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 exports climb to near record in 2014

MONTGOMERY, Alabama - Alabama exports climbed in 2014 to a near-record level, powered by shipments of Alabama-made automobiles to almost 100 countries, as well as rising overseas sales of products such as industrial machines, plastics, and iron and steel.


Alabama's exports totaled $19.518 billion last year, a gain of nearly 1.2 percent from 2013's figure, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. The 2014 total fell just shy of the state's annual record for overseas shipments - $19.577 billion, set in 2012.

Alabama-based companies and manufacturing facilities have made significant long-term gains in exporting.


 Since 2009, Alabama's exports have risen 57 percent. Over a 10-year period, foreign shipments have advanced 115 percent, figures show.








Airbus hiring: 'Recruiting locally has proven very successful' HR director for Mobile final assembly line tells industry leaders
on February 10, 2015

Airbus is proving the naysayers wrong in terms of employing local talent, at least based on hiring for its A320 final assembly line under construction in Mobile.


Jennifer Ogle, human resources director for Airbus' Mobile facility, said recently the company discussed initially the assumed need to hire expatriates for many of the more technical positions associated with aircraft production and testing, but the local applicant pool has proven much stronger in those regards than anticipated. 


"Recruiting locally has proven very successful. For example, we were able to demonstrate we can find test pilots, ground-test and flight-test engineers right here, so there's no need to have specialized expats here to test and fly the planes," Ogle told about two dozen participants in the most recent Aviation and Aerospace Advisory Council quarterly meeting.



Breathtaking Turnaround
February 2015

When the economic downturn struck Alabama, the state's prominent automotive manufacturers faced industry-wide challenges as demand declined. Now that the economy shows signs of recovery, Alabama's Big Four auto companies are firing on all cylinders, increasing production shifts to meet growing demands.  


At the peak of the recession, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama saw a temporary drop in light truck sales. In response, HMA added the Accord V6 Sedan to its assembly line, as well as the Ridgeline pickup, transferred from Honda's Canadian plant. "Honda's flexible manufacturing system allows adjustment of product mix based on market demand," says HMA Vice President Mike Oatridge.


Throughout the recession, HMA maintained its 4,000-member team. During the last three years, HMA has announced more than $508 million in investments and has hired more than 400 associates in production and professional positions. Late last year, the plant also began production of a highly automated engine assembly facility.






Southeast manufacturing jumps in January
Brad Harper, Montgomery Advertiser
February 9, 2015

Southeast manufacturing activity increased in January, according to the latest Purchasing Managers Index report.


The Southeast PMI increased 10 points to 55.6 in January, according to Kennesaw State University's Econometric Center, which issues the report. New orders and production drove up all PMI components except for finished inventory and commodity prices.


Six Southeastern states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee - are included in the Econometric Center's monthly regional report. All six experienced higher PMI readings, offsetting its December drop.




[Montgomery Advertiser


Rocket Hatch moves CO.STARTERS program for entrepreneurs to Lowe Mill in Huntsville 
on February 09, 2015 

Rocket Hatch is moving its nine-week CO.STARTERS program for aspiring north Alabama entrepreneurs to Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment in Huntsville.


An information session about CO.STARTERS will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Studio 2008 at Lowe Mill. Meetings will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Feb. 26.


The national program, which uses lean business modeling methods to support smaller-scale startups, provides insights, relationships and tools to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into action. Based in Chattanooga, CO.STARTERS was founded by The Company Lab and has been adopted by organizations in Arizona, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Indiana.


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