Category: Economy

Fewer Alabama High School Grads Going Straight to College; Higher Ed Advertising Options

The number of students graduating from Alabama high schools and entering state universities and colleges dipped by 5% in 2020 to 41%.

While that decrease can in part be blamed on COVID-19-caused disruptions, it’s also part of a larger decline that education officials say is a sign of a strong economy. In 2011, 53% of high school graduates went directly to in-state colleges.

“I think it mostly can be attributed since 2011 to an improvement in the economy,” Jim Purcell, executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, said. Post-Great Recession, more jobs have been available to people right out of high school.

But as the state works to find more skilled workers, higher education leaders are trying new ways to reach them. Purcell said that as people’s careers advance or manufacturing jobs become more automated, training and courses are available.
Read more.

Project to Turn Old Ensley High Project Into Apartment Complex Moves Forward

Plans to redevelop the former Ensley High School into a 244-unit apartment complex took another step forward Tuesday, despite the continued misgivings of District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt.

The former high school, abandoned since 2006, was sold in April to the North Carolina-based developer Zimmerman Properties for $50,000. Zimmerman, in conjunction with the Housing Authority of Greater Birmingham, plans to redevelop the property into 244 apartment units for those earning between $16,000 and $45,000 annually.

On Tuesday, in a largely procedural vote, the council approved assignment of the project to 2301 Ensley LP, a single-purpose operation created to “protect the project and (its) grant funds in the event of an accident at other properties in the Zimmerman portfolio,” Cornell Wesley, the city’s director of innovation and economic opportunity, told councilors. Read more.

Alabama Unemployment Dips to 3.2% in July

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s unemployment rate was 3.2% in July, down from 3.3% in June and 7.4% in July 2020.

That’s a continued drop since a pandemic-high of 13.2% in April 2020. Prior to virus-related slowdowns and shutdowns, the state’s unemployment rate was in the 2% range.

“Each month we edge closer and closer to our pre-pandemic unemployment rate,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a written statement Friday morning. “Employers have added over 73,000 jobs in the past year, and nearly 83,000 more people are working today than they were last year. Industries that were hit the hardest are seeing employment numbers increase monthly. We’ll keep working as hard as we can to continue this remarkable progress.” Read more.

Alabama Manufacturers’ Investments in EV

Alabama automakers and parts suppliers began investments in electric vehicles several years ago, and the list continues to grow.

Among the companies that have announced plans for new or expanded operations involving electric vehicles are New Flyer in Anniston, DURA Automotive Systems in Muscle Shoals, Hyundai in Montgomery and Honda in Lincoln.
Alabama Graphite Products plans a first-of-its-kind advanced graphite processing plant in Coosa County to help with the production of an essential material in batteries that power electric vehicles, electronics and other green energy products.
Read more.

Growing Demand, Industry Support Lead to State Investment in Electric Vehicle Chargers

Earlier this summer, the State of Alabama awarded 18 grants worth more than $4 million to help private entities add electric vehicle charging stations for public use. However, during the process, the state received 76 applications requesting more than $18 million.

“Eighteen million dollars in requests does show the demand for these charging stations,” Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, told Alabama Daily News.

Those grants, mostly funded through a Volkswagen settlement over the automaker’s violation of the federal Clean Air Act, focused on the I-20, I-59 corridor. “It captured a small portion of the state,” Boswell said about the grants.

Now, ADECA is working on a statewide EV charging plan that will show where stations are needed, including along evacuation routes.

“It will cover all aspects of where charging stations need to be to cut down on fuel anxiety issues that an electric car owner would have,” Boswell said.
Read more.

Alabama Manufacturers’ Investments in EV

Farmers Prefer Too Much Rain to Too Little but Say Enough’s Enough as They Watch Crops Drown

MONTGOMERY — Alabama farmers are looking at this summer’s unusually heavy rains as both a blessing and a curse.

Large amounts of rainfall are great for crops such as corn and wheat, but vegetable and fruit growers are having to abandon a large portion of their crop, especially in south Alabama.

“We’ve probably gotten a year’s worth of rain in three months,” Jeremy Sessions, a farmer in Mobile County told Alabama Daily News. Read more.