Alabama business roundup: Headlines from across state – 7/26/16 edition

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What does Alabama Commerce Chief Greg Canfield have to say about the state’s economic outlook in 2016? What health system is now offering physician ratings? Who’s grabbed a chunk of the JetBlue $30 billion contract?

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

Birmingham Business Journal: UAB Health System to begin offering physician ratings

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System this week unveiled a new physician rating system built into its Find a Provider platform, the only Alabama hospital to offer such information.

“We are dedicated to transparency and accountability, and we constantly look for ways our organization, and each faculty and staff member, can improve the services we provide,” UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany said. “This initiative will play an important role in that commitment.”

Under the new system, reviews and ratings on a five-star scale appear with physician profiles in the directory for each physician with at least 30 patient-submitted surveys. Star ratings are based on data collected from patients using the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Practice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys.

Surveys don’t vary from one provider or facility to another, so the resulting data are standardized and allow for more accurate comparisons. Ratings are updated monthly and are based on the previous years of surveys.

At its launch, more than 81 percent of eligible physicians had a posted rating of at least four stars on the five-star scale.

“It’s clear that most patients already think highly of the majority of UAB Medicine providers and the care environment they and their staffs maintain, but we can always do better,” Ferniany said. “Our goal is that each patient who puts his or her trust in our team experiences nothing but the highest level of world-class comfort and care.” Mobile’s Airbus site grabs chunk of new $30 billion JetBlue contract

JetBlue Airways ordered 30 Airbus A321 jetliners Wednesday valued at $3.6 billion, many of which are set to be built the at the aircraft manufacturing company’s assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama.

The sale includes 15 A321s with the current engine option (ceo) for delivery starting next year, and 15 more A321s with new, fuel efficient engines starting in 2020. The positive news for the European-based Airbus comes after good results at the recent Farnborough airshow in the United Kingdom, where it brought in $30 billion of orders for around 280 aircraft.

“Airbus has been our partner since the beginning, and we are proud that our partnership continues today,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue president and CEO, according to an Airbus press release. “The A321 is an incredible aircraft that is delivering results for our business. We intend to deploy many of these aircraft to expand our successful Mint experience and our west coast presence.”

The new order comes during a period of aggressive expansion for JetBlue as it looks to grow its coast-to-coast service known as Mint, and as the company gears toward a trans-Atlantic service starting in 2019.

For Airbus, the order adds to the significant backlog on its single-aisle aircraft, which will keep its international assembly plants busy for years to come, and as it U.S. operation on the Gulf Coast marches toward its full-production rate of four a month by the end of 2017.

“When we decided to build an assembly line in the U.S., we did it to help meet the increasing demand from our U.S. customers,” said John Leahy, Airbus USA Chief Operating Officer. “The A320 Family is a market leader worldwide – one that has found particularly great success in the United States because of its economics, efficiency and comfort. We look forward to delivering more and more aircraft from our U.S. facility to our customers here in America.”

JetBlue currently operates a fleet of 160 A320 Family aircraft, including 130 A320s and 30 A321s, according to Wednesday’s press release. The airline’s backlog of Airbus aircraft comprises of 116 planes: 25 A320neo, 31 A321ceo, and 60 A321neo aircraft.

Alabama News Center: Alabama Commerce chief: 2015 will be hard to beat, but 2016 looking good 

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said economic development years like 2015 don’t come along very often. In fact, by one measure there’s never been a year like last year for Alabama.

“We’ve gone back several years and we can’t find a year where we had $7.1 billion in capital investment like we had in 2015,” Canfield said. “It’s quite an achievement. It’s going to be hard to beat.”

Canfield spoke to economic developers from throughout the state Monday kicking off the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s 2016 summer conference. The commerce chief credited last year’s success with his department’s collaboration with local economic development entities throughout the state, Alabama’s universities and community colleges, the state’s power companies, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

In addition to the record-setting capital investment, 2015 saw the announcement of 19,202 new or future jobs from those projects.

Read more here.

Alabama News Center: Polaris Alabama facility begins producing Rangers, Slingshots

Polaris Industries has launched vehicle production at a new, state-of-the-art factory in north Alabama that’s projected to provide a major economic boost to the region.

Polaris Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Wine announced the production launch in a company statement on Wednesday, saying the Huntsville factory began turning out Ranger off-road vehicles in June.

Earlier this month, Wine added, the Polaris Alabama facility began producing the Slingshot, a three-wheeled roadster.

Alabama beat out at least 14 states to win what was code-named “Project Axle” and its investment of at least $127 million.

‘World-class products’

Polaris and Huntsville are a good match, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. The company is known for its engineering prowess, while the city has a large concentration of highly skilled workers, thanks to the significant presence of military contractors and technology and aerospace firms.

“From automobiles and airplanes to ships and rockets, Alabamians build them all,” Canfield said. “Now we can add off-road vehicles to the list of world-class products made in Alabama. Polaris is a strong addition to our roster of globally competitive advanced manufacturers.”

The Polaris facility is expected to have a significant economic impact on the Huntsville region.

According to estimates by the Department of Commerce, the facility will have a direct economic impact of $124 million over 15 years, with an additional indirect impact of $283 million in that time frame. Direct wages over 15 years are estimated at $1.8 billion.

Minnesota-based Polaris, which recorded 2015 sales of $4.7 billion, is a leading producer of off-road vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and side-by-side vehicles. The company also owns the Victory and Indian motorcycle brands.


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