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Shelby’s Chief of Staff Katie Britt chosen to lead Business Council of Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., announced the departure of his chief of staff, Katie Boyd Britt, following the official notice of her decision to serve as President and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, a non-partisan business association representing companies throughout the state.

“Katie Britt is an exceptional choice to serve as CEO of the Business Council of Alabama,” said Senator Shelby. “She has been invaluable as my chief of staff over the last several years. Although I am disappointed to see her go, I know that my loss is BCA’s gain. Throughout Katie’s time in my office, she demonstrated a unique ability to solve any problem. Not only did she work as my top advisor on all matters, but she also developed bipartisan relationships with lawmakers, top committee and leadership staff, and stakeholders to successfully negotiate complex issues and legislation. Katie understands the intersection of business and politics. I have no doubt that her experience in Alabama and the Senate will establish her as an asset to BCA.”

“We are excited to welcome Katie as the BCA’s new president,” said Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite, who chairs the BCA’s Executive Committee. “As the top staff member for Senator Shelby, she has worked daily with businesses and elected officials from around Alabama and the country. She also has a special ability to work with and unite people from all walks of life. She has all of the tools we were looking for to support the business growth across the state that will drive our economy in the years ahead.”

BCA Executive Committee Member Carl Jamison said Britt brought to the table the qualities and experience needed to successfully move BCA forward.

“BCA has an important responsibility to its members and to our state moving forward,” Jamison said. “With Katie’s energy and experiences in Montgomery and Washington, she understands the constructive role BCA can play.”

“I am grateful for Katie’s leadership and ability to prioritize what’s best for our state. It is with pride that I wish her, Wesley, Bennett, and Ridgeway all the best as they return to Alabama,” concluded Shelby.

Katie Boyd Britt is a native of Enterprise. She has served as chief of staff to Senator Shelby since 2016, following her role as deputy campaign manager and communications director during the Senator’s most recent reelection campaign.

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“My heart is in Alabama,” said Britt. “Our state has made significant progress in recent years, and I am honored to have been chosen to lead BCA during this time of growth. I look forward to building on that momentum through collective efforts with our BCA members, elected officials, and business allies across the state – identifying opportunities every day in which we can provide and advance real, tangible solutions. BCA’s successes are Alabama’s successes, and our unique ability to take on big challenges and deliver strategic results will advance our economy and best serve the men and women who make up the backbone of our state.”

“It has been my life privilege to serve and assist Alabama’s greatest statesman,” Britt said. “I am very eager to apply the lessons I learned from him in this new position. I am certain the invaluable experiences of touring every county in Alabama with Senator Shelby, and meeting so many Alabamians, will serve me well as I work to create opportunities for all Alabama business.”

Britt said that a strong BCA is vital for Alabama’s success as a state and for its residents.

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“From the Tennessee Valley to the Wiregrass and then over to Mobile Bay, we have a remarkably diverse economy,” Britt said. “But to ensure Alabama’s future success, we must encourage policies and priorities that strengthen our businesses and provide opportunities for our citizens.”

Britt first joined Senator Shelby’s staff in May 2004, as deputy press secretary and later served as press secretary until 2007. After working on Capitol Hill, she served as special assistant to The University of Alabama President, Robert E. Witt. Britt later received a law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law. She also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a minor in Blount Liberal Arts. While there, she served on the John A. Campbell Moot Court Board and represented the School of Law on the school’s Tax Moot Court team. Following graduation, Britt practiced law at Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP in Birmingham and later at Butler Snow LLP in both Birmingham and Montgomery. There, her practice was focused on general corporate law, specifically mergers and acquisitions. During her time at Butler Snow, Britt started and led the firm’s government affairs practice in the state of Alabama.

Katie Boyd Britt is married to Wesley Britt, who started 46 games on the offensive line of the University of Alabama football team and played four years in the NFL for the New England Patriots. He is an economic development representative for Alabama Power.

Britt fills a role that Billy Canary vacated when he left to accept a position at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After the Republican landslide win in 2010, Canary surpassed AEA Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert (now deceased) as the most influential lobbyist in the state. Canary, however, was widely criticized for his role in the 2016 corruption trial of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn. Canary was never indicted, but the hit to his reputation has been credited with the failure of efforts to convince legislators to support a controversial plan for a massive increase in fuel taxes to support a bond issue for road construction. It has failed for the past three legislative sessions. The gas tax increase is, however, likely to be brought back again in 2019, after the election. The road builders and county commissioners are eager for new funds for transportation projects.

BCA was founded in 1985 as an organization to consolidate the Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Alabama. The organization aims to improve the state’s overall business climate and serves an instrumental role in securing passage of a number of reforms in the areas of tax credits for small businesses, job creation, economic development, ethics reforms and the public education system. BCA is also the exclusive affiliate in Alabama for the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S Chamber of Commerce.

Wikipedia was referenced in the writing of this article.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

Alabama unemployment rate drops more than 2 points to 5.6 percent

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.6 percent in August, down from 7.9 percent in July, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

The figure represents 127,186 unemployed people, compared to 176,556 in July. It compares to an August 2019 rate of 2.8 percent, or 62,149 unemployed people.

“August showed a larger drop in the unemployment rate than we’ve seen for a few months,” said Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “We are continuing to see our initial claims drop, staying under 10,000 for the past several weeks. We regained another 22,200 jobs this month but are still down more than 86,000 from this time last year.”

Washington said that the number of people who are working or actively looking for work is at its highest level ever, which he described as a sign that people are confident that there are jobs to be found. 

Gov. Kay Ivey said the numbers are good news for Alabama. 

“We have worked extremely hard to open Alabama’s businesses safely, and to put our hard-working families back to work,” Ivey said in a statement. “We know that challenges remain, and we will endeavor to meet them so that we can get back to our previous, pre-pandemic record-setting employment numbers.”

All the state’s counties and metro areas experienced a decrease in unemployment rates from July to August. The most gains were seen in the government sector, the professional and business services sector and the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

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Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were:

  • Clay County – 3.4 percent
  • Randolph, Franklin, Marshall, Cullman, Cleburne and Cherokee Counties – 3.6 percent
  • Blount County – 3.7 percent

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were:

  • Wilcox County – 14.8 percent
  • Lowndes County – 13.8 percent
  • Greene County – 10.9 percent

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates are:

  • Vestavia Hills – 3 percent
  • Homewood  – 3.2 percent
  • Madison – 3.3 percent

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates are:

  • Prichard – 15.4 percent
  • Selma – 12.9 percent
  • Bessemer – 10.7 percent

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Economy

New unemployment claims drop slightly

Micah Danney

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There were 8,848 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,902 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Of the claims filed between Sept. 6 and Sept. 12, 4,485, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.

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Economy

Inaugural Alabama Works innovator awards presented

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The inaugural AlabamaWorks! Innovator Awards were presented by Gov. Kay Ivey and Deputy Director of Commerce and AIDT Director Ed Castile Thursday during the AlabamaWorks! Virtual Conference.

The awards were developed to highlight people and programs across the state that take an innovative approach to solving workforce challenges and help advance Ivey’s Success Plus attainment goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.

At the time of the inception of the awards, Alabama was unaware of the impact COVID-19 would have on the workforce and although the attainment goal has not changed, our economic and workforce recovery post-COVID-19 will hinge on innovators like those recognized.

“The workforce challenges that we face today are not the same ones that we faced six months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has completely reshaped the workforce landscape,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “The State of Alabama is relying on those who are leading the charge by implementing innovative solutions in their cities, counties and regions to further economic and workforce development.”

The recipients are visionaries, outside-of-the-box thinkers and problem solvers. The programs test boundaries, explore new opportunities and reach deeper to bring about change. “It is important to recognize these leaders of innovation and to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the citizens, communities and industries of Alabama,” said Ed Castile, deputy director of commerce and AIDT director. “Their innovative approach to workforce development will be key to opening doors, breaking barriers and propelling Alabamians forward.”

The recipients of the first-ever AlabamaWorks Innovator Awards are as follows:

Region 1 – North AlabamaWorks – Beth Brumley, Colbert County Schools

Beth Brumley built the Health Science Program for Colbert County Schools from the ground up by using her experience in the healthcare field to provide critical, real-world skills to her students. She developed key relationships within the healthcare community to provide her students enhanced learning opportunities and exposure, which resulted in increased demand for program graduates. Beth was also named the 2020 National New Teacher of the Year through the Association for Career and Technical Education. By bridging the gap between education and employer, Beth has created a formula for success that positively impacts the workforce.

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Region 2 – East AlabamaWorks – The Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE)

SAFE has been a model for supportive services to empower individuals and families while fostering positive and healthy development of the community for nearly 25 years. In their program, SAFE combines occupational and employability skills to help job seekers be ready to enter the workforce regardless of barriers they may have faced in the past. Their dedication to providing practical solutions to modern problems is a testament to their heart for service and passion for helping their community and region.

Region 3 – West AlabamaWorks – Dr. Mike Daria, Superintendent Tuscaloosa City Schools

Dr. Daria has played a crucial role in the success of West Alabama’s workforce development by fostering important relationships between industry and education. His leadership has focused on increased Career Technical Education (CTE) enrollment, supporting local Worlds of Work events and the Educator Workforce Academy. Dr. Daria’s emphasis on the importance of identifying career pathways for the students in his district and then providing viable opportunities for students to take those paths, make him invaluable to West Alabama.

Region 4 – Central Six AlabamaWorks – Ed Farm

Ed Farm is the signature program of TechAlabama that focuses on encouraging children and adults to discover and pursue STEM careers. Ed Farm has a vision for a world full of invention, led by citizens who have been equipped with the necessary tools to fill or create the careers of the future. Through equipping educators and communities with innovative tools, strategies and programs they are able to support active learning for all students. With three signature tracks, Ed Farm is poised to help increase educational equity and improve learning outcomes through technology all while preparing the future tech workforce.

Region 5 – Central AlabamaWorks – Tiger Mochas, Auburn City Schools

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Tiger Mochas is a collaborative effort between special education students, FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) members and peer volunteers at Auburn High School. This student-led organization is serving up a lot more than hot cups of coffee to their peers because through their work, students are provided meaningful, hands-on work experience that teaches important functional, social and daily living skills. Graduates of the program leave with not only work and employability skills, but in-demand soft skills that will help them succeed in life and work.

Region 6 – Southeast AlabamaWorks – WeeCat Industries

WeeCat Industries uses a simulated workplace model to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce. WeeCat saw an opportunity to begin teaching work ethics and employability skills as early as preschool, and rose to the challenge. Their students clock into work, run an assembly line, fill orders, check invoices, meet production quota, interview for new positions and implement quality control all while earning a “paycheck” to be spent at the WeeCat Store before they can even spell the word “school”. WeeCat Industries places invaluable skills at a crucial age in development which will shape the future of the workforce.

Region 7 – SAWDC AlabamaWorks – Ed Bushaw

Ed Bushaw with the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce researched and developed initiatives to address the region’s workforce supply to meet the needs of the growing hospitality and tourism industry in his region. His collaborative efforts with business and industry officials resulted in the development of the first Hospitality and Tourism registered apprenticeship program in Alabama. Apprentices receive classroom instruction as well as valuable real-world experience within the hospitality and tourism industry and finish the program with a credential that can be used to advance their career. Ed’s ability to adapt to the needs of industry and implement programs that address those needs are vital to the continued success of southwest Alabama.

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Economy

Report: Transitioning to electric vehicles could save Alabama millions in health costs

Alabama would experience approximately 500 less asthma attacks per year, about 38 fewer premature deaths and prevent more than 2,200 lost workdays annually.

Micah Danney

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Alabama could save $431 million in public health costs per year by 2050, if the state shifted to an electric transportation sector between now and then, according to a new study by the American Lung Association.

Such a transition would reduce other health-related issues, said the organization, which used data on pollution from vehicles and from oil refineries to calculate its findings.

Alabama would experience approximately 500 less asthma attacks per year, about 38 fewer premature deaths and prevent more than 2,200 lost workdays annually.

The transportation sector is one of the main contributors to air pollution and climate change, said William Barrett, the association’s director of advocacy for clean air and the study’s author.

“We have the technology to transition to cleaner cars, trucks and buses, and by taking that step we can prepare Alabama for the future while also seeing the health and economic benefits forecasted in ‘The Road to Clean Air,’” Barrett said. “Especially as our state faces the impacts of climate change, such as extreme storms, this is a powerful and practical opportunity to take action to improve our economy, our health and our future.”

Trading combustion-powered vehicles for electric ones could result in $11.3 billion in avoided health costs across southern states by mid-century, the report estimated, and prevent roughly 1,000 premature deaths.

Nationally, Americans stand to save $72 billion in health costs and $113 billion in avoided climate change impacts, the ALA said.

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The path to that future depends on leaders factoring public health effects into decisions about transportation, Barrett said.

That involves steps like pursuing electric vehicle fleets when purchasing decisions are being made and supporting the creation of enough charging stations along highways, roads and at truck stops.

Investing in that infrastructure can drive wider economic benefits, Barrett said. He cited California’s increased manufacturing of electric vehicles.

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Tesla is the most well-known producer that has located there, but Barrett said that makers of trucks and buses have also chosen to locate their facilities in the state.

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