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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's unemployment rate falls to 6.8 percent in May
Self-driving vehicles on the horizon
Toyota plans new $150 million investment at Huntsville engine plant
Supplier breaks ground on $37M plant
Coastal Gateway director Jim Searcy to resign
Mobile city, county officials encouraged about landing potential Airbus suppliers, manufacturers
NASA, Alabama aerospace hub developing SLS, most powerful rocket for space


Alabama's unemployment rate falls to 6.8 percent in May 

on June 21, 2013


Alabama's unemployment rate for May was 6.8 percent, falling slightly from April's 6.9 percent.

The state's labor force grew last month by about 3,600 people, while the number of employed people also grew, by more than 6,200. May's rate represents 147,888 unemployed people, down from 150,401 the previous month, according to numbers issued this morning by Gov. Robert Bentley's office and the Alabama Department of Labor.


"We are continuing to move in the right direction, and we are working every day to recruit more jobs to Alabama," said a statement from Bentley, who recently returned from the Paris Air Show where he and other economic developers met with aerospace companies in hopes of luring more supplier business to the state.


Alabama employers added 7,000 jobs in May. The largest increase was seen in the hospitality industry, at 4,200. That trend is expected to continue throughout the summer as seasonal employers ramp up hiring.







Self-driving vehicles on the horizon

By Patrick Rupinski

Business Editor

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 


TUSCALOOSA | You won't be able to sit in the back seat and read the newspaper on your drive to work anytime soon, but new technology being added to cars will be taking the self-driving car out of the realm of science fiction and into the dealer showroom sooner than you think.


That's the word from Bharat Balasubramanian, a University of Alabama engineering professor and executive director of UA's Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies.


Balasubramanian, who spoke Thursday at the Manufacturing Business and Industry Seminar at the Bryant Conference Center, joined the UA faculty last year after retiring from Daimler AG, where he was a long-time automotive technology researcher and development engineer in Germany. Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.


"The world may be changing dramatically in a way you never envisioned as possible," he told about 100 people at the daylong seminar.




[Tuscaloosa News]



Toyota plans new $150 million investment at Huntsville engine plant
on June 20, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Toyota said today that it will invest an additional $200 million in its North American operations, including $150 million at its Huntsville engine plant, to boost machining capacity and parts production for V-6 engines.


Once the project is complete in July 2015, total investment at the Huntsville plant will be $850 million. Total employment there will be 1,150 jobs, following the completion of a previously announced, $80 million V-6 engine assembly expansion that will add 125 jobs by early next year.


This marks Toyota's fifth significant investment announcement at the Huntsville plant since it opened a decade ago.



Supplier breaks ground on $37M plant
By Brad Harper
June 21, 2013

In welcoming an automotive supplier that planned to build a $37 million manufacturing facility in Montgomery, leaders were eager to portray the move as the beginning of a long relationship.


Hyundai and Kia supplier DAS North America is now part of a "family," said Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean, who was among several state, county and city officials at a Thursday groundbreaking ceremony.


"We are always here for you," Dean said after describing Hyundai as the "parent" of recent developments.

Those family ties were in plain view as Gui Il Chun, President of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, got a round of applause for his company's role in leading DAS to build a 300,000-square-foot facility in Montgomery Industrial Park and add 300 workers over the next few years.


DAS will also transfer its 100 current workers from the temporary Montgomery facility it moved into last year.



Coastal Gateway director Jim Searcy to resign
By Staff Reports
June 20, 2013

Coastal Gateway Economic Development Alliance will soon be looking for a new executive director.

Jim Searcy will resign his position as executive director at CGEDA effective July 5 to take a position as executive director at the Economic Development Association of Alabama.


The EDAA is a membership-based organization with the mission to promote economic growth throughout the state.


Members of EDAA are economic development professionals, as well as companies and individuals in related economic development fields.


Searcy will be responsible for further implementing the association's current strategic plan and identifying additional opportunities for professional development, meaningful legislative action, and enhanced communications.


"We are appreciative of the contributions Jim has made as CGEDA Executive Director and wish him well in his new position," said Larry Woods, chairman of CGEDA. "Jim has provided the organization with a strong base in which to go forward. His confidence remains strong in the Coastal Gateway area and its regional approach to economic development."




[Atmore Advance]



Mobile city, county officials encouraged about landing potential Airbus suppliers, manufacturers (video)

on June 19, 2013 


MOBILE, Alabama - City and county officials who returned from the Paris Air Show today say they are optimistic their networking trip to France will pay off for Mobile soon.


Attending the show were all three Mobile County commissioners, Mayor Sam Jones, Councilman Fred Richardson and City Attorney Larry Wettermark. Baldwin County sent representatives as well, as did a host of cities in Alabama.


Gov. Robert Bentley and state officials were also in attendance during a trip funded by taxpayers.


Jones, who was part of the group that returned today, said he's "very optimistic" about suppliers for Airbus and the future $600 million airline manufacturing plant at Brookley Aeroplex visiting Mobile and considering establishing a presence in the Port City.


"I'm very optimistic and almost certain we'll see some in the very near future visit and possibly look for real estate and set up in Mobile," Jones said. "Some have said they want to set up in Mobile whether they get a contract with Airbus or not."






NASA, Alabama aerospace hub developing SLS, most powerful rocket for space

June 20, 2013


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Airbus' passenger jet production center will launch Alabama into the commercial jet manufacturing business in 2015. But an Alabama aerospace hub has long played a critical role in a different kind of flight - space travel.


More than four decades after going to the moon with the Alabama-designed Saturn V rocket,NASA is now developing a rocket in Alabama that could go to Mars.


The space agency is partnering with a number of the world's most prominent aerospace companies to build the largest and most powerful rocket in history: the Space Launch System.


NASA selected Boeing Co. to design and develop the core stage of the rocket at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, a city with a rocket history going back to Dr. Wernher von Braun, father of the U.S. space program and chief architect of the Saturn V superbooster. Other companies also working on the SLS in various parts of the U.S. include ATKAerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed MartinUnited Launch Alliance, which assembles big rockets in nearby Decatur, also has an important role in SLS: it's building the Delta IV rocket for the flight next year of Orion, the part of the Mars spacecraft that eventually will carry the crew.









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Enjoy the day, 

Val Walton
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