The Wire

  • VIDEO: Bill Hightower for Governor airs its first TV ad

    State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) will air his first TV ad in his campaign for governor next week. An advance look at the commercial, which focuses on term limits, a flat tax and cutting spending, can be seen here:

  • President Trump threatens to veto federal budget because it doesn’t fully fund border wall

  • Alabama Rep. Roby’s re-election campaign nabs endorsements from pro-business groups

    Excerpt from a campaign news release:

    “Martha Roby continues to do an outstanding job for the hardworking people of Alabama. Her steadfast support has allowed job creation and an environment where people can do better for themselves and their families.”
    Alex Whaley, II, Alabama Associated General Contractors PAC

    “As the voice of small business, NFIB knows good small business policy starts with electing good small business candidates. Therefore, Martha Roby’s reelection is critical to the small businesses in Alabama’s Second District, and we look forward to working with you on the issues most important to them.”
    Sharon Sussin, National Political Director, National Federation of Independent Business Fed PAC

4 months ago

Birmingham Business Alliance pursuing ‘all-time high’ economic development projects

The BBA Chairman’s Meeting automotive panel included, from left, Andrew Taitz of Autocar, Mike Oatridge of Honda, John Hudson of Alabama Power, Jason Hoff of Mercedes-Benz and John Hackett of Kamtek. (BBA/Made in Alabama)
The BBA Chairman’s Meeting automotive panel included, from left, Andrew Taitz of Autocar, Mike Oatridge of Honda, John Hudson of Alabama Power, Jason Hoff of Mercedes-Benz and John Hackett of Kamtek. (BBA/Alabama News Center)



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.

This year continues a string of successful years for attracting new and expanding industry to the state, Hilson said.

“Between 2011 and 2017, we have seen 19,394 jobs and over $3.9 billion in capital investment committed within our seven-county metro area,” he said.

That has caused the BBA to be ambitious with its current five-year plan.

“At the BBA, we have a goal of 19,000 jobs and $3.5 billion of investment being announced between 2016 and 2020,” Hilson said. “So we’re at the halfway point as we approach the year 2018 and as we continue to execute our five-year strategic plan, which we call Blueprint 2020.”

With the current pipeline of potential projects, those numbers could be well within reach.

“Our level of project activity is at an all-time high, at least for the six and a half years that I’ve been in Birmingham,” Hilson said in an interview with Alabama NewsCenter. “But probably more important, the quality of those projects and the diversity of skills that they would require of the workforce – it’s not all automotive and it’s not all something else – that’s very encouraging.”

Automotive projects dominated the headlines in the metro area in 2017.

Commercial truck producer Autocar opened a $120 million plant in Pinson Valley, not far from where auto supplier Kamtek opened a $60 million expansion.

Mercedes-Benz announced a $1 billion expansion of its Alabama operations that includes a new $248.2 million campus in Bibb County.

Representatives of those three companies as well as Honda’s plant in Lincoln made up a panel discussion of the auto industry and the metro area’s business climate. John Hudson, senior vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Alabama Power, moderated the panel.

A shared concern among the panel is that the metro area may become a victim of its own success – namely in a dwindling available workforce.

Hilson said the BBA’s Blueprint 2020 calls for at least a 5 percent growth in overall workforce between 2016 and 2020.

“What we really want to see, though, is much faster growth than that and for that to happen we will need a higher and better rate of workforce participation, more connectivity between employers and workforces as well as educators and trainers, and, of course, we will need to see our community image continue to get better,” he said.

(By Michael Tomberlin, courtesy of the Alabama News Center)

6 months ago

$120 Million Truck Assembly Plant Coming to Birmingham

Courtesy of Made in Alabama
Courtesy of Made in Alabama

Governor Kay Ivey announced on Wednesday that an Indiana-based manufacturing company, Autocar, will invest $120 million to build a plant in Alabama to manufacture heavy duty cab-over-engine trucks. According to Made in Alabama, the manufacturing operation will be located in an existing one million square-foot complex in Center Point and Birmingham. It is expected to employ 746 workers.

Autocar is the newest addition to the state’s vastly growing automotive sector. Alabama is already home to manufacturing plants from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. Governor Ivey said that the announcement is a huge step for the Yellowhammer State. “Alabama is a powerhouse in automotive manufacturing, and Autocar’s new heavy-duty truck assembly operation in Birmingham will add a new dimension to the state’s activities in this vital sector,” she said.

Autocar chairman Andrew Taitz said that the company chose Birmingham after an extensive selection process. He gave several reasons that Birmingham was the optimal choice for the site, including “access to a great business environment, strong state and local governmental partners, a skilled workforce, and proximity to our customers and suppliers.” He emphasized that Birmingham had the “whole package.”

According to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, the Autocar plant will have a significant economic impact on the city of Birmingham and the sate in general. Once fully operational, the plant is expected to generate $645.1 million in annual economic impact. It will contribute $229 million annually to Alabama’s GDP and $130.1 million in earnings to Alabama households through 2,655 direct and indirect jobs.

Center Point Mayor Tom Henderson expressed excitement for the project, saying Autocar’s arrival is a huge boost for their respective cities. Autocar has already begun hiring employees to begin production. The average annual base compensation for all employees will be over $58,000.

Wednesday was a big day for Alabama’s manufacturing industry. The announcement came just hours after Georgia-Pacific unveiled plans for a new lumber manufacturing facility in Talladega. With these two new facilities, the Yellowhammer State continues to solidify itself as a haven for manufacturing jobs and companies.