While I strongly support the increased funding for our military, I could not in good conscience vote for the Omnibus that costs almost $1.3 trillion. The military threats to our national security are real and serious, but so is the fiscal threat to our national security.
— Gary Palmer (@USRepGaryPalmer) March 22, 2018
J. Pepper Bryars: Roy Moore isn’t bad for business (but he isn’t necessarily good for business either)
Over the weekend NPR aired a story about how Alabama’s business community fears that Roy Moore’s likely election to the Senate could hurt the state’s economic growth, costing jobs for the very people he seeks to represent.
“Roy Moore is a disaster for business and economic development. He was a disaster even before the allegations,” said Susan Pace Hamill, a business law professor at the University of Alabama. “The fear is that his presence will tip the scales, causing the business to choose somebody else.”
(Side note: The report failed to mention that Hammil was the Democratic Party’s nominee in its 2010 challenge to State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), so perhaps her view is just a tad bias.)
The rest of the story is nonsense, as well.
“Senator” Roy Moore isn’t going to be bad for business.
But then again, “Senator” Roy Moore isn’t necessarily going to be good for business, either.
— First and foremost, we shouldn’t base our political decisions on economics alone. Our way of life is a broad tapestry of interests, often competing. Sometimes cultural issues trump economic issues (I’d rather lose my job than lose my country).
— That said, Alabama has a strong foundation and can weather any single storm. We were just named No. 6 on an influential economic development magazine’s survey of state business climates (and we achieved that ranking while having the embarrassing “Luv Guv” at the helm. That shows how little some politicians can actually mess things up).
— Alabama’s hope of landing a job producer doesn’t rest upon a single individual.
— Even if they did, a newly elected U.S. Senator has little to offer in such an arrangement. Because of the rules and committee processes, it takes senators years before they have the legislative clout to nab the types of appropriations or authorities needed to sweeten such economic development deals.
— Until then, young senators depend upon bones tossed to them by their party’s leadership or their colleagues for cooperation on other matters. (Roy Moore isn’t known for cooperating with leadership or making friends with people he doesn’t agree with, especially if it involves political horse-trading.)
— Aside from that, most companies don’t care about who a state has sitting in a Senate chamber 1,000 miles away, or what they’re saying (just so long as its pro-business on a macro level).
— In terms of political leaders, they care more about the people who can directly impact their company: the governor, leaders in the State House, local mayors, and other bodies like the school, zoning and utility boards.
— They care about how much water and power is going to cost, the local sales tax, whether they can get a road widened or extended, whether they can get a decent flow of educated employees, and many other pieces that have nothing, at least not directly, to do with the high-level debates in the U.S. Senate (just cut taxes and repeal federal regulations, and we’ll do fine down here).
— But our political leaders aren’t the only individuals who can impact a potential job producer’s decision to relocate to Alabama. Perhaps our best representatives come from the business community itself … the type of person a potential company’s CEO can understand and relate.
— Alabama has hundreds of world-class business executives who, if you knew them, would make you extremely proud of Alabama.
— Like our Founders envisioned, we’re a people who have a government not a government that has a people.
— Our economic fortune doesn’t rest in the hands of a single senator, or anyone else for that matter.
— It rests in the hands of every single Alabamian.
— And in that respect, it’s in good hands indeed.
German auto supplier to invest $115 million in Alabama plant, create 300-plus jobs
Bocar, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, announced plans Thursday to invest $115 million in a new plant in Alabama, creating more than 300 jobs in a project that adds to the state’s booming automotive manufacturing sector.
Bocar company leaders made the announcement at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, along with representatives of the City of Huntsville and Limestone County.
“We are glad to invest in Huntsville, Alabama, where good infrastructure, talented people and a host of excellent universities will develop our business while contributing positively to the social and economic development of this community,” said Gerd Dressler, the chief financial officer of Bocar Group.
Bocar is a German company with a presence in the United States, Germany, Mexico and Japan. It is a high-end technology and quality-driven automotive company with extensive experience producing high-pressure aluminum die casting, plastics and machining.
“Bocar is one of the most highly regarded of the Tier 1 automotive suppliers to leading companies like Toyota, Ford, GM and many others,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
“The company’s decision to locate this major facility in Huntsville is yet another building block in the foundation of our advanced manufacturing automotive sector.”
Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said Bocar’s decision reflects the company’s confidences in the area’s workforce.
“We know that they will be a successful part of our future moving forward,” he said.
(By Jerry Underwood, courtesy of Made in Alabama)
138,000 manufacturing jobs added this year
The United States has gained 138,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017, according to data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In December, the last month of 2016, there were 12,343,000 employed in manufacturing in the United States, according to BLS. By October, that had risen to 12,481,000.
The 12,481,000 people employed in the manufacturing in October was the most since January 2009, the month that Barack Obama was inaugurated president. That month, there were 12,561,000 employed in manufacturing. But in February 2009, manufacturing employment fell to 12,380,000.
Between September and October of this year, manufacturing employment increased by 24,000—rising from 12,457,000 in September to October’s 12,481,000.
While employment was rising in manufacturing during October, it was also rising in government.
From September to October, employment in state, local and federal government rose from 22,352,000 to 22,361,000—an increase of 9,000 for the month.
So far in 2017, government has added 62,000 jobs—increasing from 22,299,000 in December 2016 to October’s 22,361,000.
Government jobs increases at each level of government—rising from 2,809,000 to 2,814,000 on the federal level, 5,089,000 to 5,091,000 on the state level; and 14,454,000 to 14,456,000 on the local level.
Government jobs now outnumber manufacturing jobs in the United States by 9,880,000.
Manufacturing jobs peaked at 19,533,000 in June 1979. Government jobs exceeded manufacturing jobs in the United States for the first time in August 1989.
(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)
Briggs & Stratton Invests $12 Million, Creates 50 Jobs in Auburn
Governor Ivey announced on Monday that Briggs & Stratton Corporation, a Milwaukee-based company, is planning to begin production of V-twin big block engines at its Auburn facility in 2018. The company will invest $12 million for this project, ultimately creating 50 jobs.
“Briggs & Stratton is a valuable, longtime member of Alabama’s business community, and the company’s decision to expand its product manufacturing in Auburn is a testament to the strong partnership we have developed together over the years,” Governor Ivey said. “I’m committed to creating an ideal environment for commerce and letting the world know that Alabama is open for business.”
The company has implemented a related operation at its facility in Statesboro, Georgia. Both are part of the Briggs & Stratton’s strategic commercial engine growth plan.
“We see this as a strategic competitive advantage because we can manufacture close to our customers in the U.S., which allows us to be more price competitive and shortens the supply chain for our customers,” said David Rodgers, senior vice president and president of Engines and Power at Briggs & Stratton.
Mayor Bill Ham thanked Briggs & Stratton for its dedication to and support of the Auburn community.“We are truly grateful that the leadership at Briggs & Stratton continues to trust our community with their investment,” he said. “The contributions to our economy and the lives of our citizens cannot be overstated. From providing jobs to helping fund our annual Fourth of July fireworks display for many years running, they are an outstanding corporate member of the community.”
Briggs & Stratton is one of the city’s largest industrial employers, with 430 workers. They have been operating in Auburn for 22 years.
300 Tech Jobs Coming To Rural Alabama Community
As reported by WKRG News, Provalus, a software development company, is opening a $6.5 million dollar facility in Brewton, Al.
Gov. Kay Ivey was at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new 60-thousand square feet facility. “It’s a great day for Alabama, especially here in Brewton,” said Gov. Ivey. “Provalus has the uniqueness where part of its mission is to provide jobs to rural Alabamians. And that means a lot to us.”
According to Provalus, the site, which rests on the old Dogwood Hills Golf Course, will take between 3-5 years to complete. Once finished, the campus will consist of three newly constructed buildings.
Executive Director of the Coastal Gateway Economic Alliance, Will Ruzic, expressed his enthusiasm for the new project by saying, “I was absolutely shocked, and we just cannot believe the opportunity which has presented its self.”
While currently plans only provide for the Provalus facility, Ruzic believes other businesses might follow the tech company to Brewton.
Birmingham Among 238 Locations Vying for Amazon’s HQ2
Amazon announced this week that it has received 238 proposals from 54 states, provinces, territories, and districts across North America for its next headquarters. The tech giant is expected to directly invest $5 billion in the project and create 50,000 high paying jobs. The project is also likely to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions in additional investment in the surrounding community.
Birmingham is one of the many cities vying for Amazon’s attention. The city began a campaign called “Bring Amazon to Birmingham” (or “BringAtoB”) to create a buzz surrounding the new HQ2. City leaders erected large Amazon boxes and placed them at major locations around the city. They also encouraged Birmingham residents to create a social media buzz by using the hashtag #BringAtoB.
The city has even created a Twitter account Bring A to B that relentlessly posts hints aimed toward Amazon about moving to the Magic City.
Being so close to the Gulf means we have a steady supply of fresh Alabama Seafood. Want some, Amazon? #bringatob
— Bring A to B (@BringAtoB) October 24, 2017
Hey Amazon, Grammy award winner Jason Isbell was raised in this great state. Your children could be too. #bringatob
— Bring A to B (@BringAtoB) October 24, 2017
Amazon: the Space Needle sets a pretty high bar, but we have the largest cast iron statue in the world, so. #bringatob
— Bring A to B (@BringAtoB) October 24, 2017
Amazon is looking for locations with strong talent, especially in software development. Birmingham has seen rapid growth in its tech sector, as evidenced by local tech companies such as Shipt, and could provide the skilled workforce that Amazon is looking for.
Amazon has said that they chose a public forum for the selection process because they want to find a city that is excited to work with them. Birmingham is pulling out all of the stops to prove they are the best location for HQ2. Will Amazon make the move to the Magic City? We’ll have to wait to see!
Alabama Unemployment Rate Matches Lowest In History From 2007
Governor Ivey announced today that Alabama’s preliminary September unemployment rate is 3.8%, matching the rate of April 2007, which is the lowest rate in recorded history.
This is down from August’s rate of 4.2%, and well below September 2016’s rate of 6.0%.
Governor Ivey released a statement on this milestone, stating:
“We’ve been working extremely hard over the past six months to bring Alabama’s unemployment rate down, and today’s news shows that our efforts are paying off. This is truly a historic day, as we announce that Alabama’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has ever been. When it comes to job creation, we are doing the right thing and momentum is on our side in Alabama. But, we won’t let up and we will continue recruiting new businesses and encouraging existing firms to expand. We can’t and won’t slow down just because we’ve reached this milestone.”
2,068,594 people were counted as employed in September, compared to 2,057,360 in August, and 2,045,762 in September 2016. September’s rate represents 82,678 unemployed persons, compared to 90,756 in August and 131,201 in September 2016.
Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington added:
“Nearly 23,000 more people are working now than last year and the number of unemployed is down by almost 50,000. Those numbers represent real workers, with real families, and indicate real progress in our economy. Alabama’s employers continue to add jobs, supporting more than 2,011,000 positions this month, beating yearly job growth projections by 28,400 only nine months into the year. We remain hopeful that this wonderful progress continues throughout the rest of the year.”
Wage and salary employment increased in September by 7,100 people. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,900), the trade, transportation, and
Industries showing gains included the government sector (+5,900), trade, transportation, utilities (+2,800), and construction sector (+1,200), to name a few. Over the past year, wage and salary employment increased 28,400, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,400), the professional and business services sector (+6,600), and the construction sector (+6,300), among others.
“All 67 counties experienced drops in their unemployment rates, both over the year and over the month, and for the first time in a decade, no county has a rate in the double digits,” said Washington.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates include Shelby County at 2.4%, Marshall and Cullman at 2.8%, and Madison, Lee, and Elmore Counties at 2.9%.
Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are: Vestavia Hills at 2.2%, Alabaster and Homewood at 2.3%, and Hoover at 2.4%.
Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are Selma at 7.0%, Prichard at 6.4%, and Bessemer at 4.7%.
700 New Jobs Coming To Huntsville
As reported by WHNT News, the Huntsville City Council has approved the Aerojet Rocketdyne expansion project.
Part of the project will involve the creation of an advanced manufacturing plant. Located in North Huntsville Industrial park, the plant will build propulsion engines for the SLS deep space rocket. Additionally, the new development will feature defense business headquarters and a rocket shop unit at Cummins Research Park.
The new project is worth an estimated $27 million and will employ over 700 people at a minimum salary of $80,000 per year.
Noting the obstacles that had to be overcome to land the deal, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, “In the final stages, we competed with about five different states but early on it was about 12 different states across the Southeast.”
While the 700 new jobs are expected shortly, the project includes plans for expansion. That could attract over 1,200 new employees to the facility.
International Paper to Invest $300 Million in Selma Mill
International Paper has announced plans to invest $300 million in its mill in Dallas County. The company hopes to expand its industrial packaging business, adding to the momentum of the state’s already flourishing forest products industry.
According to Made in Alabama, the Memphis-based company said that it plans to convert its number 15 paper machine in Selma to produce high quality whitetop liner board and containerboard by mid-2019. Currently, the machine produces uncoated freesheet, a type of paper commonly used in offices.
International Paper’s senior vice president of of Industrial Packaging the Americas commented on the investment, noting a focus on the customer’s needs.
“Our customers expect us to support their growth and this machine conversion will meet their needs. Our Industrial Packaging business continues to focus on our customers in strategic channels including our box business, domestic and export containerboard, and specialty grades.”
The investment will add 450,000 tons of capacity at the Selma mill, giving the mill the flexibility to shift production between several containerboard products. The mill will also remain a significant supplier of freesheet. This shift will allow the company to grow its industrial packaging business and solidify jobs at the Dallas County mill.
International Paper has been a leader in the surging growth of Alabama’s forest products industry. Last year, the industry recorded $1.2 billion of new investment and 1,000 anticipated new jobs. The investment made forest products the top accelerating industry in the state, toppling the astronomically growing automotive and aerospace industries.
International Paper’s investment proves that the industry is continuing that same trend of accelerated growth in to 2017. Paired with other industry developments, such as the announcement of a new Georgia-Pacific lumber facility in Talladega, Alabama’s forest products industry continues to bring significant economic and job growth to the Yellowhammer state.
“Alabama’s forest products industry is in the midst of a prolonged upswing that has brought a significant amount of new capital investment and jobs to the state, solidifying the industry’s status as a key economic driver,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Report Shows Majority of Alabama At Risk When It Comes To Economic Prosperity
As reported by Axios, U.S. geographical economic inequality appears to be growing. This means that as time passes, new jobs are beginning to consolidate around the nations most elite zip codes. As a result, out of every four new jobs, only one is left available for the bottom 60% of zip codes. How did Alabama score in the latest report? Not so great.
Looking at the map, it’s easily discernible that the majority of Alabama is “at risk” in the category of economic stability. While some areas, mostly in Northern Alabama, show a positive economic trend, at least 2/3 of the state is shown in orange and red clusters of at-risk communities.
According to the report, part of the problem centers around the issue of fewer jobs being created. As the creation of new companies declines, states like Alabama suffer the consequences. This is because the new businesses that are started tend to look for thriving communities. Thus, a vicious cycle of decreased job creation and the increased disparity is often the case.
The nexus of the problem appears to be concentrated on worker education. The more educated workers a given community has, the more the likelihood they will attract new business.
So what can Alabama do? Clearly, we must focus on providing better educational tools to our citizens, so they are prepared to compete in a fluid job market. Unlike previous generations, progress is taking place at an unprecedented pace. If Alabamians want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s imperative that we make education a priority. This will create a flourishing market that attracts business instead of forcing them to look elsewhere.
Alabama is hopeful, however, that as President Trump works with Congress to lighten over-bearing regulations and lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, more jobs will be created in expanding geographical areas across Alabama and the country.
Mercedes To Invest $1 Billion in Alabama Electric Vehicle Project
According to Made in Alabama, Mercedes-Benz announced on Thursday that it plans to invest one billion dollars in its Tuscaloosa operation, where it will begin production of electric vehicles and build a battery plant. The German automaker is also set to expand its logistics operations across the country, with a new North American after-sales parts hub and Global Logistics Center set to be built in Bibb County.
Mercedes’s new investment is on track to create over 600 new Alabama jobs, and upgrade one of the world’s “smartest” manufacturing facilities. The automaker began production at its Vance manufacturing facility 20 years ago, sparking an automotive boom for the Yellowhammer state. Mercedes said its Alabama plant is already undergoing a $1.3 billion expansion that will position it to shape the future of electric mobility worldwide.
“With this $1 billion investment, we are significantly growing our manufacturing footprint here in Alabama, while sending a clear message to our customers across the U.S. and around the world: Mercedes-Benz will continue to be on the cutting-edge of electric vehicle development and production,” said a member of the divisional board of Mercedes Cars, production and supply chain, Markus Schafer.
Mercedes will begin producing its EQ brand SUV models in Alabama by 2020. The automaker hopes to offer more than 50 various electric vehicle models by 2022. Currently, the Tuscaloosa plant produces the GLS, GLE, and GLE Coupé sport utilities, as well as the C-Class sedan. The plant is also being prepared to produce plug-in hybrids.
Construction on the one million square foot battery facility is set to begin next year. The Bibb County Global Logistics Center will support the company’s worldwide logistics for its Alabama-made products. Moreover, the North American after-sales parts hub located on the same site will provide spare parts to markets around the world. It is set to open in late 2020.
Mercedes has a continuing history of investment in the state of Alabama. The automaker originally invested $325 million in the state. However, with the expansion announced on Thursday, the company will have invested a total of $6.8 billion in the Yellowhammer state in just over 20 years. Mercedes has been and will continue to be the leading contributor to economic development in the state.
“The fact that Mercedes-Benz continues to expand its operations in Alabama makes a powerful statement about the quality of the automaker’s workforce in the state, and underscores that we are achieving our goal of ensuring businesses in Alabama don’t just survive, but thrive,” Governor Kay Ivey said.
Austal Delivers Sixth Alabama-Built Littoral Combat Ship to U.S. Navy
Mobile, Al. – On Friday, September 15, Austal delivered its sixth littoral combat ship to the United States Navy. LCS 12, the future USS Omaha, will be the navy’s tenth littoral combat ship and the first of two that Austal will deliver this year.
In a news release from Austal’s website, President Craig Perciavalle said, “They’re here and ready! Our Independence-variant littoral combat ships are coming off the line with exceptional quality and under the congressional cost cap. It’s important to us to safely and quickly get these highly capable game-changing ships to the Navy.”
Six littoral combat ships remain under construction at the Alabama shipyard. According to Austal, both Manchester and Tulsa are being prepared for trials. Charleston launched last week, and Cincinnati is being assembled. Modules for Kansas City and Oakland are under construction.
“This achievement would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of Austal’s talented team of shipbuilders,” said Perciavalle. “The men and women of Austal are truly dedicated patriots and I’m looking forward to sharing many future successes with them and the thousands of suppliers across America who support this program.”
The Independence-Variatn Littoral Combat Ship Program supports 900 suppliers in 41 states. The program bolsters jobs from both large and small businesses, and has been a major contributor to economic growth in Mobile and south Alabama.
Austal is also set to deliver 12 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels for the U.S. Navy. With so many projects in the works and a massive defense budget passed earlier this week, the Yellowhammer State’s shipbuilding industry continues to be poised for success.
AlabamaWorks! Is on Track for Employers, Employees
What began several years ago as a vision for developing a skilled workforce and ensuring continued industry success is now a reality. In November 2016, AlabamaWorks officially launched, bringing together all the components of Alabama’s workforce development system under one brand.
AlabamaWorks unites Alabama businesses and industries with our education, workforce training and job placement systems. The goal was to bridge the gap between unfilled jobs and a qualified workforce, and we are doing that.
Along with business and industry leaders, partners in AlabamaWorks include the Alabama Department of Commerce and AIDT; the Alabama State Department of Education and its Career/Technical Education Program; the Alabama Community College System; the Alabama Technology Network; the Alabama Department of Labor and its Alabama Career Center System; and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.
AlabamaWorks also included reconfiguring the state’s original 10 regional workforce councils into seven, each led by a director. The councils determine the needs of their regions through industry clusters that range from healthcare to automotive, transportation to aerospace, and construction to machining. It simply depends on the area’s needs.
Our regional directors have been busy — coordinating job fairs, hosting cluster meetings, working with the media, and planning events that expose students and job seekers to various career opportunities.
Each regional director is paired with a Department of Commerce employee, who is a regional workforce council liaison. Together, they coordinate resources to meet workforce needs of that region.
To ensure our goals are met, our regional directors have specific metrics they must achieve, such as conducting needs assessments, creating annual strategic plans, formulating grants committees, etc. I am pleased to say that all directors are on track to meet their targets.
One milestone for each regional director is to introduce eighth-graders to opportunities in the technical fields. These events go by different names — “Worlds Of Opportunity,” “Worlds of Work,” “Career Discovery” – but they all provide hands-on experiences for students to learn about careers that don’t require a four-year degree. Company representatives also share information about wages, positions available and what type of training or education is required.
In addition to exposing students to technical careers, we also have an apprenticeship program. Launched in January by the Department of Commerce, Apprenticeship Alabama has made significant strides for both employers and employees.
Presently, we have 31 companies and hundreds of apprentices in our system. While the apprentice earns a wage and receives on-the-job training, the registered company gains a qualified employee AND receives a tax credit. Apprentices can expect to earn a higher wage upon successful completion of the program.
One company that is experiencing success with Apprenticeship Alabama is Newman Technology of Alabama, Inc. Newman Technology needed training for some of its existing employees to advance their skills and careers, but wasn’t certain how to proceed. They contacted a representative at Northeast Alabama Community College to discuss company needs and what the college could offer. As a result, Newman now has five apprentices who are getting formal instruction via college courses while receiving on-the-job training with other skilled Newman employees.
To stretch dollars and manpower even further, the Alabama workforce system is combining its resources with those from the federal government through the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act.
Previously, WIOA had three local boards to cover the entire state. Now, WIOA boards are aligning with the seven regions. The first local board meeting was convened by West AlabamaWorks a few weeks ago. There are now five new local boards and two expanded local boards.
AlabamaWorks has also been an asset in industry recruitment. When industry representatives are seeking sites for their companies, they look at the area in its entirety — including its potential workforce. The Alabama Department of Commerce uses AlabamaWorks and its partners as a recruiting tool.
Recently, state leaders announced that several companies are coming to Alabama and another is returning. Dynetics (Huntsville) broke ground on a new facility. Meanwhile, Wolverine Tube (Decatur) announced it will reopen, creating 250 jobs. These and other companies see the value in what we have to offer.
Although we have a lot of work still to do, I feel we have achieved a great deal during the past several months. Through AlabamaWorks, people are working together like never before to ensure Alabama jobs are filled with trained applicants.
For more information on finding employees, posting a job, training or a finding a job, please visit the www.alabamaworks.com website.
About the Author: Ed Castile is deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce/Workforce Development Division and executive director of AIDT.
Welcome Home: New York Based Company Opening $13.6 Million Distillery In Alabama
As reported by the Alabama News Center, Conecuh Ridge Distiller has announced its plan to open a $13.6 million distillery in Troy, Alabama. The company is the maker of the popular whiskey brand Clyde May’s, and it plans to build an interactive distillery designed to attract tourists.
The announcement for the new building project came from Gov. Ivey who said, “Today’s announcement affirms that our state’s sound business climate is a positive attraction for companies looking to find a home. We are glad Conecuh Ridge Distillery has chosen Troy for their operations center.”
The plan to bring a New York-based distillery to Alabama centers around honoring the namesake of the brand. Clyde May’s whiskey pays homage to an Alabama moonshiner known for making high-quality whiskey during the 1940’s. Pointing to the company’s heritage, Conecuh Ridge Distillery president and CEO Roy Danis said, “Coming home to Troy, Alabama, where the brand got its start, reinforces these values and makes all of us who work for this great brand so very proud.”
While continuing to make great whiskey is the utmost priority for the company, it also wants to deliver a quality experience when visitors tour the facility, much like the manufactures of Jack Daniels and Makers Mark have in their respective states.
Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell left little doubt about the excitement the department has by saying, “Becoming the home of the Clyde May brand is a great opportunity for Troy. . . Making a premium product in a site that will become a tourist destination is a great strategy. We look forward to working with Troy and the distillers for this venture to become a success.”
The project is expected to create at least 50 jobs with an average salary of around $54,000 per year. Couple that with the influx of tourism that’s expected, and all the ingredients for sustainable economic growth are present. Governor Ivey underscored this point, adding, “In addition to the 50 jobs being created, we are excited about the potential economic impact this company will have in Pike County as this becomes a tourist destination for the official spirit of Alabama.”
As of now, no announcement has been made as to the timing of the ground-breaking, but this is clearly another positive step in increasing the horsepower of Alabama’s economic engine.
$120 Million Truck Assembly Plant Coming to Birmingham
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.
Georgia-Pacific Will Build $100 Million Lumber Facility in Alabama
According to Made in Alabama, Georgia-Pacific announced Wednesday that it plans to build a $100 million lumber production facility in Talladega. The new state of the art facility will employ over 100 full-time employees with an annual payroll of over $5 million. It will be located at the company’s old plywood mill that closed in 2008.
“The availability of talent and natural resources make Talladega an ideal site for this new lumber production facility,” said Fritz Mason, vice president and general manager of Georgia-Pacific Lumber.
Construction on the facility is set to begin immediately, and officials hope to be up and running by late 2018. While based out of Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific has a long history in Alabama. There are currently more than 2,300 Georgia-Pacific employees at seven different facilities across the state. The company has invested over $1.1 billion in the state of Alabama over the past five years, including a $50 million upgrade to its plant in Brewton earlier this year.
Governor Kay Ivey expressed her support for Georgia-Pacific and the new facility.
“Georgia-Pacific’s new investment in Talladega will bring good jobs and enhanced opportunities to the area’s citizens while also benefiting timber owners in the region. I am committed to working closely with businesses like Georgia-Pacific, which has a significant presence in the state, as we demonstrate to the world that Alabama is open for business and eager to form strong partnerships.”
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, commented on the significant amount of economic growth that the forestry industry has brought to the state.
“Alabama’s forest products industry is in the midst of a prolonged upswing that has brought a significant amount of new capital investment and jobs to the state, solidifying the industry’s status as a key economic driver. Georgia-Pacific has been a major player in that growth as it expands its operating footprint in the state’s timber belt.”
The construction of the facility will also bring a significant economic impact to Talladega and surrounding areas. The project is expected to employ 120 workers a day during the 12-month construction period. According to an economic model produced by the University of Alabama, the project will have an economic impact of over $26 million in the area.
The announcement comes as Alabama continues to see significant growth in the manufacturing industry. The Yellowhammer State has enjoyed some of its lowest unemployment rates in recent history over the past few months.
New Space Complex Coming to Decatur
As reported by WHNT News, yesterday marked the beginning of a new $21 million aerospace complex in Decatur.
The new complex will be composed of three buildings—each constructed with the capability to test the structural viability of large space structures. This includes NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) program and commercial clients.
Congressman Mo Brooks, who attended the event said, “I had been saddened by America’s loss of human space launch capability and NASA astronauts being reduced to having to thumb a ride with the Russians to get to the space station. But today, I am heartened to know the Tennessee Valley is once again playing a major role to launch American astronauts to space on American-made rockets.”
CEO of Dynetics, David King, has been a long time proponent of increased space technology across the Tennessee Valley. And he once worked at Marshall Space Flight Center. He added, “We’re very excited about this capability to build these large aerospace structures here in Decatur-Morgan County.”
Beyond the obvious economic impact of the project, it a major piece in Alabama’s ever growing space industry. From Huntsville to the new complex in Decatur, the Yellowhammer state is hurtling forward in the industry.
There are 25 immediate jobs, and when the complex opens in late 2018, residents of Decatur should expect to see a flurry of opportunities follow.
Touching on the impact he hopes the aerospace will have on the city, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said, “We have over 14,000 residents that travel daily east of here to go to work, it’s time we’re able to help those residents stay here in Decatur and work.”
New UTC Aerospace Facility Calls Baldwin County Home
As reported by Fox 10 News, Baldwin County recently unveiled a new 80,000 square foot addition to its UTC Aerospace Systems facility. And while creating parts for Mobile’s Airbus, it is expected to employ 260 additional workers.
Although exciting news, the aerospace business has been in Foley for over three decades, however, this new expansion now gives the facility more than 500,000 square feet of working space and will employ over 1,000 people.
In attendance at the ceremony was Congressman Bradley Byrne and Baldwin County Commission Chairman, Chris Elliot. Going over the economic importance of the new facility, Elliot said,
“This is integral and important to the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, but much more work for all kinds of different carriers and manufacturers that are built right here in Baldwin County. . . right here in Foley as well.”
The expansion is not expected to be fully operational until the end of the year, however, once under operation, it’s supposed to sport state-of-the-art manufacturing technology including automated material movement and painting systems. Lee Lawson, with the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said,
“By having UTC put this investment here and put their stamp of approval on us, it gives a lot of large, international companies comfort if they’re looking for a place to do business.”
Officials hope that this facility shows the type of economic growth that is taking place on the Gulf Coast. Including the rate at which manufacturing companies are finding a favorable environment to conduct business.
Alabama Unemployment Rate Continues To Fall
As reported by WKRG News, reports show that Alabama’s unemployment rate is now down to 4.5 percent.
While still higher than the national average of 4.3, the state’s new rate is lower than it was a year ago when it was 5.8 percent.
In fact, less than 100,000 Alabamians were unemployed in July. And According to Gov. Kay Ivey, there are fewer unemployed now, then there have been in over a decade.
This is welcome news as Alabama continues to see manufacturing drops moving back to the state.
YHRadio: After spending a week in Coronado, California, home of the Navy SEAL’s BUDS training, Cord Sachs is on fire for the extreme ownership method.
Cord Sachs is a Birmingham-based leadership expert and the CEO of FireSeeds, a company that helps companies find and grow great leaders and “the company behind many of Alabama’s fastest growing companies.”
The full conversation with Mr. Sachs can be heard on the Yellowhammer Radio podcast or in the video above, and a lightly edited transcript of his interview with Yellowhammer’s Andrea Tice and Scott Chambers can be read below.
Scott Chambers: We have got a special guest with us, now. It’s Mr. Cord Sachs from FireSeeds. We haven’t talked to Cord in a couple of weeks. He’s been busy traveling the world.
Andrea Tice: Where you been, there, Cord?
Cord Sachs: Wow, been a lot of places. Probably the most exciting, I was out in Coronado, California.
Andrea Tice: Oh, okay. Where is that in relation to the state? Is it up north or south?
Cord Sachs: Oh, no, it’s down south. It’s a little island that’s literally three football fields away from San Diego.
Andrea Tice: Oh, okay. Wow.
Cord Sachs: You get on the one end of the island and you got literally the skyline of San Diego right in your viewpoint.
Scott Chambers: Yeah, when we have a Warrior Wednesday and all the Navy SEAL guys talk about being at Bud’s they’re there at Coronado. That’s where they go through their training at, on that island.
Andrea Tice: Oh, okay.
Cord Sachs: Absolutely. You go to the opposite end of the island and that’s where the Bud’s training takes course, the Naval base on the opposite end of the island. Exactly.
Andrea Tice: Okay, Cord, we were talking about Hillary Clinton’s secret dream to become a pastor. Is this your secret dream? Were you trying out for the Navy SEALs? Come on, you can confess.
Cord Sachs: I’d have to say I’m little past my age, but I wish I could. I love everything-
Andrea Tice: That’s not stopping Hillary.
Cord Sachs: -they represent. My dad was a Marine and I grew up hearing the stories. It was always a dream of mine. Then God had me on a little different track, but yeah, I’m a big fan for sure.
Scott Chambers: What was the biggest takeaway from your visit there to Coronado?
Cord Sachs: Well, you know, when you go to a place like that- I had to go pick up a new leadership book, of course, and so I picked up one by Jocko Willink and [inaudible 00:01:39] “Extreme Ownership.” There’s nothing like reading about leadership in the context that makes it come alive. That was what I did. My wife actually loves that kind of stuff, too. She reads all the books. We were actually there and they were actually going through a class that just Hell Week while we were there.
Andrea Tice: Oh, wow.
Scott Chambers: Nice.
Cord Sachs: Man, just took it all in. Of course, I gotta come on here today and talk about just some of the top leadership principles I’ve been able to pull from SEALs and some of the Special Forces, etc., etc.. That’s where we’re gonna go today.
Andrea Tice: Okay.
Scott Chambers: I’m guessing you’re going to tie that in today, some type of leadership lesson to the Navy SEALs, I would imagine. After being out there for a week, it’s still pumping through you blood, right?
Cord Sachs: Oh, you better believe it is. You better believe it is. I would encourage anybody that wants to learn about leadership, I mean, who to better learn from that those that have applied those principles where it matters most? In the life and death scenarios in the trenches, they’re the ones that I’m really gonna believe when they say, “Hey, this is a leadership lesson you need to apply to make a team successful.” Absolutely.
Andrea Tice: Go ahead and list us some of those things that you’re pulling away from your time there.
Cord Sachs: Yeah, let’s do three. Let’s do three quick little- The first one is every great leader you see that’s in all the SEALs and the SEAL teams, they believe wholeheartedly in the mission and they make their teams, they make sure their teams, believe wholeheartedly in the mission.
Andrea Tice: Okay.
Cord Sachs: Simon Sinek, another one of my [stabler 00:03:12] leadership guys, he says that’s just as important to do here in business or in teams outside of warfare, and you start by telling the why, making sure your team understands the why. I don’t know if you’ve seen the “American Sniper” movie with Chris Kyle.
Andrea Tice: Yes.
Scott Chambers: Yes.
Cord Sachs: In that movie, he’s watching the why on television, if you can remember. Before he decides to go into the [inaudible 00:03:38] he’s watching 9/11 happen as we all did on our TVs.
Andrea Tice: Yeah.
Cord Sachs: This group of warriors that was launched out into the Middle East never had a clearer why than those Twin Towers falling. You saw at that time a huge growth in all the recruitment, a huge influx of young leaders because they saw a very clear why, believe in a mission that made sense for them to sign up, become a Navy SEAL, and go over and kick some tail over in the Middle East. The belief in the mission is what you see is the most important thing you gotta start with, is making sure your folks believe in the mission. That’s number one.
Andrea Tice: Okay. In your opinion, what sets the SEALs or any other special force leadership apart from leadership that is seen and played out in the marketplace? How do you see that played out in the marketplace?
Cord Sachs: Well, you know, you do see it played out in the marketplace. It’s just, again, the stakes aren’t nearly as high here. They are high, and the leadership principles, they apply across the board. There’s no doubt. But there’s just something about those that have tried the leadership principles, again, in the trenches and has come out and said, “This is what works to push a team forward.”
One of the second principles that you see and that these SEALs abide by is that there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
Andrea Tice: Oh, okay.
Cord Sachs: I love that statement because this what the books call “extreme ownership.” This is the level of ownership that any SEAL team leader has for his unit. There are no bad teams, there are only bad leaders. They take responsibility for literally every aspect of every mission. I love the quote here, is that “the best leaders check their egos at the door and they accept the blame.” They seek out constructive criticism after every mission. They take detailed notes for improvement. They can always improve.
You hear the saying, but the great leaders, they take responsibility for all of the mistakes and they give all the glory to their team for all the successes.
Andrea Tice: Wow.
Cord Sachs: You see this just played out in these warriors that are just larger than life, but there’s always this element of humility that they have, that the mission always comes first and their team always comes before them. Again, just walking out, reading this, and then seeing and talking to a lot of these retired Naval admirals on this island while we were there, it was just phenomenal to see the level of humility that they really do have for what they got to do in their lives.
Andrea Tice: That really is extreme ownership, because I’ll tell you, if that was ever employed nowadays into the political realm, 90% of all politicians would have to leave because they can’t bear to take the responsibility on themselves.
Cord Sachs: Absolutely. Yeah, no, absolutely. I saw that in my dad. I saw him live that out in front of me. He was a contractor and he’d help me learn to frame a wall, to sheetrock a wall, and when I’d mess up he’d say, “You know, that’s not your fault. That’s me. I need to train you more. I need to give you more reps. If I gave you more reps you’d do better.” He celebrated me when I did something well. I got to see that play out with my dad and just the power and influence it had in my life.
Andrea Tice: That’s neat, ’cause you’ve drawn on that personally.
Scott Chambers: Right.
Andrea Tice: Yeah.
Scott Chambers: That’s awesome. I’ve got a question, Cord. You’re always talking about ownership for everything, you know? Will your people begin to feel that you don’t trust them? That makes me think, “Well, maybe if you’re always talking about the ownership, maybe they’re not gonna trust you as much.” How do you keep all the ownership and then give them their part to own up to or see a role to play, maybe?
Cord Sachs: No, that’s a great question. I think that’s a principle that plays out in that you don’t ever give away ownership, but you do give away responsibility. There’s a big difference. I fall guilty of this at times, too. I wanna get the burden of ownership off of my shoulders, so I give ownership away so that I’m no longer responsible. If I maintain ownership, but yet I give responsibility away, now I’ve got great balance between what is expected of me as the leader, having complete ownership and making sure I at the end of the day take all the credit for whatever happens wrong, and therefore I own it, too. I can give away all the credit when it’s very successful. That’s when I found the sweet spot.
A lot of people get tired of owning and so they give ownership away. There’s a big difference. When you give responsibility away, if you do it right, you do it by giving it away with three mini principles here. You gotta clarify the lens. Here’s the win of your responsibility. If you do this right, you’ll get a win. If you don’t, you’ll get a loss. You set the standards for what it would take to get the win, and then you simply hold the responsibility to what they’re responsible for as it pertains to the role they have.
Scott Chambers: Cord, we’re down to our final 30 seconds today.
Andrea Tice: That is a wonderful challenge that you just presented for leadership.
Scott Chambers: Yes.
Andrea Tice: Very, very compelling.
Alabama in the Running for New $1.6 Billion Auto Plant
Japanese automotive giants Toyota Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corps. plan to partner to build a $1.6 billion auto plant in the U.S. The plant would employ nearly 4,000 workers to produce both cars and crossover vehicles. The companies are even exploring the production of electric vehicles at the facility, including developing crucial technology needed for such vehicles.
According to USA Today, Toyota also announced that it will move production of the Toyota Corolla to the U.S. plant, instead of Mexico as previously intended. This announcement comes after President Trump relentlessly criticized Toyota for manufacturing cars primarily sold in the U.S. in other countries. In January, Trump tweeted, “NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”
For Mazda, the plant will be their first U.S. production since moving out of Ford ownership. Currently, all Mazda vehicles sold in the U.S. are manufactured in other countries.
The plant is a big victory for President Trump, as he continues to push his agenda of bringing more manufacturing jobs to American workers. He has also pushed to maintain the production of American-sold cars inside American borders.
According to the Birmingham Business Journal, Alabama is among the eleven states being considered for the project. With an already thriving automotive industry, our state is a great fit for a new plant. As a right-to-work state, manufacturers have flocked to Alabama to avoid attempts at forceful unionization that have plagued other manufacturing industries across the nation. However, with the process just gearing up, Alabama will have to compete in the selection process along with the other ten states vying for the new Toyota plant. In a statement to Yellowhammer, a representative for Toyota noted that the company is using Jones Lang LaSalle to gather information on candidate sites. JLL, a commercial real estate firm, has locations in Montgomery and Mobile. The new plant will bring a significant economic impact to the area in which it is located. There is bound to be a bidding war between states eager to land those 4,000 jobs.
New ICBM Being Developed in Alabama Will Bolster U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
In the face of increasing provocations from an out-of-control North Korea, last week we reported about the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (MM3) that are currently being used by the U.S. Air Force. These missiles, developed predominantly by Boeing in Huntsville, are crucial in deterring the current nuclear threats being made by North Korea.
However, the U.S. Air Force has solicited a brand new ICBM that would greatly enhance the capabilities of our nuclear arsenal. The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) would cost about $85 billion but would give the better performance against precision guided missiles which didn’t exist when the Minuteman was developed. According to Breaking Defense, the current MM3’s trace their roots back to the Minuteman I, which was developed by Boeing in 1958 to equip the U.S. for a possible nuclear exchange with Russia over the North Pole. While these missiles have undergone significant improvements since the beginning of the Cold War, they still rely on an older technology. The new GBSD will boast an open architecture design making it easier to replace components and will be designed to last for decades – possibly into the 2070s.
While the GBSD is expensive, it’s relative to our national security and is still significantly cheaper than upgrading all 800 of the current MM3 missiles.
Boeing isn’t the only contractor being considered to develop the GBSD. Lockheed-Martin and Northrop-Grumman are also competing for the bid. The Air Force is expected to award the contract on September 12 and hopes to have the GBSD ready by 2029. While several high profile contractors are vying for the spot, there are several reasons Boeing would be the best fit. The current Minuteman missiles work as an offensive complement to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System (GMD), which is used to intercept incoming warheads in space. Boeing largely developed the GMD in Alabama, and a contract with Boeing could bring hundreds of jobs to the state. As the lead contractor for developing the Minuteman missiles since Minuteman I in 1958, sticking with Boeing would provide a seamless transition into the development of the GBSD. As a spokesperson from Boeing noted to Yellowhammer:
“GBSD is key to national security, and we’re committed to providing the U.S. Air Force with a solution that will give the U.S. a technological leap forward in capability against evolving nuclear threats. Based on mature technologies, Boeing’s GBSD solution offers lower risk and a smooth transition from Minuteman III to GBSD readiness, without costly delays from knowledge transfer or learning curves.”
These advancements in America’s nuclear arsenal will prove crucial in the effort to curtail North Korea’s growing threat. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted strict sanctions against the rogue nation over the weekend, targeting their primary exports—coal, iron, and seafood. In response to the sanctions, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho stated, “We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table.” According to CNN, Pyongyang vowed to “teach the U.S. a severe lesson” if it used military force against North Korea. Boeing’s development of the new GBSD’s sends a strong message to North Korea regarding the United States’ own commitment to formidable deterrents.
Alabama Jobs: Brewton Receives $6.5 Million From Atlanta Based Tech Firm
As reported by WKRG News, the technology company, Provalus, announced today that it plans to invest $6.5 million on a flagship facility in Brewton.
Provalus is part of the Atlanta-based tech firm, Optomi. Created to provide an alternative to overseas outsourcing of business functions, Provalus’ goal is to bring tech jobs back to the U.S.
At over 60,000 square feet and employing more than 300 Alabamians, the facility will provide business process outsourcing (BPO), information technology outsourcing (ITO), and helpdesk services to clients including Fortune 1000 companies.
When commenting on the companies new commitment to Alabama, Gov. Ivey said,
“I’ve made a commitment to attracting 21st Century jobs to Alabama so that our hard-working citizens can count on a more secure future for their families and communities. Provalus’ technology-focused jobs will create this kind of opportunity in Brewton while reinforcing the message that Alabama is open for business.”
Part of Provalus’ core mission is focused on bringing jobs to rural areas. And estimates predict that the company’s cumulative payroll at the Brewton facility could exceed $200 million over the next 20 years.
Showing support for Provalus’ commitment to local jobs, Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace said,
“Governor Ivey made it clear from the start that she was behind new technology coming to Alabama. This project was the culmination of the work of so many, and we couldn’t be prouder to welcome the company to Brewton.”
This significant investment in Alabama jobs comes after Gov. Ivey recently announced her commitment to job growth and education in Alabama.
Racing to the Top: Alabama’s Auto Industry Continues to Grow After 20 Years
The Alabama Department of Commerce revealed that the state’s automotive industry is continuing its rapid growth in 2017. In a statement released on July 24, the department announced that 2016 added 3,848 jobs and $907.1 million in new capital investment. This year, the industry is on track to add thousands of new jobs and push capital past $1 billion.
The expanding industry will include new projects and operations that will manufacture everything from entire automobiles to their component parts. In the news release, the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce Greg Canfield noted:
“Our deep roots in the auto industry keep growing deeper. Last year alone, there were new or expanding auto companies in 26 Alabama counties, showing the vast reach of auto production in Alabama.”
2016 saw Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota all contribute to the growing industry. Hyundai invested $52 million to upgrade its plant in Montgomery. Through this investment, they were able to bring production of the Santa Fe SUV back to their assembly lines. The Lear Operation Corp., which supplies the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, expanded their operation to create 535 new jobs. Moller Tech USA and Eissmann Automotive North America also contributed millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to the industry.
Capitalizing on last year’s momentum, 2017 has brought many new auto sector projects to Alabama and has set the stage for more tremendous growth. Hanwha Advanced Materials America LLC plans to invest $20 million and create 100 new jobs at its manufacturing facility in Opelika. In an effort to improve efficiency and prepare for future projects, Honda plans to invest $85 million in its Lincoln plant. Grupo Antolin, a Spain-based supplier, also plans to build a $10.4 million facility in Jefferson County that will employ 150 people in 3 years.
After 20 years, Alabama’s auto industry continues to prove that it is one of the best in the country. The manufacturing jobs created have contributed to the steady decline in the state’s unemployment rate over the past year. Jason Hoff, CEO of Alabama Operations for Mercedes-Benz, put it best when he said, “Our suppliers have found – just as we have – that Alabama is a great place to do business.”