BCA Manufacturing Advocacy Council co-chairman attends SGA conference, where regional cooperation was recommended

Business Council of Alabama Manufacturing Advocacy Council Co-Chairman Ronnie Boles attended the recent 2013 annual meeting of the Southern Governors’ Association in Louisville, Ky., and participated in Monday’s session on regional manufacturing cooperation.

Boles, owner of General & Automotive Machine Shop in Huntsville, is a member of the BCA Board of Directors. Boles also is a board member for the National Association of Manufacturers and a member of the Alabama Workforce Investment Board.

Boles joined members of regional manufacturing councils and state commerce secretaries in a discussion about regional interest in manufacturing support. “While it is important for the governors to know that Alabama is engaged in promoting and securing advanced manufacturing in southern states, the relationships that I secured with the manufacturing associations from these states should pay dividends for BCA’s manufacturing members,” Boles said.

The BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The BCA established the Manufacturing Advocacy Council to help promote and enhance a positive business climate for Alabama manufacturers. The council is comprised of BCA members, its Board of Directors, and BCA’s regional advisory committee members with experience, skill and innate understanding of the manufacturing process.

Alabama is the lead state in a consortium of five Southeastern states seeking $70 million in federal grants for one of 15 regional National Network for Manufacturing Innovation centers.

“Any manufacturer would like to be located in a state with this initiative,” Boles said. “That’s why it’s a big deal for our state.”

The Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama said that manufacturing accounted for $30 billion of the state’s $180 billion in Gross Domestic Product for 2012.

Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear, the SGA chairman, released the economic analysis on regional advanced manufacturing cooperation. “We can compete better if the region comes together on advanced manufacturing and presents a unified front,” said Beshear, who was succeeded as SGA chairman by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.

The report titled Advanced Manufacturing in the American South: An Economic Analysis Supporting Regional Development was produced by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

“Southern states should make investments that incentivize value-added in the production process as a supplement to their effective promotion of a low-cost strategy of economic and, particularly, manufacturing advancement,” the report concludes. “Advanced manufacturing should be considered in the broader context of regional economic development needs such as human capital challenges, infrastructure, technology adoption and research and development.”

Beshear and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s Atlanta office announced a $400,613 grant to help establish the Advanced Manufacturing in the American South Partnership, the SGA said.

The SGA said the partnership can include public and private sectors and colleges and universities in developing regional manufacturing ideas. SGA members are 16 southern states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The BCA is Alabama’s foremost voice for business. The BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.

-Dana Beyerle