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:

Polaris plant progressing, workers hired
Adam Smith
Aug 9, 2015

Construction on the future Polaris plant in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County is progressing quickly, and a company official said Friday the project is on track for a spring 2016 startup.

The $48 million 775,000-square-foot facility is being constructed by T.W. Frierson Contractor Inc. and Design Constructors Inc., both of which are headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The company's total investment in Limestone County is estimated to be $150 million.

Ed Heffernan, director of International Operations for Polaris, said 25 percent of the steel is now in place, the tilt-up walls are progressing and hiring is underway. He said a handful of salaried positions have been filled, and screening would start soon on candidates who have applied for hourly jobs.


Hyundai's Alabama auto assembly plant and its supplier network generated a total impact approaching $5 billion in 2014 while also accounting for more than 12,600 direct jobs across the state, according to an analysis released today.

The new study by M. Keivan Deravi, dean of the College of Public Policy and Justice atAuburn University at Montgomery, updates an analysis he performed in 2010, which pegged the Alabama economic impact of Hyundai and its suppliers at $3.8 billion. In Deravi's new analysis, Hyundai's Alabama economic impact the economic rose to $4.82 billion in 2014.

"Hyundai has dramatically improved the manufacturing sector of central Alabama's economy," said Deravi, who has completed similar studies for several major industrial projects in Alabama, including Airbus and other automakers.


Chamber director gets senior economic development job promotion
on August 07, 2015 

Lucia Cape, who served as vice president of economic development for the Chamber since 2013, is now senior vice president of economic development for the business organization.

The Chamber said Cape's work was crucial on several large-scale projects, including Remington Outdoor, Polaris, Curse, Science and Engineering Services and Boeing Research and Technology.

"Lucia is a seasoned expert and a 'natural' in the economic development arena," said Chamber Board Chair Rey Almodóvar in a statement. "Her technical and interpersonal abilities fit perfectly as the leading economic developer for the Chamber of Commerce."


Steelmakers prep Ala. plant to battle aluminum
Automotive News
August 4, 2015 

A joint venture plant in Alabama, AM/NS Calvert, is preparing to produce the latest generation of ultra high-strength steel for the North American auto industry.

Ford's decision to make the body of its strong-selling F-150 pickup out of aluminum is pressing the steel industry to respond in the escalating struggle to cut vehicle weight.

The Calvert partners, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal and Japan-based Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., are investing $80 million to improve the Calvert plant.


Andalusia top commuter city
By Kendra Majors 
August 6, 2015

Average commute is 17.2 minutes for Andalusians.

Andalusia named the top commuter city in Alabama recently.
The Obrella Insider, a website that analyzes and reports on insurance related issues, released a survey titled "The 25 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Alabama."

To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Alabama cities whose population exceeded 5,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths.

The survey concluded that average Andalusia commute time is 17.2 minutes.


Birmingham hosts regional small business program with Harvard-level guidance
August 7, 2015
By Michael Tomberlin

Small businesses and entrepreneurs in Alabama and across the Southeast got a boost from Harvard professors and other experts at Birmingham's Regions Field Thursday with the ultimate goal of guiding them to a financial shot in the arm later this year.

"Birmingham is just a hub for the entire region. We today have 95 businesses from 13 states, 42 different cities. Some people came from New York City to be at this," said Steve Grossman, CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, which organizes events for Inner City Capital Connections. "But most of them are from Louisiana, Florida, obviously a significant percentage from Alabama. We're thrilled at the fact that 41 percent of the people here are women and there is tremendous diversity within the business owners, the CEOs, which is part of the goal here. Our goal, fundamentally, is to revitalize America's inner cities."

From Harvard's Michael Porter instructing on how to think strategically, to Clifton Eason of Samford University's Brock School of Business explaining what it means to be customer-centric, attendees were given weeks' worth of high-dollar advice in a few hours for free.



Two Alabama towns named best small cities for working parents
on August 10, 2015

A working parent could be described as working two jobs: one in the office and one in the home.

In 2014, over 70 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 60 percent of married-couple families with children had both parents in the workforce.

The Christian Science Monitor recently released a list of "The 10 best small US cities for working parents," pointing out that small cities can benefit middle-class families who need a bustling economy and nurturing environment in which to raise children.

Madison, Ala. and Vestavia Hills, Ala. both made the list, at numbers 8 and 6, respectively.


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