Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has announced a $16.5 million investment into the University of Alabama Research and Development Building. The project will be a joint project for the University, the Alabama Power Company, and Mercedes with state support.
The $16.5 million worth of bonds were issued by the Alabama Public School and College Authority and were authorized by the Alabama Legislature to fund capital improvements for the state’s education system. The grants will allow for the construction of the Smart Communities and Innovation Building on The University of Alabama campus.
The name of the building and the scope of the project is subject to the approval of The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
Stuart R. Bell is the president of the University of Alabama.
“We are deeply grateful to Gov. Ivey and our state elected officials for their leadership in boosting the University’s existing expertise and research innovation in the area of transportation; and are truly appreciative for support from the Board of Trustees and the UA System Office in moving this transformative project forward,” said Bell. “The Smart Communities and Innovation Building will be the only one of its kind in the United States and is a prime example of the type of partnerships necessary for innovation and workforce and economic development.”
UA announced that it has an agreement to strengthen its long-standing relationship with Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International through the Alabama Mobility and Power Initiative. AMP is designed to meet the needs of the booming electric vehicle market and support Alabama’s transportation network. The AMP Initiative will be housed in the Smart Communities and Innovation Building.
The AMP Initiative will serve as a research and development hub for creating and sustaining modern mobility and power technologies, developing charging infrastructure and managing power delivery to support large-scale growth in electric vehicles.
Dr. Russell J. Mumper is UA’s vice president for research and economic development.
“This initiative will further strengthen UA’s status as a leader in mobility and power research and provides a great opportunity for a strong coalition of partners to address innovation, workforce development and commercialization in mobility and power research,” said Mumper. “The University of Alabama looks forward to collaborating with Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.”
UA claims that the partnership will benefit undergraduate and graduate students through expanded mentoring, internships and career possibilities while providing opportunities for these students to participate in world-class research that is on the cutting edge of industry. These activities are designed to lead to the development of the mobility and power workforce and create future leaders in the electrification of the transportation network.
Economic developer Nicole Jones said: “For over 25 years, Alabama has worked to position itself as a worldwide leader in the automotive industry. This workforce development initiative is a collaboration between the public and private sector that will allow our state to be at the forefront of research and development efforts in a dynamic field. The long-term investment in Alabama’s human capital will ultimately demonstrate how Alabamians have the brainpower to create products and services that will allow us to continue to compete in a global economy.”
Greg Reed, R-Jasper, is the Alabama state Senate pro tem.
“It has been a privilege to support the development of the Smart Communities and Innovation Building on the University of Alabama’s campus,” said Reed. “The Alabama Mobility and Power Initiative will use the resources this building provides to leverage the state’s strengths in the automotive manufacturing industry and world-class university sponsored research to discover the next generation technologies to be applied to vehicles and batteries manufactured in the state. I fully believe that this investment by the state will modernize Alabama’s research and development in the next generation of electric vehicle technology in a manner responsive to industry and with an eye for future growth.”
“This is great news for the Tuscaloosa community, the University of Alabama and our state as a whole,” said state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Northport. “A number of highly motivated people and organizations have come together and created a mission to set our state on a path towards a bright future in this important, fast-growing industry. The governor’s announcement today is a testament to all involved in making this happen, the University of Alabama in particular. I am excited to see the development of this dynamic building on my alma matter’s campus and the benefits it will provide for our state.”
“Alabama will be on the forefront of this technology, which will lead to new and greener jobs for the people of our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton. “The international community is demanding battery-powered vehicles and this investment by the state will make West Alabama a global leader in this field.”
UA announced that the Alabama Transportation Institute, the Alabama Department of Transportation’s West Central Region’s Transportation Systems Management Operations, and the Alabama Mobility and Power Initiative will all be located in this building.
The AMP initiative is a result of a partnership between The Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International to create a world-class research and development hub for creating and sustaining modern mobility and power technologies, developing a charging infrastructure and managing power delivery to support large scale growth in electric vehicles.
Alabama is third in the nation for auto exports. The state of Alabama exported $7.5 billion in vehicles and parts in 2018. MBUSI is undergoing a $1 billion expansion to support electric vehicle production and recently announced plans to become an electric-only car maker by the end of the decade. Mercedes is building a car battery plant in Bibb County.