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:


Top Economic Coups of 2014

February 2015


Area Development magazine's Top States for Doing Business in 2014 ranks Alabama No. 4 nationwide, thanks to its favorable business environment, labor climate, infrastructure and global access. Such a high ranking is no surprise, considering 2014 was a banner year for economic development announcements in Alabama. 


In this roundup article, we take the beginning of a year as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the largest projects announced or nearing completion in 2014. 

The Alabama Department of Commerce's annual assessment of the new and expanding industry announcements of 2014 was not completed before our press time, but 2014 Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield confirms it was another banner year.


According to Canfield, from 2011 to 2013, economic development efforts in Alabama have resulted in more than 55,000 announced jobs and nearly $14 billion in capital investment. 



Visitor center to reopen at Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance

February 4, 2015 

VANCE | Mercedes-Benz will reopen its visitor center to the public on Monday. The visitor center - located adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International's auto assembly plant - was closed in March for a $3 million renovation.

 "This place looks completely different from what it looked like three to four months ago," MBUSI President and CEO Jason Hoff told invited guests at a ribbon-cutting for the center on Wednesday afternoon. The center, which originally opened in 1997, has new exhibits tracing the 128-year history of the German automaker.

 It includes vehicles ranging from a model of the 1886 Benz Patented Motor Car, recognized as the world's first car, to the new GLE coupe, Mercedes' newest vehicle, which is being built in Vance and will go on sale this summer.



[Tuscaloosa News]



State wants to sell workers on need to acquire skills

By Mary Sell Montgomery Bureau | 

February 4, 2015


MONTGOMERY - Mark Heinrich, chancellor of the state's 25-school community college system, says he regularly gets calls from manufacturers around the state. They are looking for skilled employees.


"I hear from the automotive industry, and their suppliers, on a regular basis," Heinrich said on Wednesday. "I hear from the aviation area about the demands there. I hear an awful lot from the allied health area, particularly nursing. That trajectory is as steep as any.


"On a monthly, even weekly basis, we have a demand for more welders."

Aligning the state's education institutions with business and industry and their needs is a goal of the Alabama Workforce Council, created last year. This week, the council gave Gov. Robert Bentley a report containing its recommendations on how to better coordinate education and industry.


"This is one of the most important things we can do to bring industry to Alabama and help companies grow," Bentley said.



Expo provides career preview

By Bayne Hughes Staff Writer | 

February 4, 2015


Job prospects for future high school graduates are good in north Alabama with the right training, business and industry representatives said Wednesday during the annual Career and Workforce Expo at Calhoun Community College.


Manufacturing, construction, cosmetology, banking and health were among the fields represented in the 40 businesses and industries during the expo.


Darius Turner, of the Decatur Career Center, said the high-demand positions are in manufacturing, engineering, production, management, human resources and trades. The medical professions also are hot, he said.


Allen Kincaid, of Contractor Services and Fabrication Inc., of Decatur, said general contractors are "terribly short" of skilled craftsmen such as welders, machinists, machine maintenance, plumbers and millwrights.


[Decatur Daily]



What free community college would mean for Mercedes' training programs
Ryan Phillips Digital Producer-Birmingham Business Journal
Feb 5, 2015

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International continues to be a major player in the Alabama economy, and the automaker using its vast resources to bolster workforce development around the state.


We reported earlier this week on the partnerships at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, which sports a wide variety of advanced workforce development programs, including an apprenticeship program with MBUSI.


Phil Johnston, vice president of engineering at MBUSI, said in an interview with the Birmingham Business Journal that the state economy stands to benefit in the event of community college education being made free to students


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Val Walton
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