michael Johns, vice president of engineering.


The newly expanded facility, which was dedicated today, includes three "high-bay" labs that are big enough to test rocket components and large sections of aircraft. The facility is expected to create 24 engineering and technician jobs and ultimately generate $6 million a year in new revenue.


"If you stand still, you're going to be irrelevant," Johns said.







Alabama must keep welcoming foreign companies, Hoar Program Management executive tells Hoover chamber

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 3:36 PM    

By Jon Anderson | janderson@al.com 


HOOVER, Alabama - Alabamians must continue to welcome foreign companies and support their endeavors if the state wants to continue moving forward economically, the president of Hoar Program Management told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce today.


Twenty years ago, much of the economic development community across the country laughed when Mercedes-Benz chose to build its first North American manufacturing plant in Alabama, said Mike Lanier, president of Hoar Program Management, which annually manages more than $400 million worth of construction projects.


"Nobody's laughing now," Lanier told Hoover chamber members during their monthly luncheon at the Hoover Country Club. "It sent a statement that Alabama is open for business. It put us on the map, and we're here to stay now. From an economic development standpoint, we're the envy of the entire country."


The Mercedes-Benz project has created about 8,000 direct jobs with Mercedes and its suppliers and more than 45,000 indirect "ripple effect jobs," and had a $6 billion annual impact on Alabama's economy, Lanier said.


The success of Mercedes helped lure other foreign companies, such as Honda and Hyundai automotive plants in Lincoln and Montgomery and more recently a $600 million commercial jetliner assembly plant to be built by European plane maker Airbus in Mobile.






Alabama unemployment falls from August to September

Posted: Oct 19, 2012 8:22 AM CDT

By Nate Hall


MONTGOMERY, AL -Governor Robert Bentley's office says Alabama's unemployment rate fell from August to September.


The preliminary unemployment rate for September was at 8.3%, down from the August rate of 8.5% and last year's rate of 8.8%. The Governor's office says the rate represents 177,848 unemployed persons, compared to August's 183,267 and 192,667 a year ago.


"More Alabamians are working this month, and that is certainly good news for the state," Governor Robert Bentley said. "We still have a long way to go, and I will continue doing everything I can to put Alabamians back to work."


Alabama's online jobs database, www.joblink.alabama.gov, is continuing to see record breaking numbers of jobs, logging a high of 12,764 new job orders in September.


"As far as unemployment compensation goes, nearly every indicator we measure is well below pre-recession levels. Claims data don't directly impact the unemployment rate, but they do allow us to gauge the frequency with which people are losing their jobs," Alabama Department of Labor Director Tom Surtees said.





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