August 30, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Bright Spots in Alabama's Economy


1.  Austal To Expand, Hire 1,000 More Employees in Mobile


MOBILE -- Gov. Robert Bentley recently announced a $5 million project agreement between the state and Austal USA that will help the shipbuilder add up to 1,000 full-time jobs in Mobile. The Phase V Agreement, a five-year project that will help Austal continue its workforce expansion, will provide employee training services Alabama Industrial Development Training.


Austal currently employs about 3,000 people to build Joint High Speed Vessels and littoral combat ships for the U.S. Navy. Under a current project agreement, that number is expected to grow by an additional 600. Once the Phase V Agreement is complete, Austal expects to have 4,600 employees in Mobile.


2.  Cooperation Lauded in Effort To Attract Walgreens To Shoals


Corporate officials from Walgreens applauded the cooperation of local and state leaders during a news conference at Muscle Shoals City Hall. In addition to 350 more jobs coming to the Shoal during the next three years, plans also call for a $3.5 million capital investment in the expansion that involves an additional 16,000 square foot expansion.


Troy Mills, divisional vice president for customer care for Walgreens, said his company was impressed with the bipartisan effort from local legislators to pass legislation in March that created a permitting process to allow the call center to continue its current operation and expand. "It really was democracy in action, to push through something that can generally take five to six months and do it in basically a month," he said.

3.  Mercedes To Create 45 New Jobs in Tuscaloosa County

VANCE -- Mercedes-Benz is trying to gain a foothold for its Alabama-made luxury SUVs in fast-growing Asian markets through a new partnership with a logistics firm that has created at least 45 jobs in Tuscaloosa County and the potential for more.

The German automaker and BLG Logistics outlined details of their plan to produce and ship SKD, or Semi Knocked Down, kits for the M-Class and GL-Class SUVs to India, Indonesia and Thailand.

4.  Honda To Add 50 Employees, Invest $115 Million in Alabama Plant

Honda plans to invest an additional $115 million and fill 50 new positions in its Alabama operations. The company is also making a major change in the plant's shifts to meet growing demand.

In January, the factory will move to a two-shift work schedule of four, 10-hour days per week (Monday through Thursday) for most vehicle assembly operations. Honda employs more than 4,000 people at its $2 billion plant in Lincoln, where it produces the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup.

Honda has announced nearly 300 new jobs and $390 million in new investment in Lincoln since last fall to increase production capacity and prepare for the addition of the Acura MDX SUV to its assembly lines next year, among other projects.

5.  Alabama Exports Rise Faster than National Average


Alabama exports are increasing at a faster pace than the national average. Merchandise exports from Alabama grew at more than twice the national average through the first six months of 2012, according to a new report from the International Trade Administration.


Alabama merchandise exports increased to $10.1 billion in the first half of 2012. That's up 16 percent from $8.7 billion from the same period in 2011. The national growth rate for merchandise exports was 7 percent.


Exports were also up for several of the state's top merchandise export destinations, including the United Kingdom (up 68 percent), Germany (up 55 percent) and Mexico (up 40 percent).


The state's key sectors for merchandise exports are transportation equipment, chemicals, minerals and ores, primary metals and machinery.


6.  Amtex Expansion To Create 110 Jobs


A global automotive supplier in Jasper has announced an expansion that will bring more than 100 new jobs to the area.

Amtex, a tier one supplier for automotive parts to Japanese and domestic manufacturers, will establish a new facility in Jasper. The manufacturing plant will be located in the Tom Bevill Industrial Park, near the company’s current location. The company manufactures carpet and interior trim components for the automotive industry. Construction has already begun on the plant.


7.  DRS Technologies To Open in Andalusia


DRS Technologies will open a new operation at South Alabama Regional Airport in Andalusia.


The company’s focus is defense technology, and it develops, manufactures and supports a broad range of systems for the military and Homeland Security. At SARA, it will do aircraft maintenance and upgrades.


Ed Boyington, DRS vice president and general manager for aviation and logistics, said one of the keys for the company’s decision to open there was location. “There are plenty of empty hangars,” he said. “They’re just not in as good a physical location as this one.” Boyington said the proximity to Eglin, Hurlburt Field, Pensacola Naval Station, special ops, and Ft. Rucker made the local airport an attractive location. “Just as important,” he said, “is the environment you and your team across the board have set for business.


8.  Money Magazine Names Auburn One of Top Places To Live in U.S.


Money Magazine named Auburn among the top 100 places to live in its list of the best small cities in the U.S.


“We’re proud of this recognition of Auburn as a great place to live. We’re passionate about our home here in Auburn, and we’ll continue to work hard to make sure that Auburn continues to be one of the best places to live in the U.S.,” Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. said.


Auburn was ranked 89th on America’s Best Places to Live 2012 list. Carmel, Ind., topped the list, and Ann Arbor, Mich., came in at No. 100. Auburn was the only Alabama city to make the list, according to the city. The list was published online at, the website for the magazine, and is in the September print issue.


9.  Firestone To Double Size of Tuscumbia Manufacturing Facility


BIRMINGHAM -- Firestone Building Products will more than double the size of its manufacturing plant in Tuscumbia. Construction will begin in September on the 150,000-square-foot addition to the plant, which produces roofing membranes that provide resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure. The work is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2013.
By July 2015, an additional manufacturing line will start up, creating about 40 jobs.
"Expansion to the Firestone Shoals plant will allow us to gain some much-needed warehouse space for the short term and increase our manufacturing capabilities to meet customer demand in the future," Tim Dunn, president of Firestone Building Products, said.


10. Two Companies Expand Facilities in St. Clair County


Two companies in northern St. Clair County announced expansions and new jobs this month. Rain Bird and Yachiyo Manufacturing of Alabama facility, located in Steele, announced expansions and will create over 70 new jobs.


Rain Bird Corporation is currently the leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services. It located a manufacturing, assembly and distribution facility in Steele in 2008 in the building previously occupied by Saks.  After opening with 25 employees, the facility has announced two expansions, which will raise their employee number to more than 70 employees.  The expansion includes a capital investment in the facility’s equipment of $2.4 million.


Yachiyo Manufacturing of Alabama is an automotive supplier specializing in automotive frame parts for the Honda facility in Lincoln. The company, headquartered near Tokyo, originated in 1951 as a component painter for Honda motorcycle parts.

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