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.

6 days ago

Eleven86 is an Alabama Maker of heavenly H2O

(Eleven86 Real Artesian Water/Facebook)

Eleven86 Real Artesian Water (Autaugaville)

The Maker: Marquis Forge

From Genesis to Revelation, water flows throughout the Bible.

Whether it’s the creation, Moses striking the rock, Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine or baptism, there is no doubt water and Scripture are linked.


When Marquis Forge was looking to fulfill a promise he made when he graduated from Autaugaville High School he was a bit surprised that water was what God was leading him to do.

“I graduate from Autaugaville High School in 1995 and during that speech – I was valedictorian – during my valedictorian speech, I made a promise that if I was to go off and be successful, I won’t forget where I come from,” said Forge, now CEO of Eleven86 Real Artesian Water. “In 2015, I had the opportunity to come back and create – through God’s direction – come back and create MRaine Industries and Eleven86 Real Artesian Water.”

Eleven86 Real Artesian Water is an Alabama Maker from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Forge spent his career in the automotive industry and understood processes and engineering. But rather than building something, the calling he got was to bottle water.

“It was God’s decision, not mine,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about water. Water was not my cup of tea.”

Even the name of the company he chose came from the Bible … sort of.

A phone app told him there were 1,186 chapters in the Bible. In order to ensure people say “eleven 86” and not “one thousand one hundred and 86” Forge and his team decided to spell out “eleven.” Forge later counted the chapters and determined there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible but the team liked the sound of “Eleven86” better and Forge is at peace believing it’s the name God intended.

Eleven86 locally sources and bottles its water in Autaugaville, creating jobs for locals and producing a product that can be celebrated by everyone.

Eleven86, the official bottled water of Alabama, is distributed statewide by Budweiser to more than 480 locations. It is the water distributed at every Retirement Systems of Alabama resort, such as the Grand Hotel, Ross Bridge and all Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses in the state. It’s also sold in  Mississippi and Texas.

“We’re just growing by leaps and bounds,” Forge said. “It’s amazing.”

For Forge, Eleven86 is the latest example of God using water for his glory.

“Not only is it high-quality bottled water, but it has purpose behind it,” he said. “It has a story behind it. It’s prophetic.”

The product: Water locally sourced and bottled in Autaugaville.

Take home: Bottled water sold at more than 480 locations in Alabama. You can also order directly from the Eleven86 website.

Eleven86 can be found online and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker concocting interesting beers

(Brittany Dunn/Alabama NewsCenter)

Their slogan is “Life is too short to drink baaad beer” and Goat Island Brewing Co. is doing its part to produce nothing but good brews in Cullman.

Started by a couple of homebrewing friends, Goat Island has added a head brewer, who is a microbiology major with no homebrewing history. The result is an array of tasty beers that are finding a following in northern Alabama.

“People across the board love all of our beers,” said Mike Mullaney, president and co-founder of Goat Island Brewing. “If you want to come in and have a whole bunch of good, variety of craft beers that have a lot of flavor, try us out.”


Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker of interesting beers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The brewery is open to community events and fundraisers in Cullman.

“I like the fact that we are kind of a cultural community center,” Mullaney said.

With seven beers on tap – excluding a seasonal or a small batch – there is always something for any beer drinker. The Blood Orange Berliner Weisse is the bestselling beer on tap, and keeping up with the demand has been a little challenging. A new canning line should help.

The growth is welcome, but the beer has to be the star.

“We always emphasize quality and making sure everything we put out of here is up to the highest standard,” said Paul White, head brewer and operations manager.

Goat Island Brewing Company

The product: Craft beer.

Take home: A growler of Blood Orange Berliner Weisse.

Goat Island Brewing Co. can be found online and on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

CahaBones is an Alabama Maker of treats for your four-legged friends

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Some makers of gourmet goods look for online reviews or social media posts to know if their customers approve. Heather Taylor looks for tail wags.

Birmingham-based CahaBones makes homemade gourmet dog treats. Melissa Campbell founded the company in 2013. Long-time customer Heather Taylor took it over after Campbell moved to Arkansas in 2015.


CahaBones is an Alabama Maker of dog treats worth fetching from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Taylor uses spent grain from local breweries, along with a handful of all-natural ingredients, to produce a variety of flavors. CahaBones come in a set of year-round flavors with some seasonal varieties. All are approved by her two taste-testers, George and Lulu.

Taylor said she finds making the treats therapeutic but nothing compares to getting customer reactions.

“My favorite part is doing the markets, seeing people and their dogs – that’s definitely the best part of it,” she said.


The product: Homemade gourmet dog treats.

Take Home: 15-count Peanut Butter + Bacon bones ($8.50).

Cahabones can be found online, on FacebookTwitter and Etsy.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

Oliver Henry Candle Company is an Alabama Maker leaving a lasting impression

Oliver Henry Candle Company is an Alabama Maker shining a light on others. (Brittany Dunn / Alabama NewsCenter)

Located in downtown Opelika, Oliver Henry Candle Company makes soy-blend wax candles with amazing fragrances that will surely leave a lasting impression.

Oliver Henry Candle Company started about three years ago as a way for interior designer Stacey Jordan to leave clients with a small token of appreciation. It did not take long for Jordan’s candles to grow in popularity, so she and her husband, Andy, decided to turn the company into more than a hobby. Since then, Oliver Henry, which is named for their two sons, has grown to more than 25 retail boutiques across the country as well as online.


The Jordans have since started the Shine Your Light Project, using profits from their company to help their community overcome energy poverty.

“You buy light to give light,” Jordan said. “We are really excited about that and that’s something we really feel led to do.”

Oliver Henry Candle Company

The product: Handmade candles

Take home: 11 oz. Egyptian Cotton ($26)

Oliver Henry Candle Company can be found online, on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

‘No Place Like Home’ is a celebration of Auburn’s architecture

(Auburn University)

Auburn’s rich history and architectural structures are worth celebrating.

“No Place Like Home: An Architectural Study of Auburn, Alabama” is a record of the first 150 years of buildings that have helped make Auburn into the place it is today.

The book looks at rooflines, windows, doors and different styles of bricks. But it also goes deeper into stories about the structures and about what happened inside. The builders and the architects are credited for their lasting legacies.


“No Place Like Home” recognizes the buildings and places of Auburn from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Co-authors Delos Hughes, Ralph Draughon Jr., Emily Sparrow and Ann Pearson present Auburn’s architecture in a way that anyone can have a special connection to the city and its places. The book will be released by NewSouth Books next month.

“I really hope it would encourage them – architects and builders – to think about: What is my place? Where do I fit into the built-in environment in Auburn? And what will someone say about my work 50 years from now or 100 years from now?,” Sparrow said.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

12 months ago

Red Clay Brewing is an Alabama Maker with deep Southern roots

(Brittany Dunn/Alabama NewsCenter)

The words “red clay” evoke images of the South. Whether you’ve played in it, been stuck in it or just fancied it while driving down some Alabama backroad, it fits in here like sweet tea and barbecue.

So, when John Corbin and Kerry McGinnis set out to open a brewery in downtown Opelika a few years ago, the brothers-in-law knew they wanted a name that was decidedly Southern.


Red Clay Brewing Company opened around the same time as John Emerald Distilling and helped ignite downtown Opelika with a string of new businesses that have followed.

“We wanted something that was Southern but when you heard it they definitely knew you were from the South and that’s why we decided to name it Red Clay,” Corbin said.

With about 50 beers created, Red Clay has 17 on a rotation. The styles are a mix of traditional brews of a wider spectrum, including sours, stouts and Hefeweizen. In addition to beer, Red Clay offers its house ciders and wines.

“This, Red Clay, we wanted this to be the traditional pub, in a sense of a place where people can come and gather,” Corbin said.

Red Clay Brewing Company
The Makers: John Corbin and Kerry McGinnis
The product:
 Craft beer with special seasonal offerings.
Take home: A growler of Southern Bumpkin.

Red Clay Brewing Company can be found online, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Code the Classic connects Birmingham-area companies with talent from HBCUs

(Brittany Dunn/Alabama NewsCenter)

More than 100 students and dozens of companies came together Friday for Code the Classic, an initiative designed to link area employers with diverse talent from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) hosted the sixth annual event that coincides with the Magic City Classic football game between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University. The event took place at Innovation Depot, the highly regarded business incubator and coworking space in downtown Birmingham.

“Over the next 10 years, Birmingham is expected to have six times as many job openings in computer science and engineering-related positions that require a bachelor’s degree than we have candidates to fill those roles,” said Waymond Jackson, BBA senior vice president of public policy.


Code the Classic brings together HBCU talent and Birmingham companies from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“This event helps connect companies needing to fill their talent pipeline with students across the state who could be a great fit for the role. Opportunities like this serve as a good first step towards increasing local companies’ access to talent and provides college talent a fresh look at Birmingham,” Jackson said.

The event included the Code the Classic Tech Career Expo, with companies looking to recruit developers, programmers, IT project managers, analysts, graphic designers and engineers, as well as professionals interested in accelerated tech training and coding bootcamps.

“Alabama institutions produce world-class talent, and we are excited to expose future graduates to the potential of careers in technology right here in the Magic City,” said Katie Inabinet, senior recruiter at Shipt, one of the participating companies. “We are proud to sponsor this wonderful event again this year.”

During the gathering, Alabama State and Alabama A&M faced off in an innovation pitch, which was followed by a leadership roundtable with business and government leaders, including U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and Vulcan Materials Co. CEO Thomas Hill.

A student debate and immersive networking studio, facilitated by The YARD, a new HBCU platform that funds student ideas and collaboration with industry leaders and communities. The YARD launched at the U.S. Conference of Mayors with a $1 million commitment from founding partner Vulcan Materials to fund scholarships, internships and grants to HBCUs.

“The Magic City Classic is the epicenter for tech, talent and culture in the Southeast and provides us with the perfect opportunity to connect our HBCU talent with prospective employers,” said Erskine Chuck Faush, CEO and cofounder of The YARD. “We have industry leaders from today’s top companies joining us for this special event because they believe in the value of diversity and inclusion and see opportunities for investment to build more sustainable career pipelines and drive positive economic impact. We hope that employers will join us by investing in tomorrow’s generation today.”

In addition to The YARD, partners for Code the Classic include Innovate Birmingham and TechBirmingham.

“The BBA has been instrumental in reimagining our regional workforce development efforts, and Code the Classic is another example of their commitment to work,” said Deon Gordon, president and CEO of TechBirmingham. “As the regional tech council, we’re excited to join them in this effort to lift up our vital HBCU institutions and students to better connect them to local employers. The more diverse our talent pipeline, the more resilient and robust our tech economy will be as well.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)