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5 months ago

Alabama Power, PowerSouth named to select national list of ‘Top Utilities in Economic Development’

The Alabama Power Company and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative were both named this month to Site Selection’s annual list of “Top Utilities in Economic Development” that recognizes a very select group of utilities across the United States.

“Dependable and affordable power still lies at the root” of site selection, the publication said about the honorees.

The write-up also praised the companies’ tremendous impact on their respective local communities, saying, “Lest we forget, utilities’ own operations do their part too, with the power company contributing to overall community welfare in a multitude of ways from job creation to taxes.”

While Alabama Power, the state’s largest utility, and its work is known by a broad audience, PowerSouth’s well-deserved recognition has come from their efforts in rural areas of the Yellowhammer State – a much needed success story for locales that often fly under the radar compared to the bright lights of Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, etc.
PowerSouth, based in the Covington County seat of Andalusia, is an energy cooperative that serves consumers in 39 Alabama and 10 Florida counties through its 20 distribution members — 16 electric cooperatives and four municipal electric systems. Its distribution members blanket southeast Alabama, running all the way up to Talladega as well as across to Washington County on the Mississippi line.

This adds up to 435,000 residential, commercial and industrial consumers that find themselves “end-use members” of PowerSouth. In these rural areas, PowerSouth’s hard work does not go unnoticed. And now, the energy cooperative is gaining the widespread appreciation and acclaim that it deserves.

“We are proud to receive recognition as a Top Utility in Economic Development from Site Selection Magazine,” PowerSouth Vice President of External Affairs Horace Horn said in a statement.

He continued, “We have a dedicated team that strives to be a sought after resource for our electric cooperative members and our local economic development organizations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Alabama Department of Commerce, EDPA and other organizations that work to create jobs and capital investment in Alabama.”

Recently, Alabama ranked atop “Global Trade” magazine’s 2018 list of the best states for manufacturing in the nation, and a big factor – that often goes unnoticed – towards this achievement is the important work done by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), which PowerSouth and Alabama Power both sponsor.

The selection of Alabama in the ranking of top manufacturing states came one month after “Business Facilities,” an economic development focused publication, named the Yellowhammer State as the best in a business-climate ranking.

PowerSouth Governmental Affairs and Economic Development Manager Taylor Williams largely attributes the states’ recent success to the pro-growth policies the Alabama Legislature has implemented along with Governor Kay Ivey and Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield’s leadership.

Site selection opportunities are also key to Alabama’s lofty rankings, and Site Selection’s list makes it abundantly clear that PowerSouth and Alabama Power’s efforts are significantly helping to drive the state’s economic boom.

While PowerSouth is focused on promoting the development of the communities its members serve, the company also works to promote the entire state of Alabama. PowerSouth is a member of not only the important EDPA, but also the Alabama Marketing Allies which showcases the state to site selectors and other prospective industries. Other members include Alabama Power, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, Southeast Gas, Regions Bank, the Alabama Department of Commerce and EDPA.

PowerSouth’s economic development efforts are strongly supported by its President and CEO, Gary Smith, and its Board of Directors and are guided by its strategic plan – the PowerSouth Playbook, which was created in 2016 to compliment what the Department of Commerce is doing through its “Accelerate Alabama” plan.

The playbook includes metrics in each area of economic development, which are tracked and reported to PowerSouth’s board on a regular basis. These metrics include recruitment of targeted industries, community development, product development and existing industry.

Community development and existing industry are two areas setting PowerSouth apart as it works with its members to grow jobs and improve their quality of life.

One of the extra areas in community development that the company is helping its members with is moving high-speed, affordable broadband capacity into underserved areas.

“Communities without strong information infrastructure are rarely viable candidates for economic growth. Businesses will only locate where they can communicate,” Smith explained.

PowerSouth also works closely with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer federal funding through their Rural Economic Development Loan (REDL) and Grant (REDG) programs. Under the former, the USDA provides zero interest loans to local utilities and they, in turn, pass the money through to local businesses that will create and retain employment in rural areas.

To date, PowerSouth and its distribution member have secured $25,025,060 through these USDA programs, resulting in massive capital investments of more than $146,156,540 and the creation of approximately 3,934 new jobs in the rural areas they serve.

The company utilized this program in 2017 to provide Dorsey Trailer in Elba, AL with a zero percent interest, ten-year loan for $1,000,000. The purpose of the loan was to assist Dorsey with access to capital to rebuild after a fire in their paint booth, expand a production line and create 50 new jobs. Since receiving the loan, Dorsey Trailer has thrived, increasing employment from 250 to 380 jobs.

Next, PowerSouth’s Business Development Loan Program is crucial to their economic development efforts. This program is used to construct speculative buildings, provide infrastructure for multi-tenant industrial parks and refurbish existing commercial and industrial facilities.

PowerSouth and its distribution members have, thus far, utilized this program to construct 20 speculative buildings, resulting in greater investment and job creation in our rural areas.

For example, the Troy Industrial Development Board, South Alabama Electric Cooperative and PowerSouth Energy partnered to construct a 50,000 square feet speculative building in the City of Troy in 2012. As a result, the American firearms maker Kimber Manufacturing will open a $38 million production facility in the city, creating 366 jobs over the next five years.

The Talladega County Economic Development Authority, Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative and PowerSouth also partnered to construct a 100,000 sq. ft. speculative building in Lincoln in 2017. This resulted in Lohr North America deciding to locate a facility at the site, invest more than $26,000,000 in the local economy and create around 140 new jobs.

For PowerSouth, the importance existing industry plays in the economic vitality of the state’s rural areas cannot be overstated. The company’s Business Retention and Expansion (BREPS) program is centered on creating partnerships that reinforce customer service and success, as they strive each year to visit as many companies as possible throughout PowerSouth’s service areas. These on-site visits, along with additional communications, provide vital information as to the resources and incentives businesses need to be successful and to expand in Alabama.

Efforts like these are key to the state’s continued economic surge. Right now, as Ivey would say, “Alabama is working again.” With private sector initiatives and partnerships driven by the likes of PowerSouth and the Alabama Power Company, Alabamians have great hope that this success will continue.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 mins ago

Dothan City Schools to eliminate up to 70 jobs

An Alabama school system says it may eliminate nearly 70 jobs after decisions to close some schools in an effort to save money.

The Dothan Eagle reported Dothan City Schools expects to cut at least 47 staff members as part of the efforts.

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Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said the decision to close four schools means there are fewer support positions needed.

The types of positions being eliminated include clerical assistants, secretaries, nurses, education aides and the child nutrition program staff.

Several other staffers may be switched to teaching positions. There are no plans to lay off current teachers.

Edwards says she will make a formal recommendation on the layoffs and transfers next month or in April.

She said the school system could save about $3 million with the cuts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Alabama prep star Maori Davenport drops suit against AHSAA

An Alabama high school basketball star who had been ruled ineligible dropped a lawsuit against the Alabama High School Athletic Association shortly after her senior season ended.

Pike County Circuit Judge Sonny Reagan dismissed the suit Wednesday at the request of Maori Davenport’s mother, Tara.

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The Charles Henderson star had sued the AHSAA and director Steve Savarese after she was ruled ineligible for accepting a payment from USA Basketball.

She played for Team USA last summer and received an $857.20 stipend, which was repaid.

The judge ordered Davenport’s temporary reinstatement and the case was twice delayed, meaning the Rutgers signee was able to play the season’s final five weeks.

Charles Henderson was eliminated Wednesday at the Class 5A state regional.

Jim Williams, an attorney representing the AHSAA, says his side did not have a chance to file an objection and “we did not consent to the dismissal.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

 

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2 hours ago

7 Things: Mueller probe could be over, Byrne officially the first Republican in 2020 U.S. Senate race, Alabama law forces government to give newspapers money and more …

7. Hate crime hoaxer has been arrested and charged with “filing a false police report

— Reports out of Chicago don’t look good for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a grand jury has returned a felony indictment for what the Cook County district attorney believes was a fabricated hate crime to garner publicity. This is not the first time Smollett lied to the police. He pleaded no contest to providing false information to law enforcement after giving police a fake name in a 2017 DUI arrest.

6. Obama era regulations close a power plant; Alabama Power says employees will get new jobs

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— Alabama Power Company announced the Gorgas Steam Plant in Walker County will shut down, because of mandates put in place by President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on April 15. Alabama Power has said all Plant Gorgas employees will keep their jobs and be transferred to other facilities. Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) called this an obvious outcome of the “War on Coal.” He stated, “This is just another example of the ‘War on Coal’ that was prevalent during the Obama Administration and how it deeply impacts rural communities with little concern for those who are hurt.”

5. The State Department says ISIS bride can’t come home to Alabama

— A former Hoover resident and thrice married ISIS bride has been informed that the United States would not welcome her back to the United States. President Donald Trump pushed for that decision and tweeted, “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear she won’t be welcomed. “Ms. [Muthana] is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the U.S. She does not have any legal basis, no valid passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the U.S.,” Pompeo said.

4. White nationalist arrested with an arsenal and a hit list of Democrat politicians and journalists

— Christopher Paul Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, called for “focused violence” and was planning a mass terrorist attack to kill “almost every last person on earth” and “establish a white homeland.” His targets included MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). He also had 15 firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. In court filings, the government said bluntly, “The defendant is a domestic terrorist.”

3. Alabama state law requires advertising in the local newspaper for various state and local entities, this means revenue for papers like the Democrat-Reporter

— A local newspaper embroiled in a racism controversy has benefitted for years from an Alabama law that predates the Internet and guarantees revenue for local newspapers. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) alone spent over $4,000 last year alone. This is only one agency of the state government and one small-town newspaper. It doesn’t factor in other government entities in the area that are required to do business with the newspaper. These laws represent millions of dollars for newspapers guaranteed by archaic state law.

2. It’s official: Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is running for United State Senate

— Byrne announced his run at a Wintzell’s seafood restaurant in Mobile. Byrne referred to his potential future opponent U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) by criticizing his “radical policies.” Byrne also laid out the fight ahead, saying, “The fight for America’s future is too important to sit on the sidelines. I am running for the United States Senate to defend the values important to Alabama.” Jones responded to the news by hammering Byrne. “Given the results of his losing bid for Governor in 2010, in which he did not even win the Republican nomination, it’s hard to see why they would nominate a career politician like Bradley Byrne now,” Jones stated.

1. After almost two years, the Robert Mueller probe is coming to an end

— Attorney General Bill Barr could be ready to announce the end of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and could submit a final report to Congress soon as well. These are the most obvious indications that the investigation is almost over. While it is unclear how much of the report will be made public, Barr has made it clear he plans to be “transparent” with Congress and the American people.

15 hours ago

Byrne first to officially declare run vs. Doug Jones – ‘Future is too important to sit on the sidelines’

Just down the street from where he grew up, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced Wednesday evening his candidacy for the United States Senate while surrounded by family, friends and supporters gathered at Wintzell’s Oyster House in beautiful downtown Mobile.

Byrne became the first candidate to officially announce a run against the incumbent from Mountain Brook, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). In doing so, Byrne made clear his campaign will focus on his record as a fighter for Alabama’s values, drawing a clear and direct contrast between his traditional Yellowhammer State roots and the “radical policies” being pushed by Jones’ Democratic Party.

In his announcement speech, Byrne emphasized, “The fight for America’s future is too important to sit on the sidelines. I am running for the United States Senate to defend the values important to Alabama.”

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The congressman spoke about the “disconnect” between hardworking, everyday Alabamians and people stuck in the bubble of Washington, D.C.

Byrne urged attendees, “Look in Washington and tell me you don’t see people that have a vision that’s fundamentally at odds with what America is.”

“We need a Senator who will fight with President Trump to defend the Constitution, build the wall, stand up for the unborn, push for lower taxes, make health care more affordable and protect the Second Amendment,” he outlined. “I will fight every day to bring Alabama’s conservative values to Washington.”

Answering questions from reporters following the announcement, Byrne decried the Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism and “[killing] babies as they’re delivered.”

He also warned voters that Democrats should be expected to try and interfere in the Republican primary through “fake news” and  manipulative social media efforts. This comes in the wake of revelations that “Project Birmingham” was orchestrated to aid Jones’ general election candidacy in 2017.

Byrne, a labor-employment attorney by trade, is the former chancellor of the state’s community college system and one-term member of the state senate. He has served southwest Alabama in Congress since January 2014.

The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Alabama will be held March 3, 2020, with the general election to follow in November.

You can watch Byrne’s announcement speech and hear him answer questions from reporters afterwards here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Watch live: Bradley Byrne announces U.S. Senate run against Doug Jones

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) is set to announce his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) live at the Wintzell’s Oyster House in downtown Mobile.

Watch live below:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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