Alabama and Its New Economy

Alabama now ranks second behind Michigan in new automobile manufacturing and is expected to take the number one position some time in 2009. Agricultural output is still strong, however Alabama is no longer even in the top 5 for cotton production. The “Cotton State” may soon need to change its motto to something more industrial in nature.

Alabama now has 11 cities that have a population exceeding 100,000. The state has nearly 5 million residents and continues to grow.

Huntsville:

Huntsville has taken a strong leadership position in aerospace and electronics, with both NASA’s space flight center and the Army’s Missile Command both nearby. Over forty Fortune 500 companies have facilities in Huntsville.CRP is now the fourth largest research park in the world. Huntsville also hosts several technology giants such as the network access company ADTRAN, computer graphics company Intergraph and IT infrastructure company Avocent.

Huntsville’s population now tops 150,000 just within the city limits. The city has two major shopping malls. The entire Huntsville metro area is nearing 400,000 in population.

Mobile:

Just north of Mobile a new steel mill is in the works that will be bringing nearly 3000 jobs to the area. The mill is owned by a German company, ThyssenKrupp and represents a nearly $4 billion investment.

If that isn’t impressive enough, the Air Force has released details of the partnership between Northrop Grumman and EADS for the new KC-45 aerial refueling tanker to be produces at the Brookley Complex at Mobile. That partnership could produce 179 aircraft and total up to over $40 billion in revenues. Not bad when you consider the city of Mobile itself has a population of fewer than 200,000 and the metro area has a little over 400,000!

The Port of Mobile already ranks 10th in the country in tonnage. The State Docks are in the process of expanding container processing and storage capacity. Container storage at the docks will increase by an amazing 1,000%. Mobile is Alabama’s only saltwater port, and provides a point of importation and exportation for cities throughout the south. An expansion of this magnitude could place mobile on course for a significant move upwards in the top 10.

Birmingham:

With the rise in automotive manufacturing, Steel companies including U.S.Steel, Nucor and McWane have announced almost $100 million in investments in new plants and expansion of existing plants in the Birmingham Area.

Healthcare is now a leading industry in Birmingham, with the states largest employer being the UAB and its neighboring hospitals. That’s about 20,000 jobs when totaled up. HealthSouth is headquartered also in Birmingham.

Finance and insurance play an important role in the local economy. Both Regions and Compass banks are headquartered in Birmingham. Insurance companies ProAssurance, Protective Life, Infinity Property and Casualty, and several other major insurers are headquartered also in Birmingham and employ a significant number of people in the area.

Birmingham is Alabama’s largest city with a population of over 200,000 within the city limits and over 1 million in the metro area.

In summary, Alabama is growing faster than most of the remainder of the country and provides significant opportunities for the future. Investments in infrastructure going on now indicate even greater chances for growth in the future.

A strong jump in durable goods manufacturing increased Alabama’s total state gross product to over $160 billion in 2006. That ranks 44th amongst all 50 states, certainly not a powerhouse, but GSP was up by 3.1% for the year which leads 27 other states. Alabama is on the move!

Alabama Refinance Loans

Homeowners in Alabama have been benefiting from the steady increase in Alabama home values. A recent study released by the University of Alabama reports that home values are increasing an average of 2.6 percent annually. When you take this information into account, and add the benefit of currently low interest rates, there has never been a better time to refinance you Alabama home loan.

Still, if you want to make your Alabama refinance worthwhile, you’ll need to find the best refinance rates possible. Here are a few tips that will help:

Shop Around

Although you hear this simple refinance tip all the time, it is surprising how many people accept the first loan offer that comes their way. You should always shop around to see who can offer you the best deal. The market is competitive and there will be plenty of lenders willing to handle your Alabama refinance loan. If you can save just a little bit on your interest rate, shopping around is well worth the time and effort.

Look for Low Introductory Offers

If you plan on refinancing to an adjustable rate mortgage or a hybrid mortgage, look for special introductory offers. Many lenders who handle Alabama refinances offer abnormally low interest rates that can be in effect for up to the first five to ten years of your mortgage loan.

Prepare for the Refinance

If you are even thinking about applying for an Alabama refinance loan, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting a low interest rate. First, pull a copy of your credit report and do what you can to repair any blemishes that appear on it. Next, start saving your money. There will be closing costs associated with your Alabama refinance. Not having to finance these closing costs will get you a lower rate and save you money in the long run.

Alabama Homeowners Insurance

Your home is an important aspect of family safety and comfort as well as your personal/family finances. If anything you own deserves protection with insurance, it is your home. With that being said, the search for the best Alabama homeowners insurance begins. To find the best coverage, you need to know what you are up against. That is, what risk factors are important, the average cost you can expect, where to get information, how to shop and what companies provide Alabama homeowners insurance. With this ammunition in hand, you will be ready to gather online rate quotes to compare rates and find the best deal out there for you.

Statistics Concerning Alabama Homeowners Insurance

There are some statistics concerning the geography of Alabama that affect severely the cost of insuring your home. To begin with, the average sea level for the entire state of Alabama is only 8 feet. This means that most of the state is very susceptible to flooding. Alabama also ranks 13thin tornado frequency. The northern area of the state experiences a higher than average amount of earthquakes, which means earthquake coverage for your home should be considered if you live in this region. Possibly the biggest issue, especially for those in the southern part of the state, are the hurricanes coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Areas that are, year in and year out, in the path of hurricanes are great risks for homeowners insurance companies, and that is certainly the case with Alabama.

The Cost of Alabama Homeowners Insurance

Alabama homeowners insurance is significantly more expensive than the national average. The yearly average cost of home insurance in Alabama in 2010 was $797.00. That is $127 more than the national average and makes Alabama the 9thmost costly state in the nation to insure a home. This is due mostly to the fact that Alabama homes and residents have to battle severe hurricane seasons and prevalent flooding. To offset this higher cost, you can take the initiative to lower your rates a bit. First, secure your home with storm shutters, deadbolt locks, a security system and motion sensing outside lights. Second, shop around to compare rates before making your purchase.

Alabama Homeowners Insurance Companies

When shopping for Alabama homeowners insurance you will notice there are numerous companies offering insurance for your home. In your local area, you will most likely find local insurance agents representing major insurance providers, but you will also find a few local or regional providers. Visiting the websites of these companies or making a phone call to learn more about each company is a good way to begin your search for quality coverage.

Here are a few Alabama homeowners insurance companies to consider as you begin your search.

AllState
Colonial Company
GEICO
Gene Jones Insurance
Jimmy Stewart CPCU
Nationwide

Don’t relegate yourself to just these companies, as there are quite a few more available to Alabama residents. As you shop, you will undoubtedly come across more insurers and it would be a smart move to use them in your comparisons as well. In many cases, when you get your rate quotes from an online affiliate site, one or more of the quotes may come from a company you have never heard of. When that happens, certainly take a little more time to find out about that provider.

AlabamaHomeowners Insurance Resources

Online resources are great to help you when shopping for homeowners insurance and later on when specific issues/problems arise. If you have any issues with your insurance provider, you have recourse in a couple of areas. The local branch of the Alabama Better Business Bureau can be of help, as well as a resource when shopping for the right company. You can also report your complaint to the Alabama Department of Insurance if you want serious action taken. It can also be a great resource for advice, tips and information on changing insurance regulations regarding Alabama homeowners insurance.

Alabama Log Homes

Foothills of the Appalachian Chain

Alabama is home to the southern most foothill, or “wrinkle” of the Appalachian Mountain chain, Double Oak Mountain. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, Double Oak Mountain. could be referred to as the anchor of the Appalachian Chain. Regardless, the proximity of Birmingham to the “wrinkles” of the Appalachian Mountains affords residents looking for a mountain retreat or log home, a natural woodland environment in which to build.

Building a Log Home

Building a log home in Birmingham, Alabama is similar to building a log home off in the mountains or even building a “traditional” home in Birmingham. For instance, you will need to secure financing, locate a lot, find a builder, then wait for the home to be completed. Recently, I have been receiving information requests involving the purchase of log homes in Birmingham and beyond, so I thought I would give a short detail of the steps involved to help people get started.

Log Home Financing

Like other pre-construction loans, you will need to contact your mortgage professional regarding financing your log home. This loan should be similarly structured to any other new construction loan, but your mortgage lender will be able to assist you. Our best advice is the same as any home shopping scenario. Get Pre-Approved prior to shopping. This will greatly assist in your negotiating when working out the details on your log home’s build cost.

Finding Land in Birmingham:

Locating the right piece of property for sale on which to build a log home can be tricky. Especially if you are attempting to buy land in Birmingham, Alabama or in one of the surrounding areas. Your best bet would be to contact a local Realtor ® that understands your real estate needs and can assist you in locating property. Many neighborhoods in Birmingham have strict restrictions on the types of homes allowed to be built in that particular neighborhood, so be prepared to look for land outside of established neighborhoods. Parcels of land in varying sizes are for sale throughout the Birmingham area, yet a thorough search of the Birmingham MLS may be needed to ensure success. If starting a search without the help of a real estate agent, I would recommend beginning with lots or parcels of land greater than 1 acre in size. This should eliminate most neighborhoods in the Birmingham area and eliminate the need to sift through unavailable lots.

Log Home Builders:

Once you locate the right lot, find a builder that is familiar with the construction of log homes. Although some log home manufacturers, such as Southerland Log Homes, offer pre-numbered “kits” that can be built by the purchaser, I would recommend hiring a professional licensed contractor to get the job done. (Unless, of course, if you are going for the extreme log home experience, then all you need is a few twigs, some strings, and mud so there isn’t much need for a contractor). A professional builder will overlook the project to ensure everything is built to code.

When you have located a builder or two that has experience building log homes, even if it is from a kit, interview them. Get to know them. Get references. This process should be no different than if you are building a spec house or a custom home. If hiring a person to overlook and build your log home, ensure that they are qualified by checking their references, past jobs, and current builds. If the quality is acceptable on their other jobs, odds are in your favor that they will put forth the effort to ensure your home is built at the same level of quality.

Building a Log Home

Once you have secured your financing, land, and builder, building the log home should seem like a breeze. But, prepare for the unexpected. Like many residential builds, the building of your log home can experience delays that can interfere with the original schedule. Inspections will need to be completed by the city, or county, along with any that your mortgage lender requests. Rain can slow things down as well. Be patient though, these types of occurrences are why we recommended the experienced log home builder. For when delays happen, an experienced home builder will be able to navigate through the delays and obstacles by coordinating his subcontractors to maximize their efforts while sticking to the timeline.

Live the Log Home Dream

Ok, it may not be everyone’s dream to live in a log home in Birmingham, Alabama, but why not? Basically, building a log home in Birmingham is really no different than building a custom home in a distinguished neighborhood. The basic outline of building a home is the same, except that in the end, you have a log home instead of brick or hardy plank exterior home. About the only difficulty I have discovered is finding the right piece of land for sale in Birmingham that could “hold” a log home and not look silly.

Getting a Business Loan in Alabama

Whether you are in urban Alabama or rural, getting loans for business is not a distant dream anymore. Let’s have a look at some of the prominent financiers of this city who have played a key role in fulfilling many a dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs.

Getting Funds from Small Business Administration:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides funds under two types of programs: The SBA 504 CDC loan program and the SBA 7a loan guaranty program.

SBA 504 Loan Program:

This loan program is designed to provide long-term loans for fixed assets. The small businesses can use the funds for acquiring, building, expanding, or renovating property. They can also use it for buying equipment that is life-long.

Under this loan program, the SBA gives 100 per cent guarantee of a debenture, which is sold to the Federal Financing Bank, through a Certified Development Corporation (CDC). It is sold for up to 40 per cent of the costs of fixed asset.

In order to get this loan, you have to submit a proposal to a loan committee of a licensed development corporation. This committee passes your application to the SBA.

The following are the CDCs that help the small businesses in loan application:

o Alabama Community Development Corp.

o Birmingham City Wide Local

o Southern Development Council

o Greater Mobile Development Corporation

SBA 7a Loan Program:

Under this program, loans are provided on long-term period for either working capital of fixed assets. The good thing about these loans is that they require no particular job creation.

SBA authorizes the financial organizations to work as Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC). The SBICs are owned privately and are akin to venture capital companies.

Southern Development Council:

The Southern Development Council works throughout the state. A non-profit organization assists the small businesses to get long-term funds on fixed assets to expand their business in Alabama. The SDC uses the sources of public financing programs as well as Alabama banks to finance the businesses.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a boon for the non-farming community of rural Alabama. The USDA does not provide direct loans, but loan guarantees to the rural entrepreneurs. The program is similar to SBA 7a loan program.

The loans are provided for up to 30 years on fixed assets, 15 years for heavy and light equipment, and 7 years for working capital.

Besides this, the USDA offers low interest loans for developing water infrastructure, health services, public safety services, and other social services for the welfare of the community of Alabama. The interest rates are fixed based on the income of the family.

Thus, Alabama has great opportunities to start business and flourish it. A slew of loan programs are there to finance your dream projects.