Marsh holds meeting with gaming interests day after Ivey calls for the Legislature to stand down on gaming

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

German auto supplier Gerhardi Inc. opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Montgomery Tuesday. The $41.6 million plant will employ up to 235 people.

Gerhardi Managing Director Rienhard Hoffman said the company is excited to launch operations at the state-of-the-art injection molding, electroplating and assembly plant in Alabama’s capital city.

“Montgomery has proven itself as the perfect location for Gerhardi to introduce our processes and product to the automotive world in the U.S.,” Hoffman said. “As Alabama continues to grow and develop as one of the leading areas in automotive manufacturing, Gerhardi Inc. looks forward to the many opportunities for growth in the future.”

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Gerhardi is a world-class addition to the state’s robust network of auto suppliers. The company first announced its plans in 2016.

“We look forward to forging a strong and lasting partnership with Gerhardi and hope to see them grow in Montgomery as Alabama’s auto industry continues to expand its footprint across the state,” Canfield said.

Gerhardi is known for its innovation in developing and producing superior interior and exterior plastic automotive parts using such technologies as injection molding, advanced electroplating and hot stamping. Gerhardi manufactures a variety of products including radiator grilles, handles and chrome trims for its clients worldwide.

“Gerhardi’s investment in Alabama will create an anticipated 235 direct jobs in the River Region,” said economic developer Nicole Jones. “Gerhardi, a supplier, supports the automobile industry through innovative technologies related to plastics that include injection molding, electroplating, and assembly. Gerhardi executives shared that currently, the company has contracts with BMW and Mercedes and is seeking to do business with additional brands. Gerhardi’s decision to locate in the United States, and specifically, Alabama, is an important part of the supply chain and a testament to the creation of an environment conducive for business.”

Gerhardi was founded in 1796 as a manufacturer of brass and copper buckles. Over the years, it expanded its activities to the production of tea and coffee sets. By 1952, it began to shift focus to production of automatic components.

“Gerhardi has been in existence almost as long as the United States has been a nation and has a reputation for creating innovative, world-class components,” Jones said. “Thank you, Gerhardi, for choosing Montgomery, Alabama, as the site of your first plant in the U.S.”

“This is a company that has both a rich history and a solid reputation for being on the cutting edge of the future,” said Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. “Their investment in the River Region speaks volumes about what we have to offer.”

“Alabama has positioned itself as a leader nationally and globally in the automotive industry,” Jones explained. “Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield announced at the ceremony that our state currently ranks at number five for automobile production, with an anticipated rise to number two by 2024.”

“This shows that we are not only excelling nationally, but we are also continuing to boost our global presence,” said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. “Gerhardi has seen that great things happen when you do business in Montgomery.”

Gerhardi is headquartered in Lüdenscheid, Germany. It employs approximately 1,400 workers at four production plants throughout Germany with annual sales totaling approximately $200 million, according to the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.

“It is certainly exciting to know that we are part of an organization so firmly rooted in the future,” said Montgomery Chamber Chairman Willie Durham.

Alabama is home to a number of automotive assembly plants including: Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, Autocar, Polaris and soon Mazda-Toyota.

Neighboring states also assemble a number of automobiles. GM builds Cadillacs and GMCs in Tennessee. Nissan assembles cars and trucks in Mississippi and Tennessee. Toyota assembles Corollas in Mississippi and soon in Huntsville. Kias are assembled in Georgia. Volkswagen has an assembly plant just across the state line in Chattanooga. Dramatically reduced shipping time and distance makes Alabama a prime location for automotive parts manufacturers.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Wednesday announced that Opportunity Alabama, Inc., a nonprofit initiative in Birmingham, Alabama, is the recipient of a $733,150 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant.  This grant will fund the Creating Opportunity for Alabama (COAL) Initiative.

“ARC’s decision to award this funding to Opportunity Alabama will help significantly boost private investment and business development throughout our state’s coal-impacted communities,” said Senator Shelby.  “I am proud this nonprofit initiative is working to help our local communities understand and capitalize on Opportunity Zones.  These federal funds will facilitate an improved quality of life in Appalachian Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs and dozens of new businesses.”

“Opportunity Zones, and the private investment they incentivize, are helping uplift communities throughout the Appalachian Region,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas.  “Opportunity Alabama is working to ensure communities understand and are able to capitalize on this program to improve Appalachian Alabama, and this POWER investment will have a big impact on that mission.”

 The project will create an investment funding and business development ecosystem targeted to the federally designated Opportunity Zones in 36 coal-impacted counties in Alabama.  As a result of the ARC grant, Opportunity Alabama will work with a team of local, state, and national partners in a three-phased approach.  The first phase will work on building a local capacity to effectively prepare for and attract Opportunity Zone investments, focusing particularly on rural communities.  The second phase will create a pipeline of investment opportunities to attract substantial private investment by facilitating demand studies, environmental assessments, and construction cost estimates.  The third and final phase will focus on developing and implementing an impact-investment data collection and analysis process to make it easier for investors to deploy their capital.

This project will yield 250 new jobs, create 25 new businesses, and leverage $100 million in private investment.  In addition to the federal grant provided for the project, Alabama Power and the Alabama Power Foundation are expected to provide private financial support.

Opportunity Alabama is a nonprofit initiative dedicated to connecting investors with investable assets in Alabama’s Opportunity Zones.

State Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries.

Jones’ bill, Senate Bill 144, is different from other recent efforts to eliminate the grocery tax in that his proposal would be revenue neutral and also neutral to the State Education Trust Fund.  In other words, the State of Alabama and the Education Trust Fund would neither gain money nor lose money if SB144 passes. 

“The grocery tax is a regressive tax which penalizes hardworking families in Alabama,” Jones said. “At least 38 states and the District of Columbia have full or partial sales tax exemptions for groceries.  It is important to me that we eliminate this out-dated tax which disproportionately affects lower income Alabamians.”

Jones’ bill pays for the loss of sales tax revenue by capping the federal income tax deduction on Alabama state income taxes. Alabama is one of only 6 states that allow such a deduction.

“It was important to me to have a revenue-neutral proposal that did not result in a loss to our education budget,” Jones continued. “Grocery sales taxes fund our education budget, as does state income tax.  By implementing an FIT deduction cap, funding for our education budget remains unchanged.”  

Under Jones’ proposal, individuals would still be able to take a FIT deduction of up to $6000 and Married Couples filing jointly would still be able to deduct up to $12,000.  

“In layman’s terms,” Jones continued, “a family of 4 making under $134,800 would still be able to take their full FIT deduction. An individual filing as head of family making less that $70,700 would still be able to take their full FIT deduction. Finally, a person filing as single or married filing separately making less than $58,300 would still be able to take their full FIT deduction.” 

While everyone would benefit from no grocery tax, Jones noted that working families would benefit two-fold.

“Our blue-collar Alabamians will not only get to avoid paying taxes on groceries,” said Jones, “they will also not pay a dime more in income taxes.  SB144 will result in more money staying in their pocketbooks. I encourage everyone who supports this effort to contact your local legislator and ask them to support SB144.”   

Constitutional amendments require a 3/5ths vote of both the House and Senate and must then be approved by a majority of Alabama voters.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby on Monday announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $274,300,000 for the Port of Mobile in its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) Work Plan, officially providing the resources to dredge Alabama’s premier port. The funding – which accounts for the full federal share of the project cost – will initiate and complete construction of the deepening and widening of the navigation channel. Following the required preliminary steps, construction is expected to begin toward the end of the year.

“Today marks a historic moment and victory for Mobile and the entire state of Alabama. Over the last decade, I have been advocating for the deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile,” said Senator Shelby. “The completion of this transformative project is expected to stem immeasurable economic growth and will position Alabama and the Gulf Coast region for success for generations to come. I am grateful to the Army Corps of Engineers for allocating the full federal share of the project cost and to the state of Alabama for providing the required matching funds. I look forward to its completion and the resulting impact.”

Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive officer said. “Senator Richard Shelby clearly understands the economic value of seaports. His leadership in delivering an innovative and efficient program to deepen and widen Alabama’s only seaport is a game changer. We are extremely grateful for his leadership. This innovative program generates efficiencies in the Corps civil works program, affirms our project’s value to the state and the nation, and delivers the federal funding to complete our project much faster than anticipated.”

In December 2019, the FY2020 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill was signed into law as part of H.R.1865 and included a new regional dredge demonstration program for the central Gulf Coast. The program, administered by the Corps, was created to explore innovative ways of executing dredging in a logical and sequenced manner to seek efficiencies and cost savings and minimize disruptions to critical construction and maintenance dredging requirements across the nation. Today the Corps officially released its FY2020 Work Plan, announcing funding for the Port of Mobile and other qualifying projects.

The construction will include the expansion of the Port of Mobile from its current dimensions – 45 feet deep and 400 feet wide – by deepening the existing Bar, Bay, and River Channels by five feet to a project depth of 50 feet. This will include additional depths for wave allowances, advanced maintenance, and allowable overdepth for dredging. Following construction, the total depths of the Bar, Bay, and River Channels will be 56, 54, and 54 feet respectively. The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100 feet for three nautical miles.

The Port of Mobile is one of the nation’s fastest growing container seaports and has an economic impact of $22.4 billion. The harbor channel construction project, which will allow for more goods to be shipped and sold through Mobile, is financed by a split of 75 percent federal funds and 25 percent state-sponsored funds. Through federal legislation, Senator Shelby increased the federal government’s share of funding for deep draft ports from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth on Monday released a comprehensive report that provides specific recommendations for improving the state’s workforce development efforts and maintaining Alabama’s ability to compete for economic investments.

“This detailed report is Alabama’s blueprint for preparing its citizens to fill long-lasting, well-paying, 21st Century jobs,” Ainsworth said.  “If our efforts prove successful, Alabama will continue leading the nation in economic development, industrial expansion, and job creation for many years to come.”

Compiled by the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce, an eight-member panel created by the Legislature in 2019, the group recommended a series of budget allocations, institutional reforms, and other measures.

“We developed this report as an action plan and a call to arms, and not something that should be tossed on a shelf to gather dust,” Ainsworth said.  “I will be pushing and prodding every level of state government to implement these recommendations so we can position Alabama for continued economic success.”

Chaired by Ainsworth, the commission is comprised of four lawmakers from each legislative chamber, and they include Sen. Dan Roberts, R – Birmingham, Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R – Geneva, Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D – Birmingham, Sen. Clay Scofield, R – Red Hill, Rep. Danny Garrett, R – Trussville, Rep. Connie Rowe, R – Jasper, Rep. Rod Scott, D – Fairfield, and Rep. Rich Wingo, R – Tuscaloosa.

A full copy of the report, titled “Alabama Workforce Development – Accelerating the Transformation to Excellence,” may be viewed online at [Link: Workforce Development Report].

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Marsh holds meeting with gaming interests day after Ivey calls for the Legislature to stand down on gaming

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

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