Friday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that GE Appliances plans to invest $115 million in an expansion of its manufacturing facility in Decatur. The expansion will add 255 full-time jobs, bringing the plant’s total employment to nearly 1,300.
The investment will help GE Appliances increase production to meet increasing demand for its top-mounted freezer refrigerators and represents the company’s latest step toward fulfilling a strategic goal of becoming the leading major appliance business in the U.S.
“The expansion being announced today by GE Appliances reflects the company’s deep commitment to its employees at the Decatur facility and to the state,” Governor Ivey said. “We’re proud that this great company calls Alabama home, and we look forward to supporting the continued growth of a manufacturing location that has a substantial economic impact on the area.”
The expansion will add approximately 40,000 square feet to the plant, along with new cutting-edge manufacturing equipment that further advances GE Appliances’ plan to transition to a fully interconnected digital factory.
“Today’s expansion announcement is a reflection of the company’s commitment to our Decatur community and a testament to the accomplishments of the GEA-Decatur team,” Decatur Plant Manager Renee Story said. “This investment means we will not only be able to welcome more than 250 new associates and enhance our skill level, but also expand our relationships with local suppliers. We appreciate support from the State of Alabama, the City of Decatur, the Morgan County Commission, the Morgan Country Economic Development Association, and the Tennessee Valley Authority in helping make this investment possible.”
The Decatur operation is already the highest-volume GE Appliances refrigerator plant, producing GE and Hotpoint products that rank high in quality and dependability. It is also the largest industrial employer in Moran County and does $65 million a year in business with suppliers across Alabama. This advanced equipment and the expansion will boost production capacity by 25 percent and make the Decatur plant a “refrigerator super site” for GE Appliances.
“Our announcement today is great news for our business, for our GE Appliances family in Decatur, and for the State of Alabama,” said Kevin Nolan, President and CEO of GE Appliances. “Our $115 million investment in Decatur is a critical part of our plan to be the leading appliances business in the United States. We are already a significant member of the local Decatur community, and look forward to a continued partnership with Decatur and the entire state of Alabama for many years to come.”
“GE Appliances’ decision to make a significant reinvestment in its Decatur manufacturing center and expand its workforce are strong indicators of the confidence the company has in its Alabama operation,” said Alabama Secretary of Commerce. “This expansion project strengthens the long-term partnership we have built with GE Appliances and enhances the competitiveness of the Decatur facility.”
The expansion of the Decatur plant comes as GE Appliances recently marked the second anniversary of becoming part of Haier, the world’s largest appliance brand. Since joining Haier in June 2016, GE Appliances has made a series of other major investments at its U.S facilities.
Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Over the past few years, GE Appliances has made noteworthy investments in facilities around the United States, and GE’s most recent announcement is a testament to the company’s confidence in Alabama’s workforce, business climate, and quality of life.”
“The expansion of GE Appliances’ manufacturing facility will generate another significant economic boost for Decatur and Morgan County,” Nicole Jones told APR. “Every high-paying primary job creates an estimated 2.5 secondary/service-related jobs, resulting in more folks employed and spending money in and around the Decatur area – which is excellent news that a hardworking, dedicated community deserves.”
“A major employer for over 40 years, GE Appliances is a fixture in Decatur-Morgan County,” said Jeremy Nails, president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association. “This announcement of new investment and jobs is a reflection of our local workforce, business climate, and economic momentum. We are grateful to GE Appliances for this expansion and look forward to supporting their local operations through this growth.
Kay Ivey has presided over the strongest Alabama economy in the history of the state and has made announcements that will generate thousands of more jobs, most notably the new Toyota-Mazda plant in Limestone County. Ivey hopes that the unprecedented economic success will translate into Alabama voters coming to the polls on November 5 to re-elect her and to return Republican supermajorities to the Alabama Legislature.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox is the Democratic Party nominee for Governor.
Alabama DHR announces grants providing temporary assistance for stabilizing child care
The Alabama Department of Human Resources announced on Friday a new grant program to provide assistance to licensed child care providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care, or TASCC, grant program’s purpose is to stabilize the number of child care providers that are open and providing services, as well as encourage providers to reopen.
DHR is now accepting applications for TASCC grants. The deadline to apply is August 7, 2020. The total grant amounts will be based on each provider’s daytime licensed capacity with a base rate of $300 per child.
To be eligible for a grant, licensed providers must be open or plan to reopen no later than August 17, 2020, and continue to remain open for a period of one year from the date of receiving the grant award. As of this week, 1,306 of Alabama’s 2,448 child care facilities were open in the state.
“We are proud to offer this program as a support and an incentive to an important sector of our economy. These grants will give the support many providers need to reopen and assist those already open,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “This program is going to be vital for our child care numbers to reach the level required to provide adequate services as parents return to work. We have already made significant strides in reopening facilities over the past several months; in April only 14 percent were open while now 53 percent are open.”
These grants will provide support for paying employees, purchasing classroom materials, providing meals, purchasing cleaning supplies, providing tuition relief for families, as well as other facility expenses.
DHR recommends child care providers read all guidance prior to submitting a TASCC application. Child care providers need to complete the application to determine the estimated grant amount. Grant applications will be processed as they are received and grants awarded once approved.
An online fillable application is available for the TASCC grant at www.dhr.alabama.gov/child-care/. The application must include an Alabama STAARS Vendor Code in order to be processed. For questions regarding the application, please email DHR at [email protected].
Gov. Ivey awards grant for new system to aid child abuse victims
Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $375,000 grant to establish a statewide network that will ensure that victims of child abuse receive immediate and professional medical care and other assistance.
The grant will enable the Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics to collaborate with the Alabama Network of Children Advocacy Centers in creating the Child Abuse Medical System.
“Child abuse is a horrendous crime that robs children of their youth and can negatively affect their future if victims do not receive the proper professional assistance,” Ivey said. “I am thankful for this network that will ensure children get the professional attention they need and deserve.”
The medical system will be a coordinated statewide resource that includes pediatric physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and other medical professionals along with specialized sexual assault nurse examiners.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant.
“ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey and those dedicated people who are part of the Child Abuse Medical System to support these children at a time they need it most,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.
Ivey notified Tom Shufflebarger, CEO of Children’s of Alabama, that the grant had been approved.
ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.
U.S. Attorney Jay Town announces resignation
Jay Town, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, on Friday announced his resignation and plans to work at a Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company.
Town’s resignation will be effective Wednesday, July 15, according to a press release.
“After much thoughtful prayer and great personal consideration, I have made the decision to resign as the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Alabama. I have tendered my resignation to Attorney General William Barr. General Barr expressed his gratitude for my service to the Department of Justice and to the Northern District and, despite having hoped I would continue in my role, understood and respected my decision,” Town said in a statement.
“I am extremely grateful to President Trump, to whom I also tendered a letter, for his special trust and confidence in me to serve as the U.S. Attorney. It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town continued.
Town said his job with the unnamed Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company is to begin later this year, and the company is to announce his position “in a few weeks.”
“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” Town said in the release.
Town has served in his position since confirmation by the U.S. Senate in August 2017. Prior to that appointment, Town was a prosecutor in the Madison County District Attorney’s office from 2005 until 2017.
Attorney General William Barr in a statement Friday offered gratitude for Town’s three years of service.
“Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense. His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive, especially his work on the China Initiative and most recently as a Working Group Chair on the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best,” Barr said in a statement.
The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019 notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the department’s lengthy investigation into the state’s prisons for men found systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs and corruption which are likely violations of the inmates’ Constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment.
Town’s office leads the discussions between the U.S Department of Justice and the state on the prison conditions.
Problems with violence, deaths and drugs in Alabama’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons have not markedly improved in the year’s since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report.
Alabama’s daily COVID-19 deaths second highest since start of pandemic
In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.
Alabama saw 35 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, the second highest daily number of deaths since the pandemic began.
The previous record daily high was May 12, when the state recorded 37 coronavirus deaths. Prior to that, the high was on April 22, when Alabama saw 35 deaths from the virus. In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.
While cases have been surging since mid-June, deaths have largely remained stable. Deaths are considered a lagging indicator, meaning that it takes longer for deaths to begin rising after cases and hospitalizations begin rising.
“The fact that we’re seeing these sharp increases and hospitalization in cases over the past week or two is really concerning,” said UAB expert Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom earlier this week. “And we expect, given the lag that we know there is between cases and hospitalization — about a two-week lag, and a three-week lag between cases and deaths — that we’re on a part of the curve that we just don’t want to be on in our state.”
It’s unclear whether this new rise in deaths will become a trend, or whether it is a one-day anomaly, but the 14-day average of deaths per day is now nearly as high as the previous peak on May 14 — weeks after the state hit its first “peak” in cases per day in late April. The previous high of the 14-day average of deaths per day was 16 on May 14. The average is now at 14 deaths per day, on average.
The uptick in deaths comes after days of record-high new daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The state added 1,304 new COVID-19 cases Friday, down from Thursday’s record-high of 2,164, but the trend of rising daily cases has continued largely unabated since early June.
The 14-day average of daily tests was at an all-time high Friday, at 8,125, which was 308 more tests than the previous high, set Wednesday. The percent of tests that were positive also increased, however, so the new cases can’t be attributed solely to more testing.
The 14-day average of the percent positivity was 14.22 on Friday. Excluding Thursday’s figure, because the Alabama Department of Public Health didn’t publish total tests administered on Thursday, which threw off percent positive figures, Friday’s 14-day average was the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were a few higher 14-day average percent positivity days in April, but those numbers were skewed as well, because ADPH wasn’t able to collect all testing data from commercial labs during that time period.
Along with surging new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Thursday was higher than it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. On Thursday 1,125 coronavirus patients were being treated in state hospitals, which was the fifth straight day of record current hospitalizations.
UAB Hospital’s COVID-19 Intensive care units were nearing their existing capacity earlier this week. The hospital has both a COVID ICU and a COVID acute care unit designated to keep patients separated from those who don’t have the virus, but it has more space in other non-COVID units should it need to add additional bed space.
Hospitals in Madison County this week are also seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients. Paul Finley, the mayor of the city of Madison, told reporters Wednesday that local hospitals were reporting record numbers.