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:


Heflin industrial board unveils economic plan

By Laura Camper, Star Staff Writer,

February 4, 2015


HEFLIN - About 60 people attended the unveiling of the Heflin Industrial Development Board's five-year economic development plan, Accelerate Cleburne County, at the Heflin Armory on Tuesday.


Attendees gave various reasons for their interest.


"I work for (Metro) bank and we are very dedicated to seeing Cleburne County grow," Tracy Perry said. "I expect great things."


Owen McWhorter, of Mars Hill in northeast Cleburne County, brought his son, Avery, to earn a badge in Boy Scouts, but ended up filling out a volunteer form for the committees.




[Anniston Star]




Bill aims to provide additional funding for workforce development
Ryan Phillips Digital Producer-Birmingham Business Journal
Feb. 4, 2015

Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday received recommendations from theAlabama Workforce Council, including a bill aimed at providing additional funding to workforce development programs.


The Alabama Associated General Contractors' Craft Training Bill will create a long-term funding source, paying out in between $3 million and $5 million annually, for training programs that will meet the needs of the state's growing industrial base, according to a synopsis of the bill.


The funding will come from an increased fee on building permits by $1 for every $1,000 of project value, the synopsis said. The bill will also create an industry board to providing funding oversight for training providers using community college facilities.



BBA says focus on state industries promotes two-year system
Ryan Phillips Digital Producer-Birmingham Business Journal
Feb. 4, 2015

Collaborative efforts between education and industry continue to aspire for innovation in the Birmingham market, and this is no more evident than the changes seen in higher education.

In the latest installment of this week's cover story series on the possibility of free community college tuition and what it would mean for local institutions, we spoke to the Birmingham Business Alliance, who addressed America's College Promise proposal. 


Waymond Jackson, vice president of workforce development at the BBA, said in an interview with the Birmingham Business Journal that free tuition at the community college level would serve to boost the system and economy.



Mercedes-Benz has best January sales figures of any luxury automaker 

Staff report
February 3, 2015 

Mercedes-Benz saw an almost 9 percent increase in U.S. auto sales in January, giving it the lead among luxury automakers.


Some 24,619 new Mercedes were sold in the U.S. last month, and Automotive News reported Tuesday that the biggest gainer among Mercedes models was the Vance-made GL-Class. The automotive trade publication reported at least 1,000 GL-Class were sold in this country last month for a 38 percent sales jump.


The Vance plant - Mercedes-Benz U.S. International - also makes Mercedes M-Class, R-Class and C-Class vehicles and last year produced a record number of more than 235,000 vehicles.




[Tuscaloosa News]


Program gives students workplace headstarts

By Jennifer Edwards Staff Writer | 

February 3, 2015 


MUSCLE SHOALS - Just more than a dozen Muscle Shoals High students are on the path to a career through a first-of-its-kind workforce training program.


Pathfinders Alabama is a student worker program that gets Muscle Shoals Career Academy students in jobs in their chosen fields earlier than had been possible before.


The juniors and seniors are working in hospitals and manufacturing facilities, putting their classroom-learned skills to the test in the real world.




[Times Daily]


U.S. Space & Rocket Center is top paid tourist attraction in 2014; see other Alabama destinations

on February 04, 2015

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville was once again the top admission-charged tourism attraction in Alabama last year.


More than 625,000 people visited the space destination in 2014. The Birmingham Zoo (574,581 visitors) and Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (568,427) were also top attractions in 2014, according to figures released this week by the Alabama Tourism Department.


The Birmingham Botanical Gardens was the most-visited free attraction with 350,000 visitors, followed by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (159,263) and Birmingham Museum of Art (139,111).







No more 'SRI': Birmingham's Southern Research rebranding with 'refreshed' logo, message, design

on February 04, 2015 

Southern Research Institute of Birmingham, a long-established scientific and engineering research organization, announced a new brand identity on Tuesday that the non-profit hopes will better highlight the size and scope of its work, especially as it proceeds with several new programs and partnerships. 


Now identifying itself primarily as Southern Research, the organization -- founded in the Magic City in 1941 -- is rolling out a "refreshed" corporate logo, message and design, according to its news release on Tuesday. 


A redesign of the web site is forthcoming. 







Dai-ichi of Japan now officially owns Birmingham's Protective Life, Protective common stock ceases trading

on February 04, 2015 
Birmingham's Protective Life is now officially owned by a Japanese company.

Tokyo-based Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. announced it would acquire Protective Life Corp. for $5.7 billion in June, and the companies announced the merger had been completed this week.


The merger makes Protective Life a wholly owned subsidiary of Dai-ichi. The merger makes the company the world's 13th largest insurance company, with total assets of $424 billion. 





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