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 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.

November 2021 Group Watch: Shipshape Building Operations Center in Birmingham

Austin, Texas-based Shipshape Solutions Inc. is building a network operations center in Birmingham. The center will be housed off U.S. 280 near downtown Birmingham. Shipshape will occupy the top floor of the building, which will also feature Shipshape signage. The company plans to grow to more than 750 employees by 2025. Company officials say the Birmingham-based network operations center will bring high-tech, high-wage jobs to the regions, including “home assistants” who help homeowners nationwide save time and money while taking care of their homes. Shipshape uses smart home hardware sensors, data analytics and software to operate a first-of-its-kind, proprietary smart home predictive maintenance platform that offers solutions to homeowners to reduce the costs of home maintenance and operations.

November 2021 Group Watch: UAB Earns High Global Ranking

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the top 10 percent of higher-education institutions globally. The ranking takes into account global and regional reputation alongside academic research performance. Performance metrics such as number of citations, publications and international collaboration are included in the determination. UAB ranked as the top institution in Alabama and No.147 out of 1,750 institutions ranked from more than 90 countries. UAB placed No. 56 for schools in the United States. In addition, U.S. News and World Report’s Best Global Universities listing used a separate methodology to publish the top global universities in 43 subject areas. The subject-specific rankings include 17 programs from UAB based on academic research performance. UAB has new or improved subject rankings in Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Oncology, Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Behavior, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging, Pharmacology and Toxicology and Psychiatry/Psychology.

November 2021 Group Watch: Gary Palmer’s Infrastructure Vote – An Opinion

Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer invoked the ire of many on the left when he supported a funding provision in the recent federal infrastructure act for Birmingham’s Northern Beltline project and then, voted against the act itself. In a recent opinion piece for, Cameron Smith, who once worked for Palmer, defended the move. Read it here.

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