November 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The second special legislative session ended earlier this month and succeeded in getting a good bit done.

Several major economic development wins for the state came to light this month too. Amazon delivered some great news, announcing three new facilities in three cities that mark major investment from the company.

UAB earned some top marks in an international ranking, and other state higher ed institutions scored too, with Governor Ivey announcing a wave of grant money soon to flow their way.

All combined, there’s plenty to be thankful for this month. And at The Bloom Group, we’re extremely grateful for our clients. Thank you for letting us represent you, and we hope you and your families have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with good food, fellowship and fun.

November 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

@egmackey
Nov 17
Thank you teachers for all that you do — we sincerely appreciate your hard work and dedication to our students and our state! #ThankALTeachers Week is a way for Alabamians to show gratitude for our teachers. Learn more about#ThankALTeachers Week at http://weteachalabama.com.

November 2021 Group Watch: Results of Second 2021 Special Legislative Session

The Alabama Legislature adjourned its second special session after approving new district lines for state House and Senate seats, congressional seats and state school board posts. Following the U.S. census that is conducted every 10 years, states are required to reapportion districts based upon population changes and current demographic data, which prompted the governor to call the session. The special session call also included legislation authorizing $80 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to be distributed to Alabama hospitals and nursing homes. Many nursing homes and hospitals across the state, particularly in rural areas, are experiencing financial distress heightened by the pandemic. Though not in the call, the legislature also approved two bills designed to address presidential executive order mandates. One of the bills provides exemptions to COVID vaccination mandates for individuals with religious or medical objections, and the other allows the attorney general to seek injunctive relief from the courts as a remedy for violations.

Senate_Summary_Report_2021_2nd_Special_Session.05

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November 2021 Group Watch: Gov Ivey Awards $4.8 Million Grants

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) announced that Governor Ivey has awarded $4.85 million in grants towards new and continuing innovation-focused research. Awarded from the Alabama Research and Development Enhancement Fund, the grants will be allocated to five Alabama universities and one research institution. The state-funded program was created by the legislature in 2019 under the Alabama Innovation Act. Those receiving grants are as follows:
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville: $603,206 to train students on advanced manufacturing processes.
  • HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology: $968,365 for the development of better agriculture seed varieties.
  • University of North Alabama: $10,353 to research the development of an ultra-sensitive biosensor aimed at improvements in the food and healthcare industries.
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham: $700,000 for the development of a process to improve the effectiveness of a procedure used to assist amputees.
  • Auburn University: $727,677 to research the production of certain jet and diesel fuels: $2,994,008 to research converting organic waste into bioplastics; $268,353 to research polymer smart machines; and $300,432 to develop expanded application of soybean hulls.
  • University of Alabama: $341,679 to conduct research to improve building and transportation infrastructure.

November 2021 Group Watch: Jo Bonnor Named President of University of South Alabama

Jo Bonner, the former Alabama congressman who more recently has served as chief of staff to Governor Kay Ivey, will be the fourth president to lead the University of South Alabama. The Board of Trustees voted 11-2 in favor of Bonner’s selection at a special meeting. Bonner has decades of service to the state of Alabama in governmental and educational capacities. He was elected to congress in 2002, where he served on the influential House Appropriations Committee. From 2013-2018 Bonner served as vice chancellor for economic development at the University of Alabama System. During his final year with the university, he also served as interim director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority. He assumed the role of chief of staff for the Ivey administration in 2019. According to the University of South Alabama, the board will formally introduce Bonner as president at its next regular board meeting on December 2.

November 2021 Group Watch: Rep. Patrice McClammy Sworn Into Father’s Seat

Representative Patrice McClammy was sworn in as representative for the Alabama Legislature’s House District 76 on November 17. The seat became vacant when her father, longtime state lawmaker Thad McClammy, passed away in August. McClammy said she’s ready to get right to work and called the day a “joyous occasion,” while also saying it made her think of her dad.

November 2021 Group Watch: Telemedicine Startup Establishing Headquarters in Birmingham

Florida-based telemedicine startup MomentMD is establishing a headquarters in Birmingham after receiving an investment from the Alabama Futures Fund (AFF), a seed-stage venture capital fund created to support entrepreneurial activity in the state. MomentMD has developed a comprehensive telemedicine platform designed to optimize personal healthcare, with an initial emphasis on serving uninsured and high-deductible health plan patients, as well as college students. The company also offers pet care through a network of veterinarians. Birmingham is believed to be a natural fit for the company because the city is home to one of the nation’s largest academic medical centers, UAB, and a dynamic health startup community. The MomentMD platform will include access to participating healthcare specialists all over the nation, which allows patients to locate specialists with a particular expertise. Participating healthcare practitioners can order labs or issue prescriptions online through the MomentMD platform.

November 2021 Group Watch: Amazon Expands in AL

Governor Ivey announced that Amazon.com Inc. plans to open three new operations facilities in Alabama while launching a new fulfillment center that will support customer deliveries across the state. The projects, located in Huntsville, Montgomery and Birmingham, will ultimately create more than 900 jobs. In Addition, Amazon said it plans to add more than 500 full-time positions in Alabama before the end off 2021, with preparations in place for another 1,800 available seasonal jobs. The new Amazon facilities coming to Alabama are:
  • Birmingham Delivery Station: This new station will employ approximately 150 people and create indirect job opportunities for hundreds of people through the empowerment of the Delivery Service Partner program.
  • Huntsville XL Fulfilment Center: The XL Non -Sortable facility is designed to receive, store and package heavy or bulky items like home appliances. This facility will provide more than 250 full-time jobs and will utilize innovative technologies and energy-efficient, zero-emission power industrialized truck equipment.
  • Montgomery Receive Center: In 2022, Amazon will open an Inbound Cross Dock facility that will receive and consolidate items from vendors and facilitate shipment to fulfillment centers.

November 2021 Group Watch: Gov Ivey Staff Updates

Governor Ivey has made additions and changes in her executive staff. She named two new deputy chiefs of staff, Brooks McClendon and Nathan Lindsay. She also added to finance director Bill Poole’s duties. He will serve as senior advisor in addition to his current role. These announcements come on the heels of Ivey appointing Liz Dowe Filmore to fill the chief of staff vacancy left by Jo Bonner, who is now the President of the University of South Alabama. Read more here.

November 2021 Group Watch: Rural AL Sees Economic Development Increase

Economic development activity in Alabama’s rural counties ticked higher during the first half of 2021, building on growth projects that were launched in theses areas last year despite the challenges of a pandemic. Preliminary, year-to-date results show that projects locating in Alabama’s 40 “targeted” counties will generate at least $850 million in new capital investment in these areas. Projects already announced in 2021 will also bring close to 1,000 new jobs to these rural counties, which all have fewer than 50,000 residents. Combined with job creation from 2020, the total rises to almost 3,000 new jobs for rural communities across Alabama, along with around $1.5 billion in investment in that time frame.

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