Wal-Mart announced Alabama results from its Global Responsibility Report indicating continued momentum in domestic sales, according to a news release.

Front and center locally in the media has been the construction of a $135 million distribution center in Mobile, announced last March. The 2.5-million-square-foot facility will support approximately 800 Wal-Mart stores in Alabama, Mississippi and areas to the north.

Once fully operational, the Mobile distribution center will employ 550 full-time local workers, with plans to add more. Wages for full-time hourly, non-exempt associates will average at least $16.50 per hour, with salaried, exempt employees expected to earn $50,000 or more per year with opportunities for additional annual bonus incentives.

“2017 is going to be an exciting year for Wal-Mart in Alabama as we continue to focus on innovation and investments so our customers can save both time and money,” said John Tow, Wal-Mart’s regional general manager for Alabama.

Last year’s highlights included opening five new stores and remodeling nine existing locations across the state; opening a new training academy; and launching an online grocery pickup service in the Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham service markets.

Addressed in the report was an increased focus on human capital investment to the tune of $2.7 billion around U.S. workers in such areas as training, education and higher wages. The trickle-down impact in Alabama markets has resulted in over $18 million in quarterly bonuses paid out to associates across the state to date in 2017.

Additionally, 4,750 veterans have been hired in Alabama since the company launched its “Veterans Welcome Home” program in May 2013. The big-box retailer also has donated nearly $190,000 to Feeding the Gulf Coast, an Alabama Feeding America-affiliated food bank nonprofit partner.

In total the retailer currently employs 38,041 associates statewide and spent $1.1 billion with Alabama suppliers in 2016, which supported 25,796 supplier jobs.

Commercial real estate moves
The former Merchants National Bank/Regions Bank buildings located in downtown Mobile, which encompass six buildings covering approximately 225,000 square feet of property, were recently purchased by Memphis-based Heritage Land & Development.

The property encompasses the entire city block at the northeast corner of St. Francis and St. Joseph streets. Dean Nix of Harbert Realty Services from Birmingham and Allan Cameron of NAI Mobile represented the purchasers in the transaction.

Plans are in place for the buyers to construct mixed-use redevelopment on the site, a concept they have previously completed in Tuscaloosa and in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Columbia, South Carolina. Additional details on the redevelopment should be forthcoming, per Nikki Coker, director of marketing at NAI Mobile. 

Birmingham-based CPA consulting firm Warren Averett, which has multiple offices in the Southeast, has signed a three-year lease to occupy the entire 3,200-square-foot second floor space at 3 S. Royal St. — directly above Serda’s Coffee — for office use in downtown Mobile. Pete Riehm of NAI Mobile represented the landlord. Gaines Zarzour of Monarch Group worked for the tenant.
 
John Delchamps with Merrill P. Thomas Co. represented Vancouver, Washington-based franchise Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza with the lease of a 2,000-square-foot restaurant space at 705 Highway 43 S. (Bowdoin Square) in Saraland. Nathan Handmacher with Stirling Properties worked for the landlord.

Austal supports POTUS’ proposed budget
According to a recent news release from Mobile-based Austal USA, the submission of President Donald Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget plan to Congress is an early step in a positive direction to fund the U.S. Navy and military.

“Austal remains encouraged by the feedback and support we’re receiving from the Navy and Congress on our highly capable and cost-effective ships. Austal will continue focusing on what we can control to put us in the best position possible to meet the increasing demands of the Navy, and that is continuing to build great ships safely, on cost and on schedule,” the statement read.

The statement went on to say Austal delivered two littoral combat ships (LCS) in 2016, with two more scheduled for 2017 under the congressional cost cap.

The Trump budget included language expressing the desire to increase the total size of the U.S. Navy fleet to 350 deployable combat vessels (up from 274, according to most recent reports), language and sentiment apparently fully endorsed by Austal USA executives.

A key contractor for the U.S. Navy, the shipyard has delivered five Independence e-variant class LCS ships (LCS 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) with seven more (even number LCS 12-22) in various phases of construction and an eighth vessel (LCS 26) under contract for development.

Austal has also delivered eight expeditionary fast transports (T-EPF 1-8) to the Navy, has three EPFs (EPF 9, 10, 11) in various phases of construction and one more (EPF 12) on contract.

AARP Alabama hires Dorothy Dorton
AARP Alabama, with more than 430,000 members statewide, announced in a news release the appointment of Dorothy Dorton to the position of associate state director for outreach. 

Dorton, a Mobile native, will provide outreach and support for AARP programs and initiatives in lower Alabama, working with volunteers and maintaining AARP’s relationships with residents and community leaders in that part of the state. 

“Dorothy Dorton brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to community service in Mobile to her new role with AARP Alabama. We are looking forward to the continuing development of a strong presence for AARP in this important area of our state,” Candi Williams, AARP Alabama state director, said.

Most recently Dorton served as executive director for Via Health, Fitness and Enrichment Center & Senior Citizens Services Inc. Her experience includes working as an assisted living administrator, an activities director, a program director for ARC of Baldwin County and a hall director for Alabama School of Mathematics and Science.

Dorton earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spring Hill College and a master’s in therapeutic recreation with a focus on adults with dementia.

Washington, D.C., headquartered AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization focused on Americans 50 and older. The nonprofit has nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.