Bishop State Community College Selected for Apple Tech Training Program

Bishop State Community College is one of three Alabama colleges that will offer a newly created app development curriculum by Apple, starting this fall. The Alabama Community College System was among the first – one of only six nationally – selected to offer the one-year course. Read the news release here.

Mobile Focuses on Tech Sector Growth with Innovation Initiatives

Alabama’s Port City is known around the world for building big ships and jets, but it’s also home to people who create systems, software and other innovative solutions that power industry.

The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce has been increasing its focus on the region’s tech sector, with efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs, including a new downtown incubator and a business pitch competition.

Mobile focuses on tech sector growth with innovation initiatives


TechHire Designation for Mobile

In early 2016, the Mobile Chamber’s Gulf Coast Technology Council and Innovation PortAL assisted the University of South Alabama and the City of Mobile with the application to become a TechHire city. The designatuiopn was awarded ion December 16th, and is another outcome resulting from the Mobile led manufacturing community sesignation.

The aim of the designation is to train and keep software developers in our community. Additional community partners collaborating on the project included the County of Mobile and Depot/U, a Birmingham-based coding training program. It is expected to begin in 2017. Following graduation, 15 member-companies have agreed to interview the graduates for potential employment.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Tech Grant

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has renewed our regional manufacturing community designation for another two-year period. Southwest Alabama’s eight country region was among the first of 12 communities across the nation to be awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) designation. The primary benefit of this designation is preferential scoring on applications to eleven federal agencies for grant funding. Since 2014, the IMCP community has received more than $20 million in federal funds in the region.

Two of the grants received this year as an outgrowth of the region’s federal designation as a manufacturing community include:

  • $2.9 million awarded to the Mobile Area Chamber Foundation to renovate a building on St. Louis Street in downtown Mobile that will house the Innovation PortAL. Local private foundations, private industry, the city of Mobile, Mobile County and the University of South Alabama committed $1.9 million in matching funds. Innovation PortAL will help entrepreneurs launch a business idea or accelerate an existing company with the assistance of industry experts, mentors and specialized training.

• $14.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the City of Mobile to reconstruct the Broad-Beauregard corridor. The funding will rebuild aging infrastructure, help connect citizens to jobs and revitalize historic neighborhoods. The plan includes bike and pedestrian lanes and landscaped medians, reconnecting neighborhoods currently divided by Broad Street’s five-lanes of concrete.

Innovation Boost

innovation boost

A federal official visits Mobile to announce a major grant to renovate a downtown building for Innovation PortAL, a program of the Mobile Area Chamber.

For more information on this critical resource and its expected impact, visit page 5 of the Business View.

Mobile Area Chamber Names Manufacturer of the Year


BASF Corporation’s McIntosh facility was named the Mobile Area Chamber’s 2016 Manufacturer of the Year at a recent Partner’s for Growth (PFG) investor meeting. PFG, a program of the Mobile Area Chamber, is funded by private sector business and industry, the City of Mobile and Mobile County.


Since BASF acquired Ciba, including McIntosh in 2009, the Germany-headquartered company has maintained its local employee base, increased production and significantly invested in the site originally opened in 1952.


One of the world’s largest chemical companies, the local production units benefit the food and beverage, automobile, furniture and flooring industries.


Over the last three years, BASF more than doubled its annual capital spending to make infrastructure improvements, expanded capacity and improved equipment reliability. Local managers expect this trend to continue the next three to five years, with advantageous market conditions and higher demand as the driving forces.


Employees actively support the community by donating time and support to area nonprofit agencies. The company funds a number of science scholarships at various educational institutions and hosts BASF Kids’ Lab where students are scientists for a day.


The site has been honored with numerous safety and environmental awards, including Manufacture Alabama’s Safety Award. Currently there are more than 550 employees at the McIntosh facility.


“BASF is a cornerstone of our chemical sector, anchoring our base materials corridor that stretches from Washington County to south Mobile County,” said Troy Wayman, the Chamber’s vice president of economic development. “Their commitment to the area is exemplified by their investments in Macintosh and co-location projects with other industry leaders in Theodore, as well as their charitable corporate citizenry make them an obvious choice for manufacturer of the year.”

Mobile Area Chamber Names Innovator of the Year


The Mobile Area Chamber presented Prism Systems its 2016 Innovator of the Year award at a recent Partner’s for Growth (PFG) investor meeting. PFG, a program of the Mobile Area Chamber, is funded by private sector business and industry, the City of Mobile and Mobile County.


The work of Mobile-based Prism Systems touches your life in more ways than you can imagine. Your favorite candy bar, doughnut, soft drink or even a bottle of rum, with the help of the company’s customized services it turns out right every time.


But more than food and beverages, the company’s automation and control programming and software development services reach into Fortune 500 companies and other customers in 41 states and 31 countries in 12 key industries including energy, entertainment, government, oil and gas, pulp and paper, education and more.


The results mean world-class production, improved efficiency and reduced costs for customers.


Prism Systems and its employees are active in the local community, participating in the American Cancer Society Chili Cook-Off and hosting an annual Toys for Tots drive.


The 27-year-old company has nearly 50 employees, and earlier this year opened a new research and development lab, generating additional new hires. Other locations include engineering offices in Glendale, California; Birmingham, Alabama; and a manufacturing assembly location in Washington County.


“Prism Systems is a perfect example of Mobile, Alabama, touching the world. The innovative solutions they provide in multiple business environments across the globe showcases the capabilities and talent our community offers,” said Troy Wayman, the Chamber’s vice president of economic development.

Mobile and Atmore share $5 million U.S. government grant

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) made two grants totaling nearly $5 million to the Southwest Alabama region Friday, specifically assisting manufacturing and innovation projects in Mobile and Atmore, it was announced at a Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce press conference.

Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce, an agency that invests in distressed communities, made the announcement alongside Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Atmore Mayor Jim Staff. “We know these key projects will help transform this region’s economy,” said Erskine. 

The first grant, for $2.9 million, will contribute to the renovation and modernization of the old Threaded Fasteners building in Downtown Mobile, which will become a business incubator designed to help entrepreneurs and businesses in the Southwest Alabama region, said Erskine.

A second grant totaling $1.9 million will help build an industrial access road to serve a new aerospace manufacturing facility located at the Rivercane Industrial Park in Atmore, which Erskine said would help alleviate recent economic decline in the city and is expected to create 116 jobs and generate $114 million in private investment.

The grant comes as the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that the country added 151,000 jobs in August, a significant decrease from gains in the previous two months. However, the report also noted losses of around 14,000 in manufacturing.

While the unemployment rate in Atmore soared during the global economic crisis of 2007 and 2008, peaking at 13.1 percent in July 2009, it has slowly recovered to 6.4 percent as of July this year, but still trails the Alabama rate of 5.8 percent and the national average of 4.9 percent. Mobile County’s unemployment rate is currently 6.7 percent, according to Alabama Department of Labor Statistics.

Erskine also announced in his speech that the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and Atmore City would be contributing $1.9 million and $580,000 to their projects, respectively.

Mayor Staff of Atmore said that the grant was a “truly regional project,” while Mobile Mayor Stimpson said that he and the Mobile community were “grateful” for the EDA’s investment.

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EDPA names 2016 Alabama Innovation Awards winners at state conference

The state’s growing startup ecosystem was at center stage during the Alabama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference in Birmingham.

The sixth-annual event, held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, is organized by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama to celebrate Alabama’s top visionaries for innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

The conference was also held in conjunction with the 10th-anniversary of Alabama Launchpad, another popular EDPA startup program.

One of the honorees at this year’s event was from the Mobile, AL area.

Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing

  • Horizon Shipbuilding, Bayou La Batre, a shipyard recognized for its GORDHEAD collaboration software aiming to revolutionize the way shipbuilders and other manufacturers conduct business by improving communication more easily by sharing problems and quickly arriving at collaborative solutions.

For the full article on the Innovations Awards, click here.

2016 Alabama Innovation Award

Horizon Shipbuilding was named as one of the 2016 Alabama Innovation Award winners by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing category for its GORDHEAD collaboration software.

Before Horizon Shipbuilding developed its own specialized project management soft ware, the Bayou La Batre-based company relied on conversations remembered, estimates and drawings. And the more the company expanded, the more difficult it became to keep projects on track.

Horizon designs, constructs, repairs and maintains vessels for commercial, private and government customers, and was named the Mobile Area Chamber’s Innovator of the Year.

The idea for the software, called Gordhead, came when president Travis Short thought about how the project details he studied could be just as useful to managers and production team members.

Drawing on his persona; sense of humor, Short named the software after a muffled conversation he overheard on the company’s walkie-talkies, where one employee asked another, “Did you just cal me a Gordhead?”

Now Gordhead symbolizes a clear line of communication logging accurate, concise and timely information, including material costs, labor hours and schedules.

With the software loaded on wireless tablets, managers can see the daily impact to the company’s bottom line, resulting in shortened project timelines and a more efficient work schedule that saves labor costs.

But perhaps the greatest benefit, says Short, is an “increased degree of harmony among different levels of management . And when employees ask a questions or expresses a concern, they know they will be heard.”

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