Voters approve bond money for steel mill

Published 3:05 am Monday, June 11, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
Last week, Alabama voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to allow the state to borrow an additional $400 million for economic development, including $195 million for the state-of-the-art steel manufacturing and processing plant ThyssenKrupp plans to build in north Mobile County.
South Alabama certainly did its part to approve the measure. In Mobile and Baldwin counties, voters passed the amendment by a larger margin than the rest of the state, about 90 percent and 86 percent of the vote, respectively.
This new plant is one of the largest private industrial development projects in the United States. Initially planned as a $2.9 billion investment, ThyssenKrupp announced that instead it will be investing an impressive $3.7 billion in this new facility.
During construction, the facility will create upwards of 29,000 jobs and is expected to create an additional 38,000 to 52,000 indirect jobs over the next 20 years. The facility itself is expected to create 2,710 permanent jobs with an average salary of $42,000.
The remainder of the $400 million will be used to attract other employers to Alabama. Under the leadership of Governor Bob Riley and Alabama Development Office Director Neal Wade, international and national companies are now calling Alabama home, and this bond money will help bring even more jobs to our state.
For the second consecutive year, the Alabama Development Office was selected as the winner of the 2006 Competitiveness Award by Site Selection magazine. The award was given to the Alabama Development Office based on its success in recruiting new investments and jobs to Alabama.
In 2006, a total of 586 companies undertook projects to set up operations or to expand existing facilities in Alabama. These projects represent more than $3.1 billion in capital investment. These new and expanding businesses will also create approximately 24,780 jobs.
Without a doubt, there are many good things happening in southwest Alabama, and I am so pleased that Alabama voters sent such a positive message to our newest corporate partner, ThyssenKrupp.
Congress reviews flaws in TB response
Just days after a man sparked an international health scare by traveling the world with a dangerous form of tuberculosis (TB), Congress began investigating how a person with such a condition could be allowed to enter the United States.
The House and the Senate both held hearings last week and heard testimony from U.S. border officials and health officials, as well as Andrew Speaker, the Atlanta attorney at the heart of the scare, who testified by audio hookup from the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, where he is hospitalized in isolation.
There seemed to be conflicting accounts in the testimony that was provided to Congress, but it appears that Mr. Speaker was diagnosed with TB just prior to departing for Europe for his wedding last month. Before returning to the United States, Mr. Speaker had traveled to Italy and flew to Montreal, Quebec, via Prague, before driving into the United States from Canada.
Much of the blame for how Mr. Speaker was able to enter the United States from Canada seems to be directed at the border officer who did not stop Mr. Speaker even though he had received a computer alert to detain him and contact health officials. That agent is now on administrative duty and under investigation.
As we learned after 9/11, our ability to "connect the dots" and prevent terrorist attacks was inhibited by a lack of coordination and information sharing within the federal government, and the same seems to be true now.
Increased coordination among federal agencies – approaching terrorism investigations not as separate criminal and intelligence investigations, each with separate agents developing separate information and evidence, but as a single investigation – has been paramount to combating terrorist threats since September 11, 2001.
Regardless of the particulars of the case, the fact remains that a man known to have a dangerous form of TB was allowed not only to leave the United States and board a trans-Atlantic flight but to re-enter our country as well. In my eyes, this raises serious concerns about our government's ability to prevent or respond to an epidemic or a biological terrorist attack.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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