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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:
Strong job growth pushes Alabama unemployment rate down
State to market growing biotechnology industry
Huntsville business owner wins 1st place in elevator pitch contest
Tuscaloosa County working on proposals for federal disaster funds for Holt, other areas


Strong job growth pushes Alabama unemployment rate down in April
By Alex Walsh | awalsh@al.com 
May 17, 2013 at 7:58 AM


Alabama's official unemployment rate for April was 6.9 percent, down from 7.2 percent in March.

The state's economy showed positive growth signs across the board in terms of unemployment. The labor force -- that is, the number of Alabamians looking for work -- grew by 13,000, after seasonal adjustments. Employment grew by an even larger number, indicating that some who had not been looking for work recently have now been able to find a job, a crucial piece for Alabama's eventual recovery.
Alabama employers added 9,700 jobs relative to April -- the second-largest number of jobs added in a month since the recession began. (Only May 2010 was larger, at 11,000.)



State to market growing biotechnology industry 
By Stan Diel | sdiel@al.com 
May 16, 2013 at 6:25 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Alabama's burgeoning biotech industry, with about 550 companies statewide, has to a degree escaped the notice of the world, Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said today. The state intends to change that.


Biotech companies are going to get more attention from economic development officials and will get a boost from a $250,000 state rebranding campaign launched in March, Canfield said. The campaign is being funded by the Commerce Department and AIDT, the state's worker training agency.


The goal is to both assist and capitalize on an industry whose 10,000 Alabama jobs pay an average of nearly $66,000 a year.


"It's not something that we've been traditionally involved in," Canfield said. "But we're diving in."






Huntsville business owner wins 1st place in elevator pitch contest
By Lucy Berry | lberry@al.com 
May 16, 2013 at 6:08 PM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - "We make mechanical and optical products for the automotive aftermarket. Our first product is the Auto Stop Lamp. 'Auto' having two meanings. It's a brake light for automobiles and it automatically lights up when the vehicle slows down. This is a direct fit replacement for the original bulb that reduces your chances of being rear-ended. We are seeking our first round of investment this summer and would love to have you on board as an investor. I'm Jeff Hammock with MECHoptix. Protecting your vehicle, your precious cargo and you."


That was MECHoptix, Inc. founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hammock's winning one-minute pitch during the annual BizTech Elevator Pitch contest April 30. Hammock, who competed with entrepreneurs across north Alabama, won first place, $2,500 cash and three free months of office space at BizTech, a business incubator in Huntsville. Reba Johnson, owner of Spas, Etc., took second place.


An elevator pitch is a quick, concise synopsis of what you - or your company - do, typically in one minute or less. The pitch got its name years ago in larger cities as professionals had to think of something to say while standing in elevators of office buildings.






Tuscaloosa County working on proposals for federal disaster funds for Holt, other areas
By Chris Pow | cpow@al.com 
May 16, 2013 at 4:50 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Tuscaloosa County staff members are reviewing projects that could be submitted to Alabama Department of Community and Economic Affairs to access some of the $49.1 million in federal disaster relief funding the state recently received.

Two weeks ago, the county approved a list of projects proposed to go to ADECA, which is coordinating project submissions for the $49.1 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant disaster relief fundsthe state received through an aid package passed following Hurricane Sandy.


The county came up with a series of projects that would total $17 million, including approximately $15 million in new sanitary sewers and other infrastructure improvements in Holt and sewers in two locations just west of Tuscaloosa, $1.8 million for a proposed cultural center and senior center in Holt and $150,000 to demolish around 50 storm-damaged structures in Holt.





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Val Walton
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