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Auto supplier Toyota Boshoku set to open facility in Athens

Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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Japanese auto supplier Toyota Boshoku America is set to open a new $50 million facility in Athens, Alabama.

At full production, the manufacturing facility will support about 400 jobs in Limestone County.

Gov. Kay Ivey joined representatives of Toyota Boshoku and local leaders in Limestone County today to announce that the global automotive supplier plans Wednesday.

The new factory will produce seat systems for vehicles built at the $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota manufacturing facility in Huntsville. The Toyota Boshoku plant is one of the first auto suppliers to locate in Limestone County after the Mazda Toyota facility plans were unveiled last year.

Officials expect many more “indirect jobs” to come to Alabama because of the Mazda Toyota plant, which is a joint venture assembly plant the automakers are constructing about 30 miles away in Huntsville. Vehicles will be assembled at that plan beginning in 2021.

“Toyota Boshoku is a premier manufacturer of automotive interior systems and a welcome addition to Alabama’s growing constellation of world-class auto suppliers,” Ivey said. “We look forward to seeing the company put down roots in Athens and know that it will find all the ingredients for success in Sweet Home Alabama.”

The company’s plans were outlined Wednesday at a formal announcement at Athens City Hall.

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“When we began our search for a new site to build our production facility, we looked at many locations,” said Dr. Shuhei Toyoda of Toyota Boshoku. “After an extensive search, we determined that Athens, Alabama, is the perfect fit.  We are grateful for the assistance from the State of Alabama, the City of Athens and Limestone County to make this project a reality.”

The new facility will be located in the Breeding North Industrial Park in Athens, where the company is anticipating starting construction around May 1, 2019.

Construction began on the Mazda Toyota plan in November 2018 at a 2,500-acre site in Limestone County.

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The two large automakers plan to invest $1.6 billion in the Alabama facility, where 4,000 workers will produce 300,000 vehicles annually at full production.

“Alabama’s economic development team has been working hard to facilitate the formation of the supply chain for MTMUS, and Toyota Boshoku’s decision to locate in Athens will add momentum to our efforts,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We expect to develop a long-lasting partnership with this outstanding company as it creates well-paying jobs in Alabama.”

Limestone County officials welcomed Toyota Boshoku’s investment at the Athens site.

“Athens attracting one of the first Tier 1 suppliers for MTMUS speaks to our city’s attractiveness as a community and our great working relationship with several entities on industrial development,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “From the State of Alabama to our Limestone County Economic Development Association and our other partners, we work well together to help industries invest in our community and provide jobs for our citizens. Athens appreciates Toyota Boshoku being the latest to invest in our city.”

Toyota Boshoku Corporation, a member of the Toyota group of companies, develops and manufactures automotive interior systems and other components.

Its founding company, Toyoda Boshoku, was established by the founder of Toyota group, Sakichi Toyoda in 1918. It has manufacturing facilities across the United States including in Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Kentucky.

“We would like to welcome Toyota Boshoku America to Limestone County,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “This over $50 million investment that will bring around 400 new jobs is a testament to the strong workforce in our region that has earned global recognition.”

Toyota Boshoku has extensive manufacturing operations in Japan, other parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Toyota Boshoku America, based in Erlanger, Kentucky, employs more than 11,000 people in 20 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

 

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Economy

New unemployment claims continued dropping last week

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 8,679 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,848 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Of the claims filed between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, 4,465, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.

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Economy

Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits could see changes in those benefits after the Alabama Department of Labor conducts a required quarterly review and redetermines eligibility, the department said Friday. 

The Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release Friday that no action is required by those receiving regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. 

ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3. 

“Some may remain eligible for PUA or PEUC, OR they may be required to change to regular unemployment compensation. Weekly benefit amounts may also change. This depends on eligibility requirements,” ADOL said in the release. “Those claimants whose benefit year ends prior to October 3, 2020, will have their claims reevaluated.” 

After the review, if the claimant is determined not to be eligible for regular unemployment compensation, those who qualify may still be able to be paid under PUA or PEUC, and that determination will be made automatically and payment will be issued, the department said in the release. 

Claimants must also continue to certify their weeks.

Many claimants are not receiving benefits because they fail to file their weekly certifications, i.e. requests for payment. ADOL cannot pay benefits for weeks that have not been properly certified. Certifications can be done online at labor.alabama.gov or by calling the appropriate number:

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  • Montgomery – (334) 954-4094
  • Birmingham – (205) 458-2282
  • Not in Local Area – (800) 752-7389

PUA recipients must file their weekly certifications either by telephone or on the PUA app, at pua.labor.alabama.gov.

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Economy

Alabama Gulf Coast beaches remain closed for now

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that beaches will remain closed for now due to ongoing repair and cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

“Working closely with Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, as well as Commissioner Billy Joe Underwood, the governor has agreed to keep Baldwin County’s beaches closed until Friday, October 2nd,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “This will allow those communities additional time to get their beaches ready for public enjoyment in a safe, responsible manner.”

Mobile County beaches might open earlier than that.

“Likewise, the governor has been in touch with Mayor Jeff Collier, and she is prepared to amend the beach closure order for Mobile County when he signals that Dauphin Island is ready to reopen their beaches,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “At the present time, all Alabama beaches remain closed until further notice.”

Hurricane Sally came ashore near Gulf Shores on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds. Numerous homes, businesses and farms have been destroyed and many more have seen serious damage.

“As of Wednesday night, approx. 37,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Sally debris (equivalent to roughly 1,700 truck loads worth) has been picked up in Orange Beach since Sunday (4 days),” the city of Orange Beach announced. “Kudos to our debris contractor CrowderGulf.”

“I spent Sunday afternoon meeting with senior staff and I believe we will need some time to get our buildings safe for children to return,” said Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Taylor in a letter to parents. “We live in a very large county. Power may be on in your area and your school may not have any damage, but we cannot open schools unless all schools can open. Our pacing guides, state testing, meal and accountability requirements are based on the system, not individual schools.”

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“We have schools without power and for which we do not expect power until later this week,” Taylor said. “In this new age, we need internet and communications which are currently down so we cannot run any system tests. We have physical damage at our schools including some with standing water, collapsed ceilings and blown out windows. We have debris on our properties and debris blocking our transportation teams from picking up students. All of this must be resolved before we can successfully re-open.”

“If everything goes as planned, I expect we will welcome back students on Wednesday, September 30,” Taylor said. “Prior to returning students to school, we will hold two teacher work days to get our classrooms and our lessons plans back on track.”

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Economy

SNAP replacement benefits coming to three counties hit by Hurricane Sally

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Thousands of SNAP recipients in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties are set to receive automatic replacement benefits as a result of Hurricane Sally, the Alabama Department of Human Resources announced Thursday.

Recipients who received their benefits Sept. 1 through Sept. 16 will receive a replacement of 50 percent of their regular monthly benefit. Those who received supplemental pandemic maximum allotment payments will receive a replacement of 30 percent of those benefits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved the replacement benefits today at the request of DHR. The benefits are intended to replace food purchased with SNAP that was lost to widespread power outages caused when Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 16.

“Our priority is to remove the very real threat of hunger for the many Alabamians who are struggling from the devastation of Hurricane Sally,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “The first step toward that goal is to replace the food that so many Alabamians lost to the storm. We are actively working to obtain additional resources to provide much-needed relief for the region as it recovers.”

Hurricane Sally caused over 265,000 households to lose power for at least four hours in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties, where approximately 54,000 households will receive SNAP benefits totaling an estimated $8.5 million.

Those recipients should expect to see the replacement benefits automatically loaded onto their EBT cards next week.

The Food Assistance Division of DHR administers the SNAP program in Alabama.

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More information about the program can be found at dhr.alabama.gov/food-assistance.

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