Locked and loaded: Development agreement clears Remington to start work on $110M gun plant in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE,
Alabama
– A planned $110 million Remington firearms factory in west Huntsville
is now locked and loaded.

At its
meeting Thursday night, the Huntsville City Council approved a development
agreement that guarantees Remington $14.5 million in local incentives -
including free use of the sprawling former Chrysler electronics plant near the
airport.

But America’s oldest gun maker will have to repay the city if
it fails to deliver on its employment promises.

Remington says that by the end of 2015, there will be at least 280 full-time employees at its Huntsville gun factory earning a minimum average
hourly wage of $19.50. That comes to $40,560 a year.

The company plans to rapidly ramp up hiring from there:

680 employees by the end of 2016;

1,018 employees by 2017;

1,258 employees by 2018;

1,498 employees by 2019;

1,698 employees by 2020; and

1,868 employees by 2021.

Also, Remington promises to bump the minimum average salary from $19.50
to $20.19 an hour – $41,995 per year – in 2017.

The company says it will spend at least $110 million renovating and equipping the Huntsville factory. The development agreement gives Remington the option of
transferring up to $20 million worth of equipment and “other capital assets”
to Huntsville from other states. Remington also makes guns in upstate New York
and Kentucky.

Huntsville’s Industrial Development Board recently bought the former
Chrysler plant for $10.5 million, using a bank loan guaranteed by Remington.
Title to the building and 145-acre grounds off Wall-Triana Highway will be
transferred to the company in about a month.

The development agreement says Remington will rent the facility from the
city for $1.25 million per year. However, the annual mortgage payment will be
waived each year the company meets its employment and salary targets.

Tommy Battle Will Not Run For GovernorView full sizeHuntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. (Eric Schultz / eschultz@al.com)

Mayor Tommy Battle said the contract includes “clawback” provisions that
require Remington to pay a percentage of the mortgage if it fails to create
all of the promised jobs.

For example, Remington says it will hire at least 338 new full-time employees at
its Huntsville factory in 2017. If it hires only half that number, the company
would be responsible for half of that year’s mortgage payment — $625,000.

And if Remington shuts down the Huntsville plant within five years, it would
either have to pay the city $12.5 million or give back the factory.
Battle said the building was recently insured for $235 million.

If Remington satisfies all the employment and salary terms, it will own
the factory and grounds outright after 10 years.

“Remington is a great and honorable company,” said Battle, “and I don’t
ever expect to have to touch those clawbacks.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/02/locked_and_loaded_development.html

180 new pregnant patients in January, just the icing on Madison Hospital’s 2nd birthday cake (updated)

MADISON, Alabama – Moments after a visitor collapsed in the hospital
lobby, the “med-alert” alarm sounded and Mary Lynne Wright hastily left her
board room and rushed to the scene.

It’s not standard protocol that the president of Madison
Hospital should react to every emergency in the 60-bed facility that celebrates
its second birthday today. But it is a standard of extra care and personal concern that Wright
said she and all of her 390-member staff believe is more attainable because of their
size.

The ability for even administrative officials to check on
visitors in distress is one of the advantages of still being a small, community
hospital, Wright said.

Mary Lynne Wright 05 - edit.jpgMary Lynne Wright, Madison Hospital president

“When you’re small you can do some things a little bit
differently,” she said. “If I see somebody and I recognize that they’re a
little unsure about where they’re going, I’ve got plenty of time. I can stop
and walk them to where they’re going.

“That’s what you do at a small hospital. Everybody pitches
in,” she said, noting the cafeteria cashier also came to check on the welfare
of the person who fell in lobby.

While being small has its advantages, Madison Hospital is
growing, both in facility size and number of medical services and admitted
patients. That growth probably could
come faster, but the hospital on U.S. 72 struggles with getting physicians
from Huntsville to practice there. Still, a new 60,000-square foot medical
building is nearing completion on the 25-acre campus that will be a lure for
more physicians to establish roots in Madison.

The OB-GYN center, in particular, is already delivering more
babies than anticipated and poised for growth. The Breast Center is adding
another technician to meet demand for mammograms. In a couple of weeks, the new 64 Slice CT scanner will be operational. The hospital also will be adding
its second full-time physician, Dr. Doug Downey this summer. And administrators
are already hoping to enlarge the emergency department and thinking about how
to afford a surgical robot.

When the hospital opened two years ago, the first goal was
to get the emergency room established, Wright said. They anticipated 19,000
emergency room patients the first year and ended up seeing 37,000. They added
three more patient rooms to the emergency department in the first years, so it now has 15. Wright
said she “hopes” to add three more this year.

Logo.jpgView full sizeBirthday numbers

Lab Procedures — 366,792

Imaging Procedures — 101,689

ER Visits — 68,868

Patients Admitted — 3,190

Operating Room Procedures — 7,554

Births — 637

Six months after opening, the hospital began delivering
babies. It was averaging 25 births a month one year ago, and now is averaging more than 65
deliveries per month, with the highest month at 73 this past fall.

A big part of that growth came from OB-GYN Associates moving
its practice from Decatur to Madison, Wright said. The group already hired two
more physicians and plans to add a third this summer to handle growth, she
added.

“When they add those kinds of numbers to their practice,
they are expecting it to explode,” Wright said. “They told me in January they
saw 180 new pregnant women. That’s a good volume for one practice to have. By
this time next year I’d like to see us delivering at least 100 babies a month. I
truly think we can get there.”

Getting a child birth center established is a key to Madison Hospital’s growth, Wright said, because it establishes a vital role
from the onset of starting a family. When parents give birth to a child at the
hospital, there’s a good chance they will bring their children back there when
they get sick or injured, she said.

“This becomes your community and this becomes your community’s
hospital. And that’s really what Madison Hospital is, a community hospital,” Wright
said.

Other highlights during the past two years:

  • The Breast Center now sees 500 patients a month and is
    adding another technician that can increase that number by 150. The center,
    located in the Progress Bank building next door to the main hospital, just
    added a bone density scanner to check for osteoporosis in men and women.
  • The Vein Center opened in May 2013, and is treating 40 to 50
    patients a week.
  • The surgery unit, which has five operating rooms and two
    endoscopy rooms, is performing 350 surgeries per month for orthopedic, eye,
    pediatric, OB-GYN, urology, endoscopy and similar general surgery procedures. It is capable of 250 more surgeries
    per month.
  • On any given day, the hospital will have 15 physicians
    serving patients, including pulmonary, nephrology, neonatal, gastro-intestinal
    and infectious disease fields.

Wright said she anticipated having more physicians coming to
Madison when the hospital opened two years ago. It’s not that the doctors don’t
want to come, she said, but that it’s simply hard to accomplish logistically
because of the distance between downtown Huntsville and Madison.

“The biggest challenge that I’ve had is with our medical
staff because so many of our (Huntsville area) physicians live in downtown
Huntsville or Hampton Cove,” she said. “You can plan realistically an hour and half travel
time. Even though the physicians want to be out here, they struggle with the
logistics of getting here.”

The limited number of physicians, however, also is one of Madison
Hospital’s most attractive aspects to doctors, Wright said. The physicians feel
a little more special in Madison because there are fewer of them compared to downtown
Huntsville, and  that fits perfectly with the small-town charm the
hospital tries to convey with patients, she said.

“This is a very different environment,” Wright said. “It’s important
to me that patients or visitors that come to this hospital get a feeling
when they walk in these doors that we are embracing them and we want them to be
here. They have a choice of where they can go. They don’t have to come to
Madison Hospital.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/02/180_new_pregnant_pateints_in_j.html

The health risks of e-cigarettes? No one knows for sure, but experts are leery

Twickenham vaporView full sizeAmanda Bevis, who works at Twickenham Vapor, demonstrates how an e-cigarette works. Twickenham Vapor, located on the corner of Lowe Avenue and Madison Street, is a new e-cigarette store in downtown Huntsville which offers an assortment e-cig accessories as well as a selection of more than 75 different flavors of liquid. (Sarah Cole/scole@al.com)

 E-cigarettes are a multiple health challenge, according to an Alabama public health official. First and foremost, there’s the question of whether they’re physically harmful to the user. Even if they’re not, or if the tradeoff versus tobacco seems worth it, there’s the question of whether they lure tobacco users into a new kind of “smoking” that ultimately leads back to the old smoking.

And because of their marketing, where personalities like the actress Jenny McCarthy say they offer the pleasure of smoking without the guilt, there’s the question of whether e-cigarettes will be a gateway to regular smoking for teens.

Fueling the concerns is a rapid rise in popularity in e-cigarette is that has gotten ahead of the research.

“We don’t know a lot about them,” Madison County Health Officer Dr. Lawrence Robey said recently. “That’s the problem.”

[Related story: Explosive e-cigarette growth prompts vapor shop business boom across north Alabama (photos)]

Robey said there is a conflict about the health risks in the medical literature so far. “For some people, they may not be that bad,” he says. “For some, they may be, depending on their general health, the medications they take and so forth.”

E-cigarettes are tubes containing a battery, a heater and a liquid mixture containing nicotine. The liquid, typically a mixture of water and propylene glycol, is heated to a vapor by the battery. The smoker inhales and exhales the vapor which looks like smoke.

Studies have shown the e-cigarettes deliver little nicotine compared to regular cigarettes. More importantly, they don’t deliver the tar and some of the other toxic chemicals produced by burning tobacco. Tar and those other chemicals are the most dangerous parts of a cigarette, Robey agrees. But that’s not to say e-cigarettes are worry-free.

“There is some concern with the (propylene glycol),” Robey said. “What happens when you inhale it?”

Propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and is contained in other food products. But the FDA’s official position on e-cigarettes is that they “have not been fully studied so consumers do not know” the risks, including what other chemicals may be inhaled when they are used. The FDA intends to extend its authority to e-cigarettes, but hasn’t done so yet except for those marketed “for therapeutic purposes.”

Nicotine itself is a chemical “known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm,” according to the warnings on e-cigarettes in that state. But Robey says nicotine is also the subject of preliminary studies that suggest it “may improve mental function.” It could be used in some form in the future for patients suffering Alzheimer’s or other mental problems.

Given the clear and proven danger of burning tobacco, Robey said e-cigarettes may deserve a place in society’s weapons against smoking. Nicotine-delivery systems such as patches are already widely available, he said, and e-cigarettes could be a useful addition to those.

But Robey immediately qualifies that support. “It shouldn’t go on forever,” he said of smoking e-cigarettes. “It should be used to help stop smoking.”

The qualification points to the second potential health problem with e-cigarettes. “They are not addicting in the way that narcotics are addicting,” Robey said, “but are the smokers becoming dependent on them or the behavior of smoking them?”

Smokers know that the physical act of handling, lighting and inhaling any kind of burning tobacco is an attraction in and of itself. “It gives me something to do with my hands,” is a common smoker’s comment. “It looks cool,” is another attitude usually associated with young people.

Will smokers use e-cigarettes to wean themselves off tobacco? Or will they simply substitute one less-harmful habit for another more-harmful habit? And does that matter? Addiction experts say substituting one potentially addictive substance for another addictive substance – alcohol for illegal drugs, for example – can ultimately lead an addict back to the original addiction. But does that apply to cigarettes? Are smokers addicts in that sense? And is the nicotine dose delivered in e-cigarettes anywhere near strong enough to stimulate that kind of craving? The science isn’t clear.

There’s clearly more to learn about e-cigarettes, and one of the concerns is that they could become entrenched in society before the potential harm is understood. As for today, Robey sees e-cigarettes as “the lesser of the two evils” compared to tobacco. “But only if they are being used over a period of time to stop smoking,” he says.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/02/the_health_risks_of_e-cigarett.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


austal2-22.JPG

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


port.jpg

The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

Mobile business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


DuckCommander.jpg

The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

Birmingham business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


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 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

Do you know what this is? A NASA technologist called it a great innovation in Alabama today

Dyson Airblade TapThis combination faucet hand-dryer drew praise from a NASA technologist at the U.S. Space Rocket Center Thursday Feb. 27, 2014. (Lee Roop/LRoop@ AL.com)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Do you know what this is? Can you imagine why a NASA technologist told a crowd of aerospace executives today that his “quality of life went up a half-a-notch” when he used it?

“That’s innovation!” enthused Dr. Andrew Keys, chief technologist for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Keys was speaking at the center’s Small Business Alliance meeting about how NASA develops and shares technology with businesses and the public. He used the Dyson Airblade Tap as an ice-breaker before his speech. Dyson installed several taps at the Space Rocket Center in 2013 as a pilot program for its technology, a space center spokesman said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/02/do_you_know_what_this_alabama.html