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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:
Sandy Smith: Fiercely guarding Monroeville's 'The Bird' and its creator Harper Lee (Connecting Alabama)
Birmingham's buy-local "awakening" part of a bigger economic engine and downtown rebirth
Washington's loss is Alabama's gain: Boeing's engineering center will focus on simulation, metals and chemical technology
U.S. economic recovery is expected to gain strength in 2014
Why Some Communities Foster More Entrepreneurs Than Others

 


 

Sandy Smith: Fiercely guarding Monroeville's 'The Bird' and its creator Harper Lee (Connecting Alabama)

on December 16, 2013 

MONROEVILLE, Alabama -- Sandy Smith was 9 when she came to Monroeville. The proximate cause of her family's arrival was ladies' unmentionables.

 

Actually it was her dad, a North Carolinian and financial officer with Vanity Fair Inc., which moved him to town to work with the lingerie manufacturer that dominated local commerce.

 

On that first week, Sandy was introduced to Monroeville society at a family dinner hosted by new neighbors. Rayford Smith and his three brothers were there. She liked him. One day she'd marry Rayford and bear him a son who would take his dad's first name. Her daughter, Haller, is a physician in Birmingham. Her marriage of 31 years sustains her.

Her hometown defines her, too.

 

As executive director of the Monroeville/Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, she bustles with the predictable daily tasks of small town survival everywhere. There are businesses to support, Maine Street to be extoled to outsiders and, with any luck, lives to be made better by luring new jobs.

 

The Great Recession hit Monroe County with a crippling uppercut, and made existence harder for everyone, but Smith says life is improving day by day. Georgia Pacific has brought good-paying wood product jobs to rural folks desperately in need of them after the textile industry fled.

 

more...

 

[al.com]

 

 

 


 

Birmingham's buy-local "awakening" part of a bigger economic engine and downtown rebirth

on December 15, 2013 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- You can buy handmade scarves and jewelry and get your fill of original photography and vintage clothing, but this weekend's Holiday Craft Bazaar is about a lot more than just stocking stuffers. That's the message spread by REV Birmingham and the Forest Park South Avondale Merchant Association as the 8th annual bazaar--expected to be the most successful in the event's history-- brings 30 local craftsmen and positive economic impact to the neighborhoods.

 

City leaders and business owners say events like the bazaar are just one stitch in the fabric of Birmingham's buy-local movement that indicates a strengthening downtown economy and growing consumer desire to support communities through the power of the almighty dollar.

 

In the last six years, Marco Morosini, owner of Forest Park's Silvertron Cafe and president of the Forest Park South Avondale Merchant Association, said that Birmingham residents have grown increasingly more supportive of local businesses. "They don't want a chain," Morosini said. "They want to go to a place where their business is truly appreciated, where they can find something original. It's not just Birmingham, though--it's nationwide."

 

So far this holiday season, U.S. shoppers have spent approximately $5.7 billion at small businesses--a 3.6% increase over last year, according to data from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Meanwhile, Black Friday sales at large chain retailers were down sharply by 13.2%.

 

more...

 

[al.com]

 

 

 


 

Washington's loss is Alabama's gain: Boeing's engineering center will focus on simulation, metals and chemical technology

on December 13, 2013 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Boeing's announcement that it plans to move as many as 400 high-paying engineering jobs to Huntsville comes at the expense of Washington state, one of the places Alabama is competing against to land the $10 billion 777X production facility.

 

Boeing is splitting as many as 2,000 technology jobs between centers in southern California; St. Louis, Mo.; North Charleston, SC; and Seattle, Wash., the company announced Thursday.

 

"We are reorganizing and realigning our research-and-technology operations to better meet the needs of our Commercial Airplanes and Defense, Space and Security business units, as well as our government (research and development) customers," said Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Research and Technology.

 

The new research centers will be tasked with accelerating the company's technical capabilities in specific fields. Huntsville's center will focus on simulation and decision analytics and metals and chemical technology, according to company officials.

 

more...

 

[al.com]

 

 

 


 

U.S. economic recovery is expected to gain strength in 2014

By Don Lee and Shan Li 

on December 16, 2013 

WASHINGTON - After six years of a gloomy recession and shaky recovery, the U.S. economy looks poised to regain its glow next year with stronger job growth, bigger income gains for more people and a resurgence of homeowners moving up into new digs.

 

The overall economic outlook for the U.S. has improved sharply in recent weeks amid a string of surprisingly robust economic data: Businesses have stepped up hiring, new factory orders from abroad are at a two-year high and consumers have been flocking to car lots and restaurants.

 

State and local governments that not long ago were in massive retrenchment are spending more too.

"We could see the unemployment rate down to 6% this time next year," said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

 

That would be a full percentage point below the current rate and, in some analysts' views, close to full employment.

Some experts say economic growth could be even stronger next year now that the House has approved the bipartisan two-year budget deal.

 

more...

 

[Los Angeles Times]

 

 

 


 

Why Some Communities Foster More Entrepreneurs Than Others

By Richard Florida

on December 13, 2013 

 

The hard-charging entrepreneur has become something of a trope these days. From Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg to Jack Dorsey, the image of the self-made man striking out on his own has become an updated, 21st century version of the old Horatio Alger myth.

 

But new research shows there's clearly more to the story than just individual skill, pluck, and ambition. The study, by Temple University's Seok-Woo Kwon, the University of Missouri'sColleen Heflin, and Duke University's Martin Ruef, examines the relationship between self-employment levels and community support structures across America's metro areas. Published in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, the authors argue that the strength of local social networks and trust - using the term "social capital," popularized by Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam - plays a major role in whether a city is able to foster a culture of self-employment and entrepreneurship.

 

The study measures entrepreneurship using data on self-employment from the Census, and compares that to data from Putnam's own Social Capital Benchmark Survey and the General Social Survey. The results get at how key aspects of social capital, such as membership in voluntary organizations or variation in trust across communities, affect rates of self-employment and entrepreneurial activity.     

                                         

Overall, the study finds that a "community's social context" can be harnessed as a sort of "public good," as entrepreneurs take advantage of higher levels of community trust and well being, as well as more robust social networks, in high social-capital communities.

  

more...

 

[The Atlantic]

 

 




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