Flotte’s Notes on

Mobile, Alabama Economics

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Mobile Economics

Employment

Economic Growth

Port of Mobile and Infrastructure

Industries

Mobile Companies

Former Mobile Businesses

Utilities

Real Estate

 

 

Sources:

Mobile Chamber of Commerce: Business View, AN ECONOMIC OVERVIEW OF THE MOBILE BAY REGION

University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business Center for Real Estate Studies

Competitive Strategies Group September 2005 Report

 

 

Mobile’s Economy

·        Mobile County, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, had a total economy of $11.2 billion in 2005. Using the CRES index, the county's income grew 3.6 percent, or another $400 million, through June to $11.6 billion. Global Insight, a private firm based near Boston, estimated in a report for the U.S. Conference of Mayors that Mobile's economy was worth $12.9 billion in 2005. – Jeff Amy, PR, 10/28/07

·        Mobile County's economy fell steadily between 2000 and mid-2004, due to the collapse of paper mill and other manufacturing jobs and a national recession. One private firm ranked Mobile's growth from 1994 to 2004 as 273rd out of 361 U.S. metro areas. – Jeff Amy, PR, 10/28/07

·        The post-Katrina boom represents a remarkable turnaround for Mobile. Through the 1980s, the central business district was a veritable ghost town. In the 1990s, the city watched casinos along the Mississippi coast further erode its economy.

o       More than 2,200 new homes were built, exceeding even the post World War II boom of the late 1940s.

o       The population of Mobile County surged by about 10,000 in the three months following Katrina, according to Semoon Chang; the county, meanwhile, gained some 4,700 new jobs.

o       Mobile's housing market has begun to slow, and more than half of the 10,000 people who moved to the county following the storm have left.

 

·        Before Hurricane Katrina, rising industrial vacancy rates were a serious concern.  After Katrina, these dropped to near zero.

·        The two  key  public  business  parks  are  the  Mobile  Commerce  Park,  which  has  seen  limited  growth  over  its  fifteen-year  history,  and  USA’s  Technology  Park.  

·        The Mobile  Innovation  Center is  the  community’s  small  business  incubator

 

·        Mobile County had capital investment totaling $245 million in 2006, according to the Chamber of Commerce, consisting of 10 new businesses and eight expansions. The chamber estimated nearly 1,200 new jobs with an average salary approaching $50,000.

·        Mike Helmar, analyst for Moodyseconomy.com, said Mobile is a bright spot nationally and regionally for several reasons including the strength of the shipbuilding sector, where companies have recently signed both defense- and nondefense-related contracts, and natural gas exploration and drilling.

·        Forbes  Magazine  ranked  Mobile  118  of  150  communities  as  the  best  place  for  business.  Inc.  Magazine  ranked  Mobile  44  of  90  cites  as  an  ideal  location  for  business.

·        Southern Light, LLC and Hargrove & Associates, Inc. returned Mobile to the Inc. Magazine 500 fastest growing private companies list for the first time since 2001, when local promotional products manufacturer Crown Products was included.

·        Mobile placed eighth best of London-based Foreign Direct Investment magazine’s "Top Ten Small Cities of the Future" in 2006 (Huntsville placed second.)

·        Mobile was ranked 221st in economic strength among metropolitan statistical areas in 2007, according to a report by POLICOM of Palm City, Fla. The Birmingham-Hoover region had the highest ranking in Alabama at fifth, with Montgomery ranked 36th, Huntsville at 97th and Tuscaloosa coming in at 119th.

 

 

Mobile County Employment

·        Employment Base: Services - 27%; Wholesale & Retail Trade - 27%; Government - 15%; Manufacturing - 12%; Construction & Mining - 8%; Transportation & Public Utilities - 6%; Finance, Insurance & Real Estate - 4%.

·        Local leaders like Bay Haas, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, have expressed worry over having a qualified work force for anticipated aerospace jobs.  Bender has reported that it must often look outside the country to find qualified welders.

  • Bill Pfister, Austal's vice president of government programs, said his company is hopeful that Alabama Industrial Development Training will continue to work with Mobile community leaders to establish vocational programs. Austal is teaching its own workers using a 20,000-square-foot building at the Brookley Field Industrial Complex.

·        The  rate  of  unionization  in  Mobile  is  higher  than  the  southeast  - 14%  in  Mobile  versus  5%  in  the  southeast according to the Competitive Strategies Group report.

  • According to the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, the percentage of unionized manufacturing plants in the Mobile area is estimated at 3% with the largest representation in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers and the United Paperworkers International.
  • According to www.unionstats.com, the overall rate of unionization in 2006 was about 10%, 5% of private employees and 30% of public employees.
  • The Mobile Chamber of Commerce lists union coverage by company
  • Alabama is a "right-to-work" state with 12% of its manufacturing workers unionized.

·        Mobile Works Inc.. is a partnership of business, education, labor and community leaders, providing businesses and people with training, leadership, labor market information and employment programs. Since its inception in 2000, Mobile Works has invested more than $19 million to fund job and educational programs.

·        53% of Mobile area employers said they expect to add workers during the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the survey by Manpower Inc. The outlook was the highest in Alabama and ranked eighth nationally. – PR 9/11/07

 

 

 

 

Mobile County Economic Development

·        The Mobile Chamber of Commerce was the first in the state, chartered by the Alabama Legislature in 1854.

o       Mobile Chamber of Commerce Mobile Bay Regional Overview 2008

·        Envision Coastal Alabama is a regional development organization started in 1998.

·        The  Mobile  County  Commission implemented  a  tobacco  tax  with  a  portion  used  for  economic  development  purposes.  This  tax  totals about  $950,000  annually

·        The Small Business Administration has announced it will be opening an office in Mobile. SBA already has "partners" in Mobile -- among them the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Alabama, the Women's Business Center and the SCORE chapter housed in the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

·        Low  cost  of  living  is an  asset  to  Mobile.  Mobile’s  ACCRA  Cost  of  Living  Index  is  89.7.

·        Come Back Home to Mobile is an effort to attract young, educated Mobilians back to Mobile

·        Mobile Area Young Professionals Association (MAYPA)

 

·        The City of Mobile Industrial Development Board (IDB) is granted the power by the State Legislature to give tax exemptions to recruit businesses to move to or expand operations in Mobile. - Harbinger

o       Alabama enacted its first major industrial recruiting legislation, the Cater Act, in 1949 which remained largely unchanged for four decades. The law allowed local governments to create Industrial Development Boards with authority to issue tax-exempt industrial development bonds and to grant tax exemptions. These boards sold municipal bonds, used the proceeds to construct manufacturing plants, and leased the plants to their client companies. Local government, through an industrial development board, became the landlord of the industrial property. The board charged a rent to cover costs and the repayment of the bonds. Ownership of the property by a public board exempted the property from ad valorem taxes. Under the Cater Act, property-tax breaks were tied to the board holding title to the property.

o       This requirement for board ownership of industrial property ended with Alabama's Tax Incentive Reform Act of 1992. The 1992 act allows city and county governments themselves, or the industrial development boards or county authorities they approve, to abate property taxes and other taxes without a lease.

o       The 1992 act also states that educational taxes cannot be abated, and business must contribute to the schools.

o       In 1962, the city of Mobile approved the City of Mobile IDB. In 1981, the county approved the Mobile County IDB under the 1977 law authorizing county industrial development boards.

o       The Mobile Industrial Development Board is a 13-member commission appointed by the mayor of Mobile that can grant 10-year renewable property tax holidays for industries that locate in the county.

o       While a tremendous tool for economic growth, critics charge that the IDB courts energy-intensive and polluting industries, such as chemical plants, paper mills, and incinerators, because the heads of the electricity and gas utilities hold positions on the board.  Since the board's creation, its members have consisted exclusively of prominent businesspeople, including the presidents of utility companies, banks, and the Chamber of Commerce. See here for environmental concerns and the IDB. - Harbinger

 

·        Mobile’s Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) accounted for roughly $1 billion in economic activity. The zone consists of 12 non-contiguous sites, comprising 9,848 acres, located throughout Mobile and Baldwin counties offering an array of industrial and commercial environments that provide the utilities, infrastructure and transportation links.

·        The Gulf Opportunity (GO)-ZONE Act of 2005 establishes tax incentives and bond provisions to support rebuilding the areas of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi that impacted by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Under the provision, the state of Alabama has the authority to approve the issuance of private activity bonds (Gulf Opportunity Zone Bonds) up to $2.17 billion for non-residential real property and improvements; public utility property; and residential rental projects meeting certain tests for low and moderate-income.

 

Competitive Strategies Group September 2005 Report:

·        Strategies  for  job  creation  placed  greater  emphasis  of  retention  of  existing  business  instead of  diversification  of  industries   from  1985 to1995,    when   existing  industries were  closing  or  reducing  its  work  force  considerably.   Mobile  Chamber’s  Partners  for  Growth  capital  campaign  has  a  5  year  budget  of  $7  million  of  which  $3.7  million  is  allocated  for  existing  businesses  and  $2.6  million  for  new  development

o       The  Chamber’s  vice  president  of  economic  development  is  quoted  in  the  May  19,  2003   Mobile  Register  as  saying,  “The  days  of  the  hunter-gatherer  approach  to  economic  development  are  gone.  While  bringing  in  new  business  is  important,  he  said,  the  majority  of  his  time  must  be  spent  helping  existing  companies  prosper.”

·        The  Mobile  County  Commission  contributes  over  $400,000  a  year  to  different  organizations  for  economic  development,  including  the  Chamber,  the  Business  Information  Center,  the  Forestry  Commission,  Mobile  United,  Women’s  Business  Assistance  Center  and  others.  The  County  does  not  conduct  an  annual  audit  of  these  organizations.

·        The  Chamber’s  economic  development  capital  campaign “Partners  for  Growth”  has  a  target  goal  of  1,100  new  jobs  per  year  or  5,500  over  five  years.  This  compares  to  similar  campaigns  in  Chattanooga,  with  a  goal  of  20,000  jobs  and  Macon,  GA  with  8,400  jobs.   

·        In  the  aftermath  of  Hurricanes  Ivan,  Katrina  and  Rita,  office  and  industrial  space  has  gone  from  17%  vacancy  rates  to  near  zero.   The  challenge  to  the  County  leadership  will  be  to  install  sound  economic  policies  and  structure  that  will  sustain  this  growth  after  a  three-year  period  when  many  of  these  leases  will  expire.

·        “We  applaud  the  University’s  investment  into  cancer  research  and  in  a  research  and  technology  park,  but  these  two  product  improvements  initiatives  will  not  necessarily  be  a  panacea  to  Mobile’s  economic  success… Biotech  is  limited  to  a  select  few  cities:  San  Diego,  Research  Triangle  Park,  NC,  Boston  and  in  emerging  cities  such  as  Houston,  Austin  and  Baltimore.  Florida  will  become  more  predominant  in  biotech  research  and  commercial  applications  once  the  Scripps  facility  comes  on  line.  There  is  limited  growth  opportunity  for  this  to  be  a  significant  cluster  in  Mobile”.

·        “Nearly  all  of  our  survey  respondents  said  that  the  City  of  Mobile’s  permitting  processes  and  customer  service  was  a  hindrance  to  growth  in  the  City. The  County  of  Mobile  has  fewer  permitting  and  regulatory  restrictions  than  the  City  and  as  a  result,  receives  higher  marks  for  its  business  climate  and  ease  of  doing  business  in  the  County.” 

·        “High  Speed  Internet  access  is  in  limited  areas  geographically  of  the  County.  Investment  needs  to  be  made  to  expand  high-speed  access  throughout  Mobile  County  if  the  County  is  to  be  successful  in  attracting  “Mobile  Entrepreneurs”.  Further,  Mobile  should  consider  creating  WI-FI  locations  downtown,  and  in  all  public  buildings.”

·        “Many  of  the  economic  development  allies  familiar  with  Mobile commented  that  even  though  some  in  the  business  and  government  leadership  within  the  community  like  to  say  that  there  is  a  team  approach  for  economic  development  in  Mobile,  it’s  hard  to  see.  In  many  instances,  these  allies  and  consultants  observed  territorial  boundaries,  run  away  egos,  or  weak  leadership  as  a  result  of  no  one  defined  lead  organization  for  economic  development.”.

·        Jay Garner, who wrote the study for CSG, was director of economic development for the Mobile Chamber of Commerce during 1985-1994

 

  

  

 

 

 

Industries

 

·        Among Alabama’s publicly traded companies in 2001, Mobile claimed only three (Birmingham was headquarters to 26). Among Alabama’s top 100 private companies in 2001, five were headquartered in the Mobile area (compared to 37 in the Birmingham MSA).

·        Business with headquarters in Mobile include: International Shipholding, Ball Healthcare Services (nursing homes and assisted living facilities); BancTrust Financial Group; Big 10 Tire Stores; Integrity Media; The Mitchell Company; Shoe Station; and Volkert & Associates.

o       Mobile suffered the loss of corporate headquarters in the 1990s, including Delchamps, Ruby Tuesday’s/Morrison’s Restaurants, and Gayfer’s.

·        The heaviest concentration of large firms in the Mobile area is in chemicals and fiber manufacturing. Mobile is also heavily weighted in lumber and wood products industries and in maritime and shipbuilding.

o       Although the chemical industry remains a strong player, the area has diversified its economy away from its traditional paper and chemical industry core. During the last 15 years, the oil and gas, tourism, and aerospace industries have expanded significantly.

  

 

Manufacturing

·        The Alabama Industrial Directory for 1999-2000 includes 78 Mobile area manufacturing firms with over 100 employees (compared to 156 in Birmingham area).

o        23.1 percent of Mobile’s firms are categorized as technology companies (compared to 16 percent of Birmingham area firms).

·         Mobile has three primary industrial areas: south Mobile county and the Theodore Industrial Park, downtown Mobile on the waterfront and Blakely Island, and north Mobile County along the Mobile River.

·        Proximity to port facilities makes the Mobile area a prime location for firms that export and/or import. Of Mobile area businesses, 59 percent export, while 38 percent import (compared to 53 percent and 31 percent respectively in Birmingham)

o       Foreign investment is also pronounced in Mobile— about 18 firms, or 23 percent, are foreign-owned (compared to 6 percent in Birmingham).

 

Lumber and Pulp

·        In the post-war period, the pulp and paper industry became a major industry.  Between the 1920s and the 1990s, Scott Paper Company and International Paper combined to have one of the area's largest workforces. However, the industry declined in the 1990, with International Paper closing its mill in 2000, and Kimberly-Clark closing its pulp mill in 1999.

·        International Paper, started in Albany, New York, opened its Mobile Kraft paper mill in 1929.

o       IP closed the mill in 2000. Eight hundred workers lost some of the best-paying jobs available in the Mobile area as a result. Four years later, the vast majority of the former IP workers had found jobs, but most earned a fraction of what they had before.

o       The Alabama State Port Authority purchased the International Paper mill for $1.6 million in 2005.

·        Kimberly-Clark’s Mobile paper mill employs 780 people and produces 700 tons of paper products daily. Mobile has one of the company’s three largest facilities in the business-to-business segment known as Kimberly-Clark Professional, and is a primary producer of commercial tissue products. Wood fiber is delivered by rail, since the pulp mill was closed in 1999.  The 200-acre plant makes Scott and Kleenex brand toilet tissue and paper towels for commercial and industrial accounts

o       Kimberly-Clark closed its pulp mill in Mobile in 1999, eliminating 450 jobs. The company also sold 500,000 acres of timberland that provided pulp for the mill. Kimberly-Clark officials linked the closing of the mill to a decision by the S. D. Warren Company, a paper maker, to buy more fiber from foreign mills. Kimberly-Clark also said the mill was hampered by high energy costs was outdated.

o       1939: Maine-based Hollingsworth & Whitney complete construction of its Mobile paper mill.

o       1954: Hollingsworth & Whitney merges with Scott Paper Co., founded in 1879 in Philadelphia

o       1994: Scott sells its S.D. Warren coated paper portion of the mill, and the energy complex is sold to SAPPI. 2001: SAPPI closes the Mobile mill.

o       1995: Scott Paper merges with Kimberly-Clark, founded in 1872 in Wisconsin. Headquartered in Dallas, Kimberly-Clark produces familiar brands such as Huggies, Kleenex, Depend and Kotex, holding the number 1 or number 2 position globally in most of its major consumer products categories.

 

Chemicals

·        The chemical industry is the region’s largest industry sector with more than 3,600 employees.

·        Degussa Corp. is the largest chemical company, followed by Ciba Specialty Chemicals, UOP, DuPont Agricultural Products, Olin Chemicals, Akzo Nobel, Syngenta, Arkema Inc., Ineos Phenols, US Amines, Occidental Chemicals, Praxair and Mitsubishi Polysilicon.

·        The Old Mobile site property is owned by four chemical corporations: Alabama Power, DuPont, Courtaulds, and Akzo-Nobel.

·        Degussa’s chemical plant ­employs 1,250 on a 1,900-acre site comprising 30 individual factories in the Theodore Industrial Park. The plant was built in 1974. The Mobile plant is the largest among Degussa’s 80 U.S. factories. Degussa Corp. is a unit of German-based chemical giant Degussa AG, Germany’s third largest chemical company.

·        Ciba’s McIntosh plant is the Swiss-based firm's largest manufacturing operation. The plant was built in 1952.

o       The entire site, along with nearby Tombigbee River swamps, is a federal Superfund area. – PR 1/6/07

o       ADEM issued a consent order against Ciba and proposed a $20,000 fine for failure to monitor numerous pollution points in the first three months of 2004.

·        Azko was founded in the Netherlands in 1923 (as Organon); Akzo Nobel was formed in 1994 through Akzo’s acquisition of Nobel Industries; Akzo Nobel’s products are mainly industrial chemicals. Azko Nobel sold its pharmaceutical division to Schering Plough in 2007.

o       Azko Nobel’s chemical plant in Axis makes primarily carbon disulfide.

o       In 1998, Akzo Nobel acquired British fiber-manufacturer Courtaulds, combined the fibers divisions of both companies, and then demerged them as Acordis Ltd. At the time Courtalds had rayon and Tencel synthetic fiber plants in Axis. In 1999, Akzo Nobel sold Acordis to Corsadi BV, part of the international investment group CVC Capital Partners.

o       In 2001 Acordis Cellulosic Fibers closed its Axis rayon manufacturing facility with its 324 jobs due to pressure from imported fabrics. In the 1990s the rayon plants was the biggest polluter in Mobile County and in Alabama, and was sixth in the nation.

o       Acordis/CVC kept its Tencel facility in Axis, which was built in 1993. While rayon production produces large amounts of sulfurous waste, Tencel is made with a "closed loop" chemical process whereby the solvent can be filtered and reused.

o       In 2004 Lenzing AG acquired AcordisTencel plant in Axis from CVC. Lenzing AG, specializing in man-made fibers, is currently held by B & C Holding (an Austrian investment company), its majority owner.

o       Lyocell is the generic term for fibers made of pulp (raw material - wood). The fibers are produced by means of a direct solvent process. With this particularly ecological technology (closed-loop cycle), cellulose, the natural raw material, is dissolved. The resulting spinning mass is then spun into fibers. Recently, Lyocell fibers have experienced major success in markets of the garment industry and also in the home textile and the nonwovens segments. Lenzing markets its Lyocell fibers under the brand name "Lyocell by Lenzing", Tencel is the brand name for Lyocell fibers by the Tencel group. In the 1980's of the last century, Lenzing AG, the viscose fiber manufacturer, and the former British company Courtaulds plc had each obtained a license from Akzo, a Dutch company, to further develop the Lyocell technology. In the 1990's, both companies successfully launched their production of Lyocell fibers. After patent-law conflicts, Lenzing and Courtaulds signed a settlement in 1998, leading to a restricted exchange of know-how. The Lyocell fibers operations set up within the former Courtaulds Group, later Acordis, now Corsadi, subsequently underwent several changes of ownership, while developing as an autonomous business under the name of Tencel. Fiber produced at the Mobile plant was commonly used in Japan to weave or knit high-quality fabrics returned to the USA for use in high-fashion garments. Today, most Tencel fiber imported into Japan goes into the domestic consumer market. Fiber supplied to Taiwan and Korea is used for fabrics re-exported to the USA and Europe

o       In 2000, the Alabama Supreme Court threw out a $1 million verdict won by Horace ``Buddy'' Long and his wife, Margaret, who sued Courtalds over the release of millions of pounds of carbon disulfide which they claimed caused the death of their six horses and caused their Creola property to depreciate. – PR 9/16/2000

o       Twenty-five current and former employees sued Courtaulds PLC for $50 million claiming exposure to dangerously high levels of carbon disulfide, a chemical Courtaulds uses in the manufacture of rayon.

o       Some workers at Courtaulds Fibers' rayon plant in north Mobile County show signs that exposure to an industrial chemical has harmed their health, according to the head of environmental medicine at Emory University. Emory has tested 28 Courtaulds employees and found that most of them suffer from memory loss, personality changes, heart problems, vision problems or other disorders that can be associated with exposure to carbon disulfide.

·        Dupont acquired its plant north of Axis in 1986 (it was originally built for Shell chemical in 1968). The DuPont Mobile Manufacturing Center primarily produces crop protection chemicals for use in agricultural applications.

·        Phenolchemie's 400KT phenol and acetone plant in the Theodore Industrial area was completed in 2000. Ineos Phenol bought the plant in 2001 from Phenolchemie, a division of Veba AG, which also was majority owner of Degussa. Ineos is a privately owned British chemicals company, and the third largest in the world (after BASF and Dow Chemical). It has factories in Germany, Belgium, and Mobile.

·        In 2006, Helsinki-based Kemira Group purchased Cytec Industries' water treatment chemical business, with its 100 worker plant in Mobile County. Cytec Industries was founded in 1993 as a spin-off from a larger company, American Cyanamid. The Mobile plant has been here since the early 1940s.

 

Oil and Gas

·        Companies with oil and gas operations in Mobile county include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Duke Energy Field Services, and Denbury Resources  

·        Houston-based Gulf Coast Asphalt operates a storage terminal on the east bank of the Mobile River that is used to distribute a variety of petroleum products. It is proposing construction of a $36 million biodiesel plant on its 67-acre site at Blakeley Island. The IDB approved a $1.6 million package of tax breaks. The plant would create up to 50 permanent jobs at an average salary of about $50,000 and have the capacity to produce about 120 million gallons of biodiesel annually from a variety of sources, including palm, cottonseed, coconut and soybean oils. The plant would be roughly 10 times larger than a $33 million biodiesel plant being constructed in Chickasaw by Dunhill Terminals LP.

·        Area pipelines include Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation, Gulfstream Natural Gas System (which runs to South Florida)

·        MoBay Storage Hub Inc., a subsidiary of Houston-based Falcon Gas Storage, plans to build 50 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage in south Mobile County near Bayou La Batre and Coden. It will complete the $250 million storage facility by hurricane season 2008. The MoBay project is a conversion of the company's nearly depleted gas field in the Mississippi Sound.

Mobile area Refineries:

·        Saraland Refinery (Shell Oil, 400 Industrial Parkway Saraland, 80,000 bpd).

o       The original facility was built and operated by Louisiana Land & Exploration Company, starting in 1975 with a single crude unit and reformer. The site is 914 acres, of which 125 are developed. Shell Chemicals bought the facility in 1996.

o       Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson investigated pricing practices at Shell Oil Co.'s refinery in Saraland in 2005 when gas from the Shell refinery in Saraland cost independent stations up to 70 cents more per gallon than it cost Shell retail stations.

·        Mobile Refinery (Gulf Atlantic Operations, Chickasaw, 16,700 bpd, asphalt). 

o       Corpus Christi-based Gulf Atlantic Operations LLC (GAO) bought the assets, including the refinery, of Trigeant in March 2005. GAO formed under the name Tripso LLC in February 2005. El Paso Corporation sold the Chickasaw refinery to Trigeant EP Ltd, in August 2003.

o       GAO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2006. The filing states that Hurricane Emily struck the Mexican coast in 2005, disrupting the delivery of cured oil from that country's state-owned petroleum company. Then Hurricane Katrina flooded parts of the Gulf Atlantic refinery and terminals in the Mobile area. Gulf Atlantic said in its bankruptcy filings that it has made most of the repairs to its facilities. But it said the company has exhausted its lines of credit, falling behind on payment to many of the service and repair companies that performed the work. Gulf Atlantic also said it fell behind on payments to vendors. As a result, over 20 lawsuits were filed against GAO in the months leading up to this bankruptcy. As the company tried to repair its facilities, it began relying on "tolling" agreements in which it processed crude oil on behalf of third parties for a processing fee or a split of the proceeds. When insurance claims were denied, GAO turned to oil speculation, according to bankruptcy records, but "the oil trading venture was short-lived and did not generate profit."  - PR 11/15/06

·        The Theodore Refinery on Range Line Road has been closed since 1988. Originally built in 1967 to manufacture military fuel, jet fuel and marine fuel. Estimated capacity 28,000 barrels/day. It was formerly owned by Marion Oil Co. and GAMXX Energy, and by Alexander-Allen Inc., a Pennsylvania company, which owned the plant after it closed. The GAMXX oil storage tanks at the old Seabury Station in Kushla once held crude oil and now stand with their tops open and accessible.

 

Aerospace

·        The aviation/aerospace industry is a growing industry sector in the area. The Brookley Complex is a 1,700-acre industrial area with two runways, one long enough to land the Space Shuttle.

·        Singapore Technology's Mobile Aerospace Engineering (ST/MAE) performs heavy maintenance on airliners and large cargo jets, and transforms passenger airliners into cargo planes. Two massive hangars accommodate Boeing 747s.

o       Mobile Aerospace Engineering (MAE), founded at Brookley in 1991, is Mobile's largest privately owned manufacturing employer with 1,200 employees. Memphis-based FedEx is one of its top customers for aircraft maintenance.

·        Teledyne Continental Motors continues to have a solid presence in Mobile with 450 employees. Teledyne Continental Motors developed and built the engines that powered the first round-the-world flight of the Voyager at Brookley.

·        EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), the parent company of Airbus, built an Airbus Center of Excellence in 2006, creating 200 high-paying engineering jobs in the area.

o       Northrop Grumman and EADS CASA selected Mobile as the site of its KC-30 Production Center if wins the $40 billion contract to provide 179 aerial refueling tankers to the US Air Force. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor with EADS as its principle subcontractor. If the KC-30 is selected, more than 1,150 jobs and a $600 million investment will be made in an assembly plant, with a potential $20 billion impact.  Later this year, the Pentagon will announce its choice. Most analysts expect it will be a “winner take all” victory, and so lobbying by both companies is in full swing. Gov. Riley said he believed that the tanker deal will go to the House and Senate floor. A decision is expected by January 2008.

§         In 2004, Boeing had almost won the tanker contract through an unusual leasing arrangement with the Air Force. But Congressional scrutiny of the financial deal, led by Senator John McCain of Arizona, caused it to be scuttled. The greater oversight uncovered a conflict of interest scandal that led to the jailing of Boeing’s former chief financial officer and a former top Air Force official. Those events opened the door for EADS to become a competitor. – NYT 6/19/2007

o       Raytheon and EADS CASA were unsuccessful in their pursuit of a $2 billion Joint Cargo Aircraft contract in 2007.

·        Crestview Aerospace Corp. (now L-3 Communications Crestview Aerospace) was awarded a Bell Helicopter Textron contract, potentially worth more than $100 million. Major assembly  of UH-1Y helicopter airframe structures for the U.S. Marine Corps. is slated to begin in 2007 at the company’s Fairhope plant.

 

Maritime Services

·        Maritime services include barge fleeting service, container repair and leasing, dunnage services, freight forwarding, guard service and ship watching, heavy lift and salvage, industrial diving, line handling, marine fumigation services, maritime waste disposal, ship chandlers, stevedoring, towing and many more.

o       Five barge fleeting service companies serve Mobile, including Able Marine Service Inc., Delta Marine Service, National Marine Inc. and Cooper Marine & Timberlands; 17 foreign freight forwarders, nine of them custom house brokers; and 13 barge lines/towing companies, the largest ones being Parker Towing Co., Seabulk Towing, Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co. and Waterways Towing & Offshore Services Inc.

o       There are five shipbuilding and/or repair facilities along the Port of Mobile, including Atlantic Marine, Bender Shipbuilding, C&G Boatworks, Harrison Brothers Dry Dock & Repair Yard and Austal USA. These and Steiner Shipyard and World Wide Marine Service, employ a combined workforce that exceeds 2,100.

o       The Theodore Ship Channel is host to several other service facilities. It is well suited to the oil and gas industry, as it is the closest deep water location to the open Gulf, and is home to Aker Kvaerner Subsea and Technip Coflexip.

o       Two decades ago, Bayou la Batre was known as the "Detroit of shrimp trawlers." Today, most Mobile County shipyards are making vessels for use in the Gulf's oil and gas fields. As offshore drilling increases, Mobile shipbuilders are building offshore supply and rig-tending vessels and repairing rigs at facilities on the Mobile River.

·        In 2001 Austal USA began as a partnership between Bender Shipbuilding and the Australian company Austal to build aluminum high-speed passenger ferries. It employs over 11150 workers. In 2006 Bender sold its 30 percent stake in Austal USA to Austal for $20 million

o       Austal is the world leader in building high-speed catamaran ferry ships for passengers and autos. 

o       Austal USA broke ground in 2005 on its $25 million expansion to build littoral combat ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy.

§         The Navy awarded its $223 million contract for the first of two planned “Flight O” vessels to prime contractor Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics company that teamed with Austal USA as the designer and builder of the LCS area frame.

§         Austal and General Dymanics were vying with a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. for an opportunity to build 55 of the vessels. Each contractor was to build two ships before the Navy made its decision in 2010. Cost overruns on what was supposed to be a $220 million vessel plagued both teams, and Lockheed's contract for its second ship was canceled in April, and General Dynamics in November 2007. Each team now has only one ship in production, with both slated for delivery next year. The Navy plans to try out the two vessels in an "operational assessment" in early 2009, which could lead to a decision on future purchases.

§         The first of the General Dynamics/Austal vessels is about 70 percent complete, and is now slated for delivery around summer of next year. But the ship's expected cost is 50 percent to 75 percent higher than its $223 million contract price. – PR 9/12/07

§         The Navy announced the cancellation of the second LCS in November 2007 after it could not reach a deal with the General Dynamics/Austal team on reworking the LCS contract to contain rising costs. Despite the cancellation, Austal USA foresees no impact on its work force for the next nine to 12 months. Beyond that point, however, Austal will need new business. – PR 11/3/07

§         The LCS is in line for $339.5 million toward another ship buy this fiscal year, contained in a compromise defense spending bill, is barely one-third of what the Navy had sought, but is more than some lawmakers -- including Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa -- had voted to support.  While the new appropriation is not enough to buy another ship, it could be combined with other funds. Lawmakers ordered the Navy to open the competition for future purchases to other shipbuilders. How many might be interested is unknown, but 18 teams responded when the Navy originally sought contractors for the LCS program.  – PR 11/8/07

o       Austal is also eyeing a military contract for high-speed, passenger-vehicle ferries. The Joint High Speed Vessel program would call for eight ferries -- five for the Army and three for the Navy -- over five years starting in fiscal 2008 – PR 7/4/2007

o       Austal has completed one Hawaii Superferry, the Alakai, and a second is under construction.

o       Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 441 is continuing its efforts to organize workers at Austal USA after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Austal broke federal labor laws in alleged actions linked to a failed 2002 union vote. Union officials said that Austal fired 10 employees because of union activities and threatened to fire all who signed the cards, or to fire everyone if a union succeeded. Austal has denied those allegations. – PR 6/13/2007

o         Austal was promised $10 million in city, county and state funds to help pay for a $20 million shed, contingent on creating 600 new jobs. Austal is now building toward the 1,200 employee mark that would earn it another $5 million from the state.

o       Austal has said it will proceed with a $200 million, 1,200-job expansion on its planned 700,000-square-foot modular manufacturing facility just southeast of its existing Mobile River shipyard, despite the uncertainty on a commitment from the Navy to build additional vessels. Austal recently bought more than 100 acres from neighbor Atlantic Marine Holding Co.. – PR 9/13/07, 12/12/07

§         The U.S. Navy plans to contribute up to $33 million to the facility. – PR 12/21/07

§         The construction is expected to start in June and be complete about 12 months later. A second phase -- a "mirror image" of the first -- would complete the $200 million expansion by 2011.

o       Austal Built Ships

 

 

Steel and Materials

·        ThyssenKrupp, a German steelmaker, plans to build a $3.7 billion, 2,700-worker steel processing facility in north Mobile County off U.S. 43 near Calvert .

o       The ThyssenKrupp facility, expected to be operational by 2010, will manufacture and process carbon and stainless steel for high-end manufacturers, chief among them the South's automotive assembly industry. The raw steel used in Mobile will be produced at a mill in Brazil.

o       Construction permits were approved by state and federal regulators and site preparation should be completed by early next year. The project will employ 29,000 construction workers over the next 18 months.

o       The state's $811 billion incentive package for ThyssenKrupp was approved by voters in a statewide election June 2007.

§         ThyssenKrupp AG will have to employ 2,000 people for two years to receive the entire incentives package.

§         The incentives package includes $461 million in upfront payment, with $314 million going to the company in cash, $67 million toward training, $45 million toward land purchase and $25 million in road building.

§         State and local governments promised $350 million in tax breaks.

§         Those figures don't include an estimated $115 million that the Alabama State Port Authority will spend to build a facility on Pinto Island.

§         The figures also don't include a state corporate income tax credit that effectively frees the company from state income taxes for its first three decades of operation.

§         The Mobile City Council voted unanimously to commit $33.5 million cash to the deal.

§         The Mobile County Commission also approved a total payment is $83.5 million. The commission promised that $70 million would come directly from its Pay-As-You-Go roadbuilding fund.

§         Of its $83.5 million, the county will get back about $45 million through the state transportation department paying to widen and expand Schillinger Road.

§         The Industrial Development Authority of Mobile County approved a 20-year package of tax breaks, which includes a break on non-educational property and sales taxes worth an estimated $178 million in its first year, though officials said that figure would depreciate. J. Gary Cooper pegged an estimate of the county package's full value over 20 years it at more than $3 billion. At that amount, the package would average about $105 million annually.

§         A consortium of other area city and county governments has met to consider sharing a portion of that amount -- estimates range from $13.5 million to $20 million, but none of those governments have formally agreed to any payments. For the remaining $13.5 million, the county and state are trying to put together a regional economic development authority comprised of city and county governments in southwest Alabama.

§         The agreement also includes a provision that appears to be a commitment from state government to never seek the kinds of legislation that have been proposed elsewhere to deal with global warming: "In the event that state legislation is introduced that adds a new tax on energy, (carbon dioxide) or the use of electricity, natural gas, coal or industrial gases, the state shall use its best efforts to (1) defeat such legislation or (2) seek an amendment to such legislation providing the company an exemption therefrom."

§         According to the Deravi study, state and local governments will reap $1.4 billion in tax revenues over 30 years, breaking even on the $461 million in state and local cash incentives by 2020, after 10 years of operation, and recouping all the property, income and utility tax breaks by 2030.

§         School property taxes, where no breaks have been granted, are projected to bring in $218 million for the state, Mobile County and Washington County over 30 years.

§         The $811 million incentive is over $300,000 per job (compared to the $167,000 per job initially given Mercedes in 1993) – James Cobb, PR 6/17/2007

§         Incentives Graph (PR)

o       The ThyssenKrupp steel mill will increase the level of economic activity in Alabama by $965 million a year, creating a total of 7,000 direct and indirect jobs when according to a study by the Alabama Development Office and Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery. – PR 5/27/07

§         Alabama's total economic output was worth $134 billion in 2005, meaning the mill will add about 0.7 percent to the state's economy.

§         Beyond the 2,700 employees of ThyssenKrupp, spending from the mill is projected to create 4,300 indirect employees. ThyssenKrupp employees will make an average of $41,900 a year. The $41,900 salary for ThyssenKrupp employees is lower than the $50,000 to $65,000 range discussed by local economic development officials.

§         Southwest Alabama can expect about $3.7 million a year in extra tax revenue from ThyssenKrupp, including $1.5 million a year to Mobile County and $1.35 million for the city of Mobile, according to the study by University of South Alabama economics professor Semoon Chang. Most direct taxes on the company itself have been waived, so Chang looked at the impact on sales tax, gasoline tax, property tax and automobile tax.  – PR 8/14/07

§         City and county governments in Baldwin, Clarke, Escambia and Washington counties will receive about $850,000 combined

§         The Mobile County school system will get about $22.5 million a year from property taxes when the plant becomes operational in 2010 because education taxes were not abated.

o       Alabama State Port Authority will build a terminal on the south tip of Pinto Island where crude steel slabs will be loaded onto barges for a ride 45 miles upriver to the plant site. With a projected cost of at least $115 million, the terminal will itself create 50 to 60 new permanent jobs at the port when it reaches full operating capacity in 2010. The Port Authority purchased 87 acres from Atlantic Marine Inc. for $8.5 million for the project.

o       Land speculators started buying chunks of land in Washington County within days of the steelmaker's announcement. Raw land cost in Washington County averages $1,000 to $1,200 per acre, while in Mobile County the land along U.S. 43 averages $4,000 per acre. Tensaw Land and Timber Co. probably owns the majority of the land around the steel mill site -- 25,000 to 30,000 acres, according to Riley Boykin Smith, president of the company.  ThyssenKrupp will build its plant on about 3,700 acres owned by Tensaw and Dow Badische, a chemical company. Smith said he and family members are considering opening trailer parks on some of Tensaw's land during the plant construction.

o       U.S. Steel Corp., who has a steelmaking complex in Fairfield near Birmingham, lobbied against the state's courtship of ThyssenKrupp AG.

o       ThyssenKrupp Site Graphic

o       See here for environmental concerns about the ThyssenKrupp plant

·        IPSCO has a 370-worker steel mill on U.S. 43 in Axis in north Mobile County. The $425 million plant began producing steel plate and coil for the domestic market in 2001. IPSCO recently completed a $45 million expansion of the mill that added a finishing line for high-grade steel. In 2007, Illinois-based IPSCO reached an agreement to be purchased by the Swedish steel company SSAB Svenskt Stal AB. 

·        Berg Steel Pipe Corp. has chosen Mobile as the site for a new $75 million steel pipe manufacturing facility that will employ about 100 people. The IDB approved a $5 million package of tax incentives. Large oil and gas transmission companies -- The Williams Cos. Inc., BP PLC, Duke Energy Corp., El Paso Corp. and TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. -- will be the main customers of the large-diameter (or spiral) pipe. It is scheduled to open in September 2008.

·        Holcim (US) Inc, a subsidiary of the Swiss cement giant Holcim Ltd., received a waiver on sales and use taxes and a five-year abatement on property taxes collectively worth $1.4 million tied to a proposed $60 million expansion of its 156-worker cement production plant in Theodore.

·        GAF building and roofing materials plant has operated at Emogene and Florida Streets for several decades. It is a former EPA superfund site – Lagniappe, 6/5/07

·        Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company, was an engineering and construction firm with operations in Mobile. In 1953 Brown & Root built Ciba-Geigy chemical plant at McIntosh.

·        The auto industry plants in Alabama have resulted in over 2,000 new jobs created in Mobile.

·        ALCOA’s bauxite refining plant in Mobile was constructed in 1937.  At the time, it was the largest bauxite refining plant in the United States. The company discontinued its Mobile operations in 1982.

 

Technology

·        Technology firms located in Mobile include Mentor Graphics, Chapura, CentraLite and Xanté Corp, with more than 6,000 technology jobs in the area.

o       Mentor Graphics is the anchor tenant at the University of South Alabama’s Technology and Research Park and specializes in embedded operating systems and application development tools. The company was founded in 1990 by a graduate of the University of South Alabama. Oregon-based Mentor Graphics bought Mobile's Accelerated Technology.

o       Chapura Inc. develops software that synchronizes data between PDAs and desktop computers. Its former president has moved home to Georgia, one of its founders has become a real estate developer, and its 10,000-square-foot building in Executive Park is for sale. Chapura's business was built on a single product line, PocketMirror, software that synchronizes Microsoft Outlook with Palm Pilot PDAs. PocketMirror was released in 1997, and Chapura signed an agreement to bundle PocketMirror with Palm in March 1998. Chapura earned royalties for each device sold, and the company, first based in Jim Chappelle’s home, grew exponentially. Besides Palm devices, PocketMirror was also bundled with devices sold by Handspring, IBM, Samsung, Fossil and Kyocera. In 2003 Palm decided it would no longer use Chapura's software. Royalties dried up, and Chapura was forced to trim its staff. The company's staff of about 10 is a third of what it used to be. Chapura reports it enjoyed a profitable 2006 from direct sales. Its estimated annual revenue is around $2 million.

o       CentralLite System’s innovative automatic lighting systems meet consumer needs and offers artistic beauty in lighting. Xanté develops products that enable the highest quality printing solutions for its clients.

o       STI, a Mobile-based education data management company, provides software to help K-12 schools keep track of things like attendance, scheduling, grades, discipline and money. It is scheduled to relocate its headquarters and 150 employees to the University of South Alabama Technology and Research Park. – PR 8/17/07

·        The healthcare information technology sector is well represented in Mobile, with firms such as TeleVox Software, The SSI Group, CPSI, DocuSys and Digidyne, accounting for more than 1,400 employees.

o       Mobile-based Computer Programs and Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CPSI) specializes in health care information systems for small and medium-sized hospitals nationwide. It has more than 900 employees at its headquarters off Hillcrest Road in west Mobile. CPSI had annual revenue of $115.9 million in 2006.

§         CPSI owners include Palisade Capital Management, L.L.C (8%), Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC (8%), Century Capital Management LLC (7%), Neuberger Berman Inc. (5%), M. Kenny Muscat (5%), John Morrissey (3%).

o       SSI's client base exceeds 2,200 and includes hospitals, doctors, HMOs and insurance carriers. Founded in 1988, SSI has about 370 employees . Its headquarters are on Morrison Drive in west Mobile. Its annual revenue is around $40 million, said Jimmy Lyons, chief financial officer. Sold under the trademark ClickON, SSI software handles claims processing and data networking for its medical clients.   Bobby Smith is SSI’s president and chief executive officer. – PR 12/6/07

§         SSI has forged an alliance with Pittsburgh-based The Bank of New York Mellon which will allow Mellon's health care clients to use SSI products and give SSI clients access to Mellon's "full suite of treasury services" geared toward the health care industry.

§         In 2007, SSI was among trade publication Healthcare Informatics' top 100 health care product and service providers, coming in this year at No. 61 based on 2006 annual revenue of $37 million. That's down from $41 million in 2005.

§         Smith said the health care IT market is moving from licensing software -- where the client pays a single fee upon signing a contract -- to paying on a per-claim basis. Software license fees would range from around $10,000 to $50,000, and the revenue was recognized immediately, he said. Now, with claims going through SSI's clearinghouse, the revenue is not recognized immediately.

o        DocuSys provides anesthesia and drug management systems and has about 60 people working at its facility at the University of South Alabama Technology & Research Park.

o       TeleVox developed software for computer-generated reminder calls for a doctor, dentist or orthodontist appointments. It was founded in 1992 by Neil Armentrout and his wife Fran Smith, and was sold to West Corp. of Omaha, Neb. in 2007. As of March 2007, it had 250 employees – all but 25 are in Mobile. Before launching TeleVox, Armentrout was an executive with QMS and left to start Condé Systems with David Gross.

·        The University of South Alabama Research Park opened in 2003.

o       In early 2006, Mentor Graphics' facilities accounted for nearly all of USA's research park. The park is now about 300,000 square feet, 80 percent of which is occupied

 

Food and Seafood

·        Mobile's seafood industry rose waned almost to the point of extinction in the last quarter of the 20th century.

o       An updated economic impact study of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, funded by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, was presented with estimates that the Alabama Seafood Industry will suffer more than a $112 million loss.

·        Marshall Biscuits, Sara Lee, and others have production facilities

·        In its facility near Mobile, McNeil Nutritionals (a division of McNeil-PPC, Inc.) produces the world’s supply of Splenda No Calorie Sweetener for consumer use.

 

 

Service Industries

Banking and Finance

·        Mobile lags the state average in the percentage of finance, insurance, and real estate jobs.

·        The Mobile Bay area's largest banks are: Regions Bank (Birmingham; in 2006 merged with AmSouth – also from Birmingham), RBC Centura (North Carolina), Compass Bank (Birmingham, acquired by a Spanish bank in 2007), Wachovia Bank (Charlotte, NC, merged with Birmingham-based SouthTrust in 2004), BankTrust (Mobile), Colonial Bank (Montgomery), and Whitney National Bank (New Orleans) – PR5/27/07

o       First National Bank was the oldest bank in Mobile; American National was slightly newer. American National became AmSouth in 1970s and brought in First National in 1985, divesting branches which became BankTrust.

o       Merchants National Bank became First Alabama when it went statewide and Regions when it expanded out of Alabama; Regions merged with AmSouth in late 2006.

o       Following the 2006 $10 billion merger of Regions and AmSouthBancorp, the two Birmingham-based banks were forced by federal regulators to divest a total of 52 branches. In Mobile the merged banks commanded about 61 percent of the deposit market. Regions has 46 branches in the Mobile area.

o       RBC Centura acquired 22 Mobile-area AmSouth branches, and announced it would make Mobile its state headquarters. RBC became Mobile's No. 2 bank with nearly $1 billion in deposits. Raleigh, N.C.-based RBC Centura's parent is Royal Bank of Canada.

o       RBC Centura agreed to acquire Birmingham-based Alabama National Bancorp. in a deal valued at $1.6 billion. The deal includes subsidiary First Gulf Bank NA, which has eight branches in Baldwin County and four in Escambia County, Fla. Holding almost 13 percent of the deposits, First Gulf is Baldwin County's second-largest bank.

o       2007 Alabama & Mobile/Baldwin Bank Statistics (Press-Register Graphic)

·        BankTrust: (Nasdaq: BTFG)

o       In 1985 the Mobile National Corporation holding company and its subsidiary, The Bank of Mobile, opened for business in 1986. The Main Office was located in downtown Mobile, along with a full service Trust Department and one branch location in West Mobile. Total Assets at the time were $9.5 million.

o       In 1993 Mobile National Corporation merged with South Alabama Bancorporation (parent company of First National Bank, Brewton) and adopted the name South Alabama Bancorporation. Both banks retained their local identity, management, and board of directors. The Monroe County Bank joined in 1996, followed by The Commercial Bank of Demopolis in 1998. Also in 1998 the Bank of Mobile changed its name to South Alabama Bank.

o       In 2002, the bank changed its name to BankTrust and the holding company’s name changed to BancTrust Financial Group, Inc.

o       In 2003 CommerceSouth, Inc. was acquired.  Total assets were approximately $1.1 billion.

o       In 2006 a team of former Regions bankers in Mobile joined BankTrust just before its merger with AmSouth. 

o       In 2007 BancTrust Financial Group Inc. announced that it would merge with Selma-based The Peoples BancTrust Co. Inc. in a $143 million deal, which will bring the combined total of branches to 54 throughout Alabama and Florida and about $2.3 billion in assets. BankTrust has branches under construction in Fairhope and Tillman's Corner, and CEO W. Bibb Lamar Jr. said expansion plans will be unaffected by the merger. As of 2007 it had about 5% of the Mobile market. BancTrust tried in 2000 to join with Peoples in a "merger of equals," but that deal fell through. – PR 5/27/07, 10/12/07

o       BancTrust Website

o       BancTrust Board of Directors

o       BancTrust Beneficial Owners and Past Directors

o       South Alabama Beneficial Owners 1996

·        Commonwealth National Bank is a minority-owned bank with branches in Toulminville, Crichton and Prichard.

·        Woodlands Financials, a South Carolina investment group, purchased Gulf Federal Bank in 2007. Gulf Federal, which has two offices in Mobile, will remain a thrift, but will no longer be minority-owned. The investment group did not operate any retail offices before it acquired Gulf Federal. In addition to the two current branches -- one on Broad Street and one in Eight Mile -- two more branches will be opened in Mobile, one downtown and another on Government Boulevard.  – PR1/26/07

·        Hancock Bank, based in Gulfport, Miss., opened its downtown branch and headquarters on the ground floor of St. Emanuel Place on Dauphin Street in 2007. The bank aims to build four to six branches in the Mobile area by the end of 2007, and eight to 10 in the next few years.

·        New Horizons Credit Union, formerly Scott Credit Union, has five branches and aims to finish a sixth by the end of the year. The smaller Azalea City Credit Union has two branches, but recently changed its charter to expand northward in Mobile and Washington counties as the area grows.

·        Bay Bank based in Mobile plans a two-story, 10,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar branch on Airport Boulevard in west Mobile according to Charles Ruffin, president and chief executive officer. Bay Bank has three smaller locations in Theodore, Dauphin Island and Dauphin Island Parkway.

·        Century Bank, headquartered in Lucedale, Miss. came into Mobile in 2002, when it merged with Mobile County Bank, a former branch of the old First National.

·        BancorpSouth, based in Tupelo, Miss., is opening branches in Mobile & Baldwin counties.

·        First Community Bank

·        Mobile Area Banks (from Business View, 9/2007)

 

Retail

·        In retailing, Birmingham-based Saks Inc. has both Parisian and McRae’s stores in Mobile.

o       Bruno’s operates eight Bruno’s and nine Food World grocery stores in the Mobile metro area. Bruno’s, although based in Birmingham, is owned by Lone Star Funds, a private equity firm (and was previously owned by Ahold and KKR).

o       Gayfers, Hammel's, Kayser's, Kress, Reiss Brothers are all downtown stores that have gone out of business

 

Other service

·        Six call centers call the Mobile Bay region their home, including Hertz Corp, NCO Financial Systems, and Sears Home Central

·        Engineering firm Kellogg Brown & Root closed its Mobile operations in 2004 after 22 years, leaving 140 employees out of work. The Mobile County school board is thinking about leasing the old Kellogg Brown & Root office building at 2970 Cottage Hill Road.

·        Tourism employed about 30,800 people in the Mobile MSA and earnings (both direct and indirect) amounted to almost $837 million with 2.5 million visitors.

Health Care

Real Estate

 

     

 

 

Mobile Infrastructure

 

Industrial Sites

·        Theodore Industrial Park

o       The idea for the Theodore Industrial Park came from the administrators of the State Docks in the early 1960s, when they looked at the abandoned federal military property, the Theodore Ammunition Depot, as a site for new industry. The State Docks had run out of room to expand along the downtown waterfront. In 1965, at a meeting of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Mobile, the director of the State Docks and the Board agreed to buy the Depot. The City IDB used tax-exempt industrial development bonds to buy the land for the Theodore Industrial Park.

o       Degussa established the first chemical plant in Theodore in the 1970s and remained one of the only industries in the park until 1990.  By 1996, Degussa had expanded its operations and established joint ventures with two other chemical manufacturers that built new production facilities in the park. They were soon joined by a host of smaller firms and refineries.

o       This phase of industrial expansion followed a decade of real estate development in the Fowl River area to the east of the plants, setting the stage for land use conflicts between industry and the area's upper-middle-class residents. By the mid-1990s, what had once been a wild area of estuaries and bayous dotted by expensive homes had acquired a distinctly industrial skyline of smokestacks and storage tanks. - Moberg

·        LeMoyne/Mobile River Industrial Park

o       Axis is a rural unincorporated area located 20 miles north of Mobile. Since the early 1950s, Axis has become the largest site of chemical manufacturing in the state and one of the largest in the Southeast.

 

 

Local Companies

·        The Mitchell Company is a real estate development company based in Mobile

·        International Shipholding Inc. moved its new corporate headquarters from New Orleans to the RSA Battle House Tower in Mobile in 2007.  Sources: PR, Hoovers.

o       The company was founded as Central Gulf Steamship Corporation by Niels F. Johnsen and his sons, Niels W. and Erik F. Johnsen. Incorporated in 1947, the new company was backed by a group of New Orleans businessmen and professional leaders. It immediately purchased and began operations with one World War II Liberty ship, renamed the Green Wave in honor of Tulane University, alma mater of the two younger Johnsens. Erik F. Johnsen plans to retire as chairman, and his son, Erik L. Johnsen, will be named president. Erik L. Johnsen's cousin, Niels Johnsen, will become chairman and chief executive. Brothers Niels W. Johnsen and CEO Erik F. Johnsen and their families collectively own about 37% of International Shipholding.

o       During the 1960s, ISC became the number one U.S.-flag carrier between the United States and the Middle East and inaugurated its practice of becoming a niche operator.

o       Most of the company's sales come from the chartering of vessels such as car and truck carriers, ships with strengthened hulls for use in polar regions, and coal and sulfur carriers. In addition, the company uses lighter-aboard-ship (LASH) vessels to provide scheduled ocean freight transportation services between the US and ports in Europe and the Middle East. International Shipholding's fleet includes about 40 oceangoing vessels and some 850 LASH barges. ISC is the only significant operator of the LASH transportation system, which it pioneered in 1969; the company owns 13 such LASH vessels, in addition to four LASH feeder vessels and 1,865 LASH barges. The LASH transportation system uses specially designed barges of uniform size which were loaded with cargo, towed to a centralized fleeting area, loaded aboard a large oceangoing LASH vessel by the vessel's 500-ton capacity shipboard crane, and then transported overseas, where the process was reversed. In its transoceanic liner services, ISC used the LASH system to gather cargo in ocean ports as well as on rivers and island chains and in harbors too shallow for traditional vessels. ISC's 400-ton capacity LASH barges were ideally suited to transport larger unit size items such as project cargo, forest products, natural rubber and steel that could not be transported efficiently to and from such areas in container ships.

o       In 1989 ISC purchased Waterman Marine Corporation, which operated the Waterman Steamship Corporation, for $34 million

o       Its CG Railway Inc. subsidiary, is a rail-on-barge service connecting Mexico to the Gulf Coast. 

§         CG’s railway terminal was launched at Choctaw Point in 2000, and was relocated to New Orleans in 2005 when it was displaced by construction of Mobile's $300 million container terminal. The docks negotiated with CG on a replacement facility, but International Shipholding announced in 2005 it would move the terminal to New Orleans, and accepted an incentives package that included $15 million in infrastructure improvements. New Orleans had the added appeal of seven rail interchanges, where Mobile has five. In August 2005, with work about three-quarters finished on the New Orleans facility, Katrina struck, altering the channel depth in Louisiana's Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and forcing CG into another move. International Shipholding took an $8 million hit for leaving the terminal, which is owned by the Port of New Orleans. The state of Alabama and the Alabama State Port Authority agreed to build a new $26 million terminal for the service as part of the incentives deal for ISC to move to Mobile. The service will have double the capacity it had at Choctaw Point, thanks to a redesigned terminal and double-decked vessels. The CG Railway connects the rails of southern Mexico with those of North America via a pair of double-decker ships that together will make about 85 trips annually between southern Mexico and Mobile. The CG terminal is one of the few, if not only, double-decker rail terminals in the nation, though there are such systems in place in Europe. - PR

o       International Shipholding has 15 wholly owned subsidiaries and a stake in three joint ventures.

o       The company is traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ISH

o       Key numbers for fiscal year ending December, 2006: Sales: $274.9M One year growth: 4.9% Net income: $17.0M Income growth: 143.6%. Employees: 604. Market Cap: $122.6M

·        Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring Inc. was started by Angus Cooper in 1905. The New Orleans-based T. Smith and Cooper companies merged in 1983. Cooper/T. Smith now has operations in thirty-eight US ports, and has foreign operations in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Canada and Mexico. Cooper Stevedoring, a Cooper/T.Smith subsidiary, now operates in 30 ports on three U.S. coasts, as well as in Mexico and South America. Services have expanded to include docking, mooring, warehousing and barge fleeting services. Cooper/T. Smith also owns American Equity Underwriters Insurance Co. and the recently purchased marine and timberlands division of Kimberly Clark, which is headed by Angus Cooper III.

·        Ryan-Walsh Stevedoring: The Walsh family side of the company was established in 1867 as a Gulf Coast stevedore operating primarily in Mobile and Pensacola. The Ryan side had been a wholly owned subsidiary of Waterman Steamship Co. After being spun off from Waterman, Ryan acquired Walsh Stevedoring in 1974. Ryan-Walsh was bought by Pittsbugh-based Dravo Corp. in 1981. (Dravo sold its asphaltic concrete operation located in Mobile and Loxley in 1992.) Executives took back control of Ryan-Walsh in a leveraged buyout in 1988. Ryan-Walsh then acquired stevedore companies in Houston, Norfolk, Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. Ryan-Walsh was bought by Seattle-based SSA in 1995. SSA competes with the global giants: Hutchison International Terminals of Hong Kong, P&O of London, and International Terminals of Manila.

·        Bender Shipbuilding & Repair is a privately-held shipbuilding and repair company in Mobile. Theodore Jackson Bender, founded it in 1919 as a small welding and machine shop on St. Louis Street.  It moved to the west bank of the Mobile River in 1952. – PR 1/23/00

o       In 1965, Bender built the first of more than 1,000 fishing vessels it would produce by the end of the century. In the early 1960s and again from the early '90s to today, Bender produced a variety of supply boats, anchor-handling tugs and other vessels for the offshore oil and gas industry. Prior to 1980, it was named Bender Welding & Machine Co., Inc.  Bender has built ammunition boxes during World War II, provided steel for construction of Ladd Memorial Stadium in 1948, manufactured 1,200 buoys for the development of the Intracoastal Waterway system in the 1950s, built push boats for U.S. rivers and canals, and patrol boats for the Colombian government.

o       It is active in both ship construction and repair, is affiliated by common ownership with Tampa Bay Shipbuilding & Repair Co., Inc., the successor to Tampa Shipyards, Inc., and was the U.S. investor in Austal USA until September 2006, when it was bought out by Austal. In 2004, it opened Astilleros Bender in Tampico, Mexico as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bender.

o       Bender has the world's largest production laser, a $1.3 million cutting machine that is in use in only a score of factories and yards globally. Bender was the only U.S. shipyard to have such a device in 2000. Second-tier yards such as Bender are the next level beneath the nation's four major shipbuilders - Litton Industries' Ingalls and Avondale operations in Pascagoula and New Orleans, for example - which build major combat vessels for the Navy.

o       Bender's work force is not unionized. After a series of accidental deaths and serious injuries in the shipyard during the 1970s and ''80s, the company dramatically improved its safety record in the 1990s

o       With 650 employees - compared with a peak of 1,200 several years ago when Bender temporarily operated an auxiliary yard in Louisiana - the company might not appear to some outsiders to be as strong as it once was.

o       During the early 1990s, the company built or converted 27 vessels for use as casino boats. President Tom Bender was a central figure in a high-profile Louisiana trial involving allegations that his company made kickbacks to two associates of former governor Edwin Edwards. Prosecutors tried to prove that New Orleans lawyer William Broadhurst and Shreveport businessman Gus Mijalis arranged for Bender Shipbuilding to secretly pay them for their help in landing a $50 million contract for Bender to build two identical riverboat casinos. In 1993, at the time of the ship deals, Broadhurst and Mijalis had consulting contracts with Grand Palais Inc. and Capital Gaming Inc. to help the companies win state gaming licenses. Bender testified but was not a defendant in the case. Broadhurst's first trial on conspiracy and fraud charges ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors agreed not to charge Mijalis in return for his agreement to plead guilty to bribery and bankruptcy fraud charges in an unrelated matter. Bender Shipbuilding won the contracts to build identical gambling riverboats, even though it was not the low bidder. On the day the $50 million contract was signed, Bender agreed to pay a 3-percent sales commission to Republic Corporate Services, a company owned by Mijalis' nephew. Bender testified that Mijalis assured him that he was not receiving any of the money. Mijalis also told Bender that it wouldn't matter if he was paid, since Capital Gaming knew about the sales commission deal, Bender testified. But Mijalis did get money from his nephew's company, and that company also made payments to Broadhurst. After the FBI discovered the payments, Republic Corporate Services stopped receiving payments and Bender Shipbuilding in turn sliced bills to the casino companies by the same 3 percent, court records show. A problem for the prosecution's case has been that Grand Palais continued to pay Broadhurst after finding out about the Bender deal, and Grand Palais executives have testified that Broadhurst did not defraud them. – PR 9/27/97

o       Bender employs more than 1,000 people on property along about a mile of waterfront on the west bank of the river and 2,000 feet on the east bank – PR 6/24/07

o       Bender Shipbuilding has been accused by a worker rights group, the New Orleans-based Alliance of Guest Workers for Dignity, of bringing 32 Mexican welders to its Mobile shipyard for jobs that didn't exist, then subjecting them to discriminatory welding tests and firing them. The Mexican employees were here under the guest worker, or H-2B visa program. It allows non-U.S. citizens to work up to three years for one employer, at which point the person is required to return to his or her native country for six months. Alliance organizers and the workers said they met with Bender representatives in mid-December to ask for reimbursement and were told they would be deported if they didn't leave the country by the next morning. The workers then filed the EEOC complaint, and after financial help from the Mexican Consulate, returned to Mexico. The group says about 25 other Mexican workers remain at Bender and are being paid significantly less than their American counterparts. – PR 12/23/07

·          Steiner Shipyard, with origins as a family shipyard dating back to the 1920s, is a well-regarded entity in the local maritime markets. Steiner is perhaps best known for its endeavors in the fishing vessel markets, as it has built hundreds of boats over the years.

·        C&G Boatworks was founded in Bayou La Batre in 1996, opened a dry dock along the Mobile River in 1998 and moved operations downtown permanently about a year before Hurricane Katrina. C&G bought its Mobile River property from the Murray family estate. It was awarded a Navy contract worth up to $44 million in June 2007. – PR 6/24/2007

·        Stauter Boat Works: Lawrence Stauter started his boat works in 1946. Stauter set up shop right on the Causeway and charged $25 for his skiffs. Stauter literally grew up in the lower Delta, on Conway Creek, in a house on stilts. The Stauters, German Catholics, were part of a small Delta community that in pre-Causeway days traveled by boat to Mobile for church services and shopping. Stauter's father supported the family by fishing, hunting and trapping in the Delta. Word got around that Stauter-built boats - usually painted in a simple green and white pattern - leaked far less often than most wooden boats. In 1979, after Hurricane Frederic demolished Stauter's home and business, he retired and turned over his business to two younger relatives, Gene and Joseph Lami, who reopened in West Mobile. Stauter died in 1999. – PR1/12/99

·        Negus Boat Works was started by Rone, Don, and Ed Negus

·        Mitternight Boiler Works in Satsuma

·        Gulf Coast Marine Supply is a general supply house founded in 1935 by Marvin Mostellar Sr. In the early years it catered to the ships trading in the Port of Mobile but it became more industrially oriented.

·        Mobile Rosin Oil Company, established in 1924, uses rosin from pine trees to serve a number of industries including rubber, paper, paint, preservatives, construction and lubricants. Rosin oil was initially used in the manufacture of axle greases. But the rubber industry quickly became, and remains, its largest user because rosin oil is an excellent tackifier and processing aid in rubber manufacturing.

·        Masland Carpets is a major carpet manufacturer headquartered in Saraland. It was founded in Pennsylvania in 1866. The distribution center in Saraland, where all rug designs are manufactured, has 333 employees. It was acquired by Chattanooga-based The Dixie Group in 1993. In 1968, the company moved its broadloom carpet weaving operation to Atmore, following five years later with the distribution warehouse and rug-making facility in an industrial park in Saraland. In the early 1990s, Masland moved its marketing staff from Atlanta and its corporate headquarters from Carlisle, Pa., to Saraland.

·         Gulf Lumbar Company manufactures Southern Pine lumber. In 1939, with WWII approaching, Ben May bought a lumber concentration yard. In 1952 the management of Gulf Lumber was taken over by the Stimpson brothers, Billy, Ben and Gordon. In 1973, after the death of Ben May, they acquired the company from his estate. Billy, Ben and Gordon officially transferred ownership to the younger members of the family in 1992. Gulf Lumber Company has 3 primary areas of operation: a Sawmill, a Treating Plant and an import company known as Gulf Trading, LLC. Today, independent logging crews haul more than 400 loads of logs per week to the Mobile plant. Gulf Lumber Company, one of the largest sawmills in Alabama, annually produces 105 million board feet of yellow pine products, shipping primarily into Midwestern and Northeastern markets.

·        Buchanan Lumber Mobile is a family owned business in Mobile since 1965.   Buchanan has two operations in Mobile and Chickasaw that encompass both a lumber manufacturing/processing facility as well as providing various services related to the lumber and import/export shipping industry.

·        Mobile Paperboard’s mill on Mobile Street was built in 1918, destroyed by fire in 1923, and was back in operation a year later in 1924. Under several different ownerships for its first 66 years, the mill was acquired by The Newark Group in 1984. Mobile Paperboard receives approximately 700 tons of recycled paper from the Metro Mobile Recycling Center.

·        Hargrove & Associates engineering firm, founded in Mobile in 1995 by Ralph Hargrove, ranked 453 on Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies list based on 2006 revenue of $15.9 million, a 642 percent increase over 2005. The company, which employs 185 and also has offices in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., designs and builds large industrial projects such as refineries, chemical plants and paper mills.

·        Thompson Engineering Testing Inc. was established by Vester Thompson Jr. in 1953. He sold the company to its employees in 1996.

·        Volkert & Associates Engineering

o       Poor engineering of the U.S. 98 rerouting, designed by the Alabama Department of Transportation and Volkert Engineering, contributed to runoff problems, according to interviews with transportation officials.

·        Gulf States Engineering: Started in 1998 by Robert O. Edens, Gulf States Engineering serves industrial, commercial and government clients throughout the U.S. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Timothy Morris PE bought into the firm in 2001 as the fifth employee, and since that time the company has grown to include 40 employees in the Mobile office and 10 employees in the Gulfport office.

·        Cox Nuclear Pharmacy, founded by Billy Cox, joined two other companies in January to form Triad Isotopes, one of the largest independent nuclear pharmacy companies in the country, in a deal estimated at more than $100 million. – PR 11/18/07

·        CentraLite was formed in 1997 by Jim Busby, after he left QMS.  CentraLite designs and manufactures home lighting control systems. Former Mayor Mike Dow joined as Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing in 2005.

o       CentraLite's ownership was shown as Jim Busby, 1.4 million shares; Jim Busby Jr., 866,500 shares; Karen Swanson, 500 shares; Richard Palesano, 26,000 shares; Tom Hendrich, 23,000+ shares; and Mike Dow, 31,250 shares. – MBT 2/15/05

·        Big 10 Tire Company was founded in Pensacola in 1954; it’s headquarters are in Mobile on Government Blvd.  It has over 100 retail tire locations. It is owned by Jim Wilson and Associates of Montgomery, which also owns the Birmingham Galleria.

·        Molyneux and Demouy

·        Marshall Biscuit Co. is a Saraland company that makes frozen biscuits sold in supermarkets. The Marshall Biscuit Company was founded in 1924 by John Marshall.  It began with the “Electric Maid Bake Shop”, a coffee shop in downtown Mobile.  Soon after, Marshall’s biscuits were being shelved at local grocery stores like Delchamps and Greer’s.  The Marshall family owned Marshall’s Biscuits until 1985 when Robbie Outlaw bought the business.   The company pioneered frozen to oven biscuits in a baking tin. In 2005 it purchased another venerable Mobile name -- China Doll, which packages then sells rice and beans to retailers throughout the region. In 2007 Lancaster Colony Corp., an Ohio-based consumer products company and maker of Sister Schubert rolls, purchased Marshall Biscuit Co. The company said Marshall's sales in 2006 were about $11 million. Lancaster turned its eyes to lower Alabama in 2000 when it bought the Sister Schubert's plant in Luverne from Patricia Barnes (formerly Schubert). The Lancaster Colony deal reportedly does not include China Doll. – PR

·        Leroy Hill Coffee Company:  In 1968 Leroy Hill purchased the Mobile operation of the Belford Coffee Company 1980's The company expanded into the entire Southeast. Leroy Hill Coffee Company has 22 locations with branches in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. In 1999, Hill renamed “Hill & Brooks Coffee” as the “Leroy Hill Coffee Company”

o       In 1994 Hill was charged with orchestrating bogus bids so he could buy 80 acres of state land adjoining his 3,500-acre ranch in Grand Bay for $48,400, even though timber on the property was valued at $183,803. He had two employees submit lower bids. Roberts Brothers associate broker Walter ``Bud'' Jones wrote a letter to the land's owner, the state Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, describing the 80 acres as “swamp”. A federal court jury convicted Hill of mail fraud, and he served more than a year in prison. Then Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions' also brought a civil lawsuit against Hill and Jones.

o       In 1995, The widow of deceased coffee merchant Raymond E. Brooks sued the Leroy Hill, accusing him of cheating the terminally ill Brooks out of his share of the company they founded.

o       In 2005 Paul Stewart and his coffee company, Coffee Pro Inc., won a $2.5 million verdict against Leroy Hill Coffee Co., which is owned by his estranged father-in-law, Leroy Hill, and two employees. The defendants were accused of slandering Coffee Pro by criticizing its product and ethics and by describing one of the company’s salespeople as a coffee thief and a homosexual.  Hill, had originally been a defendant, but was dismissed the case, in a ruling that the plaintiffs had not presented evidence that he personally defamed anyone. Stewart started Coffee Pro in 1997.

·        Haas-Davis Meat Company was started in 1865 by George Augustus Haas and his half-brother Fank Hemley. Haas soon bought out Hemley. The company was located on Bay Shore Avenue in Crichton and meats were sold from horse-drawn wagons.  were produced Mobile until 1971. Mobilian David Campbell revived the company in 1997. He hired Frank Robert Haas as a consultant. – PR 5/27/97

·        Carrington Foods and Miss Sally’s Stuffed Crabs began production in 1971. Miss Sally's stuffed crabs supplied to Sam's Clubs in southern and midwestern states through early 1994 were stuffed with surimi, a whitefish used as an inexpensive crab substitute. As a result of fraudulent use of the word "crabmeat," Carrington Foods was ordered to pay $78,000 in fines after pleading guilty to food product misbranding. Carrington Foods subsequently lost its contract with Sam's Club.

·        Naman’s Market:  George Naman of Pascagoula married Helen Zoghby of Mobile and ran Naman’s store across from the Cathedral from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. While his brother Michael enjoyed the jewelry business, George continued the food business with his daughter Elizabeth’s help. George’s other children, Emile and Mimi, ran Naman’s Department Store on Dauphin Street. In 1947, George’s sons, Tony and Alex, along with their sister Mabel, opened the first food store was located at the 459 South Broad Street (Texas and Broad). In 1951, they opened their next food store at Broad and Savannah. In 1955, the construction was complete on their newest and largest store, Naman’s Supermarket, located at 563 South Broad Street, which remained in operation until 2004. In 2006, Alec and Thomas Naman opened Naman’s Midtown Market.

·        Autry Greer & Sons, Inc. runs Greer’s Food Tiger grocery stores, Greer’s Markets, and Tiger Discount Liquors.  Founded in 1916, it is still owned and run by the Greer family.  It has 34 stores throughout the Southeast and is based in Prichard. The late Mac Greer popularized the Greer's grocery store chain's signature phrase, "I gua-ran-tee it!" in years of television advertising.

·        Bayou La Batre Seafood Companies (2005): Jubilee Foods, Sea Pearl Seafood Co., Graham Fisheries Inc., Deep Sea Foods

·        Wintzell’s Oyster House: J. Oliver Wintzell opened his restaurant at 605 Dauphin St. in 1938 as a six-stool oyster bar.  – PR 2/4/07

o       The restaurant's walls are covered with Wintzell's folksy sayings as well as photographs of hundreds of celebrities, sports heroes, politicians and local fishermen who have eaten there.

o       SouthernPointe bought the 220-seat restaurant in January 2000. Bob Donlon, owner and chief executive officer of SouthernPointe Group, has been in the restaurant business for 40 years. His son-in-law, Bob Omainsky, is president of the company and a former district manager for Cracker Barrel restaurants.

o       The company has four restaurants in Mobile County and one in Fairhope, and it plans to open a sixth store in May next to Wal-Mart Supercenter at Schillinger and Moffett roads in Semmes. The goal is to have seven company-owned eateries and then focus on helping franchisees get started regionally, according to Donlon,. The new, 7,000-square-foot restaurant on Schillinger and Moffett roads will be the company's first prototype store, Omainsky said. All the other Wintzell's are located in former restaurant buildings. The Wintzell's in the former Wharfhouse restaurant on Mobile Bay and Dog River was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. The owners plan to rebuild at that site or buy land at Dog River Marina, where the restaurant would be more protected from storms, Donlon said.

·         Local businessman Bob Baumhower created Wings Sports Grilles and now has about 10 franchised restaurants regionally.

·        “The Nuthouse in Mobile was originally H.M. Thames Pecan, the “Nuthouse” on Broad Street, and the “Nuthouse Too” on Mc Gregor Avenue. Three family generations of Mobilians worked there (Merrill Thames, Dan Miller and Valery Wiseman) until it was sold to Three George Candy owner Scott Gonzales. The Nuthouse had a colorful beginning in Laurel Mississippi. Sank Taylor made enough money showing silent black and white movies in a tent he set up in a farmer’s field to buy a farm for himself in the early 1920s.   In Mobile his niece Norma Thames was looking for a way to supplement her husband’s salary. She struck a deal with her Uncle Sank to truck his pecans to Mobile and to process and market them in a small frame building on Houston Street.  Four women shelled them by hand. Norma bought pecans from Mobile and Baldwin County farmers and, when the local crop was slim, she drove a truck on Saturday mornings to locations in neighboring states, where she rented a vacant store front, engaged a day worker for the heavy lifting and bought pecans. In 1937 Merrill Thames joined his young wife in the pecan business. Taylor Pecan Company became H M Thames Pecan Company which set up shop in a building at 750 Dauphin Street. A family friend, Dutch Jernigan, brought home a different business directory each night for the Thames family to scan at the dining room table in search of bakers and confectioners with F-3 ratings … “small business with good credit” for addition to their mailing list….which grew and grew.  The family now included a young daughter, Teko Thames Wiseman, who learned to read searching Dunn & Bradstreet business directories for F-3’s.Thames Pecan prices included free shipping and Railway Express offered the best freight rates to the Mid West so prospective customers from those states were favored.  At one time the business provided jobs for 100 seasonal employees working in shifts before automation replaced many of them.  And they engaged buyers from Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia when crops were scarce in Alabama. In order to supply customers year round the Thames eventually rented freezer space at the Alabama State Docks.  When volume of sales rendered this arrangement too cumbersome they built and moved to what was known by family as “The Nut House” plus a separate large capacity commercial freezer at the NW corner of Broad Street and New Jersey Streets, where it remains today. Old family receipes continue, from Aunt Lelia’s fruitcake to pecans whole, raw, roasted, sweet and salty. The mailing list includes customers around the nation including the late movie star Catherine Hepburn.” – Robin Delaney, CoastalAlabama.tv

·         Toomeys Mardi Gras

·        Goldstein's Jewlery was founded in 1879 by Julius Goldstein and purchased by the Frank family in the 1950s. It is now owned by Richard Frank Jr. Goldstein's was originally located on Dauphin Street downtown, moving to Royal Street around 1905. Goldstein's was the first of Mobile's jewelry stores to "move west," setting up shop in Bel Air Mall in 1967. In 1974, Goldstein's built a second location in the mall, where it stayed until 2002 before moving to its current Hillcrest Road location. – PR 9/27/07

·        Shoe Station was founded in Mobile by Terry Barkin. It has 3 locations in Mobile and13 locations around the southeast.

·        Standard Equipment Co. Inc., distributor of industrial, construction and marine supplies, was founded in 1906 by Richard A. Christian, and is today owned by E. Burnley Davis Sr. and Robert D. Wilkins. Standard was originally located at Commerce and St. Anthony streets, but for nearly 50 years has operated at Beauregard and Water streets near the state docks. – PR 9/27/07

 

 

 

Former Mobile Businesses

·        Waterman Steamship Company: In 1926 John B. Waterman started the Waterman Steamship Corp.

o       John B. Waterman founded the company in 1919 with only $2,000 capital and a ship, the Eastern Sun, leased from the United States government. With T. M. Stevens, W.D. Bellingrath and C.W. Hempstead, Waterman organized the Waterman Steamship Corp. The Eastern Sun was authorized to take on the British trade, traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to Liverpool and Manchester.

o       Ryan Stevedoring Company was organized in 1924 as a wholly-owned subsidiary, for the business of loading and discharging vessels.

o       In 1926, Waterman organized and became president of the Mobile, Miami and Gulf Steamship Company, which became the Waterman Line. This enabled the company to expand its operations from Mobile and other gulf ports to Tampa, Key West, Miami, Puerto Rico and the West Indies.

o       Waterman, in 1930, purchased from the government the Mobile Oceanic Line, including fourteen ships that were soon refitted and improved for freight and passenger service. The Pan-Atlantic Steamship Corporation, with four vessels, was acquired in 1933.  From 1935 to 1937 the management of fifteen vessels of the Anchor Line of Glasgow was taken over

o       An affiliate, Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., built Navy and cargo ships.

o       By 1930 its fleet included 14 ships varying in size from 7,500 to 9,200 deadweight tons. At the beginning of World War II, Waterman owned and operated 38 American flag vessels, as well as three Canadian and five Anchor Line ships, and 12 chartered vessels. By World War II, the company owned more than 125 ships.

o       The company also ran Waterman Airlines , led by the founder's son, Caroll B. Waterman. In 1945 Waterman bought TACA Central American Airlines (it was sold in 1961)

o       Under the leadership of E.A. "Ed" Roberts, who became president in 1936, Waterman became the largest privately owned steamship line in the nation, operating a fleet of 125 ships.

o       The Waterman company erected one of downtown Mobile's landmark structures, the Waterman Building. The Waterman Globe, a huge model of the Earth, was commissioned by the company for the building and now is on display at the University of South Alabama.

o       In January 1955 Malcolm P. McLean sold his trucking company for $25 million, moved to New York and bought Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company, a subsidiary of Waterman, for $7 million. Waterman Steamship had acquired Pan-Atlantic Steamship, with four vessels, in 1933 to conduct coastwise operations while the parent company focused on overseas routes. In May 1955, McLean Industries purchased the entire stock of Waterman Steamship Corporation from the stockholders in a leveraged buyout. Six of the Waterman vessels were converted to container ships at the Mobile Ship Repair Co in Alabama and in 1957 the first of these ships, the Gateway City, entered service. Pan-Atlantic became Sea-Land Service in 1960.  McLean sold Waterman and Sea-Land sold to R.J. Reynolds in 1969 for $530 million in cash and stock. McLean made a $160 million personally and got a seat on the R. J. Reynolds’ board.

o       The first leveraged buy out in U.S. history may have been the purchase by McLean Industries of Waterman Steamship. Under the terms of that transaction, McLean borrowed $42 million and raised an additional $7 million through issue of preferred stock. When the deal closed, $20 million of Waterman cash and assets were used to retire $20 million of the loan debt. The newly elected board of Waterman then voted to pay an immediate dividend of $25 million to McLean Industries.

o       In 1989 International Shipholding Corporation purchased Waterman Marine Corporation, which operated the Waterman Steamship Corporation, for $34 million. ISC moved to Mobile in 2007, and with it Waterman came back to its birthplace

·        Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co., Kelly-Atkinson Construction Co., Henderson Shipbuilding Inc. and U.S. Steel Corp (in Chickasaw) were shipbuilders in Mobile during World War I (1917).

·        The Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company (ADDSCO) was one of the largest marine production facilities in the U.S. during the twentieth century. ADDSCO was primarily a repair yard, in continuous operation since 1917.  Although the shipbuilding industry collapsed with the end of the World War I, ADDSCO continued profitable ship-repair operations

o       During and after World War II, ADDSCO was the largest employer in southern Alabama. In the second year of the war, ADDSCO had 20,000 plus workers, of whom about 6,000 were African-American. Over four years, ADDSCO built over 100 T-2 oil carriers and 20 plus Liberty ships, and repaired and converted other vessels. 

o       By 1964, ADDSCO was down to 2,300 workers and was concentrating not on shipbuilding, but repairs. Racial equality was an ongoing problem following the war, addressed repeatedly by both management and union actions until the 1960s.

o       In 1992, ADDSCO was acquired by Atlantic Marine Holdings, a privately held company. Atlantic Marine Holdings also owned two shipyards in Jacksonville. ADDSCO was split it into two entities - a ship construction yard, called Alabama Shipyard, and a repair yard, called Atlantic Marine-Mobile. They jointly occupied the 650-acre site on Pinto Island.

o       It was sold again in 2006 an investment firm headed by former U.S. Navy Secretary John F. Lehman and the combined yard is now known as Atlantic Marine Alabama. Lehman promised new investment in the business, which is the second-largest landholder along Mobile's industrial waterfront. Since its 1992 founding, J.F. Lehman has acquired 13 maritime, defense and aerospace companies through $1.2 billion in transactions.

o       Atlantic Marine sold an 87-acre parcel to the Port Authority and 102 acres on Blakely Island to Austal USA in May 2007 for $5 million. Atlantic Marine is now selling its last available piece -- 35 acres on the northeast side of Pinto Island -- so it can focus on its core operations. Atlantic does the bulk of its work on 250 of the 450 acres it will own once the latest sale is complete.  – PR 6/24/07

o       Atlantic Marine is committed to up to $10 million in upgrades, including removing dilapidated buildings, upgrading piers and bulkheads, performing a safety audit and building a training facility. Atlantic Marine has more than 600 permanent, full-time workers, not counting temporary employees and hopes to add 300 to 500 more within two years – PR 6/24/07

·        The Star Fish & Oyster Company was started by Sebastian Gonzales, and continued by his four sons.  It closed in the 1980s due to changes in federal fishing regulations.

·        Karl Graf arrived ca 1888 from Baden Baden, Germany and began a dairy business at Sage Ave and Dauphin.

·        The Mobile Shipyard owned by the Collins family was located on Mon Luis Island and built wood vessels until 1954. They built everything from pleasure boats to fishing vessels used to trawl for fish, shrimp and oysters. They built a 50-foot schooner to aid the Confederate Army as a blockade runner against the Yankees in Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

·        Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad:

o       In 1848 the businessmen of Mobile organized the Mobile and Ohio Railroad with plans to build to the Ohio River at Cairo, IL. The endeavor quickly ran out of funds and was taken over by investors in Jackson, TN.

o       Progress of this line was hampered by the Civil War and the depression of 1873, and the line did not reach the Ohio River until 1883, crossing the river to North Cairo, Illinois. The St. Louis and Cairo was purchased in 1886 and widened, thus creating a 650 mile system from St. Louis to Mobile.

o       In 1940 the Gulf, Mobile & Northern merged with the bankrupt Mobile & Ohio creating the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad, a system of almost 2000 miles that connected St. Louis with the ports of Mobile and New Orleans. In 1947 the GM&O acquired ownership of the Alton Railroad, creating a 3000 mile North-South rail system.

o       In 1972, GM&O merged with Illinois Central to form Illinois Gulf Central. At the time, there were 19,000 employees nationwide, 5,000 of them in Mobile. In 1985, there were about 5,000 nationwide.

o       Sources: GM&O Historial Society. The Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio book by James Lemly.

·        The Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad was a short line railroad within the state of Alabama. It was founded in 1897 by John Cochrane as the Carrollton Short Line Railway to link the city of Carrollton with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad at Reform. Through mergers, acquisitions and the building of track, the railroad eventually reached the port of Mobile. In 1948, the railroad was purchased by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (the "Frisco"), who operated it as a separate entity until 1971, when it was absorbed into the parent company.

·        The New Orleans & Mobile Railroad became CSX Transportation

·        Morrison’s/Ruby Tuesday’s:

o        The first Morrison cafeteria, a novel dining concept for the area, was opened by J. A. Morrison in 1920 in Mobile. In 1928, Morrison incorporated his growing concern in Louisiana, naming the enterprise Morrison's Cafeterias Consolidated, Inc. 700,000 customers a year were eating at the company's cafeterias by 1938. By 1950, the last year Morrison Cafeterias would be entirely devoted to operating cafeterias, there were 17 such establishments.

o        In 1951, Morrison Cafeterias diversified into noncommercial feeding by providing meals on the set of the film The Greatest Show on Earth. Catering contracts would constitute one of the primary business segments of the company for the next 40 years. In 1952, Morrison Cafeterias signed a catering agreement with Loyola University, paving the way for future education contracts.

o       In 1968, Morrison Cafeterias Consolidated, Inc. changed its name to Morrison Incorporated which completed several acquisitions in the 1960s and 1970s, adding a motel chain, a china and small wares facility, an insurance carrier specializing in coverage for strip mines, a distribution company, and a breading plant. With each acquisition, Morrison replaced existing management with Morrison personnel, attempting to meld the disparate organizations into one corporate body.

o        Late in the 1970s, the company began to flounder, as its widespread interests had created bureaucratic layers that led to lower profit margins. In 1980, the company selected a new chief executive, Ernest Eugene Bishop. Bishop had joined Morrison in 1947 at age 16, rising through the company's ranks. Bishop divested all of the company's nonrestaurant holdings, noting later that the company's management "fell into the integration trap in the late 1960s and into the 1970s because it was in vogue."

o       In 1982, the company acquired the 15-unit restaurant chain, Ruby Tuesday, Inc. Ruby Tuesday was founded in 1972 by five college students attending the University of Tennessee. This group of young entrepreneurs, led by Samuel E. (Sandy) Beall III, converted an old house on the University's campus in Knoxville into a small, casual-style dining establishment. Bishop granted Beall and Ruby Tuesday's management virtual autonomy in controlling their organization instead of replacing them with Morrison personnel. Furthermore, he named Beall president of Morrison's newly created Specialty Restaurant Division. Within two years of the Ruby Tuesday purchase, the company added Silver Spoon Cafe and L&N Seafood Grill.

o       In 1987, Beall was named president and COO, and CEO in 1992. This year also featured the reorganization of Morrison's businesses into three primary divisions, Morrison's Family Dining Group, Casual Dining Group, and Hospitality Group. Morrison's strategy to distance itself from its cafeteria image and identify itself as a specialty restaurant and contract-feeding operator led to a name change in 1992, when the former Morrison Incorporated became Morrison Restaurants Inc. The company restructured its operations again in 1994, combining its Hospitality Group with its Family Dining Group to create the Morrison Group, and renaming its Casual Dining Group the Ruby Tuesday Group, providing a clear indication of the company's strategic priorities as it entered the mid-1990s. Several months after reorganizing the company into two operating groups, Morrison sold all of its education and business/industry food service accounts to Gardner Merchant Ltd., an international contract food services company, leaving Morrison with only its health care food service contracts. In 1996, Morrison's Fresh Cooking — unable to withstand the loss in popularity of cafeterias in general — sold out to Picadilly.

o       In 1998 Ruby Tuesday moved its corporate headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee.

·        Delchamps was founded by Alfred and Ollie Delchamps in 1921 at the corner of Lawrence and Canal streets in Mobile, which he operated along with his brother, Oliver.

o       The company is credited with bringing the supermarket concept to Alabama in 1955. The chain was a fixture in the middle Gulf Coast areas, with more than a hundred stores at its 1990s peak in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

o       In 1997, the chain was purchased by Jackson, Mississippi-based Jitney Jungle, and by 1999 the combined chains went into bankruptcy. The next year some stores were sold off to Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie; most of those locations have since closed in the wake of that chain's own troubles. Nineteen other locations were sold to Birmingham-based Bruno's Supermarkets.

·        Gayfers was founded by C.J. Gayfer on North Joachim Street in 1879. Gayfers eventually became known as the largest department store in the downtown area.  At the time of C.J. Gayfer's death in 1915, his store had 150 employees, and did about a half million dollars annually in trade.- PR

o       Gayfer's (for so the company styled itself until the 1970s, when it dropped the apostrophe) did business from several locations over the years including 103 Dauphin St., later renumbered to 169, where it was housed from 1880 to 1886, and the building next door, on the southeast corner of Dauphin and Conception streets. In 1898, a disastrous fire ravaged its stock. But the store recovered, and its new ``Spira and Pincus Building'' on the Conception Street corner was constructed with Rudolph Benz as architect at a cost of $12,000. It offered 10,000 square feet of commercial space, and had passenger and freight elevators. Gayfer's address expanded from 169 through 173 Dauphin. When it burned in 1920, Gayfer's next conducted business at 12 St. Emanuel St., a site which remained part of the company's location for more than half a century. A 1950-51 renovation and extension of the downtown store cost $2 million and spread the stock throughout the block, taking in a former Woolworth's on Dauphin Street. The Springdale store opened in 1960, and was soon followed by branches around the region in such places as Biloxi, Tallahassee, Jackson, Miss., Pensacola, Clearwater, Fla., Panama City, Fla., Dothan and Daphne, where the Jubilee store opened in 1981. The downtown store closed in 1985.

o       In the 1950s, Gayfers became affiliated with Ohio-based Mercantile Stores, a holding company (which also owned New OrleansMaison Blanche, founded by Isidore Newman).  Mercantile Stores and Gayfers were bought out by Little Rock-based Dillard's in 1998. Many of the stores were sold off and had their names changes.

·        Merchants National Bank of Mobile was incorporated in 1901 with offices at 56 St. Francis Street. In 1927, Merchants became a national bank and occupied the eighteen-story Merchants National Bank Building which was dedicated in 1929. It was led by Ernest Ladd and John McRae. Merchants National merged with First Alabama Bancshares, Inc. in 1983. The name Merchants National Bank of Mobile was changed to First Alabama Bank in 1985. A Bill to rescue Merchants was vetoed by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

·        Gulf Federal Bank was chartered in 1963 as Gulf Federal Savings and Loan Association and opened its doors in 1964. The institution has had a troubled past. Howard Leroy Davis, who managed Gulf Federal from 1963 to 1983, was convicted in 1986 of issuing $920,000 in unsecured loans to a friend in exchange for $100,000 in kickbacks, as well as other misuses of the association's funds. Davis' actions weakened Gulf Federal, and in 1987, federal regulators brokered a takeover, with Reginald Haston and seven other investors injecting $400,000 of their own money.  Federal regulators added $500,000 more, saying that was cheaper than liquidating the undercapitalized savings and loan. The bank was renamed Gulf Federal Bank and became a federal savings bank at that time.  Gulf Federal had about $17 million in deposits in mid-2006, representing less than 1 percent of the deposits in the Mobile market. The bank was among the 30 with the highest ratio of bad loans in a 2006 listing by SNL Financial. Woodlands Financials, a South Carolina investment group, purchased Gulf Federal Bank in 2007.

·        QMS (Quality Micro Systems) was founded in 1977 by James (Jim) Busby. Busby’s brother-in-law Mike Dow joined as EVP of sales and marketing and a member of the board of directors. Initially involved with controllers for printing bar codes and labels, it entered the laser printer business in the mid-1980s. QMS pioneered PostScript along with Apple and introduced the first auto switching printer and Kanji color printer. It was the first to sell a laser printer for under $2000 in 1985. In only six years, QMS grew from startup to $9 million in revenues and a $100 million market cap. It was listed on NASDAQ in 1983. In 1986, QMS became the first Mobile-headquartered company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. QMS employed 1500 people worldwide and had yearly revenues of over $300 million. In 1988, Dow left QMS to become Mayor of Mobile. Busby stepped down as chairman in 1997 after several years of decline. QMS was sold to Minolta in 1998 and changed its name to Minolta-QMS. In 2003, Minolta merged with Konica and the QMS name was dropped. The QMS headquarters was sold to the Mobile County School Board.

·        Saunders Engine & Equipment Co. Inc., a family business founded in 1959 that provides diesel engine services to commercial marine clients, has agreed to sell its Mobile operations to Houma, La.-based Marine Systems Inc – PR 7/10/2007

·        Three George's Candy Store, which operates a store on Dauphin Street and a factory on Broad Street, filed for bankruptcy in February 2007. It dates to 1917 under the late George Pappas, and is owned by Scott Gonzalez – PR 2/17/2007

      

 

Utilities

·        While most other states fund robust consumer protection agencies to monitor and supervise the way that utilities are regulated, no one in Alabama -- not even the attorney general -- is allowed to examine the way that the PSC regulates Mobile Gas and other utilities.

 

 

Alabama Power

·        Alabama Power Company is a member company of the Southern Company, one of the largest investor owned utilities in the United States.

o       Alabama Power's 1997 KWH generation by source was 72% fossil fuel, 20% nuclear, and 8% hydro and other sources.

o       As a part of the Southern Company System, Alabama Power is directly connected to the Southern Company grid.

o       It generates and distributes electricity to most of the southern two thirds of Alabama. Its headquarters are in Birmingham.

o       The Alabama Power Company was founded by steamboat captain William Lay in 1906 in Gadsden. In 1912, Lay sold the company to Massachusetts engineer James Mitchell who had spent 17 years constructing an electric system in Brazil. Lay was backed by London financiers. Under Mitchell's leadership the Coosa River Dam was constructed, going into operation in 1914. Birmingham attorney Tom Martin became president after Mitchell’s death in 1920. Tom Martin gradually acquired utility companies in the neighboring states of Mississippi and Georgia, creating holding companies in those states. In 1927 he merged Alabama Power with his Gulf Electric Power Company, bringing South Alabama into APC's service area.

o       In 1947 the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the creation of The Southern Company, comprising Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Mississippi Power, and Gulf Power. The company had to sell South Carolina Power.

·        In 1885, the Electric Lighting Company of Mobile was organized by Colonel H.M. Byllesby of Chicago, who worked as a draftsman on Thomas Edison's original electrical system. He designed the generating and distribution systems for the Electric Lighting Company of Mobile. It was financed with private capital. It provided incandescent and arc illumination

o       Byllesby went on to form electric companies around the country

o       The Electric Light and Power Company was formed in Mobile to provide electricity for streetcars as well as illumination. Its powerhouse was on the southeast corner of Royal and Canal Streets, and its first streetcar line was along Conti St.

o       In 1892, the Mobile Light and Railroad Company built a powerhouse at Water and Monroe Streets. It merged with the Electric Light and Power Company. These were then merged with Col. Byllesby’s Electric Lighting Company to form the Mobile Electric Company.

o       T.K. Jackson, a native of Chicago, was brought to Mobile by Byllesby and became president of Mobile Electric until it was bought by Alabama Power.

o       The Mobile Electric Company’s St. Louis St. powerhouse exploded in 1918

o       The Mobile Electric Company was purchased by the Alabama Power Company in 1925. Alabama Power formed the Gulf Electric Company to run its southern Alabama properties. In 1927, Gulf Electric assumed the Alabama Power name and Mobile became its division headquarters.

·        In 1999 the Environmental Protection Agency initiated an enforcement action against the company for violations of the Clean Air Act.

o       In 2006, Alabama Power announced that it would spend $2 billion upgrading pollution controls at its coal-burning plants as part of a settlement with the agency.

o       Legal claims against five coal-fired plants filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center were unsuccessful, but the SELC plans to appeal the decisions.

·        As a regulated monopoly protected from competition, Alabama Power is allowed to earn between 13 percent and 14.5 percent return on equity.

o       That range is exceptionally high, experts say. Critics have regularly questioned whether the PSC is overly generous with the utilities it is supposed to regulate. However, Alabama Power's residential rate is currently about 11 percent below the national average, according to the company.

o       Alabama Power Co.'s residential rates have by more than one-third in the last five years. Nationally, the average residential electric rate climbed by about 16.3 percent. Since 1992, Alabama Power's residential electric rate has increased by almost 38 percent, compared to a national average of 30.4 percent.

·        Alabama Power’s coal-fired Barry Plant in north Mobile County supplies electricity to the Mobile area. Southern Company began operating the plant in 1952. The Barry Plant is the largest polluter in southwest Alabama.

·        Alabama Power has been important in local economic and industrial development and recruiting.

 

·        Mobile Energy Services Company’s 61 megawatt energy facility is located within the Kimberly-Clark tissue mill, and is the exclusive steam supplier to the mill and provides a substantial portion of the mill's electricity requirements. The powerhouse is fueled by a combination of coal, biomass and natural gas.

 

 

Mobile Gas/EnergySouth

·        EnergySouth is an investor-owned energy company engaged primarily in the distribution of natural gas in southwest Alabama.

o       In 1836, James H. Caldwell created the Mobile Gas Light and Coke Company and was given the task of providing “natural gas” lighting for the downtown streets of Mobile, Alabama. By 1838, Mobile Gas Light and Coke was serving 850 homes and businesses throughout Mobile.

o       Mobile Gas Light and Coke was reorganized as Mobile Gas Service Corporation in 1906.  The Company was incorporated under the laws of the state of Alabama in 1933. 

o       Mobile Gas was majority-owned by William Hearin, former publisher of the Mobile Press-Register, who was Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1983 to 2001.

o       Bay Gas Storage formed in 1991.

o       EnergySouth incorporated in 1997, and the next year, Mobile Gas and Bay Gas Storage became its subsidiaries.

o       EnergySouth Midstream Inc. is a new subsidiary of EnergySouth, and Bay Gas Storage will operate as a division of Midstream. The company has opened a new Midstream sales office in Houston

o       EnergySouth trades under the ENSI symbol on the Nasdaq.

§         EnergySouth is now part of iShares Russell Microcap Fund.

§         The guaranteed return on equity for the company's natural gas subsidiary coupled with the growing profit its storage component have sparked speculation among analysts that the company could be bought out. EnergySouth maintains it is not for sale.

EnergySouth (ENSI)

$ M

Employees

248

Market Cap

$326.6

Total Debt

$83.5

Cash Balance

$1.3

Revenue

$130.0

Revenue Growth (1yr)

9.0%

Revenue Growth (5yr)

4.7%

Operating Margin

22.7%

Operating Margin Growth (1yr)

24.5%

Operating Margin Growth (5yr)

24.4%

Net Margin

10.9%

o       In 2006, Bay Gas Storage accounted for about 45 percent of EnergySouth's earnings, and the company predicted that will grow further in coming years.

o       Mobile Gas and Bay Gas are independently operated, but Bay Gas has a 20-year contract to store natural gas for Mobile Gas. Mobile Gas pays about twice as much for storage as commercial Bay Gas customers such as Tampa Electric Co.

o       EnergySouth reported $14 million in earnings in 2006, up from $13.8 million the previous year, attributing the gain to the strength of Bay Gas Storage. Earnings at Bay Gas rose 26 percent from 2005 to 2006, the company said, while profits dropped at Mobile Gas.

o       In 2007 EnergySouth reincorporated in Delaware. In its proxy statement, EnergySouth said Delaware incorporation would offer it the advantage of that state's advanced, flexible and efficient legal system, protection of stockholders' interest in the event of a hostile takeover bid, and offer directors and officers greater predictability about litigation. It would also give the company greater flexibility in offering stock for compensation. An Alabama corporation is prohibited from issuing restricted stock and performance shares, a Delaware corporation is not.

o       C. Dean Liollio, EnergySouth president and chief executive officer, came to the company in 2006 after a 23-year career at Houston-based CenterPoint Energy Inc. The EnergySouth board of directors had raised the annual base salary of its chief executive officer, Dean Liollio, from $325,000 to $400,000. Liollio was hired in 2006 to replace former chief executive John Davis, who retired.

o       Directors: WALTER A. BELL Commissioner, Department of Insurance, State of Alabama; Vice Chairman, Gulf Federal Bank. JOHN S. DAVIS Vice Chairman of the Company; Member of Board, Infirmary Health System, Inc., Member of South Area Board of Directors AmSouth Bank. JOHN C. HOPE, III Chairman of the Board of the Company; Executive Vice President, Whitney National Bank; Member of Board, Infirmary Health System, Inc. WALTER L. HOVELL Vice Chairman of the Board of the Company; Retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Mobile Gas Service Corporation GAYLORD C. LYON President, Gaylord C. Lyon and Company, Inc., JUDY A. MARSTON Owner of Judy Marston & Associates, a business consulting firm S. FELTON MITCHELL President, S. Felton Mitchell, Jr., P.C., Sole Proprietor, S.Felton Mitchell, Jr., CPA, President, The Vibroplex Co., Inc., G. MONTGOMERY MITCHELL Retired Senior Vice President, Stone & Webster Management Consultants, Inc., Houston, Texas; Member of Board, Energy West, Inc., Great Falls, Montana HARRIS V. MORRISSETTE President, Marshall Biscuit Co., Inc.; Director, BankTrust; Director, Williamsburg Investment Trust, Cincinnati, Ohio; Chairman of the Board, Azalea Aviation, Inc. ROBERT H. ROUSE Partner: Helmsing, Leach, Herlong, Newman & Rouse P.C., THOMAS B. VAN ANTWERP Executive Director, Providence Hospital Foundation; Member of the Board, Merchants and Marine Bank, Pascagoula, Mississippi

o       EnergySouth directors and executives own more than one million of the company's shares. There are more than 7.9 million shares outstanding. Major Shareholders (as of 12-06): Thomas Van Antwerp has voting rights on over 581,000 shares or 7% of outstanding shares (including Ann B. Hearin 105,000, Louise B. Hearin 64,000 , Luis Williams 12,000, Hearin-Chandler Foundation 175,000, Staples Family LLC 210,000). Other major beneficial owners include Royce and Associates, LLC, New York, 6%, and U.S. Trust Corporation, New York, 5.5%.

·        Mobile Gas, EnergySouth's largest subsidiary, serves over 100,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The Alabama Public Service Commission regulates gas deliveries to these customers.

o       Mobile Gas' service territory covers approximately 300 square miles. Mobile Gas is also involved in merchandise sales, specifically sales of natural gas appliances.

o       EnergySouth also provides natural gas transportation not subject to Alabama Public Service Commission regulation through its pipeline and storage subsidiaries.

o       The Company is directly connected to three natural gas processing plants in south Mobile County and one processing plant in north Mobile County. The Company has firm supply contracts for varying monthly payments with Chevron Natural Gas, through October 31, 2007, and Exxon Mobil, through November 30, 2007, through Mobile Gas' direct connection with the Hatters Pond processing plant. For fiscal 2006, the Company obtained approximately 51% of its gas supply from sources located in the Mobile Bay area, with the balance being obtained from interstate sources.

·        Federal surveys that show customers of Mobile Gas Service Corp. pay some of the highest rates in the nation for natural gas. - PR

o       Mobile Gas charged an average of $20.81 for 1,000 cubic feet of gas in 2005, compared with a national average of $12.81.

o       Mobile Gas is the country's second-most-expensive state-regulated utility for residential gas prices, according to a national price analysis conducted by federal officials at the request of the Press Register.

o       Alabama had the third-highest gas prices in the nation in 2006. Alabama climbed from the 11th-most-expensive state for commercial gas in 2005, according to preliminary federal statistics.

o       The Mobile City Council asked the Alabama Public Service Commission to investigate natural gas rates. Reggie Copeland and William Carroll voted against the resolution.

o       Mobile Gas Service Corp. charged its estimated 5,000 commercial customers up to twice as much as some utilities in surrounding states, according to an analysis of 2006 natural gas charges by the Press-Register. – PR 2/18/2007

o       The Alabama Public Service Commission questioned the use of the federal survey results and said that PSC President Jim Sullivan did not believe the Mobile Gas rates were unfair or out of order, based on the PSC rules that the company operates under. Alabama's PSC is one of the few in the nation that operates without supervision from outside authorities. All of the surrounding states with lower prices have state-funded consumer watchdog groups that scrutinize the decisions of their public service commissions. In Alabama, no one other than PSC officials can examine the operations records of the state's monopoly utilities. – PR 2/18/2007

o       The Alabama Attorney General's Office is reviewing financial records at Mobile Gas Service Corp., an evaluation prompted in part by consumer complaints about the utility's high natural gas rates. – PR 8/4/07

·        Bay Gas Storage Company, Ltd., an EnergySouth subsidiary, provides natural gas storage services.

o       Bay Gas owns and operates three underground caverns used for natural gas storage located in McIntosh

o       The third Bay Gas storage cavern alone is about 250 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep. It will cost about $60 million to develop Bay Gas has plans to drill a fourth cavern will have the capacity to hold 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas and is scheduled to begin service in the fall of 2009. The project is the first phase of a planned expansion that will later include a fifth cavern also capable of storing 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas, raising the company's total capacity at Bay Gas to 22 billion cubic feet.

o       Natural gas storage now accounts for about 44 percent of EnergySouth earnings.

o       EnergySouth Services held a general partnership interest of 90. 9% in Bay Gas Storage Company, Ltd. (Bay Gas), an Alabama limited partnership, and a 9.1% limited partnership interest was held by Olin Corporation. Olin Corp. has a chlorine factory in Washington County that uses salt brine mined from the caverns in its manufacturing process.

o       Utilities purchase gas and place it in underground storage facilities during the summer months when prices are low, then pull the gas from storage for use during the winter months.

o       Storage caverns are cut from naturally formed, underground salt domes through solution mining. A well is drilled, water is injected and salt brine -- a mixture of water and salt -- is extracted.

o       A Mobile Gas Service Corp. storage deal appears to charge customers here about double the standard rate in the industry. Under the terms of the 20-year storage deal, which concludes in 2014, Mobile Gas customers are scheduled to pay Bay Gas $84 million in fees. Press-Register research indicates that customers might have saved about $42 million if Mobile Gas had struck a deal at the standard industry rate for storage. The cost that Mobile Gas customers pay per unit of gas placed in storage has increased significantly since the Mobile utility became one of Bay Gas' first clients 12 years ago. John Hopper, chief executive officer of Falcon Gas Storage Co. -- which plans to spend $250 million building a competing gas storage facility in Mobile County -- told the Press-Register that the rate paid by Mobile Gas was double what it should be. - PR

o       The profits of EnergySouth and Bay Gas Storage are not limited by the PSC's jurisdiction. The cost of Bay Gas storage is borne by Mobile Gas customers, not by the utility.

o       Even as Mobile Gas has continued to draw less and less gas from the storage space, its contract still accounts for a hefty portion of the storage facility's total revenues. In 2005, the amount of gas withdrawn from storage by Mobile Gas represented 9 percent of Bay Gas' total capacity. Yet Mobile Gas accounted for about 25 percent of the storage facility's revenue of $16 million.

o       Congress' passage last year of the Energy Policy Act was designed to encourage more infrastructure investment like EnergySouth is doing with its storage caverns. It also aimed to encourage consolidation in the energy industry by removing Securities and Exchange Commission requirements surrounding utilities mergers.

·        MoBay Storage Hub Inc. plans to build 50 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage between Dauphin Island and mainland south Mobile County in an area where four major pipelines meet. – PR 9/30/07, 12/22/07

o       MoBay has won approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and received required air and water permits from the ADEM in 2006.

o       Still needed are a permit from the Corps of Engineers and a long-term lease from the state of Alabama for approximately 25,800 acres of bottom land in the Mississippi Sound. MoBay has held a natural gas production lease on 17,000 of those 25,800 acres since December 2002. The project has been stalled for 2 years by a state effort to competitively bid out the land, during which MoBay was the only bidder.

o       The balance of negotiating power tipped when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January granted MoBay a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed project. Under federal law, the certificate gives the company the power to take the land by eminent domain. MoBay has acquired more than 90 percent of the onshore pipeline rights of way from private landowners by negotiation.

o       Its Houston-based parent company is Falcon Gas Storage. The company said it plans to start construction in April 2008 and complete the $250 million storage facility by 2009.

o       The MoBay project is a conversion of the company's nearly depleted gas field in the Mississippi Sound. Since the project is a conversion rather than new, Falcon representatives have said it is an economical and environmentally friendly gas storage method.

o       The project would create the largest natural gas storage facility in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a survey of state offshore land lease sales by Virginia-based energy consulting firm Pace Global Energy. Among Gulf states, Louisiana waters have the largest amount of natural gas storage, with a total of 320 billion cubic feet. Alabama has the smallest, with 14.5 billion cubic feet. The MoBay proposal would increase the state's natural gas storage more than three times to 54.5 billion cubic feet. The project would also create about 20 jobs with salaries of about $77,000, according to the company.

o       The Bayou La Batre Industrial Development Authority granted MoBay an abatement of state and county taxes, saving the company an estimated $7.5 million in ad valorem taxes and $8.7 million in sales and use taxes over the course of five years. MoBay, however, will pay full sales and use taxes to the city of Bayou La Batre. MoBay will continue to pay all education-related state and county taxes, estimated at more than $3.3 million per year once construction is complete, according to the agreement. The abatement of noneducational state and county taxes was limited to five years. The maximum allowed by state law is 10 years.

 

 

MAWSS

·        The Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners of the City of Mobile, doing business as the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System, provides water and sewer service to the Mobile metropolitan area.

·        The Portage on Bayou Chotage (Three Mile Creek) was the important early source of water supply for the City of Mobile. Some residences may have had individually dug wells on their properties. In 1819, a public well was installed at the intersection of Dauphin and Royal streets at what is now Bienville Square.

·        In 1832, the city constructed an aqueduct from a spring near the late residence of Judge Lipscomb at Spring Hill. In 1836, the City of Mobile leased the water works to Henry Hitchcock and he was given a franchise to provide water for a period of 20 years, but in 1837, the State legislature incorporated the Mobile Aqueduct Company and, as a result, Hitchcock in 1838 surrendered the water works and all appurtenances to the City of Mobile.

·        In 1840 the city of Mobile made a contract with Albert Stein, who received the exclusive right to supply the city with water, and the city the right to purchase his plant at a price to be fixed by arbitration. This was Mobile's only public water system until 1886. Albert Stein died in 1874, but the water system continued to operate until 1898.

o       The pump site at Spring Hill fed a tank site was about 2 miles from town. From the elevated tank, a system of lines extended throughout the City.

o       Some of the lines consisted of cast-iron but the majority were bored-out heart pine logs.

·        Mobile's first sewer was installed in Conti Street in 1868, at the time the old Gulf City Hotel, later known as the Southern Hotel, was erected at the southeast corner of Conti and Water streets. In 1889 the City granted a franchise to the Conti Street Sewer Company for construction of a sewer line in Conti Street. This line, with laterals into several side streets, served the immediate downtown area. About 10 years after the sewer was installed, the City acquired it in 1899, and it became a part of the general sewer system.

·        In 1886, the Bienville Water Supply Company was organized with Dr. George A. Ketchum as its president. This company constructed a pumping plant on Clear Creek off Moffat Road and a reservoir, still in use, on Moffat Road. A cast-iron pipe was installed into the heart of the City with necessary distribution lines into the business district and residential areas in 1887.

·        In 1898, because neither the Stein nor the Bienville companies were able to meet demand, after some litigation, the City acquired the properties and water-rights of the Stein interests, and decided to construct a public-owned supply. Bienville Water Supply sued the city and it was appealed to the US Supreme Court. In 1900, the City system was put into operation.

o       The pumping station was on Three Mile Creek at the east end of what is now Langan Park, and the reservoir, still in use, was atop Spring Hill near the small elevated tank. In 1901, the operation of the old Stein plant was discontinued. Most of the cast-iron distribution system of the old plant was removed and either re-laid or sold. By 1904, so many connections to the new City Works had been made that the supply in Three Mile Creek at the Spring Hill pumping station was insufficient to furnish the required water. An auxiliary pumping plant was installed on the site of the old Stein plant. This auxiliary plant was put into operation on October 2, 1905.

·        The Bienville and the City systems, after the abandonment of the Stein system, operated as virtually parallel, but separate systems until 1907, when the city acquired the Bienville holdings for $350,000. Since that time the two systems have been interconnected and operated as one.

·        During World War II supply became inadequate and the water sheds of Clear and Three Mile Creeks were becoming more urbanized and the quality of the supply was endangered. The source of supply recommended by the Mobile Water Works to the City and Planning Commissions was Big Creek, in the western part of Mobile County.

·        In 1952, so that money could be raised from issuance of bonds to update the existing water system, the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners was created and entered into a contract with the City of Mobile the Board agreed to purchase the water and sanitary sewer systems on behalf of the city.

·        The Big Creek (Converse) Reservoir was placed in service in 1952 at a cost of about $7,000,000 including land, dams, pumphouse, reservoir and pipelines. Construction required two years.

o       Water is delivered from the 3,600-acre lake that collects water from a 103 square mile watershed and pumping station by pipes to two reservoirs where it is diverted either to domestic or industrial use. The reservoirs are at an elevation of 220 feet and industrial water is delivered by gravity to industry at an elevation of about 25 feet. The industrial water line extends from the filter plant northward about 7 miles to the industrial sites at Magazine Point. Pumps at Big Creek Lake provide treated water to Mobile and untreated water to local industries such as chemical plants and paper mills.

o       Many years ago, the Board made the decision to create a water supply reservoir in West Mobile. The Reservoir consists of a 3,600-acre man-made lake. The Converse Reservoir supply is adequate to meet the potable water needs of all of Mobile County, at least until the year 2050. The Converse Reservoir system can supply 100,000,000 gallons of water per day.

·        The Mobile Water Service System is publicly owned and is operated by the Board under a deed of trust from the City. This Board consists of five members that are appointed by the City Council. Raw water was purchased from the City Water Works Board from 1952 to 1968. The two Boards were merged in 1968, with the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners taking over the raw water system.

·        The potable water system provides water through two water treatment plants.  The potable water system consists of approximately 1,265 miles of water lines ranging in size from 2 to 60 inches in diameter. The total storage capacity for the potable water system is 57,000,000 gallons. The Mobile Area Water and Sewer System has three wastewater treatment plants

o       Raw water from Big Creek Lake is prechlorinated prior to coagulation with aluminum sulfate and lime to remove sediments and organic matter, brown color, and turbidity. After settling of precipitants in sedimentation basins, the water is passed through a sand filter and gravel. The water undergoes secondary lime treatment to adjust the pH. Post-chemical treatment consists of fluoridation whereby fluoride as sodium silicofluoride is added after filtration because fluoride can be removed by the lime-softening and alum-coagulation processes.

·        MAWSS Mobile River system for industrial customers pumps water from the Mobile River at Bucks, just above Barry Steam Plant (well above the saltwater intrusion "wedge") into a one hundred acre lake north of Bayou Sara that was formed by damming Cold Creek.

o       The Pipeline Canal, constructed in 1968, exits the lake and carries water eight miles into in a seventy-eight inch underground pipe, through which it is transported to a 60 acre reservoir in Saraland.

o       As the number of industries has declined dramatically since the canal’s construction, the demand for industrial water has fallen substantially and, consequently, the canal is routinely shut down. In the event of emergency, water from the pipeline canal could be diverted to a water treatment plant for public consumption.

·        Mobile County Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority

 

Telephone

·        Harbor Communications is a Mobile-based competitive local exchange carrier, or CLEC.

o       In 2007 it was sold to J&L LLC, consisting of real estate developer Larry Wireman and his associate Judy Ramey, along with Boihem Investments LLC, an entity of New Orleans businessman Lester Boihem. It was bought from RJW Holdings, a company belonging to Bob Williams, Mobile businessman and a former major owner of the Terminix Co.

o       Mark B. Baggs Sr. co-founded Harbor in 2001 with Ed Forbess and two other people. Forbess now serves as the company's general manager, while Baggs is its vice president of operations and marketing.

o       Harbor grew up in the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence business incubator alongside Southern Light LLC. At one time, Harbor and Southern Light had a common investor, and they still do business together.  Harbor's has had 19 employees for the past three years. Various business information services put annual revenue at about $4 million. Harbor provides services primarily to businesses including the RSA Battle House Tower.    PR 6/7/07

·        Southern Light LLC, founded in Mobile in 1998, was ranked 151 in Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies list. The ranking was based on 2006 revenue of $13.6 million, a 1,303 percent increase over 2005. The company, which employs 31, provides fiber optic communications to business and government customers along the Gulf Coast.  – PR 8/27/07

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

·        The DayTrading Institute in Mobile was founded in 1996 by Tom Busby

·        A Mobile-based partnership, Oil Shale Exploration Co., was offered an oil-shale mine lease in Utah by the Interior Department. Dan Elcan is OSEC's managing partner and a Mobile commercial real-estate developer. His partnership is backed by Twin Pines Coal Co. of Alabama and would use Canadian technology. Oil Shale Exploration Co., also known as OSEC, still needs to submit operational plans for its phased testing program. – PR 5/2/07

o       Utah has the only mining project where oil shale will be brought to the surface, crushed into gravel and fed into a furnace-like retort. The White River mine near Vernal, 130 miles east of Salt Lake City, was abandoned by three major oil companies in 1985 when falling crude prices made shale oil long an elusive bonanza in the West uneconomical. Today's crude oil prices could make oil-shale development more practical. Environmental groups have shown little resistance to the demonstration projects, but that could change when oil companies seek to mine or heat up larger pieces of federal land, consuming vast amounts of water in an arid region. The oil shale reserves scattered in Colorado, Utah and southwest Wyoming are believed to contain a 100-year domestic supply of oil if it can be unlocked. Oil shale is said to be "rich" when it contains 30 gallons of petroleum for each ton of rock, but pound for pound that amounts to only 1/10th of the energy of liquid crude oil. Those tough economics have defied efforts at oil shale development for more than a century, most recently in 1982, when Exxon shut down its $5 billion Colony project in western Colorado and laid off 2,200 workers.

·        James R. "Jimmy" Phipps, the brainchild behind the "Life Without Debt" pyramid scheme that ensnared numerous affluent Mobilians several years ago, has been found guilty of money laundering, tax evasion and other crimes, and faces what could be a substantial prison sentence. Phipps operated pyramid schemes for more than 20 years, all the while claiming that federal tax laws were illegal and didn't apply to him because he was "sovereign." Prosecutors charged that from 1998 to 2006, he collected more than $25 million from 30,000 "Life Without Debt" participants. Of those, more than 90 percent lost their money. In the summer of 2001, "Life Without Debt" swept through Mobile and the Florida Panhandle, as was reported in a series of Press-Register articles. Dozens of Mobilians, some of them well-to-do businessmen, ponied up a $2,500 "entry level fee" to join the program. To make money, entrants had to recruit new members. They, in turn, were to recruit others, with the new entry fees shared by those up the pyramid or, as Phipps called it, the "matrix." Investors in the program received booklets claiming that their entry fees would grow above $100,000 "with minimum effort and absolutely no risk." With the rumor mill churning out names of those who'd supposedly participated, Mobile Mayor Mike Dow and Councilwoman Bess Rich -- then campaigning for Dow's job -- felt compelled to issue statements denying involvement in "Life Without Debt."

 

Revised 12/30/07

Text Copyright 2007

 

Disclaimer: These Notes are not original.  They are complied from various sources, primarily the Press-Register (PR), Mobile Bay Times (MBT), Lagniappe, The Harbinger, and websites.  Citations are being added retrospectively. These Notes are for personal, educational use only. Address all comments and corrections to: admin@flotte2.com

 

 

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