2018 has been a banner year for economic development in Birmingham’s seven-county region.
The larger and more obvious economic development successes in the Birmingham region this year, such as Mercedes-Benz, DC BLOX, Shipt, McLeod Software and Amazon, really drive the unprecedented job numbers the region is seeing, said Brian Hilson, President and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA).
“By year’s end we expect the Birmingham region will surpass, for the first time ever, 4,000 announced jobs from core sector economic development projects,” Hilson said. “Similarly, capital investment for those companies should come in at just under $1 billion, which is one of our best years on record.”
While these larger projects are extremely important, the BBA is also excited about the growth of small businesses. Hilson said Birmingham has an outstanding entrepreneurial climate and that the numerous successful technology business startups the city is seeing bode well for Birmingham’s future economy, as those companies may someday be large themselves.
“One particularly important responsibility for the BBA is to help early-stage tech companies obtain investment capital, and we’ve been able to do that to the tune of almost $30 million,” Hilson said. “We are very pleased that the BBA continues to play an important role in helping all types of companies, including existing, startup and newly recruited, find success in Birmingham.”
Here’s a recap of the year’s biggest wins, from Amazon and DC BLOX to Shipt, Pack Health and more.
McLeod Software announced in December it would move its headquarters to Hoover in Shelby County, doubling its employee count. McLeod said it would invest $16 million to renovate a 140,000-square-foot building in Meadow Brook Corporate Park for its new headquarters, allowing for the company to double its current workforce of 300.
Pack Health announced plans to move its headquarters from Avondale to downtown Birmingham and, with the move, add 175 jobs. Capital investment for the project is $2.9 million. Pack Health is a Birmingham-based startup and is a leading digital platform for chronic care management.
The United Kingdom’s Preformed Windings chose Pell City in St. Clair County as the site of its first manufacturing facility in the United States. The facility will be dedicated to manufacturing HV coils for the North American market and is expected to employ up to 85.
German automotive supplier MöllerTech officially opened its $46.3 million state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bibb County. The 150,000-square-foot facility will employ up to 222 people in the Scott G. Davis Industrial Park.
Yorozu, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, opened its $110 million manufacturing plant in Walker County. The plant is expected to create 300 jobs by 2020, when full production is achieved. Yorozu produces metal stamped suspension components for automakers including Honda, Toyota and Nissan.
Health care specialty chemicals manufacturer Evonik unveiled its latest expansions in Birmingham – a $50 million investment that will create 50 jobs. The expansion includes a new powder/liquid filling line for its drug delivery business, a new Resomer production facility adjacent to its existing plant and a global R&D center for medical devices that will develop patient-friendly medical devices.
Stewart Industries International announced it will open a new aircraft repair and storage operation in the former Kaiser Aircraft facility near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, creating at least 200 jobs.
Autocar Trucks hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at its manufacturing plant in Center Point. The company is investing $120 million to open the plant, where its heavy-duty cab-over-engine trucks are built. The plant is located in a 1 million-square-foot complex spanning both Center Point and Birmingham and is home to 746 employees.
Amazon announced it will build a state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bessemer that will employ over 1,500. The company will invest $325 million in the project.
Automotive supplier Unipres will add 70 jobs and invest $40 million into its production facility in St. Clair County. The company specializes in stamping technologies, and its expansion will add a new hot stamping process.
In the biggest economic development announcement of the year, DC BLOX, an Atlanta-based data center developer, announced plans to invest $785 million and build a technology and innovation campus in Birmingham that will become the flagship property for the company.
And in the same week, Birmingham’s Shipt announced it would stay headquartered in the Magic City following its $550 million acquisition by Target and add 881 jobs here.
Amazon broke ground on the facility it announced in June. The facility is expected to be online by October 2019.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International also broke ground this month on a new battery plant in Bibb County near its Vance, Ala. plant. The battery plant, located in the Scott G. Davis Industrial Park in Bibb County, will provide batteries for future electric SUVs under the product and technology brand EQ and is the company’s first in the United States. The plant joins MBUSI’s $281.5 million Global Logistics Center and after-sales North American hub, currently under construction and also in the park, all of which is part of a $1 billion expansion MBUSI announced last year to set up electric vehicle production in Alabama.
Auto supplier Eissmann Group Automotive LLC completed its $14.5 million expansion in St. Clair County. The 130,000-square-foot building project added 200 jobs, making it the largest employer in Pell City with approximately 850 employees.