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Ivey attends grand opening of Grand River Technology Park

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) attended the groundbreaking of the Grand River Technology Park adjacent to the Barber Motorsports Park along the vital I-20 corridor connecting Birmingham with Atlanta.

“This is an exciting day and thank you all for coming here to celebrate the groundbreaking of Grand River Technology Park,” Gov. Ivey said. “Many of you know that building our workforce development is one of the top priorities of my administration so when I was made aware of the grant that U.S. Steel got from the Alabama Department of Labor of $6 million I was extremely excited.”

“This investment will not only develop this park; but will also relocate Southern Museum of Flight,” Gov. Ivey added. “This will be a huge addition to our state’s economy. This project is estimated to bring in 1,200 new opportunities for employment and generate some $85 million in economic impact to the Birmingham metropolitan area.”

“One of my administration’s proudest accomplishments is our low unemployment rate,” Ivey added. “We recently announced a new record low of three percent. While many initiatives went into making this possible; it never would have become a reality without community leaders working with companies like U.S. Steel to make projects like this possible. So thank you for hosting me here today and may God continue to bless the great state of Alabama.”

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington were both on hand for the groundbreaking.

“It is great to collaborate with so many wonderful agencies and partners: U.S. Steel, the City of Birmingham, the Southern Museum of Flight, Jefferson County, the City of Leeds, the Office of Surface Mining, and the Governor’s office,” Sec. Washington said. “We know that this project has potential to really affect and change this area. The grant awarded by ADL AMF program will allow for hundreds of jobs in the Birmingham area. Conservative estimates allow for 1,200 jobs and an estimated $85 million investment.”

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“The Technology Park will bring wonderful improvements,” Washington added. “There will be research and development, tourism and light manufacturing. Not only are we excited about the progress that is coming, but we are also happy about this project. A lot of dangerous abandoned mine land was removed. Our AML team does a great job with monitoring these dangerous areas and cleaning them up so that businesses and families that live there can be safe. So I would like to thank them for their hard work that helped make this groundbreaking ceremony possible. It is a great day for all of us here and I am proud to be part of it.”

The property, which is owned by U.S. Steel, was mined in the first half of the twentieth century so there were hazardous conditions that had to be cleaned up before the site could be developed. The Alabama Department of Labor awarded a grant of $6 million to U.S. Steel to clean up the site. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) was thanked by the company for providing assisted with getting federal funding for the grant program to make this possible.

“Today on this site; through this partnership with all levels of government: federal, state, county, and city; we are providing more than just trees over rough topography for a new company or an expanded company. We are providing these technology based companies a prepared site with roads and utilities,” U.S. Steel real estate Director Jammie Cowden said. “And Soon these prospect companies will work towards their own grand vision for an advanced manufacturing facility or research and development enterprise or drawing on the synergies of a world class motorsports park. This opportunity for growth in Birmingham unites both private companies and public entities.”

Economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Grand River Technology Park is an excellent redevelopment opportunity that will transform the east side of Birmingham. A six million dollar grant by the Alabama Department of Labor’s Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program will help fund the park located on approximately 105 acres of undeveloped land, which includes several pre-1977 abandoned coal mines. The technology park status and proximity to I-20 can help attract Lessees in a variety of industries such as aerospace, automotive, various types of light manufacturers, and R & D.”

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Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons (R) told reporters that the Technology Park was “a giant step forward” for eastern Jefferson County.
Commissioner Ammons credited George Barber and the Barber Motorsports Park and Museum for being “transformative for the area.”

The Barber Motorsports Park and Museum is already the largest tourist attraction in the state, outside of the beach.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmy Stevens (R) said that adding the Southern Museum of Flight to the same site will draw even more tourists.

Stevens estimated that the new Southern Museum of Flight “will be three or four times” as large as the existing museum next to the Birmingham International Airport.

Com. Ammons said that transportation: the I-20 corridor, the proximity of I-459 and I-59, and that the airport is close by means that this site will be attractive to companies.

The site is in the City Limits of Birmingham and adjoins the City of Leeds.

Birmingham City Councilman Hunter Williams, who represents the area said that, “Many groups have come together to make this a reality.”

Williams said that the Grand River Technology Park fills a need for, “Sites that are prepped and site ready.”

Dr. Jones told APR, “During the site selection process, companies look to locate within technology parks, also called “tech” parks or research parks, because of the close proximity to complimentary organizations. Collaboration allows innovation and discovery to take place. When researchers, academia, and industry colleagues interact within technology parks, the shared knowledge and support they receive often allows them to progress through hurdles more easily than if isolated. Grand River Technology Park will be a tremendous economic boost for the Birmingham/Leeds/Jefferson County area.”

U.S. Steel has a long history in the Birmingham area.

“For decades U.S. Steel used its land in the Birmingham metro area for mining and minerals to support the local steel industry; but as the Birmingham metro area grew and the mining and minerals were mined out of the ground, like the coal that is deep under our feet today, the best use of our property moved from mining and minerals to real estate development and thus U.S.S. Real Estate was born,” Cowden explained. “Our charge was and still is today to put that property to work to find value added use that build our communities that surround the land. In this area has several planned communities Trace Crossings, the Preserve, Oxmoor, Ross Bridge, and of course Grand River. All of these communities are carefully planned to maximize green space and to be livable and really lovable places.”

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

State unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent last month

Alabama’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.7 in September to 5.8 percent in October.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.7 in September to 5.8 percent in October, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. October’s seasonally adjusted rate represents 130,329 unemployed persons, down from 153,338 in September. That compares to 61,210 in October 2019.

“We’re glad to see a drop of almost an entire percentage point in our unemployment rate this month,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “We will continue to see fluctuations in these economic indicators as pandemic concerns remain, but this month showed growth in both the number of jobs we are supporting and the number of people who are working.”

The number of people counted as employed in October was 2,121,505, up from 2,119,297 in September, but down from the 2,186,771 measured in October 2019.

There were 9,262 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, up from 8,764 the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, there were 3,001, or 32 percent, that were related to COVID-19, down from 38 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces $200 million “Revive Plus” small business grant program

Revive Plus is the second wave of funding for organizations with 50 or fewer employees and will award grants of up to $20,000 for expenses.

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (VIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced Revive Plus, a $200 million grant program to support small businesses, non-profits and faith-based organizations in Alabama that have been impacted by COVID-19. Revive Plus is the second wave of funding for these organizations with 50 or fewer employees and will award grants of up to $20,000 for expenses they have incurred due to operational interruptions caused by the pandemic and related business closures.

“As the state has rolled out over $1 billion of the CARES Act monies to the individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, it became evident the group most overwhelmingly hurt during the pandemic were the small ‘mom and pop’ shops,” Ivey said. “A second round of assistance through Revive Plus will ensure that the small business owners who have borne the brunt of the downed economy can be made as whole as possible. As we head into the holiday season, my hope is that this will be welcome news for our businesses and help ease their burdens from what has been a very hard year.”

Entities may receive up to $20,000 to reimburse qualifying expenses if they have not received federal assistance for the corresponding item they are claiming with the state of Alabama. The Revive Plus grant is in addition to any state of Alabama Coronavirus Relief Fund grant previously received, including the Revive Alabama Small Business, Non-Profit, Faith-Based, and Health Care Provider grants. There is no set cap on the number of entities that may be awarded a Revive Plus Grant. Grants will be awarded to qualifying applicants on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted.

“The Revive Plus program is much needed in our small business economy,” said Senate General Fund Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Atmore. “I commend Governor Ivey for taking this action, recapturing unspent dollars and using a proven program to bring economic relief to our small business owners.”

Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of CARES Act funding to respond to and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama Act 2020-199 initially designated up to $300 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund for individuals, businesses, non-profit and faith-based organizations directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. After the initial $100 million for small business that was reimbursed starting in July 2020, legislative leadership approved a second round of $200 million from allocations made to reimburse state government and from other grant programs that have ended with the full allocation unspent.

“This second round of funding for Alabama entities will provide much needed resources for our state’s economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro. “I appreciate the governor and the Finance Department’s work to ensure we utilize these funds to the benefit of our citizens.”

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Entities may access grant information and the grant application through the Coronavirus Relief Fund website. The application period for the Revive Plus Grant Program will open at noon, Nov. 23, 2020 and run through noon, Dec. 4, 2020.

“This is welcome news for small businesses, non-profits and faith-based organizations that are continuing to feel the adverse effects of the Covid-19 virus,” said House General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark. “Time is of the essence and I urge all qualified entities to apply as soon as possible beginning Monday, November 23rd.”

A coalition of the Business Council of Alabama, the National Federation of Independent Business of Alabama (NFIB Alabama) and the Alabama Restaurant Association worked closely with the governor’s office to revisit the grant program after the initial round of Revive Alabama reached the $100 million cap.

“Businesses throughout the state are working diligently to keep their employees and customers safe, all while ensuring commerce throughout Alabama continues to move,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Britt. “Revive Plus will be essential in giving Alabama businesses access to the necessary and needed funding to keep their doors open and keep hard working Alabamians employed. Our broad coalition of businesses, associations and chambers commend Governor Ivey and her administration for putting these critical funds into the hands of businesses who need it most.”

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Qualifying entities must have been in business March 1, 2020, are currently in business and have a valid W-9 to apply for a Revive Plus Grant.

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Economy

Applications open the Livestock Auction Market Direct Payment Program, Poultry Processor Reimbursement Program

Each program will assist Alabama’s agriculture with costs associated with disruptions experienced due to COVID-19.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate announced that both the Livestock Market Direct Payment Program and the Poultry Processor Reimbursement Program applications are open.

The applications are available at agi.alabama.gov or crf.alabama.gov. The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 1, 2020. Each program will assist Alabama’s agriculture with costs associated with disruptions experienced due to COVID-19.

Pate and agricultural stakeholders developed a broad-based relief plan to support agribusiness in the state of Alabama, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis and the resulting supply chain interruptions.

In August, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that $26 million of CARES Act Funds could be used to assist Alabama agriculture impacted by COVID-19. These funds were used to establish the Alabama Agricultural Stabilization Program (AASP).

Pate said on Monday that the Livestock Market Direct Payment Program is a $500,000 program to provide direct payments to stockyards affected by the crisis. Payments cannot exceed $25,000. Only licensed Alabama cattle auction markets are eligible.

Pate said the Poultry Processor Reimbursement Program is a $1.2 million program to reimburse Alabama poultry processing facilities for purchases of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), disinfectants, workstation dividers and COVID-19 testing kits to protect their employees from COVID-19.

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Reimbursements for these expenses would be capped at a maximum of $40,000 per facility. Additional eligibility requirements will be posted at agi.alabama.gov or crf.alabama.gov.

The state has until the end of the year to spend nearly $1 billion in CARES Act money or it goes back to the federal government.

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Economy

Sewell’s annual job fair will be virtual this year

Job seekers will have the opportunity to connect with employers from 10 different industries.

Brandon Moseley

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(VIA OFFICE OF TERRI SEWELL)

Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s annual job fair is open for registration. This year, the job fair will be virtual, hosted via Zoom.

Sewell announced the opening of registration for Alabama’s 7th District 9th Annual Job Fair. Job Fair 2020 will be a two-day event held virtually on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 18 and 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. central time.

Job seekers will have the opportunity to connect with employers from 10 different industries. Registration is required via Eventbrite. Participation in the job fair is free and open to the public.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I know so many jobs have been lost, and now more than ever our annual Job Fair is needed,” Sewell said. “For the past 8 years, the Job Fair has been a space for job seekers in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District to connect directly with employers. We are very excited to continue our tradition with a robust 2020 virtual program! Over the course of two days, job seekers can learn about jobs available right NOW in Alabama.”

This year’s virtual event will feature employers from more than 10 types of industries, including automotive, restaurant and food management, transportation and construction, hospitality and retail, health services, utilities and telecommunications, manufacturing and production, staffing agencies, government agencies and law enforcement.

Sewell said she made a commitment to work to improve the lives of people in the 7th Congressional District when she was elected. Getting people jobs and growing the economy of the district has been the goal of the job fair.

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Sewell said that when she was elected, the counties of the district had some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Coming out of the Great Recession, the district had an unemployment rate about 14 percent.

That rate is now down to 6 percent — still double the national average but a tremendous improvement for the people in the district. Then COVID hit.

Sewell said that the district, like the rest of the country, was hard hit by the coronavirus crisis and many jobs, particularly in the hospitality sector, were lost.

Sewell said that they don’t have as many employers participating in this year’s job fair as in some in the past but it is “still a great opportunity.”

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“We have a pretty good track record,” Sewell said. According to surveys, 25 to 30 percent of participants in past job fairs found jobs through the Job Fair, Sewell’s office said. Since that is dependent on participants responding to the surveys, they suspect the number is higher.

“We do have very strong participation from all the largest employers in the state,” Sewell said. There are opportunities there for people with a variety of skill sets.

Sewell said that she is very proud of all of the investments that have been made by manufacturers in the 7th Congressional District and cited the expansions at Hyundai and Golden Dragon in Wilcox County.

“We have a very good track record,” Sewell said of past job fairs. “Everywhere I go I meet people who tell me how their lives changed because of our job fairs.”

On Nov. 3, Sewell was elected to her sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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