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:
SharkBite maker to expand Alabama manufacturing base, create 130 jobs
Daimler AG boss: Vance was right for Mercedes
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference panel discussion on Sept. 26 to feature State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice
Tourist dollars and fancy cars: Mercedes to bring 26,000 employees to Birmingham, spend $30 million
Economic development announcement set for Dothan
YP affiliate plans to add 165 full-time jobs at Shelby County site under public funding deal
Asahi sets Sept. 29 groundbreaking for new Athens plan
MindGear Labs in Madison wins $50K SBA grant to assist advanced manufacturing companies


SharkBite maker to expand Alabama manufacturing base, create 130 jobs

CULLMAN, Alabama - Reliance Worldwide Corp., a leading maker of products for the plumbing and heating industries, announced plans today to open a new manufacturing facility in Cullman to launch U.S. production of its innovative SharkBite plumbing connection system, creating 130 jobs over five years.


Atlanta-based Reliance Worldwide (RWC), operating in Cullman as Cash Acme, will invest $50 million in the Alabama facility, where it will introduce new robotic and high-tech plastic and brass manufacturing processes. The facility will include a research and development center, as well as a training academy.


"As most companies are looking to cut costs by outsourcing labor and relocating operations to low labor cost countries, RWC is leading the way to prove that the U.S.A. can competitively manufacture onshore," Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams said.








Daimler AG boss: Vance was right for Mercedes

By Patrick Rupinski
Business Editor
 September 5, 2014 

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, said Friday that his 1993 decision to build Mercedes' first North American auto plant in Vance was one of the best business decisions he ever made.


In 1993, Zetsche was the Mercedes executive in charge of deciding where to build a new plant to make the company's first sport utility vehicle - the M-Class.


"Many at the time questioned if it was the right decision," Zetsche said. "I am very proud to see the little seed we planted here has developed into this very big tree."






  Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference panel on Sept. 26 to feature State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice


Don't miss the opportunity to be part of the conversation about innovation in Alabama's classrooms during a panel discussion on Friday, Sept. 26, at the Fourth Annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference in Birmingham.


The panel discussion, titled "Alabama Innovation Starts in the Classroom," is from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the BJCC East Meeting Room C at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. 

 Panelists are Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice; Ron McDaniel, President of the Alabama Educational Technology Association; John Wade, Alabama Supercomputer Authority CEO; Dr. Melinda Maddox, Assistant  State Superintendent of Education; and Brunson White, Alabama Secretary of Technology.  The discussion will be moderated by ADTRAN, Inc. Vice President Ted Cole. 


The future of Alabama's economic development is directly tied to the state's ability to provide an educational environment that will produce future innovators and entrepreneurs for the state.

A critical infrastructure component to foster innovation in the state's schools is access to Wi-Fi and high speed broadband connectivity.


Come hear this distinguished panel discuss the needs of Alabama's students, the steps being taken to create future innovators and the next steps toward driving Wi-Fi and broadband access throughout Alabama's school systems.


Dr. Tommy Bice
State Superintendent of Education, AL State Department of Education

Ron McDaniel
President, Alabama Educational Technology Association


  See a full conference agenda


Register Now! 
















Tourist dollars and fancy cars: Mercedes to bring 26,000 employees to Birmingham, spend $30 million

on September 05, 2014 

Over the next four years, a steady stream of Mercedes-Benz employees from around the world will visit Birmingham to participate in Mercedes new "Brand Immersion Experience."

The two-day three-night experience will take employees to the Tuscaloosa County plant where they will visit the Mercedes museum, tourist center and manufacturing space. The employees will have an opportunity to drive the cars and see "where the cars are born," said Gareth Joyce, vice president of customer service for Mercedes Benz USA at aplant tour on Friday.


Approximately 26,000 Mercedes employees will fly into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport for the experience and will be bussed to the plant daily. The employees will be staying in Birmingham hotels and dining in Birmingham restaurants as part of the program, Joyce explained.


"We are excited to work with Mercedes to host these employees over the next few years," said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. "Our efforts to attract visitors and tourists from around the world to give them an opportunity to learn about Birmingham's historic legacy and spend time and money in the city is starting to pay off. We look forward to this being the first of many large groups and conventions to frequent the city."







Economic development announcement set for Dothan

by Lance Griffin

Posted on Sep 5, 2014


Officials are giving few details about what has been billed as an economic development announcement scheduled for Monday in Dothan.


The announcement is not expected to unveil a new industry for the city.


According to an e-mail sent to local media by the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, the announcement will include officials and executives from Commercial Jet, Alabama Industrial Development Training, City of Dothan, and Chamber of Commerce.


According to the e-mail from the Chamber, the announcement will "strengthen workforce and economic development for the Wiregrass area."


Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said details would be forthcoming at the announcement.


"What I can say is this," Schmitz said Friday. "We have talked to a company that needs to hire people, a company that is looking for workers. When I go into the community, I hear a lot that there are no jobs available. What we want to do is connect the dots."




[Dothan Eagle]





YP affiliate plans to add 165 full-time jobs at Shelby County site under public funding deal
on September 08, 2014 

SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama - Shelby County government is promising up to $450,000 in grant support as part of an advertising company's commitment to grow its existing operations in the Birmingham area by adding 165 full-time jobs each with an annual compensation of $59,000.


The Shelby County Commission this morning unanimously voted in favor of the deal with L.M. Berry and Company LLC, an affiliate of YP LLC that labels itself as a multibillion-dollar business operating the largest local ad platform in the United States.


The company includes the and related app, as well as advertising through The Real Yellow Pages directory, the YP Local Ad Network, online display and mobile devices.
















Asahi sets Sept. 29 groundbreaking for new Athens plant

By Jean Cole

Sep 3, 2014


Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. will break ground on its north Athens plant during a 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ceremony Monday, Sept. 29, at 1806 Wilkinson St.


Asahi Kasei announced in May it would build a $30 million plastics plant in the Elm Industrial Park and hire about 100 people over the next 10 years.


The plant, which is supposed to begin production in early 2016, will process plastic resin into finished pellets that will be shipped to injection-molding facilities and made into automobile components.














MindGear Labs in Madison wins $50K SBA grant to assist advanced manufacturing companies

on September 05, 2014 

MADISON, Alabama - A fabrication lab in Madison providing equipment and resources to local businesses and the general public was the only entity in the state to receive a Growth Accelerator Fund grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


MindGear LabsRocket City Launch program was one of 50 winners in the inaugural SBA competition, which received more than 800 applications across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Owner Rob Adams said MindGear will use the $50,000 cash prize to assist advanced manufacturing companies in the Tennessee Valley.


"We are building a business accelerator that will help budding entrepreneurs take their ideas and grow them into profitable businesses," he told "MindGear Labs will be the main source of prototyping tools and expertise to develop napkin sketched ideas to fully functional prototype."












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Val Walton
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