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:
Shedd: Rural areas a priority
Chambers County Development Authority reports strong year
Birmingham meets tougher air quality standard
See full list of HOTCoffee's 24 top innovators in Huntsville/Madison County in 2014
Alabama November job growth hits highest mark in 8 years
Coastal Alabama Partnership Selects Team to Develop Regional Strategic Plan


Shedd: Rural areas a priority

Mary Sell

December 20, 2014 11:22 pm


A Cullman County representative says if legislation regarding economic incentives is passed by lawmakers next year in an effort to attract new businesses to the state, he and others want to make sure rural areas are not left out.


"I expect we will pass an economic development package and we want to make sure economic development in rural Alabama is a priority in whatever passes," said Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Cullman. Shedd represents portions of Morgan, Cullman, Blount and Marshall counties and is treasurer for the Legislature's Rural Caucus, which focuses on ways to improve the state's less populated areas.


Last week, this newspaper reported that in 2012 and 2013, more than 37,000 future industrial jobs from new and existing industries were announced. About one-third of those were in the state's four largest metro areas. Five rural counties didn't claim any of them and some others saw only a handful of the new jobs.




[Times Daily]



Chambers County Development Authority reports strong year

December 17, 2014


It was another strong year for economic development in Chambers County according to the Chambers County Development Authority's Year in Review report released last week. The report notes that new and existing industries made $91.796 million in capital investments and 543 new jobs were created in 2014.


There were five industry expansions last year and two new projects announced and the most recent unemployment rate reported for Chambers County was 5.8 percent, the lowest it's been in seven years.


Currently the CCDA is working 26 active projects, including 17 industrial, five retail and four commercial.


"The CCDA's willingness to work with industry has allowed us continued success in bringing jobs to Chambers County," Kimberly Carter, Family Support Coordinator and Business retention Specialist at the CCDA said. "With many existing industries visits and prospect visits, our office was able to bring in millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to this community this past year. By making sure we keep the lines of communication open, we continues to show us success."




[LaFayette Sun]



Birmingham meets tougher air quality standard
Bryan Davis Reporter-Birmingham Business Journal
December 19, 2014

Birmingham is in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's tougher new air quality standards for fine particulates.

According to the Jefferson County Department of Health, that marks the first time the area's air quality has met a new, lower fine particulate standard prior to the official designation by the EPA.


Being in compliance with the new standards is critical for Birmingham and the area's economic development efforts. In the past, business leaders have pointed to the standards as a hurdle to recruiting more jobs.




[Birmingham Business Journal]



See full list of HOTCoffee's 24 top innovators in Huntsville/Madison County in 2014

on December 19, 2014 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Twenty-four Huntsville-area initiatives in the private, public and social sectors were recognized by HOTCoffee last week during its Innovation Leadership Awards at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


HOTCoffee, a year-old startup networking community organized by the UAH College of Business Administration, recognized innovators who started or expanded in 2014 and succeeded in creating a startup ecosystem that is "vibrant, inclusive and promotes a high quality of life for all."


Here is the full list of honorees:










Alabama November job growth hits highest mark in 8 years

MONTGOMERY, Alabama - Alabama's unemployment rate dropped to 6 percent in November, its lowest point since 2008, as job growth in sectors such as manufacturing and construction continues at a strong pace.


"Alabama's unemployment rate has not only continued its downward trend, but has reached a level we have not seen in more than six years," Governor Robert Bentley said.


 "Additionally, we continue to see strong growth in wage and salary employment, which is also at its highest point in nearly six years.


"This is a testament to the economic progress we have made in Alabama, and our efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to acquire one."





Coastal Alabama Partnership Selects Team to Develop Regional Strategic Plan


At the Coastal Alabama Partnership (CAP) Annual Meeting on Dec.18, Vice Chairman Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced that Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc. (GMC) has been selected to lead CAP and its partners to develop a transformational Regional Strategic Plan. This plan will assist in guiding decision-making in the Coastal Alabama region over the next two decades.


Facilitated by CAP, a steering committee consisting of Mobile and Baldwin county and city officials, as well as members of the private sector, selected GMC following a competitive Request for Proposals and interview process. GMC will lead the team of consultants, which includes: planning NEXT; Dover, Kohl & Partners; Kimley-Horn and Associates; Alta Planning + Design; Janus Institute; Retail & Development Strategies; Compass + Partners; Lewis Communications; Axia Creative; and South Coast Engineers.


CAP President and CEO Wiley Blankenship will oversee and facilitate implementation of planning efforts and coordinate the ongoing public engagement process with local businesses, government officials, community members and other organizations, which is critical for plan development.


The plan will build upon previous initiatives while incorporating new ideas, and will provide the strategies and structure necessary for implementation of the regional plan recommendations. Rather than replacing or duplicating existing policies, plans and responsibilities, the plan will celebrate the assets, involved citizens, businesses and leadership unique to each community in a way that mutually benefits everyone.


Specific outcomes of the plan include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A definitive vision for the coastal region as a whole and a way to work together for the greater benefit of everyone
  • A framework for preservation, revitalization, growth and resiliency
  • A feasible plan for innovative, multi-modal transportation solutions; not just a list of projects
  • Concepts for urban and rural community design, including downtown mixed-use centers, smaller villages and neighborhoods that accommodate all ages
  • Economic development strategies that incorporate tech and entrepreneurial-based business as part of the regional economy
  • Strategies for "lifting all boats" with respect to education, healthcare, public safety, housing, social services and neighborhoods throughout the region
  • A plan that emphasizes a strong, regional-based tourism economy, including an international presence as the Alabama Coastal region


The regional strategic planning process will kick off in early spring 2015 and is expected for completion within the next six to nine months.

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Val Walton
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