Alabama business roundup: Headlines from across the state

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Here’s a roundup of some of the top weekend business headlines from across the state:

Birmingham Business Journal: Birmingham top city for millennial renters

Millennials have shown strong tendencies toward renting since the end of the Great Recession, but finding affordable rental housing and apartments has been a challenge in some of the nation’s largest metros.

Birmingham, however, gives this generation more access to affordable rental properties than many of its peer metros, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The report cited six cities that had the largest share of rental listings that millennials could afford, and Birmingham was No. 5 on that list.

Just over 80 percent of the available properties listed the metro area are deemed within reach for most millennials, the report said.

The top metro was St. Louis, followed by Birmingham, Kansas City, Missouri, Richmond, Detroit and Indianapolis.

Birmingham Business Journal: Garry Drummond now the richest individual in Alabama

There is a new name holding the enviable title of wealthiest person in Alabama.

Garry Drummond, 77, whose net worth is an estimated $980 million, is now the richest individual in Alabama, according to a recent Forbes report.

Drummond takes the spot formerly occupied by Marguerite Harbert, who died in March, as the richest individual in the state.

H.E. Drummond – Garry’s father – started the H.E. Drummond Coal Co. in Sipsey, Ala. in 1935, taking a $300 loan from Walker County Bank in Jasper and providing three mules as collateral on the note, according to the company’s website.

Garry Drummond began at his father’s business in 1961, after graduating with an engineering degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

He became CEO in 1973, and has seen the coal firm grow into the largest privately-owned company in Alabama.

Forbes reported that Drummond Co. has $3 billion in sales used for electricity and steel production.

The company has coal reserves totaling more than 2 billion tons in Alabama and Colombia.

Birmingham Business Journal: AM/NS Calvert to invest $88M in Mobile facility

While other Alabama steel producers are reeling amid one of the worst downturns in the industry’s history, one firm is investing in its Mobile County operations.

AM/NS Calvert LLC – which is a combined subset of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. – will invest $88 million in its north Mobile County facility in an effort to increase its presence in the automotive industry, according to a report from AL.com.

Mobile County’s Industrial Development Authority on Thursday approved tax abatements totaling $8.5 million during the 20-year impact period.

The requests represent about half a dozen different projects that are slated to begin immediately. The projects will be completed in phases through the close of 2016.

The estimated capital investment of $87,556,015 includes about $77 million in machinery and equipment, in addition to incorporating about $24 million in local construction and engineering services.

The project is expected to create six new jobs over the course of three years, with average annual salaries of $65,000.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is the largest steel producer in world, and has felt the pinch of the steel downturn.

However, while the company has acknowledged the market downturn, ArcelorMittal said in France, the company has hired 700 workers since reconfiguring the Florange steel plant, which could signal a resurgence in the steel market as the company expands.

ArcelorMittal USA employs more than 20,000 workers at 27 operations across 13 U.S. states.

NYTimes.com: Time Inc. to Move Test Kitchens to Alabama

Time Inc., the nation’s largest magazine publisher, is moving almost all its recipe testing and other food editorial production for its 29 domestic magazines and websites to Birmingham, Ala., where it is building a food studio with 28 test kitchens, a dozen photography studios and a private dining room.

The multimillion-dollar investment in the complex is part of a renewed commitment to food coverage for the nation’s largest magazine publisher, whose publications include People, Real Simple, Essence, Sports Illustrated and Travel & Leisure. Though some test kitchens in New York will close as a result, the move is seen as an expansion that will add about 44 jobs.

“Excuse the pun, but the appetite for trusted, quality food content I don’t think has ever been richer than it is right now,” said Evelyn Webster, an executive vice president. “It’s not just people for whom food has always been a reflection of their lifestyle. It’s this whole new breed of enthusiasts who are coming into our market.”

The company struggled after Time Warner spun it off a year ago and it went public. It trimmed operations and personnel and looked for ways to preserve its print heritage while staying competitive on an increasingly cluttered and constantly changing digital playing field.

The food studios will fill 40,000 square feet in one of three buildings on a 28-acre campus that Time Inc. sold last year to Samford University. It is leasing back the building that will hold the studios, as well as the offices of Southern Living, Cooking Light and Coastal Living, which are already produced there.

At the same time, Food & Wine, which Time Inc. bought in 2013 and whose profile soared when it teamed up with the television show “Top Chef,” will have its own new test kitchen and studio in New York when the company moves downtown from its longtime perch in the Time & Life Building in Rockefeller Center this year.

Sunset, the company’s magazine dedicated to cooking and gardening on the West Coast, is also getting new offices and kitchens in Oakland and Sonoma Counties in California. Time Inc. sold the midcentury Sunset headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., which was designed by the architect Clifford May, for an estimated $78 million in 2014. The moves are part of an increased emphasis on quality recipes, polished food websites and increased cooking coverage in both traditional and digital media. It comes after a fallow period in publication test kitchens that was punctuated by the closing of Gourmet magazine and its kitchens in 2009 and the shuttering of The San Francisco Chronicle’s elaborate wine cellar, rooftop garden and test kitchen in 2013.

Now, new professional kitchen spaces are being constructed that allow publications not only to test recipes but also to produce photographs and videos that can be adapted to web, print and social media.

“It’s almost like a new form of test kitchen that acts as testing, entertainment and studio space,” said Amanda Hesser, a former food writer at The New York Times Magazine and a co-founder of the website Food52, which in February moved into a custom-designed office in Chelsea that has two test kitchens.

The website, which now has 52 employees, started in Ms. Hesser’s Brooklyn apartment and catered to content generated by home cooks. It has grown to produce cookbooks and sell kitchenware and home furnishings.

The new test kitchen model — a marked turn from both the old workhorse test kitchens at newspapers and the show kitchens of the Martha Stewart media empire — springs from blogging culture, Ms. Hesser said. Homey images of dishes in process, culinary mistakes and even children running through an untidy kitchen gained currency as food blogs became more popular.

“It gave readers a sense of reality and context that traditional publications had moved away from,” she said.

“We’re part of this great shift back to the place where people are making the recipes instead of making it seem like the food is untouchable,” she said.

That is very much how Bon Appétit, the Condé Nast food magazine that moved temporarily into the kitchens of the defunct Gourmet, uses its new airy, professionally equipped 2,126-square-foot commercial kitchen in 1 World Trade Center, where Condé Nast has moved.

The Washington Post plans to build a new test kitchen when it moves to new headquarters next year that will include equipment for videos and photography, said Joe Yonan, the food and dining editor.

In Birmingham, the new studios will open in January. In addition to editorial content, the studio will hold chef demonstrations, private dinners and events for loyal readers. The company will also use it to produce native advertising, which are ads that resemble news articles, and live events with advertisers.

But recipe testing customized for each magazine will be at the heart, Ms. Webster said.

Although there is plenty of user-generated food content on the Internet, readers in focus groups consistently say well-tested recipes from professional cooks are important, she said.

“I will tell you there is a role for both,” she said. “But really, when you’ve got 12 people coming around for a dinner party or you’ve got to make dinner five nights a week for your family, you kind of want to know you can rely on something.”

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