The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 years ago

Join Us: Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ series kicks off with its 2019 legislative edition

(Calhoun Chamber /YouTube, K. Carpenter)

Join the Yellowhammer News team Tuesday, March 19th for a “Yellowhammer News Shaper” event in Montgomery. The gathering will offer a reception as well as a live interview with Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia).

The discussion will be moderated by Yellowhammer News editor and owner Tim Howe and will cover issues surrounding this year’s legislative session.


The event will take place at the Alabama Association of Realtors, 522 Washington Avenue, and will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a networking opportunity followed by the moderated interview and questions from the audience.

Several more Yellowhammer News Shaper events will take place across the state this year. The series is non-partisan, on-the-record and designed to localize issues and highlight thought leaders.

Continue to visit for announcements during the 2019 calendar year.

and 2 years ago

We believe in Alabama


Yellowhammer News was founded on the need for a news outlet to reflect the state of Alabama, its people and their values.

With great pleasure, we recently read an article by a San Francisco freelance writer chronicling Yellowhammer’s roots and ascent to become the go-to source for news and analysis in this state.


The article, published in the academic publication Columbia Journalism Review, confirmed for us that we have stayed true to our mission and our work is having a broad-ranging impact throughout Alabama and beyond.

It is truly gratifying – and just plain cool – to know we are moving the needle in such a significant way that people across the country are paying attention.

While academics and the elite liberal media criticize us, we take it as an affirmation that the hard work and hours put in by the Yellowhammer team take into account the needs, wants and desires of you, our faithful readers.

One such member of the elite liberal media made our point for us in the article.’s John Hammontree said, “If the mainstream press weren’t out breaking news stories then I don’t think Yellowhammer would have anything to write about, other than whatever Republican talking points they get emailed to them each morning.”

While obviously his exaggerated metaphor is silly (although, we do work hard to get the inside scoop for our readers!), Hammontree’s snarky comment drives home the more important point: what our readers think and find interesting about Alabama matters to us.

You, the reader, can get your news and information in so many places these days. At Yellowhammer, we refuse to dismiss your beliefs, your values and your interests as trivial, as so many other news outlets do.

Our company came into the business knowing it had a fight on its hands. The old-guard academics and liberal elite have to protect their turf. They have special prizes to hand out and agendas to push. They need all the space they can get to tell you what you should actually believe.

At the same time, we have grown.

Besides a one-stop news site, Yellowhammer also now broadcasts its radio news network on 35 stations around Alabama. We have numerous events we host in communities up and down the state. We also make great efforts to deliver information directly to you in our email newsletter and on our social media platforms.

We hope you get an opportunity to at least skim the lengthy piece here. It delivered tremendous encouragement to us that our team’s effort and focus continues to deliver the results we seek to achieve.

Thank you for being a dedicated reader!

We believe in the people of Alabama and the vast potential of our state.

Tim Howe and Allison Ross are the proud owners of Yellowhammer News

2 years ago

Let’s keep site selectors interested in doing business in Alabama


Site Selection magazine released its annual State of the States report highlighting economic development activity for each of the 50 states. The report is one of the industry’s primary sources for site selectors and supplies information used to determine the nation’s most advantageous locations for new jobs and investment.

Leading the list of legislative activity in Alabama was the 2018 law passed exempting site selectors from registering as lobbyists with the Alabama Ethics Commission stating, “Supporters of the legislation argued that requiring site selectors to register with the government and disclose their confidential clients would chase away potential projects.”

What it fails to mention is that what passed last session was only temporary.


Last year, state legislators narrowly passed the Alabama Jobs Enhancement Act to define the role of economic developers who are tasked with growing the state’s economy. Election year hype and misinformation incited a backlash against the bill and the measure became a short-term band-aid set to expire on April 2, 2019.

Since the passage of the bill, Alabama’s headlines have continued to tell a winning story when it comes to new jobs and corporate investment.  These projects chose Alabama in a fiercely competitive playing field:

Site Selection Magazine

Alabama’s new law enabled these announcements and many more. More importantly, the act finally provided definition to a very grey application of the ethics law by creating more transparency, accountability and clarity.

Transparency and Accountability

To be considered eligible for state incentives, every project interested in locating in Alabama must register with the Department of Commerce. Alabama offers a two-year term of confidentiality on project information. Project details are available for public disclosure after that term.

Prior to its passage, project details were never available for public disclosure. The term of disclosure also applies to local economic development organizations.

Greater Restrictions

The term “economic development professional” is defined by the law and expressly excludes public officials, public employees, legislators, and former legislators (within two years of the end of their term).

Legislators are not allowed to accept compensation to lobby on behalf of any person or entity seeking economic development incentives.

Defined Roles

The law provides clarification of where the activities of economic development professionals end and where that of a lobbyist begins.

    • If you are not a registered lobbyist, it is unlawful to promote, oppose or otherwise influence a member of a legislative body for NEW incentives.  It is only lawful to discuss statutory or constitutional economic development incentives that are already available to economic development projects with public officials.
    • The law includes economic development professionals who choose to lobby under the restraints and requirements of the ethics law (required registration, quarterly disclosures and restricted giving to elected officials)

Alabama’s newly elected legislators will be tasked with addressing the issue once again and hopefully, along with the Alabama Ethic’s Commission, provide a lasting solution so that Alabama can keep winning these coveted projects while maintaining some of the strongest anti-corruption laws in the country.

Allison Ross is a former site selector and economic developer.  She is the publisher and owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia.

3 years ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way


There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:


First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.



3 years ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

(YHN, Engadget/YouTube)

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.


According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

3 years ago

Canary officially out at BCA


Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Billy Canary’s tenure officially ended today. The BCA’s announcement of Canary’s departure caps off more than a year of controversy surrounding his leadership of the state’s largest business organization.

A press release issued by the organization states that Canary has accepted a position as a senior fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Canary’s leaving coincides with a transition plan previously adopted by the BCA’s full governing board. BCA staff member Mark Colson has been assigned the day-to-day duties of president.


The move comes after several of the state’s largest companies quit the organization, with some openly questioning its leadership, direction, and effectiveness. A selection committee had previously been named to identify and hire a new CEO. The committee is comprised of members of the executive committee.

Alabama Power Co., Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Protective Life Corporation, Progress Rail, Parker Towing and Maynard, Cooper & Gale have all left the BCA during the last month.

In addition to business members, two long-time senior officials have also resigned from the organization. Next in line as chairman of the board and current chairman of ProgressPAC, Mike Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham withdrew in June. BCA general counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, senior vice president and general counsel for Regions Financial also resigned within the last three weeks.

Canary had been under contract in his current position through 2020.

3 years ago

BCA moves to replace Canary


The full governing board of the Business Council of Alabama voted today to confirm an Executive Committee proposal adopted on May 21, a proposal which sparked significant controversy among members. The transition plan furthers the group’s stated goal to replace President and CEO Billy Canary by the end of this year.

The move comes after several of the state’s largest companies quit the organization, with some openly questioning its leadership, direction and effectiveness. In a press release issued by BCA, the group has named the selection committee to identify and hire a new CEO. The committee is comprised of members of the executive committee.


Alabama Power Co., Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Protective Life Corporation, Progress Rail and Parker Towing have all left the BCA during the last week.

In addition to business members, two long-time senior officials have also resigned from the organization. Next in line as chairman of the board and current chairman of ProgressPAC, Mike Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham withdrew last Wednesday. BCA general counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, senior vice president and general counsel for Regions Financial also resigned within the last week.

Before today’s board action, Canary had been under contract in his current position through 2020.

Allison Ross is the publisher and owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia.

3 years ago

Alabama’s BCA seeking new CEO after controversial departures


This article was updated at 11:30 a.m.  

The Business Council of Alabama says it’s looking for a new chief executive following a wave of high-profile departures.

The Montgomery-based nonprofit issued a statement Thursday saying it will have a new leader to replace president and CEO Billy Canary no later than Jan. 1.

The move comes after several of the state’s largest companies quit the organization, with some openly questioning its leadership.


Alabama Power Co., Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative all left the organization in recent days.

Yellowhammer News has also confirmed that Progress Rail of Albertville and Parker Towing of Tuscaloosa have also withdrawn citing concerns of direction, leadership and effectiveness.

In addition to business members, two long-time senior officials have also resigned from the organization. Next in line as chairmen of the board and current chairman of ProgressPAC, Mike Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham withdrew Wednesday evening. BCA general counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, senior vice president and general counsel for Regions Financial, resigned on Tuesday.

Officials with the organization say they wanted an orderly transition to replace Canary, who’s run the business group since 2003. Exiting companies say they have expressed concerns about the leadership and effectiveness of the organization since August 2017 with no meaningful response.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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3 years ago

Breaking: Next in line at BCA resigns


From bad to worse, the dismantling of the BCA continues.

Yellowhammer news has confirmed that Mike Kemp, a senior officer of the embattled organization resigned.  Kemp is president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham and was serving as first-vice chairman and chairman of ProgressPAC, the official political action committee of the BCA.  Kemp would have been named chairman of the board in January 2018.


In a letter to BCA Chairman of the Board Perry Hand, Kemp cites a need to demonstrate “unwaving integrity in communicating with and managing the resources of the membership, to whom they are accountable.”  He further states “I am disappointed that the BCA leadership’s actions to date have failed to meet these standards, and as such, are antithetical to my views in all respects.”

Previously, he served the organization as second-vice chairman and secretary.  His withdrawal from the group is the latest in an exodus of the state’s largest employers including Alabama Power Company, Regions Financial Corporation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Protective Life Corporation.

Kemp’s resignation directly follows that of long serving BCA general counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, senior vice president and general counsel for Regions Financial, who resigned on Tuesday.

According to one member of the executive committee, Kemp’s departure could paint a grim picture of the future of the organization.  Once seen as a potential bridge between the current leadership and exiting members, his decision to not only resign, but withdraw from membership completely will raise many more questions among remaining members.

A meeting of the executive committee is scheduled for today and a full board meeting is slated for Monday, June 25.

Allison Ross is the owner and publisher of


3 years ago

Regions latest to withdraw from BCA


Regions Financial Corp. became the latest company to withdraw its membership from the Business Council of Alabama. According to a story in the Montgomery Advertiser, the company formally notified BCA leadership of their intentions today.

This decision from one of the state’s largest employers comes on the heels of Alabama Power’s withdrawal from the business organization on Monday.


Both companies had privately expressed concerns about the BCA’s leadership and direction. Their decisions to end long-standing relationships with the BCA mark a turning point in their collective effort to strengthen the business community’s approach to economic development and job growth.

BCA Chairman Perry Hand acknowledged for the first time on Monday that Billy Canary was, in fact, now the outgoing President of the group. In a letter made public by Hand, he detailed that Canary’s tenure would end sometime prior to the start of next year. The departing companies identified the uncertainty surrounding that transition as a significant contributing factor to their leaving.

In addition to BCA’s failure to settle on a timely and decisive transition plan, the companies also expressed concern over the group’s effectiveness and financial health. The Yellowhammer Multimedia Executive Board has itself explored some of these same issues facing BCA.

Regions Financial Corp. is a multi-state bank based out of Birmingham. According to its website, it is the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in Alabama and has $123 billion in assets.

Allison Ross is the owner and publisher of

3 years ago

Are economic developers lobbyists? What you need to know about Alabama’s most misunderstood ethics bill


Last week saw the end of the 2018 legislative session in Alabama, with the final days providing this year’s fill of political drama and heated debate. Perhaps the most controversial bill was the Legislature’s passage of a bill that distinguishes the role of economic developer in the state from that of lobbyist. This might be the most misunderstood issue seen in Alabama in quite some time, and if you rely on the opinion writers of the state for the facts surrounding this issue, then you’d be sure to believe that any legislator voting for its passage should be next in line for indictment.

Alabama has had no shortage of scandal surrounding governmental leaders, so it is understandable that any change to ethics laws should be scrutinized to ensure that all elected officials are held accountable.

If only HB317 had any effect on those laws, the rhetoric of the media would be warranted. Sadly, we live in a place where Chicken Little has been right too many times and Alabamians have seen the political characters in our story crash from the sky.

Here are the facts:

— When the newly elected Republican Legislature passed sweeping ethics reform in 2010, there were not many economic developers in the state who also considered themselves lobbyists.

— Traditionally speaking, and defined by the law, lobbying is described as “promoting, opposing or in any manner influencing the of legislation before any legislative body”.

— So, as far as the normal course of business goes for an economic developer, only in the event you are being paid to influence legislation would you be considered a lobbyist.


— However, section 36-25-1.1 of the Alabama Code states that “Lobbying includes promoting or attempting to influence the awarding of a grant or contract with any department or agency of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of state government.”  Theoretically, this language could mean that an expansive number of activities or roles are defined as “lobbying”, including those involved in incentivizing new jobs and investment.

— More notably, site selection consultants who represent the private companies looking to expand or locate to Alabama would fall into the category of lobbyist.  The implications here could be catastrophic to Alabama’s ability to compete for new jobs and investment.

— Once the question was raised, those in the profession did the right thing, they sought clarity from the Alabama Ethics Commission to determine how to define the act of lobbying for their professional community.

— After years of considering this topic, a draft opinion issued by the commission indicated that it was unclear on whether or not the profession should consider themselves lobbyists and further stated that the lack of clarity was certainly a problem under the current definition of the law.

Why the bill is necessary:

The current law defines terms in a way that creates more questions than it provides answers and the Alabama Ethics Commission was unwilling to clarify the terms and regulations that apply to this profession. The more than 500 economic developers in our state have been operating in a grey area for years, uncertain of their professional obligation to comply in part or whole with the current law.

Here’s why economic-developers-as-lobbyists doesn’t work:

Let’s say economic developers are defined as lobbyists who have to register any entity that pays them. For most, this would be the chamber of commerce or industrial development board that employs them.  Sounds simple, right? The group would fulfill the annual educational requirements of any lobbyist and continue to comply with the financial requirements associated with elected officials.  There is not one developer in the state who would object to that, right?  Wrong.

What about the group of consultants who shop for locations across the country?  Each one would have to register with the Ethics Commission by January 31st each year on the off chance they may have a project in Alabama, then make an extra trip to Montgomery to attend lobbyist training.  As a former site selector, I can assure you, when tasked with the process of elimination, any location that requires you to jump through these types of hoops gets chopped out of the gate.

The current code of nebulous ethics laws on the books today would further require disclosure of confidential project information that would preclude the process from taking root in Alabama.

So why are our headlines filled with new project announcements if economic developers can’t do their jobs?

Only recently have the scope of these concerns been called into question.  Alabama has been a leader in recruiting jobs and investment while operating under the assumption that those who are responsible for recruiting and expanding our economy are not considered lobbyists unless they are actively influencing legislation at the state level.  The law’s language had to be addressed and clarified or those headlines would be a thing of the past.  Without the passage of HB317, the clear-as-mud terms of the law and the Ethics Commission’s inability to provide clarity would be a sign to all those representing corporate investment that Alabama, once a major competitor, is now closed for business.

What now?

The new clarity in the law is not perfect, far from it.  But regardless of whether economic developers are considered lobbyists or not, elected officials still have to play by the same rules enacted in 2010.  Nothing has changed in that department.

To the members who sorted through the rhetoric and voted in favor of this bill, thank you for allowing those responsible for the good headlines to continue to do their jobs.  Perhaps this election cycle, instead of chastising those in the Legislature that have actually done something toward providing solutions, we should consider our votes for those who are willing, even temporarily, to solve the hard problems.

Allison Ross is the publisher and owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 years ago

Is gender still a barrier to entry? Here are 20 examples of how women can forge their own path

Allison Ross, Gov. Ivey, BJ Ellis (YHN)

Yellowhammer Multimedia had the privilege this week to honor 20 incredible Alabamians during our inaugural Women of Impact award reception at the Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Birmingham.

Amid a standing room only crowd, the accomplishments of a diverse group of women were celebrated for a simple reason — their stories are worth telling.

We heard from rocket scientists and athletes, artists and attorneys, women who work in the boardroom and in the classroom, and from those who started businesses in their kitchens that eventually rose to dominate their industries. They were from diverse backgrounds and worked in various professions, and while they all took different paths in life the outcome was the same — each has made significant contributions to their families, their industries and their communities.


When they were singled out for recognition, these women expressed deep humility and offered comments of sincere appreciation for the other women on the list. There wasn’t a self-promoter in the bunch.

Friends and family who attended the reception shared many stories about how these women have contributed to the success of others. That underscored what this event was all about — recognizing leaders who are more interested in acknowledging the success of others rather than their own.

To the beautiful women who allowed us to tell their stories — thank you! We are truly grateful for the trails you blazed in your industries and the contributions you have made to our state.

I fully recognized the trailblazers in my industry when I began working. There were only a handful of women within the economic development community who had earned a seat at the table. In witnessing their achievements — and the respect shown to them by their colleagues – I saw that if you’re willing to earn your seat the hard way, it can be done.

This is why it’s important to tell these stories. Several young girls attended the event. My seven-year-old daughter was one of them. I hope and expect that when it’s their turn to take a seat at the table, their gender is the least noticeable of their contributions.

Still, if you think gender remains a barrier to entry, Yellowhammer Multimedia just gave you 20 examples of how that barrier can not only be scaled, but demolished.

And we’ll give you 20 more next year.

@allisonkross11 is the owner and publisher of Yellowhammer Multimedia.