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5 days 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

6 mins ago

Kay Ivey receives endorsement from state’s small business association

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Alabama Political Action Committee has endorsed Gov. Kay Ivey in the November 6 gubernatorial election.

NFIB is the nation’s leading small-business association and is considered “the voice” of small business owners and employees.

NFIB’s Alabama state director Rosemary Elebash announced the endorsement Tuesday at a press conference at Southern Distributor/Auto Electric and Carburetor Company – an NFIB member business located in Birmingham.

The organization’s endorsement is based on Ivey’s record and staunch position on small-business issues.

“Kay Ivey is the clear choice for Alabama’s small businesses,” Elebash emphasized in a statement.


“Kay Ivey is a strong leader who understands the challenges facing Alabama’s job creators. She opposes higher taxes and burdensome rules and regulations that would make it harder for small businesses to succeed and create jobs. This spring, she signed legislation prohibiting cities from requiring companies to purchase a municipal business license before driving through their jurisdictions for work purposes,” Elebash added.

She continued, “Since taking office a little over a year ago, Governor Ivey has announced more than 15,500 new jobs and more than $8 billion in capital investment, creating exciting new opportunities for all kinds of small businesses. Under her leadership, our pro-business climate has received national recognition from the likes of the influential Business Facilities magazine, and Alabama’s employment rate is the highest it’s ever been.”

Recently, Alabama ranked atop “Global Trade” magazine’s 2018 list of the best states for manufacturing in the nation, which came one month after “Business Facilities,” an economic development focused publication, named the Yellowhammer State as the best in a business-climate ranking.

Governor Ivey was proud to receive the important endorsement and reaffirmed her strong pro-jobs stance.

“As Governor, I have made it my job to create a strong environment for job creation,” Ivey said in a release. “That’s why I’ve worked closely with the NFIB and the state Legislature, signing the largest tax cut in a decade and eliminating unnecessary regulations that make it more difficult and more expensive to do business. Being endorsed for Governor by Alabama’s small businesses is truly an honor. I am grateful for their trust, support and everything they do to keep Alabama working!”

The endorsement puts the considerable grassroots support of Alabama’s small businesses behind Ivey’s campaign. Small-business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to vote, per the NFIB.

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

27 mins ago

Speaker Mac McCutcheon: Ivey ‘doesn’t really need to debate’ Maddox

As the gubernatorial election for the state of Alabama draws near, Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) weighed in on Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to not debate her Democratic challenger Walt Maddox, despite the Tuscaloosa mayor’s pleas.

McCutcheon said Ivey, who chose to not debate any of her three Republican challengers before the primary, “doesn’t really need to debate” her Democratic challenger for the November 6 election.

“When it comes to debates, in a campaign, every campaign is different,” McCutcheon told WHNT. “The candidates of those campaigns, they need to look at the polling, they need to look at the issues, they need to look at the opportunity they have.”


“I think from the polling numbers that we’re running in all of our legislative districts Gov. Ivey is polling very high, she’s got a lot of support,” he added. “Governor Ivey is in a position right now where doesn’t really need to debate Mayor Maddox.”

Speaker McCutcheon said debates often do not provide detailed responses. He insisted that voters can find answers to their questions without a debate.

“If they’re listening to social media, if they’re looking at her job performance, if they’re looking at the issues and really digging deep into the issues, I think the answers are there for the public,” said McCutcheon.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

41 mins ago

Animals driven to Alabama in a school bus after being saved from Hurricane Florence

In the story of “Noah’s Ark except it’s a school bus,” The Washington Post detailed how a truck driver saved more than 60 animals from Hurricane Florence and drove them to Alabama.

The man who rescued the animals, Tony Alsup, has been back and forth between the South Carolina coast and Alabama in the last week, shuttling 53 dogs and 11 cats to safety from endangered animal shelters.

Running on very little sleep and fueled by Waffle House pitstops, the 51-year-old trucker from Tennessee is being hailed as a savior for the otherwise defenseless animals, many of whom would have been put down by the shelters facing the then-approaching hurricane. Now, in the aftermath of Florence, he continues to search for pets in need of rescuing.

“I’m like, look, these are lives too,” Alsup told The Washington Post during a Waffle House stop.


He continued, “Animals — especially shelter pets — they always have to take the back seat of the bus. But I’ll give them their own bus. If I have to I’ll pay for all the fuel, or even a boat, to get these dogs out of there.”

Alsup, who wants to open his own animal shelter one day, has been rescuing shelter pets from floodwaters with his bus since Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast in 2017. When he saw on the news how so many animal shelters had become overcrowded with lost or rescued animals, Alsup figured he could help by transporting animals to vacant shelters.

Yet, he knew he could not put them in a semitrailer.

“I thought, well what can I do?” Alsup explained. “I’ll just go buy a bus.”

Since then, he has helped with rescue efforts during hurricanes Irma and Maria and, now, Florence.

Once Alsup loads the animals in his bus, he drives them to Foley in Baldwin County. There, his friend, Angela Eib-Maddux, has opened her privately run dog shelter to the new arrivals. She gives them baths and fluffy blankets and “spa treatment,” Alsup said, until they can find enough shelters or foster homes to take the animals.

As of Monday, Alsup had managed to find a permanent home or new shelter for every animal he rescued.

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

1 hour ago

Dem state senator’s son arrested on domestic violence charge

Akil Michael Figures, son of Alabama state Senator Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile), has been arrested on a domestic violence charge, per Fox 10.

The 36-year-old Figures was reportedly charged with third-degree domestic violence (menacing), and this is by no means his first run in with the law in Alabama. He has an extensive rap sheet, including drug charges, giving false information and various traffic offenses.

In June, Figures made headlines when he was shot in the leg in Foley. Authorities then said a man shot Figures twice in the leg at a home in the Baldwin County city.

On Tuesday morning, he was booked into Mobile County Metro Jail just after midnight and then released on bail a short time later.


Additional court records show that a woman, who Figures previously dated, filed near the end of August for protection from the alleged abuse. She was granted this protection until February. Figures has denied the abuse claims and asked for a hearing on the request for protection.

Per the Lagniappe in Mobile, Figures pleaded guilty in 2006 to a single charge of “possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine” after federal prosecutors agreed to a deal dropping a similar charge related to the distribution of ecstasy.

After being sentenced to five years in jail and eight years of probation for that distribution plea, lawyers representing Figures in 2016 asked for probation period to be cut in half, saying the man had kept an “unblemished” record and “regained the trust and confidence of his family.”

The attorneys’ request in 2016 did stipulate that Figures had received a “technical infraction” of his probation “for sending a text message after being ordered to refrain from any further communication with a woman with whom he had a relationship.”

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

2 hours ago

Walt Maddox finally has a plan for Medicaid expansion and it’s pretty bad

Alabama Democrats love bad ideas.

They also have no clue how to pay for these terrible ideas, even though some have tried to figure it out, bless their hearts.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox has been pushing the media-friendly idea that if we would just expand Medicaid. all would be well, unfortunately, he knows almost nothing about the program.


As Yellowhammer News exposed yesterday, Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy embarrassed Maddox on the issue:

MADDOX: There are 33 states that have gone along with the expansion of Medicaid. There are six more that are considering it.

MURPHY: You know how much the state budget for Medicaid is right now?

MADDOX: Not offhand —

MURPHY: It’s about a quarter, a quarter of the total budget. Twenty-four percent of the total budget is Medicare and that is expected to over the next decade go up to as much as 35 percent of the total state budget and I’m wondering how we stop that.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also has no idea how to pay for the program.

MADDOX: You take a combination of taxing the existing gambling that is here and sports gambling. And that will be what you put in your general fund as your offset to it.

The problem is this doesn’t even come close to actually covering the cost of his idea.

If he is capable of getting the legislature to allow existing gambling to be taxed, liberal columnist Josh Moon speculates it would only bring in $15 million.

If he is capable of getting the legislature to pass a sports gambling bill, we can look to Mississippi and see that they are projecting that they will collect $30 million in taxes. Granted, Mississippi is about 60 percent of the size of Alabama, so if we play with the math that puts Alabama at about $50 million a year in revenue.

Play with the math any way you want, but the guy proposing these measures is clearly out of his depth. Clearly, Maddox has no real clue what the numbers are and we still aren’t anywhere near the $150-$200 million that he acknowledges his proposal will cost.

This remains a media favorite talking point with no substance. It’s time for Walt Maddox and his campaign to figure out how to pay for his proposal.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN