The Wire

  • Trump orders establishment of ‘space force’ as 6th branch of military

    Excerpt from Fox News:

    President Trump vowed on Monday to make space great again.

    Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council, Trump ordered the Pentagon to immediately establish a national “space force” that would become the sixth branch of the armed forces.

    “We are going to have a space force,” Trump said in Washington D.C. “An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal.”

    This is not the first time that Trump has floated the idea of establishing a “space force.” The president mentioned the idea in May during a ceremony at the White House honoring the Army Black Knights college football team.

    Trump did not go into details about what military role the so-called “space force” would carry out or who would command it, but he framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.”

  • Ivey says import tariffs could hurt Alabama industry

    Excerpt from AP:

    Alabama’s Republican governor is separating herself from President Donald Trump on the issue of trade, saying import tariffs like those supported by the administration would hurt the state.

    Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement Monday saying import tariffs could cause retaliatory tariffs that would drive up the cost of items made in Alabama and sold abroad.

    The administration already has imposed duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, plus steel and aluminum from China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

    Ivey says growth in Alabama’s auto industry could be harmed if tariffs are imposed on U.S. goods around the world. Almost 60,000 people work in automotive-related jobs in the state.

  • Police ID suspect in shooting of State Senator’s son

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    “Foley Police Department has identified 29 year old Orneal McCaskey aka “OJ” as the suspect in the shooting of Akil Michael Figures this morning at 635 East Azalea Ave in Foley. The investigation revealed that McCaskey drove to the residence to confront Figures over a female. An argument ensued at the doorway and McCaskey pulled out a handgun and shot Figures at least twice in the lower hip area. After a brief struggle in the house, McCaskey fled the area in a gold or tan colored vehicle. Figures was taken to South Baldwin by private vehicle and later flown to Sacred Heart and has since been released. Orneal McCaskey is wanted for questioning in this case. The public is asked to call Foley Police Department at 251-943-4431 if you know where McCaskey is. He is considered armed and dangerous.”

2 years ago

Alabama ranked among top states for auto manufacturing, foreign investment

made-in-alabama

Business Facilities magazine rated Alabama among the top states for workforce training programs, auto manufacturing strength, and foreign direct investment in its 2016 rankings.

In addition, the economic development-focused publication rated Huntsville No. 1 among U.S. cities for STEM job growth, and No. 3 for economic growth potential. The Rocket City was No. 5 for cost of living.

“This recognition underscores Alabama’s growing competitiveness on a global stage and shows that our strategic efforts to advance the state’s economy are paying off,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Going forward, our team will continue to pursue significant projects that bring new investment from around the world to Alabama, creating well-paying jobs that lift families and communities,” he added.

Late last year, Business Facilities named Alabama its “State of the Year” for 2015, citing a series of dynamic economic development projects from companies including Google and Polaris Industries.

AIDT IMPACT

In its 2016 rankings, Business Facilities ranked Alabama No. 3 for its workforce development programs, led by AIDT, a part of the Alabama Department of Commerce. The magazine citied an innovative training center AIDT opened in Birmingham.

“The new 56,000-square-foot facility, located in Birmingham, the state’s largest metro area, will allow for manufacturers, contractors and other industries to link up with AIDT along with public education and the two-year and even four-year colleges to equip students with specific skills needed to fill jobs,” it noted.

Business Facilities ranked Alabama No. 4 for automotive manufacturing strength, the third consecutive year for a high ranking. In 2015, Alabama’s auto assembly plants produced more than 1 million vehicles in a year for the first time.

The publication also ranked Alabama No. 9 among leading states for foreign direct investment, or FDI. Read a report on 2015 FDI in Alabama.

‘LOCATION OF CHOICE’

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the high rankings represent a strong endorsement of his city and the state.

“We take a ranking from Business Facilities as a great honor. This is a prime publication for site selection and it is a great resource for businesses and industries bringing new jobs and growth to our region,” Mayor Battle said.

“It is evidence of what we have been promoting in Huntsville and Alabama. We are the location of choice.”

Since 2014, Huntsville has landed major manufacturing projects from Remington, Polaris and GE Aviation, while its vibrant aerospace sector has seen advances.

Gov. Robert Bentley and local officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony symbolizing the launch of GE Aviation’s $200 million project Huntsville. (Image: Governor’s Office, Daniel Sparkman)
Gov. Robert Bentley and local officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony symbolizing the launch of GE Aviation’s $200 million project Huntsville. (Image: Governor’s Office, Daniel Sparkman)

Business Facilities is a national publication aimed at corporate site selectors and economic development professionals for more than four decades. It is owned by New Jersey-based Group C Media.

Also this month, global consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP issued a report ranking Alabama No. 5 among the states for new capital investment in 2015 and No. 4 for foreign investment spending.

1
2 years ago

Remington moving more jobs to Alabama after closing Kentucky facility

Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)
Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)
Remington 700 model (Photo: Flickr)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Remington is once again moving jobs to Alabama after announcing it will be shuttering a plant in Mayfield, Kentucky later this month.

The Kentucky plant is closing as part of an effort to “improve our competitive position in the market,” said Jessica Kallam of Remington Firearms. An estimated 200 employees will lose their jobs in Kentucky, but some of those positions will come to Huntsville.

“You don’t ever like to see another area close down,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, adding that he understands the business behind making the decision. “I think you can understand the economics of it and the idea of consolidation and how quality control can be done with consolidation.”

When Remington first came to Alabama in 2014, they agreed to bring 2,000 jobs to the state. The Huntsville facility currently has 300 employees, and 1,700 more will be added over the next seven years. The closing of the Kentucky plant will increase Huntsville’s numbers earlier than planned.

“We’re glad to have the work but we also wish the Kentucky area well too,” said Mayor Battle.

According to Remington’s website, the company designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, the Company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases, the NY SAFE Act broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster, which was being manufactured at Remington’s New York plant.

Mayor Tommy Battle called Remington “one of the best operations in advanced manufacturing operations that I’ve seen in my time.”

1
2 years ago

Legislature gives voters opportunity to declare Alabama a constitutional Right-to-Work state

Mercedes-Benz's plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)
Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Legislature on Thursday gave final passage to a bill to add “right-to-work” language to the state’s constitution, if voters approve the measure at the ballot box in November.

Right-to-work laws prohibit forcing employees to join a union and pay dues as a condition of employment. They do not, however, ban unions, as is sometimes alleged.

“The provisions of the amendment are simple,” explained William Canary, CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, which supports the amendment. “It further establishes Alabama as a right-to-work state with constitutional protections that prevent labor organizations from forcing employees to join. At the same time, the amendment prevents employers from denying union membership to workers who wish to join.”

The United Auto Workers union has long targeted Alabama’s booming auto industry for unionization. A vote to unionize the Mercedes plant in Vance was narrowly defeated in 2014.

If unionization of the Mercedes plant had been successful all workers would, by requirement of contract, be represented by the UAW, not just those who are union members. Right-to-work advocates say this caveat strips the rights of workers who wish not to be a member of a union, and silences their voices.

Unions were once widely viewed as a positive voice for workers who did not have the ability to stand up for themselves. But as workplaces became safer and wages more fair, unions started shifting from workplace representation to heavy political involvement to accomplish their goals. At only 7% of the private workforce, unions are now a shadow of their former selves, although they remain a powerful bloc in the Democratic Party.

Between the Mercedes, Honda, and Hyundai plants, Alabama has become a strong player in automotive manufacturing and the state’s right-to-work laws are often credited with having played a major part in that. As president and founder of Union Conservatives, Terry Bowman, stressed during a visit to Birmingham last year that UAW representation for Alabama’s auto manufacturers would not only be a blow to current jobs, but also to the state’s ability to attract new companies.

Several companies have cited Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state as a key reason they relocated to the state, particularly Airbus and Remington.

“Although Alabama and many other southeastern states are firm right-to-work states, labor unions have stepped up their efforts to organize industrial facilities across the region after experiencing recent successes that include Volkswagen in Tennessee and Golden Dragon in Wilcox County,” the Alabama House GOP Caucus said in a release. “Alabama passed one of the nation’s first right-to-work laws roughly 60 years ago, but House Republicans believe it is time to enshrine that employment protection in our state constitution.”

RELATED:
1. Right-to-Work amendment would protect Alabama jobs from union coercion (Opinion)
2. Alabama plant unionizes in spite of Bentley’s warnings that it could kill jobs

1
2 years ago

Alabama gun manufacturer sued by anti-Second Amendment activists

AR-15 on an American Flag. RTR.
AR-15 on an American Flag. RTR.

The firearms company that made the AR-15 rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is seeking to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victims’ families.

Manufacturer Bushmaster plans to ask a Connecticut judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which threatens to dramatically weaken the legal protections for gunmakers.

The company’s lawyers said they are protected by a 2005 federal immunity law that protects gunmakers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Under current law, gunmakers are largely free from liability if a person commits a crime with their product. The law lists several situations that are not protected from liability. It does not protect gun dealers who transfer a gun knowing it would be used for criminal purposes, nor those who knowingly break state or federal law if the violation results in harm. Gun manufacturers can also be sued if the gun, when used properly, causes injury because the product is defective.

Democratic Presidential Front-Runner Hillary Clinton wants to take these legal protections away from those who manufacture firearms. “Probably one of the most egregious, wrong, pieces of legislation that ever passed the Congress when it comes to this issue is to protect gun sellers and gun makers from liability,” she said in Iowa Oct. 7.

A ruling in favor of the defendants would have drastic repercussions for the Yellowhammer State. In 2014 Remington, the parent company of Bushmaster, announced a plan to expand its operations into Alabama.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases, the law broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster AR-15, which is essentially the civilian version of the M-16, the fully automatic weapon that has been used by American soldiers since Vietnam.

Exposing gunmakers to liability for tragic events such as Sandy Hook could cause irreparable harm to their companies. If this legal doctrine gains steam, particularly at the Federal appellate level, those wishing to exercise their Second Amendment rights could be in trouble. Gun companies found liable for senseless and unforeseeable tragedies could be litigated out of existence by lawsuit after lawsuit.

The AR-15 has drawn the ire of liberal politicians, but has been fiercely defended by gun rights advocates, including NRA president David Keene who penned an op-ed titled “The AR-15: The Gun Liberals Love to Hate,” in which he criticized liberal politicians and members of the media for having “a simple minded and narrow understanding of why the founders included the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights.”

Individuals defending the AR-15 say that it is an excellent weapon for self-defense. Perhaps most notably, business owners used AR-15s to successfully defended their shops against looters during the L.A. riots in the early 1990s.

Remington officials announced in May that they are moving the production lines for the Bushmaster rifle and 1911 pistol from Ilion, NY to Hunstville, Ala.

1
2 years ago

Mayor Battle: Huntsville’s culture of innovation has Rocket City’s economy on the rise

Huntsville Tommy Battle

RELATED: Don’t miss Yellowhammer’s upcoming Alabama Economic Growth Summit

Made In Alabama asked Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle to outline his economic development priorities for 2016 and provide insight on why the city has been able to land a series of major projects in the past couple of years.

Here are his remarks.

Q: What are your economic development priorities in 2016 and what would you like to see happen?

A Polaris off road vehicle stands during the 2015 announcement the company open a factory in Huntsville. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)
A Polaris off road vehicle stands during the 2015 announcement the company open a factory in Huntsville. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

A: Our success in the advanced manufacturing sector has helped us diversify our federal economic base, and we expect Huntsville will benefit for decades to come from the spinoff businesses related to our newest partners at Remington, Polaris, and GE Aviation.

Looking ahead, however, we plan to return to our roots and focus more on research and development. These are the jobs that vaulted Huntsville from a cotton town in the 1950s to a rocket city. We have the highest concentration of engineers in the country and our highly specialized workforce is already geared for positions in robotics, biotech, cyber security and computer programming. Our research park, second largest in the U.S., just celebrated its 50thanniversary and we are master planning to position it for the next 50 years to accommodate more start-up companies and live, work, play options.

We will also continue emphasizing redevelopment in our core and that includes public-private partnerships that benefit downtown, our primary retail corridors and other quality of life amenities for citizens.

Q: What industries in Huntsville are best positioned for growth?


Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville test 3-D printed rocket engine parts. (Image: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville test 3-D printed rocket engine parts. (Image: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

A: We expect more suppliers to enter our market as they support the advanced manufacturing sector. This includes automotive suppliers for Polaris and Toyota and new industries related to commercial space applications such as small satellites.

HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus has the first genomic medical clinic in the world and will attract more biotech companies. GE Aviation’s new plant will be the first of its kind to produce ceramic matrix composites. The expansion of the composite manufacturing field in Huntsville will boost companies in aviation, missile manufacturing and deep space exploration. 3D printing, as designed by NASA, is drawing global attention.

And, finally, from high tech to master brewing, the craft beer business is rapidly expanding to include dozens of microbreweries and brewpubs. Lots of diversity from genomics to composites to craft brews — Huntsville’s conversations are never dull.

Q: What strengths can Huntsville build on in 2016 to advance economic development?

A: Our greatest strength has to be teamwork. Huntsville is blessed with competent leadership and regional partners that work together for the greater good. We believe in smart planning, keeping up with our infrastructure – and that includes fiber – and holding government bureaucracy to a bare minimum.

As a result, we have a high quality of life, good schools, a smart workforce, low cost of living and an average 18-minute commute to work.

Q: What are the 2015 highlights for you?

A: We’ve seen years of hard work and strategic planning come together with major announcements from Polaris and GE Aviation. National retailers such as Whole Foods, Cabela’s and At Home opened their first regional stores here.

Huntsville’s entrepreneurial community has taken off with a host of incubators and we landed three of the state’s top five finalists, and the winner, in the recent Alabama Launchpad competition with a $50,000 purse for a new business start-up.

GE Aviation executive Sanjay Correa, left, chats with Gov. Robert Bentley and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle before announcing a $200 million advanced materials project in Alabama. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)
GE Aviation executive Sanjay Correa, left, chats with Gov. Robert Bentley and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle before announcing a $200 million advanced materials project in Alabama. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)
1
2 years ago

How Alabama benefitted from ‘New York values’


(Video above: Ted Cruz and Donald Trump debate ‘New York values’ in Fox Business debate)

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump spent several minutes in the most recent Republican presidential debate sparring over “New York values.”

Cruz, a Texan, said, “Most people know exactly what New York values are… There are many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York, but everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage and focus around money and the media. And I guess I could frame it another way, not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan, I’m just saying.”

The last sentence of Cruz’s provocative comment was in direct response to Trump’s previous statement that “not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba,” using Cruz’s father’s home country to call into question his faith.

During the debate, Trump defended “New York values” by reminding the audience that New Yorkers came together to rebuild after 9/11.

“That was a very insulting statement that Ted made,” he concluded.

The media has spent several days since the debate going back and forth over which candidate got the best of the other.

Liberal website Slate.com declared “Trump beats Cruz with New York values.”

The conservative National Review shot back that “Cruz played Trump like a fiddle.”

Here in Dixie, whatever Alabamians think of New York values, they surely will not deny that they have benefitted from them in recent years.

Almost exactly two years ago to the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told WCNY radio host Susan Arbetter that “extreme conservatives” who are “right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay,” have “no place in the state of New York.”

He apparently did not think people — particularly large corporations who employee many of his citizens — would take his words literally.

A month later, Remington Arms, a company founded in New York and one of the largest gun manufacturers in the world, announced it was expanding to Alabama, rather than bolstering its operations in the Empire State.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley told Yellowhammer at the time. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases, the NY SAFE Act broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster, which was being manufactured at Remington’s New York plant.

The Bushmaster production line was moved to Alabama, a move that Remington’s CEO conceded was necessary because of New York’s anti-Second Amendment beliefs.

From the New York Daily News:

The company says one reason behind its decision to open a new plant in Alabama rather than expand in New York was “state policies affecting use of our products,” Remington Outdoor Company CEO George Kollitides wrote to some upstate officials Oct. 20.

The statement was taken by some as a direct shot at a tough gun control measure enacted by New York in early 2013 in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Indeed, one part of the gun control measure, also known as the SAFE Act, banned AR-15 rifles in New York — the very gun Remington made at its plant in upstate Ilion.

Those assault guns will now be made in Alabama.

Kollitides also said workforce quality, business environment, tax and economic incentives, and existing infrastructure impacted the decision to open a plant in Alabama.

Remington is now growing day by day in Alabama, employing more and more workers, but it wouldn’t have moved here in the first place if it wasn’t for “New York values.”


1
2 years ago

More people moved out of Alabama in 2015 than moved in; here’s one important reason why

Moving Alabama

A new migration study by United Van Lines (UVL) found that, in 2015, slightly more people (51%) moved out of the state of Alabama than moved in (49%).

“For nearly 40 years, we’ve been tracking which states people are moving to and from, and we’ve also recently started surveying our customers to understand why they are making these moves across state lines,” explained Melissa Sullivan, UVL’s director of marketing communications. “Because of United Van Lines’ position as the nation’s largest household goods mover, our data is reflective of national migration trends.”

UVL calculated the percentage of migrants who moved in and out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., over the last 12 months, and found the following:

Top inbound states of 2015:

Rank. State (Percentage inbound)
1. Oregon (69%)
2. South Carolina (62%)
3. Vermont (62%)
4. Idaho (61%)
5. North Carolina (59%)
6. Florida (59%)
7. Nevada (57%)
8. District of Columbia (57%)
9. Texas (57%)
10. Washington (56%)

22. Alabama (49%)

Top outbound states of 2015:

Rank. State (Percentage outbound)
1. New Jersey (67%)
2. New York (65%)
3. Illinois (63%)
4. Connecticut (63%)
5. Ohio (58%)
6. Kansas (57%)
7. Massachusetts (57%)
8. West Virginia (57%)
9. Mississippi (57%)
10. Maryland (56%)

The reasons people are flocking to certain states and abandoning others are numerous; some are simple, while others are a bit more complex.

“This year’s data reflects longer-term trends of people moving to the Pacific West, where cities such as Portland and Seattle are seeing the combination of a boom in the technology and creative marketing industry, as well as a growing ‘want’ for outdoor activity and green space,” said Michael Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at UCLA. “The aging Boomer population is driving relocation from the Northeast and Midwest to the West and South, as more and more people retire to warmer regions.”

Alabama’s relatively low taxes, its status as a right-to-work state, and its pro-business regulatory climate, have attracted numerous large companies to the state in recent years — Airbus, Remington, Polaris and Google, just to name a few — and the state’s automotive and aerospace industries continue to boom.

And as the UCLA professor mentioned, Alabama’s warm climate and welcoming culture will continue to attract retirees.

But a deeper look at the demographic breakdown of people moving in and out of the state reveals that Alabama appears to be hemorrhaging young people.

People moving into and out of Alabama

Alabama seems to be suffering from a problem sometimes referred to as “brain drain.”

A study published by Forbes Magazine placed Alabama in the lowest third of states when it comes to its ability to retain recent college grads.

In short, the majority of students who graduate from an Alabama college or university will move to another state to take their first job. Meanwhile, states like Washington, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada, all of which are on the list of top inbound states, retain the vast majority of their recent college grads.

As one might expect, college graduates tend to migrate toward places where they can find a job in their career field, and also to places where there are a high percentage of college graduates already living.

Some regions of Alabama, like many areas of the midwestern United States, have struggled to reinvent themselves economically as manufacturing has dwindled.

Alabama largest city, Birmingham, is home to a world-class research institution in UAB, and many other innovative companies and non-profits, but the city’s population as a whole lags behind when it comes to educational attainment.

The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program in 2010 ranked American cities by which had the most college-educated residents. Out of the 100 largest metro areas in the country, Birmingham-Hoover ranked a disappointing 74th, with just 26.6% of residents having earned a college diploma. Most of the top ten cities were over 40%.

Huntsville, on the other hand, has one of the most educated workforces in the country.

According to a recent analysis, north Alabama is the single best place in the country to move, if you are an engineer. Huntsville tops the list, thanks in large part to the NASA flight center and Army arsenal, as well as a large private defense industry. Decatur comes in eighth on the list, thanks to a massive United Launch Alliance manufacturing facility.

It is no wonder, then, that many of the high-profile economic development projects Alabama has attracted in recent years — with Airbus being a notable exception — have chosen to locate in northern part of the state.

Alabama has smartly begun to take steps to reduce the brain drain.

For one, state leaders have taken proactive steps to reduce the stigma attached to the trades. The Go Build Alabama campaign was rolled out several years ago to educate young people on the value of learning a trade, dispel their misconceptions about the construction industry and inspire them to consider a career in the skilled trades. With more Alabama students learning a trade, they will be more likely to come out of school ready to take a job with any number of Alabama companies who are ready to hire them, rather than leaving the state to find employment elsewhere.

Additionally, the more success the state has in attracting tech companies like Google, and the friendlier the state’s economic climate is to entrepreneurs, the more young people will stick around after graduation.

These issues and more will be discussed at Yellowhammer’s upcoming Alabama Economic Growth Summit. For more information visit AlabamaJobsSummit.com.

1
3 years ago

Unions set their sights on Alabama after victory in Tennessee

Mercedes-Benz's plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)
Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)

The United Auto Workers union won a small but important victory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week, as skilled-trades workers at Volkswagen’s only U.S. factory voted 108-44 to grant the UAW the right to collectively bargain on their behalf.

VW contends the vote should not have been allowed because the plant’s full staff of 1,400 should not be impacted by the vote of just 162 of their colleagues. The German automaker plans to appeal to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We believe that a union of only maintenance employees fractures our workforce and does not take into account the overwhelming community of interest shared between our maintenance and production employees,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

In February of 2014, the UAW’s attempts to unionize the full Chattanooga plant came up short by a vote of 712-626. The hotly contested vote was seen as a message that the South would not bend to the will of big labor bosses, who are often cited as the reason auto manufacturers abandoned Detroit and moved South in the first place.

The UAW has tried for years to unionize Alabama’s car manufacturing facilities, most notably the Mercedes-Benz plan in Vance. But with few notable exceptions, Alabama workers have rejected the unions’ overtures.

Alabama is a right to work state, meaning companies cannot require union membership as a condition of employment. However, if unionization of a particular manufacturer is successful, all workers would, by requirement of contract, be represented by the union. Conservatives are often quick to point out that this caveat strips the rights of workers who wish not to be a member of a union, and silences their voices.

Alabama’s status as a right to work state has been credited with being the most important variable in several large manufacturers deciding to bring jobs into the state, including Airbus, Austal USA and Remington.

“Over the last two decades, many businesses that were located in heavily unionized states have moved their operations to Alabama, choosing to locate their facilities in the right-to-work Alabama due to the ability to compete in the global marketplace,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary. “A union presence in Alabama would only serve to stifle job creation and economic opportunity. I continue to believe that free enterprise can best meet the needs of its employees by maintaining an open and direct relationship with them, without the interference of a third party.”

Earlier this year, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s efforts to thwart the unionization of the Golden Dragon Copper Tubing plant in Wilcox County failed by one vote.

Bentley said that the unionization of manufacturing plants in Alabama hurts the state’s ability to recruit companies and threatens to damage Alabama’s budding relationship with Asian manufacturers looking to locate in the U.S.

“(I)f I’m going to recruit companies — especially from the far east — if I’m going to recruit a new Hyundai plant, or any kind (of auto manufacturer)… if they know that if they come here they’re non-unionized and then ten years later their plant unionizes, they don’t like that, especially Asian companies do not like that,” he said. “They will not come to a non-right-to-work state. It does upset them… It does hurt in the recruitment of companies to come to Alabama and it does hurt me in creating jobs when a plant is non-unionized and suddenly it becomes a unionized plant.”

The Wilcox County plant employs approximately 150 people with salaries up to the low $40,000s in an area where the median household income is just over $24,000 per year. The plant is expected to grow to as many as 500 employees at full capacity, but it is unclear how the potential unionization of the plant could impact the growth trajectory going forward.

With the UAW and other unions now viewing Alabama as their next primary target in the South, economic developers are battening down the hatches for a fight over the future of the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

1
3 years ago

Remington trolls Hillary about email server scandal

Hillary Clinton Remington
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Gun manufacturer Remington posted a humorous Tweet Thursday in response to a recent gaffe by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this week Clinton shrugged and said “What, like with a cloth or something?” when asked by reporters whether or not she “wiped” her email server clean before handing it over to the FBI.

Though Clinton clearly meant the comment as a joke, the soundbite has become synonymous with her campaign’s lackadaisical attitude toward the allegations that the former Secretary of State improperly handled top secret and classified data on her personal email server.

Now Remington, the American company behind some of the world’s most popular firearms, is getting in on the joke, and participating in some good, “clean fun,” via Twitter.

Remington decided to open a plant in Alabama last year after anti-gun policies essentially drove the company out of its long-time home of New York.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told Yellowhammer in November. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”


1
3 years ago

Alabama wins prestigious award for economic development and job growth, led by Huntsville

Employees celebrate as the first new Honda Pilot is rolled off the line

Employees celebrate as the first new Honda Pilot is rolled off the line
Employees celebrate as the first new Honda Pilot is rolled off the line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Publication Area Development has awarded Alabama its annual “Silver Shovel” awarded to states with populations between 3 and 5 million who exhibit exceptional economic development and job growth.

Kentucky and Louisiana also received the award.

“The state has been advancing in a major way as a locus of automotive and aerospace manufacturing over the last several years, and its biggest economic development wins of 2014 strongly reflected this important trend,” Area Development wrote. “For instance, the state beat out more than two dozen others to land Remington Outdoor Co.’s decision to open a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant with more than 2,000 workers in Huntsville. The iconic firearms and ammunition brand plans an investment of $110 million in a site previously occupied by Chrysler manufacturing. Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong maintained that the Huntsville area won the plant because of ‘our pro-business environment, along with the region’s extensive manufacturing experience.’

“Meanwhile, Alabama also landed other major projects in the aerospace and automotive sectors, positioning the state’s three assembly plants to produce more than one million vehicles in 2015, which would comprise about 6 percent of the expected U.S. sales total of about 17 million vehicles this year. However, the state does have some work to do: Governor Robert Bentley is working on programs to boost career- and college-readiness in the state and to modernize incentives for job creation, while reducing Alabama’s reliance on borrowing for incentives.”

In 2014 the Huntsville area led Alabama in job growth, as the state’s unemployment rate has continued to decline.

Here are the top economic projects in Alabama in 2014 according to Area Development:
1. Science and Engineering Services | Huntsville | 450 jobs created | $70 million investment

2. International Automotive | Anniston | 359 jobs created | $35 million investment

3. Sitel Call Center | Hamilton | 300 jobs created

4. Baxter International | Opelika | 200 jobs created | $300 million investment

5. Oxford Pharmaceuticals | Birmingham | 200 jobs created | $29.4 million investment

6. Regions | Birmingham | 195 jobs created | $18.6 million investment

7. Remington Outdoor Co. | Huntsville | 2,410 jobs created | $110 million investment

8. GE Aviation | Auburn | 100 jobs created | $50 million investment

9. Evonik Corp. | Theodore | 79 jobs created | $113.7 million investment

10. Honda | Lincoln | 150 jobs created | $71.8 million investment.


1
3 years ago

2014’s projects yield 18,000 new jobs across Alabama

Alabama Leaders break ground at a new project. (c/o Alabama Department of Commerce)

Alabama Leaders break ground at a new project. (c/o Alabama Department of Commerce)
Alabama Leaders break ground at a new project. (c/o Alabama Department of Commerce)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Companies planning new facilities or expanding existing operations in Alabama announced more than 18,000 new jobs and nearly $3.4 billion in new investment during 2014, reflecting growing momentum in sectors including automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing.

The 2014 New & Expanding Industry Report, released today by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce, provides an in-depth look at how economic development activity unfolded last year across the state. Its findings include:

– The number of announced jobs from the 392 Alabama projects in 2014 totaled 18,137, while combined new capital investment topped $3.37 billion. In 2013, those figures were 16,847 jobs and nearly $4.4 billion in investment.
– Madison County ranked tops for new jobs related to projects last year, with 3,418. Lee County was No. 1 for new capital investment, with $482 million. Some rural counties recorded solid new job totals, including Chambers (665 jobs), Marion (628) and Coffee (545).
Remington Outdoor Co.’s project to build a state-of-the-art firearms manufacturing center in Huntsville was Alabama’s top job-creating project last year. “Project Traveler,” as it was codenamed, will create at least 2,000 jobs.
– Foreign direct investment in Alabama topped $1 billion in 2014, with Japan the leading source for investment and job creation. Japanese companies announced Alabama projects involving almost $346 million in new investment and 1,118 jobs last year.

Another strong year of business recruitment and support builds on the foundation of solid economic development activity established in recent years. Since 2011, when Governor Bentley took office, more than 73,000 new jobs and $17.3 billion in new capital investment have been announced in Alabama.

“Job creation has been my No. 1 goal, and we have worked diligently as a team across Alabama to target well-paying jobs and projects that can make a difference in the lives of our residents and in the communities where they live,” Governor Bentley said. “It’s been a successful formula, and we are going to make it even better with new recruiting tools and fresh ideas on improving workforce development.”

Last year’s momentum has carried into 2015. One example: In January, ATV-maker Polaris Industries announced plans to invest up to $142 million to build a manufacturing facility in Huntsville with as many as 2,000 workers.

KEY SECTORS THRIVE

The 2014 New & Expanding Industry Report shows accelerating growth in the state’s automotive and aerospace sectors, two of the pillars in the Accelerate Alabama strategic economic development plan. An emphasis on knowledge-based jobs also paid off last year, with a number of projects focusing on high-level functions such as research and engineering.

Aerospace projects announced in 2014 suggest robust growth is in store for the sector. Science and Engineering Services (SES), for example, announced a $70 million plan to expand its Huntsville manufacturing operation, adding 450 new workers. Meanwhile, in rural Pike County, Lockheed Martin developed plans to expand its missile plant in Troy with a $55 million investment and 224 new jobs.

At the same time, the auto manufacturing sector continue to expand rapidly. Toyota last year announced a $121 million investment at its Huntsville engine plant and the addition of 189 workers. Honda added nearly $72 million in new investment and 150 workers at its Talladega County facility. In Tuscaloosa County, suppliers announced more than 1,100 jobs as they ramp up to support the growing Mercedes-Benz assembly operation.

“We’ve been very strategic in our approach to economic development in Alabama because we want to develop productive partnerships with companies that will put down roots and expand over time,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We want our efforts to create high-caliber jobs that pay well and have a future for the hard-working people of Alabama.”

The report released today shows that 70 companies announced new facilities in Alabama last year, involving 5,961 jobs and $438.3 million in capital investment. Another 322 companies announced expansions to their Alabama operations, with 12,176 jobs and $2.9 billion in investment.

Following Madison, the top counties for announced jobs were Jefferson (1,929), Tuscaloosa (1,264), Lee (755) and Cullman (704). Trailing Lee, top counties for investment announced in 2014 were Escambia ($376 million), Madison ($321 million), Jefferson ($189 million) and Mobile ($168 million).

1
3 years ago

Alabama man stunned to find out his family’s painting is worth $800,000

Birmingham Museum of Art chief curator stands with the 1896 Remington painting (Photo captured from WIAT's report)

Birmingham Museum of Art chief curator stands with the 1896 Remington painting (Photo captured from WIAT's report)
Birmingham Museum of Art chief curator stands with the 1896 Remington painting (Photo captured from WIAT’s report)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabamian Ty Dodge found out in an episode of Antiques Roadshow that aired Monday that the Frederic Remington painting of his great grandfather and a letter between the artist and his ancestor are worth a jaw-dropping $800,000.

“My appraiser on the roadshow asked me, ‘How much do you think it is worth?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know, $15,000?’ And she said, ‘Well that, plus the letter, would be between $600,000 and $800,000.’ And I think because I’m not a very reactive guy, I didn’t react very much and I think that put her off a bit,” Mr. Dodge said in a report by Birmingham’s WIAT.

The painting is one of a series on army officers done by famous American painter and sculptor Frederic Remington. The painting of Dodge’s great grandfather, Lea Febiger, has been hanging in the family’s home for the last several decades, but it will soon find a new home in the Birmingham Museum of Art. It was last appraised for only $7,500 in the 1960s.

The piece, which will be on loan, will be the Museum’s first Remington painting, and its chief curator, Graham Boettcher, couldn’t be more excited about it.

“A Remington painting has always eluded us. Now we can show every aspect of Remington as an artist, which is very exciting,” Boettcher said.

The painting will soon be on display a the Museum.


1
4 years ago

Data reveals the gun capital of Alabama

Alabama guns

Alabamians love the Second Amendment.

And we love to exercise our Second Amendment rights, as well, whether it’s on our state’s famed hunting lands or, if we have to, in defense of ourselves or our homes.

Legislation with names like the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” and constitutional amendments reiterating that bearing arms is a “Fundamental Right” are commonplace in Yellowhammer State politics.

The CEO of Remington even recently noted that Alabama’s pro-gun policies led them to locate their new manufacturing facility in the state, rather than in their longtime home state of New York.

But where in Alabama are guns most readily available?

The Washington Post recently sought to find out which counties across the United States have more gun retailers than libraries and museums, claiming that “when viewed in relation to each other guns and museums give some sense of a community’s values.”

Our initial response to that post was, well, “Who cares?” But the data they came up with is useful in seeing which parts of the country have the most readily available firearms.

To find out how many gun retailers each county has, the Washington Post “used data maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on the number and location of licensed firearm dealers in the U.S. A high incidence of gun dealers indicates a robust gun culture — places where people hunt and shoot for sport, and perhaps places where people are concerned about self-defense and safety.”

So after digging through all that data, Yellowhammer was able to come up with the map below showing how many licensed firearms dealers there are in each of Alabama’s 67 counties.

The firearms capital of Alabama is Jefferson County, which has 90 gun retailers. That is perhaps not surprising considering it is by far the state’s most populous area, with roughly 660,000 residents. Madison County up in north Alabama isn’t far behind, with 83 gun retailers, and since they only have 347,000 residents, their per capita number of gun retailers is higher.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, tiny Bullock County in east Alabama has just one gun retailer, but its total population is under 11,000 people.

Alabama gun retailers

County — Number of gun retailers

Jefferson — 90
Madison — 83
Mobile — 75
Baldwin — 65
Calhoun 38
Shelby — 37
Houston — 33
Montgomery — 32
Morgan — 29
Tuscaloosa — 29
Marshall — 28
Cullman — 25
Elmore — 25
Lauderdale — 25
Walker — 25
Lee — 24
Covington — 23
Etowah — 22
Talladega — 21
Dale — 18
Limestone — 18
Jackson — 18
Colbert — 16
Saint Clair — 16
Autauga — 15
DeKalb — 15
Escambia — 15
Marion — 15
Blount — 14
Clarke — 14
Coffee — 14
Tallapoosa — 13
Randolph — 12
Monroe — 11
Pike — 11
Butler — 10
Chilton — 10
Franklin — 10
Russell — 10
Winston — 10
Chambers — 9
Barbour — 8
Henry — 8
Marengo — 8
Dallas — 7
Lawrence — 7
Wilcox — 7
Cherokee — 6
Choctaw — 6
Clay — 6
Crenshaw — 6
Fayette — 6
Sumter — 6
Geneva — 5
Cleburne — 4
Coosa — 4
Pickens — 4
Washington — 4
Conecuh — 3
Macon — 3
Perry — 3
Bibb — 2
Greene — 2
Hale — 2
Lamar — 2
Lowndes — 2
Bullock — 1


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1
4 years ago

Analysis: GOP governors better for economic growth nationally, but what about in Alabama?

Market Watch Map State economies Q4 2013

Is having a Republican governor better for a state’s economy? According to a report by financial analysis website Market Watch, the answer appears to be “yes.”

“Nine of the 10 fastest growing U.S. states in the fourth quarter of 2013 were controlled by Republicans governors, according to the most recently available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” wrote Market Watch’s Jeffry Bartash. “Six of the 10 worst-performing states, on the other hand, were run by Democrats.”

The trend also appears to extend much further than just the most recent data available.

“[T]he Republican advantage does not appear to be a one-quarter quirk,” Bartash explained. “States led by Republican governors have also fared better since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009. Seven of the 10 fastest growing states, including the top seven, were run by Republican governors for all or most of the period from 2010 to 2013.”

But in spite of the fact the Alabama has been under a Republican governor during that same time period, the state’s economy has not faired quite as well as many of its GOP-led counterparts.

As a matter of fact, Alabama had the fourth-worst performing economy in the country in the last quarter of 2013, with anemic growth of 0.7 percent.

And Alabama’s next door neighbor, Mississippi — also under Republican control — performed even worse. Its economy actually shrunk by 3 percent, the worst performance in the country. The economies of Minnesota (0% growth), Iowa (0.3%) and Massachusetts (0.4%) also faired worse than the Yellowhammer State.

Additionally, Alabama has recently held the unenviable distinction of being the only state in the country where the unemployment rate has risen over the last twelve months.

So is Alabama’s economy really lagging that far behind?

Gov. Bentley successfully recruited Airbus in a major economic development in win for Alabama
Gov. Bentley successfully recruited Airbus in a major economic development win for Alabama

When attempting to get a good read on the economy, it is important to gather as much data as possible, rather than relying on one data point, like the unemployment rate, to reach a conclusion.

The Obama Administration, for instance, loves to tout that the unemployment rate has been dropping. However, they don’t like to talk about the fact that people giving up on finding a job and dropping out of the workforce all-together is one of the major reasons for the drop. President Obama is not the first president spin the numbers to his advantage, and he won’t be the last.

On the flip side, it would be easy to start taking shots at Gov. Bentley for the rise in Alabama’s unemployment rate, but there is plenty of evidence that the bump in unemployment is at least in part due to workers optimistically re-entering the workforce. Trying to explain that won’t win you any arguments in a political landscape dominated by 5-second soundbites, but that doesn’t make it any less reasonable.

It is also important to realize that governors — Republican or Democrat — are far from the only variable when it comes to a state’s economic performance.

North Dakota, which led the country with 8.4 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2013, is reaping the benefits of a fracking oil-boom. Lower taxes, less regulations and few labor unions have fueled growth in some states, especially in the South. And the broader U.S. economy also plays a significant role in the economic performance of individual states.

But governors are still the faces of their respective states, and voters hold them accountable more than any other state-level official when it comes to jobs and the economy.

Gov. Bentley has had a string of high profile economic development successes since taking the reins of Alabama’s economy in 2011, perhaps most notably Airbus and Remington. But a lot of research suggests that it is the growth of small businesses, rather than the occasional big business splash, that sustains economic growth over time.

Alabama’s business climate continues getting high marks, and Gov. Bentley has proven himself to be an able recruiter of companies from both inside the United States and around the world. But for all the positive momentum, Alabama is still lagging behind.

It may well be a testament to how far we’ve come that we’re no longer ok with just beating Mississippi. But we’re not. And in a second Bentley term in which he has promised to not just be a “caretaker governor,” his number one challenge will be setting Alabama on a real, long-term path to economic growth and prosperity.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Alabama House Speaker makes explosive claim: Obama Admin. targeting Alabama’s economy

Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)

AUBURN, Ala. — In an op-ed published by the Auburn-Opelika News on Sunday, Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard made the explosive claim that he believes President Obama is “targeting Alabama’s economy for political reasons.”

Hubbard began by touting Alabama’s highly rated business climate, which he said has resulted in companies flocking to the state, most recently Remington.

“For the past several decades, dozens of companies have chosen to leave the hostile, pro-union business climate of the once thriving industrial northeast for the more welcoming, conservative, and business-friendly atmosphere that Alabama offers,” Hubbard wrote.

But in addition to those factors, Hubbard also said that access to affordable energy is one of the primary reasons businesses have been attracted to the state, and that, he said, is the area at which President Obama is taking direct aim.

“Because he senses that the dependable energy and affordable rates we offer are also helping to bleed jobs from the northern areas of the country where his liberal political base dominates, I am convinced that Alabama is among the areas Obama is directly targeting with his aggressive and relentless war on coal,” Hubbard wrote.


RELATED:
1. Ala. leaders plead with Obama admin to ‘stop strangling our state with federal mandates’
2. (Video) Alabama coal miner delivers stunning emotional testimony at EPA hearings
3. (Video) Enviro activist testifying at EPA hearings bursts into song ‘to honor the atmosphere’
4. (Video) Alabama AG blasts ‘illegal’ EPA regs, vows to fight ‘overreaching’ Obama administration in court


Recently proposed EPA regulations would force the State of Alabama to cut power plant carbon emissions by roughly 30 percent by 2030. More than half of all the electricity Alabama Power generates in the state comes from coal-fired plants, which Hubbard clearly believes are the real targets of the proposed regulations.

And whether he’s right or not that the president is targeting Alabama, there is no question that the increased regulations are already having an impact on the state’s access to affordable energy.

Alabama Power announced on August 1 that federal environmental mandates are forcing them to close two of the state’s coal-fired units and transition two others from coal to natural gas.

At the time of the announcement, Alabama Power said it had spent more than $3 billion to meet federal environmental mandates, and are in the process of spending another $1 billion to comply with new federal environmental regulations tied to air emissions. Further spending could also be required to meet future federal environmental regulations tied to water, land and coal combustion byproducts.

“Any industrial recruiter you ask will attest that our low utility costs are an important ingredient in Alabama’s economic development recipe, and, in the past, our Public Service Commission has utilized this reality by offering even more generous rates to companies that expand operations and create additional jobs,” Hubbard wrote. “Now, Obama and rogue elements within his Environmental Protection Agency are seeking to take away our advantage by using unconstitutional executive orders to implement extreme mandates on Alabama’s coal-based energy production. In addition to derailing our efforts to recruit new industries and expand existing ones, Obama’s end run around Congress threatens the 16,000 individuals whose jobs depend upon the Alabama coal industry.”

To read the full op-ed, visit the OANews.


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1
4 years ago

NRA President: more gun manufacturers may be coming to Alabama

National Rifle Association President Jim Porter
National Rifle Association President Jim Porter

National Rifle Association President and Alabama native Jim Porter told the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) Tuesday that he believes more gun manufacturers will follow in Remington’s footsteps and move to Alabama. He even alluded to some projects that may already be in the works, although he declined to get into specifics.

“I think Remington is doing what Mercedes did for us in the automobile business — it opens the doors to opportunity,” Porter said in a brief video interview with the BBJ. “There are a lot of things that we’re working on now for the state.”

Porter cited Alabama’s low tax, low regulation business climate and pro-Second Amendment policies as two of the main reasons gun manufacturers are looking to relocate to the Yellowhammer State.

“We’ve been fortune to have the most pro-gun state and the most pro-business state in the country,” Porter said. “I told (Remington CEO) George (Kollitides), ‘You will not make a better business decision in your lifetime other than to come to the State of Alabama. You will have the support of the Administration. You will have the support of the population. Everybody in the state is going to be lining up to work for Remington, to put on one of those green t-shirts.’ Through that we were able to get them to come down to Alabama and find a place that they absolutely love. And as you can see now, they have integrated a lot of their separate businesses into the facility there in Huntsville. They’re going to end up over the next couple of years with over 2,000 jobs being generated.”

Porter also expressed optimism that Alabama will continue its recent run of high-profile economic development successes.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” Porter said of the Remington deal in particular. “And in my view there are a lot more opportunities out there that are available.”


Check out more of Yellowhammer’s Remington coverage:
1. Remington Arms moving 2,000+ jobs from NY to Alabama
2. Remington moves Bushmaster production line to Alabama
3. VIDEO: Alabama’s ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ motto played role in landing Remington
4. Ted Nugent: ‘God bless Alabama and God bless Remington!’
5. Birmingham Attorney Jim Porter Elected NRA President


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1
4 years ago

Remington moves Bushmaster production line to Alabama

Bushmaster

Actions have consequences.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, last year urged the country’s major gun retailers “to suspend sales of modern assault-style weapons.” The State of New York then went a step further and passed the NY SAFE Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo described as the “toughest” gun control law in the United States. The Act’s definition of an “assault weapon” made it illegal to own some guns that were actually being manufactured in the state by Remington, America’s oldest gun manufacturer.

Remington subsequently decided that it would be expanding its operation into more gun-friendly territory, namely Alabama, where the company announced it would be opening a manufacturing facility that will bring roughly 2,000 jobs to The Yellowhammer State.

(Video below: Alabama’s ‘We Dare Defend our Rights’ motto played role in landing Remington — Article continues below the video)

Over the weekend, the consequences of New York’s anti-gun laws continue to be felt both there and in Alabama. Remington officials announced Friday that they are moving the production lines for the Bushmaster rifle and 1911 pistol from Ilion, NY to Hunstville, Ala.

The Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has been at the heart of the so-called “assault weapons” debate after it was used during the Newtown, Conn. shootings that killed 27. An AR-15 was also used at the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. in 2012 and by the D.C. sniper roughly a decade ago. It is essentially the civilian version of the M-16, the fully automatic weapon that has been used by American soldiers since Vietnam.

The weapon has drawn the ire of liberal politicians, but has been fiercely defended by gun rights advocates, including NRA president David Keene who penned an op-ed titled “The AR-15: The Gun Liberals Love to Hate,” in which he criticized liberal politicians and members of the media for having “a simple minded and narrow understanding of why the founders included the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights.”

Individuals defending the AR-15 say that it is an excellent weapon for self-defense. Perhaps most notably, business owners used AR-15s to successfully defended their shops against looters during the L.A. riots in the early 1990s.

The Bushmaster will now be made in Alabama. And along with the 1911 pistol production line, it will create roughly 150 jobs in the state.

Upon hearing the announcement, New York State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said he is “afraid additional jobs, and families, will be forced to move south,” unless the state rolls back its excessive gun laws.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told Yellowhammer. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”


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1
4 years ago

Bentley touts job creation, spending cuts in first television ad: ‘I love this state’

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley today released his first campaign ad of the 2014 election cycle, titled “Accomplishments.”

In 2010 you elected me as your governor. Since then, unemployment is down, we’ve recruited over 50,000 jobs, saved over a billion dollars, and launched the largest roads program in state history.

We’ve faced difficult challenges, but Alabamians are strong and hard-working, and we care about each other.

I love this state, and it’s an honor to serve as your governor. Together we’ve achieved so much, and there’s more to be done. That’s why I’m asking you to re-elect me as your governor.

The ad is vintage Bentley. You can almost feel the doctor-governor wanting reach through the camera and put his hand on the shoulder of every voter in the state. He’s at his best when he’s talking about the character of Alabamians, and his sincerity has earned him one of the highest job approval ratings of any statewide elected official in the country.

Bentley also touts the fact that Alabama’s unemployment rate has plummeted since he took office. Critics will be quick to point out that Alabama’s shrinking labor force has played a role in making that happen. There were about 15,000 less unemployed Alabamians in January of this year than there were in January of 2013. But the state’s labor force also shrunk by over 30,000 people during that same time period. In short, there are less people working in Alabama today than there were this time last year.

But Bentley has also had a run of high-profile economic development successes that rivals almost any governor in the country over the last four years. From Airbus to Remington to the recent Verizon expansion, Gov. Bentley’s Commerce Department has successfully leveraged Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state and its low-tax, low-regulation business climate to land some major projects.

What do you think about the job Gov. Bentley has done since taking office in 2011? Will he be getting your vote again this year? Let us know in the comment section below or by tweeting @YHPolitics.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Alabama playing major role in trend of gun manufacturers moving South

Gun on Flag

Gun manufacturers are headed South, and have been for some time now.

In the past six months alone, three major firearms companies — Beretta, Remington and Ruger — announced plans to build new gun factories in the South to keep up with rising demand.

And company executives aren’t being shy about why.

Ugo Gussalli Beretta, President of Beretta U.S.A., recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times bluntly titled “Maryland disrespects us and gun owners, so we expand in Tennessee.”

“Maryland’s governor and legislature voted in favor of new regulations that unfairly attack products we make and that our customers want,” Beretta said. “These regulations also demean our law-abiding customers, who must now be fingerprinted like criminals before they can be allowed to purchase one of our products.”

Remington, America’s oldest gun manufacturer, has been operating in New York since its founding 1816. But mere months after NY decided to pass stricter gun-control measures, the company announced it was expanding in Alabama, rather than its home base.

Austrian gun manufacturer Steyr Arms recently opened a new showroom and distribution center in Bessemer, Ala., continuing the state’s momentum.

John Zent of American Rifleman had this to say about gun manufacturer’s southern migration:

The firearm giants are bolstering a decades-long migration pattern driven by factors such as labor costs, lower taxes and less restrictive regulation, in addition to ever-more-pressing political concerns. Remington moved its corporate headquarters to North Carolina in 1995, and the new Alabama plant will be the company’s third in the region. Other iconic brands, like FNH/Winchester and Ithaca Gun (South Carolina) and Mossberg (Texas) also made strategic decisions to relocate.

On top of that, a wave of startup manufacturers is now thriving across the South, companies like Barrett (Tennesse), Kel-Tec (Florida), Wilson Combat (Arkansas) and Daniel Defense (Georgia and South Carolina). Adding to the influx are foreign companies, like Para USA, which completely moved operations from Canada to North Carolina five years ago, as well as Steyr (Alabama) and Taurus (Florida), whose warehouse and distribution centers have been expanded to now include assembly operations. By our count, at least 30 gun factories are now operating in the region.

Here’s an illustration of just how many gun manufacturers have headed south in recent years:

Guns Go South


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1
4 years ago

Alabama House candidate will give you a Remington shotgun in return for your email address

Steve French, Republican candidate in Alabama House District 43
Steve French, Republican candidate in Alabama House District 46

So, you’re running for public office. It’s a crowded race in the middle of a packed election cycle and you’re trying to figure out how to cut through the noise and get your message out. How are you going to do it? Oh, and by the way, you’re in Alabama, the most Ro’ Tide’n, War Eagle’n, gun totin’, Second Amendment-lovin’ state the good Lord graced this great country with.

If you’re Steve French, Republican candidate in Alabama House District 46, you give away a Remington shotgun in return for voters’ email addresses and watch the support flow in — at least that’s the hope.

French announced Monday night that his campaign is offering the chance for any registered voter in his suburban Birmingham State House district to win a Remington 870 shotgun, or a certificate of equal value to buy a firearm, in return for the voter’s contact information.

“We thought it would be fun and add some real excitement to the campaign,” French told Yellowhammer. “I do feel strongly about protecting our Second Amendment rights, and this is one way for our campaign to show that, both in fun and sincere way all at the same time. Spring turkey season starts March 15 in most parts of Alabama. I hope the winner brings home a nice gobbler with the shotgun. What better way to recognize and celebrate the huge commitment Remington is making to our state?”

Here’s a screenshot of the promotion on French’s campaign website (click the image to visit his site):

Remington Shotgun Giveaway

Data collection has become a huge part of modern campaigns. The voter file that the Obama campaign built are widely touted as one of the primary reasons the president won re-election in 2012. Republicans have been playing catch up when it comes to “big data,” but the fact the a state house race is going to these lengths to acquire valuable contact information about potential voters shows just how far things have come.

It’s an innovative move by the French campaign. Do you think it will pay off? If you lived in his district (or if you do), would you sign up?


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

VIDEO: Alabama’s ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ motto played role in landing Remington


(Above: Gov. Bentley announces Remington is coming to Alabama, Remington CEO George Kollitides says the state’s motto played a role in getting them to come.)

HUNTSVILLE — Dozens of lawmakers, economic development advocates, and members of the press packed into the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon to welcome the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturer, Remington Outdoor Company, to Alabama.

“I am honored to welcome Remington to Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “The Alabama workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Alabama extremely attractive to companies. Remington will soon experience the same type of success that other companies in Alabama have already experienced. Today’s announcement will create more than 2,000 jobs in Huntsville, and reflects a statewide capital investment of $110 million. Our relationship with Remington is just beginning, and I look forward to a continued partnership with the company.”

Monday’s event was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work.

In the spring of 2013, Remington began looking at locations all over the country that could be potential sites for their massive planned expansion. A couple dozen states pursued the company. Nine sites in Alabama alone were presented as possible locations. But Remington’s CEO said the company decided very quickly that Huntsville, Ala. was the ideal location for their new facility.

For the next 6-8 months, Remington and Alabama officials engaged in a long series of discussions that were so secretive that most people actively involved in the project didn’t even know the name of the company they were pursuing; they only new the project’s code name — “Traveler.”

“With the acquisition of this facility, we plan to create 2,000 jobs in Huntsville over the next decade,” George Kollitides, Chairman and CEO, Remington Outdoor Company said. “This additional capacity is essential to fulfill demand and introduce new products. Having watched our Company grow from 2,400 employees in 2008 to 4,200 employees by the end of 2013, a five year, 75 percent increase, it is easy to see why we’re investing now.”

Remington had a record breaking year in 2013, expanding its ammunition facility, increasing its firearm capacity, winning numerous military and law enforcement contracts, launching its 1816 lifestyle brand and introducing a series of new products.

“2013 was an outstanding year during which we grew by every key measure,” Kollitides said. “We are capitalizing on this momentum by strengthening our positions across the board. With demand for our products at an historic high and more new product launches planned for 2014 than ever before in our 200-year history, we are investing in the future.”

Following facility upgrades, ROC is expected to begin operations in Alabama within the next 18 months.

Remington


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4 years ago

Remington Arms moving 2,000+ jobs from NY to Alabama

Remington

High level sources have informed Yellowhammer News that Remington, one of the world’s largest gun manufacturers, will on Monday join Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in announcing that they are bringing over 2,000 jobs to Alabama.

The company is viewing the move into Alabama as an expansion, but it will likely impact their Ilion, NY plant as well. The New York facility currently employees around 1,200 people. It is expected to stay open, but with a reduced workforce.

“The company is making the move as an expansion of capacity, production and research,” a source told Yellowhammer on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. “The demand for Remington products has skyrocketed recently, for obvious reasons, so they need to increase their production capacity. They will be expanding their research capabilities with the Alabama plant, too.”

The initial estimated impact on Alabama’s economy will be roughly $87 million.

According to Remington’s website, the company designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. Founded in 1816 in upstate New York, the Company is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating manufacturers. Remington is the only U.S. manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries.

Remington first began considering new locations after the New York legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn. In addition to banning magazines that contain more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks on ammo purchases,  the NY SAFE Act broadened the definition of so-called “assault weapons” to include a wide range of guns, including the Bushmaster, which was being manufactured at Remington’s New York plant.

Almost half the states in the country have made pitches to Remington, included Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. But in the end, the company chose Huntsville, Ala.

Remington

The optics could not be worse for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who told WCNY radio host Susan Arbetter about a month ago that “extreme conservatives” who are “right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay,” have “no place in the state of New York.”

Gov. Bentley and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard both immediately responded to Cuomo’s comments.

“In Alabama we strongly support and uphold our great U.S. Constitution on which our nation and our states were founded,” Bentley told Yellowhammer. “The Constitution serves to protect individual Freedoms. Among them are those guaranteed in the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. We will protect the Freedoms of individuals and welcome any one or any company to Alabama to discover as so many have, that we are a pro-business state filled with good, hardworking people.”

“If he doesn’t want hard working pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment people in his state, we will gladly take them here in Alabama,” Speaker Hubbard added.

It looks like that’s exactly what is happening.

Yellowhammer will have full coverage of the announcement on Monday.


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