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:

Alabama 2015 exports hover near record amid global struggles

MONTGOMERY, Alabama - Despite headwinds in global markets, Alabama exports in 2015 held steady at near-record levels on growing overseas shipments of products such as transportation equipment, primary metals and machinery.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that Alabama exports totaled $19.37 billion last year, just below the all-time record of $19.58 billion set in 2012. Last year's total represents a slight decline - 0.36 percent - from the figure for 2014 - $19.44 billion.

Alabama exports have grown 25 percent since 2010 and 78 percent since 2005, these figure show.


Polaris putting Alabamians to work building its incredible Batmobile-like 'Slingshot'
ON FEBRUARY 12, 2016 

When Alabama's new Polaris manufacturing facility gets up and running this spring, some of the workers will be assembling a vehicle that more closely resembles something off the set of a Batman movie than it does the world-class off-road vehicles Polaris is best known for.

The Polaris Slingshot is a reverse trike (two wheels in the front, one in the back) that has two seats and one purpose: "pure driving freedom." The 2016 model begins at $21,500.

The vehicle was on display at the Alabama Capitol this week and quickly became the center of attention.


Alabama Launchpad created millions in funding, hundreds of jobs in 2015
Alan Alexander Reporter Birmingham Business Journal
Feb 12, 2016

Alabama Launchpad, the startup support arm of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, helped generate millions in funding and created hundreds of jobs through the program in 2015.

In its three startup competitions last year, Alabama Launchpad awarded $645,300 in funding. Additionally, 365 jobs were created and companies that have participated in Launchpad received $24 million in follow up funding.
"Alabama Launchpad offers the essential resources to help startups transform entrepreneurial dreams into viable businesses and high-quality jobs," Jim Byard, director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. "The growing base of success stories of Alabama Launchpad companies shows what we can accomplish when the public and private sector work together.


10 years after Katrina, Amtrak to make splashy return to Gulf Coast
on February 13, 2016 
Marching bands will lead pep rallies in Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Biloxi while a jazz band will serenade a gathering in Pascagoula.

In Mobile, the Excelsior Band will be on hand in what could be a Mardi Gras-themed welcoming.

And all along the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf coasts, people will be encouraged to show up, bring signs and wave banners in support of Amtrak's first tripfrom New Orleans east toward Jacksonville, Fla., since before Hurricane Katrina blasted through a decade ago.


Brookwood Job Fair Attracts Hundreds of Job Seekers
February 10, 2016
More than 600 job seekers attended the West Alabama Job Fair-Brookwood Feb. 9, many of whom were mine and steel workers displaced by recent layoffs by Walter Energy, PCP and Faurecia.

The fair, a joint project of West Alabama Works, the Alabama Department of Labor and the Alabama Career Center System, included representatives from more than 50 employers with jobs ranging from automotive to health care to hospitality. In addition to the employers at the fair, the Job Link unit was also on the site to aid in job placement.

Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and a member of the Alabama Workforce Council and the State Workforce Development Board, said West Alabama Works was pleased with the results of the job fair. "We were pleased with the turnout at yesterday's event with 604 registered attendees," he said. "From all indications from our employers, they were very pleased with the quality of the applicants. More than 90 percent of those attending yesterday were from the recent layoffs in the mining and steel industry, and that was our target."


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