The 2019 Gulf Coast Real Estate & Economic Education Conference was recently held at the University of South Alabama’s (USA) Student Center for the second consecutive year, drawing local area real estate professionals as well as developers from across the country.
It was facilitated by Dr. Reid Cummings, director of USA’s Center for Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED).
The conference highlighted Alabama’s third-place national ranking as the best climate for business, second-place ranking for workforce training and fifth-place ranking for economic growth potential.
During the session key speaker and well-known economist, Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, pointed to several key economic indicators underscoring the strength of the current U.S. economy.
He pointed out that although mortgage debt is less than before the financial crisis, total debt is higher. Households have the lowest, high-interest revolving debt in more than 20 years and consumer confidence remains high despite looming uncertainty over China and Brexit.
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield mentioned that auto manufacturing investment attracted $3.3 billion dollars to the state in 2018 with expectations of creating nearly 5,500 new jobs, and the forest industry saw $1.3 billion in new capital and created 2,000 new jobs. Development in rural areas saw gains as well, with $1.1 billion in new investment and creation of more than 1,100 new jobs.
He mentioned recent newcomers to Alabama that included Facebook, Amazon, Shipt, United Launch Alliance and Mazda Toyota, bringing $8.7 billion into the state in new investment and 17,000 new jobs.
A cyber-security panel was moderated by local business owner Glenda Snodgrass, president of The Net Effect, with a discussion on the rise of cyber-crime in the local business community, a focus on the local real estate industry and methods on how to mitigate theft.
Business moves, transactions
The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) has announced openings and closings for office spaces in Mobile County.
A new county office located at 2970 Cottage Hill Road, Suite 150, near Broadcast Drive, will reportedly house three financial-assistance programs on site: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the JOBS Program.
The new Mobile County space is slated to open Friday, Sept. 5. SNAP will be the only one operational upon opening, per a news release. The other program areas will be moved to the new locations by Sept. 20, 2019.
“The Mobile County Department of Human Resources is excited to provide a continuity of services in two centralized locations efficiently and conveniently for the clients we serve,” Stephanie Streeter, Mobile County DHR director said.
The three DHR offices slated to shutter by the end of the month are located at 501 Bel Air Blvd. and 272 North Broad St. in Mobile and 1075 South Bessemer St. in Prichard. Per a news release, individuals can contact the county office to confirm that applications received are being processed at the respective locations.
The Mobile County office located at 3103 Airport Blvd. will be unaffected by the transitions and The Wave Transit System offers bus services to both DHR office locations in the area.
Jennifer Boozer, local owner of CannaBama: The CBD Store located at 558 St. Francis St. in Downtown Mobile, has announced the opening of a second retail location by the end of September. Colby Herrington with Herrington Realty worked for the tenant in the transaction.
The West Mobile space, a former teachers’ supply store at 2090 Schillinger Road, Suite K, inside a retail strip center owned by Elkins Construction, covers 1,740 square feet. Some 500 square feet of space will be set up as an internet café serving CBD-infused coffee and tea products.
CannaBama was the first locally owned CBD retailer to open in the state late last year, according to Boozer, with local competition setting up shop rapidly since the beginning of 2019. Buildout, renovations and inventory will cost upwards of $40,000 at the new site prior to opening and will employ around five when fully staffed.
CigarClub.com acquires competitor
According to a news release, locally owned CigarClub.com has acquired Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered Good Cigar Company for an undisclosed amount, expanding their subscription base as well as enhancing internal capabilities by adopting and implementing the former competitor’s software platform.
“The move doubles our footprint and subscribers, and gives us new warehousing technology,” CigarClub.com CEO Jeff Zeiders said. He went on to add their company will benefit from streamlined order-processing fulfillment. “Good Cigar’s technology will translate a complicated order, making it easier to read and fulfill.”
The purchase also enhances the Mobile-based online-subscription company’s footprint into brick-and-mortar spaces, enabling access into new niche retail markets such as wedding events, per Zeiders.
Originally launched in mid-December 2016 with co-founder (and fellow millennial) Chris Yokley, the duo reportedly sprung their idea on the fly at Mobile’s inaugural Startup Weekend event.
As previously reported in Lagniappe, the concept placed third, but went on to find more funding from local angel investors as well as getting an assist in first-round seed money from Innovation Portal.
Austal USA’s EPF 11 completes joint trials
Mobile-based Austal USA and the Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) shipbuilding program jointly announced the latest successful, integrated trial completions on the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF-11) in a news release.
These trials were unique in that they combined Builder’s Trials with Acceptance Trials for the first time on an EPF vessel. Combining the two trials reportedly allows for greater efficiency, cost reduction and earlier ship delivery to the U.S. Navy.
“Our customer’s confidence in this program and the maturity of the production line is a direct reflection of the outstanding work our team is doing to reduce cost and deliver on schedule,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “I can’t begin to express how proud I am of our team’s hard work and dedication. We successfully completed and passed all tests and returned from sea earlier than scheduled.”
Sea trials involve comprehensive tests that demonstrate the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment while underway in Gulf of Mexico. It is the last milestone before delivery of the future USNS Puerto Rico to the military in the fall, the 11th ship in Austal USA’s current 14-ship portfolio.
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