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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:
Alabama unemployment rate below 7 percent
New tax increment finance law aims to lure manufacturers
Auburn-Opelika area's growth 2nd in Alabama, 11th in US
Southeast Alabama Gas District names Wiley Lott director of economic development



Alabama unemployment rate below 7 percent in January, but most industries shed jobs
By Alex Walsh | awalsh@al.com 
on March 18, 2013

Alabama's official unemployment rate for January was 6.9%, the Department of Labor said today.

January's rate is actually up from the revised unemployment rate for December of 6.8 percent, but down from the January 2012 rate of 7.3 percent.

Prior to this year, the last time Alabama's unemployment rate was below 7 percent was in November 2008, when the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent.

There were roughly 10,000 fewer unemployed persons in Alabama at the start of this year compared with the same time a year earlier. The total number of unemployed for January was 148,724.






New tax increment finance law aims to lure manufacturers 

By Martin Swant | mswant@al.com 

on March 15, 2013 


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Huntsville officials hope a new law broadening tax increment financing could help the city and others across the state land more large manufacturing projects.  

The "Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act" lets cities borrow money to buy land, improve roads, add water and sewer lines and construct manufacturing facilities. The funds will then be paid back through additional property tax revenue created through potentially heightened property values.


The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley, allows any Alabama city to create a "Major 21st Century Manufacturing" TIF zone for a number of industries: automotive, aviation, medical, pharmaceutical, semiconductor, computer, electronics, energy conservation, cyber technology and biomedical if they invest at least $100 million on a site larger than 250 contiguous acres.
"I have no doubt that it will be used by various cities going forward in the economic recruitment process," the bill's co-sponsor, State Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said in an interview.



Auburn-Opelika area's growth 2nd in Alabama, 11th in US

Kristen Oliver | Opelika-Auburn News

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 9:38 pm


Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau not only place Lee County's recent growth rate as the second-fastest in Alabama, but also put the growth of the Auburn-Opelika metropolitan statistical area in the top 11 nationwide.


Lee County saw the second-fastest growth in the state between July 2011 and July 2012, growing 2.6 percent, according to recent census estimates; first-place Russell County led with 5.1 percent.


The Auburn-Opelika area was the 11th fastest growing metropolitan statistical area in the nation over the past couple of years. The census bureau estimates the area's population increased from 143,580 to 147,257 in one year's time.




[Opelika-Auburn News



Southeast Alabama Gas District names Wiley Lott director of economic development
By Ed Enoch | eenoch@al.com 
on March 15, 2013


MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- The Southeast Alabama Gas District has named Wiley Lott director of economic development and governmental affairs.


Lot assumed his new post March 2 and will work out of a new office in Montgomery, according to a release from SEAGD, which is headquartered in Andalusia.


"We are very fortunate to attract someone with Wiley's background and experience to serve in this very important position," said Greg Henderson, president of Southeast Alabama Gas District, in a released statement. "We are committed to playing a leadership role in economic development in our state, and Wiley is the right person to partner with others in helping to bring new jobs and economic opportunity to those we serve."


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Val Walton
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