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:

Gov. Kay Ivey celebrates Alabama economic development successes, job growth and Trump shoutout
By Michael Tomberlin

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey could not have picked a better time to talk to the state's economic developers.

Major industrial development victories like the  $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant and its 4,000 jobs announced for Huntsville, and the  $1 billion Mercedes-Benz expansion in the state, coupled with a record-low unemployment rate, made for a welcome reception at the  Economic Development Association of Alabama Winter Conference at the  Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover this morning.

"And then, to top it all off, last night President Trump pointed out the fact that Toyota-Mazda had selected Alabama because they wanted to be where the action is here in the United States of America," she said, referencing President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech Tuesday night in which he name-dropped Alabama. "Thank you, Mr. President, for calling out the fact that Alabama is indeed open for business and ready for more."


IKEA Group buys 25,000 acres in Alabama
EA Group has acquired its first U.S. forest property, and it's in Alabama.

The company, which owns approximately 250,000 acres of European forest land, has purchased approximately 25,000 acres in Lowndes County, according to an announcement from the company.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.



Tarkett expansion means 50 more jobs
By Bernie Delinski Staff Writer
Jan 30, 2018

FLORENCE - Tarkett is making another major investment in the Shoals, putting $60 million into its Florence facilities in a move that will add some 50 employees, company officials said.

The investments will be at the two Tarkett plants in Florence - 430 Lauderdale 30 and 1701 Mars Hill Road.

During a meeting last week with the Shoals Industrial Development Committee, company officials said the two local plants have a combined 400 employees. That means Tarkett should have 450 by the time the expansion is completed.


Birmingham startup Pack Health to create 175 jobs in expansion
January 30, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Startup  Pack Health plans to open a new headquarters in downtown Birmingham and anticipates hiring 175 new employees over the next four years, including programmers, developers, health advisers and other positions, according to the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA).

Pack Health has 30 employees and is renovating a building on First Avenue North that should open this summer. Capital investment in the project is $2.9 million, the BBA says.

"In addition to accommodating our growing staff and bringing us closer to  UABand quality of life factors such as Railroad Park, Regions Field and Innovation Depot, this is a space where we can host events, work more closely with our local partners and become a hub for innovation in health and healthcare in Birmingham," Pack Health President Mazi Rasulnia said.


High-performance auto tuning company Dinan moving to Opelika
Opelika is shaping up to be a hot-rodding hot spot: Dinan Engineering, a company known for the high-performance aftermarket products it makes for cars, has announced a relocation to Alabama.

The move represents a consolidation of assets for Driven Performance Brands, which has under its umbrella several companies specializing in various high-performance and racing products. Among them are B&M Racing and Performance, Flowmaster and Hurst Shifters.

Driven has owned Dinan since 2013. In August 2017 it acquired APR Performance, "a leading designer and manufacturer of performance software tuning solutions as well as highly engineered hardware products including turbo systems and air intake, exhaust and suspension components for Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles."



Fitzgerald Washington: 2017 a record setting year for Department of Labor
We have come to the end of yet another year, and the beginning of a new one. Every year at this time, I like to take a look back at what has been accomplished regarding our economy and the status of our state's job market. I'm proud to say that 2017 was a record-setting year for the Alabama Department of Labor in many ways.

For many years, we talked about reaching a milestone - a milestone that would mean Alabama was as close to what is known as "full employment" as it could be.

You'd be hard pressed to get any economist to give you a figure for an unemployment rate that defines full employment (mainly because of the many varying factors used in determining that rate), but it's a little easier to determine full employment based on the number of jobs an economy is supporting.


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