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New Governor Kay Ivey Gives Her Support to State’s Economic Development Efforts

It’s not unusual for some state officials and employees to get a little nervous when a governor comes into office. That’s especially true for department heads and other leaders who serve at the pleasure of the governor.

The recent resignation of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and the elevation of Kay Ivey from lieutenant governor to governor no doubt resulted in some sweaty palms in the state capital. And it wasn’t just about who stays and who leaves. A change in the leadership in the governor’s office can oftentimes dictate a shift in policies and priorities, including some of the many state government programs. Workforce and economic development programs are not immune.

Workforce development leaders, both government and industry, this month welcomed the announcement by new Gov. Ivey that she fully backs the state’s economic development efforts. Her announcement followed a meeting with Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

“As Alabama’s governor, I am focused on creating high-paying jobs and meaningful opportunity for the citizens of this state,” Ivey said. “I want to elevate Alabama’s success in business recruitment, and working closely with our economic development team will be a top priority of my administration.”

Read more about the governor’s announcement.

Gov. Kay Ivey and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

International Plane Builder Leonardo Would Build Aircraft Trainer in Tuskegee

The Tuskegee area will be a big winner should the international aerospace and defense company Leonardo win the U.S. Air Force competition to build the next-generation training aircraft. Leonardo recently announced it would build its T-100 jet trainer at Tuskegee’s Moton Field.

That would create 750 high-wage, full-time jobs over a 10-year ramp-up period beginning in 2019. Total investments by Leonardo in Tuskegee – buildings, infrastructure and equipment – would be in the $200 million-$250 million range.

Leonardo’s bid could possibly get a boost from the fact that Moton Field was where the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots trained during World War II. It also helps that Leonardo’s twin-engine T-100 is currently being used to train pilots around the world to fly next-generation fighter aircraft. The trainer, based on the company’s proven M-346 aircraft, has been selected for this role by Italy, Israel, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Poland.

“Alabama has a long history of providing critical flight training for military aviators, and historic Moton Field is a perfect home for a facility where world-class training aircraft for U.S. fighter pilots are assembled,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This is an ideal way to build on the important legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”

Read more about Leonardo’s plan for Tuskegee.

Watch a video of the T-100 being assembled.

Leonardo’s T-100 jet trainer, which would be built in Tuskegee.


Huntsville Job Fair the Largest Ever in Alabama

The Huntsville Regional Job Fair held March 21 was the largest ever in Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. Held at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center, the fair attracted approximately 165 employers with more than 4,000 jobs available. More than 2,200 job applicants came to the fair, including 686 military veterans.

ADOL’s Alabama Career Centers held the job fair in partnership with the City of Huntsville and TV station WAFF 48. Belk, Polaris, Home Depot, GE Aviation, Regions Bank, Tyledyne Brown Engineering and other large employers attended.

The day before the event, ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington joined Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle on WAFF to promote the event. See the segment here.

For a list of upcoming ADOL job fairs, go to ADOL’s website.

Polaris was one of the many companies recruiting at the Huntsville Regional Job Fair.

State’s Unemployment Rate Drops Sharply; Wage and Salary Employment Nears 2 Million

Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped sharply last month, going from 6.2 percent in February to 5.8 percent in March. The figures show an employment growth of 13,000 jobs.

“I am encouraged to hear that nearly 13,000 more Alabamians have a job today than did in February,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. “As we work to improve Alabama’s image, these figures are welcomed news, but they are just a start.”

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said more people entered the workforce by looking for work, “and most of them found it.”

“We are also very close to reaching an employment milestone: a wage and salary employment figure of two million,” Washington said. “We’re only 10,000 jobs away from reaching this goal, which hasn’t been met since June 2008 and has, in fact, only been achieved 13 times over the past ten years.”

The U.S. unemployment rate also improved in March, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month to 4.5 percent.

Click here to read more about Alabama’s improved employment statistics.


Apprenticeship Alabama Signs Up First Businesses, Launches New Website

Apprenticeship Alabama continues to make news in its maiden year. The program held signing ceremonies in several workforce regions with partnering businesses that are the first to take advantage of the state’s new Apprenticeship Alabama tax credits. In addition, Apprenticeship Alabama announced the launch of its new website,

Under Apprenticeship Alabama, qualified companies can receive an income tax credit of $1,000 per year per apprentice. A company can receive a tax credit for up to five apprentices. To participate, companies must register with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship and meet its classroom and on-the-job training requirements.

On March 1, Gestamp Alabama became the first company to sign on with Apprenticeship Alabama and officially register with USDOL. Gestamp operates a metal-stamping facility in McCalla, just outside Bessemer, and is a supplier to the Mercedes-Benz plant in nearby Vance. It registered with two apprentices.

Apprentice Alabama’s Sherry DeLoach, center, signs apprenticeship with Gestamp Alabama HR Director Traci Wells. In back are Patsy Richards of Apprenticeship Alabama, left, Apprenticeship Alabama Manager Frank Chestnut, and Antiqua Cleggett, executive director of Central Six AlabamaWorks.

“A registered program has the benefit of having transferrable credential for that apprentice,” said Frank Chestnut, manager of Apprenticeship Alabama. “But it also ensures the company has great standards, classroom training and on-the-job training at the plant.

“Our slogan is linking talent to opportunity. This allows a company to grow its own talent from within.”

Apprenticeship Alabama signing ceremonies for other companies include:

  • March 13: Auburn Electric Construction Co. Inc., which specializes in commercial and industrial electrical work, 25 apprentices.
  • April 13: International Paper Riverdale Mill, Selma, 16 apprentices.
  • April 17: S&S Sprinkler, a full-service fire protection contractor based in Mobile.
Frank Chestnut and Patsy Richards joined International Paper Riverdale Mill officials and apprentices for signing in Selma.

Concerning Apprentice Alabama’s new website, Chestnut said it provides information on registering programs with the Office of Apprenticeship, available apprenticeship opportunities and information on the Apprenticeship Tax Credit. Tax credit forms will be accessible through the website.

The 2017 tax credit deadline for signing up your registered apprenticeship program is May 31, 2017.

For more information, please visit


For more information or to register, click here.


State, AIDT Featured in Business Facilities

Business Facilities Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine and news portal specializing in the site selection marketplace, featured in its March/April issue some of Alabama & AIDT ‘s successful workforce development efforts being executed across the state.

“Alabama is among the top states for workforce development, with innovative and top-of-the-line training programs led by AIDT, a part of the Alabama Department of Commerce,” the magazine wrote.

“’A major focus of ours has been to find more creative approaches to bring together both private and public partnerships to meet industry-wide needs… So everything that we’re doing is really centered around making sure we connect the private sector and education community to develop a workforce pipeline aligned with the types of jobs and careers that will be available for the next five, ten and fifteen years,’ said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
AIDT’s job-training programs are providing a solid foundation for companies that operate in Alabama, including the development of high-tech industry growth in sectors like aviation and aerospace, which comprises more than 300 companies, employing around 83,000 people.”

Read the full story here.

Continental to Build Aircraft Engine Plant at Mobile Aeroplex

Continental Motors Group recently announced plans today to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and corporate office at the Mobile Aeroplex. The 225,000-square-foot facility will centralize the company’s operations scattered between 11 buildings in the Aeroplex.

According to Made in Alabama, the manufacturing facility will be outfitted with $40 million in new equipment. Continental Motors will finish building design and equipment selection in 2017 and will move into its new Mobile Aeroplex facility in 2019. The company employs around 400 people in Mobile.

Continental is an international company based in China that makes piston aircraft engines. It says its new Alabama factory is part of its plan to transform the way its designs, manufactures, certifies and support products. It also plans to build a new customer and technical service infrastructure and environment to assist customers around the world.  It will increase its capacity to develop new products with a new engineering and design service center based in China.

“Continental Motors has been a big part of the local Mobile community for over 50 years and is pleased with the community support that allows us to renew our commitment to the region and our great team members for many years to come,” said Michael Skolnik, executive vice president of Global Operations.

Read more about Continental’s plans for Mobile.


North AlabamaWorks Goes a Mile Long for Quarter Workforce Summit

The mile-long Navistar/Freightcar America plant in Cherokee was the setting for the April 27 North AlabamaWorks board meeting and Quarterly Workforce Summit. More than 120 people representing industry, higher education, community colleges, K-12 schools and workforce development programs got updates on the many workforce development activities, programs and grants available to businesses, students and job seekers in North Alabama.

They also got a tour of the massive plant, where Freighter America employs more than 1,100 workers, including 600 welders.

After conducting board business, North AlabamaWorks Executive Director Micah Bullard and Assistant Director Stephanie McCulloch opened the summit by welcoming guests, thanking the sponsors and introducing speakers.

Speakers included sponsors Howard Broadfoot of Freighter America and Adam Himber of the Shoals Economic Development Authority. Other speakers were Debbie Pace of Lakeland Community, Mark Joseph of Contractor Services & Fabrication Inc., North AlabamaWorks Board Chairman David Smith of United Launch Alliance, Melody Whitten and Roger Fortner of AIDT, Josh Laney of the Alabama State Department of Education, Julie Hindall of West AlabamaWorks, Nancy Beggs of the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development and Eddie Lard of Direct Communications.

For more about the summit, read this article in Florence’s Times-Daily.

North AlabamaWorks Quarterly Summit attendees tour the Navistar/Freightcar America plant.

Southeast AlabamaWorks’ Quarterly Meeting Featured on TV News Broadcast

Zeke Smith, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council, was among Alabama workforce leaders who welcomed more than 50 business and industry leaders to the Southeast AlabamaWorks Quarterly Meeting. The April 25 meeting was held at the Enterprise Farmers Market and also featured presentations by Southeast Alabama Works Executive Director Ryan Richards and Apprenticeship Alabama Project Manager Patsy Richards.

A bonus of the meeting was the television coverage by station WVTY, which featured the event in each newscast.

View the newscast by clicking the image below.

West AlabamaWorks Unveils New Video Featuring Apprenticeship Program

In its continuing quest to promote opportunities for industry to create an effective pipeline generating skilled workers to fill regional workforce needs, West AlabamaWorks has unveiled a new video promoting its apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships are a proven way for industry to develop highly skilled employees, reduce costly turnover, increase productivity, lower recruitment costs and increase workplace safety, noted Julie Hindall of West AlabamaWorks. Overall, it enhances existing industry operations and promotes growth.

There are two ways the program works:

A Non-Registered Apprenticeship enables businesses to receive referrals from West AlabamaWorks for potential apprentices and potentially tap into funding.

A Registered Apprenticeship also gives referrals for qualified apprentices plus helps businesses identify additional funding opportunities.

Click below to watch the video.

“Rosie the Riveter” Encourages Young Women to “Power UP” in Birmingham

March 21 was a big day for girls and young women in Birmingham. The Central Six Development Council (Region 4) partnered with Girl’s Inc. of Central Alabama, Robins & Morton and AIDT/AWTC to present its second-annual “Power UP: It’s a Mother Daughter Thing!”

More than 100 girls and their parents came to the AWTC for inspirational talks encouraging them to consider careers in the  construction industry, and got a firsthand look at some of those careers. Welding, brick masonry and carpentry were some of the skills demonstrated.

One of the special guests there to offer inspiration to the girls was Rosie the Reviter, who became iconic figure during World War II for all the women who took the assembly lines to produce planes and other needed equipment as part of the war effort. March 21 was also national “Rosie the Riveter Day.”

Central Six AlabamaWorks Executive Director Antiqua Cleggett with Rosie the Riveter.


  • Honda Alabama expansion project launches with $85M first phase. Made in Alabama
  • Dual enrollment: good for students, good for Alabama.
  • COMMENTARY: Skilled workers wanted to ensure Alabama’s success. News-Courier, Athens
  • Number and Percentage of Workforce Ready Graduates Increased in 2016. Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama
  • Alabama in need of skilled workers for construction jobs. WAAY/TV, Huntsville
  • Shelton State Community College hosts Automotive Career fair. WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham
  • Study: Toyota engine plant supports 9,700 Alabama jobs. Made in Alabama
  • Hyundai marks 5 million Alabama-built engines — and counting. Made in Alabama
  • Here are the 10 highest-paying jobs for high school graduates.
  • Employment and job training event held in Hale County. WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham
  • High schools students compete for career tech titles. Times-Daily, Florence
  • School board favors study on career tech center. Times-Daily, Florence
  • Alabama college plans major building projects. Birmingham Business Journal
  • Walmart distribution center permits OK’d, “truly significant” project set for groundbreaking.
  • Rosemary Elebash and Jeff Lynn: Wanted: Skilled workers to ensure Alabama’s success. Alabama Today
  • FIRST Robotics Competition brings nearly 1,300 high school students to Huntsville. WHNT/TV, Huntsville
  • Shelby County College and Career Center students showcase skills during industry tour. Shelby County Reporter
  • U.S. South, not just Mexico, stands in way of Rust Belt jobs revival. Reuters
  • Alabama-Germany partnership shows new strength after decades of growth. Made in Alabama
  • New Toyota president drives workforce in Alabama.
  • Polaris, Verizon, Belk among employers at Calhoun Community College job fair.
  • orkers.
  • Remington, Polaris investments pay off for Morgan County. Decatur Daily

The Alabama Workforce Council
The Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) serves as an advisory body in reviewing potential policies, recommending structure and alignment, developing innovative educational workforce programming, and discussing issues critical to the workforce development needs in Alabama.

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