Montgomery Business Journal

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 Reporter's Notebook



David Zaslawsky




Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Allen said that there are not funds available to refurbish buildings. Allen said that if the district was able to move MTEC, more programs would be offered, including Mechatronics or industrial maintenance.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said that the area needs students graduating from high school with industrial maintenance capabilities.

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce President Randall L. George said, “We believe that MTEC is one of the most critical things that you can put in place because … of job creation. We get our brains beat out in (the) competitive process when we’re dealing with new companies coming to town and we can’t address the skill needs that we have. The Mechatronics program is really the answer to that – we believe – and the degree to which the school system can implement that program is absolutely critical to our future. If we had these people now we could put them to work, but we don’t have them.”

Montgomery County Commission Vice Chairman Dan Harris said that the community’s elected leaders need to “help our woefully underfunded public schools in Montgomery County. He said just 10 mills of property tax funds the school district while other communities have 30, 40 or even 50 mills funding public schools.


Alabama was ranked as the sixth most tax-friendly state by Kiplinger’s. Delaware was ranked No. 1 with Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arizona rounding out the top five. California was ranked the least tax-friendly state.



The chief portfolio strategist for Welch Hornsby reminded investors to have bonds as part of a diversified approach. James W. Underwood, speaking at the company’s Inforum, said bonds have “a lot of upside potential.” Underwood suggested that investors should use a laddered bond approach.

He said all companies – both weak and strong – have benefited from cheap liquidity. He warned that the “stock market, which has been on a tear, is going to have to come down.” Underwood noted that the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is up 66 percent from 2009 and the S&P index is up 63 percent during that same time.


Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. had his contract extended four years through Sept. 2018. He has been the chancellor since 1989.

“The board of trustees endorses the outstanding job that Chancellor Hawkins has done for over 25 years and continues to do every day,” Sen. Gerald Dial, president pro tempore of the Troy University Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “He has improved the quality of academics, established dozens of new degree programs, internationalized the campus and elevated Trojan athletics to the Division I level. I am confident that the university will continue to grow and prosper under his leadership in the years to come.”

Hawkins received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Montevallo and a doctorate degree from the University of Alabama.

“Troy University has been a labor of love for my wife Janice and me and we are grateful for the opportunity to keep working on behalf of this great university,” Hawkins said in a statement. “I believe the best is yet to be for Troy and I look forward to being a part of it.”



The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) plant in Montgomery set an annual production record in 2013 and will likely top 400,000. The facility, which manufactures the Korean automaker’s top-selling brands in the U.S. – Sonata and Elantra – established a production record of 376,934 units through November. The previous production record of 361,348 units was set in 2012.

The plant produced 29,399 vehicles in November while operating 19 days and was scheduled to operate 15 days in December. HMMA produced 23,100 units in December 2012.

Meanwhile, the automaker set an all-time November sales record with 56,005 units and through November had sold nearly 660,000 units and will hit 700,000 for the second consecutive year.

The Sonata and Elantra accounted for about 60 percent of the automaker’s sales in November and more than 63 percent of all sales through 11 months of 2013.


When Johnny Williams, the executive director of the 2014 Camellia Bowl, went looking for a title sponsor all he had to do was make one stop to Raycom Media. The Montgomery-based firm was the title sponsor for the 2013 College Football All-Star Classic played at Cramton Bowl last January.

Williams said he visited Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media, and McTear said: “ ‘I’m in.’ ”

Of course it helped that Raycom Media College Football All-Star Classic drew 18,000-plus spectators and that Williams had been executive director of that game.



Jim Wilson & Associates has spent about $100 million renovating Riverchase Galleria in Hoover and the price tag is expected to climb. Von Maur, an Iowa-based department store, recently opened at the Galleria and other new retailers are coming.

Jim Wilson III, chairman and chief executive officer, told “We have a lot of new stores coming … a lot are teeing off the Von Maur opening. We have spent right at $100 million and will continue to spend money to bring in new stores.”

The company spent about $20 million renovating the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel, which is next to the Galleria.


Airbus Americas Inc. Chairman Allen McArtor said the company selected Alabama for a $600 million production facility because “the community, business community, governor’s office, economic development people – you all get it – and you all supported us coming to the State of Alabama.

“It’s not about the incentives. Every state has got an incentive package. What attracted us to Alabama was the fact that Alabama spoke with one voice.”

He said there are opportunities for Montgomery in the company’s supply chain. Airbus already has a backlog of eight years of orders, McArtor said.


The 10 millionth round was played on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The trail has 11 locations, including Capitol Hill in Prattville.

Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner was the visionary behind the golf trail, which opened in 1992. He said he wanted to develop a statewide tourism industry and that industry has grown from less than $2 billion in annual revenue to nearly $11 billion a year today.

The trail now features 26 courses.


Strange, speaking at a news conference to unveil Raycom Media as the title sponsor of the Camellia Bowl, told the attendees: “We need your human support and we need your financial support because at the end of the day, it’s going to take dollars to make this successful.”


Regions Financial Corp. is responsible for nearly 22,000 jobs, according to an economic impact study by the consulting firm Tripp Umbach. Regions’ economic impact was $3.3 billion in 2012, not including loans. The firm’s direct economic impact of $1.9 billion represents more than 1 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. Regions, the only Fortune 500 company with its headquarters in Alabama, generated more than $100 million in state and local tax revenue.



Montgomery was named one of the top medium-sized metros for veterans looking for jobs. It was ranked ninth on the 2013 “Best Places for Veterans: Jobs” list, according to Sperling’s BestPlaces. Ann Arbor, Mich., was ranked No. 1.

The study evaluated several factors, including unemployment rates; recent job growth; access to health care; and access to higher education.


The city’s holiday schedule is linked to the state’s, so when the state added two paid holidays, the city was obligated to match. State employees have not had raises for five years while city workers have had raises during most of that time. Those two extra paid holidays will cost the city between $250,000 and $300,000, according to Strange. Those added holidays also mean overtime for emergency personnel.



Caddell Construction Co. announced two projects, including a nearly $33 million contract to build an elementary school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The new, 120,000-square-foot facility will be built adjacent to the existing school, which will later be demolished.

The Montgomery-based construction firm also announced an $11.4 million project to renovate a seven-story office building in Plantation, Florida.


The 2015 annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association will be held at Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula.

“What we have to show is some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities anywhere,” Thomas Harris, president of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, told Harris told that hunting and fishing in the Black Belt is a $1 billion-a-year industry and is responsible for 11,000 jobs. The conference is scheduled Oct. 14-17, 2015.


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