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The Huntsville, Alabama, metro area is the best place for engineers by far.

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The north Alabama city with the country’s highest concentration of engineers and technology workers was recently named the best place for engineers in the U.S.

NerdWallet ranked Huntsville the nation’s top engineering city in a study published online Monday. The personal finance website, which analyzed 350 metropolitan areas, praised the Rocket City for its heavy engineer base, high average engineering salary and low rent costs.

About 25 miles from Huntsville, Decatur fell at No. 8 on the list, which also featured cities from Georgia, Florida, Michigan, California, Texas, Washington and Ohio.

“The South has a concentration of the best places for engineers,” said NerdWallet author Sreekar Jasthi. “Six of the top 10 places on our list were in southern states. Most of these areas have military bases, manufacturing centers and companies that provide competitive career opportunities for engineers.”

Click here to see the full list.

To determine the ranking, NerdWallet looked at two factors: size of the engineering industry using 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and engineering income levels.

This week wouldn’t be the first time Huntsville has landed in a “top cities” list on NerdWallet. The city ranked No. 25 on NerdWallet’s list of America’s Most Innovative Tech Hubs. Huntsville, Montgomery and Birmingham were also among the best places for black-owned businesses in early February.

Here’s what NerdWallet had to say about Huntsville and Decatur’s engineering prowess:

Huntsville: With a NASA flight center and an Army arsenal, Huntsville is nicknamed “The Rocket City” for good reason. Engineers make up 6% of its employed population and make nearly $103,000 a year, which is higher than the national mean. Median rent is the second lowest in our top 10, at around $725 a month. Huntsville, a northern Alabama city near the Tennessee border, is a hub for aerospace engineers.

Decatur: Just 25 miles west of our list’s leading place, Decatur engineers have access to many opportunities in Huntsville. But Decatur itself is home to a United Launch Alliance facility, where spacecraft launch equipment is manufactured. Engineers make up about 2% of Decatur’s workforce, making it the smallest engineering industry in our top 10. However, it still has more engineers per 1,000 employees than the national average.

2 north Alabama cities within 25 miles of each other make NerdWallet’s best places for engineers | AL.com.

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Alabama new home starts in January rise 13 percent from last year

Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)By Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)
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Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Demand: Alabama’s new home sales in January slipped 2 units or .9 percent from the same period last year.

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Alabama new home sales in January on par with last year while inventory has increased 4% from the same period. Infograph courtesy of ACRE. All rights reserved.Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) 

Supply: Housing starts have increased 13.0 percent since last January. New construction inventory has also increased 4.0 percent since January 2014.Three of five metro areas experienced increases in inventory levels from last January (Birmingham – up 10%, Mobile – up 7% and Tuscaloosa – up 6%).

Alabama’s metro markets in January reflect 8.4 months of new home supply, up 6 percent from last January’s 8.0 months and up 83 percent from 4.6 months in December.

Pricing: Alabama’s metro market’s median new home sales price in January was $235,510, an increase of 2.1 percent from last January and 5.6 percent from last month.

New Home Pipeline: January statewide housing starts increased by 13.0 percent from January 2014 but slipped 2.0 percent from the prior month. 2014 starts were down 2.0 percent. Housing starts were up 7.8 percent in 2013 and 6.5% in 2012. January statewide building permits were up .5 percent from January 2014 but down 5.6 percent from last month. 2014 permits were down .8 percent. Building permits were up 5.6% in 2013 and 8.4 percent in 2012.

Residential Construction Employment: According to the Alabama Dept. of Industrial Relations, statewide residential construction employment in December increased 1.2 percent (800 jobs) to 68,600 from last month and improved 9.2 percent (+5,800 jobs) from the same month a year ago. (Note: January figures are to be released on 3/17/15).

Local Results: 10 out of the 27 home builder associations (37% – down from 56% in Dec) reported gains in building permits from the prior month while 12 associations (44% – up from 33% in Dec) reported gains in housing starts from last month. Twenty associations (74% – up from 33% in Dec) experienced an increase from their January 2013 housing starts.

Industry Perspective: From David Crowe, NAHB chief economist: “The new year either will see the housing sector break out in a traditional, solid recovery or it will see another mundane nudge forward. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to know that. Unfortunately, any economist with two hands can list forces for both outcomes. But the scale is heavily tipped toward more growth in single-family construction in 2015 than any of the recovery years to date.”

This monthly report is provided compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

View the current monthly Alabama Residential Report here.

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The ACRE New Construction Monthly Report is work product stemming from our partnership with the Home Builder’s Association of Alabama Foundation.

About ACRE. ACRE was founded in 1996 by the Alabama Real Estate Commissionthe Alabama Association of REALTORS and the Office of the Dean, UA Culverhouse College of Commerce. ACRE is not a state-funded entity, rather its operates in part because of the goodwill & generosity of our ACRE Corporate Cabinet and other statewide ACRE Partners.

For other Alabama real estate resources & news, please visit our website and our ACRE blog.

Alabama new home starts in January rise 13 percent from last year | AL.com.

 

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Huntsville launches plan to become ‘Gig City’

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Huntsville’s ambitious plan to join the growing list of U.S. cities with ultra-high-speed Internet service is now under way.

Mayor Tommy Battle announced Wednesday that Huntsville wants to hear from private companies capable of creating a citywide fiber-optic network with download speeds “at or above” 1 gigabit per second.

Internet providers that want to partner with Huntsville on the “Gig City” effort must submit a letter of intent by April 1. Proposals are due April 24.

With Google Fiber and other Internet companies deploying ultra-high-speed fiber networks primarily in “NFL cities” like Atlanta and Nashville, said Battle, Huntsville has to be aggressive to make sure it is not left behind. Moving data at high speeds is becoming as essential to a city’s economic survival as water, sewer and roads, he said.

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Business Relations Officer Harrison Diamond, left, talks about Huntsville’s “Gig City” ambitions during a Wednesday news conference while Mayor Tommy Battle looks on. (Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.com)

Business Relations Officer Harrison Diamond, who is spearheading the Gig City plan, said four companies have expressed interest in submitting proposals for a citywide fiber network that would serve homes as well as businesses.

Huntsville’s ideal network would be both affordable and fast, said Diamond, with Internet download speeds ranging from several hundred megabits to more than a gigabit per second.

“Cost and speed are two of our main considerations,” Diamond said at a Wednesday news conference. “We want the entire community to be covered. We want everybody in Huntsville who wants it to have access to it.”

He said the city will entertain proposals from companies that already provide Internet service here – AT&T, Comcast and Wow! – as well as firms with no ties to Huntsville.

Building an underground fiber network that stretches from Interstate 65 to Hampton Cove will take time, and serious bucks. Battle said the city would prioritize getting the network set up initially in areas that need it most today, including Cummings Research Park.

Diamond said Huntsville’s defense and aerospace industry is teeming with “data heavy” companies that are rooting for ultra-fast Internet. If it doesn’t happen, he said, high-tech firms will eventually bypass the Rocket City for places with faster download speeds.

“This is not a want, this is a need,” said Diamond.

Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.comBy Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 18, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Huntsville launches plan to become ‘Gig City’ with ultra-fast, fiber-based Internet service | AL.com.

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Grissom High ‘CyberSloths’ take 1st place in national cyber security finals

Crystal Bonvillian | cbonvillian@al.comBy Crystal Bonvillian | cbonvillian@al.com
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on March 15, 2015 at 12:58 PM

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A cyber security team from Grissom High School won the national championship title in the CyberPatriot VII National Finals Competition this weekend in Washington, D.C.

The team, dubbed the “Grissom CyberSloths,” was one of 25 finalists from across the nation, including a team from New Century Technology High School. The Grissom team competed in CyberPatriot’s Open Division, and the “New Century Alpha” team competed in the Cyberpatriot’s All Service Division for ROTC groups.

This year’s competition began last fall, with more than 2,100 teams from across the U.S. participating in the preliminary rounds, according to Huntsville City Schools. In the finals, teams competed to defend virtual networks and mobile devices from a professional aggressor in the Network Security Master Challenge. They also completed a Digital Forensics Challenge, a Digital Crime Scene Challenge and a Cisco Networking Challenge.

Grissom finished second in the finals last year. Both Grissom and New Century have earned national reputations for their cyber security programs, and CBS Sunday Morning recently came to Huntsville to video the teams for an upcoming segment on their successes.

Grissom High ‘CyberSloths’ take 1st place in national cyber security finals | AL.com.

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OPEN TODAY 2-4

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Madison mayor outlines road expansions, home and building development, new public facilities in State of the City address

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It was a sold-out speech at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Friday night as Madison Mayor Troy Trulock took center stage for his State of the City address.

Most of the mayor’s speech was spent on accolades, education and points of pride in his city. After that, Trulock gave some insight into what lies ahead for Madison with a taste of the projects that will go into play in 2015.

Some of the major developments involve improving Madison’s roads. For example, a five-lane expansion of County Line Road is being accomplished through a partnership between Madison and the state of Alabama. Trulock estimates construction will begin in the next month or two.

There’s also the continuing six-lane development of U.S. 72 from County Line Road to Providence. This is about a five and a half mile stretch, which Trulock said is “not in good shape right now.” He said the continuing effort to fix it has been acknowledged through a partnership between Madison, Huntsville, Madison County and the state.

“Right now if you drive on Highway 72, sometimes it turns into a parking lot. We’re going to fix that,” he said.

The final major road project planned this year is to open an interchange between Interstate 565 and County Line Road, another city and state partnership. The mayor expressed how the need for this interchange is a shared sentiment for those who drive through.

The discussion then turned from roads to buildings. Trulock said more homes and subdivisions will be coming in this year. As such, there will be development of the Village at Oakland Springs outside Browns Ferry Road. This residential and business district will be about two-thirds the size of the Village of Providence and is expected to be reminiscent of its setup. Trulock said the Village at Oakland Springs will hold offices and retail in close proximity to small, medium and large size homes.

A new library could be on the way too. Trulock said the 35,000 square foot plans should be a large improvement over the 15,000 square foot library on Hughes Road. He said crowding has been a problem with the branch’s limited size.

Plans are also being put together for a new recreation building, which would include an indoor pool and basketball and volleyball courts among other athletic facilities. Construction could begin over the summer.

“I know as a coach and as a parent that we need a lot of extra recreation space,” he said, adding, “Definite need for our community.”

Ground should be broken on this project by summer.

In line with the economic front, the continuing development of Town Madison is expected to bring in 1,600 new jobs on top of 1,000 jobs at Intergraph.

Trulock also promised a surprise on the way in terms of economic development. He teased two projects to be placed near the city’s center but could not reveal what they are yet. He said the first of these projects will likely be announced within the next month or two and the other in the next three or four months.

Madison mayor outlines road expansions, home and building development, new public facilities in State of the City address | AL.com.

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