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.

4 days ago

Alabama-Texas A&M postgame — Quick hits

(Alabama Football, Texas A&M Football/Facebook, YHN)

In front of a near record crowd in College Station, Texas, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide dispensed with the No. 24 Aggies of Texas A&M, 47-28. The machine that is Alabama’s offense continued to roll. Here are a few of quick takeaways in the immediate aftermath of the win:

507

The Alabama Crimson Tide continues to redefine what a ball control offense looks like. Beginning with the Tide’s first offensive possession, the game never felt in doubt. That’s what happens when you have a quarterback and an offensive unit in nearly perfect sync. Ball control has forever meant squeezing the air out of the ball with a strong running game and owning time of possession. Leading comfortably at halftime 24-13, Alabama’s time of possession was only 12:29, compared to 17:31 for Texas A&M, with 37 yards rushing. Yet, throughout the entire game, A&M had no answer for Alabama’s precision passing game.

Hello, Terrell Lewis. Speaking of not having any answers, A&M had none for Lewis. The Crimson Tide pass rush showed up today. And Lewis was the most active of the bunch. He finished the game with two sacks and was constantly in the backfield, including two more quarterback hurries.

Jaylen Waddle earned every one of his 176 all-purpose yards. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s approach to controlling the ball through the passing game (see above) was seen on the first touchdown to Jaylen Waddle. On 3rd and 7, Alabama went 5-wide and hit Waddle on a high percentage wide receiver screen that Waddle took to the endzone. In addition to his touchdown reception, he had 128 yards on punt returns – each time threatening to score.

The schedule sets up well for the Crimson Tide. With its next two opponents at home and each in the middle of dreadful seasons, Alabama should be in pretty good shape coming off its bye week to face LSU. Tennessee limps into the third week of October with a 2-4 record and a season of turmoil beginning with its opening week loss to Georgia State. Arkansas, the Tide’s opponent the following week, currently holds a 2-3 record and remains winless in the SEC.

Nitpicks. There were a couple of busts in the secondary as a result of defensive backs not being disciplined with their eyes. One of those busts resulted in an A&M touchdown reception to the tight end. And of course, there’s the field goal kicking. Joseph Bulovas had two made tries doink off the goal post and another which was blocked.

Texas A&M still has not established its identity under Jimbo Fisher. There has been a fair amount of talk that 2020 will set up to be A&M’s breakthrough year under Jimbo Fisher. Maybe. But a season and a half into his tenure there we still do not have a good sense of how his program is going to fit into the pecking order of the SEC West. Fisher is a proven top-tier coach in college football. However, expectations are different when you sign a $75 million guaranteed contract. Quarterback Kellen Mond seems to have hit his ceiling. That’s not a great sign for Mond who has suffered from inconsistency. It’s also not a good sign for Fisher’s 2020 plan given that Mond returns next year for one more season of eligibility. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is now 18-0 against his former assistants.

1 week ago

Birmingham project management firm seeks to meet challenges presented by workforce shortages

(HPM/Contributed, YHN)

With Alabama employers continuing to grapple with the workforce shortages that come with a booming economy, Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management (HPM) announced it had made a series of new hires with that challenge specifically in mind.

HPM announced in a recent release it has made a series of new hires in its Program Development Group with an eye toward increasing its expertise in preconstruction. According to HPM, these hires will allow them to streamline their preconstruction services as the industry continues to adapt to rising construction costs associated with continued labor shortages.

Many of the state’s leaders have highlighted the need to retrain the state’s workforce, as well as develop a new generation of workers, to meet the current economy’s needs.

560

Governor Kay Ivey recently remarked that Alabama’s economy will require 500,000 new workers in the next five years.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth earlier this year called workforce development the “number one crisis facing our state from the business standpoint.”

At a recent panel discussion hosted by Yellowhammer News, Rosemary Elebash, state director for National Federation of Independent Business, cited workforce development as the most pressing issue for small business. Elebash explained, “We have a significant shortage of qualified workers.”

The city of Birmingham has developed its own workforce development initiative aimed at training its next generation of workers. The Birmingham Promise is a creation of Mayor Randall Woodfin, who described it as a “supercharged” workforce development program. It is a public-private partnership consisting of apprenticeship opportunities with local businesses in addition to scholarships to state two-year and four-year institutions.

Founded in 1997, HPM provides comprehensive guidance to clients on the construction and development process and offers “a one-stop approach to complete program management and owner’s representation.”

To help navigate the conditions of the current economy, the firm named Del Buck as its vice president of Preconstruction. He will be responsible for overseeing project estimates and budget development for all of HPM’s program management assignments. HPM cited Buck’s 30 years of general contracting and executive experience on six continents as contributing to his ability to provide competitive cost certainty.

“Del is making an instant impact at our company and has the ideal background to help lead us into the next chapter of our growth story,” said Mike Lanier, president of HPM. “We all know how difficult of an environment we’re in right now due to the labor shortage and rising costs of materials, but we believe Del’s ability to see through the GC lens combined with the advanced estimating technology and pricing databases at HPM will give us a competitive edge that cannot be replicated elsewhere. He will help us fill a distinct market void for construction professionals who can guide owners through the entire building process and add value through cost certainty and a more predictable schedule.”

Buck noted the need to meet individual budgeting requirements of HPM clients as a priority for him.

“I am honored and excited to join the incredible group of professionals at HPM,” said Buck. “The duties of my position match up remarkably well with the experience I gained throughout my career as a general contractor, and the ability to leverage that with HPM’s vast database of pricing technology will allow us to offer custom-produced services that are tailored for each owner’s budget and scheduling requirements. Together, we will add desirable clients and projects to HPM’s already impressive portfolio.”

HPM also announced the hirings of Michael Eskew as mechanical preconstruction manager and Kyle Talley as electrical preconstruction manager.

“Being able to land two specialists who have the level of experience and expertise that Michael and Kyle possess presented a rare opportunity, and we’re thrilled they’ve agreed to join our team,” said Ryan Austin, chief operations officer at HPM. “Now more than ever, it’s imperative to find leaders who have a keen understanding of where to find cost savings and creative workarounds with subcontractors so we can present competitive solutions for owners and developers who are getting squeezed by construction price hikes. Preconstruction services will continue to be a top priority for HPM moving forward.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 weeks ago

Auburn-Florida postgame – Quick hits

(Auburn Football, Gators Football/Twitter, YHN)

No. 7 Auburn got handed its first loss of the season against the No. 10 Florida Gators Saturday in Gainesville.

While the quality of play did not exactly live up to the hype surrounding this meeting of two top-10 teams, here are a few takeaways in the immediate aftermath:

Auburn PD probably received a few missing person reports for Boobie Whitlow. Midway through the third quarter, Whitlow caught a ball on the sidelines which had been thrown away by Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. It seemed as if that was the first time Whitlow had gotten his hands on the ball.

441

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has said he wants to carefully measure Whitlocks’s carries in anticipation of the second half of the season. But I’m not sure this was what he had in mind. Whitlow had five carries for six yards in the first half. Whitlow picked up the pace a bit later in the third quarter and ended up with 81 yards on 18 carries but Auburn was never able to establish the run at critical moments.

Whitlow appeared to be frustrated after not receiving the ball on a second down RPO call midway through the third quarter, as there was open grass in front of him. One play later, quarterback Bo Nix threw an interception on his third down throw to the endzone.

Kevin Steele vs. Dan Mullen may have been the most fascinating matchup in the game. Auburn’s highly-ranked defense got stretched to the brink because of the struggles of the offense and the resulting disparity in plays. But the chess match which occurred for most of the game was worth the watch alone.

Every time one found a soft spot in the other’s unit, adjustments were made and a big play happened. Whether it was Steele’s response to the Florida crossing routes or Mullen’s response to the incessant pressure on his quarterback, these were two of the best coaches for their respective sides of the ball in the SEC.

Third down was not kind to the Tigers today. The offense looked out of sync all day and it struggled when it needed to execute the most – on third down. Auburn finished the game going 2 for 14 on third down conversions after going 1 for 8 on third down in the first half. They failed to convert on their first four third downs when needing three yards or less (see Whitlow above).

This is really a function of an offensive line which struggled to contain an active Florida front all day. However, you have to think there will be a fairly intense self-scout of third down play calls in the Auburn football offices this week.

Florida may have won but the recovery leading up to LSU next week is not going to be easy for them. The physicality of Auburn’s defense cannot be understated in a game like this. In the first quarter, middle linebacker K.J. Britt met the running back in the hole and delivered a vicious blow. It’s not often you see a running back getting knocked out at the line of scrimmage.

The Auburn pass rush recorded four sacks, and by the end of the game Trask was visibly tired of getting hit.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 weeks ago

Workforce development identified as most pressing issue at Yellowhammer small business panel

(YHN)

TRUSSVILLE — Workforce development drove the conversation at this week’s Yellowhammer News Shapers event at the Trussville Civic Center. The panel of small business experts quickly reached a consensus that developing a qualified, skilled workforce is the top issue facing Alabama’s job creators now and in the future.

“We have a significant shortage of qualified workers,” explained panel participant Rosemary Elebash, Alabama state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

936

And Elebash is in a position to know.

She outlined her group’s process for determining its agenda, revealing that individual members vote on which issues the group pursues and that developing a qualified workforce was far and away the pressing issue for them.

Elebash warned that the worker shortage problem “is looming and it does not matter the industry.”

Mike Milam, owner of Milam & Co. construction company, agreed with Elebash’s assessment on Alabama’s workforce needs and said it is something his business has had to deal with on a consistent basis.

Milam said he is also focused on retaining his current workforce.

“We have to make our place of business a place where they want to stay there,” he remarked.

Citing a recent initiative by Governor Kay Ivey, Elebash said there will be a need for 500,000 new workers in the next five years in order to meet the needs of Alabama’s economy.

She disclosed that this has already been felt by small business owners as a result of people retiring and leaving the workforce during the same period of time when businesses are attempting to grow.

“Our businesses are not able to grow because we can’t find the people to work,” she said.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) stressed the urgency with which the state must bolster its job training programs.

A member of Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s workforce development council, Garrett said the work the group has done with a special consultant has allowed them to gain a better understanding of the direction policy makers need to go.

“What you find out is that there are a lot of workforce development initiatives going on all across the state but they are all being done in individual silos and not necessarily connected,” Garrett said. “It’s hard to determine if we’re all moving in the same direction. We want to bring them all together and determine what is the best way forward.”

For Garrett, the best way forward involves being mindful of how technology will impact jobs.

He pointed to a study presented to the Lt. Gov.’s workforce council which concluded 40% of workers today are likely to be displaced by 2030, either through automation or technology.

Garrett used the example of ordering kiosks in restaurants as a way automation will change the way business is done.

“The food service industry will be dramatically impacted,” he said.

That’s why he sees careful planning as vital to the overall effort.

“Not only do we need to develop our workforce for current jobs, we’ve got to get out front and understand where we are going,” advised Garrett.

Whichever direction the state ends up going with its workforce, the clear consensus of the panel was that it will take significant collaboration among all stakeholders in Alabama’s economy.

Elebash said NFIB was partnering with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) to address the issue. ACCS chancellor Jimmy Baker and vice chancellor Jeff Lynn are meeting with groups of small businesses to discuss workforce needs, she said.

One example, Elebash mentioned, of how this partnership has led to a curriculum change occurred at the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark. She said the commercial driver’s license program adopted a training program based on the needs of local businesses, with those businesses helping to provide the equipment in which the drivers-in-training could learn.

RELATED: Small businesses, job-seekers set to benefit from reforms to unemployment law

“We are fortunate in this respect: Dr. Baker understands who the customer is,” remarked Elebash. “And the customer is the business owner who hires the product who is the student. The school is the provider.”

As vice chairman of the education budget committee, Garrett shared in the belief that the community colleges are playing a crucial role in workforce development.

“There has been a concerted effort in the last three sessions to look at funding for the community colleges because that’s really where the bulk of this training is going to come from,” he explained.

He emphasized further that having the community colleges being separated out from the state school board has had a positive impact on workforce training because they are now “laser focused” on that effort.

As a member of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Board, Milam said he is just now gaining an understanding of the job training programs that are out there, particularly those administered through AIDT. He feels more people should take advantage of AIDT’s programs to go out and help small businesses with their workforce needs.

Another workforce development initiative discussed by the panel was the state’s burgeoning apprenticeship program established through the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Milam remarked that participating in an apprenticeship program could be helpful to a business like his.

“Some of our most successful hiring has come through the co-op program,” he said. “I could see where we would hire two or three people immediately [through the apprenticeship program].”

Efforts to streamline the administration of the apprenticeship program will benefit small business, according to Elebash. She worked with state agencies to cut some of the excess paperwork and red tape originally associated with the program.

Apprenticeships can pay dividends in the construction industry, Milam believes.

“In our business, it’s in the ditch where you learn and then you go to the next phase and then the next phase,” he said. “We have to develop them internally.”

RELATED: Shift to knowledge-based economy driving Birmingham’s workforce development efforts

Elebash provided those in the audience with a final recommendation moving forward, and that was to continue electing leaders who understand the challenges facing small business.

She highlighted the pristine voting records of Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06), State Senators Shay Shelnutt and Dan Roberts and Garrett. She said each had a 100% voting record for small business.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 weeks ago

ULA caps off big week in Decatur with renaming of rocket transport ship

(ULA/Facebook)

An eventful week for Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) came to a close with a special renaming ceremony for the ship that carries its unique cargo to launch destinations.

Departing from a critical inland port along the Tennessee River in North Alabama, ULA utilizes a specially designed cargo ship to carry its rockets to launch locations such as Florida and California.

220

ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno presided over the renaming ceremony for the boat which will hereafter be called Rocketship.  One of ULA’s Atlas rockets was loaded onto Rocketship for transport shortly before the event.

A typical journey to Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard Rocketship takes eight to 10 days and covers 2,000 miles.

Earlier in the week, ULA announced that it will set a record manufacturing pace with 30 boosters in production during the 2019 and 2020 calendar years. ULA operates a 1.6 million square foot plant in Decatur, the largest such manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere.

It also announced that its cutting-edge Vulcan Centaur booster had entered the structural testing phase at the Dynetics testing facility located within the confines of its campus.

The Vulcan Centaur is a next-generation rocket purpose-built to carry out national security space missions for the U.S. military.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 weeks ago

Alabama Association for Justice kicks off 230-year anniversary celebration of the Seventh Amendment

(YHN)

It was 230 years ago this month that Congress proposed the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution to the states, and one of Alabama’s largest legal organizations kicked off its celebration of the anniversary with an event in Birmingham.

The Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) held the first of several events it has billed as its Courthouse Appreciation Tour yesterday at the Jefferson County Courthouse. A packed room of judges, courthouse staff and lawyers gathered together for the first of 12 events highlighting the history and role of the Seventh Amendment in the country’s civil justice system.

294

Josh Hayes, president of ALAJ, expressed his organization’s gratitude for the public servants working throughout Alabama’s judicial system.

“Today, we celebrate the Seventh Amendment and the judges, clerks, officers, judicial assistants and courthouse personnel who work tirelessly each day to make sure the right to trial by jury is protected,” he remarked. “ALAJ honors these dedicated civil servants and the job they do on behalf of all Alabamians.”

The Seventh Amendment reads as follows:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The amendment was proposed to the states on September 28, 1789, and ratified on December 15, 1791.

Trial by jury was seen as one area of agreement between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

Bill of Rights author and noted Federalist James Madison wrote, “Trial by jury is essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.” While Anti-Federalist Patrick Henry wrote, “Trial by jury is the best appendage of freedom. I hope that we shall never be induced to part with that excellent mode of trial.”

The ALAJ outlines its mission as preserving and protecting “the constitutional right to a trial by jury guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution by ensuring that every person or business harmed or injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can hold wrongdoers accountable in the one room where everyone is equal – the courtroom.”

Its next planned Courthouse Appreciation events are September 24 in Cullman and Madison Counties and September 25 in Lauderdale County.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 month ago

Faith Church in Florence recognized as one of America’s 100 fastest-growing churches

(Faith Church/Facebook)

Faith Church in Florence, Alabama, is one of the country’s fastest-growing churches, according to Outreach Magazine.

Pastored by Steve Huskey, Faith Church came in at number 61 on the publication’s list. Statistics provided by Outreach indicate the Northwest Alabama church’s attendance has grown 16% from the previous year.

159

Outreach compiles its rankings based upon surveys it sends annually to thousands of churches across the United States. The surveys record attendance averages for February and March (excluding Easter weekend). The magazine compares those numbers to the prior year and ranks the top-100 based upon a combination of numerical and percentage growth.

This is not the first time Faith Church has made an appearance in this category. It was ranked 77th fastest-growing in 2018, 59th in 2017 and 95th in 2016.

McLean Bible Church in Virginia, led by former Birmingham area pastor David Platt, was ranked by Outreach Magazine in two separate categories. It was recognized as one of the country’s largest churches and one of the most active in church planting.

McLean Bible Church’s average attendance was recorded at 10,101 people.

Platt previously served as pastor of The Church at Brook Hills and as president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Birmingham Airport Authority appeals ethics commission opinion it says affects ‘thousands of Alabama citizens’

(Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport/Facebook)

The Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) has appealed a decision by the Alabama Ethics Commission determining that the BAA’s employees are considered public employees under Alabama’s ethics law.

Numerous requirements and restrictions accompany the designation as “public employees” for purposes of the ethics law, including the filing of annual statements of economic interest with the ethics commission.

364

Under Alabama’s ethics law, the triggering event which makes someone a public employee is that they are “paid in whole or in part from state, county, or municipal funds.” While BAA’s employees are not paid in whole or in part from public funds, the ethics commission employed a more activist interpretation of the law and deemed them public employees.

BAA contends that because the salaries of its employees come from user and landing fees paid by airlines, as well as rental and concession fees at the airport, they do not fall within the provisions of the ethics law.

Mark White, attorney for BAA, believes the commission’s interpretation of the law could have a wide-ranging impact across Alabama.

“Immediately after the Opinion it became apparent that the Opinion impacted thousands of Alabama citizens who work for various Authorities throughout the State, and who had always been classified as not being ‘public employees,'” he noted in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

Following the issuance of the commission’s opinion in August, executive director Tom Albritton commented to Yellowhammer News that he did not know how many people would be affected by the decision.

Both sides to the appeal agreed to stay the operation of the opinion, for the time being. Under Judge Brooke Reid’s order, affected persons will not have to comply with the commission’s regulatory requirements until a determination is made in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Albritton explained the commission’s reasoning behind agreeing to the stay.

“The Commission agreed to the Stay because although we’re confident that we decided the issue correctly, we thought it was only fair to those affected by the Opinion to delay its operation until the Opinion is affirmed,” he outlined.

One source familiar with Alabama’s Ethics Act agreed with White’s assessment of the impact of the ethics commission’s opinion.

“My sense is that [the commission] added thousands of people to the rolls of the list of ‘public employees’ restricted by the Act because they read the qualifying clause as having no field of operation,” the source observed.

Albritton indicated in a statement that the commission planned to answer BAA’s complaint “within the time provided under the Rules of Civil Procedure, if not sooner.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Shift to knowledge-based economy driving Birmingham’s workforce development efforts

(YHN)

In crafting what he calls a “supercharged” workforce development program, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin drew from his own early experience in the workforce as well as input from some of his city’s largest job creators.

Woodfin sat down recently with Yellowhammer News to outline his city’s innovative approach to workforce development through its Birmingham Promise – an apprenticeship and scholarship program made possible by a public-private partnership with area employers.

1532

Having been part of a program where he left class early to attend a job in his junior and senior years of high school, Woodfin learned invaluable lessons as part of that work experience.

“I tell people I am able to be mayor because at my first job at a grocery store I got trained in soft skills and never looked back,” he said.

And feedback from employers has helped shape the direction of the program.

“As mayor, I’m afforded the opportunity to talk to CEOs all the time in various sectors,” Woodfin explained. “They talk about their workforce gaps. We also talk about how do we recruit industry to the city and expand and grow jobs. You do that by investing in your youngest generation and investing in your workforce. This is a full down payment on investing in our workforce.”

With September designated as National Workforce Development month, numerous ongoing campaigns have developed to highlight the scope of Alabama’s workforce development demands.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, visited Tanner, Alabama, Tuesday to support an apprenticeship program conducted through the National Association of Manufacturing.

Woodfin leads a city facing a welcome shift in the focus of its economy. He believes Birmingham Promise will meet those needs under what he calls “a very sustainable model.”

It is a model that will be tested by changing workforce needs.

The challenges of a new economy

Josh Carpenter, director of economic development for Birmingham, described to Yellowhammer News the fact that the city’s workforce needs have altered as a result of a shift to a knowledge-based economy.

Carpenter pointed to the online delivery service Shipt, which employs more than 1,000 people in Birmingham, to show that the skills for a digital-based company are far different than those emphasized in more traditional career training. He said a whole new group of innovators have made Birmingham their home and in doing so present more workforce challenges.

Woodfin called workforce development a “high priority” for his administration and envisions Birmingham Promise as the primary initiative for meeting those challenges.

Students in their junior and senior years will have access to apprenticeships in industry clusters which include business and finance, energy and engineering, healthcare and life sciences and information technology.

Birmingham school system graduates will have access to support for full-time apprenticeships or last-dollar funding at two-year and four-year public colleges in Alabama. Last-dollar funding means the program supplements any tuition balance after scholarships and grants from other sources have been paid out to the enrollee.

To be eligible for the scholarship program, students must live in Birmingham and have graduated from a Birmingham public school. Scholarship funds are awarded proportionally to the student’s time in the school system in order to maintain fairness and prevent misuse of the program.

The Birmingham Promise was one of nine programs to receive a grant from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). Funders for PAYA include Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Promise partners in Birmingham and the surrounding region include large employers in healthcare, energy, construction, banking, manufacturing and insurance.

Funding from these partners will largely sustain the program.

‘Birmingham’s competitive advantage’

One such partner is Lee Styslinger III, chairman and CEO of Altec, Inc. Styslinger has served on President Donald Trump’s commission on American manufacturing. He is also part of an ongoing national effort to ensure workers acquire the necessary skills in a rapidly changing economy.

Styslinger views an increased emphasis on workforce development as essential to growth.

“The Birmingham Promise represents a transformational investment in the future of our region’s workforce,” he told Yellowhammer News. “In a knowledge-based economy, a skilled workforce will become Birmingham’s competitive advantage and change the area’s economic trajectory. Altec was pleased to help champion the apprenticeship program this summer, and we view the Birmingham Promise as an investment in the future of our company.”

Under the apprenticeship program in which Styslinger’s company participated, students receive $7.50 per hour from their employer and an additional $7.50 per hour from the city of Birmingham.

Woodfin says that workforce measurements are put in place “to make sure people are not just going to a job sitting in front of a computer and to make sure people are gaining exposure and matriculating through an actual apprenticeship program.”

He added that any child who wants to participate in the apprenticeship program will be allowed to and completion will result in the achievement of a certain amount of credit hours.

Woodfin aims to have between 150 and 300 students slotted for apprenticeships during the first year. He estimates the annual cost at $2 million per year once the program is up and running at full potential.

Program funding is administered through the United Way and a website is set up to collect private contributions.

“We believe this is a small down payment on investing in not only our youngest generation but our workforce,” Woodfin explained. “When you think about these major clusters that drive Birmingham’s economy, we have to say what are we prepared to do and what are we willing to do to make sure we are intentional about closing these workforce gaps, training the workforce.”

The mayor identifies communication between the partners as vital to the program.

“It is important for the city to remain aware of the private sector’s workforce gaps,” Woodfin said.

He explained that the program creates a workforce that can immediately go into action out of high school because it has been exposed for at least two years to the culture and climate of specific companies.

“It’s the ability for them to understand what responsibility means and work ethic and being on time and all these things,” Woodfin said. “It’s very important.”

And for those who choose to pursue a degree beyond high school, the previous exposure may lead to opportunities for that graduate.

Woodfin often uses the acronym “CPA” to illustrate his viewpoint on workforce. He describes it as “Creating” jobs, “Preparing” people and ensuring “Access” to those jobs.

“The Birmingham Promise hinges on the ‘P,'” he outlined. “The business community is responsible for creating the jobs, but I believe the city of Birmingham and the school system, in partnership, is responsible for preparing people for those jobs. Hence, the Birmingham Promise.”

“Corporate Birmingham has a bottom line as it relates to the gaps in its workforce,” he continued. “We’re saying partner with us to close those gaps. It works for the small business owner, it works for the entrepreneur, it works for a corporation because they have gaps, and this is a way long-term and short-term to close those gaps.”

A pilot program for all of Alabama

With Alabama ramping up its own workforce development efforts at the state government level, Carpenter thinks collaboration between Birmingham and state leaders is the natural next step.

“There are a lot of ways we think the policy considerations at the state level can be tested out here in the city of Birmingham, so we’re going to be pretty aggressive about making those connections,” mentioned Carpenter. “Having an office of apprenticeships with clear goals, our interests are tightly aligned with theirs. We want to be a pilot for them. We want to be a city that statewide people are looking at for apprenticeships and development of workers.”

He sees the partnerships the state has formed with the private sector as a model for Birmingham.

“I think what they’ve done is remarkable to encourage companies to be a part of it,” added Carpenter.

As with most ambitious programs, evidence of success for Birmingham Promise will take a couple of different forms, according to Carpenter.

“Our immediate goal is we want to connect 2,000 young workers to jobs in five years,” he outlined. “That’s the immediate goal. If we do that, we will be successful.”

There is another way, however, that Carpenter aspires to qualify success.

“When people around the country look up and say, ‘That city is serious about its talent workforce development,’” he will know the program is succeeding.

He recalled a recent conversation with a company in Silicon Valley contemplating expansion at a new location. Carpenter told them, “Birmingham has to be the place that you can grow.”

The conversation turned to what Birmingham has to offer — now and in the future.

“We talked about the type of talent they could find here and the way that they can grow,” Carpenter continued. “If we are very serious about investing in talent and people see that, I think it’s going to change the way Birmingham’s economy is developed. We have two goals there. One is to make sure companies really feel like Birmingham is the place they can grow and expand their business. And the other goal is obviously to make sure young people in our community feel like being a part of our community is getting a quality job and they find a sure pathway to that quality job.”

‘Not failure but low aim is sin’

Motivating Woodfin in his quest to improve Birmingham’s economy and communities through workforce development is a quote from civil rights icon Benjamin E. Mays, who said, “Not failure but low aim is sin.”

Woodfin’s commitment to the program is unwavering.

“This is bold but it needs to be done,” he concluded. “We’re going to meet the mark because our youngest generation is depending on us to meet the mark.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Business leader called to build partnerships across racial lines — ‘Race relationships became a part of our journey in life and in our faith’

(ARC Realty/Facebook, YHN)

Tommy Brigham, Jr. points to the discipleship of three men who helped him grow one particular aspect of his faith.

“Really helping to understand how to put your faith into action has really been by the shaping of others in my life,” he told Matt Wilson in a recent episode of Wilson’s Living Life on Purpose podcast.

Brigham credits his late business partner Molton Williams, Drayton Nabors and a man he calls his closest friend, Richard Simmons, with guiding him to understand that putting his faith into action is a calling and essential to spiritual growth.

And Brigham’s call began to lead him in a direction which carried him across societal lines and behind locked doors.

855

“Early on in my walk with Christ I got involved with Prison Fellowship,” he explained. “It puts you in a paradigm where I’m coming from one socio-economic circumstance into the prisons.”

Brigham is one of Alabama’s most accomplished real estate developers, a recipient of countless awards in the business community.

Yet, that experience with Prison Fellowship allowed him to look at his own city and state from an entirely new vantage point.

“It gives you a different perspective,” he recalled. “And then along the way we got involved with going to an intercity church. Our kids got exposed to worship with the African-American community. One of my partners today is an African-American woman. That all started back then.”

Brigham’s outreach became an enduring part of his life and that of his family.

“Race relationships became a part of our journey in life and in our faith,” he emphasized. “That led to being part of starting First Priority with a group and involved with kids. That was a foundational part of my own personal experience that caused me to recognize that there’s a lot out there to be involved with.”

Developing a friendship with one pastor in Birmingham set in motion events which would allow Brigham to undertake one of the more unique partnerships in his successful career in business.

He became friends with Tom Wilder, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, a church Brigham called “the most bombed church in America” as a result of it being a target of Klan bombings during the civil rights movement.

“We became friends and built a personal relationship trying to make sure that we understood each other as who God made us out to be not how we looked through the political lens,” said Brigham. “How we looked through our core values and our common faith.”

After years of friendship with Wilder, Brigham felt called to a new venture in real estate, even while admitting to himself it was getting a little late in his career.

So Brigham approached Wilder’s wife, Mechelle, with whom he had worked previously.

“That whole thing was what would it look like if we formed a real estate company with a white boy from Mountain Brook and a black girl from Montgomery,” remarked Brigham.

Mechelle Wilder was the youngest of 11 kids and a scholarship graduate from Samford University.

Brigham recollected his pitch to Mechelle Wilder.

“’This is the time in life where we have got to take a risk,'” he remembered saying. “‘Our community needs to hear this, see this. They need to see a white guy and a black woman, gender, race, the whole deal, and how do we do this and do it in a meaningful way because we share the same core values, we’re good friends, you’re an unbelievable professionally-talented person, and I just think it’s the right time for our city and who knows what God would do with that. And we don’t always share the same views politically, and that’s okay, because we love each other through our differences.’”

Together they formed ARC Realty.

For the company partners, their mission is in the name. ‘ARC’ stands for ‘A Relationship Company’ and is built on the message of Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

The meaning of those verses is clear to Brigham.

“That means that when our agents walk in the door, when our employees walk in the door, we’re serving them,” he said. “Our first and foremost focus is to serve them with whatever tools, technology, training, professional standards we can provide because we want the buyer and seller to feel the same way. We want our agents serving above self.”

He explained that this approach works regardless of your beliefs and people always agree.

For him, it comes back to Augustine’s instruction to “preach the gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”

“Just try and live it,” said Brigham. “If the Lord opens a door for you to engage in a conversation, it takes place. But you have got to the best of your ability try to figure out how to live it.”

Part of that is opening your heart to the circumstances and experiences of people much different than ourselves, according to Brigham.

“If you’ve never worn the shoes of the other person, it’s hard to really understand him,” he said. “So you’ve got to try and figure out how to wear those shoes, and it just takes hard work. It’s not easy. I have a lot of really good African-American friends, and I love my brothers and sisters in the African-American community. And we have some tough conversations. I need to hear the voice that they have because it’s different than the way I grew up.”

Listen to the rest of Matt Wilson’s conversation with Tommy Brigham:

For more stories of how people have lived their lives with a purpose, listen and subscribe to Living Life on Purpose with Matt Wilson on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify and Google Play. Matt’s guests include Andy Andrews, UAB head football coach Bill Clark and many others.

2 months ago

Cavanaugh cites support of Trump agenda as reason for seeking reelection to PSC presidency

(WH/Flickr, T. Cavanaugh/Contributed)

Monday, President Donald Trump’s campaign announced 15 Alabama campaign co-chairmen. Among those serving in an honorary capacity for the president’s campaign is Public Service Commission president Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh indicated to Yellowhammer News that she stands ready to help and believes much is at stake in 2020.

“I’m running for reelection as president of the Public Service Commission because it is critical that we support President Trump’s agenda at all levels of government,” Cavanaugh said. “It doesn’t matter this year if you are running for a position in local government or you are running on the national ticket, the mission is the same, we are running to preserve the conservative policies that are part of the Trump agenda.”

271

She sees a direct line between Trump’s agenda and the gains made in the Yellowhammer State.

“His energy and economic policies have brought unprecedented prosperity to Alabama and the rest of the nation,” outlined Cavanaugh. “Yet, his policies are under attack from those who want to see big government gain control of more parts of our lives.”

Alabama has added 82,200 jobs since Trump was elected in 2016. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen a full 2.5% in the same time period — from 5.8% to 3.3% last month.

When asked who presents the biggest threat to the Trump agenda, Cavanaugh offered the names of two high-profile national figures.

“AOC and Bernie Sanders,” she replied. “We can fight AOC and Bernie Sanders right here in Alabama, at the PSC, by holding the line on an agenda that values life, freedom and our right to earn a living to take care of our families.”

And she mixes no words when it comes to her assessment of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) signature legislation.

“AOC’s Green New Deal is the most dangerous policy proposal of our lifetime,” emphasized Cavanaugh. “She is attempting to take our country back to the dark ages for no other reason than to allow government to rule our lives. She seeks to end innovation and economic growth that we have strived our whole lives to achieve.”

Cavanaugh says she is honored to be among those chosen to represent Trump and thinks it is a worthy endeavor.

“President Trump needs our help to hold the line here in Alabama, and I plan to support him every way that I can,” she concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Alabama-made ULA rocket powers another GPS satellite into orbit

(ULA/Twitter)

Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted its 135th mission Thursday morning when it powered yet another Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into its targeted orbit.

The GPS III Magellan, built by Lockheed Martin, will enable the U.S. Air Force to continue modernizing the nation’s worldwide navigation network with improved accuracy, better anti-jam resiliency and a new signal for civil users.

250

GPS satellites are frequent payload into space. Today’s launch was the 73rd GPS payload powered by ULA.

Of the 81 Air Force satellites in orbit, 34 are GPS satellites.

This fact recently led former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to quip, “The blue dot on your phone is not provided by your cellphone company; it comes from the United States Air Force.”

She elaborated that the Air Force provides GPS coordinates for about 1 billion people every day and enables an $80 billion piece of our economy. With its satellites, the Air Force takes pictures, gathers intelligence, facilitates global communication, monitors weather and conducts the critical task of providing timing signals for the New York Stock Exchange and every ATM in America.

This was the final flight for ULA’s Delta IV Medium rocket. The powerful Delta IV Heavy, with its three common booster cores, will continue to fly U.S. government missions.

The Delta IV’s main engine, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, consumed nearly a ton of fuel per second as it pushed the rocket in flight.

ULA’s 1.6 million square-foot manufacturing facility in Decatur is the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Watch the launch:

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

USDA invests $10 million to improve water infrastructure for rural Alabama

(C. Beeker/Contributed, Wikicommons, YHN)

Some rural areas of Alabama are set to receive more than $10 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture investments for water infrastructure projects, according to a release last week from the agency.

Chris Beeker, state director for USDA rural development, announced the agency will fund three projects to improve rural water infrastructure in Alabama.

262

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to partner with rural communities to address their current and long-term water needs,” Beeker said. “This is great news for rural Alabama. Modernizing water infrastructure will yield key health benefits and help spur economic growth – making our rural communities even more attractive to live and work. When Rural America Thrives, All of America Thrives.”

Rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents are eligible to receive funding for projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. These communities may devote the funds to drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems.

This round of projects includes:

• The Utilities Board of the City of Opp will use a $3,289,000 loan to upgrade a water system installed in the mid-1900s.

• St. Elmo-Irvington Water Authority will use a $3,777,000 loan to upgrade aging wells and insufficient mains at its treatment facility.

• New London Water, Sewer, and Fire Protection Authority will use a $3,294,000 loan and a $552,000 grant to construct an additional well and upgrade water lines.

Increased investment in rural infrastructure was among the key recommendations to President Donald Trump by his Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

Earlier this year, Beeker announced that Alabama would be at the forefront of USDA’s rural broadband initiative. He called it a “game-changing” investment for the state.

USDA plans to make additional water infrastructure funding announcements in the coming weeks. The agency has set up an online application tool at RD Apply for interested parties.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Alabama’s ULA powers latest Air Force satellite into space

(ULA/Twitter, YHN)

Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF5) satellite into orbit. The latest in U.S. Air Force satellite technology, AEHF5 provides high-tech global communications for American warfighters.

The launch was powered by ULA’s Atlas V rocket assembled at its Decatur manufacturing plant. ULA’s 1.6 million square foot Decatur plant is the largest such facility in the western hemisphere.

218

The rocket powering AEHF5 into orbit left Decatur on the Mariner cargo ship on April 13 for its journey to Cape Canaveral, Florida, site of this morning’s launch.

ULA rockets have now carried all five of the AEHF satellites into space. According to ULA, “AEHF gives the warfighters what they need — enhanced communications traffic, increased bandwidth throughput and faster data transmissions.”

Developed by Lockheed-Martin, AEHF5 will allow the Air Force to improve “global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters.”

The Atlas V, which lifted off Thursday morning, is the most powerful of the Atlas V fleet, producing more than 2.5 million pounds of thrust.

Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactured five solid rocket boosters for this Atlas V.

The Air Force plans to launch a sixth AEHF satellite next year.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority joins quest for clarification of state ethics law

(Pixabay, YHN)

Nearly eight months of uncertainty for one group seeking guidance on the state’s ethics laws could finally come to an end on Wednesday. This action may come to a head as another one of the important parts of Alabama’s economic engine joins the quest to gain an understanding of how its employees and board members should handle certain aspects of state law.

The Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) originally submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the Alabama Ethics Commission back in January. It has since been a roller coaster ride for the group, which originally sought guidance based on the advice of the agency itself.

418

At the commission’s April meeting, Mark White, attorney for BAA, told the panel exactly how his client came to formulate its request.

“In fact, part of the reason we are asking this is when the commission staff did the training for the Birmingham Airport Authority in December, they were told – three brand new board members, by the way – they were told the only way you could really be sure about something was to get a formal opinion,” White told the commission. “Frankly, I think that’s good advice.”

And, now, the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority (HMCAA) has joined in the effort to get answers from the agency charged with issuing opinions on Alabama’s ethics statute.

As governing bodies for two of Alabama’s largest airports, the authorities serve an important function in the state’s overall economic development strategy.

As a result, maintaining highly-qualified boards and workforces will always be priorities for the groups. Receiving clarity on several issues they have encountered under Alabama’s ethics laws will go a long way toward that effort.

In question, among several points of law, is whether individual board members of the organization must file quarterly reports and whether board members and employees of the groups are considered public employees.

Tom Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, told Yellowhammer News, “We’ll address these issues at our meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).”

After filing its request at the start of the year, the commission granted an audience to BAA at its April meeting. The request was then carried over until June. The commission failed to act at its June meeting, as well, after considering whether to turn over some aspects of its interpreting authority to the attorney general.

Read the entirety of HMCAA and BAA’s requests:

Alabama Ethics Commission BHM Airport Authority by Yellowhammer News on Scribd

BAA Request for Opinion 7-31-2019 by Yellowhammer News on Scribd

3 months ago

Alabama rocket CEO and former Air Force leader warn of fierce competition for space

(ULA/Contributed, U.S. AF/Contributed, YHN)

A skyward glance on a clear night for most people means a glimpse toward a place with actual peace and quiet, a place free from the type of conflict and demonstrations of force arising frequently around the globe.

Looks can be deceiving, though, according to two experts who spoke at last week’s Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Tory Bruno, president and CEO of Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA), and former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson both concluded that the sought-after edge in modern warfare has driven a frenetic race among nations to control space.

1099

Appearing with Bruno on a panel at the event hosted by the Aspen Institute, Wilson emphasized that America’s national security has become dependent on the use of satellites given the advanced technology of warfare.

“The United States is the best in the world at space – and our adversaries know it,” pronounced Wilson.

Which is why our nation’s foreign adversaries are working to deny America the use of space.

She said China and Russia have been “developing the capability” to interfere with or destroy American military satellites “in order to influence military operations on the ground.”

The potential for interference has sharpened the military’s approach to protecting the nation’s interests in space.

“Our responsibility is to look at the threat, to develop the strategies and the programs to be able to prevail should war extend to space,” Wilson outlined.

Bruno sees access to space as essential for the country to maintain its position of strength.

“We have the most capable space assets in the world,” he said. “We have the most capable and powerful military in the world.”

Bruno pointed out that while the U.S. military is not the largest in the world, “it is the most capable because it is enabled by space.”

He said other nations seeking to weaken the U.S. military are attempting to take space away because that is a far easier approach than conventional warfare.

“We have not recognized that threat until recently and so we are far behind countering that threat,” he warned. “We will catch up. This country has the most capable technological workforce in military on this planet. We absolutely will prevail but right now we are behind in the race, and it’s going to take some serious and hard work to fix that.”

As an example of ways other countries are developing strategies to interfere with satellite technology, Wilson drew attention to China’s launch of a missile the size of a telephone pole to destroy a dead weather satellite and Russia’s launch of a maintenance satellite with a grappling arm. Wilson wondered aloud why Russia would need a satellite equipped with such a device in the absence of any Russian satellites requiring maintenance. In addition to China and Russia, she identified India as a country capable of interfering with satellite functions.

What’s at stake?

The Air Force has 80 satellites in use, the Navy has 13 and the National Reconnoissance Office has 40 — the smallest the size of a toaster and the biggest the size of a school bus.

Of the 80 Air Force satellites on orbit, 33 are Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, a fact which allowed Wilson to quip, “The blue dot on your phone is not provided by your cellphone company; it comes from the United States Air Force.”

She elaborated that the Air Force provides GPS coordinates for about 1 billion people every day and enables an $80 billion piece of our economy. With its satellites, the Air Force takes pictures, gathers intelligence, facilitates global communication, monitors weather and conducts the critical task of providing timing signals for the New York Stock Exchange and every ATM in America.

As part of intelligence gathering, satellites provide missile warnings. When North Korea launches a missile, American satellites gather the intel. Wilson informed that the satellites stare at the earth and use infrared technology to identify the hot plumes of gas that come from the end of rockets and then calculate the trajectory and warn the national command authority.

Wilson believes the importance of these activities raises some critical questions moving forward.

“What are the capabilities that we need to have in crisis or war?” she asked. “How will we think about interference with commercial assets on orbit, in particular? Is there more to do? You bet. Particularly when it comes to changing the culture of the institution of space warfighters. From providing a service…to being and thinking like warfighters.”

Having so much at stake will also require drawing a hard line for those seeking to harm American interests, according to Wilson.

“We need to let our adversaries know that there will be consequences for interfering with our satellites in time of crisis,” she said.

What’s next?

Wilson and Bruno recognized the continued building of assets in space as valuable to American interests.

However, based on his expertise as a launch provider, Bruno shared the difficulty that comes with making that happen.

“It is a narrow highway to space,” he said. “So all of those critical assets have to get there on top of a space launch vehicle – which is in itself a technological marvel. A 30-story building that blasts itself into space with an incredibly delicate space craft on top.”

He sees ULA’s participation in the Air Force’s national security launch program, a program to develop new and innovative rockets, as helping to bolster the nation’s space assets.

“We will have access to space that is so much more agile, so much more flexible,” he remarked.

He considers it a program designed to confront “the tremendous strategic challenge of a contested environment in space.”

This is the same program numerous members of Alabama’s congressional delegation have fought to preserve. ULA was one of three companies awarded contracts as part of the public-private partnership.

An effort popped up in Congress to scrap the program in order to allow companies who lost out in the first round of awards to get a second bite at the apple.

Bruno’s view is that opening the process back up to companies who failed to win an award in the first go-round would run counter to the spirit of the competitive process.

“It’s not competition if everybody gets an award,” he remarked.

In the meantime, Bruno expressed excitement for his company’s progress on the new rocket, including the start of fabrication.

And Wilson observes significant progress with how the nation’s leaders have reacted to the competition for space.

She recalled crafting an opening statement for her confirmation hearing which had ‘space’ and ‘warfighting’ in the same sentence. While reviewing it with an Obama administration holdover, the official proceeded to strike it out based upon the policy that those two subjects should not be discussed together. According to Wilson, she told them, “‘You’ll have to get somebody more senior to tell me to take it out.'”

Having left her post as secretary on May 31, Wilson will assume the president’s office at the University of Texas at El Paso on August 15.

She leaves feeling confident in the direction of America’s national security space program in the face of ever-increasing competition.

“We have come a long way in talking about the threats that are there and the things that we need to do about them,” she concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

3 months ago

Huntsville’s iCubate announces FDA clearance for innovative bloodstream infection testing

(iCubate/Facebook, YHN)

A Huntsville biotech company announced that it has obtained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance to provide clinical laboratories with an innovative testing system for bloodstream infections and sepsis.

iCubate has obtained clearance for its iC-GN Assay which is a diagnostic test for the detection and identification of potentially pathogenic gram-negative bacteria which are associated with bloodstream infection and subsequent sepsis.

According to statistics provided by iCubate, bloodstream infections and subsequent sepsis are associated with high mortality rates that occur frequently in critically-ill, hospitalized patients, with sepsis being the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and responsible for more than $16 billion in direct healthcare costs annually.

155

Carter Wells, iCubate CEO, believes the FDA’s clearance will allow his company to help enhance patient care.

“iCubate is proud to join the fight against this unpredictable and deadly condition,” Wells outlined in a statement. “With the ability to provide reliable and cost-effective assays for detecting BSI to laboratories of any size, we are confident that iCubate will add value for health care providers to improve patient outcomes.”

The iC-GN Assay is the final component of iCubate’s comprehensive system for detecting bloodstream infection. The iC-GN Assay also detects important gene markers specific to antibiotic resistance. Results can provide information that can inform healthcare professionals of the appropriate antimicrobial therapy with the goal being better patient care and shorter hospital stays.

The company highlighted the fact that the iC-GN Assay only requires three minutes of hands-on time as well as its ability to detect 11 targets in a single sample.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

3 months ago

VIDEO: Massive Space Launch System test tank lifted in place at Marshall Space Flight Center

(NASA/Youtube)

NASA started the final stages of testing earlier this month for Space Launch System (SLS), which will be the rocket that propels America’s next mission to the moon.

When completed, SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built and the only one powerful enough to carry the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in one launch.

According to NASA, the test tank is identical to the flight version of the fuel tank which holds 196,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid oxygen.

104

NASA and Boeing have worked to assemble SLS components at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The test tank was delivered to Huntsville from New Orleans aboard NASA’s Pegasus barge on July 9.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) highlighted the importance of SLS within America’s space program earlier this year when he told a NASA official, “What’s important is to build that rocket and build it right.”

A time-lapse video provided by NASA shows a team of engineers working with a heavy-duty crane to carefully guide the test tank into place at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Watch:

4 months ago

Hooper: Alabama ‘at the top of the list’ for National Republican Senatorial Committee

(Perry Hooper, Jr./Contributed)

A pair of Alabama Republicans spent some quality time with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week and, in the process, gained some insight into the native Alabamian’s view of the state’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Paul Wellborn, chairman, president and CEO of Wellborn Cabinet, Inc., and Trump Finance Committee member Perry O. Hooper, Jr. met with McConnell at an event held at McConnell’s Washington, D.C. townhouse.

Hooper shared with Yellowhammer News some details of their conversation with McConnell.

641

This was Hooper’s first encounter with Kentucky’s senior senator, and he left impressed.

“It was a good meeting, a productive meeting and very informative,” Hooper explained. “I’m very close to the president’s family but this was the first time I have ever met the majority leader. He’s a great guy. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the great things.”

Being from the Florence, Alabama area, McConnell has a special affinity for the Yellowhammer State, according to Hooper, and this has had an impact on his view of the campaign landscape.

“He loves the state of Alabama, and he doesn’t want to get caught up in all the craziness that happened last time,” he said. “He loves this state and he was thrilled to see that Roy Moore’s numbers had dropped in the last poll to about 13%. It’s not like he doesn’t like Roy Moore, he simply wants someone who can win and beat Doug Jones.”

For his part, Hooper says he offered McConnell his own assessment of the race and the candidates.

“Bradley Byrne is a very good friend,” he said. “When my dad passed away, he took a moment of silence on the House floor and praised my dad in front of the United States Congress.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) was one of two candidates about whom Hooper says he spoke with McConnell.

“I talked about him and I talked to him about Tommy [Tuberville],” said Hooper. “What’s going to appeal to people about Tommy is that he is an outsider. He would do a great job, as well. In my opinion, either one of them could beat Doug Jones. John Merrill is a friend of mine but his name didn’t come up.”

Reminding the majority leader of the state’s political and cultural interests was part of Hooper’s assessment.

“I told him, ‘Majority Leader, one thing about Alabama, every poll shows that the favorability of Donald J. Trump is so high it falls off the table,” he reinforced to McConnell. “So Alabama is all about Donald J. Trump and SEC college football. So that’s what makes Tommy Tuberville so popular.’”

And he says he offered an honest evaluation of what he believes are the strengths and weaknesses of each.

“I talked about ‘Fear the Thumb’ and how that could be a concern for Tommy,” Hooper said. “But I think in one of those polls when people were asked if they were for Alabama they said it didn’t have a negative impact on Tommy. I told [McConnell] that funny thing Tommy did with [Paul] Finebaum about how he’s the reason they hired the greatest coach in America, and the majority leader busted out laughing on that one.”

“I did tell them, ‘Both of them are good guys and I love them both but Tommy has $10 million worth of name ID and he hasn’t spent a cent,'” Hooper emphasized. “Bradley is from way down there in south Alabama and it’s hard to win from down there. The subject did come up about Bradley having been such a great Congressman, why doesn’t he stay in the seat and pursue a leadership position in the House. I hate to lose him in the House.”

Republicans in Washington faced criticism for intervening in the Republican primary during the 2017 special election. However, according to Hooper, they may engage again if one particular candidate gains momentum.

“They told me they were definitely going to get involved if Roy Moore’s numbers got into the 20s or 30s or whatever,” he explained. “They don’t want to go through this same process again and lose. The seat is extremely important to keeping the majority.”

Hooper made sure to highlight where the state stands in the pecking order of states where Senate Republicans say they want to win.

“Alabama is with two or three other states at the top of the list,” he conveyed.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

4 months ago

Birmingham’s HPM hires industry vet as company focuses on nationwide expansion

(HPM/Contributed, PIcryl, YHN)

As part of its commitment to growing its business in national markets, a Birmingham program management company has hired an industry veteran to a newly-created position. Hoar Program Management (HPM) has hired Derek McSween as the company’s first senior program development manager, according to a release from the company.

Founded in 1997, HPM provides comprehensive guidance to clients on the construction and development process and offers “a one-stop approach to complete program management and owner’s representation.”

McSween brings more than 30 years of program and construction management experience to HPM and has signature projects totaling more than $3 billion globally. His responsibilities will include leadership on new and developing client projects and serving as a conduit between business development and operational phases of an assignment.

351

Mike Lanier, president of HPM, sees McSween’s experience and skill set as well-suited for the company’s expansion into more national program management markets.

“Derek is a dynamic leader with an impressive combination of industry experience and technical know-how that made him a natural fit for this position,” Lanier said. “We’re thrilled to have him on board. His ability to pick up new skills, anticipate clients’ needs and connect them with our overall strategy and core values will generate meaningful results for HPM. We look forward to watching Derek apply his passion and expertise as he helps drive our company into the next phase of growth.”

McSween hopes to build on his extensive relationships to the advantage of HPM’s position in those markets.

“There is a unique opportunity to cultivate new partnerships through my prior connections and experience in the industry, and also utilize my skills as a professional trainer to help grow the next generation of leaders within,” he remarked. “I look forward to playing an active role at the company as we tackle new challenges and build upon an already strong foundation.”

And all of this with an eye toward the company’s future, according to Greg Ellis, vice president of program development for HPM.

“Derek’s ability to manage high-impact teams and effectively deliver projects will be a valuable asset as we plan and prepare for the next decade ahead,” said Ellis. “His experience in the field and as an owner’s rep will be invaluable in developing new strategies that are necessary for HPM to cross the next threshold as a company.”

Prior to joining HPM, McSween served as a managing director, director of diversity and community development and senior program manager for Bovis Lendlease where he provided oversight for the design and implementation of a K-12 bond program. He led the growth of the school system’s bond program from $130 million to its present-day total that exceeds $2 billion.

A former recipient of the Charlotte Business Journal’s Catalyst of Diversity Award, McSween will also oversee the company’s diversity programming and offer professional development opportunities for HPM team members.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

4 months ago

Small businesses, job-seekers set to benefit from reforms to unemployment law

(D. Garrett/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

Small businesses in Alabama are optimistic a new law will help provide them a better trained workforce and alleviate some of the regulatory costs they have carried in the past.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) sponsored the bill which passed during this year’s legislative session. The aim of the law is to ease the burden on employers while at the same time helping job-seekers get better prepared for today’s economy.

410

Garrett explained to Yellowhammer News that unemployment benefits are paid entirely by the employer and that reducing the number of weeks the business has to pay the benefits reduces their overall costs.

At the same time, the new law creates opportunities for unemployed individuals to gain extra weeks of unemployment compensation if they are participating in job training.

“The new law cuts the weeks of unemployment from 26 weeks to a lower number of weeks based upon the actual unemployment rate,” Garrett outlined. “Today, the weeks that unemployment benefits could be drawn would be 14 weeks. For each one-half percent increase in unemployment, an additional week of benefit would be paid, up to a maximum number of 20 weeks. However, regardless of the weeks as determined by the new scale, an additional 5 weeks of benefits will be paid if the unemployed individual is enrolled in a job training program.”

Rosemary Elebash, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), says the new law addresses a problem for her members in a way that helps everyone.

“This bill was a top priority for NFIB/Alabama members,” she said. “The number one problem facing Alabama small/independent business owners is the lack of a skilled and qualified workforce. For more than one year, NFIB members across the nation have cited this as the number one problem they face.”

According to Elebash, the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends reported in April that 57% of small/independent businesses were hiring or trying to hire but 49 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for positions they were trying to fill. Among those, 32% had openings for skilled workers and 15% had openings for unskilled labor.

“This new Alabama law is unique among states that have reduced the number of weeks to draw unemployment by offering five additional weeks to draw if the applicant is attending an approved training program,” Elebash observed. “With over 600 programs available for applicants to choose from, the opportunities for those unemployed to improve their skills and increase their quality of life for their families and provide businesses with the needed workforce.”

Garrett believes each of the changes implemented by the legislature will produce gains throughout Alabama’s economy.

“All of these will positively impact the state’s economy and business climate and will result in unemployed individuals returning to the workforce sooner than now,” he said. “The new law is a win-win-win for individuals, businesses and the state of Alabama.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

4 months ago

Alabama Association for Justice installs new leadership

(Pixabay)

One of the state’s largest legal organizations recently installed a new leadership team at its annual convention.

The Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) named seven attorneys to new positions, according to a release from the group.

ALAJ president-elect Josh Hayes, a partner at Prince, Glover & Hayes, outlined the goals for his term.

208

“Every Alabamian has a constitutional right to a trial by jury, and I’m going to do my absolute best to protect that important right,” he said. “As president of the Alabama Association for Justice, I see my job as ensuring everyone has a level playing field if they are injured or harmed.”

In addition to Hayes, ALAJ elected the following attorneys into leadership:

– President – Josh Hayes of Prince, Glover & Hayes (Tuscaloosa)
– President-elect – Rip Andrews of Marsh, Rickard & Bryan (Birmingham)
– First vice president – Gina Coggin of The Coggin Firm (Gadsden)
– Second vice president – Erik Heninger of Heninger Garrison Davis (Birmingham)
– Secretary – Wesley Laird of Laird, Baker & Blackstock (Opp)
– Treasurer – Ben Baker of Beasley Allen (Montgomery)
– Immediate past president – Steve Nicholas of Cunningham Bounds (Mobile)

“Josh Hayes has given more than a decade of his life in volunteer service to the Alabama Association for Justice because he believes strongly in our mission of ‘Good Lawyers. Good Laws.’ – and for that I’m grateful,” said Ginger Avery, executive director of ALAJ and member of Yellowhammer News’ Power and Influence 50.

ALAJ is a 60-year-old organization comprised of “attorneys dedicated to protecting 7th Amendment rights.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

4 months ago

Congressional leader seeks to re-route Air Force national security space launch program

(KING 5/YouTube, YHN)

It has been a little more than a month since several members of Alabama’s congressional delegation received a commitment from the Air Force to proceed with the national security space launch program.

Now a high-ranking member of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives may make an end run through the committee process to alter the program which the Air Force and other members of Congress have dubbed as critical to the nation’s national security.

Space News reported Monday that Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, is proposing to alter the plan through revisions to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

302

The changes contained in the chairman’s mark will be taken up by the committee and voted on Wednesday.

The type of changes sought by Smith would likely have a negative impact on Alabama’s aerospace industry, which has been heavily involved in the Air Force’s national security space launch program.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal and numerous manufacturers and suppliers located in the Yellowhammer State have taken on an elevated role in the effort.

An industry source has previously noted that maintaining the planned path helps solidify the state’s position even further because of the amount of investments that members of its own industry have already made in the program.

The program, called Launch Services Agreement (LSA), awarded three companies the opportunity to develop launch vehicles for use in national security space missions under public-private partnerships.

News of the award to carry national security payloads brought praise from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and others.

The companies entered into LSA with the understanding that certain performance requirements were necessary to participate in a second phase of the program where the Air Force would only call on the top two providers.

As a result, companies became incentivized to make substantial investments for the opportunity to participate in the second phase.

Not proceeding as planned has some in the industry concerned that companies who fell behind, or were not willing to invest the necessary resources, could end up getting rewarded.

Yellowhammer News has received a copy of an Air Force memo outlining reasons why it opposes any changes to the process. Its chief concerns being that changes would not reward competition and would fail to meet national security needs.

Three members of Alabama’s congressional delegation sit on the House Armed Services Committee: Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

4 months ago

More good news for Alabama: Aerojet Rocketdyne opens new manufacturing facility in Huntsville

(Aerojet Rocketdyne/Twitter)

Alabama’s sizable footprint within the aerospace industry continues to grow.

Governor Kay Ivey and other high-ranking elected officials cut the ribbon today on Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new 136,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Huntsville.

The company’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF) will produce advanced propulsion products such as solid rocket motor cases and other hardware for the Standard Missle-3, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and other U.S. defense and space programs.

360

Aerojet Rocketdyne markets itself as “a world-class developer and manufacturer of advanced propulsion and energetics systems for customers including the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and other agencies and companies, both in the United States and abroad. ”

“This is an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne, the city of Huntsville and for the entire state of Alabama,” said Ivey in a statement released after the event. “When a high-caliber company like Aerojet Rocketdyne locates a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in your state, its a powerful testament to the skill of your workforce and to the advantages you can offer to business. We’re thrilled to see this great company grow in Huntsville and make important contributions to the nation’s defense.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s workforce in Alabama now exceeds 400. The opening of the AMF, as well as the company’s 122,000 square foot Defense Headquarters Building, is the result of a consolidation effort that began in 2017. From these locations, the company will oversee work on propulsion projects for space and defense programs.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion is a critical factor in defense of this nation,” said Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield.

Eileen Drake, president and CEO of Aerojet Rocketdyne, sees the new facility as a strengthening of her company’s partnership with Huntsville.

“The AMF provides Aerojet Rocketdyne the capabilities we need to advance our nation’s security today and to further technologies that will allow us to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” she said. “Huntsville is a great place to build a future — and that’s what we are doing with our expansion here.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne has already taken significant steps to contribute to the community in north Alabama. In 2017, the company donated $1 million to the University of Alabama in Huntsville to establish a space science chair.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous future together as Aerojet Rocketdyne continues its leadership role in our nation’s journey into space,” remarked Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Ivey has made Alabama’s position in the aerospace industry a priority during her administration, and today’s event signals her efforts are working.

“This is what advancement looks like,” she concluded. “The possibilities are limitless.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News