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U.S. Dept. of Commerce awards funds to Mobile, Tallassee for booming Alabama manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) on Tuesday announced that it is awarding a $500,000 grant to support the development of the new Flight Works Alabama Aviation Education Center in Mobile and a $2.4 million grant to the city of Tallassee to make critical infrastructure upgrades and improvements needed to enhance the competitiveness of the local business community.

Aviation Education Center, Inc. is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (President Donald Trump’s tax cuts) designated “Opportunity Zone,” providing special incentives for further private sector participation and development.

“President Trump is committed to helping businesses acquire the skilled workforce that they need to succeed,” U.S. assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming said in a statement. “Aviation Education Center, Inc., plays a critical role in developing highly-skilled and interested students, who will help the Mobile area grow and become more resilient to the economic impact of natural disasters.”

The Mobile project will contribute to economic diversification in a region that has been impacted by natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma. The funding was made possible through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional economic adjustment assistance funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), as the powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, played an integral leading role in that budget legislation.

“The new Flight Works Alabama Aviation Education Center will help provide Mobile’s future workforce with the necessary preparation to pursue opportunities in the aerospace industry,” Shelby said. “The facility will host professional training for individuals, equipping them with the skills needed to be successful in a competitive job market. I am grateful for EDA’s continued investment in Alabama’s workforce development and look forward to the growth made possible by this $500,000 grant.”

Tallassee

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross personally announced the $2.4 million grant to the city of Tallassee on Tuesday. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 10 jobs, retain 2,059 jobs and spur an additional $455,000 in private investment.

This project will upgrade Tallassee’s sewer collection system and construct a new, modern treatment plant to support the region’s industrial and business community.

“Infrastructure is important to the Trump Administration because it helps further propel economic advancements in our country,” Ross stated. “This investment in the city of Tallassee and the surrounding region will provide the tools necessary for business growth in the advanced manufacturing, healthcare and automotive sectors.”

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.

Governor Kay Ivey and Shelby both voiced their appreciation and support for the important investment and public-private collaboration.

“It’s my mission as governor to help plant seeds for opportunity across every corner of Alabama. Enhancing infrastructure is a necessary component for future growth,” Ivey said. “I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross for selecting Tallassee, Alabama to receive these critical enhancements. The Trump Administration clearly understands that infrastructure must be a priority to foster a thriving economy, and I am proud to support those efforts.”

Shelby stated,“This $2.4 million EDA grant will play a vital role in generating growth and economic development in and around Tallassee. The water and wastewater system upgrades will improve quality of life for residents and promote efficiency throughout the local business community, allowing for further expansion. I look forward to seeing the impact this grant will have on Tallassee and the surrounding region.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn