February 10, 2020 Group Watch: State Leaders Stress Importance of Census

In March, the 2020 Census begins, and 100-percent statewide participation is key for Alabama’s future. State leaders outlined why it is so critical, saying it could be the most important census in state history, while urging all Alabamians to get counted. With proper participation, the federal government will have an accurate population number for the state, a statistic that is essential. Director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs pointed out that the count directly affects the level of the state’s federal funding, funding that supports a wide range of programs affecting infrastructure and healthcare to education. There are $13 billion dollars on the line. But the state’s population also affects its representation in Congress. A low count could lead to Alabama losing a seat (even two), and therefore, having less of a voice on Capitol Hill. Participation is easy and is estimated to take only five minutes, and it can be done on the phone, online or through the mail.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: AL Republicans Tout Gov Ivey’s State of the State Address

Alabama’s Republican leaders had only good things to say about Ivey’s recent State of the State speech and the plans and initiatives she laid out in it, saying her past performance and the goals she highlighted in the address are why she’s got some of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country. Read more here.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: House Minority Leader’s State of the State Response

“Promise in direction” is how House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels characterized the plans put forth in Governor Ivey’s State of the State address. But he also said he believes even more can be done to address a host of challenges in Alabama. He called for more funding for education, pointing to the state’s poor performance on standardized math tests, as well as for solutions to provide access to affordable healthcare and for the state’s continuing criminal justice issues.

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

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.

The Bloom Group, Inc.

401 Adams Avenue, Suite 710
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Telephone: (334) 244-8948
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