January 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Leaders and legislators are gearing up for the 2020 session and already discussing issues from sales taxes to medical marijuana. Plus, more positive business news means the new year is off to a good start.

  • Senator Clyde Chambliss Looking to Repeal Grocery Sales Tax: State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) recently revealed he would head an effort to repeal Alabama’s sales tax on groceries. Alabama, along with Mississippi and South Dakota, are the only states to levy sales taxes on groceries, which is 4 percent. When combined with other local sales taxes, the amount can be up to 11 percent in some parts of the state. Many believe there is support for the concept, but the challenge is how to replace the revenue reduction. Chambliss said he is researching funding options and looks to have a proposal for the upcoming session, which begins February 4.
  • AG Explains His Opposition To Medical Marijuana: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told legislators in a letter that he opposes a proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana products for medical use in Alabama. He noted his work on the state’s ongoing crisis of opioid addiction and overdoses and said there is no evidence that medical marijuana could help that problem, and that it could actually compound it. The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission voted to recommend a bill that would regulate how patients with certain conditions could use medical marijuana products under a doctor’s supervision. The proposed legislation would regulate how products are cultivated, processed, tested, transported, packaged, advertised, sold and taxed.

January 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@thebloomgroup
Jan 14
First Alabama woman state senator, an education champion, turns 90.

January 2020 Group Watch: HMMA Registers Production Gain

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama auto assembly plant in Montgomery produced 336,000 vehicles in 2019, a total output that rose about 4 percent over the previous year. The Santa Fe SUV was the primary contributor to the production increase at the plant, where workers also build the Sonata and Elantra sedans and a recently redesigned Sonata. Earlier in 2019, the plant celebrated the grand opening of its new cylinder head engine plant, a $388-million, 50-job project. The total engine production for 2019 was 472,254.

January 2020 Group Watch: Wood Pellet Factory Announced

It was recently announced that a $100 million wood pellet factory will be built in Demopolis. The plant will be located on the Tombigbee River so that pellets can be readily loaded on barges for shipment. The plant is scheduled to start production during the first half of 2021. Wood pellets are mainly used as a fuel for heating sources in Europe. Alabama has the second largest timberland base in the nation, and Demopolis is a growing hub for the timber industry in Alabama. A wood pellet factory is also under construction in Sumter County.

January 2020 Group Watch: Gov Appoints Dr. Tommie Stewart to State BOE

Governor Kay Ivey appointed Dr. Tommie Stewart to the State Board of Education. The appointment fills the District 5 seat that became vacant after the death of Board member Ella Bell in November 2019. Dr. Stewart is the former dean of Alabama State University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. She hit the ground running, attending her first board meeting days after the appointment. Dr. Stewart has degrees from Jackson State University, the University of California Santa Barbara and Florida State University.

January 2020 Group Watch: Ascend Performance Materials Announces Expansion

Ascend Performance Materials announced that it has finalized plans for a $175 million project to expand production capacity at its Decatur manufacturing facility and construct energy co-generation units at the site. The project will add 10 high-end manufacturing jobs to Houston-based Ascend’s Alabama workforce, which exceeds 400 people. The co-generation units will reduce emissions at the facility by 60 percent. In addition, the construction project at the Ascend facility, one of only four in the world that produces adiponitrile (ADN) on a large scale, will generate 150 skilled jobs by its completion. The construction is scheduled begin in the second quarter of 2020, with completion set for late 2021.

December 2019 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Economic development wins keep making positive news across the state, making for some happy holidays.

  • Montgomery Factory Plans $25M Expansion: A 40-year-old door hinge factory along the outskirts of Montgomery is pouring $25 million into upgrades and expects to hire 51 more people. Family-owned, St. Louis-based Hager Companies uses the facility to build and ship commercial hinges as well as several other products, including door closures, locks and even security systems. The current operation employs more than 240 people. As part of the expansion, a new warehouse will be built with an automated storage and retrieval system. The new warehouse should be completed in about a year; the entire upgrade is expected to take about three years.
  • Carpenter Technology Opens AL Additive Manufacturing Center: Carpenter Technology announced the opening of its newest advanced additive manufacturing facility and Emerging Technology Center at its production campus in Athens. The company has invested approximately $40 million to date and is expected create approximately 60 jobs over the next five years, as well as help further the region’s position as an advanced manufacturing technology center. The Emerging Technology Center investment complements Carpenter Technology’s 500,000-square-foot A facility, which began operations in 2014. The facility produces high-end specialty alloy products, primarily for the aerospace and energy markets.
  • Samuel Associated Tube Group Plans $29 Million Alabama Expansion: Samuel Associated Tube Group will invest $29 million to build a new manufacturing facility in Jefferson County, an expansion project that will create new jobs and prepare for future growth. The company, which manufactures small diameter, electric resistance-welded and fabricated carbon steel tubing, is teaming with a developer to build a new 284,000-square-foot facility. The company has had a presence in Jefferson County since 1993 and currently employs 190. The expansion will add 50 new employees and is expected to be fully operational before the end of 2020.

December 2019 Group Watch: Tweets of the Month


@thebloomgroup
Dec 13
Happy Birthday Alabama!!! #AL200
———————-
@GovernorKayIvey
Dec 13

I want to personally invite you to join me here, in beautiful downtown Montgomery, on Saturday, December 14 to celebrate Alabama’s 200 birthday! Make plans to attend the parade, concert & a host of other free events by visiting https://alabama200.org/alabama-200-birthday-celebration/…. #AL200 #AL200Countdown

December 2019 Group Watch: Gov. Awards Census Grants

Governor Ivey recently announced grant awards to entities throughout Alabama to support efforts to promote, educate and encourage participation among Alabamians in the 2020 Census. The funds provided by the legislature will go to 34 government agencies and organizations for programs to increase Alabama’s self-response rate during the 2020 Census next spring. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is administering the grants from funding allocated by the legislature in the 2019-20 Education Trust Fund Budget. ADECA acts as the liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau and the lead state agency for the 2020 Census outreach and preparation.

December 2019 Group Watch: AL Board Of Ed Replacing Math Standards With New AL-Created Math Standards

The Alabama State Board of Education recently voted to adopt a new set of mathematics standards that are poised to pave the way towards academic success for Alabama students. The new standards were developed over almost two years by the Alabama Mathematics Course of Study (COS) Committee comprised of veteran Alabama teachers, professors, administrators, business and industry leaders, and other stakeholders who thoroughly understand the minute details involved with the establishment of educational standards. This committee bought to the table more than 300 years of collective teaching experience in Alabama classrooms, working directly with Alabama students from kindergarten to college-level.

“Over the past 22 months, a committee of esteemed education and business leaders have developed a revised Mathematics Course of Study that replaces, once and for all, Common Core with Alabama-designed standards,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “These are Alabama standards created by Alabama teachers and will be a great starting point to ensuring our students will be proficient in each grade level.”

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