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:
Prediction: Stronger job growth in Alabama in 2015
75+ jobs coming to American Apparel in Opp
Diamond Pro brings 24 jobs to Hartselle
Birmingham Dedicates a Year to China
Huntsville leaders confident $18M-plus incentive offer to Polaris will bring many happy returns
Grant facility to close; 90+ employees affected
Downtown Mobile's historic Battle House nabs global recognition as a 'Top 500' hotel for 2015
Butler County Commission for Economic Development Appreciation Luncheon


Prediction: Stronger job growth in Alabama in 2015 

By Patrick Rupinski
Business Editor
January 15, 2015

Stronger job growth should occur in Alabama this year.

That's one the predictions made this morning by University of Alabama economists at an annual January conference that looks at what's ahead for the economy in the new year.


The 27th annual Economic Outlook Conference hosted by UA's Center for Business and Economic Research was held this morning in Montgomery. Among the speakers were Samuel N. Addy, CBER director and research economist; Ahmad Ijaz, CBER associate director and head of economic forecasting; and Jo Bonner, vice chancellor of government relations and economic development for the University of Alabama System.




[Tuscaloosa News]


75+ jobs coming to American Apparel in Opp

By Kendra Majors

January 13, 2015

Some 75 to 90 new jobs will be added to the workforce in Opp next month.


Peggy Henderson, plant manager at the Opp branch of American Apparel, said Monday that the company was able to secure military defense contracts to make Army combat uniforms.

Henderson said the plant already has a contract to make Marine uniforms and Afghan police force uniforms, which enables the plant to employ 72 workers.


The announcement comes on the heels of American Apparel receiving top honors as a Gold Star Supplier from the Defense Logistics Agency.




[Andalusia Star News]


Diamond Pro brings 24 jobs to Hartselle

January 14, 2015

By Brent Maze


Diamond Pro is planning to open a manufacturing facility in the Hartselle-Morgan County Industrial Park that will employ up to 24 employees that with a total investment of more than $1.3 million.


Josh Turrentine, owner of Diamond Pro, said they currently have a manufacturing operation in China, but they want to open one in the U.S. He said they will be producing barbells, rubber weights and other weightlifting and exercise equipment at their Hartselle plant.


They have current installed weight rooms at South Alabama and West Alabama and have provided equipment for both Alabama and Auburn, along with several high schools.



Birmingham Dedicates a Year to China

January 2015


China and Alabama enjoy a profitable relationship. The Eastern giant is second only to Canada as the state's biggest export market, valued at $2.5 billion, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.


 Now China will shine as the Birmingham International Center's 2015 Spotlight, the organization announced in late November during an event attended by Yang Song, the Consul for Cultural Affairs from the Chinese Consulate General in Houston. 


Each year the center spotlights a different country. The 2015 Spotlight on China will bolster cultural, educational and business ties between Alabama and China. 


Members of the local Chinese community, area school children and representatives from the Alabama Department of Commerce were on hand to welcome the Consul to the event hosted by Altec Inc.




[Business Alabama]


Huntsville leaders confident $18M-plus incentive offer to Polaris will bring many happy returns
on January 14, 2015 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Huntsville leaders estimate it will take a dozen years to recoup the $18 million-plus in city incentives promised to Polaris, including free land and tax breaks.


However, Director of Urban Development Shane Davis said Polaris will be a financial asset from the moment ground is broken on the company's all-terrain vehicle factory along Interstate 565.


For starters, Davis said Polaris intends to use area construction crews to build its $142 million manufacturing "campus" just west of the Greenbrier Road exit. The property will boast a 600,000-square-foot assembly plant, large distribution warehouse and product research and development center, as well as a test track where Huntsville-built ATVs will be put through their paces.



Grant facility to close; 90+ employees affected
By Vincent Crivelli
Jan 14, 2015

GRANT, AL (WAFF) -Kennametal, Incorporated, which produces industrial materials, said Wednesday it will be closing its facility in the Marshall County town of Grant by September.


Officials with Kennametal said in a written statement that approximately 93 jobs would be affected by the plant's closure, adding that the company will relocate operations to other facilities within North America "to adapt our manufacturing and supply chain footprint with customers' needs and ensure the right capacity, products and services to grow profitably."


Mayor Larry Walker said Grant will likely lose tax revenue once operations at the plant wind down - revenue it has received for decades.






Downtown Mobile's historic Battle House nabs global recognition as a 'Top 500' hotel for 2015
on January 15, 2015 

MOBILE, Alabama - Mobile's own Battle House Renaissance Hotel & Spa has been named one of the "Top 500 Hotels in the World" for 2015 by Travel + Leisure magazine.


Margo Gilbert, general manager of the North Royal Street gem in downtown Mobile, called the accolade an honor for "the Battle House, the local area and the entire state of Alabama.


"That says a great deal about our staff, our hotel, our ownership and our commitment to our guests. To have one of the top hotels in the world be located in the middle of downtown Mobile speaks volumes to the exciting transformation the city is going through," Gilbert said, adding, "The more I study the results, the more humbling this honor is."







Butler County Commission for Economic Development Appreciation Luncheon



The theme for the Industry Appreciation luncheon in Greenville was "Success is taking advantage of opportunities."  The Butler County Commission for Economic Development (BCCED), under the leadership of Rod Cater (Alabama Power Company Manager), reported a successful 2014 at their December 11th Appreciation Luncheon.



So where did the BCCED "take advantage of opportunities" in 2014?  BCCED Executive Director, David Hutchison delivered a very straight forward message,  "Our opportunities have come directly from our existing industries.  Our existing industries are and will continue to be our biggest asset."


Chairman Rod Cater stated, "Butler County's existing industries provide hope to our area.  From individuals that receive a pay check to local governmental entities that receive tax revenue, both groups are able to thrive and to plan for the future.  The payroll and tax numbers generated by the existing industry are impressive but it's the hope provided to the area that is so very critical."


There were nine companies recognized at the luncheon for creating new jobs and investing capital in Butler County.  Eight of them were existing industries and one was a new company.  The existing industries included Ozark Materials, Kajun Perfection, Hwashin America Corporation, Bluegrass Companies, AIA Recycling, REF Alabama, DL A and Key Safety Systems.  The new company that started a business in Greenville in 2014 is Terrell Window Fixtures.


The total announced jobs and capital investment for these nine companies was 235 jobs and $63,668,610 capital invested.   As a direct result of their confidence in Butler County, the unemployment rate has declined dramatically over the past two years.  In January 2013 the unemployment rate was 10.2%.  As of November 2014 the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.9%.










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Val Walton
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