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:

Economists: 2015 best year for Alabama jobs since Great Recession
By Zach Tyler, Star Staff Writer
January 22, 2016 

Last year was the best in terms of jobs added to the economy Alabama's seen since the Great Recession, according to figures announced by the state Labor Department on Friday.

Economists, though, pointing to trends in both the global economy and industries in which Alabama jobs were added, wonder how long that growth can last.

The rate of those jobless in Alabama rose in December to 6.2 percent, according to those figures, data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's latest rate lags behind the national average of 5 percent, and tops Alabama's November rate of 6 percent.


Chamber officials pleased with 2015, maintain positive outlook for 2016
Ebony Davis
Business Reporter
January 24, 2016 

Expansions and improvements across multiple industries throughout Dothan and surrounding areas last year established a launching pad for even more economic development opportunities in the future, according to chamber officials.

Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker said more than $200 million in industrial capital investment, resulting in more than 700 jobs, took place in the area in 2015. ConAgra, Michelin, Wayne Farms, Red Star and Key Fire Hose were among companies that made improvements or added jobs.

ConAgra announced mid-year in 2015 its intent to make a $15.1 million addition/upgrade to its facility, while Michelin announced plans to invest $22 million in the Dothan plant this year and to add 40 jobs.


Amtrak will make stop in Atmore Feb. 18
By staff reports
January 26, 2016
Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) announced Monday that they are conducting a tour to examine new ideas for intercity passenger rail and Atmore is one of the stops.

The Inspection Train will run from New Orleans, La. to Jacksonville, Fla., from Feb. 18-19.

The train, which will be hosted by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, will carry elected officials, industry representatives, community leaders and federal stakeholders. The goal of the trip is to examine the existing CSX railroad infrastructure and to better understand rail's economic, cultural and mobility opportunities, according to Amtrak.


Toyota's Engine
Jim Bolte and his team members power TMMAL
January 25, 2016

When Jim Bolte first began dating his wife, Tami, in college, there was a bit of a language barrier.

See, Tami, was a sign language major.
"I would go out with Tami and her friends and they would sign to each other and point at me and laugh," says Bolte who, since 2009 has been the President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (TMMAL). "And I wouldn't have a clue what they were saying."
To fix the problem, Bolte took a sign language class of his own to make sure they weren't saying anything too bad. Nowadays, Bolte can use sign language to communicate with hearing impaired team members.

The Man Behind Ergoman
January 25, 2016

Bernard Berry looks like a super hero.

If you were to picture what a super-human crime fighter might look like, Berry's 6-foot-7, 290 pound, 7 percent body fat frame might be exactly what pops into your mind.

That's not really a coincidence, though. Berry fell in love with working out because he fell in love with comic books. And the Global Production Center trainer for Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama (TMMAL) has put both to good use.


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