Category: Economy

Supply-Chain, Weather Issues Mean Late Harvests for Alabama Farmers

On the last day in November, Talladega County farmer Bob Luker was grateful for sunshine and working machinery. 

In a normal year, Luker would be done harvesting his cotton by the end of November. This year, he was just getting started on his 800 acres. Weather delays — a cool spring and wet fall — and supply chain issues, especially on equipment parts, have slowed farmers across the state.

It’s another way the national supply chain and inflation issues are hitting home in Alabama. Instead of being able to order parts for quick delivery, farmers are having to wait weeks or spend valuable time traveling to get a needed piece.

“The thing about it isn’t the drive or the expense, it’s the time lost,” Luker said during a phone interview from the cab of his cotton combine. “We only have so many pretty days. You can’t pick cotton in the rain, you can’t pick cotton when it’s wet, you can’t pick it in the mud. And you only have so many days to get this crop out and each day you sit waiting on parts or hunting parts is a day of harvest you lose.” Read more.

‘Drive Electric Alabama’ Campaign Promotes EVs

The state this week launched Drive Electric Alabama, an electric vehicle education and marketing program.

“As automakers make significant investments in electric vehicles, we know more and more motorists will consider purchasing one,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a written statement. “In addition, automobile manufacturing is one of Alabama’s key industries, and we want to make sure that this economic engine remains vibrant for Alabama’s workers.” Read more.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh Announces $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors During Visit to Birmingham

An estimated 327,000 people across the country could see a pay increase under a new U.S. Department of Labor rule announced Monday. Starting Jan. 30, federal contractors will be required to pay workers a new $15-an-hour minimum wage. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh spoke about the policy during a trip to Birmingham. Read more.

JeffCo Commission Announces $1.1 Billion Deal With Smucker’s

The Jefferson County Commission announced Thursday the largest economic development project in the history of the region.

J.M. Smucker Co. will build a manufacturing facility in McCalla at the Jefferson Metropolitan Industrial Park to support its growing Smucker’s Uncrustables line. The $1.1 billion capital investment will bring 750 high-wage jobs to the community.

The development will be about 1½ miles from the Jefferson-Tuscaloosa counties line on old U.S. 11 between exits 100 and 104 of Interstate 20/59. Smucker’s project manager Brad Borkowski said excavation will begin Nov. 29, and the first sellable products are to roll out in May 2024.

The McCalla plant will be one of three the company has producing Uncrustables, a fruit and peanut butter pocket pastry.

“Smucker’s is coming to Jefferson County,” Commissioner Steve Ammons said in the announcement. “Now I can tell you it’s a sweet deal.” Read more.

JeffCo Commissioners Excited to Talk Smack After Thursday Development Vote

Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons was very careful when asked if a “sweet” deal was on its way to Jefferson County.

“I’m not going there,” he said following Tuesday’s commission committee meeting. “I can neither confirm nor deny.”

Commissioners moved to Thursday’s agenda three resolutions related to a business development that plans to come to Jefferson Metropolitan Industrial Park in McCalla.

“I’d say it’s a very good deal for everybody,” he said following today’s commission committee meeting, adding that while there has been some press about the development, identified on the agenda as Project 6449, county officials are under a non-disclosure agreement until the deal is done on Thursday.

Ammons was referring to a Birmingham Business Journal article that said public records show 6449 LLC shares an address — One Strawberry Lane in Orrville, Ohio — with the corporate headquarters of J.M. Smucker Co., a major producer of jam, jelly, peanut butter and other food and drink products.

“It’s gonna be a good day,” Ammons, the chair of the commission’s economic development committee, said of Thursday’s announcement. “I am so stinking excited. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for Thursday for the last three or four months, excited about what this means for Jefferson County.” Read more.

Goodbye to Ensley High; Demolition Making Way for New Housing

Demolition has begun on the old Ensley High School and should be complete in about four months.

Redevelopment of the derelict property is aimed at making way for a 244-home mixed-used neighborhood at 2301 Avenue J for people earning between $16,000 and $45,000 annually.

“Neighborhood revitalization is our top priority,” Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said in a statement. “For many years, Ensley High School provided the educational foundation for this community. As the next steps are taken, this site will provide a new foundation for vibrant and livable space for our residents.” Read more.


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

Authority: $40.8M in Emergency Rental Assistance Has Reached Alabamians

About $17.5 million in federal emergency rental assistance reached Alabamians in jeopardy of losing their homes in October after a dip in distributions from August to September.

Through October, a total of $40.8 million from a possible $263 million in pandemic help made available earlier this year has been distributed, the Alabama Housing Finance Authority told Alabama Daily News.

The authority is charged with distributing the federal funding. The pace of those allocations has worried some lawmakers and advocates. Read more.

JeffCo Considers Kicking in $500K to Bring USFL to Birmingham

Jefferson County commissioners will give final consideration Thursday to a proposal to chip in $500,000 to bring the USFL headquarters and teams to Birmingham. They’ll also take up maps for new commission districts. In Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners also said efforts to get a disaster declaration approved for Oct. 5 flooding are proceeding and discussed other topics. Read more.

Fans of Legion Field Are Concerned About Its Future

Birmingham this past weekend hosted the 80th Magic City Classic, the football game between Alabama State and Alabama A&M universities. Since 1946, it’s taken place at Legion Field, the nearly 100-year-old stadium that stands tall in the Graymont neighborhood.

Once revered as the “Football Capital of the South,” Legion Field has lost some of its luster in the past 15 years. Many of the games that once took place at the stadium have left. Now with the $200 million Protective Stadium downtown, some people aren’t sure what’s going to happen with Legion Field.

Jill Rogers, who has a lot of connections to the Smithfield area, said that Legion Field should remain in its place.
“I don’t think we should get rid of the Legion field completely, either build a new stadium or gut it out and do whatever’s cost-effective,” she said.

The city of Birmingham has budgeted more than $2 million to make capital improvements to Legion Field this year. Read more.