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 Power sparks workforce development through community college partnerships
Ryan Phillips Digital Producer-Birmingham Business Journal
Feb. 2, 2015

As Alabama looks to fill gaps in its workforce, community colleges are playing an increasingly large role.


In many cases, businesses are taking a proactive approach to bridge the gap - partnering with community colleges to create a tangible talent pipeline. It's an issue we'll be exploring in this week's Cover Story, which was sparked by President Obama's recent proposal for two free years of community college.


Alabama Power is one company that has embraced an active role in the state's community college system.




[Birmingham Business Journal]




White House budget proposal would keep NASA in Alabama stable in 2016
on February 02, 2015 

Marshall Space Flight Center's director said Monday that the new 2016 NASA budget proposed by the White House Monday will, if passed by Congress, leave his center "on a solid footing" with "no major program cancellations, no staff reductions or contractor layoffs."


Marshall Director Patrick Scheuermann also said Marshall will deliver the first Space Launch System rocket to Kennedy Space Center in Florida in time for a scheduled launch early in 2018. "The answer is yes," Scheuermann said, "and I'm really proud of the workforce we have."


The White House unveiled a budget proposal Monday that would give NASA $18.5 billion in fiscal year 2016 that begins Oct. 1. That's an increase of about $500 million from NASA's budget this year.



ANALYSIS: US South rises on Airbus, Boeing expansion


Feb. 3, 2015


What a difference a decade makes in the geography of the US aerospace industry. It was only 2004 when the US southeast region was known in aerospace circles primarily as a base for NASA in Florida and Alabama and a manufacturing hub for Gulfstream business jets and Lockheed Martinfighters and airlifters in Georgia.


Assembling commercial airliners in the southeast region - a multistate area shaped by the Mississippi River in the West, Atlantic Ocean in the east, the Ohio River in the north and the Gulf of Mexico in the south - was not only non-existent. It was not even seriously contemplated by anyone anywhere in the industry.


Boeing vice-president and general manager Jack Jones now oversees a sprawling factory complex in North Charleston, South Carolina, with 7,500 employees on the payroll and still hundreds of acres of empty land under the company's control. As late as the end of 2003, however, such a scenario would have seemed inconceivable to a veteran of Boeing's commercial base in the Pacific Northwest.


"Twelve years ago it wasn't even a gleam in some Boeing leader's eye," says Jack Jones, who retires in April. "There was no need to consider building outside Puget Sound."



First Quarter 2015 Alabama Business Optimism at Highest Level since Mid-2006

on February 02, 2015 

The Alabama Business Confidence Index™ (ABCI) came in at an optimistic 57.4 on the first quarter 2015 survey.  That's 3.2 points higher than last quarter and 6.2 points above the ABCI of 51.2 recorded a year ago.  All component indexes increased this quarter, with the strongest gains in expectations for the U.S. economy, sales, and hiring.


The national economy index jumped 4.8 points to 56.4, the most optimistic outlook for U.S. economic growth since the second quarter of 2006 and a strong turnaround from the negative forecast of 47.8 a year ago.  Almost 42 percent of the state's business executives expect the U.S. economy to expand at a faster pace than in the fourth quarter and another 39.6 percent think growth will be about the same. 


Business executives expect Alabama's economy to see solid gains in the first quarter of 2015.  At 57.4, the index is up one point from last quarter and up 3.6 points compared to a year ago.  Almost 86 percent of panelists anticipate growth at the same or a higher rate than in the fourth quarter. 







UA to Expand Entrepreneurship Mentoring via NSF I-Corps

Feb 2, 2015 | 


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama's ability to foster entrepreneurship and, ultimately, create jobs is strengthened through its recent selection by the National Science Foundation as an Innovation Corps site.


With its selection, UA's Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center becomes the only NSF I-Corps site in the state and is one of only three in the Southeast.


"This support will accelerate the commercialization of marketable ideas by The University of Alabama," said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. "As a result, scientific discoveries that can benefit society can reach the marketplace more quickly."


The selection, which includes $300,000 in grant funding over three-years, enables AIME to further nurture science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty and students, providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to assist them in transitioning their work into the marketplace, said Dr. Dan Daly, director of UA's AIME Center.





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