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:



Visitor Center at Mercedes' Alabama plant gets $3 million makeover
By Dawn Kent Azok |
on March 06, 2015

VANCE, Alabama -- Mercedes-Benz has redesigned the Visitor Center at its Tuscaloosa County auto plant, a $3 million project that's playing a pivotal role in a new company training program.

The facility's sleek new look, unveiled last month, came about in partnership with the German automaker's U.S. sales and marketing arm, which footed the majority of the bill and is now using the center as a "base camp" for the Mercedes-Benz Brand Immersion Experience.

That $30 million initiative is designed to connect dealership employees from across the globe with the Mercedes-Benz brand. Each week, it brings about 150 people to Alabama to tour the plant, participate in workshops and test drive vehicles.




Manufacturing employment up

By Bill Campbell Staff Writer | 

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Two of three shuttered industrial facilities in Florence remain without likely replacements, but there is good news: The Shoals has 400 more manufacturing employees than it did at this time last year.


Statistics reveal a growing marketplace for existing companies, despite the jobs lost by closures of HON, izzy+ and Hillshire Farms factories last year, taking 1,400 jobs out of the region. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Shoals had 9,900 workers in the manufacturing sector in December, the latest month figures are available. In December 2013, the number was 9,500.


The statistics also show more out-of-work residents looking for jobs: The region's unemployment rate still managed to grow from 5.6 percent to 6.3 percent.




[Times Daily]




Metro Birmingham's top counties for economic vitality
Bryan Davis Reporter-Birmingham Business Journal
March 5, 2015

Two metro Birmingham counties ranked in the top five in Alabama for economic vitality, according to a new study by Auburn University's Economic & Community Development Institute.


Shelby County ranked No. 1 out of all of the counties in the state for economic vitality. St. Clair County checked in at No. 5.


The index is based on factors that include population growth, workforce readiness, personal income and employment.





[Birmingham Business Journal]









Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metro area earns top-10 national ranking by Site Selection magazine 

on March 04, 2015 


The Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metropolitan area has been named a top-10 metro area by Site Selection magazine.


Atlanta-based Conway Data, publisher of Site Selection, ranked Baldwin County's tri-city metro among other areas with a population of less than 200,000 in the magazine'sMarch 2015 online edition.


With nine companies either expanding or locating to one of the three cities in 2014, the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley was tied for fourth place in Site Selection's ranking. Odessa, Texas topped the list with 18 projects.













UAB online accounting program No. 1 in U.S. per Best Schools site; Auburn ranked No. 2

on March 05, 2015 


The online bachelor's degree program in accountingat the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was picked as the best in the nation by the web, according to a news release from the school on Wednesday. 


The program at the UAB Collat School of Business prepares students for the examinations to become certified management accountants, internal auditors or fraud examiners.


UAB's online bachelor's program allows students to roll credits directly to the master's in accounting degree program and fast-track their time to complete it, the release states.











 High-flying jobs, training on display at March 13 Aviation Career Fair and Open House in Mobile

on March 05, 2015


Mobile's ever-expanding aerospace opportunities will take center stage Friday, March 13, during the Alabama Aviation Center's second Aviation Career Fair and Open House in five months.


Ten area employers as well as recruiters for the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force will be on hand for the employment and education extravaganza, coordinated jointly by the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council and the aviation center, a division of Enterprise State Community College.


The Alabama Aviation Center, located at 1975 Avenue C at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, offers the state's only aviation maintenance program, providing both airframe and powerplant training as well as dual-enrollment programs in both Mobile and Baldwin counties for high school students.










High Risk with Due Diligence

March 2015 

Facebook was smaller than MySpace, with fewer than 10 employees, before angel investors swooped in. Without angel investing Google might not be among the world's largest companies, making $56 billion in revenue its last fiscal year. 


Discovering the next Facebook or Google - companies destined to become household names and transform everyday life - is like winning the lottery. But with a keen eye and due diligence, angel investors spread their wings around many early-stage companies with potential to earn high profits. 


The Angel Investor Management Group is doing just that as one of the top early-stage funding sources in the region and Alabama's only statewide angel investor group.  




[Business Alabama]





Chinese company creates jobs in rural America
by Xinhua writers Liu Jie, Qi Xing
March 5, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, the United States, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Melinda Rankin could not land a job for four years after the retail store she worked for went bankruptcy amid the financial crisis. She almost ran out of hope until China's Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group Inc, a leading copper tube maker, opened a factory near her home.


"I used to have one, but that was a minimum wage low-paying job. Golden Dragon gave me an opportunity to better myself. I feel very comfortable working here," Rankin told Xinhua.


Rankin's hometown, the Wilcox County in Alabama of the United States, has a population of 11,000 and 40 percent of them live in poverty. The family median income is about half of the national average while the unemployment rate doubles the national level.







Hargrove Controls + Automation Adds Value to Client Projects


Mobile, Ala. -Hargrove Controls + Automation division is innovating the process for project planning and development for its clients. As a division within Hargrove Engineers + Constructors, its ability to provide clients with a full-service experience saves time and money invested in the scope of each project.


Hargrove Controls + Automation is one of the few fully integrated automation groups in the country for safety systems, industrial IT, and plant automation. Controls + Automation performs the design, programming, and implementation of controls systems to operate equipment for the pulp and paper, petrochemical, specialty chemical, and automotive industries.


"By teaming with Hargrove on both engineering design and automation, our clients are able to lower their risk, increase communication and planning from the start, reduce change, and - ultimately - complete their project at a better value," said Matt Burton, P.E., Hargrove Controls + Automation operations leader.


Started in July 2012, Hargrove Controls + Automation has grown from a team of five to a team of over 60 employees in seven offices across the U.S. The Hargrove Team consists of panel builders, instrument technicians, programmers, supervisors, safety instrumented specialists and engineers.


Hargrove Engineers + Constructors is a full-service engineering, procurement, and construction management firm with offices located across the U.S.  For more information about Hargrove, please visit the company's website at

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