The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election


    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born


    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

3 months ago

Autocar opens $120 million heavy-duty truck factory in Alabama

(Made in Alabama)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Indiana-based Autocar Thursday marked the official opening of a $120 million heavy-duty work truck assembly plant in Birmingham that adds a new dimension to Alabama’s growing vehicle manufacturing industry.

Governor Kay Ivey joined top Autocar executives and local leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company’s operation, located in a 1 million-square-foot industrial complex off the Pinson Valley Parkway.


The facility will employ 746 people at full production and today stands at more than one third that number. When Autocar announced the factory in September 2017, the company said the average annual base compensation for its workforce would be more than $58,000.

“Right here, Alabamians will build on the rich history of Autocar while producing forward-thinking trucks that will continue to modernize the way their customers work,” Governor Ivey said.

Autocar Chairman Andrew Taitz said the Alabama facility and its workforce are helping to build a foundation for the maker of heavy-duty cab-over-engine trucks used in many different industries.

“We are proud to be part of this Alabama family and look forward to building trucks, communities and dreams together,” added Autocar President Jim Johnston. “It’s a great day for Autocar, and it’s a really great day for Alabama. I want to commit to you that it’s only the beginning.”


Autocar was founded in 1897 and is the oldest motor vehicle brand in the United States. The company built the U.S.’s first truck in 1899 and pioneered many technical innovations now common in all cars and trucks.

“Birmingham is and has always been a city of builders so it stands to reason that the biggest, baddest trucks in America should be built nearby,” said Josh Carpenter, director of economic development for the City of Birmingham.

Once fully operational, the Autocar facility will generate $645.1 million in annual economic impact, which includes a nearly $229 million annual contribution to Alabama’s GDP and $130 million in earnings to Alabama households from 2,655 direct and indirect jobs, according to a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

The company occupies the former Meadowcraft furniture building, straddling the cities of Birmingham and Center Point. The vast structure had been empty since 2009.


Autocar’s new truck assembly operation in Jefferson County will add a new layer to the state’s robust automotive sector, which is anchored by the presence of Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, along with a vast supply chain.

In addition, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, a joint venture between the two automakers, will soon start construction on a $1.6 billion assembly plant with 4,000 workers in Huntsville.

Autocar said it has already built Alabama-made trucks in use in 46 states and provinces.

Autocar worked closely with the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Jefferson County Commission, the City of Center Point, the City of Birmingham, AIDT, the Birmingham Business Alliance and others on the project.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

7 months ago

Birmingham Business Alliance pursuing ‘all-time high’ economic development projects

The BBA Chairman’s Meeting automotive panel included, from left, Andrew Taitz of Autocar, Mike Oatridge of Honda, John Hudson of Alabama Power, Jason Hoff of Mercedes-Benz and John Hackett of Kamtek. (BBA/Made in Alabama)
The BBA Chairman’s Meeting automotive panel included, from left, Andrew Taitz of Autocar, Mike Oatridge of Honda, John Hudson of Alabama Power, Jason Hoff of Mercedes-Benz and John Hackett of Kamtek. (BBA/Alabama News Center)



The head of the Birmingham Business Alliance said the metro area is coming off a very successful year for economic development, but the prospects for even more growth in 2018 are “at an all-time high.”

BBA CEO Brian Hilson said at the organization’s annual Chairman’s Meeting Tuesday that economic development in the seven-county metro area was very strong in 2017.

“So far in 2017, we’ve seen 2,957 jobs and over $560 million in investment announced by 25 different new and expanding companies within our core business sectors,” Hilson said.

This year continues a string of successful years for attracting new and expanding industry to the state, Hilson said.

“Between 2011 and 2017, we have seen 19,394 jobs and over $3.9 billion in capital investment committed within our seven-county metro area,” he said.

That has caused the BBA to be ambitious with its current five-year plan.

“At the BBA, we have a goal of 19,000 jobs and $3.5 billion of investment being announced between 2016 and 2020,” Hilson said. “So we’re at the halfway point as we approach the year 2018 and as we continue to execute our five-year strategic plan, which we call Blueprint 2020.”

With the current pipeline of potential projects, those numbers could be well within reach.

“Our level of project activity is at an all-time high, at least for the six and a half years that I’ve been in Birmingham,” Hilson said in an interview with Alabama NewsCenter. “But probably more important, the quality of those projects and the diversity of skills that they would require of the workforce – it’s not all automotive and it’s not all something else – that’s very encouraging.”

Automotive projects dominated the headlines in the metro area in 2017.

Commercial truck producer Autocar opened a $120 million plant in Pinson Valley, not far from where auto supplier Kamtek opened a $60 million expansion.

Mercedes-Benz announced a $1 billion expansion of its Alabama operations that includes a new $248.2 million campus in Bibb County.

Representatives of those three companies as well as Honda’s plant in Lincoln made up a panel discussion of the auto industry and the metro area’s business climate. John Hudson, senior vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Alabama Power, moderated the panel.

A shared concern among the panel is that the metro area may become a victim of its own success – namely in a dwindling available workforce.

Hilson said the BBA’s Blueprint 2020 calls for at least a 5 percent growth in overall workforce between 2016 and 2020.

“What we really want to see, though, is much faster growth than that and for that to happen we will need a higher and better rate of workforce participation, more connectivity between employers and workforces as well as educators and trainers, and, of course, we will need to see our community image continue to get better,” he said.

(By Michael Tomberlin, courtesy of the Alabama News Center)

10 months ago

$120 Million Truck Assembly Plant Coming to Birmingham

Courtesy of Made in Alabama
Courtesy of Made in Alabama

Governor Kay Ivey announced on Wednesday that an Indiana-based manufacturing company, Autocar, will invest $120 million to build a plant in Alabama to manufacture heavy duty cab-over-engine trucks. According to Made in Alabama, the manufacturing operation will be located in an existing one million square-foot complex in Center Point and Birmingham. It is expected to employ 746 workers.

Autocar is the newest addition to the state’s vastly growing automotive sector. Alabama is already home to manufacturing plants from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. Governor Ivey said that the announcement is a huge step for the Yellowhammer State. “Alabama is a powerhouse in automotive manufacturing, and Autocar’s new heavy-duty truck assembly operation in Birmingham will add a new dimension to the state’s activities in this vital sector,” she said.

Autocar chairman Andrew Taitz said that the company chose Birmingham after an extensive selection process. He gave several reasons that Birmingham was the optimal choice for the site, including “access to a great business environment, strong state and local governmental partners, a skilled workforce, and proximity to our customers and suppliers.” He emphasized that Birmingham had the “whole package.”

According to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, the Autocar plant will have a significant economic impact on the city of Birmingham and the sate in general. Once fully operational, the plant is expected to generate $645.1 million in annual economic impact. It will contribute $229 million annually to Alabama’s GDP and $130.1 million in earnings to Alabama households through 2,655 direct and indirect jobs.

Center Point Mayor Tom Henderson expressed excitement for the project, saying Autocar’s arrival is a huge boost for their respective cities. Autocar has already begun hiring employees to begin production. The average annual base compensation for all employees will be over $58,000.

Wednesday was a big day for Alabama’s manufacturing industry. The announcement came just hours after Georgia-Pacific unveiled plans for a new lumber manufacturing facility in Talladega. With these two new facilities, the Yellowhammer State continues to solidify itself as a haven for manufacturing jobs and companies.