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:

O'Neal Steel to open new plant on Nucor Steel property in Tuscaloosa
By Patrick Rupinski
Business Editor
November 19, 2015 

O'Neal Manufacturing Services, a division of Birmingham-based O'Neal Steel, plans to open a new plant in Tuscaloosa next year.

The plant will be built on Nucor Steel property on Holt Road Northeast. The plant will have two plasma cutting lines that will take steel plates made at Nucor and cut them into specified shapes for O'Neal customers.

The plant is tentatively set to open next summer and will have 34 employees when both cutting lines are in operation, said Ron Travis Jr., an O'Neal vice president.


Alabama sees unemployment rate fall to 5.9 percent
By Mike Brantley, Digital Content Producer
Nov 20, 2015

MONTGOMERY, AL (WALA) - Alabama's preliminary, seasonally adjusted October unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, down from September's rate of 6 percent, according to an announcement this morning by Gov. Robert Bentley's office.

The new rate is below the 6.2 rate seen a year ago, for October 2014.

"More jobs are being created, Alabama's unemployment rate continues to drops and our economy is growing," Bentley said in a news release. "The wage and salary employment is at its highest level for the year. It has not been this high in almost seven years. We are one step closer to full employment, and my effort to create jobs will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has an opportunity to have one."


Autauga tour focuses on forestry
Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser
November 19, 2015

Jim Carter watched a drone buzzing over a clear cutting operation in Autauga County on Thursday afternoon, and came away impressed.

"I guess those things can be useful," he said, admitting he never considered the remote controlled aircraft anything other than toys. "I can see where drones can make cruising timber easier."

Drones are now being used to map and photograph farm and timber land, with the data used to determine management practices.


Mobile's convention business booming
By Kelli M. Dugan
November 19, 2015

Armed with a new brand, an aggressive strategy and a $450,000 boost to its 2016 budget, Visit Mobile sits poised to expand the Azalea City's convention business to unprecedented levels in the new year.

According to figures released Thursday by the former Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Mobile hosted a total of 110 individual conventions for fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30.

 Combined, those bookings translated to more than 70,000 room nights shared among more than 120,000 attendees, accounting for an estimated economic impact of slightly more than $39 million.


Ark Labs wins Idea Audition
By Bernie Delinski Staff Writer | 
November 20, 2015 

FLORENCE - The Ark Labs received $5,000 Thursday to help fund the upstart company. How will company officials spend it? Looking for sources to help fund them.

Such is the life of a new business.

"We're meeting with Armosa Studios first thing in the morning, and we'll use this to help a Kickstarter campaign," Mack Cornwell, the company's director of business development, said after the company won first place in the Shoals Idea Audition.
"Literally, it's a cliche, but every dollar counts," Cornwell said.


AU graphic design class creates brewery management app BrewPro
Katherine Haas | Opelika-Auburn News | 
Nov. 16, 2015

Nearing the end of the semester, one group of Auburn University graphic design students is saying "Cheers!" to the completion of its latest class assignment.

Twelve students in Professor Wei Wang's advanced interactive media class in Auburn University's School of Industrial and Graphic Design have recently completed a semester-long project devoted to designing a professional brewery management app called BrewPro, under the umbrella of Tuscaloosa-based start-up company Brewery Buddy.

According to David Mixson, director of the Economic Development Administration's University Center at the Auburn Technical Assistance Center, the EDA, part of the Department of Commerce, receives federal grants to fund industry studio projects with the university's industrial design classes. Students team up to help solve an industry challenge, which could be creating a new product or promoting a brand, for example.


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