Gulf Power restored service to 95 percent of customers within 13 days after Hurricane Michael. They got an award for it.

BAY COUNTY – Gulf Power crews worked right after Hurricane Michael to restore power in Bay County, which earned them an Emergency Recovery Award from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) on Wednesday. “This recognition is for the team, who all contributed in one way or another to the restoration efforts,” Shelley Scarborough, area distribution manager for the Panama City region, stated in a news release. “They worked 24/7 to make sure our customers got their power back on safely and as quickly as possible.” Bay County residents sat in the dark or had to use generators after the hurricane knocked out power. Gulf Power crews restored service to 95 percent of its customers within 13 days after the storm, according to the release. “The dedication of Gulf Power’s efforts to restore service throughout Florida after Hurricane Michael illustrates our industry’s commitment to customers,” EEI President Tom Kuhn stated in the release. “Gulf Power’s crews worked tirelessly in hazardous conditions to quickly and safely restore power. They are truly deserving of this award.” Panama City News Herald

Manpower Survey: Hiring pace in Lee County, Fla. expected to be among the strongest in the nation for the first quarter

Lee County’s employers are expected to hire at a brisk pace in the first quarter. That’s according to the latest survey by the ManpowerGroup. Among employers surveyed in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, or Lee County, 34 percent said they plan to hire more workers from January through March. This number is offset by the 2 percent that plan to reduce their payrolls, giving the area a net employment outlook of 32 percent. Manpower no longer surveys employers in the Naples area or Collier County. The Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach area ranked first, with an outlook of 37 percent. Fort Myers News Press

Miami named healthiest city in the nation

Anyone who has lived or visited South Florida knows we’re pretty fit and healthy. Folks run along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk or Miami Beach’s boardwalk or they’re cycling along the beaches of AIA (and sometimes on Interstate 95.) We’re the land of the tanned, toned and trimmed and you might even be reading this at the gym or somewhere outdoors. So it shouldn’t be a total surprise that Miami was named the sixth-healthiest city in the world. That honor comes from a new study by the United Kingdom-based vacation price-comparison service TravelSuperMarket.com. The website considered various factors in its rankings — such as the number of vegan-option restaurants and hours of daily sunlight. South Florida Sun Sentinel

For Mobile, Ala., a groundbreaking. For Airbus, a world stage

Set aside, for a moment, the Airbus pitch to Alabama. The interesting thing about the last few days is the way Airbus has used Alabama in its sales pitch to the world. Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the company’s new assembly line in Mobile, where it will build the new A220 jet alongside the A320 airliners it has been cranking out for nearly three years now, wasn’t an isolated point of interest. It was a fulcrum that Airbus used to leverage attention for some messages it wanted to put out. The shiny ceremonial shovels had barely finished turning the dirt on Wednesday when some of those messages started hitting the Internet under headlines about Brexit, international economic strategy and the titanic, never-ending battle between Airbus and Boeing. AL.com

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corp. posts $390 million profit in fourth quarter

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) reported a $390 million profit in the fourth quarter, as well as a profit of more than $1.5 billion for 2018. The fourth-quarter earnings represented a 28 percent increase compared to the fourth quarter in 2017. It was also an increase from third-quarter earnings, which reached $354 million. The annual earnings also represent a 28 percent increase over 2017 for Regions, which is Birmingham’s only Fortune 500 company and one of its largest employers. Full-year 2018 net income available to common shareholders was $1.7 billion, a 41 percent increase over the prior year. Birmingham Business Journal

Montgomery Launches Smart City Living Lab

Today, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce along with Mayor Todd Strange, County Commission Chairman Elton Dean and Alabama Power’s Southern Division Vice President Leslie Sanders announced the creation of a Smart City Living Lab in downtown Montgomery. It will feature fiber optic infrastructure, an expansion of the Open Data Portal, free public Wi-Fi in downtown areas, the conversion of street lights to LED, a public safety initiative and deployment of smart parking solutions. Montgomery leaders announced the smart corridor will be formalized through the creation of the Montgomery Smart Community Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on advancing smart city initiatives in the City of Montgomery. As part of its work, the alliance is coordinating a smart community strategic plan to identify community priorities and solutions that address them, with several initiatives already underway: Montgomery Chamber of Commerce

Arkansas Unemployment Unchanged at 3.6 Percent

Arkansas’ unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in December and unchanged from the previous month, according to a report released Friday by the state Department of Workforce Services. But the U.S. jobless rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 3.9 percent between November and December. “Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained fairly stable throughout 2018, ending the year down one-tenth of a percentage point compared to January. While the U.S. jobless rate also trended down over the year, Arkansas is still three-tenths of a percentage point below the national rate,” BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price said in a news release. Arkansas Business

Big Cities Are No Longer Lands of Opportunity for Middle-Skilled Workers

David Autor, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a record of attacking the biggest and most important issues. He has raised alarms about disappearing middle-skilled jobs, pointed to the downsides of trade with China, warned about increasing industrial concentration and attacked the question of whether automation will kill jobs.

In a recent lecture at the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta, Autor attempted to weave many of those threads together into a single story. Paraphrasing heavily, that story goes something like this: Forty years ago, Americans who didn’t go to college could move to cities and get good jobs in manufacturing or office work. But starting in about 1980, these jobs began to disappear, thanks in part to offshoring and automation. By 2000, manufacturing was in steady retreat:

Fortune

Virginia Senate supports $550M in Amazon incentives

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Senate has voted to support more than a half-billion dollars in incentives for Amazon.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the bill passed 35-5 on Monday would create $550 million in “post-performance” incentives for Amazon, based on job creation.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg, would establish a fund for state incentive payments for 25,000 high-paying jobs Amazon has promised to create in Arlington County, as well as an additional $200 million if the company later adds 12,850 jobs, The company wouldn’t receive the state money until four years after the jobs are created.

The Virginian-Pilot

South Korea’s Miwon Specialty Chemical Plans Plant in Columbia, South Carolina

South Korea-based Miwon Specialty Chemical Co. USA, a specialty chemical manufacturer of raw materials and subsidiary of Miwon Specialty Chemical Co. Ltd., plans to invest $19.5 million in a new production operations in Columbia, South Carolina.

The company is a global company with manufacturing plants in South Korea and Spain, as well as research and development centers in Austria, China, South Korea and the United States. Miwon began serving the ultraviolet and electron beam markets in 1983. Miwon Specialty Chemical’s new, 65,000-square-foot production facility in Richland County is expected to come online in the third quarter of 2020.

Area Development