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.

1 month ago

Alabama Power completes restoration following historic Hurricane Sally

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Alabama Gulf Coast residents are a step closer to recovery following Hurricane Sally, which battered the Alabama and Florida coastline Wednesday.

Sally was the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and brought severe flooding and high winds that knocked down poles and power lines in southern and central Alabama before the slow-moving storm exited the state Thursday. Power was disrupted for more than 680,000 Alabama Power customers.

As of Sunday, power had been restored to 99% of Alabama Power customers able to receive service.

Throughout the multiday restoration, teamwork was paramount as company crews worked diligently to address outages in affected communities, getting the lights back on before originally projected times.

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By Friday, outages in central and southeast Alabama had been resolved and all efforts were focused on the Mobile area, as the coastal communities sustained the most damage.

Prior to Sally making landfall, Alabama Power positioned extra crews from across its service territory in the Mobile area so that they were ready to move quickly once the weather improved. From the moment it was safe, company crews were in the field, working day and night.

“Hurricane Sally will be remembered as the most damaging storm to affect Mobile since Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” said Patrick Murphy, Alabama Power Mobile Division vice president. “We appreciate our customers’ patience as we worked to restore power, and we’re committed to working alongside community leaders on full recovery efforts for the area.”

More than 4,000 lineworkers and support personnel from 14 states joined forces working to get the lights back on along the coast. Crews worked through rainy conditions over the weekend as Tropical Storm Beta loomed offshore.

By noon Sunday, crews had replaced more than 400 poles, more than 500 transformers and more than 1,500 spans of power lines that were damaged or destroyed during the severe weather.

“Our crews and industry partners worked safely and quickly through difficult conditions,” said Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery. “I am proud of their hard work and steadfast commitment to our customers, especially during times of need.”

Sally is just the latest severe storm in what has been a very active hurricane season. With more storms possible before the season ends later this fall, Alabama Power customers should remain vigilant and have their storm-readiness plans in place. Learn more about how to prepare at AlabamaPower.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Pack Education launches Ignite pilot to virtually support Alabama college students

(Ingnite Powered by Pack Education/Contributed)

Digital academic coaching company Pack Education and its partners recently announced the kickoff of Ignite Powered by Pack Education, a virtual academic advising pilot program to provide support to students at the University of South Alabama, Bishop State Community College and Coastal Alabama Community College.

Pack Education, a subsidiary to digital health coaching company Pack Health, applies a digital coaching model to academic advising to increase the graduation rate in Alabama. The innovative initiative creates one-on-one engagement to enhance support for students who may be at high risk of dropout.

“While national collegiate graduation rates stand at an average of 60%, only four of 27 public and private four-year institutions in Alabama meet or exceed this average,” said M’Kayl Lewis, vice president of Member Services at Pack Education. “The extra support will be instrumental for Alabama students, particularly at a time when they’re learning to navigate a new version of college life created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Selected students will be paired with an Ignite academic coach during the 16-week virtual program for the fall 2020 semester. Ignite coaches provide an average of 40 touchpoints per student. This structure provides an additional layer of support as students navigate shifting learning environments.

“Sometimes students just need affirmation that they matter, someone cares about their goals, and that they are achievable,” said Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “Ignite will provide that extra attention through a meaningful mentorship in a way that students are most familiar – their phones. This one-on-one, weekly engagement will help students stay focused on achieving their individual goals, while identifying any roadblocks and providing solutions that will lead them to success.”

The Ignite program is funded by the Alabama Power Foundation, Ratliff Charitable Foundation, Regions Foundation and the Alabama Community College System. Mobile Area Education Foundation has been an integral part of the program’s implementation. The participating schools are part of the 75,000 Degrees Talent Hub, a communitywide initiative to double by 2030 the number of people with postsecondary degrees.

Myla Calhoun, president of the Alabama Power Foundation, called the program “a powerful tool to help students succeed.”

“Ignite is an opportunity to transform the skills of the workforce in our state,” said Calhoun. “But more importantly, it creates opportunities for students by equipping them with the resources they need to set them on a path to personal and academic success.”

The completion of a college degree is directly correlated to building personal value and wealth, and improving economic development. There is extensive evidence that supports the impact of a postsecondary degree on improving by nearly 40% employment outcomes and earning potential for individuals.

“The Ignite program will have the power to reach students where they are,” said Melinda Byrd-Murphy, dean of External Funding at Coastal Alabama Community College. “Students lead busy lives and need access to academic and life coaching even when they’re not sitting on a college campus. I believe this program will help us reach more students and let them know that their success is important to us.”

“Ignite offers a new education lifeline for students,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “Connecting students with the tools they need, in a way that speaks to them, is key to their success. We are proud to support Ignite in removing barriers of success for college students and giving them the keys to a brighter future.”

To learn more about the Ignite program, click here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Alabama Power begins upgrades to streetlights in Mobile

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama Power has begun replacing old streetlights in Mobile as part of a joint project to increase neighborhood security and visibility.

Alabama Power and the city of Mobile announced in June an agreement to replace more than 20,000 streetlights with LED fixtures. The new lights are brighter and require less maintenance than the older, high-pressure sodium, mercury-vapor and metal halide streetlights.

“When we talk about public safety as our No. 1 priority, we believe that lighting has a lot to do with that,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “This lighting is going to make a big difference.”

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Under the contract with the city, Alabama Power will install the LED equipment and continue to provide maintenance, repairs and replacement service for the lights and poles. City leaders worked with Alabama Power to prioritize installations, with the initial work beginning in Africatown.

“We coordinated with Alabama Power to break up the city into a grid pattern of 16 different zones,” said Jim DeLapp, executive director of Public Works. “We started in Africatown, which is a great place to start. We wanted to make sure we started in that area first and then move into downtown and work our way through the grid.”

LED fixtures use light-emitting diodes instead of bulbs. They are more durable and last longer than traditional fixtures, in addition to providing better-quality lighting and visibility for motorists and pedestrians.

“I had an opportunity to ride through Africatown the other night and see the difference,” Stimpson said. “It’s just a real exciting thing for the entire city of Mobile.”

The city of Mobile joins a growing list of cities and counties in Alabama working with Alabama Power on LED lighting upgrades. Similar projects are underway in Birmingham and Montgomery.

“This lighting project is so important because it benefits the communities we serve,” said Patrick Murphy, vice president of Alabama Power’s Mobile Division. “It’s more modern, brighter and people feel safer in their communities. Anytime we can partner on something like this that improves the communities, we’re all for it.”

Stimpson said he’s appreciative of Alabama Power’s efforts to turn this project into a reality.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Alabama Power, and we’ve collaborated on so many projects,” Stimpson said. “When I was told we may have an opportunity to participate in this, from a public safety perspective, it was going to be a huge plus across the city. I’m grateful to them.”

The Mobile project is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

“We’ve already got Alabama Power teams working with the city to visit all of our parks and not only convert the lights that are already there but also assess areas where we don’t have enough lighting from a security standpoint,” DeLapp said.

To learn more about LED lighting from Alabama Power, go to www.alabamapower.com and search for “LED lighting.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

EDPA’s Reignite Alabama announces winners of startup competition

(Reignite Alabama/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) held its Reignite Alabama Finale to the Alabama Launchpad Response Pitch Competition Thursday, awarding a total of $150,000 in funding to four businesses that have developed innovations to address challenges presented by COVID-19. The event, produced within the headquarters of the EDPA with no live audience, was streamed on the website and Facebook.

Seventeen judges volunteered to evaluate applications and pitches to determine one winner for each sector in Reignite Alabama. Each of the winners will be awarded $37,500 to build their business. In advance of the finale, judges reviewed the 41 applications made to the competition, which were more applicants than ever before. Reignite Alabama focused on four sectors: healthcare, education, manufacturing and lifestyle.

“The dedication shown by our team of judges was remarkable,” said Greg Barker, president of the EDPA. “Their expertise in our four sectors will help shape these entrepreneurs’ businesses as they move forward, even for those finalists who did not win Launchpad funding.”

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LIFESTYLE SECTOR:

Motion Mobs, where Taylor Peake and Emily Hart have developed a mobile-based anonymous notifications app for COVID-19 exposure and future airborne viruses. Motion Mobs is based in Birmingham.

HEALTHCARE SECTOR:

Obex Health/Satterfield Technologies is led by Forest Satterfield and is offering a 3D-printed, comfortable and reusable N95 face masks that improves fit and function. Obex Health is based in Birmingham.

EDUCATION SECTOR:

Safe Cops Stops, founded by Mike Burrow, is a timely concept to help motorists learn their legal rights, contact loved ones and access witnesses during stops by law enforcement. Safe Cops Stops is based in Riverside.

INDUSTRIAL/MANUFACTURING SECTOR:

Seamley, envisoned by Susan Spencer, is an app-based solution for customizing clothing patterns at scale for the custom tailoring industry. Seamley is based in Huntsville.

Watch the recorded Reignite Alabama Finale on the Alabama Launchpad Facebook page.

“Now more than ever, we need the spark of innovative ideas to drive new growth and add resilience to our recovering economy,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, which supports the Alabama Launchpad program and Reignite Alabama. “The Alabama Reignite competition allows us to identify creative approaches and bright ideas from entrepreneurs on how we can accelerate that recovery, especially in sectors that are critical to the state’s future.”

Canfield began the event with remarks about the importance of Reignite Alabama and Alabama Launchpad. He was followed by Elaine Fincannon, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Fincannon highlighted ADECA’s long-term funding support and belief in the value of the 14-year startup pitch competition.

Alabama Launchpad has awarded over $5 million in funding to 98 startups, which have generated over 700 jobs. Alabama Launchpad winners now have an estimated combined post-money valuation of more than $325 million.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

EDPA’s Reignite Alabama holding online competition for 14 finalists Aug. 27

(Alabama Launchpad/Facebook, YHN)

Fourteen finalists are competing for funding in an online pitch competition you can watch on your computer.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) will stream its Reignite Alabama Finale event on its website and Facebook on Aug 27.

The COVID-19 response competition, a pivot from the usual Alabama Launchpad competition, was designed in partnership with organizations across the state to prompt innovation in sectors directly affected by the global pandemic.

“Now more than ever, we need the spark of innovative ideas to drive new growth and add resilience to our recovering economy,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, which supports the Alabama Launchpad program and Reignite Alabama. “The Alabama Reignite competition allows us to identify creative approaches and bright ideas from entrepreneurs on how we can accelerate that recovery, especially in sectors that are critical to the state’s future.”

More applicants than ever applied to compete in Reignite Alabama in the health care, education, manufacturing and lifestyle sectors.

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“We have been thrilled with the level of response and creativity we’ve seen from applicants across the state,” said Greg Barker, president of the EDPA. “These companies in health care, manufacturing, education and lifestyle-related sectors can make a difference as we move forward through these unusual times.”

The 17 judges volunteering their time to evaluate applications have decided on 14 finalists for Reignite Alabama. Each of the finalists will compete for $37,500 in nondilutive funding to build their business.

The competing ideas in each sector are:

LIFESTYLE:

  • Motion Mobs, mobile-based anonymous notifications for COVID-19 exposure;
  • QuicCat, making paper marketing catalogs into smart catalogs;
  • StrategyPoint, a solution for managing and optimizing remote-based employees;
  • Trips 4 Charity, a platform for purchasing and donating trips to a cause of your choice.

HEALTH CARE:

  • Satterfield Technologies, offering 3D-printed, comfortable and reusable N95 face masks;
  • SolutionStudios, a web platform for collaborating to solve clinical problems;
  • TheraPlay, an app-based solution for virtual physical therapy.

EDUCATION:

  • Cloud of Witnesses, an app-based solution to acquire witnesses for police stops;
  • Edify Online, offering opportunities for adjunct professors and under-educated individuals;
  • Pack Education, a digital coaching solution for improving college student retention;
  • TUTR, a platform for virtual tutoring.

INDUSTRIAL/MANUFACTURING:

  • Neon Lilly, making gourmet condiments and sauces;
  • Seamly, an app-based solution for customizing clothing patterns at scale;
  • Vizrom, offering a digital license plate.

During the past 14 years, Alabama Launchpad has awarded over $5 million in funding to 94 startups, which have generated over 700 jobs. Alabama Launchpad winners now have an estimated combined post-money valuation of more than $325 million.

The Reignite Alabama Finale will be produced live from EDPA’s Birmingham headquarters with the judges and finalists remaining safe and distanced, while still producing the best public-facing event it can offer.

How to watch:

Reignite Alabama will air beginning at 4:30 p.m. on alabamalaunchpad.com and Facebook.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 months ago

Walmart announces 8,000 veterans hired in Alabama through Welcome Home Commitment

(Walmart/Contributed)

Walmart announced this week that it had hired 266,260 veterans since 2013, including more than 8,000 in Alabama.

First announced on Memorial Day 2013, the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment (VWHC) guaranteed a job offer to any eligible, honorably discharged U.S. veteran. The initial goal was to hire 100,000 veterans by the end of 2018. Two years later, the company expanded that goal to 250,000 by the end of 2020.

“We’re forever grateful to our veterans for their service, and it’s an honor to offer them opportunities at Walmart,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO. “To reach this goal so quickly says a lot about our company as a great place to work and build a career. I’m proud of the commitment we’ve made to veterans and their families, and I’m thrilled that so many have decided to join us. They are critical to helping us achieve a more diverse and inclusive future.”

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Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history of supporting veterans, service members and their families by investing more than $40 million in programs that support job training, education and innovative public/private community-based initiatives.

The Military Spouses Career Connection program, started in 2018, has opened additional opportunities and support for military families. To date, the company has hired 19,045 associates and continues offering any military spouse hiring preference when applying for a job.

“We’re proud of our achievements and the opportunities presented to the talented service members who’ve honorably served our country,” said Brynt Parmeter, senior director for Walmart Military Programs. “Now, it’s our responsibility to continue preparing these men and women for meaningful futures with the Walmart community.”

Parmeter is now looking to the next chapter in Walmart’s commitment to veterans and the communities they serve. He says his team is taking an interest in employment, entrepreneurship, learning, health and wellness initiatives when looking to the future of Walmart Military Programs.

“This is such an important time for us,” he said. “Our company is committed to finding new ways that we can build relationships and engage with members of this community to advance and improve both economic opportunity and overall well-being.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 months ago

Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce will hold virtual Military Appreciation Day event July 2

The Military Appreciation Day luncheon will be held virtually July 2. (Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce)

The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce will host this year’s Military Appreciation Day luncheon virtually due to COVID-19 precautions. The Zoom event will be held July 2, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The luncheon and awards presentation will pay tribute to the military and recognize several individuals, including JROTC cadets, for their contribution and service.

The awards presentation will include:

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  • Honoring Army Lt. Col. Louis J. Lartigue Sr. (Ret.) with the Maj. Gen. Gary Cooper Outstanding Service Award.
  • Recognizing Mobile County High School JROTC Cadets.
  • Additional recognitions by the U.S. Coast Guard ATC, Spouse of the Year; and the U.S. Navy League presenting the Hugh M. Casteix and Rear Adm. J. Lloyd Abbot awards.

Gov. Kay Ivey will provide the keynote address at 12:30 p.m. with the awards presentation to follow.

The cost for virtual attendance is $20, and ticket holders will receive a $15 gift card to one of seven restaurants to cover their lunch: Briquettes Steakhouse, Chicken Salad Chick, Foosackley’s, Lucky Irish Pub and Grill, Simple Greek, Sonny’s BBQ or Taco Mama.

To register for the event, visit the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, or for additional information contact Mallory Tyson.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 months ago

USDA Farms to Families meals coming to Randolph County

(Pixabay)

Randolph County Economic Development Authority Director Bryant Whaley on Wednesday announced a partnership with the East Alabama Regional Planning Development Commission (EARPDC) and U.S. Department of Agriculture to supply free meals.

The USDA Farms to Families program will supply citizens a box meal of meat, fruit, and vegetables free of charge. The first day of the program will be held on Wednesday, June 10 followed by Wednesday, June 24. Meals will be dispersed from 9-11 a.m. at the Randolph County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) office at 1218 Highway 431 in Roanoke, the agency said in a news release. There are no residency or age requirements to receive a meal. Anyone in the area is welcomed to get a meal.

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A refrigerated truck will be parked beside the RCEDA office; participants will be able to pull up and volunteers will disperse the meals. People will not have to get out of their vehicles. Everyone needs to be mindful of the needs of others and not take more meals than needed for his/her family, the RCEDA said in a news release. The meals will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. The RCEDA said participation is strongly encouraged because the rate of participation will decide the amount of meals distributed for future dates.

“Times are tough, unemployment is over 13%. People are hungry and need help. This not much, but at least it is a start,” Whaley said.

“We jumped at the chance to leverage our partnerships with GA Foods and the USDA to bring needed resources of our rural counties,” said EARPDC Director Lori Corley. “We knew that we could count on our local governments and our partner Randolph County Economic Development Authority to assist with local logistics.

“This is a true partnership of federal, state, regional and local governments working together to meet a basic need,” Corley said.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 months ago

Birmingham launches Parkside pop-up trail to support social distancing

(Orchestra Partners/Contributed)

Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham have partnered to launch The Parkside Trail, a temporary conversion of First Avenue South into a car-free, multi-use trail modeled after The Open Streets Project.

Beginning Saturday, May 2, the First Avenue South corridor between 12th Street and 20th Street will be closed to vehicles and become a multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of May. Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham will be working with local retailers and restaurants to install pop-up activations along The Parkside Trail to reinforce walkability and provide businesses with more opportunities to generate revenue.

“Converting city streets into a multi-use trail is a great way to give Birmingham residents a space to practice social distancing while enjoying this great weather and supporting our local businesses,” said Hunter Renfroe, Orchestra Partners Co-Founder and Principal. “Promoting walkability is a core aspect of our mission at Orchestra Partners – and we’re proud to lead this initiative alongside partners who share our vision for a walkable urban center.”

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Founded in 2011, The Open Streets Project is a celebration of walkers, runners and cyclists taking back the streets from vehicles and demonstrating the demand for multi-modal infrastructure across the country. Forward-thinking cities such as Denver, Des Moines, Minneapolis and Oakland have recently implemented successful Open Street models to promote public health and safety during COVID-19.

Following the lead of these and other Open Streets concepts, The Parkside Trail, a natural western extension of the Rotary Trail, is not just a temporary relief measure during the pandemic, but a trial for a potential long-term solution for a safer, more walkable urban district.

“The Parkside Trail solves an immediate need for expanded exercise space as our community works together to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said David Fleming, REV Birmingham President and CEO. “But the beauty of this plan is that there’s a bigger picture, because we’re also testing a model that has worked in cities across the country well before this crisis. Open Streets is about reclaiming streets for pedestrians, cyclists and more to move through the city, which could bring a new kind of vibrancy to Birmingham once social-distancing exercise is no longer necessary.”

Introducing slower, pedestrian and bike-friendly streets has been a goal of city stakeholders like Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham for years, and the pandemic has only increased the urgency to make Birmingham streets safer and more spacious for non-motorists. The project is being supported by the City of Birmingham Department of Transportation and the Birmingham Police Department to ensure public safety is a top priority. City officials urge residents to abide by the newly adopted face mask ordinance and follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Partners are installing educational signage and street paint in six-foot increments to guide social distancing.

“Safeguarding the health and safety of Birmingham residents is our primary goal,” said Rick Journey, City of Birmingham Director of Communications. “We are proud to see our community working together to provide innovative solutions that promote wellness and address challenges faced by COVID-19.”

The Parkside Trail is a timely extension of Orchestra Partner’s vision to transform the district into Birmingham’s central hub of connectivity, with mixed-use redevelopment plans slated for the historic Powell Avenue Steam Plant and soon to be developed Urban Supply District in the blocks immediately west of Regions Field.

To enhance these connections, Orchestra Partners continues to work with Freshwater Land Trust to leverage the Red Rock Trail System as a pathway of connection between Birmingham’s central business district and surrounding neighborhoods. Connecting with the Rotary Trail at 20th Street, The Parkside Trail will extend from the east to the west end of the Parkside District and help educate more citizens on the benefits of trails.

“Pop-up parks and trails are very effective at demonstrating how streets can be transformed when we prioritize walkability and urban green space,” said Carolyn Buck, Red Rock Trail System Director at Freshwater Land Trust. “We are excited for the unique experience The Parkside Trail will offer Birmingham residents and visitors this month.”

Orchestra Partners expects to announce more details on trail pop-up amenities throughout the month to support local businesses. The Parkside Trail will officially be open to the public on Saturday, May 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays during these hours through May 31.

Free public parking will be available in the Urban Supply parking lot at the corner of 13th Street and First Avenue South. For more information, visit www.parksidebham.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Airbus donates face masks to Alabama health care workers

(Contributed)

Airbus has donated 40,000 face masks to health care workers along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, shared the news in a Facebook post Friday.

“Airbus is proud to answer the call to help the heroes in our community through the donation of 40,000 face masks to those on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus in Mobile and Baldwin counties,” Taylor wrote.

Taylor said the masks were delivered to the city of Mobile Fire & Rescue Department and the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency, which will distribute the masks in coordination with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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“The Airbus team members in Mobile are grateful for our first responders and local health care professionals,” Taylor said in a statement to Alabama NewsCenter. “We are grateful we are able to contribute to their important work here on the Gulf Coast.”

The donation of face masks is just one of many ways the company is supporting first responders and health care workers around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on its website, Airbus said many initiatives to help tackle the impact of COVID-19 involve Airbus-built aircraft. Employees are working on developing sustainable solutions to support governments worldwide – including the production of critical medical equipment.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Alabama printer making face shields for health care workers

Michael Cuesta of Calagaz Printing wears a face mask the Mobile printing company is making for health care workers. (contributed)

An Alabama printing company focused on the restaurant industry has found a way to help health care workers and keep its business going during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Our director of sales, Michael Cuesta, came up with this idea that we can create face shields,” Calagaz said. “He presented a homemade prototype to me and then, along with our director of operations, we created six working prototypes. We then met with four area hospitals to get their feedback and, after some adjustments, we received orders and went into production mode.”

Calagaz said his company is gearing up to produce 5,000 face masks per day.

“In less than a week we created a prototype, met with hospitals, ordered materials and delivered the first 5,000 to Mobile’s four hospitals,” Calagaz said. “Kudos to our team for thinking outside the box and working hard to make this happen.”

Calagaz Printing in Mobile is a third-generation family-owned printing business. Joe Calagaz joined the company in 1991, a business his grandfather started in 1955. Calagaz said the community response this week has been amazing.

“Our entire team of 17 employees is honored to work and provide a solution for our health care workers,” Calagaz said. “We have a sense of pride and are grateful to have the means by which we can have an impact in this time of crisis.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Birmingham Frontier Conference postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

(The Frontier Conference/Facebook)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Frontier Conference 2020 has been postponed to ensure the safety and well-being of the conference’s multinational community of attendees.

The conference had been set for April 1-3 at The Lyric Theatre in Birmingham. Conference organizers have rescheduled to Sept. 14-16 at the same venue.

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“Our main concern is the safety and health of all who were participating and planning to attend this conference,” said Hank Torbert, CEO and founder of the Frontier Conference. “With participants and attendees planning to come from around the country, postponing the Frontier Conference is in the best interest of everyone’s well-being and frankly, the right thing to do.”

Torbert said the move to the fall is set.

“Our team has already confirmed new dates and we look forward to continuing our mission to gather innovative leaders from various industrial sectors to hear about best practices, share information and build new relationships,” he said.

With new conference dates being released, attendees who had already signed up will be notified and automatically signed up for the new dates. If attendees can no longer attend, they can either transfer the ticket to a colleague or request a refund.

For more information or to subscribe for updates about the Frontier Conference, visit TheFrontier.co.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

Birmingham-area community colleges to offer lineworker training

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

In Alabama, continuing to develop a well-trained workforce prepared with job-ready skills is a challenge for state leaders. Local community colleges are answering the call by providing technical training programs that prepare Alabamians to be skilled in the trades.

In 2019, Bishop State Community College in Mobile announced a partnership with Alabama Power to bring lineworker training to south Alabama. This training has expanded to central Alabama, as Jefferson State Community College and Lawson State Community College will offer lineworker training this spring.

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The purpose of the programs is to prepare students across Alabama communities for rewarding careers as lineworkers. Students can learn the fundamentals of electricity as well as the math and science knowledge needed to work on power lines.

The 9-week program prepares participants for jobs at Alabama Power and other utilities. Up to 15 students will be accepted to the program at each of the new locations.

“By partnering with local colleges on these programs, we’re able to provide quality training in Alabama communities,” said Tom McNeal, Southern Company Workforce Development Program manager. “We want to ensure that our state’s workforce has the job-ready skills to succeed not only for today, but for the future.”


Potential students who want to apply or learn more about the program should contact:

Jefferson State Center for Workforce Education

205-856-7917     *** Applications deadline, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020

Lawson State Workforce Development

205-925-2515     *** Applications deadline, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020

Bishop State Workforce Division

251-405-7082     *** Applications deadline, Wednesday, March 4, 2020

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 months ago

Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas to speak at Frontier Conference 2020 innovation summit

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Chris Thomas, one of the nation’s leading experts on the next-generation mobility sector, will speak in Birmingham at Frontier Conference 2020, where more than 200 business, government and academic leaders will share information and best practices for industrial innovation.

Thomas is the co-founder and president of the Detroit Mobility Lab, which is working to help Detroit become one of the world’s foremost future mobility ecosystems. This sector includes autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles, along with new transportation platforms including bike-, scooter-, and ride-sharing services.

The sector is also involved in making more traditional types of transportation, such as bus and train travel, more efficient and connected.

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The Detroit Mobility Lab is helping companies foster innovation while building a forward-thinking workforce that can bring expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics, connectivity, electrification and computer science to the automotive and broader mobility industry. The Mobility Lab’s mission of helping to facilitate innovation at industrial companies ties well to the theme of the Frontier Conference.

The conference, set for April 1-3 at The Lyric Theatre and Hill Event Center in Birmingham, is designed to share ideas among industries about everything from transportation logistics, to renewable energy’s impact on power generation, to leadership tips for forward-thinking industrial companies. The most recent Frontier Conference in 2018 attracted innovation leaders representing 130 organizations from 20 states and five countries, spanning 17 major industrial disciplines.

“It’s critical that industrial companies learn how to build and buy new technologies if they are to play a major part in the evolving field of mobility,” Thomas said. “Building the best teams, and giving them the ability to think differently, is critical to success, and I am excited to talk about these topics at the Frontier Conference.”

For Thomas, working on innovative ideas is a way of life. Before he co-founded the Detroit Mobility Lab, Thomas co-founded Fontinalis Partners, working to build it into one of the top investment firms in next-generation mobility.

While at Fontinalis, he served as a board member for nuTonomy (acquired by Aptiv in 2017) and as a board observer at Parkmobile (acquired by BMW in January 2018) and Life360 (IPO in May 2019). His background includes experience as a communications officer in the U.S. Army and as an investment banker in UBS’ technology and energy groups.

Based in Detroit, Thomas also advises a number of mobility startups around the globe, acts as a senior adviser to the COMMIT Foundation and is a member of the Global Cleantech 100 expert panel. He is also a co-owner of Buddy’s Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor.

Thomas has served as the chairman of Read to a Child, a national children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit, and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.

For more information about the Frontier Conference, visit TheFrontier.co.

The Conference was founded by Hank Torbert, Kirk Coburn and Tim DeSilva. Torbert is an executive and investor focused on identifying and supporting emerging technologies for industrials. Coburn is an entrepreneur, investor and member of Shell’s corporate venture capital fund at Shell Technology Ventures (STV), focused on investing in both traditional oil and gas technologies and future markets. DeSilva is a brand architect and creative strategist, co-founder of Culture Pilot, and co-curator of event experiences such as TEDxHouston and Visualized NYC.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

Former Alabama Power CEO Elmer Harris dies at 80

Elmer Harris, left, was a champion of economic development at Alabama Power and led in the recruitment of companies like Mercedes-Benz to the state. (Alabama NewsCenter)

Elmer Harris, Alabama businessman, philanthropist and former CEO of Alabama Power, died Dec. 23.

Harris joined the Alabama Power in 1958 as an engineering co-op student at Auburn University. Following graduation, he spent 10 years in Alabama Power’s Southern Division in various engineering positions, while continuing his education and serving in the U.S. Air Force and Alabama National Guard.

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Harris went on to hold positions of increasing responsibility at Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Southern Company, before being named President and CEO of Alabama Power in 1990. He served 12 years as the company’s CEO prior to retiring in 2002 with 44 years of service.

“Elmer Harris was a strong and dynamic leader for our company. And, he possessed a strong interest and commitment to the growth and development of the state of Alabama,” said Tom Fanning, Southern Company CEO. “Elmer was very engaging and found creative solutions to many regulatory, community and company issues.”

A champion of economic development, Harris played a major role in creating the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) and was integral in bringing companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Boeing and Hyundai to the state.

In 1989, Harris created the Alabama Power Foundation, the largest corporate foundation in the state. During his tenure, the foundation invested nearly $60 million in projects benefitting Alabama communities. Thirty years later, the foundation continues to partner with nonprofits by providing volunteer, organizational, promotional and financial support.

“Elmer Harris worked at and led Alabama Power during an important period for our company and our state,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power CEO. “Our customers, and people across the state, continue to benefit from his leadership, which was always guided by a firm commitment to make Alabama a better place.”

Harris remained committed to community involvement even in retirement, serving on various civic and business boards, including the Alabama 4-H Council, Auburn University Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, the board of trustees for Samford University, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, AmSouth Bancorporation and Junior Achievement.

A native of Clanton, Harris earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Auburn University. He also received a Master of Business Administration from Auburn. Harris received honorary doctoral degrees from Auburn, the University of Alabama Birmingham, Troy University, Faulkner University, Jacksonville University and Huntington College. During his military service, he attended the U.S. Air Force Flight School, Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base and Air War College.

Harris served as honorary consul general of Japan and was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall Of Fame in 1996 and Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2007.

He and his wife, Glenda, had two children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

Alabama Legacy Moment: Marshall Space Flight Center

(NASA/Twitter)

Alabama Public Television is producing a series of videos titled “Alabama Legacy Moments” that offer a quick history of the people, places and stories that have defined Alabama. Done in conjunction with the ongoing bicentennial celebration of the state that concludes in December 2019, the short pieces should inspire you to learn more about the rich history of Alabama. “Alabama Legacy Moments”  are sponsored by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

This “Legacy Moment” is Marshall Space Flight Center.

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11 months ago

Birmingham Housing Authority, city, Alabama Power announce Smart Neighborhood initiative

Alabama Power is partnering with the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city to bring its Smart Neighborhood homes to Birmingham's 99 neighborhoods. (CCR Architecture and Interiors)

The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD), city of Birmingham, Alabama Power and local builders have formed a partnership to bring state-of-the-art, “smart” homes to Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods.

The new Smart Neighborhood builds will incorporate energy efficiency and home automation upgrades during the construction phase of housing units to help make energy use more affordable for low-income families and seniors.

“This is a great partnership with Alabama Power in an effort to provide energy-efficient, cutting edge amenities for families who seek affordable housing,” said HABD President and CEO Michael O. Lundy. “HABD looks forward to strengthening this partnership in the future to incorporate similar technology throughout our portfolio. We’re beyond excited that affordable housing residents will now have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of greener living thanks to the Smart Neighborhood initiative.”

The initiative includes the construction of more than 200 smart homes throughout Birmingham neighborhoods over the next three years. Sites will be provided by HABD with construction of the first homes expected to begin in 2020.

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“We’re very excited to join forces with the Housing Authority, Alabama Power and local entities for this vital project,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “Neighborhood revitalization has been a cornerstone of my administration and these energy-efficient upgrades are key to fulfilling that promise. Every resident of our 99 neighborhoods deserves to experience this life-changing technology and I’m thrilled that we are making strides to provide them.”

Alabama Power is using key findings from its award-winning research and demonstration Smart Neighborhood at Reynolds Landing in Hoover to provide local builders technical expertise on energy-saving measures and technology installations during the homes’ construction. Each home will be designed with energy upgrades that will measure 15 percent more efficient than current Alabama state building codes.

“We are excited to continue our internationally recognized Smart Neighborhood initiative with great partners in the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city of Birmingham,” said Alabama Power Birmingham Division Area Manager Ralph Williams. “By applying our knowledge to the new affordable housing developments, these homes will provide residents greater efficiency and the ability to easily manage features through smart devices.”

In addition to construction enhancements, homes will feature high-efficiency heat pumps, hybrid water heaters, LED lighting, smart thermostats and security features such as doorbell cameras and smart sensors.

Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood initiative began in 2017 with a focus on providing innovative energy solutions for its customers. Building on the success of its flagship project in Hoover, the company launched the Smart Neighborhood Builder Program in 2018, which promotes energy efficiency through collaboration with homebuilders across the state. Three new neighborhoods are under construction across the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

On this day in Alabama history: President Warren Harding visits Birmingham for semicentennial celebration

(Alabama NewsCenter/Twitter)

Oct. 26, 1921

President Warren G. Harding’s visit to Birmingham on Oct. 26, 1921, was the highlight of a weeklong 50th anniversary celebration at Capitol Park (Now Linn Park). The president and first lady Florence King Harding, along with other dignitaries, took part in events celebrating the growth of Birmingham. Harding’s speech was notable because it was the first delivered by a sitting president in the South that called for political equality for African-Americans.

Harding and the first lady led a parade around the business district in a Premocar, manufactured by Preston Motors Corp. in Birmingham. After disembarking from the car at the Tutwiler Hotel, the president reviewed the remainder of the parade, which included Civil War veterans, National Guardsmen, industrial workers and the “Pioneers of 1861,” representatives of people living in the city when it was founded. It was estimated more than 100,000 people were on hand for the parade and in the park for the president’s speech.

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During the day, Harding made remarks at a luncheon in his honor, viewed a Fashion-Industrial Exposition and a mine-rescue demonstration, laid the cornerstone of the Masonic Temple and toured the city by car. He made his final appearance at the Pageant of Birmingham in Avondale Park.

Harding said Birmingham welcomed him with the “greatest, warmest and most enthusiastic reception” of his term in office.

Read more at Bhamwiki

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

On this day in Alabama history: First class of Alabama Academy of Honor announced

(NASA/Contributed)

Oct. 25, 1968

The first 14 members of the Alabama Academy of Honor were announced on Oct. 25, 1968, and inducted on Aug. 25, 1969. Each year, 10 members may be elected by the academy until its membership reaches 100. All living governors are automatically members of the academy.

Inspired by the Missouri Academy of Squires, UAB biochemistry professor Emmett Carmichael got the idea of creating an honorary society of living Alabamians in 1965 and proposed his plan to Gov. George Wallace. A bill was passed to create the academy during that legislative session, and Wallace signed it into law on Oct. 29, 1965. Little progress was made toward the establishment of the academy until 1968 when Gov. Albert Brewer agreed to appoint a nominating committee.

The first class included Winton Blount, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jim Folsom Sr., A.G. Gaston, Lister Hill, Thomas Moorer, John Patterson, Frank Rose, Frank Samford Sr., Bertha Smolian, John Sparkman, Wernher von Braun, Wallace and Brewer.

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Read more at Bhamwiki and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

For more on Alabama’s bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

On this day in Alabama history: The latest USS Mobile brought into service

The fourth Navy ship to bear the name USS Mobile was a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship. It served for 24 years from the Vietnam War through the first Gulf War. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the United States Navy)

A half-century ago today, the fourth ship bearing the name of the port city of Mobile was christened for service in the US Navy.

A cargo ship, the USS Mobile went into immediate service for the Vietnam War and supported more than a dozen missions. With a helicopter platform and powerful cranes, the Mobile was well-suited to support the buildup and execution of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

The Navy decommissioned the Mobile in 1994 and sent it on to a maintenance facility at the port of Philadelphia.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Final designs are in for new $174 million Birmingham stadium

(Populous/Contributed)

Designs are done on the new $174 million Protective Life Stadium that will soon dominate the eastern edge of the BJCC campus in downtown Birmingham.

Project architect Populous presented the final designs to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board of directors Wednesday, a week after the Birmingham Design Review committee approved materials and other components of the plan.

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“I’m happy to be able to present these designs to our board,” said Tad Snider, executive director and CEO of the BJCC Authority. “Each step in this process brings us closer to a completed stadium. The team at Populous are industry leaders in human-centered design and have done a wonderful job with this project. They’ve designed Protective Stadium with a clear understanding of what has worked well – and what hasn’t – for other facilities around the world.”

Exterior designs include lush landscaping and focus on connecting the new stadium with surrounding facilities like the BJCC, Uptown Entertainment District and Topgolf. Inside amenities will include modern concession areas, restaurants and bars, suites and premium club lounges.

Kansas City-based Populous has designed more than 150 college stadiums and the one for Birmingham incorporates that experience.

“We are building the next-generation stadium designed for the 21st century fans,” said Jim Swords, Populous principal architect on the Protective Stadium project. “We are facing a shift in what fans want out of their ticketed experience. For today’s sports consumer, it’s all about the experience, which is exactly what Protective Stadium will provide.”

The designs were met with enthusiasm.

“Populous has met and exceeded expectations at every turn, and we look forward to bringing our shared vision to life with them and all of the local partners on the project,” said Dennis Latham, BJCC Authority board chairman. “We are ready to move forward and continue with the rapid progress we have made thus far.”

UAB will make the new stadium its home field, moving from Legion Field.

“This is a monumental day for UAB Football and the entire city of Birmingham,” said UAB coach Bill Clark. “Protective Stadium is a huge step in our vision of making this program a national contender every single year, and we would like to thank everyone who has made our future home possible. Birmingham is growing together and adding a world-class stadium in the heart of downtown will provide incredible value for our entire city.”

The BJCC Authority, the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Protective Life Corporation and UAB are providing the primary funding for the Protective Stadium.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama legislature ratified the 19th Amendment

(Encyclopedia of Alabama/Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Sept. 19, 1953

The fight for the right for women to vote officially ended in 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In Alabama, there was an active suffragist movement, led by the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, but opposition by some Alabama groups resulted in the legislature not taking up the amendment, and after Tennessee signed on the issue was moot. Thirty-three years later, the legislature decided to “record its approval of extending the right of suffrage to women” and officially ratified the 19th Amendment. Although the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association dissolved in 1920, many of its leaders and members joined the newly founded League of Women Voters, which remains active today in Alabama elections.

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1 year ago

On this day in Alabama history: Talladega Superspeedway held first race

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Sept. 13, 1969

Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR, helped created the Talladega Superspeedway in the late 1960s at a time most major tracks were located along the Atlantic Coast. France wanted a track more centrally located in the Southeast and chose a 2,000-acre site off Interstate 20 near the town of Talladega. Track construction began in May 1968, and the facility opened the next year as the Alabama International Motor Speedway. The first race, the Bama 400, was held on this day in 1969. Talladega is NASCAR’s largest race track and typically produces the fastest race speeds in the circuit. The Superspeedway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a $50 million “Transformation” project that includes a new infield fan zone and garages.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Follow these tips for a safe Labor Day weekend on and off the water

(Pixabay,YHN)

Labor Day weekend is here and we know many of you are heading to the lake for the long weekend. Whether boating, fishing, swimming or just relaxing by the water, keep safety a priority with these quick tips:

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