Alabama business roundup: Headlines from across state – 7/12/16 edition

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Which major Alabama company is getting a new look for the first time in 20 years? How much have new home sales gone up over last year? Which manufacturing company is priming for a production ramp-up?

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

AL.com: Alabama business owners treat Mobile area police officers to lunch

A group of Alabama business owners in Mobile decided to treat every police officer to a free buffet style lunch at Moe’s Original Barbecue in Downtown Mobile Tuesday (July 12) afternoon.

Brian Birdsong, Co-owner of Moe’s Original Barbecue said the motivation behind the random act of kindness came from the tragic Dallas police shootings last week.

“Just seems like to the rest of the world they are not getting a good rap on things so we just wanted to show our support,” said Birdsong.

Birdsong says Austin Key, Vice President of Bugmaster pest control reached out to him after the police officers shootings and wanted to do something in Mobile to lift officers spirits. With tensions high between community members and police after several police involved shootings across the country, including the death of 19 year-old Michael Moore in Mobile Key says something good needed to be done.

“We told Moe’s just set up the buffet lines and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. it’s on us,” said Key

The business owners invited officer’s from Mobile County and Baldwin County to stop in for lunch. Patrons and kids at the restaurant took the time to give hugs to officers as they enjoyed lunch and stopped to take pictures. Birdsong says the response from the community during the lunch hour rush was all positive.

“The response has been all positive little kids coming up to them thanking them and I’ve thanked them and they’ve been very appreciative of it,” said Birsong.

T-shirts supporting the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile Sheriff’s Office were for sale during the event. The restaurants owners said the proceeds from the T-shirt sales will be donated to both police departments.

Alabama News Center: Airbus Alabama primes for production ramp-up

Now that the first Alabama-made airplanes are rolling off the assembly line at the Airbus manufacturing plant in Mobile and taking to the skies, the big question is: What’s next?

Plenty.

In fact, the global plane maker has only just begun to make its mark on Mobile and Alabama, according to business leaders and market forecasts that show a robust, long-term demand for the passenger jets produced there.

Airbus continues to ramp up production and expects the $600 million factory at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley to turn out between 40 and 50 A320 Family aircraft each year by 2018.

Worldwide, there’s an anticipated demand for more than 20,000 single-aisle planes over the next 20 years. The U.S. is the world’s largest market for such aircraft, and the vast majority of those built in Mobile will be delivered to customers in North America.

“I think we can all take great comfort in knowing that the Airbus book of orders is so healthy for the next 20 years,” said Bill Sisson, president and CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Certainly, we will see aircraft production reach capacity rates as quickly as possible in order to meet the demand,” he added. “The more aircraft that are delivered per month from Mobile will mean more supplier and service provider opportunities at Brookley and beyond.”

Farnborough mission

Sisson and others from the Mobile area are part of the Alabama economic development team that is promoting the state at the Farnborough International Airshow in London this week. The Alabama delegation at the industry’s most important trade event is being led by Gov. Robert Bentley.

“Our work at the Farnborough Airshow will be about continuing to build a strong network with Airbus suppliers and a great opportunity to evangelize about the strength of doing business in Mobile,” Sisson said.

“As the world’s newest aviation center, it is our region’s golden opportunity to market on the world stage. We’re doing that and will continue to foster the full development of Mobile’s fastest-growing business sector.”

The region already has been successful in landing new business tied to Airbus. A recent example is UTC Aerospace Systems, which in May announced an expansion of its Baldwin County aerostructures plant.

The company plans a $30 million facility that will supply jet engine systems to the Airbus plant, creating 260 jobs.

Continue reading: http://alabamanewscenter.com/2016/07/12/airbus-alabama-primes-production-ramp/

AL.com: Alabama Business Confidence Wanes, but Remains Positive for Third Quarter 2016

The Alabama Business Confidence Index™ (ABCI) came in at an optimistic 52.4 on the third quarter 2016 survey conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research in UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. Business confidence decreased 2.8 points since last quarter and panelists remain less optimistic than a year ago when the ABCI registered 54.8. All component indexes except for capital expenditures decreased this quarter, but most remain in solidly positive territory.

Panelists continue to see expansion in the Alabama economy, but are somewhat pessimistic about the national economy. The outlook for the state economy fell to a still quite confident 52.8, while the national economy index remained near the neutral mark with a slightly negative 49.0. Almost 30 percent of panelists expect stronger economic growth in the state this quarter and 52 percent expect the state’s economy to perform about the same as last quarter. In comparison, about 25 percent expect increased U.S. economic growth and almost 49 percent think growth will continue at about the same pace.

The sales index remains on top of the list at 54.9 even after a 4.9 points drop, while expectations for capital expenditures increased slightly to 53.4. Pace of job growth and profits are expected to improve moderately or stay stable.

Firms in construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, as well as in finance, insurance, and real estate are the most optimistic this quarter, all posting index levels of 54 or more. Retailers, however, continue to have the most negative outlook.

The four largest metro areas all posted positive readings except for Huntsville that has a neutral index. Confidence decreased in all metro areas, with the smallest loss seen in Birmingham-Hoover. Montgomery continues enjoying the highest confidence among the large metros with an index of 53.9.

Businesses of all sizes are less confident than last quarter, but still feel positive about their third quarter prospects. Almost every indicator shows at least moderate optimism for each of the three groups categorized by number of employees. Small firms, those with fewer than 20 employees, were the most confident, registering an index of 53.4. Medium-sized businesses, those with 20 to 99 employees, were also optimistic with a reading of 52.4. The reading for large firms declined the least to a positive 51.4. Note that an index value above 50 indicates a positive outlook as compared to the previous quarter.

Report: Results of the third quarter 2016 ABCI survey are available at http://cber.cba.ua.edu/abci/results.html. The survey, which is in its 15th year, was completed online June 1-15 by 210 Alabama business executives.

Birmingham Business Journal: Alabama Power getting a new look as Southern Co. rebrands

One of Birmingham’s most prominent brands is getting a new look.

Alabama Power Co.’s familiar gray and red logo is being replaced with a more colorful, modernized version.

For the first time in 20 years, Alabama Power has redesigned its logo, in connection with a rebranding for parent Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), in an effort to reflect the company’s more diverse energy focus.

The new logo is meant to better reflect the range of companies associated with the Southern Co. family.

“After much consideration and study, we have decided to create a new brand mark that unifies the full portfolio of companies,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power chairman, president and CEO.

The update follows Southern Co.’s recent $12 billion acquisition of Atlanta-based AGL Resources, which has been renamed Southern Company Gas. The merger has expanded the Southern Co. system to 18 states, with 9 million customers.

Alabama Power, which has been operating in the state for more than 110 years, will not be altering its name.

The company will be switching over to the new logo over the next few months.

Alabama News Center: May new home sales rose 16 percent over same period in 2015

Demand: New home sales totaling 364 units in May increased 9.3 percent from the same period last year. May new homes sales were 16.3 percent above the prior month. Average days on market in May of 106 represent a 1.2 percent decrease from last May.

Supply: Months of new home supply in May was 5.3 months. Statewide new construction inventory is approximately 15.9 percent above last May and down 0.8 percent from last month.

Pricing: Alabama’s metro median new home sales price during May was $240,907, a decrease of 1.6 percent from May 2015, but an increase of 5.4 percent from April 2016.

New home pipeline: May statewide housing starts were up 15.1 percent from 2015 and up 9.5 percent from April. Statewide building permits in May were up 16.2 percent from May 2015 but were down 1.7 percent from April 2016.

Residential construction employment: According to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, statewide related residential construction employment in May decreased 0.74 percent (minus 600 jobs) to 80,400 from the same period last year and was down 1.35 percent from the previous month. This ends a string of 20 consecutive months of positive YOY comparisons associated with construction employment.

Local results: Fourteen of the 27 associations (51 percent) reported building permit gains from May 2015, while 10 associations (37 percent) experienced gains in housing starts. Sixteen associations experienced an increase from their April 2016 monthly housing starts.

Industry perspective: According to Robert Dietz, National Association of Home Builders chief economist, “On a three-month moving average basis, single-family starts ticked down due to the elevated construction pace recorded in February. While NAHB expects growth in single-family construction due to favorable demographics, lot supplies are a growing challenge holding back production, particularly in markets in the West and Northeast. … Regionally, expansion has been particularly strong in the South, where single-family starts for April are 17 percent higher than a year ago. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, 55 percent of single-family starts for the month were located in the South.”

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