Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) was in Huntsville Wednesday for a ceremony where it was announced that Y-tec Keylex Toyotestsu Alabama will create a new auto parts manufacturing plant that will create 650 new jobs.
“YKT Alabama is a significant addition to the growing automotive cluster centered around the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. auto assembly plant in Huntsville,” Ivey said. “This venture will not only create 650 well-paying jobs but also solidify the foundation of the automotive supply chain that is emerging in North Alabama.”
YKTA announced that the company plans to invest $220 million in the manufacturing facility at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. auto assembly plant now under construction in Limestone County.
“Over the past 25 years, our state has experienced continued investment in the international automobile industry,” Economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “The decision by YTKA, the second supplier to officially announce plans for a facility on the Mazda Toyota site, is an important part of the supply chain and a testament to the creation of an environment conducive for business.”
YKTA is a new joint venture formed between a trio of Mazda and Toyota suppliers that will produce structural body stampings and assemblies, as well as functional and chassis parts, for MTMUS.
Construction on the new YKTA facility will begin this month and the company has already begun hiring its professional and technical staff, while the first production personnel will come on board in the fall of 2020.
“We are proud to call Alabama our home and celebrate our commitment to North Alabama as our community,” YKTA President Ryuji Fujimoto said.
“This new three-company consortium brings together some of the top suppliers in the automotive industry,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “As with any success, collaboration is key. YKTA is following the model established by the Mazda Toyota joint venture to create a partnership on a dynamic campus that is going to lead the world in automotive innovation and opportunity.”
“We are excited to welcome YKTA to Limestone County,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “This $220 million investment that will create 650 new jobs is a testament to our great county and to our regional workforce that continues to receive global recognition.”
Both YKTA’s new facility and the Mazda-Toyota plant will begin production in 2021.
The Mazda-Toyota partnership is investing $1.6 billion to build and equip its Huntsville assembly plant, which will have up to 4,000 workers producing up to 300,000 vehicles annually.
YKTA is the second supplier to announce plans for a facility on the 2,500-acre MTMUS site, joining DaikyoNishikawa US, which will produce large plastic parts such as bumpers and instrumental panels at a $110 million facility staffed with 380 workers.
“We’re very committed to facilitating the formation of the supply chain for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., and the YKT Alabama joint venture facility is an important piece in the supplier puzzle,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “I am confident that we can deliver a first-class workforce for YKT Alabama and look forward to helping ensure the company has a smooth path to production.”
Those interested in positions can apply on the YKTA website.
New unemployment claims continued dropping last week
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.
Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
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:
- 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.
Alabama Gulf Coast beaches remain closed for now
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.”
“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.”
SNAP replacement benefits coming to three counties hit by Hurricane Sally
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.
More information about the program can be found at dhr.alabama.gov/food-assistance.