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:

Shape Corp. to bring 170 jobs to Athens with new $24 million operation
on October 09, 2015 

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said a new injection molding and roll forming operation will bring 170 jobs to the Limestone County community.

Shape Corp., a full-service supplier in engineering, testing and manufacturing of metal and plastic solutions, will begin construction later this month on a new facility on a 34-acre site in the Breeding Industrial Park on Roy Long Road in Athens.

The building should be operational in late summer 2016. The Athens City Council and Limestone County Commission met this morning to approve the Shape Corp. agreement. 


Auburn, Tuskegee get USDA grants to help young farmers learn the trade
on October 08, 2015 

As the average age of the American farmer creeps closer to the retirement age, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced a series of grants to create programs to help new farmers and try to infuse new blood into a quickly aging field. 

Auburn University will receive a grant for $711,213 and Tuskegee University will get $459,914 for their efforts to develop training and provide other resources for farmers and ranchers with less than 10 years of experience. 

"One thing that we're really thinking about at USDA is the average age of the American farmer is in the late 50s, and that goes up every year," said Krysta Harden, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. "They've been very productive, very successful and helped our country be food independent for a very long time, but we need a bench.


Porsche Sport Driving School brings international, high-income visitors to Birmingham
on October 09, 2015 

People from all 50 states and at least 40 countries have attended the Porsche Sport Driving School over the past dozen years.

During their stay, they have experienced Birmingham through the lens of one of its top attractions: Barber Motorsports Park.

These aren't just any people, either. The school typically attracts business owners, corporate executives and other high-income earners and company decision-makers.

And for economic developers tasked with promoting the region, that's the kind of exposure money can't buy.


From visionary to vacant, HealthSouth hospital revived as Grandview
on October 09, 2015 

Eight years ago, the half-built digital medical center on U.S. 280 appeared to be as dead as a body cooling in the hospital morgue.

Launched in 2001 as a state-of-the-art digital hospital for orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, the project basically stopped two years and $200 million later, in the midst of a fraud investigation at parent company HealthSouth.

It sat empty for years, and then sold to Daniel Corp., a real estate company. That company then sold the hospital shell to Trinity for the bargain price of $43.5 million.


October 6, 2015

In January 2014, the Auburn University's Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization (IAC), formerly the Office of Technology Transfer, contacted Alabama Launchpad to request a commercial assessment report on an invention disclosure from Dr. Joonyul Kim, an assistant research professor in the university's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, partners with the offices of tech transfer across the state to provide services designed to help researchers understand the market potential for their discoveries.  Auburn was enthusiastic about the potential of Dr. Kim's work and wanted to validate internal findings with a third party assessment.

Alabama Launchpad provided an assessment from TreMonti Consulting through its Alabama Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Support Program.  The TreMonti report noted that Dr. Kim's work with aptamer pairs had market potential and recommended further development efforts and continuation of prosecution of intellectual property protection.


Entrepreneurs given three minutes for pitch
October 9, 2015

Three minutes.

That's all the time six anxious entrepreneurs were given Thursday night to pitch their business ideas in front of four judges at the Delta Regional Authority's pitch competition.

The competition was held at Arsenal Place Accelerator, which is known for helping young businessmen and women get their business started.

"This is a really incredible opportunity because these entrepreneurs have the chance to meet other entrepreneurs from around the region," said Katie Milligan with the DRA. "So not only do they get peer-to-peer mentors, but they also have the opportunity to meet entrepreneurship support organizations.


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