Last Friday the U.S. House of Representatives voted 340-73 to pass the Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

It included funding for only two LCS ships for 2015. Now only one will be built at each of the competing shipyards, halving the number of vessels contracted for the U.S. Navy.

Austal said in a prepared statement they remain upbeat, buoyed by strong support communicated from legislators as well as the Navy.

“The vote by the House today is just one step in the budgeting process and does not represent a final decision on the future of the LCS program,” it read.

Next steps include the Senate passing their version of the bill, potentially opening up space for more LCS funding. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and has voiced support for the program in times past.  

Commercial Real Estate Moves

Leighton Dees of Better Homes and Gardens Generations recently sold a 4,000-square-foot property located at 3116 Airport Blvd. for $280,000. Dees represented both the buyer and seller in the transaction. The space was a bank-owned foreclosure formerly known as Dinette World. It is situated next to TNT Car Stereo and adjacent to Wendy’s in front of Bel Air Mall. The investor plans to lease the property out in the near future. 

Red or White & Gourmet Center will move into the space on 1104 Dauphin St. recently vacated by True Midtown Kitchen. The 5,000-square-foot location is more than double their current 2,200-square-foot spot located at 1801 Old Shell Road, across from Dew Drop Inn. According to reports, Red or White’s seating capacity will nearly double to 60 from a previous limit of around 35.

Two more Papa Murphy’s franchise locations are in the evaluation process locally with target opening dates set for 2014. As reported recently, Vice President of Franchise Development Scott Mellon confirmed plans for more than a dozen new stores in the Mobile, Baldwin county and Pensacola areas over the next few years. Starting costs per store for the franchise reach upwards of $400,000 and on average, each new business typically employs around 13 people.

MCPSS names Roberts Brothers as 2014 Partner of the Year

Recently the Mobile County Public School System honored Roberts Brothers as a “Partner of the Year” at their inaugural “It Starts With Us” campaign awards reception held at the Saenger Theatre in downtown Mobile. 

The award recognized Roberts Brothers for supporting local schools as well as their commitment to educate the local community about the value of public schools. Through a company-wide education initiative program, Roberts Brothers sponsored Fonde Elementary School by recognizing outstanding teachers quarterly, making a donation to their classrooms and sponsoring a teacher appreciation day. 

Each week, 15 Roberts Brothers employees went to Fonde to tutor and mentor students as part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and have taken students on field trips.  

“We are honored to receive this award and it was our pleasure to contribute our time and resources to the Mobile County Public School System and working with those involved. Our goal is to continue to promote our schools and encourage other local businesses to get involved,” said Erica Elia, managing broker and project manager for the company’s education initiative. 

Roberts Brothers’ president, Daniel Dennis, is also part of Superintendent Martha Peek’s business and industry leadership roundtable.

FEMA changes flood maps

According to a recent story in Business Alabama, dozens of new beachfront condos built in Baldwin County are no longer considered to be in high-risk flood zones. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of reissuing flood zone maps all along the Gulf Coast, which is significant when considering that the maps mandate how much flood insurance a property owner must purchase, according to experts.

The maps are supposed to include information about coastal flooding in recent storms, factoring in major hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita and Ivan.

But in many cases, FEMA has redrawn the maps after appeals from condo owners. According to the story, a decision known as a “letter of map revision” was issued and in the process, the agency reclassified multimillion-dollar developments from the “VE” category (highest risk) to an “AE” category (lower risk).

The difference amounts to millions of dollars per year in savings on flood insurance premiums for each development. FEMA made the changes after being petitioned by a handful of engineering companies hired by condo owners.

In essence, said local officials, the new cartography takes away a large chunk of insurance costs originally paid by condo developments and places it squarely on the shoulders of private homeowners and businesses possibly too small to afford the expense of appealing FEMA’s decision.

MPT adds new real estate agent

Daryl Cleworth is the latest addition to the Merrill P. Thomas Co. (MPT) team. As an agent, Daryl will be involved with the leasing, sales, marketing, retail development and management of commercial real estate with a focus on the Baldwin County area. 

According to a press release, Cleworth has over 25 years of sales management and marketing experience, is a former business owner and serves on the Board of Directors with the Belforest Water System and Calvary Chapel.

He has also been involved with both the Mobile and Eastern Shore Chambers of Commerce.

Cleworth currently resides in Daphne with his wife Tina and has five children.

Local CPA speaks at national ACFE conference

Nearly 3,000 professionals converged in San Antonio, Texas last week at the 25th Annual Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Conference (ACFE), which is one of the largest of its kind worldwide.

Lindsey Boney III, principal with local firm Smith Dukes & Buckalew LLP, was one of the speakers at the conference. His presentation was entitled, “Lessons Learned from a Kickback Fraud Scheme.”

Boney is a certified public accountant, a certified fraud examiner and a certified valuation analyst specializing in forensic accounting, fraud prevention, litigation support and business valuation for clients locally.