December 2021 Group Watch: University of Alabama Gets $4M for Forensic Science

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby announced that the University of Alabama has been awarded $4 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice agency for the establishment of a National Center on Forensics. The University will establish and operate the center in partnership with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and the Alabama District Attorney’s Association. According to Senator Shelby’s office, the funding was allocated through the fiscal year 2021 “Consolidated Appropriations Act.” The center will serve to develop and implement scientific and technical educational opportunities with a concentration on underserved rural areas for the medical and legal communities. It will also provide forensic science and legal training to criminal justice professionals.

December 2021 Group Watch: Christmas on the River Turns 50

Christmas on the River, a beloved Demopolis tradition that features a parade of brilliantly lit up boats floating down the stretch of the Tombigbee River that runs through the city, celebrated its 50th year with the 2021 event, held earlier this month. Upwards of 20,000 people gather each year to kick-off the holiday season with the festive display. The Bloom Group’s founder Hal Bloom was instrumental in bringing the event to life when he was director of The Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce in 1972. Bloom’s contributions were honored at the 2021 event. Read more here. 

December 2021 Group Watch: Alabama Innovation Corporation Board Announced

State leadership announced the seating of the Alabama Innovation Corporation board of directors, a legislatively established public-private partnership. In July 2020, Governor Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission and its advisory council to develop policy recommendations aimed at spurring economic growth centered around entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. According to the governor’s office, the commission’s report focused on five key areas to address current issues facing the state’s economy. This included entrepreneurship and access to capital, talent attraction and retention, increasing commercialization, bridging digital and economic divides and workforce development. Members of the new Alabama Innovation Corporation board of directors include:
  • Governor Kay Ivey
  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon
  • Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed
  • House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels
  • Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton
  • Rich Bielen -Protective Life Corporation CEO
  • Dr. Michael Chambers University of South Alabama
  • Abe Harper -Harper Technologies president
  • David King -Dynetics president
  • Bill Poole -State of Alabama Finance Director
  • Britney Summerville -Birmingham Bound founder
Read more here.

December 2021 Group Watch: AL Power Partners with HData

HData, an early-stage regulatory technology startup delivering automated compliance and instant business intelligence to the U.S. regulated energy industry, announced a strategic partnership with Alabama Power Company and relocation to Birmingham. HData’s platform uses regulatory data to automate compliance and business intelligence for electric utilities, gas companies and oil pipelines. HData announced open positions, with the aim to recruit locally.

December 2021 Group Watch: Merry Christmas & Happy 2022 to You

It’s been a whirlwind year, and we at The Bloom Group are ready for a short slowdown to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones before we hop back into things come January. We hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year. Session begins almost as soon as 2022 begins, and we’re ready to monitor all the action and report to you. Watch for weekly editions of Group Watch, and as always, reach out to our team with any governmental relations needs. We are here to advocate for you.

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

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

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.



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.

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