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 auto exports span the globe to set record
Dawn Kent Azok
February 23, 2016

From the Far East to the Arabian Desert, Alabama-built vehicles continue to make their mark across the globe.

The value of Alabama auto exports topped $7 billion last year, a record annual total and a 5.8 percent gain from 2014. Meanwhile, overseas shipments of Alabama-made motor vehicle parts reached $1.2 billion, an 18 percent increase.

In 2015, China was the top export market for Alabama vehicles, growing nearly 9 percent to $2 billion and knocking Canada out of the top spot, according to trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Canada was No. 2, with Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five.


Mercedes Evolution
February 2016

For more than a year, the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) automotive assembly plant in Vance has experienced shifts in branding, product offerings and even the physical facility itself.

One major shift came in 2014, when workers at MBUSI began assembling the newly redesigned C-Class sedan, the first sedan to come from the Vance plant since it opened in 1997. The plant had previously produced only SUVs and crossover vehicles.

"This (2015) is the first full year of the production of the C-Class, so that [will take] our production numbers up to 300,000," said MBUSI spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald in December. "That's where we anticipate being by the time we leave on Dec. 23, which is our last day of production for the year."


India ambassador finds innovation, opportunity in Alabama
By Michael Tomberlin

Arun K. Singh may have already had a better understanding of Alabama than he realized before his visit to the state this week.

The India ambassador to the U.S.'s home country has a passion for cricket that sounds a lot like our fervor for football.

"I can tell you when there is a cricket match going on in India, then 1.2 billion people of India do nothing else," Singh said. "Like some of the sports events here, cricket is more than a game, it's a passion. It's a way of life in India."
Singh also found more substantive connections between Alabama and India and said he is convinced there are areas where the two can help each other grow and prosper.


House Approves Ground-Breaking Wireless Broadband School Technology Bill
By Press Release: Alabama House of Representatives | 
 Feb 23, 2016
MONTGOMERY, AL (WTVY) The Alabama House on Tuesday awarded its approval to the Wireless Infrastructure Renovation for Education Act, which is more commonly known as the "WIRED Act" and would provide wireless broadband access in all of the state's K-12 public schools.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Donnie Chesteen (R - Geneva) and championed by Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) the House Education Budget Committee Chair, is included in the House Republican Caucus's "Right for Alabama Agenda" that was announced prior to the session's start.

"Passage of the WIRED Act will place Alabama first in the nation in terms of broadband access in public school classrooms," Chesteen said. "For many years, Alabama was at the bottom of most public school performance measures, but this legislation will allow us to lead the way in providing 21st Century technology and infrastructure without making additional demands on Alabama taxpayers."


Birmingham to host qualifying round of startup event

on February 24, 2016 

Another source of potential funding for local startup companies and entrepreneurs will be coming to Birmingham in April.

36/86 Southern Series is a pitch competition in Nashville created by Launch Tennessee, and in partnership with Innovation Depot and Harbert Venture Partners, will be looking for companies in Birmingham to compete in a qualifying round for the finals this summer.


Vulcan Materials announces four executive leadership changes
on February 24, 2016

Vulcan Materials Company has announced four new assignments in its executive team. 
The changes are:
  • Stan Bass, 54, has been named Chief Growth Officer. Previously, he was Senior Vice President, West, and was responsible for Vulcan's Western and Mountain Divisions.
  • Michael Mills, 55, has been named Chief Administrative Officer, which is a new role. Formerly, he was Senior Vice President & General Counsel.
  • Jerry Perkins, 46, is succeeding Mills as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Perkins was formerly Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Secretary.

 on February 23, 2016

Across Alabama, people are taking leaps in ingenuity and creativity to come up with new ways to produce a product or solution to meet a need.

Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, is on a mission through the Alabama Innovation Awards to celebrate this innovation in the state, no matter where it occurs.

We want to recognize companies, businesses and individuals who have transformed innovative ideas into a product or service that delivers proven value.
Alabama is a large state, and innovation is quietly thriving. We need your help in identifying the innovators, inventors and thought leaders.


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