3 weeks ago

Alabama team kicks off SEUS Japan 42 amid rising Japanese investment

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield is leading a delegation of state business leaders at an international conference in Savannah, Georgia, that seeks to amplify the longstanding economic and cultural ties between seven Southeastern states and Japan.

The 42nd annual joint meeting of the Southeast U.S.-Japan and the Japan-Southeast associations, known as SEUS Japan 42, officially begins today and concludes Tuesday with speeches and high-level panel discussions.

This year’s conference takes place at a fertile time for Alabama’s robust economic relationship with the Asian nation. Japanese companies are currently in the process of hiring nearly 6,200 workers at new or expanding Alabama manufacturing operations. Total investment in these projects tops $2.5 billion.

Secretary Canfield said the annual SEUS Japan conference provides the Alabama team with an opportunity to reinforce bonds that have been established over decades and to explore pathways to future collaborations.

“The benefits of this special relationship are easy to identify – working together, we have driven economic growth, spurred job creation and shaped new opportunities. At the same time, we have bridged cultural gaps to develop genuine friendships that transcend great physical distances,” he said.

The Alabama delegation at SEUS Japan 42 includes company leaders, economic development specialists, mayors, workforce training officials and others. Many of them come from areas where Japanese companies have operations, including Birmingham, Huntsville, Decatur, Jasper, and Marshall County.

LOCAL IMPACT

Matt Arnold, president and CEO of the Marshall County Economic Development Council, has seen first-hand how Japanese investment can benefit Alabama communities.

Arnold said Marshall County’s first Japanese company – TS Tech, which makes automotive seats for Honda’s Alabama assembly plant — arrived in Boaz in 2000.

“When they first announced, they said they would employ about 250 people max. They quickly ramped up to about 600 and are currently at around 750. That seems to be a trend with the Japanese — they don’t want to overpromise and under-deliver,” he said.

The second Japanese auto supplier, Newman Technology of Alabama, came to Albertville in 2012 with plans to employ 65 people, a figure that has grown to 400 today. Both TS Tech and Newman have invested $60 million to $70 million in the county, Arnold said.

Another Japanese firm, JST Corp., started operations with four employees and has grown to about 30 employees as it expanded its Marshall County activities. Arnold has met with the company’s top managers in Japan and hopes to see future growth.

“Our experience with Japanese companies in Marshall County has been fantastic,” he said.

‘BRIDGING CULTURES’

The theme of this year’s joint meeting in Savannah is “Bridging Cultures. Celebrating Success.” Members of the Alabama delegation, numbering around 50, will participate in networking events and hear insights from experts on topics such as logistics and workforce development.

Ceremonies Tuesday begin with a delegates’ breakfast and an opening ceremony. That’s followed by remarks from state delegation leaders, including Secretary Canfield, and panel discussions on economic trends and investment opportunities.

Speakers at the event include Kazuyuki Takeuchi, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, and His Excellency Shinsuke Sugiyama, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America.

“Our secure business connections with Japanese companies have helped Alabama, and the Southeastern United States prosper. However, it has not been without its challenges,” Secretary Canfield said.

“That is what is unique about this conference. We can come together and share best practices that have led to successes in our states. We all want to retain and encourage new Japanese and SEUS investment,” he added.

Besides Alabama, the states represented at the conference are Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.

‘LIFELONG RELATIONSHIPS’

A key player in assisting the expansion plans of Japanese companies in Alabama is Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, is engaged with Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA as the automakers begin to hire as many as 4,000 workers for a new $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Huntsville.

AIDT is also assisting a half-dozen Mazda Toyota suppliers that plan to hire another 1,700 people in North Alabama.

“Japanese investment in Alabama has given our citizens incredible career opportunities over many years that are life-changing,” said Castile, who is attending SEUS Japan 42. “We have had the privilege to work with very professional staff with each company, and they place a high priority on the welfare of each employee.

“They not only provide good jobs — they are also creating lifelong relationships. It is a pleasure to work with the Japanese and develop lifelong friendships,” he said.

Economic ties between Alabama and Japan are strong.

Japan was Alabama’s fifth-leading export destination in 2018 with more than $821 million worth of shipments, including coal, chemicals, motor vehicle parts and accessories, machinery, and aircraft engines and parts, according to Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade.

Japanese companies have made investment commitments in Alabama totaling nearly $7.3 billion since 1999, when Honda announced plans for a Talladega County auto plant. Around 16,000 anticipated jobs have stemmed from Japanese investment during this period, according to Commerce data.

Alabama today is home to 77 Japanese companies, involved in industries including chemicals, steel, advanced materials and nutritional supplements in addition to automotive.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

43 mins ago

Why Dylan Moses suiting up against LSU almost brought some of his Tide teammates to tears

It’s a story that you might not have heard — a story that I think is, well, awesome.

You may know that University of Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is out for the season after suffering a knee injury before a game was even played.

Why then, was Bama’s star linebacker in uniform for the LSU game?

It’s all because of Dylan’s love for his teammates.

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You see, Dylan is from Baton Rouge, and he wanted to find a way to motivate his teammates, show them how much they mean to him and remind them with which team his heart lies.

So Dylan approached Coach Nick Saban and asked for permission to suit up for the big game. Saban signed off on the idea, and on Saturday just past noon, Dylan went on to quietly dress before kickoff.

Saban explained, “Being from Baton Rouge, he came and asked if he could dress for the game and wanted to be a part of the team for that game. We have no intentions of playing him, nor is that any indication that he’s ready to come back and start practicing or playing – that’s not the case. It was just something that he wanted to do to be a part of the team.”

Dylan’s gesture nearly brought some teammates to tears, and helped unify his teammates as they fought their hearts out. As he stood on the sidelines in full gear on Saturday, he served as a motivator and a role model to the young men in Crimson.

It’s a story that you may not have learned from watching the broadcast, but it’s my pleasure to bring it to you here.

Job well done, Dylan. Job well done.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

Byrne: Serious about corruption? Investigate the Bidens

Speaker Pelosi, Adam Schiff and their Democratic colleagues have spent countless hours and taxpayer dollars to find evidence that President Trump was involved in corruption. At the same time, Democrats refuse to even consider the fundamental issue at hand – was President Trump right to question the activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine?

Months ago, media reported Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings. But, once impeachment began, the mainstream media moved to kill the story. We’re told nothing to see there. Yet each week, new information continues to emerge demanding a full investigation of the facts.

We know that Hunter Biden essentially made his living as a high-powered lobbyist benefiting from his father’s career as a senator and vice president.

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When Joe was elected vice president, Hunter claimed to leave lobbying, but really he just shifted his game. He formed a series of companies with Christopher Heinz, the stepson of Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and later Secretary of State John Kerry. These kids, trading on their fathers’ names and political ties, made a pretty powerful combo.

As the New York Times reported, Biden and Heinz pursued multiple foreign business investments “where connections implied political influence and protection.”

These guys closed lucrative deals with China right after Hunter visited China on Air Force II with his father. Importantly, they were working in Ukraine while Joe was leading Ukrainian policy for the U.S to fight corruption.

Ukraine is known for its corruption. A small group of oligarchs holds most political power. Hunter and his company went to work for one of these guys and his notoriously corrupt energy company, Burisma Holdings. Hunter was paid up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board.

We know Hunter knew nothing about energy or Ukraine. But, when you’re dealing with a corrupt country like Ukraine, and the son of the vice president of the United States is involved in a corrupt company, that sends a signal to government officials when considering pursuing investigations.

At the same time, Vice President Biden was threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine unless they fired the prosecutor allegedly looking into Burisma. Senior State Department officials raised concerns about Hunter to the vice president. Yet, the arrangement continued until recently.

The bottom line is that there are serious allegations here, they directly relate to impeachment, and Congress needs to find out what happened. In fact, I introduced H.Res. 631 directing the relevant committees to investigate alleged Biden corruption. Despite having a substantial number of cosponsors, my resolution has been bottled up by Speaker Pelosi.

Last week, Republicans on the Intelligence Committee echoed my resolution, requesting that if Hunter Biden is going to be the basis for impeachment, Congress should get his testimony in the impeachment inquiry. But, Democrats have signaled they won’t allow it. My question is, why?

We know the answer – this is a partisan witch hunt against President Trump. President Trump never once demanded a quid pro quo from President Zelenksy. You can read the transcript yourself. While the Democrats and their allies in the press have trashed President Trump for raising Burisma and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 elections, those are serious issues worthy of investigation.

I am proud to be a leader in the pressure campaign to expose the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ sham process. And I will continue leading the fight to investigate the Bidens and expose real corruption that may exist. If Democrats are serious about exposing corruption, investigating Hunter Biden cannot be ignored.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t win a fight you don’t join. When you fight, good things can happen. That is why I am going to keep fighting, to make sure the truth is out there.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

2 hours ago

Jeff Coleman first up on TV in AL-02

Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman, a Republican candidate to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, on Tuesday announced that his campaign will be going up on television with an advertisement in the Dothan and Montgomery media markets.

The 30-second advertisement is an adaptation of the longer web video, “Mover and Shaker,” that Coleman released last week.

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This comes after Coleman recently kicked off his campaign to a packed crowd in Dothan. He has been designated “On the Radar” by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and he ended the third fundraising quarter with nearly $1 million cash-on-hand after raising $468,001 and loaning his campaign $500,000.

Coleman is a former chairman of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and former civilian aide to the secretary of the U.S. Army for Alabama (South).

Other qualified GOP candidates include Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

Roby is not seeking reelection to a sixth term.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

7 Things: Trump disappointed Sessions entered Senate race, protesters disrupt Veterans Day events, DACA showdown and more …

7. Obsession with Trump’s tax returns continues

  • District Court Judge Carl Nicholas has dismissed President Donald Trump’s lawsuit that was filed in an attempt to fight the TRUST Act that was signed this year by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
  • The TRUST Act would allow Congress to access Trump’s New York tax returns, and while Trump’s lawsuit was dismissed, Nicholas did allow that Trump could try again in the future.

6. Taylor supports term limits

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  • Jessica Taylor, a candidate for the District 2 congressional seat, has signed the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge, which means that if elected she would then vote for the U.S. Term Limits Amendment.
  • The amendment would limit Congress members to three terms and senators to two terms. Taylor outlined, “We will never drain the swamp if we keep sending the same old career politicians to D.C. election after election.”

5. Biden continues to lead the race

  • A new survey conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the in the 2020 presidential race in New Hampshire while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has edged into third place.
  • The poll showed that Biden is only at 20% in the state, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in second with 16%, Buttigieg is at 15% and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) came out in fourth with 14%.

4. Canadian cancel culture

  • In a nation with a prime minister who wore blackface, comments about immigrants showing gratitude to veterans have cost a renowned national figure his job as the face of hockey in the hockey-crazed nation.
  • His comments center around the Canadian tradition of wearing a poppy to show support for veterans and how he doesn’t see enough of them. He stated, “I live in Mississauga [Ontario]. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. … Now you go to the small cities. You people … that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that.”

3. DACA gets its day in court

  • The attempt by President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama via executive order, the same way it was created, will have its first argument at the Supreme Court.
  • The program allows 660,000 illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and get work permits, but the question seems to hinge on the idea one president can create a program out of thin air and a federal judge can stop another president from ending it.

2. Protesters arrested at Veterans Day parade

  • As President Trump was honoring veterans, protesters decided this would be a good time to blow whistles and yell about impeachment. Protesters even spelled out the words “impeach” and “convict” on buildings while some chanted, “Lock him up!”
  • During the Veterans Day parade held in downtown Huntsville, three people were arrested while protesting the shooting of Dana Sherrod Fletcher when they staged a “die-in” on Monroe Street during the parade where they laid down in the middle of the road. They were very quickly removed by officers and charged with disorderly conduct.

1. Trump disappointed Sessions entered Senate race

  • While U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) was attending the Alabama vs. LSU game with President Donald Trump, Trump “expressed his disappointment” with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
  • Byrne didn’t specify what Trump said, but he did go on to say that he feels “extraordinarily encouraged” by the support he’s received since Sessions announced.

3 hours ago

Former Bama star Jalen Hurts befriends bullied boy — ‘It meant the world to me’

Former University of Alabama star quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to be an exemplary role model.

This past weekend, Hurts’ current team — the University of Oklahoma Sooners — hosted 12-year-old Rayden Overbay as their special guest.

Overbay, who has autism, Type 2 diabetes and is deaf in one ear, went viral recently — but not for a good reason. The boy made national headlines after being assaulted by bullies in two separate incidents, each recorded on video.

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Hurts heard about Overbay’s story, and the Heisman contender spent time with him after the Sooners’ game against Iowa State on Saturday in the locker room.

In a video posted by ESPN, Hurts can be seen signing a football for the boy before telling him that he and his teammates are behind him.

Hurts also told OU Daily how important the experience was to him.

The quarterback said Overbay inspires him.

“I mean honestly, Rayden is an inspiration to me,” Hurts said. “I told him he was a soldier for just how he handled himself. It meant the world to me honestly to meet him. That whole meeting was great for me, and he has a friend in me.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn