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 metro ranks No. 1 for manufacturing jobs, analysis says
The Talladega-Sylacauga Micropolitan Statistical Area was rated the best place in the U.S. for manufacturing jobs in a detailed analysis by SmartAsset, a financial technology company that studied data on nearly 500 cities.

SmartAsset singled out the high concentration of well-paying manufacturing jobs in Talladega-Sylacauga area in  its analysis.

 Here's what the firm says about the micropolitan:
"A large chunk of the workforce in this Alabama metro area work in manufacturing - just over 39 percent. Only three other metro areas in this study can beat this stat.


BOCAR targets construction start for $115 million Alabama parts plant

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Executives from global auto supplier  BOCAR Group said Tuesday that construction on a new $115 million manufacturing facility in Alabama will begin in spring 2018, with production launching at the site two years later.

The 350,000-square-foot plant, located on Bibb Garrett Road just off Interstate 65 in the Limestone County portion of Huntsville, will bring more than 300 jobs to the area.

Wilhelm Baum, CEO of BOCAR Group and president of BOCAR US Inc., said the state-of-the-art facility will be capable of producing high-end structural aluminum parts for automakers operating in the United States.


In a world of uncertainty, Mobile's business community feeling bullish
Never mind the Congressional slugfests, trade battles, fears of war and a bitterly fought election that has put Alabama in an international spotlight: None of it seems to have made much of a dent on a bubble of optimism in Mobile's business community, to judge from a new survey.

The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2017 State of the Economy Survey results on Wednesday, and the sense of high hopes was clear among the 136 executives surveyed. Nearly 70 percent thought the U.S. economic outlook for 2018 was better or much better than this year. More than three quarters of them thought their own businesses would do better in 2018, and more than 80 percent thought Mobile's economic outlook was better.

"Our survey shows people are even more bullish here than they were last year," said William Sisson, chamber president and CEO. He said it was striking that people seemed to feel even better about Mobile's forecast than the nation's.



New bike-share system promises 'dockless without the drawbacks'
Coming to four U.S. cities  this spring, Pace joins the bike-share boom
This spring, a new type of bike-share system, a hybrid of traditional systems such as Citibike and newer dockless fleets, will hit the streets in four U.S. cities, aiming to create a better, more affordable, public cycling system.

Known as  Pace, the system features bikes that can be locked to official Pace bike racks, as well as any other existing racks, via a Bluetooth-enabled smart lock. Developed by  Zagster, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company that currently operates more than 200 programs in 35 states, the new hybrid system aims to provide controlled flexibility. Simply requiring bikes to lock up, the company asserts, will make a big difference.

"We are dockless without the drawbacks," says Zagster CEO Timothy Ericson. "If you're a city and you want to bring in bike-share, you used to have to choose between the expensive dock-based model, or these unsustainable companies with loose bikes that are spread all over the streets and lost."


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