Montgomery Business Journal

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May 2015

CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK UPBEAT

Total construction put in place for this year is forecast to increase 8 percent and top $1 trillion for the first time since 2008.

The sectors expecting the best growth rates, according to FMI which conducted the survey, are: lodging construction (16 percent); commercial construction (15 percent); manufacturing construction (11 percent); office construction (11 percent); and residential construction (9 percent).

“The current growth cycle appears to be broad based and sustainable,” Randy Giggard, managing director of research services for FMI, said in a statement. “Most of the new construction activity is in the private sector.”

NEW LEADER FOR ALAGASCO

A 34-year veteran will take over at Alabama Gas Corp. Ken Smith will succeed Dudley Reynolds as company president. Smith, who has been an executive at Alagasco for 17 years, was vice president of system integrity before taking over the top spot.

Smith will report to Steve Lindsey, chief operating officer of distribution operations for Laclede Group, which purchased Alagasco last year in a $1.6 billion transaction with Energen Corp.

CAR SALES STAY HOT

New vehicle sales are expected to have the best first quarter since 2007 at 3.9 million units, according to Kelley Blue Book. That represents a 5.1 percent increase from the first quarter last year.

Sales are forecast to hit 16.9 million units in 2015, which is the highest total since 2005.

HOSPITALS FLEX FINANCIAL MUSCLE

The state’s hospitals were responsible for $19 billion in economic activity in 2013, according to a study from the American Hospital Association.

The state’s 93 hospitals spend a combined $4.5 billion annually on wages and benefits as well as $9.7 billion in goods and services, the study concluded. The hospitals accounted for 84,000-plus direct jobs and another 86,000-plus health-related jobs, the survey found. Those figures represent nearly 9 percent of the state’s workforce.

“Alabama hospitals provide excellent care and life-saving emergency services, but they also provide thousands of jobs that are critical to the economic infrastructure of our state,” J. Michael Horsley, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said in a statement.

ENPLANEMENTS STILL SOAR

The Montgomery Regional Airport has enjoyed eight straight months of increased enplanements and is two months away from matching 10 consecutive months of gains from late 2009 to the first half of 2010.

During the current streak of eight straight months, enplanements are up 17 percent over the same period a year earlier.

SERVISFIRST RANKED THIRD

ServisFirst Bancshares received the 2014 Raymond James Community Bankers Cup, which recognizes the top 10 percent of community banks.

ServisFirst Bancshares ranked third out of 306 community banks nationwide that are exchange-traded domestic banks with assets between $500 million and $10 billion as of Dec. 31, 2014. The banks were judged on profitability, operational efficiency and balance sheet.

“On behalf of ServisFirst Bancshares, it is an honor to receive this prestigious award as a top-three performing bank in the nation,” Tom Broughton, president and CEO of ServisFirst Bancshares, said in a statement.

Birmingham-based ServisFirst Bank, which has two branches in Montgomery, is a subsidiary of ServisFirst Bancshares.

The company also announced a 20 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.06 per share, which was payable April 15.

IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE

The theme for National Ag Day was “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations.” That is certainly important to Alabama, where agriculture and forestry are the state’s largest industries and have a combined $70 billion annual economic impact. There are 580,000-plus Alabamians employed in agriculture, forestry or related fields.

As part of National Ag Day, 1,500 pounds of food and nearly $4,000 were donated to the Montgomery Area Food Bank. That cash donation will provide almost 24,000 meals for those in the food bank’s 35 counties.

ALABAMA BUSINESS PRIORITIES

The top statewide priority for business leaders is education/workforce training, according to the Alabama Business Confidence Index quarterly survey.

Business leaders ranked competence in government, which included taxation, prison reforms and state Constitution (No. 2); economic and business development (No. 3); job growth (No. 4); health care costs (No. 5); and infrastructure (No. 6).

The quarterly survey is conducted by The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research in the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

The top issues for companies (in order): company finances and development; government (taxation, regulations and uncertainty); lack of qualified workforce; economic recovery and growth; and health care costs.

ONE OF THE BEST

Central in The Alley was named one of the top three restaurants in the state by the Charleston Food Bloggers. “I love what Chef Leo Maurelli is doing at Central,” Scott Wink, who founded the blog along with his wife, told the Montgomery Advertiser.

Two Birmingham restaurants – The Highlands and Hot and Hot Fish Club – were on Wink’s top three list.

41 Commerce Street, P.O. Box 79, Montgomery, Alabama 36101   Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745   Sitemap