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

A focus on Alabama families, resources for hurricane and COVID-19 relief and a spotlight the state’s bioscience sector make-up some of the major news topics this month.
  • Federal Assistance for AL Hurricane Survivors: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced that Hurricane Sally survivors in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties have been approved for more than $11 million in federal disaster assistance. At the end of September, FEMA had approved housing grants to individuals and families totaling $11,153,079. Of that amount, $8.9 million in Housing Assistance grants were approved for repairs to primary residences or for renting temporary housing, and $2.1 million was allocated for Other Needs Assistance grants to cover childcare, moving and storage, medical and dental expenses. The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved an additional $570,900 in long-term, low interest disaster loans to cover repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Sally.
  • State Creates Alabama Family CentralGovernor Ivey announced the creation of Alabama Family Central, a comprehensive, easy-to-use web and mobile destination that offers parents and families, guardians, teachers and caregivers a one-stop connection to programs and services in Alabama. Alabama Central was collaboratively created by state agencies and other partners to support Alabama families by compiling available state resources that can assist with issues related to the health and well-being of children. The Alabama Legislature is supporting this effort with $500,000 in funding from the Education Trust Fund budget.
  • AL Awarded $17.8 M Workforce GrantAlabama has been awarded $17.8 million to assist Alabama workers who have been displaced by COVID-19 develop new skills in high-demand industries. The funds will be administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce, on behalf of the State Workforce Investment Board. The Alabama Workforce Stabilization Program, under the criteria established in the grant competition, will help low-income Alabamians displaced by COVID-19 transition into new fields. The Alabama Community College System and the Alabama Technology Network will deliver the training programs throughout the duration of the grant. Manufacture Alabama President George Clark, who serves as Chair of the State Workforce Investment Board, helped secure this grant and will lead the implementation of the grant.

October 2020 Group Watch: CARES Act Status Update

Governor Ivey recently awarded $35 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to establish the Alabama Health Care and Emergency Response Providers grant program. The grants will support providers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. On a first-come-first serve basis, the state of Alabama will offer cash grants in amounts up to $15,000 for Alabama healthcare and emergency response providers who meet eligibility requirements. These providers include medical and dental offices, pharmacies, diagnostic labs, outpatient care centers, volunteer fire departments 911 boards and rescue squad organizations.

October 2020 Group Watch: State Bioscience Industry Shines

A recent event in Birmingham — headlined by U.S. Senator Doug Jones; Michell McMurry-Heath, CEO of BIO-Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Bob Hess of Newmark Knight Frank; and Dr. Regina Benjamin, an Alabama native and former U.S. Surgeon General — shone a spotlight on the importance and successes of Alabama’s bioscience sector. The state’s researchers and entrepreneurs have stepped up in a major way during the pandemic, making contributions that support diagnostic testing, potential treatments and vaccine development. The economic impact of Alabama’s bioscience industry is estimated at $7.3 billion. The sector encompasses 780 companies, 48,000 direct and indirect jobs, a $68,000 average annual salary, and received $1.3 billion in National Institutes of Health funding during a recent year.

October 2020 Group Watch: Mercedes Alabama Plant Producing Maybachs

Automaker Mercedes-Benz continues to make major investments in Alabama, and the first customer-ready Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 built in in the state rolled off the assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz facility in Tuscaloosa County in September. Mercedes unveiled the vehicle late last year, saying it represents a new form of luxury in the SUV segment, as the Maybach badge is reserved for the highest quality equipment and appointments. Starting prices have been estimated at $200,000 by industry trade reports. Mercedes parent Daimler has invested more that $6 billion in the Alabama auto assembly plant, which has produced more than three million vehicles since 1997.

October 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@thebloomgroup
Oct 12
Congratulations to my son Hannon and new daughter in law Hannah. Mr. and Mrs. Hannon Sanderson.

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

Prison progress, positive press for the state and more rounds of CARES Act funding top the political and economic development news in Alabama this month.
  • Alabama Department of Corrections Negotiating with Developer Teams: Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) announced the developer teams chosen from submissions in response to the ADOC’s Request for Proposals to improve the state’s prison infrastructure. The ADOC intends to enter into negotiations for three facilities: facility one has a proposed site in Bibb County to be developed Alabama Prison Transformation Partners comprised of Star America, Harbert International, Butler-Cohen, Arrington Watkins Architects and Johnson Controls, Inc.; facility two is proposed to be developed in Elmore County by CoreCivic, Caddell Construction, DLR Group and R&N Systems Design; facility three is proposed to be developed in Escambia County by CoreCivic, Caddell Construction, DLR Group and R&N Systems Design. The procurement process will include a confidential negotiation period to secure the best possible value for the state with construction anticipated to begin in early 2021.
  • Alabama Paying $300 A Week in Extra Unemployment: Alabama recently started paying the state’s unemployed workers $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits under a federal program that replaces the $600 a week in supplemental benefits that expired under the federal stimulus package in July. The lost wages assistance program provides $300 a week in addition to Alabama’s maximum $275-a-week benefit for unemployed workers. Alabama so far has been approved for four weeks of program benefits, from the week ending August 1 through the week ending August 22. The state will apply for future weeks and will be subject to approval from the federal program administered by FEMA.
  • Alabama Ranked a Top State for Biz in Area Development Survey: Site selection professionals surveyed by Area Development, a national publication, ranked Alabama among the top states for doing business, citing a range of factors that underpin a business-friendly environment. The state ranks No.6 overall and earned top-10 rankings in 10 of 13 different categories. The individual ranks are as follows: speed of permitting, No. 2; workforce development programs, No. 3; business incentives, No. 4; favorable regulatory environment, No. 5; available real estate, No. 5; competitive labor environment, No. 6; site readiness programs, No. 6; energy availability and costs, No. 6; cooperative and responsive state government, No. 6; and overall cost of doing business, No. 7.

September 2020 Group Watch: Internet Vouchers for Education in the Mail 

Alabama families waiting for vouchers to cover internet service should find them in their mailboxes no later than week’s end. The Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students voucher program is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Agency representatives say 250,000 vouchers have been mailed since August 24. The staggered mailing was designed to avoid overloading internet service providers. The vouchers are good for internet service through December 30 and are being made available through a $100 million allocation from the CARES Act funding. The voucher can be used to pay for existing service or to connect to new internet service. Every school district in Alabama is offering remote learning as an option for families worried about returning to in-person school.

September 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@RepublicService
Sept 16
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our charitable foundation is finding innovative ways to support neighborhood revitalization efforts across the U.S. through its National Neighborhood Promise program. Check out our impact to date: https://bit.ly/2FEbWpX #NeighborhoodPromise

September 2020 Group Watch: CARES Act Update

Governor Ivey has awarded $26 million of Coronavirus Relief Funds to assist Alabama agriculture impacted by COVID-19. These funds will be distributed seven programs: the Meat processing Plant Reimbursement Program, Catfish Processor Reimbursement Program, Fruit and Vegetable Processor Reimbursement Program, Direct Payment Business Stabilization Grants to Cattle Producers, State Supplemental CFAP Grant Program, Nursery Grower Reimbursement Program, and the Poultry Farmer Stabilization Grant Program. No funds may be used for salaries, building projects or capital improvement. The governor also awarded $10 million of Coronavirus Relief Funds for a statewide program to assist Alabama timber owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant program will be administered through the Alabama Forestry Commission and will include grants of up to $10,000 on a first-come, first-serve basis to qualifying timber owners who harvested timber in Alabama during the months March through July. Higher education institutions were awarded $72.34 million to support the purchase of technology and infrastructure related to remote instruction and distant learning. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund was allocated $300 million to be used to offset costs that are equally distributed to all tax-paying employers.

September 2020 Group Watch: Special Election Dates Set for Senate District 26

Governor Ivey has set the special election dates for Alabama Senate District 26 after the resignation of Senator David Burkette. The special primary election is set for Tuesday, November 17;  the special primary runoff, if necessary, for Tuesday, December 15; and the special general election for Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The deadline for qualifying with major political parties is Tuesday, September 15 at 5 p.m. The deadline for all independent candidate and/or minor parties is Tuesday, November 17 at 5 p.m.

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