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:

U.S. added 242,000 jobs in February, new data shows
 March 4 

The U.S. added a strong 242,000 jobs in February, new government data showed Friday morning, a sign of the nation's economic durability during a tumultuous global slowdown.

The unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent, the lowest mark during the seven-year recovery from the Great Recession.

The gains extend a period of labor market stability in which the U.S. has added an average of 235,000 jobs per month over the last half year. That pace indicates Americans are returning rapidly to the labor force, helped by steady consumer spending that is bolstering demand and prompting employers to expand their workforces.


First Alabama-made Airbus aircraft shows off JetBlue colors

MOBILE, Alabama - The first Alabama-made Airbus A321 is sporting JetBlue colors.

Airbus said today that painting of its maiden U.S.-built passenger jet has been completed in its paintshop at the company's new, $600 million facility at Mobile Aeroplex. The aircraft emerged wearing JetBlue livery.

"This latest milestone shows that the first aircraft to be produced at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility is progressing well on its route to first flight and delivery in spring 2016," Airbus said in a release.


Shape Corp. to break ground today on new plant in north Alabama
on March 04, 2016 

Shape Corp. will break ground this morning on a new injection molding and roll forming operation in Athens.

The company will join local leaders at 11 a.m. at the 34-acre site at Breeding Industrial Park on 120 Roy Long Road West. The $24 million facility will employ 170 workers over two phases of the project.

Shape Corp. Chairman and CEO Gary Verplank will attend the ceremony with company President Bob Currier and marketing communications specialist John Keen. Representatives with the City of Athens, Tennessee Valley Authority, Limestone County Commission, Alabama Department of Commerce, Limestone County Economic Development Association and JESCO Construction will participate.


Opelika Chamber receives accreditation from US Chamber of Commerce
March 4, 2016

When it comes to providing support to businesses and boosting the community, the Opelika Chamber of Commerce is among the best.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognized the local organization this week with four-star accreditation, making it one of 10 chambers in the country to receive accreditation this year.

"We're thrilled about it," Chamber President Barbara Patton said, explaining that some 850 of America's approximately 7,000 chambers of commerce seek the five-year accreditation through an intensive months-long self-evaluation process.


Tommy Bice feels he is leaving Alabama education on 'upward trajectory'
By Marie Leech

Tommy Bice had toyed with the idea of a career in education ever since volunteering in a special ed classroom his senior year of high school. He'd completed all the required coursework to graduate and had a few open hours in his schedule.

Back then, special needs students were confined to their own classroom and weren't mainstreamed the way they are now. He loved working with the students and had a profound respect for the teachers in the classroom.

But also back then, education was predominantly a female field. So when he was offered a full four-year scholarship to Auburn University for textile engineering, he took it.


New-to-Alabama hotel coming to CityCentre in downtown Huntsville
on March 03, 2016 

A new-to-market hotel will begin rising this summer at the CityCentre at Big Spring project in downtown Huntsville.

AC Hotels by Marriott will launch a 150-unit boutique hotel at the site across from Big Spring International Park. The name of the hotel was presented tonight at the Huntsville City Council work session.

Harrison Diamond, the city's business relations officer, confirmed the news.


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