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
Birmingham Business Alliance pursuing 'all-time high' economic development projects
By Michael Tomberlin
The head of the
Birmingham Business Alliance said the metro area is coming off a very successful year for economic development, but the prospects for even more growth in 2018 are "at an all-time high."
BBA CEO Brian Hilson said at the organization's annual Chairman's Meeting Tuesday that economic development in the seven-county metro area was very strong in 2017.
"So far in 2017, we've seen 2,957 jobs and over $560 million in investment announced by 25 different new and expanding companies within our core business sectors," Hilson said.
Alabama's billion-dollar auto industry is positioned for the future, its executives say. But what that future will look like continues to be a mystery.
That was the theme of comments from executives with four auto companies who participated in a panel discussion tonight at the Birmingham Business Alliance's annual Chairman's Meeting at the Alys Stephens Center.
The players were Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Mike Oatridge, vice president of manufacturing for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Andrew Taitz, the founder, chairman and CEO of GVW Group, the owner of Autocar, and John Hackett, general manager of Kamtek in Birmingham.
The Hoover City Council tonight approved nearly $1 million in tax breaks for a software company that plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Meadow Brook Corporate Park off U.S. 280.
McLeod Software, now operates out of a 60,000-square-foot office building off Acton Road across from International Park in unincorporated Jefferson County and 15,000 square feet of office space in the Riverchase office park, President and CEO Tom McLeod said.
But the company plans to invest nearly $16 million to buy and renovate a 140,000-square-foot building (Building 100) in Meadow Brook Office Park, McLeod said.
Auburn University President Steven Leath is taking a page from his Iowa State playbook.
Leath has launched a research initiative at Auburn, similar to one he implemented while president at Iowa State in 2013. The Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, funded through Leath's office, will provide $5 million over the next three years to Auburn research teams that "address some of the greatest challenges facing our world," according to Leath.
"The ISU initiative successfully attracted additional external funding for research, largely in health sciences and food security," said Leath, who stepped into Auburn's top office this summer. "Auburn also has a lot of health sciences expertise, as well as expertise in cybersecurity, autonomous vehicle research, the performing arts and humanities, and other key areas. I'm confident we'll see a number of teams coming forward, ready to connect with industry and government partners that can benefit from Auburn expertise."
Established in 2014, L.A.B.S. equips students from disadvantaged and underrepresented populations with the basic skills and knowledge that are essential in the STEM workforce.
The program was revamped in 2016 and is now a two-year commitment for participants who are selected via an application process. When selected, students participate in after-school, lab-based experiences that illustrate and reinforce key math and science concepts.
"The L.A.B.S. program is a great way for students to dive into the biotech field and inspire them to pursue a career in STEM," said Dasi Price, K-12 student experiences lead at HudsonAlpha. "Boeing's support is helping us provide a rich opportunity that has the potential to change their lives."