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Economy

I-20/59 through downtown Birmingham closes for a year

Chip Brownlee

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The portion of Interstate 20/59 through downtown Birmingham has officially closed for a year of construction and repairs.

The shutdown began Monday evening and includes the bridges through Birmingham’s central business district from the Interstate 65 interchange to the interchange at Red Mountain Expressway.

The bridges through downtown are among the busiest stretches of highway in Alabama, and they’re key access points to the central business district.

The elevated portion of the interstate through downtown Birmingham will stay closed for an estimated 14 months. The Alabama Department of Transportation is overseeing a project to rebuild and expand the aging interstate that runs through the heart of Alabama’s largest city.

At a cost of $700 million, the existing bridges are going to be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up using a segmental design to improve noise and aesthetics with a shorter construction time frame, ALDOT has said. Much Birmingham’s downtown business community has opposed the project in its entirety, and they expect to see impacts to business during the closure.

The interstate should reopen in March of 2020, if all construction is completed on time, and the rest of the project will be done in November 2020. The contractor will receive incentives for finishing early, and it will be fined if it doesn’t meet the deadlines.

Designing in the 1960s, the bridges were originally designed for a 30-year lifespan with a capacity of 80,000 vehicles per day. Nearly 60 years later, daily traffic exceeds 165,000 vehicles, which is expected to increase to 225,000 by 2035.

ALDOT considered rerouting the interstates, but that option wasn’t possible. The department has said that process could have taken decades, assuming the federal government approved it, and the problem was too immediate.

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ALDOT is encouraging drivers to use Interstate 459 if possible as a detour. There are also detours through downtown Birmingham, but with increased traffic because of the interstate closure, traffic flow will likely be slow.

Detours:

  • Westbound I-20/59 traffic will take the exit at Carraway Boulevard and then take Finley Boulevard to I-65 at the Finley exit or I-20/59 at the Arkadelphia Road exit.
  • Westbound traffic to downtown can take the 25th Street exit or exit onto the Red Mountain Expressway, but during construction, these exits will be closed temporarily.
  • Eastbound I-20/59 traffic will be detoured down the Arkadelphia Road exit to Finley Boulevard and to Carraway Boulevard.
  • Eastbound traffic to downtown can use the 17th Street North exit or take I-65 South to 3rd Street South.
  • Click here for detour routes. 
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Economy

Business Council of Alabama Small Business Exchange on APT tonight

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The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) will present the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television (APT) tonight, Thursday, April 9. This event is designed to help small businesses applying for federal stimulus funding under the new CARES Act.

In partnership with APT, BCA will bring together experts in business, banking, accounting, and law to answer phone calls from Alabama business owners and employers as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy. New federal loans are now available for small businesses, but funding is limited in some cases and quick action is required.

The Small Business Exchange program airs tonight on APT from 7-8 p.m. BCA experts will be available to answer questions from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. tonight. In addition, experts will be available for consultation from 9.a.m. to noon tomorrow, Friday, April 10.


To ask a question or consult with our BCA experts during these times, the phone number is 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249).

 

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Economy

Manufacture Alabama launches “Ask the Experts” webinar

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Ask the Experts: Employment Law Questions Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is a new webinar being offered by Manufacture Alabama.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, disrupting the lives of everyone around our state, country, and the globe, employers are left with many questions and Manufacture Alabama wants to answer them.

Manufacture Alabama is the only trade association in the state dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory, and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

Manufacture Alabama has enlisted some of the top labor and employment attorneys in Alabama to bring you the first installment of a web series, ‘Ask the Experts.’ In the first installment, their experts will be answering your questions about implementing the new CARES Act Leave guidelines, and best practices for what to do if you have an employee test positive for COVID-19.

The attorneys will also be covering questions whether they are questions related to OSHA standards, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or the impact of the CARES Act, or anything else labor or employment-related.

Manufacture Alabama also wants to hear stories of the changes manufacturers have experienced in the workplace as a result of the pandemic, and how businesses have changed day to day operations.

Send your questions and responses regarding these topics to [email protected] and stay tuned.

The webinar will be published Tuesday, April 14.

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Economy

Ainsworth unveils website for small businesses seeking information during pandemic

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth unveiled a new web page Monday designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop information hub during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and forced economic shutdown.

The website is www.atlasalabama.gov.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is already providing small business owners with unprecedented challenges and frustrations, so they should not have to struggle to find the information necessary to survive in the current economic climate,” Ainsworth said. “As new small business programs are announced and revised health orders go into effect, the website will be updated in order to provide the most timely and accurate information possible.”

The website was created by the Alabama Small Business Commission, which Ainsworth chairs. The site provides information related to Small Business Administration loans and assistance, unemployment claims, tax relief programs, and other timely initiatives.

The website is intended to help small businesses remain in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. The website also provides links to every state, county, and municipal health order currently being enforced in Alabama.

The Legislature placed the Alabama Small Business Commission under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office in 2019.

The 22-member commission is tasked with formulating “policies encouraging innovation of small businesses in the state” and advising the Department of Commerce in promoting small businesses within Alabama.

On March 12, the rapidly spreading coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, led President Donald J. Trump (R) to order a forced economic shutdown on March 12. Those original orders have subsequently been strengthened by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), culminating in a statewide shelter in place order on Friday.

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Realizing that with most of their businesses shut down through at least April 30, Congress passed and the President signed the CARES Act, which provides low interest loans to hundreds of thousands of struggling small businesses. If the businesses use the money to make payroll and to pay other business overhead costs the loans will be forgiven.

Currently, there are 2,113 Alabamians with confirmed cases of COVID-19. 64 Alabamians have died and 271 are currently in the hospital. 20 Alabamians have recovered from their illness and been cleared by their doctors. The global pandemic has infected more than 1,441,589 people globally and killed 82,933, including 7,380 people just on Tuesday (1,970 of them were Americans). Gov. Ivey’s shelter in place order is in effect through April 30, but that is likely to be extended.

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Economy

Businesses applying for aid can receive proof of existence from secretary of state’s office

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday that federal resources have been made available to support businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to assist with tax relief, employee protection and benefits, loans and grants, and many other challenges that business owners may encounter during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Merrill’s office explained that in order to be eligible for this federal aid, some corporations and businesses may be required to prove their existence as part of their application. Certificates of Existence can be obtained through visiting the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.

Business owners can apply online to receive their Certificate of Existence electronically for immediate processing. The non-subscriber fee is $28 and will allow a user to download their copy for up to 15 days.

If you are completing the request for a Certificate of Existence by paper, you may access the application here.

The form must be typed and will not be accepted via email.

Once completed, mail the application, along with the $25 filing fee, to:

Secretary of State’s Business Services Division
P.O. Box 5616,
Montgomery, Alabama 36103

Those who apply online will not receive a mailed copy. Rather, a copy can be downloaded online and then printed out.

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Certificates of Existence are only available for businesses who have previously filed for formation with the Secretary of State’s Office. If you have not yet filed, you are still able to do so through the Secretary of State’s website

This documentation may also be required to process loan applications by lending institutions, banks, credit unions, farm credit, or public accountants.

For questions or more information, contact the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division at (334) 242-7221 or (334) 242-5324.

Thousands of Alabama businesses have been forced to close by orders from the state as well as local health departments. Many businessmen and women are having to make the difficult decision on whether or not to continue to make payroll. The aid under the CARES Act is a lifeline to businesses that the federal government is offering during this unprecedented period of economic crisis.

The forced economic shutdown was deemed necessary by state and federal government authorities in consultation with public health experts in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 global pandemic has already killed 12,857 Americans and 82,993 people globally. 1,050,077 people around the globe are still struggling through active cases of the illness, including 395,981 Americans.

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