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:


Mercedes M-Class gets new name, look at New York Auto Show debut

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama - The vehicle that launched Alabama's auto industry - the Mercedes-Benz M-Class - is getting a new name and a new look that will be unveiled next week at the New York International Auto Show.


To become known as the GLE, the Alabama-made sport utility vehicle family also is getting a new member: a plug-in hybrid model that's also going to make a world premiere at the New York show.


"Often copied, rarely equaled - the M-Class established the segment of premium SUVs in 1997 and since then has been one of the most successful models in the world. With the launch of the GLE, the edition will surpass the 1.6 million mark," said Ola Kaellenius, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars.







Nominations Open Today for Alabama Launchpad Innovation Awards


Winners to be recognized at 5th Annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference in Birmingham. Nominate today! 


Birmingham, Ala, March 30 --The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama announces that nominations open today through May 17 for the 2015 Alabama Launchpad Innovation Awards.


The awards celebrate and honor contributions to Alabama's innovation economy. Winners will be honored at the Fifth Annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference Sept. 2 in Birmingham.


"Alabama is an incredibly innovative state," said Greg Sheek, Alabama Launchpad programs director. "The Alabama Launchpad Innovation Awards highlight ideas and innovations from all sectors, sizes and types of companies throughout the state."


Nominations are accepted in the following categories: 

  • Corporate Innovator of the Year (small)
  • Corporate Innovator of the Year (large)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing
  • Outstanding Public Private Partnership for Innovation
  • Lifetime Achievement in Innovation
Companies should demonstrate significant achievement specifically in the areas of job creation, commitment to innovation and innovation that addresses a local or global need.

 Self-nominations are also encouraged. Click here to nominate.


"It is important that we celebrate those who have identified an opportunity, a gap in the market place, and more importantly, identified a solution that works and executed upon that," said Angela Wier, an EDPA vice president. "Innovation is the force that creates the jobs of tomorrow.  Through the awards, we want to provide a forum to highlight what innovators and entrepreneurs are doing and inspire others to follow in their footsteps."


Last year,  judges selected winners in eight categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Lonnie McMillian, co-founder of the renown HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and telecommunications giant ADTRAN in Huntsville.  


Click here to read profiles of  the 2014 winners. 


2014 Alabama Launchpad Innovation Award Winners
















Workshop April 7 in Auburn gaining federal funding

Special to The News

March 28, 2015 1

Alabama Launchpad and Auburn University Office of Technology Transfer will host a workshop on Tuesday, April 7, to help bring National Institutes of Health funds to Alabama's innovative technologies and small businesses.


The workshop is part of Alabama Launchpad's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program to boost the success rate and competitiveness of applicants in the state.


The April 7 workshop is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration beginning at 8:30am, in the CASIC Building, Auburn Research Park: 570 Devall Drive # 101.




[Opelika-Auburn News]




Decatur Chamber to offer free business help through alliance with entrepreneurial site

on March 30, 2015

Members of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce can now take advantage of free business resources, support and training through a new alliance (TFE).


The Chamber announced last week it has begun working with TFE's 24/7 web-based entrepreneurial resource and learning center to give members the opportunity to grow as north Alabama business owners.


John Seymour, president and CEO of the Chamber, said the alliance was born after several member businesses requested more training during the Chamber's One Vision and Capital Campaign interview.






Tuscaloosa gets grant for technology upgrade

By Jason Morton
Staff Writer
March 29, 2015 

City officials have contracted with an Illinois company to help develop a plan to upgrade the city's technology and ensure its sustainability.


Magellan Associates LLC was selected from a pool of five consultant firms to help city officials develop the plan.


A $50,000 grant from the Local Technical Assistance Program, administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will fund part of the contract.




[Tuscaloosa News]




Thomasville South Industrial Park  receives AdvantageSite designation


BIRMINGHAM, Ala., -  Thomasville South Industrial Park in Clarke County has received an Alabama AdvantageSite designation.  The designation was the last of the 2014 round of program applicants.


The AdvantageSite program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership/control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status. Sites must also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.   


The 183-acre park is located within the city limits of Thomasville. The industrial park is adjacent to U.S. 43, a four-lane highway with turn lanes and is 68 miles from Interstate 65. The east property line of the site is bordered by a railroad that could also serve the "spec building" located in the industrial park.  All utilities for the park are at the site. The site is owned by the Industrial Development Board of the City of Thomasville. The application process was managed by Dottie M. Gaston of Thomasville with a team of local entities supporting and/or participating in the process last year.


"The City of Thomasville and the Industrial Board of the City of Thomasville have always worked closely to build the necessary infrastructure to attract industry to our city," said Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day. "Through those efforts we have experienced hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment and over 1,000 new jobs created in our community."


Day said economic development does not happen without vision and hard work.


"Our Thomasville team has once again proven that a small town can compete with larger cities in accomplishing great things in the economic development arena," Day said. "We are extremely proud today to tell the entire world that Alabama's newest AdvantageSite is located in the Thomasville South Industrial Park."


John Johnson, executive director of Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance, congratulated Thomasville for the designation.


 "Coastal Gateway set a goal last year for one AdvantageSite in each county," Johnson said. "You can always count on Thomasville for leadership. Two down and a third on the way!" 


The program is jointly sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Gas Corp., Alabama Power Co., the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, and coordinated by EDPA. AdvantageSite is a teamwork approach with representatives from each of the entities actively participating in application reviews and on-site visits to prospective AdvantageSite designees.






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