Alabama business roundup: Headlines from across state – 4/27/16 edition

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Which Alabama city is the nation’s top destination for STEM graduates? What local startup was tapped by UAB for a solar energy construction project?

Answers to all of these questions and more in today’s business roundup:

Birmingham Business Journal: This Alabama city is the nation’s top destination for STEM graduates

For the second consecutive year, Huntsville offers better career prospects for college graduates planning a job in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields than tech hotspots like Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Of 330 cities analyzed by NerdWallet, Huntsville ranked No. 1 for STEM graduates. The city ranks highly for job opportunity, average salary, and cost of living.

There are 152 STEM employees per 1,000 total jobs in Huntsville and that high demand also comes with a high paycheck. The average salary for STEM employees in Huntsville is $95,000. That’s about $11,000 higher than the national average.

The city was also highlighted for Cummings Research Park, which employs 29,000 people in science and technology and is home to the operations of major national companies. Huntsville is also the headquarters of U.S. military garrison and weapons manufacturer Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

“Dozens of Fortune 500 companies have a presence at the research park, including AT&T, IBM and Comcast. Huntsville stands out in particular for its opportunities in aerospace and defense. The research park hosts the Boeing Co., United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The Huntsville area is home to the Army’s massive Redstone Arsenal, which employs over 35,000 people, many in the science and engineering fields. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is located on the grounds of the Redstone Arsenal and is the area’s third-largest employer.”
Here’s the rest of NerdWallet’s top 10 cities for STEM graduates.

  • No. 2 San Jose, Cali
  • No. 3 Boulder, Colo
  • No. 4 Seattle, Wash
  • No. 5 Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C
  • No. 6 San Francisco, Calif
  • No. 7 Kennewick-Richland, Wash
  • No. 8 Palm Bay-Melbourne, Fla
  • No. 9 Trenton, N.J
  • No. 10 Austin, Texas

Alabama News Center: First Alabama-made Airbus A321 ‘BluesMobile’ goes to JetBlue 

Airbus marked a major milestone at its new Alabama manufacturing facility today as the aviation giant delivered its first U.S.-made A321 passenger jet to customer JetBlue.

The plane, which flew for first time on March 21, was nicknamed “BluesMobile.” Workers from the Alabama final assembly line joined the plane on the tarmac at Mobile Aeroplex while a marching band and cheerleaders performed.

John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, told the crowd that the delivery to JetBlue climaxed years of planning and preparation for the company, which announced plans for the $600 million manufacturing facility in Alabama back in 2012.

“The team here at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility is very pleased and immensely proud to deliver to JetBlue the very first Airbus aircraft manufactured right here in Mobile, Alabama,” said Daryl Taylor, general manager of the Airbus facility.

“Going from breaking ground on this facility three years ago to handing over the first Alabama-produced A321 today is an amazing accomplishment,” Leahy said. “It’s a testament to how well executed this project was and how strong the teamwork has been here in Mobile and throughout Airbus.

“The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility has brought together all the best aspects of our other assembly lines around the world, and it shows how Airbus people work hand in hand with our partners to deliver great aircraft to our customers,” he added.


Robin Hayes, president and CEO of JetBlue, said the company was honored to take delivery of the first U.S.-made Airbus passenger jet. He presented Taylor with a plaque to mark the occasion.

“You’ve done an amazing job building an incredible airplane,” Hayes told the Airbus Alabama workers, who were wearing a blue “Airbus 1” jerseys.

Airbus, which now employs about 350 people at the final assembly line, plans to produce four or five A320 Family jets at the Alabama plant. The facility will eventually support 1,000 jobs.

“There is no better place to build airplanes in the United States than Mobile, Alabama,” John Leahy said at today’s ceremony.

In addition to the JetBlue A321 delivered today, there are nine other A320 Family aircraft in production at the facility. Airbus anticipates delivering four aircraft per month from the Mobile plant by the end of 2017.

Alabama News Center: Auburn University’s Recreation and Wellness Center named one of the best nationwide

Auburn University’s student Recreation & Wellness Center was recently ranked No. 3 on a list of the 35 most luxurious student recreation centers in America.

Here’s what College Rank had to say about the 237,981-square-foot center:Featuring a bike repair shop and two 50-foot climbing walls, Auburn’s student recreation center made College Rank’s list for a variety of reasons, according to the college evaluation website.

“The goal of the Campus Recreation Department at Auburn University is to enrich student life by promoting physical activity and responsible, healthy choices. To ensure this, Auburn offers programs like the “Healthy Weight Challenge,” which challenges students to stay active and maintain nutritional balance. Cooking classes are also offered to ensure that students complete the challenge. Auburn also has fun options for students with events like the Polar Bear Plunge; where students take a swim in the outdoor leisure pool during the colder months of the year. In addition to these events, Auburn also has several programs and options for students looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Auburn has professional trainers on staff, has fitness assessments, group fitness courses, and a “Pilates reformer”, which adds resistance training to the traditionally mat-based Pilates regimen. The university also has many outdoor options for students and even has a bike rental kiosk for those who simply want to bike around campus.”

Auburn’s student center was opened in 2013 after construction was completed by Birmingham’s Robins & Morton and HOK design firm.

The facility features a 1/3-mile track, as well as basketball courts, an outdoor leisure pool, cardio/fitness zones and weight training areas.

According to the firm HOK’s website, the facility was constructed for around $225 per square foot and has garnered multiple awards, including National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association’s Outstanding Sports Facility and Athletic Business’ Facility of Merit Award.

The project is also LEED certified.

Birmingham Business Journal: UAB taps local startup for solar energy construction project

Vulcan Solar Power has secured a contract with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to build the school’s first commercial-scale solar installation.

More than 100 solar panels will go on the roof of UAB’s Campus Recreation Center as part of the $120,000 contract. Work is expected to begin in mid June and construction will take no longer than two weeks.

Vulcan Solar Power was founded earlier this year by Rob Ozols, a former partner at Maynard Cooper & Gale, and Sam Yates, a former engineer with Talladega Casting and Machine Co.

Steve Furze, Vulcan’s senior operations manager, will lead the UAB project.

“We are excited to be a part of Alabama’s renewable energy community and are honored to be chosen to install UAB’s first commercial-size rooftop solar system,” said Ozols, CEO of Vulcan Solar. “Our mission is to provide Alabamians with reliable and affordable solar energy while also helping Alabama join in on the explosive job-growth that is taking place in the solar industry across the country. And what better way to kick-start all of this than by partnering with UAB on this ground-breaking project.”

The company provides solar installations for residential, commercial and nonprofit projects. First US Bank developing $14.5 million office building off Highway 280

First US Bank is developing a $14.5 million office complex at the intersection of Highway 280 and Pump House Road.

The 3-acre site is in unincorporated Jefferson County near Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook.

First US Bank is headquartered in Thomasville and is a subsidiary of United Security Bancshares. It plans to occupy about one fourth of the space, including a bank branch and space for executive offices and commercial lending, and will add 10 to 20 jobs. The bank will lease the rest of the space to other tenants.

The complex will be about 40,000 square feet. KPS Group is the architect and Brasfield & Gorrie is the general contractor. Graham & Company will handle project development and pre-leasing.

First US Bank plans to move into the new building in the second quarter of next year.

“We are thrilled to be involved in this project, which adds new office space to the successful U.S. Highway 280 corridor, and represents the first new speculative office development in the Birmingham market in more than seven years,” Graham & Company President Mike Graham said in a statement. “The bank has assembled a first-rate team that will design and build a facility that the community will be proud of for many years to come.”

First US Bank also recently opened a Loan Production office in Mountain Brook. The bank was founded in 1952 and has 21 offices statewide. The bank has more than $570 million in assets.