The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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.

3 hours ago

Auto supplier DaikyoNishikawa kicks off construction on $110 million Alabama plant

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey joined executives of DaikyoNishikawa US (DNUS) and local leaders at a groundbreaking event this week to officially launch construction on the auto supplier’s $110 million manufacturing plant in North Alabama.

The DNUS facility, which will produce plastic automotive parts for the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. (MTMUS) assembly plant, will employ approximately 380 people at full production.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site on the MTMUS campus where construction crews are poised to begin work on DNUS’ first U.S. manufacturing plant.

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“I’m proud to welcome another great Japanese company, DaikyoNishikawa, to Sweet Home Alabama, and I know that together we will build a lasting partnership,” Governor Ivey said.

“Today marks another pivotal moment for Huntsville as it becomes the next vital production hub for the global auto industry.”

In May, DNUS became the first supplier to announce plans to locate a facility on the site of the Mazda Toyota joint venture assembly plant, which will have the capacity to produce up to 300,000 vehicles annually.

“As our first manufacturing facility in North America, DNUS is proud to serve Mazda Toyota and call Huntsville our new home,” said Nariaki Uchida, president of DaikyoNishikawa Corporation.

“Together with our business and community partners, our aim is to be a good corporate neighbor and a premiere Tier I automotive supplier.”

By establishing its first North American facility in Huntsville, DaikyoNishikawa aims to maximize its business opportunities by further strengthening relationships with major customers.

MANUFACTURING ORBIT

Construction on the 3.1 million-square-foot MTMUS facility is well underway, with as many as 2,500 construction workers expected on the Limestone County site this summer.

The Mazda-Toyota partnership is investing $1.6 billion to open the Huntsville assembly plant, which will employ up to 4,000 people.

Once the DNUS facility begins operations to coincide with the start of MTMUS vehicle production in 2021, DNUS’s Alabama workforce will manufacture large resin parts such as bumpers and instrument panels for the automakers.

“By selecting Alabama as the site for its first U.S. manufacturing facility, DaikyoNishikawa joins a long list of world-class Japanese companies with growing operations in the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We look forward to working with this high-caliber company to assemble a workforce in Huntsville that can fuel its growth plans.”

HIRING PLANS

DNUS has started hiring qualified candidates. Individuals who are interested in applying for open positions at DNUS can visit the following links for more information:

The DNUS project represents one of the largest in a string of supplier announcements tied to the MTMUS assembly plant in 2019.

So far, a total of five MTMUS suppliers have pinpointed sites in North Alabama for production locations that will create almost 1,700 new auto-sector jobs, most of them in Huntsville.

“DaikyoNishikawa is a key manufacturer in the growing cluster of Tier 1 automotive suppliers for MTMUS, and we’re excited to provide the skilled workers for this high-performing auto industry leader,” ​Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.

Hiroshima, Japan-based DaikyoNishikawa operates about a dozen R&D centers and manufacturing plants in its home country, as well as production sites in Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia and China. The company employs more than 5,000 people across these sites.

With roots stretching back to the early 1950s, DaikyoNishikawa supplies plastic parts to many major automakers based in Japan, including Mazda and Toyota.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

6 days ago

Josh Laney to head Alabama Office of Apprenticeship as skills program expands

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and director of AIDT, announced that Josh Laney has been named director of the newly established Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA) as the state moves to expand a program that elevates the skill levels of workers.In his new role, Laney will partner with industries and education providers across the state to develop and expand traditional and industry-recognized apprenticeships for youth and adults.  He will also lead the AOA’s support of larger workforce development infrastructure for Alabama to identify and promote the recognition and use of valuable credentials.

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Laney previously served as senior director for Workforce Development at the Alabama State Department of Education, where he supported local school system efforts to align the career technical training initiatives with workforce needs.

With over 20 years of experience in education, Laney’s career path has taken him from the classroom to administrative leadership in junior high and high school settings before assuming the role of career technical director for Phenix City Schools in 2011.

Under Laney’s leadership, the AOA will expand Alabama’s registered apprenticeship opportunities, resulting in additional skilled employees in the workforce and increased economic activity for Alabama.

“The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship is a game changer. Having someone like Josh who is passionate about education and dedicated to the growth and preparedness of our workforce is a home run for Alabama,” said Castile, who heads Commerce’s Workforce Development Division.

MEETING DEMANDS

The establishment of the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship represents another step in Alabama’s strategic efforts to develop a comprehensive workforce system. Apprenticeship programs allow the state to meet the current and future demands of business and industry, while also creating greater opportunities for Alabamians.

Registered apprenticeship programs are innovative work-based learning opportunities that rely on business involvement and provide on-the-job training while also providing wages from employers during training.

Apprenticeship sponsors develop highly skilled employees, while reducing turnover rates and increasing productivity.

Alabama has five industry focused sectors for apprenticeships:  Healthcare, Construction/Carpentry, Information Technology, Distribution/Transportation & Logistics and Advance Manufacturing.

“The success of Apprenticeship Alabama over the last few years made us realize that we needed to go bigger,” Castile said. “With Josh’s extensive background in workforce development and education it was natural fit for agency.”

Laney’s appointment follows the passage of Senate Bill 295, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, which not only established the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship but also expanded the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,250.

The legislation also increased the number of apprentices one employer may claim from five to 10, as well as the tax credit cap from $3 million to $7.5 million, and established the Alabama Apprenticeship Council.

The AOA will serve as the registration agency for all registered apprenticeships in the state of Alabama.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

6 days ago

Record year for foreign investment sparks growth in Alabama

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

With major new growth projects moving forward across Alabama, foreign direct investment continues to play a vital role in the state’s economy, building on a record total of foreign investment approaching $4.2 billion last year.These FDI projects represent major job-creation engines for many Alabama communities.

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Last year, companies from 16 different countries launched projects with more than 7,500 new jobs. So far in 2019, FDI projects approaching $1 billion in value will bring another 3,300 jobs to the state, according to an Alabama Department of Commerce estimate.

In Enterprise, Tier 1 auto supplier Hwaseung Automotive Alabama (HSAA) in March announced plans to add 168 jobs to its Alabama operation through a $6 million expansion that represents Coffee County’s largest FDI project in four years.

HSAA, which launched its Alabama operation in 2003 with 20 employees, will have nearly 600 when the new hires are added, said Jonathan Tullos, executive director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. Its last major expansion in Enterprise came in 2015.

HSAA, which produces weather-stripping and air conditioner hoses, serves Hyundai’s Montgomery assembly plant, along with Kia, Chrysler and General Motors. Its Alabama-made products are found in more than a dozen automobiles.

“Having a company like HSAA make an investment in Enterprise is a ringing endorsement of the quality of workforce and opportunities that exist in our area,” Tullos said.

“We have seen in the past that these investments can yield additional job-creation opportunities from other companies looking for a home.”

One example: Advanced Carrier Products, whose parent company is based in Germany, opened a manufacturing operation in Enterprise to supply metal inserts to HSAA.

FDI IMPACT

Similar stories have played out in a number of Alabama communities in recent years, particularly as growth in the state’s auto industry has intensified.

Select USA, a federal government program that facilitates foreign investment in the U.S., says the Alabama operations of foreign-owned companies employ 109,000 people in the state. Read a report.

Since 2013, FDI projects in Alabama have involved nearly $13 billion in new capital investment, generating almost 25,000 jobs, according to estimates from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

FDI typically accounts for 30 to 50 percent of new and expanding industry activity in the state each year, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Clearly, this is a huge priority for us as a state, and we’re fortunate to have a diverse base of industries, along with a highly-skilled workforce, to attract and retain these commitments from global manufacturers year after year,” Secretary Canfield said.

Not all FDI flowing into Alabama is tied to the auto industry.

In fact, foreign investment recorded in 2018 originated from a diverse slate of sources in a variety of industries.

Major FDI projects now under way include French planemaker Airbus’ $264 million, 432-job expansion of its Mobile manufacturing plant, and the $101 million, 150-job expansion of the Calhoun County plant operated by Austria-based Kronospan, a leading manufacturer of wood-based panel products.

Other big projects were Haier U.S. Appliance Solutions Inc., part of a China-based conglomerate and parent company of GE Appliance, which announced a $115 million, 255-job expansion of its Decatur refrigerator plant.

In Mobile, Swedish steelmaker SSAB is investing $100 million, adding 60 jobs and relocating its North American headquarters from suburban Chicago.

FDI HORSEPOWER

Alabama has seen significant increases in FDI in the automotive sector over the past 25 years, thanks to the growing operations of foreign automakers Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai, and their sprawling supplier networks.

Toyota has also played a major role. Earlier this year, Toyota announced a $288 million expansion at its Huntsville engine plant, where it will add two new production lines and 450 workers. The project will push the investment in the plant to $1.2 billion and its workforce for more than 1,800.

Meanwhile, just miles away, construction on the $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA joint venture auto assembly plant is well under way. After production begins in 2021, the facility will have up to 4,000 workers.

Already, suppliers have begun circling the plant, bringing $380 million in new investment and nearly 1,500 jobs. More announcements are expected in 2019.

For Alabama, 2018 was a banner year for automotive FDI.

In addition to the new Mazda Toyota factory, other major projects included Mercedes-Benz’s new $268 million, 325-job EV battery plant in Bibb County, along with a $495.5 million expansion at the automaker’s Tuscaloosa County campus.

Elsewhere in the auto industry, Hyundai constructed a $388 million facility for engine manufacturing operations in Montgomery, and Honda announced plans to spend $55 million to improve weld operations and add more than 50,000 square feet at its Talladega County factory.

According to Select USA data, Alabama has attracted 114 auto-related FDI projects.

TARGETING INVESTMENT

Like other areas of the state, Tullos said Enterprise and Coffee County are making moves to position their region for future investment opportunities by focusing on education and workforce development.

“Our workforce is anchored by one of the best K-12 school systems in the state of Alabama as well as the efforts of Enterprise State Community College President Matt Rodgers, who recently launched a mechatronics program to support companies like HSAA,” he said.

The mechatronics program, offered at the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark beginning this fall, will train workers for high-demand industrial automation careers that focus on electrical, mechanical and computer engineering.

There are similar programs in place to assist Mercedes and Toyota. In addition, Alabama has rolled out initiatives including Success Plus and Apprenticeship Alabama that are designed to fill the pipeline of skilled workers needed in the future.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

1 week ago

Marshall Space Flight Center to lead NASA lander program in return to moon

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine today announced that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville will lead the agency’s Human Landing System Program for its return to the Moon by 2024.

Bridenstine made the announcement in front of the 149-foot-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket liquid hydrogen tank structural test article currently being tested at NASA’s Alabama installation.

He was joined at the event by U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee.

“We greatly appreciate the support shown here today by our representatives in Congress for NASA’s Artemis program and America’s return to the Moon, where we will prepare for our greatest feat for humankind – putting astronauts on Mars,” Bridenstine said.

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Illustration of a lunar lander on the Moon (Photo: NASA)

“We focus on a ‘One NASA’ integrated approach that uses the technical capabilities of many centers. Marshall has the right combination of expertise and experience to accomplish this critical piece of the mission.”

‘UNIQUE CAPABILITIES’

Informed by years of expertise in propulsion systems integration and technology development, engineers at Marshall will work with U.S. companies to rapidly develop, integrate, and demonstrate a human lunar landing system that can launch to the Gateway, pick up astronauts and ferry them between the Gateway and the surface of the Moon.

“Marshall Space Flight Center is the birthplace of America’s space program. It was Marshall scientists and engineers who designed, built, tested, and helped launch the giant Saturn V rocket that carried astronauts on the Apollo missions to the Moon,” Brooks said.

“Marshall has unique capabilities and expertise not found at other NASA centers. I’m pleased NASA has chosen Marshall to spearhead a key component of America’s return to the Moon and usher in the Artemis era.”

Aderholt said Marshall is the perfect pick to lead the Human Landing System Program.

“Marshall Space Flight Center, and North Alabama, have played a key role in every American human mission to space since the days of Mercury 7. I am proud that Marshall has been selected to be the lead for the landers program,” Aderholt said.

“I am also very proud that Marshall has designed and built the rocket system, the Space Launch System, which will make missions to the Moon and Mars possible. We look forward to working with our industry partners and our NASA partners from around the country.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

RELATED: Alabamian selected to oversee key part of Artemis Moon mission

3 weeks ago

Commerce taps Brenda Tuck as first rural development manager

(Made in Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, yesterday announced that Brenda Tuck has been hired as the department’s first rural development manager to assist rural counties and communities better compete for job-creating projects.

Tuck previously served in Commerce’s Workforce Development Division as Regional Workforce Council Liaison, working closely with the councils, employers and educators to ensure that the workforce needs of businesses are being met at a local level. Before joining Commerce in 2016, she served in economic development positions in Southwest Alabama, including Marengo, Dallas and Wilcox counties.

“Brenda has extensive experience working on the front lines of economic development in rural Alabama counties, so she knows the specific challenges these areas face when it comes to competing for projects,” Secretary Canfield said.

“Her background in both economic and workforce development makes her the ideal choice to help rural communities navigate the economic development process.”

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In her new role, Tuck will provide technical assistance to rural communities under consideration for economic development projects, as well as ongoing assistance and training for rural communities seeking to enhance their competitiveness for new investment and jobs.

“Rural communities in Alabama can benefit from having a go-to person who can connect them with the resources they need to improve their economic development prospects,” Tuck said. “I look forward to working with the leaders from rural counties and communities across the state in this important role.”

Tuck served as director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority between 2012 and 2016, focusing on industrial recruitment and existing industry retention and expansion. While in Linden, she also served as an ambassador for rural issues affecting Southwest Alabama and directed a small business incubator.

Before that, Tuck spent seven years as a partner with Alford & Associates LLC, an economic and community development consulting firm in Selma, and five years in economic development at Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc., also in Selma.

“Brenda will work with our business development team and liaise with our project managers to help us be more successful in rural areas,” said Ted Clem, director of the Business Development Division at Commerce.

“I think having someone on our staff who wakes up every day thinking about the needs of rural Alabama is a great first step that will help us devise future strategies for our team.”

SPARKING RURAL DEVELOPMENT

The creation of the first-ever rural development manager position in Commerce’s Business Development Division is another step in a broader strategic effort to spur job creation in rural areas across the state.

In July 2015, Alabama began offering enhanced incentives for companies locating qualified projects in rural or “Targeted Counties.” Since then, 16 projects involving $1 billion in capital investment and nearly 1,400 new jobs in these counties have received incentives through the Alabama Jobs Act.

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved the “Alabama Incentives Modernization Act,” which increases the number of counties eligible for enhanced incentives.

Commerce is also collaborating the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s Rural Development Committee to formulate new strategies to promote economic development in the state’s rural areas.

(Courtesy of Made In Alabama)

3 weeks ago

Milestone: Airbus launches A220 production at Alabama facility

(Airbus U.S./Twitter)

MOBILE, Alabama — Airbus announced today that it has begun manufacturing A220 aircraft at its Alabama production facility, a key milestone in growth plans that will see the company add a second assembly line at its Mobile facility and hire more than 400 new workers at the site.

The first team of A220 production workers began work at Airbus’ Mobile production facility following their recent return from on-the-job training in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, where the A220 program and primary final assembly line are located.

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“The expansion of our commercial aircraft production in Mobile to a second product line—with 400 additional jobs to support it—further solidifies Airbus’ standing as a truly global aircraft manufacturer, and confirms without a doubt that Airbus is an important part of America’s manufacturing landscape,” said Airbus Americas chairman and CEO C. Jeffrey Knittel.

“With Mobile, and our production network in Asia, Canada and Europe, we have strategically created a worldwide industrial base to better serve our customers.”

CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

Airbus announced plans for the addition of A220 manufacturing in Mobile in October 2017.

Construction on the main A220 flowline hangar and other support buildings for the new A220 began at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley industrial complex at the beginning of this year. Work on the project is proceeding rapidly, according to Birmingham-based HPM, the program manager.

Airbus is producing the first few aircraft within some current A320 family buildings and newly-built support hangars. The first U.S.-made A220 – an A220-300 destined for Delta Air Lines – is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020.

By the middle of next decade, the facility will produce between 40 and 50 A220 aircraft per year.

Airbus began producing A320 aircraft at its $600 million Alabama manufacturing plant in late 2015. To date, the company has delivered more than 130 aircraft to eight different airlines, with Delta claiming the most, with 52 deliveries.

More than 800 people are now working at the Airbus assembly line. The company employs an additional 220 at an engineering center in Mobile and has another 70 or so Space and Defense employees in the city, pushing its total employment in Alabama to around 1,100. More hiring is under way, with assistance from AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency.

(Courtesy of Made In Alabama)

1 month ago

Auto supplier Motus Integrated Technologies chooses Alabama for new plant

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Governor Kay Ivey announced that Motus Integrated Technologies, a Tier 1 supplier of automotive interior products to the world’s automakers, has selected the City of Gadsden, in Etowah County, as the location for its new manufacturing facility.

Motus will invest over $15 million and create 90 new jobs at the facility, which will manufacture interior automotive parts and headliners.

Working closely with the State of Alabama and local leaders, Motus conducted an exhaustive search for its new plant location before deciding to build in Gadsden. The site is close to a heavy concentration of automotive manufacturing facilities within the region, and several current and potential customers.

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“Motus is a premier global automotive supplier and we are thrilled that they have selected the State of Alabama and Gadsden as the site for their new facility,” Governor Ivey said.

“We’re excited to partner with the company as they invest millions into a new manufacturing plant in Gadsden and create 90 new jobs. This is yet another example of how Alabama continues to lead the way in growing manufacturing here at home,” she added.

GROWTH TRENDS

The project announced today involves the creation of 90 new jobs, with an anticipated average wage of over $20 per hour, and a commitment by Motus to invest $15 million in construction of the Gadsden facility and related technology.

Motus will bring its “Safety First” culture to the plant, along with state-of-the art headliner forming, injection molding and assembly operations. Construction of the facility is slated to start in the coming weeks and is anticipated to be concluded in mid-2020.

“The primary mission of Alabama’s economic development team is to help high-caliber companies like Motus grow and create jobs in the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Motus’ decision to locate a manufacturing plant in Gadsden is great news for the community and for the state’s expanding auto sector.”

Motus’ plans for the new Alabama facility build upon powerful growth trends in the state’s auto industry. It will also allow Motus to capitalize on the rapidly growing automotive industry across the broader Southeastern United States. In 2018 alone, auto manufacturing companies announced new Alabama projects involving nearly $3.3 billion in capital investment and almost 5,500 anticipated jobs.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP

Motus is a leading provider of headliners, automotive interior door and console armrests to the world’s leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (“OEMs”) and Tier 1’s. It holds a leading market position in this sector and has one of the industry’s broadest and most technologically advanced product portfolios.

The company operates a global manufacturing platform with over 2,000 employees operating its five current facilities. Motus is a trusted employer and valued community partner, and its customer relationships average more than two decades in length.

“It was clear from the beginning of our process to find a location for this new facility that Governor Ivey, Secretary Canfield, the State of Alabama and the leaders in Gadsden wanted Motus to call their community home, and we are excited to make that happen,” said Shannon White, chief executive officer of Motus.

“Motus prides itself on ensuring the safety of our team each day, the superior quality of our products, the partnership with our community and the outstanding service we provide to our customers. This new plant will allow for each of those principles to be achieved. We cannot wait to welcome new colleagues and get to work in Gadsden.”

‘IMPORTANT PROJECT’

Gadsden and area officials welcomed Motus’ plans for the facility.

“This is a great day for Gadsden, and we are proud to be able to recruit high-paying jobs and welcome an innovative company like Motus to our community and our state,” Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton said. “This is confirmation that our ongoing investment in infrastructure, education, and the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority, has enabled us to compete with other areas to land this important worldwide automotive supplier.

“We are thankful for the support and trust of Governor Ivey and Secretary Canfield, and for Motus in locating this important project in our city,” he added.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

HPM: Airbus A220 assembly line project gaining momentum in Alabama

(HPM/Contributed)

MOBILE, Alabama – On the campus of Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing facility, construction crews are completing the early phases of a project that represents the next chapter of the aerospace company’s U.S. growth plans.

Work on the A220 aircraft assembly line in Mobile is moving forward rapidly, just months after high-ranking Airbus executives joined state and local leaders at an official groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

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“We are well into construction,” said Greg Ellis, vice president for program development at HPM, the Birmingham-based firm overseeing the project. “The site is full of tower cranes and tons of yellow equipment. It looks like ants on a hill right at the moment.”

For HPM, the new project is a déjà vu moment. The firm oversaw the construction of Airbus’ A320 Family manufacturing facility at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley industrial park, a $600 million investment that gave the aircraft maker its first U.S.-based commercial aircraft assembly site.

The facility now being built on the Mobile campus is also strategically significant as it will allow Airbus to produce a second aircraft type in Alabama — the single-aisle A220 passenger jet to meet the demands of U.S. airlines.

It’s also an extension of the partnership the Alabama firm has forged with Airbus.

“The relationship with Airbus has played an integral role in the growth of HPM, and we’re honored to expand our partnership on the new A220 assembly line,” said Ryan Austin, chief operations officer at HPM. “Through past projects, we have cultivated a mutual respect and keen understanding of the strategic processes and objectives for each organization.

“Those symmetries will enable us to deliver a top-caliber facility that will help Airbus to achieve its production goals and will ultimately contribute to increased growth and prosperity for the city of Mobile and state of Alabama,” he said.

RENEWED PARTNERSHIPS

Though the groundbreaking ceremony was staged just five months ago, HPM’s work on the project actually started in Spring 2018, when it began working on programming efforts with Airbus and its A220 partner, Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier, according to Ellis.

HPM then teamed with the engineering and development firm Mott MacDonald, a partner on the A320 project, to draw up a master plan and assemble the design build and construction teams for the new project.

HPM tapped Brasfield & Gorrie, which built the A320 assembly line, for the same role in the A220 project. Another Birmingham-based firm, BL Harbert International, is adding four additional hangar bays to support A220 and A320 production.

Both are moving forward for a fast-track delivery for Airbus, which aims to begin assembling A220 aircraft at the site this summer.

Ellis said BL Harbert has topped out the steel structures for the new bays and begun pouring slabs and enclosing the buildings. Brasfield & Gorrie is already into steel construction and prepping areas for an underground tunnel that will run within the assembly line.

“They’ve got all the foundation systems installed and all of the temporary shoring. They are closing in on about 50 percent completion with the building of the final assembly line,” Ellis said. “Over the next 60 days, we’ll start to install roof and exterior wall systems once they get the steel far enough along.”

A future phase of the project calls for an expansion of the delivery center on the Airbus campus, where more than 120 Alabama-made A320 Family aircraft have already been delivered to eight U.S.-based airline customers.

“This will be a nice enhancement to the facility there and will bring a little more prominence and ceremony to the delivery of aircraft in Mobile,” Ellis said.

Once the new facility is at full production, Airbus plans to build four A220 aircraft each month.

The company is hiring more than 400 new workers to staff the new assembly line and is also adding jobs to increase production of A320 Family aircraft in Alabama. Read a story on Airbus’ hiring plans.

MEETING GOALS

The A220 project’s accelerated timeline has prompted HPM to take a different approach than the one it used with the original assembly line.

“This is a bit more streamlined. We are designing while building, while we are prepping for equipment to be installed, so that as soon as things are tested and approved, we can begin working with the operations team to bring aircraft through the facility,” Ellis said.

Another challenge for HPM is that the heavy-duty construction work must be performed on the site of a major manufacturing facility.

“We cannot in any way, shape, form or fashion impact their ongoing operations. That is a unique challenge in and of itself,” he said.

‘LAUNCHING PAD’

Since completing the A320 assembly line project for Airbus, HPM has been involved in several large-scale aerospace and aviation projects, including Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville, and expansion projects for MRO companies VT MAE and HAECO America.

Earlier this year, HPM was selected to help Boom Aviation locate, design and build a manufacturing facility for its planned supersonic airliner. Two years ago, HPM began its work alongside the properties and facilities teams of FedEx Express throughout the U.S. managing airport and runway projects, enhancing sorting facilities and renovating offices.

“The A320 project was really our launching pad into aerospace and aviation,” Ellis said.

Since then, HPM has also worked with global manufacturers such as Continental Tire and Mercedes-Benz, which is adding a second campus to its industrial footprint in Alabama.

“When you work for an international client the size and magnitude of Airbus, and you satisfy and please them, the rest of the world stands up and takes notice,” Ellis said.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

Alabama team uncovers potential projects at 2019 Paris Air Show

(B. Smith/Contributed)

PARIS – Alabama’s business recruitment team wrapped up its efforts at the 2019 Paris Air Show Thursday, after engaging in around 20 appointments with high-ranking aerospace executives, along with many informal encounters with industry officials.
Over three days in Paris’ Le Bourget airfield, the Alabama aerospace recruitment effort uncovered seven potential projects and advanced the recruitment of five active projects that could be on their way to their state.

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On Monday, when Governor Kay Ivey and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield were present, the team engaged in nine scheduled appointments with aerospace companies, as well as several impromptu discussions with industry executives.

Governor Ivey said she asked the economic development specialists in Paris to focus on one goal — persuade aerospace companies from around the globe that the ideal location for new investments and jobs is Alabama.

“Our trip was productive and focused on advancing active projects currently in the pipeline. Our appointments this week were positive, and there is a strong chance they will lead to job-creating projects,” she said.

“The fact that our Alabama team had access to executives from top global aerospace firms demonstrates that Alabama is positioned for growth in the short term, and very importantly, in the future.”

The effort continued on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional appointments at Le Bourget conducted by Bob Smith, the Alabama Department of Commerce’s point man on aerospace.

Secretary Canfield said expanding the aerospace supply chain in the state is key as major players in the industry solidify their manufacturing footprint across Alabama. The state’s aerospace manufacturing employment base has grown by more than 1,000 jobs in the past year, providing a glimpse of more potential gains.

“The supply chain was an important strategic focus for us at the Paris Air Show this year,” Secretary Canfield said. “With aerospace investment coming into the state, it’s key for us to facilitate the development of the supply chain for companies like Airbus, ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne.”

PRODUCTIVE MISSION

Smith said the European air shows at Paris and at Farnborough near London represent important business events for the state because foreign direct investment is extensive in Alabama’s aerospace cluster. He believes the recruiting and marketing strategy at this year’s air show was the most productive in the past several years.

“The state team was prepared with a well-balanced agenda of scheduled appointments with projects we are pursuing, companies with existing operations in Alabama, and targeted supply-chain companies we want to bring to the state,” said Smith, whose title at Commerce is assistant director of business development-European strategy.

The Alabama team’s formal appointment list at the 2019 Paris Air Show included companies such as the United Launch AllianceBlue OriginCarpenter TechnologyRaytheonGKN Aerospace and GE Aviation.

The team also connected with high-ranking military officials and top government officials such Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Jim Birdenstine, administrator of NASA.

“Being able to leverage Alabama’s top officials at the show to discuss and negotiate both existing projects and new opportunities directly with a company’s highest officials and decision-makers is extremely helpful to our effort,” Smith said.

“Recruitment of aerospace companies is highly competitive, and we met our goals this year in all three areas.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

At Paris Air Show, Deloitte gives major gift to advance Alabama Cyber School

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

PARIS — Deloitte presented a $100,000 gift to the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering Foundation Tuesday in a ceremony at the 2019 Paris Air Show.

The donation is a combination of a financial contribution as well as in-kind support. This donation is intended to promote and advance the state magnet school, which opens in Huntsville in August 2020.

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Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle accepted the check on behalf of Deloitte from Ray Winn, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP and a cyber leader.

“One of the primary conversations we are having here at the Paris Air Show is the need to secure aviation and missile platforms,” Mayor Battle said. “To do so requires a workforce that understands how cyber systems interact with hardware.

“This school sets the foundation blocks for creating those platforms.”

Carey Miller, a managing director at Deloitte & Touche LLP, said the firm has been committed to the success of the Huntsville community since opening its office there six years ago.

“The Huntsville community recognizes that cyber is everywhere and that by investing in education, it can be the nation’s cyber leader,” Miller said.

The independent residential magnet school will provide academically motivated 7th through 12th grade students from across the state with educational opportunities and experiences in the rapidly growing fields of cyber technology and engineering.

The school will also assist a broad range of teachers, administrators, and superintendents across the State of Alabama in replicating cyber technology and engineering studies in their own schools.

Deloitte is one of the largest professional service organizations in the world.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

New scholarship program will send tomorrow’s astronauts to Space Camp

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

PARIS — A new international education program to reward aspiring young space explorers and their teachers with a hands-on astronaut training experience at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s renowned Space Camp in Huntsville was launched Tuesday at the 2019 Paris Air Show.

The “Astronaut Al Worden Endeavour Scholarship” invites students and educators in host communities of major international airshows to compete for an all-expenses paid week at Space Camp.

The program is named for the Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot and global advocate for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

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The new initiative was unveiled by Tom Kallman, president and CEO of international trade show organizer Kallman Worldwide, at the “Tribute to Apollo 50” VIP reception in the company’s Paris Air Show Partnership Chalet.

“The 50th Anniversary of Apollo’s success provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the positive impact that space programs have had on society, and re-emphasize the need for continued support of public and private initiatives dedicated to aerospace exploration and commerce,” Kallman said.

“In partnership with our event partners around the world, industry partners in the United States and the leaders of Space Camp, the world’s premiere astronaut training experience, we’re proud to launch the Al Worden Endeavour Scholarship to honor the past and inspire the future of space exploration.”

HEIGHTENING CONNECTIONS

Sixteen student awards and four teacher awards will be made each year beginning this fall. Participating airshows include Avalon (the Australian International Airshow), Bahrain Airshow, Dubai Airshow, FIDAE (Santiago, Chile), Japan Aerospace, Paris Air Show, the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Singapore Airshow.

Since 1982, Space Camp has provided the next generation of astronauts, engineers and scientists with an immersive program that includes astronaut training and simulated space missions.

Space Camp alumni include NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts, as well as engineers, scientists and technologists around the world.

“The Space Camp experience bonds like-minded space explorers through their training, missions and team experience,” said Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

“Creating lasting relationships among nations is key to living and working in space and to accomplishing mankind’s next giant leap forward. In that same spirit, the Astronaut Al Worden Endeavour Scholarship heightens connections around the globe to achieve success in space for years to come.”

STEM PIPELINE

Endeavour scholarships will be awarded based on merit by select stakeholders in participating air show communities, and reviewed by a Space Camp team that includes Worden.

He will announce the first Endeavour Scholarships this November at the 2019 Dubai Airshow, and plans to visit with scholarship winners during their Space Camp tours.

“When you consider the decades of rigor and discipline it’s going to take to successfully put people from Earth on Mars, and that getting to Mars is just one of the countless engineering challenges we face on our own planet today, we need to pick up the pace,” Worden said.

“The pipeline for STEM talent can handle a lot more volume, and Space Camp is a proven connection.”

Worden was on hand for the announcement, joining Apollo program alumni Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7) and Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), along with representatives of 12 international space agencies and government and military officials.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

Day 1 for Alabama’s Paris Air Show team features 9 meetings

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

PARIS – The Alabama business development team entered Day 1 of the 2019 Paris Air Show with a full slate of appointments with major aerospace companies that could have the state in their future growth plans.

“We begin Day 1 of the air show with the goal of working with the governor to connect with a number of companies,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “It’s an important day for us. It’s going to be a busy day. We believe it will be a very productive day.”

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Secretary Canfield said he and Governor Kay Ivey have nine scheduled appointments at Le Bourget, the historic Paris airfield that provides the setting for the aerospace industry’s largest business event in 2019.

The day will also include impromptu encounters with company executives, military officers, and top elected officials.

Companies on the Alabama team’s meeting schedule include the United Launch AllianceRaytheon, GKN AerospaceCarpenter Technology and GE Aviation.

“Several of them have near-term growth opportunities, meaning one to three years, so it’s important for us in this venue to get a better understanding how they envision their future,” Secretary Canfield said.

“We need to understand what these businesses are going to like, not today, but five to 10 years from now.”

KEY MESSAGES

The team’s first appointment today focused on ULA, which produces Atlas V and Delta IV rockets at a sprawling factory in Decatur. That factory is now being prepared to build ULA’s next-generation launch system, the Vulcan Centaur.

The Alabama team met with ULA Tory Bruno and other company officials. Joining Governor Ivey and Secretary Canfield were Jo Bonner, the governor’s chief of staff, and Bob Smith, the Commerce Department’s point man on aerospace.

Governor Ivey, who spoke at a kick-off breakfast for the mission on Sunday, said she has a simple message she is delivering in Paris.

“The future of the aerospace industry is being Made in Alabama,” she said. “That’s the message I’m taking to decision-makers at the 2019 Paris Air Show.”

Secretary Canfield said aerospace companies in Alabama are most keenly interested in how the state can help meet their workforce development needs and how their supply chains can be supported.

He said the Paris Air Show mission is a critical priority for Alabama’s business development team.

“Aerospace is important to Alabama because it is technology-driven. It is an industry that is highly dependent on technical skills, and that translates into high-wage career opportunities for Alabamians across the state.”

Business development teams from Huntsville, Mobile, Auburn, the Wiregrass area, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham/Jefferson County are also present at the air show.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 months ago

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing embraces Alabama hometown’s space roots

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA is taking a cue from its Alabama hometown’s leadership role in the nation’s space program by naming its two assembly lines “Apollo” and “Discovery.”

“Thanks to our team members’ creativity and innovative thinking, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to name our two future assembly lines Apollo and Discovery in a nod to our city’s heritage as the birthplace of our nation’s space program,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president for administration at the joint venture.

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“The scores of brilliant men and women who worked tirelessly to further mankind’s progress and exploration into the unknown gives our team motivation to add to the Rocket City’s history as a producer of world-class vehicles,” he added.

Apollo, of course, was NASA’s program that put American astronauts on the Moon. The Space Shuttle Discovery completed 39 missions, more than any of NASA’s orbiters. Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and became the first U.S. spacecraft piloted by a female astronaut, Eileen Collins.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville played a major role in both the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing said today that construction of its $1.6 billion auto assembly plant in Huntsville remains on schedule. Up to 4,000 jobs will created, and hiring is already under way. Production at the facility is scheduled to begin in 2021.

The partnership announced plans for the factory, which will produce up to 300,000 vehicles annually, in early 2018.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

3 months ago

Alabama delegation travels to Montréal for SEUS-CP Alliance conference

(Made in Alabama)

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will lead an Alabama delegation to Montréal for the 12th edition of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance Conference, an annual gathering that showcases common economic ties and a strong trade relationship.

SEUS-CP, as the conference is known, runs Sunday through Tuesday in the Québec’s largest city. The event, whose theme this year is “Prosperity Through Smart Mobility,” includes networking opportunities, business-to-business meetings and high-level panel discussions.

Secretary Canfield said the SEUS-CP conference provides a platform to identify new areas of common ground to form new partnerships, fuel investments and create jobs in Southeastern and Canadian communities.

“Through this annual event we continue to successfully strengthen our state’s trade and investment relationship with Canada by developing and renewing relationships with our counterparts in the six provinces,” he said.

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The New Flyer bus manufacturing facility in Anniston employs around 750 people. New Flyer is among the dozens of Canadian companies with operations in Alabama and across the Southeast. (Image: New Flyer)

“One of the successes comes from the opportunity for business and industry leaders from each member state and province to participate in the exchange of ideas and development of new business partnerships.”

ECONOMIC BONDS

Canada is a Top 5 foreign investor in Alabama, as well as a major trade partner, figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce show.

Since 2014, Canadian companies have poured more than $1 billion in new capital investment into Alabama, creating more than 1,800 jobs. Last year alone, Canadian companies invested $67 million in Alabama projects that sparked the creation of 222 jobs, figures show.

Meanwhile, two-way trade between Alabama and Canada is brisk. Alabama companies exported just over $4 billion in goods such as motor vehicles, industrial machinery, stell and aircraft parts to Canada in 2018. In return, Canadian companies sent $3.1 billion in goods to Alabama.

“The state of Alabama values its ties with Canada and views the U.S.-Canada relationship as truly special. We are linked together in so many ways and are more than buyers and sellers of one another’s products,” Secretary Canfield said.

“In this day and time, it is critical that the SEUS-CP alliance continues to fulfill its mission to develop common strategic goals and open the door for trade between the member provinces and states,” he added.

Economic ties with Canada figure prominently in the overall SEUS region, which along with Alabama includes Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

CONFERENCE GOALS

Alabama companies and organizations included in the delegation for SEUS-CP are Auburn’s Archangel Systems, a maker of aircraft avionics; Mobile’s Page & Jones Inc., a shipping logistics firm; and Birmingham’s Regions Bank.

Bill Dillard, director of sales and marketing at Archangel, said SEUS-CP represents an important event for his company, thanks to the high-caliber delegates present from both Canada and the Southeastern states.

Dillard said Archangel is seeking to expand its brand in the Canadian aerospace sector, develop relationships with representatives of U.S. companies at the conference, and conduct a scheduled off-site meeting with a major avionics manufacturer.

“The flexibility of the SEUS-CP itinerary makes that possible,” he said. “It’s hard to believe we get all of that done in just two days.”

Corey Jones, director of operations at Innovation PortAL, a Mobile entrepreneurial hub, said SEUS-CP will provide him with the opportunity to gain new insights on best practices and to make valuable connections.

“I’m thrilled for this opportunity, and I’m also greatly looking forward to remaining in Montréal for the global summit on smart mobility, Movin’On,” Jones said.

“My hope is to walk away from this visit with a better understanding of opportunities for smart mobility in south Alabama and to form relationships that are fruitful for Innovation PortAL clients and mentors.”

WORKING TOGETHER

Joining Secretary Canfield in the delegation are Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, and trade officials from across the state, including Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade.

Lockhart said companies involved in this year conference have the opportunity to meet with Canadian and Southeastern counterparts in the smart mobility sector, which involves novel information technologies and advances in transportation modes and systems.

“The SEUS-CP conference is unique in that it includes a robust business-to-business matchmaking program that encourages trade and business development between the member regions,” Lockhart said.

“Aside from the B2B meetings, the conference provides a platform to discuss how the Canadian and U.S. business communities can work together to protect our vital bilateral relationship and to advocate even greater cooperation,” she added.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

3 months ago

$125 million solar project heading to rural Montgomery County

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

A utility-scale solar project, developed with a $125 million investment, is planned for rural Montgomery County.

The project from Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA) and Lightsource BP will be one of the largest solar arrays in Alabama when it reaches completion in 2021, deploying over 350,000 solar panels across 800 acres.

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“AMEA and Montgomery County have been excellent partners for Lightsource BP, and we look forward to our continued collaboration as we bring this exciting project online in the coming years,” said Kevin Smith, CEO (Americas) of Lightsource BP.

“Alabama offers tremendous potential for large-scale solar, and our efforts here underscore the exciting opportunity to develop clean, low-cost, and low-impact renewable energy in the region,” he added.

The Montgomery array is the latest in a string of solar projects across Alabama.

Lightsource BP will finance, develop, build, own, and operate the 130 MWDC / 100 MWAC solar energy project located 15 miles from AMEA’s headquarters in Montgomery. AMEA will purchase the energy under a 20-year power purchase agreement and supply clean energy to its 11 member utilities located across the state.

The facility will generate enough electricity to power more than 20,000 homes.

“AMEA is excited to bring cost-effective, locally-sourced solar energy to our Member communities,” said Fred Clark, president and CEO of AMEA. “We evaluated solar projects across the Southeast and were fortunate to partner on a great project with Lightsource BP right here in our own backyard.”

Lightsource BP and its project investors will invest approximately $125 million into the solar facility. The firm has deployed $3.4 billion in solar assets over the past six years and manages solar projects with a capacity of 2 GW.

In addition to other benefits, the project will contribute more than $5 million in property tax revenue to county schools over the 35-year project life, according to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This project will provide considerable support to Montgomery County schools, dollars the school systems otherwise would not receive,” said Montgomery County Commission Chair Elton Dean.

“This is a major economic development project for the rural part of our county and will bring in a strong corporate partner in Lightsource BP.”

While the facility will be AMEA’s largest solar project to date, it is not the organization’s first. The electric authority is currently in the process of installing 50 kW solar research projects in each of its member communities and has completed eight so far.

AMEA has been studying solar energy since 2016 when it completed its initial 50 kW solar research facility immediately adjacent to its headquarters.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

3 months ago

Lockheed Martin breaks ground on new Alabama production facility

(Lockheed Martin/Contributed)

Lockheed Martin officially launched construction on a new missile facility at its Pike County campus, where the company is accelerating production of strike systems.

Lockheed Martin said the new 225,000-square-foot facility, combined with the current cruise missile production factory on the Troy site, will provide the necessary space to meet the U.S. Air Force’s objectives.

“This expansion represents Pike County Operations’ long-standing commitment to meet our customer’s current and future needs as well as to bring more well-paying jobs to the area,” said Frank St. John, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

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“All our employees come to work with an unwavering commitment to help our customers succeed in their mission to create a more secure and prosperous world.”

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, joined Lockheed Martin executives and U.S. Air Force officials at a groundbreaking ceremony this morning at the Troy location.

“We strive to provide a foundation in Alabama that allows aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin to establish world-class facilities that are positioned for expansion opportunities,” Secretary Canfield said. “Over the quarter century, the company’s Troy missile facility has grown from 30 employees to around 500 today, and the number is still growing.

“We look forward to seeing additional job creation in coming years.”

GROWTH PLANS

Lockheed Martin said construction on the new Alabama facility is slated for completion in 2021 with Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) production ramping up in the second half of 2022.

“We’re pleased to see Lockheed Martin continue to invest in our community with the addition of this new manufacturing building,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said.

“Their growth not only leads to more jobs — it enhances sustainable growth for our region.”

Lockheed Martin last initiated an expansion in Pike County in 2014, when it launched a project that was slated to create 224 full-time jobs over five years. The hiring milestones on that $65 million project have been met.

AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, has been assisting Lockheed Martin’s Pike County operation for 25 years and opened a $2 million, 7,000-square-foot Advanced Training Center on the campus in 2017.

Today, Lockheed Martin is collaborating with AIDT to embrace the future of workforce development through piloting virtual reality, or VR, training.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)

3 months ago

Airbus introduces workforce development programs for Mobile students

(Airbus/Made in Alabama)

MOBILE, Alabama – Airbus on Wednesday launched two new programs aimed at putting applicants with little or no aviation or aerospace experience in jobs where its A220 and A320 production facilities are located.

The FlightPath9 and Fast Track programs seek to expand Airbus’ production workforce from within the Mobile community.

“These are two great initiatives from Airbus that help build their workforce, but more importantly, build Alabama’s workforce and put our people onto a path to a wonderful career in a growing and thriving industry,” Governor Kay Ivey said during a ceremony today introducing the first FlightPath9 students.

The FlightPath9 program targets high school seniors with a desire to work in aerospace. It’s directed by Flights Works Alabama, a partnership between the State and Airbus, to encourage young people to explore careers in aviation and aerospace.

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“The ideal candidate for FlightPath9 is that student with an aptitude for working with his or her hands, and an interest in working in the aviation industry right out of high school,” said Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Airbus A320 Manufacturing Facility in Mobile.

“They must be willing and able to participate in a nine-month program, be drug-free, can read, write, do math, be 18 years or older by June 2020, and can adhere to “soft” work skills: show up to work every day and on time, can work in a team with respect for all co-workers, be dedicated, driven and determined.

“Give us that, and we’ll give you a chance at a career,” Taylor added.

For this program, Flight Works Alabama has partnered with Airbus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Cintas, Snap-On Tools, Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training & Employment, and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3).

The nine-month comprehensive learning program involves NC3 Snap-on certifications, ERAU instruction, guest speakers, success coaches and more. The students will attend training after school during their senior year of high school.

FAST TRACK PROGRAM

The students who successfully complete this program have the opportunity to start their career with Airbus through the second program announced today: Fast Track.

Fast Track is a 12- to 15-week program that will bring individuals lacking aviation manufacturing experience into the company and give them the skills, knowledge and ability required for an aerospace maintenance career.

Like FlightPath9, ideal candidates for Fast Track must exhibit an aptitude for working with their hands and an interest in working in the aviation industry. They must be drug-free, able to read, write, do basic math, be at least 18 years old, and able to exhibit job experience and the needed “soft skills.”

“In turn, we’ll teach and measure these employees in a program of global competencies for working on aircraft: torqueing, riveting, gauging, reading blueprints (written and digital), how to use tools, ergonomics, and more,” said Taylor.

“When they come out of that training, the employee ‘graduates’ to on-the-job training on A220 and A320 aircraft.”

ALABAMA PRODUCTION HUB

Airbus began producing A320 Family aircraft at its $600 million manufacturing facility in Alabama in 2015 and has since delivered more than 100 passenger jets to its customers in Mobile.

Earlier this year, Airbus broke ground on a second assembly line at the Mobile campus for the production of A220 aircraft. The $264 million project will create more than 430 jobs.

A220 production is expected to start on the current assembly line in the third quarter, with first delivery of a Mobile-assembled A220 aircraft scheduled for 2020. The new A220 production facilities will be complete by next year. S

Working in partnership with AIDT, Alabama’s primary workforce development agency, Airbus has already begun hiring new workers for A220 production.

Starting positions are electrical or structural assemblers, and corrosion team. The jobs are listed on the Airbus ApplicantPro career site with a planned early-June start date for the first class.

People who have applied for these positions in the past and been turned down only due to lack of experience are encouraged to reapply. Airbus intends to offer this program on a regular basis and will schedule it as hiring needs dictate.

Courtesy of Made in Alabama

3 months ago

Matt Might’s personal quest sparks UAB precision medicine revolution

The birth of Matt and Cristina Might’s first son, Bertrand, bottom left, in 2007 brought joy and, later, concern when the child began to show uncontrolled movements and other disorders. The couple’s efforts to help Bertrand in part led Matt Might to become a leader in precision medicine. (UAB/Alabama Newscenter)

For Dr. Matt Might, director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the future of medicine revolves around physicians harnessing information on a scale unimagined by patients today.

“Data is the greatest drug of the 21st century,” said Might, who discovered a rare genetic disorder affecting his young son. “In terms of impact, I don’t think any drug will outperform data in overall ability to improve and extend human life.”

Of course, doctors already rely on detailed patient information when making diagnoses and creating treatment plans. But tomorrow’s medicine, as envisioned by Might, elevates and expands the power of the information at their command.

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By combining medical knowledge with computational analysis and new techniques such as genomic sequencing, physicians will be able to create customized, data-driven treatments for individual patients rather than follow protocols for attacking a certain disease.

“One of the key things to understand in precision medicine is that it is actually easier to treat a patient than a disease,” Might said. “When you are treating a disease you have to find something that works for every patient with that disease.

“If you’re treating a patient, you just have to find out what works for them. That can be very, very different.”

Powerful new tools

Might, who advised President Barack Obama on precision medicine and turned down Harvard and other suitors before coming to UAB in July 2017, believes these new tools will forever change the way physicians provide care once they are widely adopted.

Genetic testing is already helping unravel medical mysteries, especially when it comes to diagnosing rare diseases. But it will play a greater role in the future, when oncologists can routinely sequence the genome of a tumor to see if its mutations call for a specific medicine, Might said.

Already at UAB, doctors can examine a mental health patient’s DNA for clues about how he or she will respond to particular antidepressants, allowing them to rule out medications that would be less effective or cause side effects.

In addition, physicians will be able to tap into a bottomless well of knowledge. Might has collaborated with other researchers to develop an artificial intelligence agent called MediKanren that can search more than 25 million published papers for insights that can pinpoint new treatment options for puzzling medical conditions.

“Everything in medicine is changing as a consequence of the data available and the computational power to analyze that data. This is definitely a pivotal moment, a sea change moment. Medicine is not going to look the same in 10 years,” he said.

Despite his enthusiasm for precision medicine, Might never set out to become a leader in the field. In fact, at the time his voyage started, he was pursuing a career as a computer scientist, working on projects such as cybersecurity and programming languages for supercomputers.

He was also dad to a newborn son, Bertrand, born in December 2007.

The ‘diagnostic journey’

Bertrand was just 2 months old when Might first noticed a problem. His son’s movements were uncontrolled rather than circular and fluid, as they should have been. Four months later, Bertrand’s pediatrician agreed that something was wrong – he just didn’t know what it was.

At that moment, Might and his wife, Cristina, embarked on what he calls a “four-year diagnostic journey.” Over time, Bertrand’s problems multiplied. Full-blown seizures. Movement disorder. Developmental delay. And, strangely, he couldn’t cry tears.

Might was determined to solve the mystery. Eventually, Duke University scientists performed genetic sequencing on Bertrand and his parents to see if they could detect a mutation driving the youngster’s problems.

The results pointed to a malfunctioning NGLY-1 gene, which produces an enzyme needed to break down certain abnormal proteins as part of a recycling process in the body.

“Almost no one had heard of NGLY-1. It didn’t exist as a disease. It barely existed as a known gene. That gene had never been linked to human health in any way, shape or form,” Might said.

Thus, a rare genetic disorder known as NGLY-1 deficiency was discovered. Bertrand was “patient zero.” That meant doctors told Might there was little that could be done for his son until more patients with the condition were identified.

In 2012, Might published a blog post called “Hunting Down My Son’s Killer” that described Bertrand’s symptoms. It received widespread attention. Within weeks, patients began popping up all over the world, enabling research into the condition to begin.

At home, Might struggled with how to help his son.

Using his background as a computer scientist, he set up a computational analysis to identify compounds that might be useful to treat Bertrand’s condition. He quickly found 70, including 14 already approved by the FDA.

At one point, additional testing showed that Bertrand’s condition had triggered a deficiency of N-acetylglucosamine, a readily available glucose derivative. Might purchased some and, after testing it on himself, began giving it to his son.

Days later, Might noticed tears rolling down Bertrand’s face. For the first time, he had discovered a remedy to help his child. Critically, the tears halted the corneal erosion that threatened Bertrand with eventual blindness.

Other discoveries followed. Using MediKanren, Might learned that research indicated a common supplement, sulforaphane, could counter a certain molecular function triggered by NGLY-1 deficiency.

“Sulforaphane is abundant in broccoli, but not abundant enough. You’d need about 60 pounds of broccoli a day. Most fifth-graders don’t eat their own body weight in broccoli each day, but you can get it in a pill form that is highly concentrated. So he has been on that for about two months now, and for me, I think it is definitely making a difference.”

Might is now investigating whether some of the movement disorder aspects of Bertrand’s condition are similar to Parkinson’s and looking into whether treatments for that disease might benefit his son.

“I think, at last, we are moving on all fronts for Bertrand. We’re addressing seizures, eyes, movement disorders and development with this large cocktail of drugs we’ve assembled for his condition,” he said.

Creating an ‘algorithm’

Might is using the lessons he learned in his quest to help Bertrand to scale up the precision medicine initiative at UAB, using what he’s dubbed the “algorithm of precision medicine.”

At its core, the approach centers on harvesting every bit of data about a patient. Genomic sequencing is an important component because it provides a peek into the patient’s unique molecular makeup. But even information contained on a Fitbit or Apple watch can be part of the mix.

Computational technologies and deep reasoning tools such as MediKanren add a new dimension.

“We’re beginning to bring computation into medicine in a very serious way,” Might said. “Previously, it’s been largely used in a superficial way. Now we’re looking at it from more of a big data optimization perspective.”

At the Hugh Kaul Institute, made possible by a $7 million philanthropic gift in 2015, Might and his team maintain a focus on rare diseases through precision therapeutics, acting as what he calls a “clinic of last resort” for patients interested in engaging in targeted research to advance therapies for their disorders.

The institute, which has a staff of nearly a dozen, can provide physicians searching for treatment options with a research report containing recommendations personalized for an individual patient.

Precision oncology is a specific UAB focus. In one case, a genomic scan of a patient’s prostate tumor revealed mutations more consistent with ovarian cancer. Physicians were able to successfully treat the patient with medicines used to treat that form of cancer, Might said.

“Cancer is one of those things where precision medicine is the answer. Every cancer is unique,” he added. “You always need an individually tailored treatment. If you really want to treat cancer right, you’ve got to treat every cancer like a rare disease. That’s the key.”

Might sees the components of precision medicine flowing across all medical disciplines at UAB, expanding until its tactics become the standard of care for all patients.

“At UAB, we’re in the process of making everything precision medicine so that one day it won’t be precision medicine, it will just be medicine,” he said.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama System’s website.

Courtesy of Alabama Newscenter

4 months ago

Alabama team launches bio-focused trade mission to Ireland, U.K.

(HudsonAlpha/Contributed)

Business leaders and trade specialists from across Alabama are getting an up-close look at the bioscience sector in Ireland and the United Kingdom during a trade mission that seeks to spark new opportunities for nearly a dozen Alabama firms.

The Alabama delegation began its mission in Dublin today with a briefing from the U.S. Commercial Service and a visit to the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, a leading research center.

Over the next five days, the group will connect with representatives from bioscience companies and organizations in one-on-one meetings and networking events in Dublin and London.

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“We believe that international collaboration is a major driver of growth for the bioscience sector,” said Hilda Lockhart, director of the International Trade Office at the Alabama Department of Commerce, who is leading the mission.

“Including Alabama companies in this industry sector on the mission allows them to speak directly with potential international partners that may be involved in research, medical labs, innovative startups and collaboration in their specific areas of focus,” she added.

BUILDING BRIDGES

Arnar Thors, founder and CEO of AerBetic Inc., said making contacts in the life sciences communities in Ireland and the U.K. can help him advance the goals of the Birmingham-based startup. AerBetic is developing a wearable diabetes alert device that garnered attention at this year’s CES event.

“This mission will enable us to build some bridges to the bioscience and investment communities in the U.K. and Ireland, which we’re confident will help in our mission to bring AerBetic to those markets and the world,” Thors said.

Other Alabama firms on the mission are:

ADT Pharmaceuticals LLC is working on novel cancer drugs, and PDEi Phamaceuticals LLC is targeting new treatments for erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Both companies are represented by Dr. Gary A. Piazza of the Mitchell Cancer Institute at the University of South Alabama.

BioGX of Birmingham develops and manufactures molecular biology reagents.

Auburn’s Cytoviva Inc. provides products and services to help researchers solve critical problems down to the nanoscale with enhanced darkfield optical microscopy and hyperspectral imaging technology.

GeneCapture of Huntsville is developing a rapid infection detection instrument that can screen a human sample for 200 pathogens in less than an hour.

The HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology is a world-renown genomics research center and entrepreneurial hub in Huntsville.

Swift Biotechnology is developing an early stage, proteomic-based test for ovarian cancer based on technology from USA’s Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Huntsville’s Synvivo Inc.’s 3D tissue-organ on chip models enable real-time study of cell and drug interactions and accelerate discovery by providing a biologically realistic platform.

Birmingham-based TriAltus Bioscience provides scientists with innovative tools for the expression and purification of genetically engineered proteins.

BioAlabama, a trade group for Alabama’s bioscience industry, is also represented on the mission.

“This trade mission will give promising bioscience startups and established research organizations in Alabama an opportunity to learn first-hand about developments within the sector in Ireland and the U.K., while also connecting them with researchers and business leaders who can become partners or collaborators down the road,” said Peggy Sammon, CEO of Gene Capture and chair of BioAlabama.

“Making these connections will serve to add even more vitality to Alabama’s already vibrant bioscience sector,” she added.

While in Dublin, the Alabama group will visit the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training. In London, they will travel to the Babraham Institute, a world-class research center, then on to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and One Nucleus, an organization focusing on life sciences and health care.

In these locations, representatives of the Alabama companies on the mission will participate in one-on-one appointments with potential in-market partners as part of a coordinated business matchmaking program.

GROWTH POTENTIAL

Lockhart said Alabama’s robust life science sector is diverse and well positioned for growth. According to an analysis for BioAlabama, the state’s biosciences industry generates $7.3 billion in economic activity annually while supporting 780 companies and nearly 48,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The sector includes premier bioscience research centers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Southern Research, HudsonAlpha and USA’s Mitchell Cancer Institute. UAB alone attracted $300 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2018.

“These research organizations, along with the many multinational companies involved in pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, is a story we want to share while we are in Ireland and the United Kingdom,” Lockhart said.

“We are very happy that BioAlabama is involved in this trip because they can tell the story of the success.”

This is Alabama’s fourth bioscience-focused trade and investment mission to Europe, including previous trips to life science clusters in Germany and Denmark, and Belgium and The Netherlands.

Bioscience is one of the key target recruitment sectors in Accelerate Alabama 2.0, the state’s strategic economic growth plan.

Courtesy of Made in Alabama

4 months ago

Georgia-Pacific to invest $120 million in Choctaw County mill

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Georgia-Pacific announced plans to invest more than $120 million to add a new tissue machine and roll storage building at its mill in Choctaw County, the latest substantial investment in the facility.

The new projects continue Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific’s modernization of the Naheola mill, which includes ongoing construction of a new biomass boiler and woodyard. Georgia-Pacific said the modernization projects position the mill and its overall business to be competitive in the market.

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“This is one of many investments we are making at our operations across the State of Alabama, and it highlights the long history and great relationships we have in the state and in the communities where we operate,” said Christian Fischer, CEO and president of Georgia-Pacific.

In the past five years, Georgia-Pacific’s capital investment at the Naheola mill has totaled more than $500 million, and its statewide investments have totaled approximately $1.6 billion.

Across Alabama, Georgia-Pacific operates eight facilities, employs more than 2,600 employees directly and pays more than $204 million in direct wages and benefits.

PROJECT BENEFITS

The Naheola mill currently employs more than 900 people.

The Alabama mill produces retail bath tissue and paper towels used by consumers and also makes bleached paperboard, which is sold on the market and used to make Georgia-Pacific’s Dixie plates, cups and bowls.

“This is a great day to celebrate for our employees, the Naheola mill community and most importantly for our current and future customers,” said Kathy Walters, group president of Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products Group.

“All of these stakeholders benefit from these investments to make the Naheola mill a modern and competitive operation.”

Georgia-Pacific said engineering and related work has begun on the project, and startup of the new machine is scheduled for 2020.

An average of 200 construction and contract-related workers are expected to be onsite at the mill every day during the project, with a potential peak of 400 contract workers per day at the height of construction.

Courtesy of Made in Alabama

4 months ago

Milestone: First steel column rises at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA

(MTMUS/Contributed)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA has marked a milestone in its $1.6 billion project to build an auto assembly plant in Alabama as the first steel column is now in place at the construction site in Limestone County.

The development signals that construction is well under way on the plant, which will produce 300,000 vehicles annually.

“Today marks an exciting milestone for the MTMUS team and the state of Alabama,” said Masashi Aihara, president of MTMUS. “We are fully committed to this project and we can now see the beginning of our new campus taking shape.

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“Soon, we will be proud to say, ‘Built in Alabama’ with pride.”

Team members celebrated the milestone with a small gathering at the plant site.

Highlights of the massive construction project include:

  • 3 million cubic yards of dirt will be graded for site preparation — enough dirt to fill the Empire State Building twice.
  • 150,000 cubic yards of gravel poured to create the plant foundation, equal to filling 46 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • 2,500 construction workers projected to be on site by late summer 2019.

Despite a heavy rain season, construction of the advanced manufacturing facility remains on schedule, the automakers said. The construction project officially began last November with a groundbreaking ceremony

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs at the Huntsville plant and is currently in the process of hiring professional staff and skilled maintenance positions. Additional job postings will be added throughout the summer, with production hiring starting later in 2019.

Interested candidates can learn more here.

Mazda and Toyota announced their plans for the Alabama facility in January 2018.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

4 months ago

Alabama EV infrastructure grant program could provide model for nation

(Charlestan Helton/Alabama NewsCenter)

The Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan could provide a significant spark for efforts to expand the network of charging stations available to drivers of electric vehicles across the state.

That’s because a little noticed provision in Rebuild Alabama, approved in March to provide additional funding to improve the state’s roadways, establishes a grant program aimed at stimulating the installation of new EV charging stations in Alabama.

While several states offer various incentives for EV charging station infrastructure, researchers at the Alabama Transportation Institute at The University of Alabama say it appears that only one other state – Washington – has a similar grant program.

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“By making the investment in EV charging station infrastructure through the Rebuild Alabama Act, the state is taking a proactive approach to prepare for new and emerging technologies,” said Justice Smyth, the Alabama Transportation Institute’s director of public outreach.

“This effort will likely enable more widespread adoption of electric vehicles by average consumers – many of whom currently view “range anxiety’ as a deterrent for purchase,” he added.

Smyth called Alabama’s grant program “a creative way to address coming changes in the auto industry.”

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, a Rebuild Alabama sponsor, said the EV infrastructure grant program could serve as a model for other states that want to expand their network of charging stations.

“We hope that it’s something will work here. We think it will, and I think it’s something that other states should look at as well. Once you create a nationwide grid, then the technology really has a chance at that point,” Chambliss said.

“We’re trying to look down the road and address problems and issues before they become major. We think this is a way we can do it in this regard. Hopefully, other states will look at it, and we will all move together into the future,” he added.

FUNDING GROWTH

Here’s how Alabama’s new EV infrastructure program works: Rebuild Alabama includes a new annual registration fee to be paid by owners of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs. One-quarter of the funds collected from that fee will be dedicated to support grants for EV charging stations.

The program, administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation, will provide funding for municipalities, counties, universities and other public institutions to help cover some of the costs of installing EV charging stations.

Those costs can be substantial, ranging from $10,000 for a basic unit to $125,000 for a fast-charging station.

Business group in Alabama think the program will pay dividends for the state.

“Through this innovative grant program, Alabama will accelerate the expansion of EV charging stations across the state and will sit at the forefront of EV expansion,” the Birmingham Business Alliance said.

The annual registration fees total $200 for Alabama drivers of battery electric vehicles and $100 for plug-in hybrid EVs. The portion not directed to the EV infrastructure grant program goes to pay for improvements to the state’s roads and bridges.

The Washington program, which went into effect in 2016, is designed to raise $1 million annually to install 15 new charging stations a year along interstates, according to the Alabama Transportation Institute.

EMBRACING ELECTRIC

Today, there are 115 charging stations with a total of 267 charging outlets spread across Alabama, according to the Department of Energy data. An estimated 2,300 EVs are registered in the stat.

Though EVs represent a small percentage of the 5 million registered vehicles in Alabama, many believe an expansion of the EV charging network will help speed sales of the environmentally friendly cars. That would alleviate what Smyth referred to as “range anxiety” – the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight.

Alabama’s EV infrastructure program comes at a time of rising industry sales, fueled in large part by rapidly decreasing battery prices. That’s likely to accelerate as most automakers are ramping up ambitious plans with major investments to introduce more EVs in coming years.

Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama plant, for instance, will begin producing electric-powered versions of the sport utility vehicles it builds in Vance, joining plug-in hybrid models. To prepare for the launch of those models, Mercedes is now building a sprawling battery pack assembly facility in Bibb County.

“Because Alabama’s automakers are placing a strong emphasis on EVs as part of their future lineups, expanding the charging station infrastructure across the state will position us to benefit from a technology that is on its way to widespread adoption,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the number of electric charging stations across the nation is growing. As of September 2018, there were an estimated 22,000 public charging stations in the United States and Canada classified as AC Level 2 and DC fast charging, capable of delivering an 80 percent charge in 20 to 30 minutes.

More will be needed if growth projections hold for EVs. A Department of Energy study estimates that as many as 27,000 DC FC and 600,000 Level 2 outlets in public locations will be needed if 15 million EVs are on U.S. roads in 2030.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

4 months ago

Alabama officials applaud Bell’s plans to build Navy helicopter in Ozark

(Bell/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey welcomed plans by Bell to assemble the U.S. Navy’s next-generation training aircraft in Dale County should Bell win a competition for the helicopter.“Bell could have not selected a more ideal location to conduct final assembly of the Navy’s new advanced helicopter trainer than Ozark and Dale County,” Governor Ivey said. “The area is home to many skilled aircraft mechanics, so I know Bell’s workforce will be world class. Plus, the company can count on our full support for this project.”

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Bell announced Thursday that, should the Bell 407GXi be selected for the U.S. Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer program, the company plans to assemble the aircraft in Ozark, where it produces the Fire Scout, an unmanned version of the helicopter.

Bell’s workforce at the Ozark site could grow by 25 percent to a total of 100 workers if the company wins the competition.

The Navy is seeking to acquire 130 aircraft. Bell submitted its proposal to the Navy on April 2.

“Our Ozark team has the proven capability to deliver advance training aircraft for the next generation of Naval aviators,” said Bell President and CEO Mitch Snyder.

“We appreciate the support through Alabama’s workforce readiness programs, and we look forward to continued collaboration with our state and local partners to win the U.S. Navy trainer program.”

ALABAMA CAPABILITIES

The U.S. Navy is looking to replace its aging fleet of TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters which Bell first introduced in the 1970s. Bell is the only U.S.-based manufacturer to participate in the Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer competition.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the Ozark-Dale County area is well positioned to support Bell’s planned manufacturing activities for the Navy helicopter.

“Alabama’s Wiregrass area is dotted with aviation companies and organizations that are focused on helicopters,” Secretary Canfield said.

“In addition, there is a skilled workforce in place, along with proven training programs, to serve Bell’s needs for this important project.”

Fort Rucker, located near Ozark, has been the training center for U.S. Army aviation since 1955, and helicopter-related activities there are a magnet for suppliers providing everything from fleet support to flight simulation.

Ozark is also home to a campus of the Alabama Aviation College, which offers a two-year program that prepares students for careers as an aircraft mechanic.

LOCAL SUPPORT

Officials in Dale County pledged support for Bell’s plans to assemble the 407 GXi helicopter at the company’s existing facility in Ozark.

“Bell has been a great business for Ozark and Dale County for many years. We are really excited about the decision to increase their presence in Dale County,” said Mark Blankenship, Dale County Commission chairperson. “I would like to thank Mr. Snyder for the confidence he has in the Ozark and Dale County communities.”

Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting said the project represents an opportunity to continue the city’s partnership with Bell, which stretches back to 2005.

“With its superb airport and aviation facilities, Ozark is the ideal place to do the Bell 407 final assembly,” Bunting said. “Ozark and its aviation college will be prepared to provide the best aviation workforce for what will be a trainer built by a proven U.S. company which has provided our great U.S. pilots the best helicopters for decades.”

Veronica Crock, president of the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corp., said Bell’s plans to build upon the legacy of excellence it has established at its Ozark facility represent a positive development for the community.

“This project will create new opportunities for our citizens and businesses in Ozark and across the region,” she said.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have state and local leadership, workforce partners, and a community that provide an environment in which our industries can prosper.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)