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What's next for Alabama's auto industry? Plants ready new products, jobs
2015 is shaping up to be a busy year for Alabama's auto assembly lines. The state's three carmakers are coming off a record 2014, when they built an all-time high of 997,270 vehicles. This year will bring new offerings, as Mercedes-Benz prepares to debut the GLE Coupe, and Honda readies the redesigned Pilot SUV. Hyundai, meanwhile, continues to roll out the Sonata sedan and the Elantra compact, the brand's top U.S. sellers. U.S. auto sales reached 16.5 million last year, and the 2015 forecast calls for that total to grow to about 16.9 million, said Chris Hopson, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive. AL.com
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3 Million Jobs + $3 Gasoline = 3 Trillion Miles Driven in U.S.
(Bloomberg) -- Three was a magic number for America last year. The U.S. economy added 3.1 million jobs. Gasoline plunged below $3 a gallon. As a result, driving topped 3 trillion miles for the first time in seven years and is poised to climb higher this year. The 33 percent slide at U.S. pumps, combined with an improving job market, touched off a national spending spree on sport utility vehicles, vacations and Christmas presents. Travel will rise another 2 percent this year, the biggest increase since 2004, transportation analysts estimate. “A growing economy can increase driving as more people head to work,” said Michael Green, a spokesman for the Heathrow, Florida-based automobile club AAA, said Monday by phone from Washington. “Driving to work is a lot easier knowing that gas prices are the lowest since 2009.” Bloomberg
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Google Inc. to take huge space in Austin office tower
After months of speculation, Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) confirmed Friday that it is taking a major portion of the new office building under construction at the Green Water Treatment Plant — some 200,000 square feet. A memorandum of lease was sent to Travis County officials, based on information provided to Austin Business Journal by Google's local public relations firm, Elizabeth Christian Public Relations. "Since 2007, hundreds of Googlers have lived and worked in Austin, enjoying all the city has to offer from our trails to our festivals, to countless breakfast tacos. As a result of our recent growth, we are excited to share that Google Austin has signed a lease for over 200,000 square feet at the new Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment at 500 W. Second Street," said Gerardo Interiano, Google's public affairs and government relations manager, in a statement. Austin Business Journal
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Sources: Boeing scouting sites in Atlanta for new research center
Aerospace giant Boeing is scouting sites in Midtown Atlanta for a possible research center, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned, a move that could add another blue chip name to a growing roster of corporate players locating around Georgia Tech. The Fortune 500 maker of commercial airliners, military planes and other defense systems would join heavy hitters such as AT&T, Home Depot, NCR and Worldpay US in developing corporate outposts near one of the world’s top engineering schools. The flurry of new research and development centers and corporate campuses in Midtown reflect the desire of companies to tap into Tech’s rich student and faculty talent. For Tech, the moves create a pipeline of jobs for graduates and possible private sector research dollars for the university at a time when federal research money is harder to find. AJC.com
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EuroChem, Louisiana officials dispute Iberville plant delay or considering Russia
EuroChem Group AG and state officials are disputing a report that the company has delayed a $1.5 billion plant planned for Iberville Parish and is considering options outside the U.S. for ammonia and urea production. The officials said late Monday the Bloomberg.com report contained a mistaken translation of a statement written in Russian. Construction has not begun on the planned facility in Carville. If completed, the plant’s ammonia and urea would feed production of fertilizers by the company, which reported worldwide revenue of $5.6 billion for 2013. The Advocate
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Birmingham’s Sloss Music & Arts Festival Announcement


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Cheniere Energy gets green light for Port of Corpus Christi construction
Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSE: LNG) is expected to start $12 billion worth of construction within the next 60 days to build the first liquefied natural gas export terminal in the Port of Corpus Christi. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the LNG plant on Dec. 31. Board members with the Port of Corpus Christi voted on March 17 to approve the third and final reading franchise for Cheniere liquefaction plant. Cheniere is now on track to be the only company with two LNG export projects underway. Houston Business Journal
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French energy company taps Houston for North American HQ
Paris-based Vallourec SA is downsizing globally, but the tube and pipe-making company is moving its new North American president to Houston. As the company cuts 1,400 employees globally in 2015 because of the oil slump, Chairman and CEO Philippe Crouzet said it is changing its structure from division-based to geographic. As such, its North American hub will be Houston-based. Vallourec Senior Vice President Nicolas de Coignac said he is moving from France to Houston in July. He will travel regularly until then while going through the visa process. He said he is currently house hunting. Houston Business Journal
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Next wave of energy job cuts could be executives
Tens of thousands of oilfield workers and midlevel energy employees have lost their jobs in recent months during the ongoing oil crash, and more cuts are expected in the coming months. But one area that hasn't yet faced a lot of turnover — except in isolated cases — is with energy executives and the C-suite. And that could be about to change, said Tom Simmons, the global leader of Spencer Stuart's energy practice. "If prices stay down, that'll be the next thing they'll do," Simmons said. "They'll cut into the muscle, which is the management team." Houston Business Journal
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Why Nissan is betting large on its new $160M supplier park in Smyrna, Tenn.
Nissan North America isn't simply betting its new supplier park in Smyrna will bring 1,000 new jobs. The Franklin-based automaker is expecting much more than that. "We're not going to stop at 1,000 jobs," said John Martin, Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management said Tuesday. "I want to bring as much suppliers as close to the factory as possible. I'm not going to stop at 1,000 jobs," Martin continued. "I'm going to keep on growing them until there isn't any opportunity left. I think the sky is the limit." Nashville Business Journal
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Features & Opinion

 Top Ten Places in the South for Relocating California Companies

Just look around at what's happening in the aerospace industry in the American South. Aerospace is really making a move to become one of the region's top two industry sectors. It’s not there yet, but if large project counts are any indication, aerospace may soon challenge the petrochemicals sector as the second largest industry in the region. Never before has the aerospace industry been so important to the South's economy. Oh, what's the No. 1 industry sector in the South? Automotive is, of course. That industry hasn't been challenged much for 25 years in this region, or since we’ve been counting.

 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

 FEATURE  
By Stacy Randle
Demographer Wendell Cox recently analyzed the largest gains in holders of bachelor's and post-graduate degrees between 2007 and 2012 in the 51 metro regions in the U.S. of 1 million residents or more. The results were published in Forbes magazine and the South dominated the ranking.
 

 Business News in the South - Randle Report

FEATURE     
This is our annual "Made in the South" issue and it's timely because there is a new player in the South's manufacturing universe. For almost two decades, economic developers and politicos in the South and the U.S. have been chasing Chinese projects with little or nothing to show. Want proof we've been chasing ghosts in China for years? Okay, go ahead and name a Chinese brand that's made in the South? Tick. . .tick. . .tick. Give up?
 
 Nashville Mayour Karl Dean
If you have ever seen one of my presentations, then you know about the word "reshoring" and how that phenomenon has lifted the spirits of even the most skeptical Southerners regarding the future of the region's economy. After all, in the last four decades, manufacturing has suffered a bloodletting never before seen in U.S. history. The biggest factor behind the slow and long meltdown that began in the 1990s was the herd mentality to offshore manufacturing capacity to cheaper locales, primarily by U.S.-owned companies.
 


 

 

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