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:

Auto supplier Mando launching $19 million Alabama expansion

OPELIKA, Alabama - Mando America Corp. plans to invest $19 million in its Alabama manufacturing operation and hire 32 new workers to support the expansion, officials said Tuesday night.

South Korea-based Mando, one of the world's largest auto parts suppliers, has based its North American headquarters in Opelika, where it makes brake components, suspension modules and steering systems for U.S. industry customers.

As part of the expansion announced Tuesday, Mando will add new equipment and make improvements over the next three years to its facility in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park. Once the project is complete, Mando's Alabama investment will surpass $220 million and its workforce will number more than 700.



Kamtek on schedule to produce BMW parts with new Birmingham plant this year

By Michael Tomberlin

Kamtek's $80 million aluminum casting plant is on schedule to be completed in Birmingham in less than three months and the automotive supplier expects to be producing parts for BMW as early as this fall.

To reach that milestone, the plant has been balancing construction with equipment deliveries and - perhaps most importantly - worker training.

Eight of Kamtek's Alabama employees have been in Germany training on high-pressure aluminum casting so they will be ready at the same time the building and equipment are.



The city of Ashford received a major economic shot in the arm Monday, when officials with Next Level Apparel, based in Gardena, California, announced they would open a distribution center in the former Knothe Corporation building on Bruner Mill Road. 

It's projected that the company will employ a minimum of 100 workers in its new East Coast Distribution Center.

The process of bringing Next Level Apparel to Ashford was a collaborative effort that included the Governor's Office all the way to the office of Ashford Mayor Jonathan Grecu. It was that teamwork that impressed the company's officials to open their facility in Ashford.


Historic tax credit legislation passes House
Commercial Real Estate Reporter
Birmingham Business Journal
Apr 5, 2016

Lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives today approved House Bill 62, which will extend the Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program - a tax credit that has sparked a number of huge projects in downtown Birmingham over the past three years.

As previously reported, HB62 will extend the tax credit program until 2022. Many experts have said this extension would allow the benefits of the program to spread to more areas of the state.
In the last three years, developers have used the tax credit in Birmingham for dramatic results like the Lyric Theatre and the Redmont Hotel.


Mobile students win startup cash in Young Entrepreneurs Academy competition
By Robert DeWitt

Could Shoe Boo revolutionize over-the-counter orthotics and make the company's owners millionaires? If it does, part of the credit goes to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy sponsored by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) and the University of South Alabama.

Dominique Williams and Isabella Frank won $1,000 in startup money and a chance to compete nationally against other student entrepreneurs later this year at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's America's Small Business Summit. A panel of judges selected their business from a pool of seven student businesses launched as part of the program.

Williams and Frank were among 13 ASMS students who took part in Mobile's first Young Entrepreneurs class. The students gave five-minute presentations to help judges decide how much of a $6,000 pot each business would receive.

Startup Weekend Tuscaloosa to be held April 22-24

Startup Weekend Tuscaloosa is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs, who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. 

Our goal is to create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential and see actual results while impacting our local community. We are proud to be part of this type of innovative collaboration and we hope you will help us reach our goals by supporting this global movement on a local level.
Backed by Google and the University of Alabama, the Tuscaloosa community event will be held on April 22 - 24 at the South Engineering Research Center (SERC) on the campus of the University of Alabama. Speakers, judges and coaches from the local area provide valuable advice and networking opportunities for people who like to think outside of the box. 

At the end of the event, judges choose the top teams who are awarded prizes that are targeted to helping these ideas/companies move forward. Please note that this is a community event, not a student event.
For more information, click here

Calling all entrepreneurs: WBCNA seeks north Alabama applicants for awards
on April 04, 2016 

The Women's Business Center of North Alabama is seeking applicants for its inaugural Entrepreneur Awards next month in Huntsville.

The ceremony will be held in conjunction with Innovate Huntsville 2016, a collaborative project supporting the startup ecosystem of north Alabama May 1-7. The Entrepreneur Awards will take place May 4 at the new Campus No. 805 development on Clinton Avenue.

"We have so much talent in our own backyard and WBCNA wanted the opportunity to celebrate and honor the local entrepreneurs in our community," said WBCNA Program Director Erin Bloxham Curtis. "What better way than hosting the Entrepreneur Awards to not only highlight their achievements, but their importance to our region's economy."


Boeing and Airbus anchor Alabama's aerospace network, bolster economy
By Tommy Battle, mayor, City of Huntsville
on April 05, 2016 

The State of Alabama has proudly been in the aerospace business for many decades. We are home to a host of aerospace companies that continue to push the limits of flight. Companies like NASA, Boeing, Airbus, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, Dynetics, SAIC, and Raytheon - to name a few.

We should congratulate ourselves for attracting these dynamic and innovative companies to our state and refrain from comments about which city or industry is more deserving as indicated in a recent guest column by Frances Coleman "We said we could build big airplanes in Mobile, and we've done it."

On March 23, the first Airbus 321 built in Mobile made its test flight. What a great moment for our Alabama and for our friends in Mobile! Mayor Sandy Stimpson called it "euphoric," and I wholeheartedly agree. We believe in the talent and ability of Alabama's workforce and we've seen what our men and women can produce.


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