Our Bold Gaze into 2020

Expect more fun times, fake news, meatless treats in 2020

Artist’s rendering of the expansion ongoing at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, including the Mars Music Hall, which opened Jan. 3. Image courtesy of Matheny Goldmon Architects, Huntsville.

Put on Your Wading Boots: It’s an Election Year

Experts predict 2020 will be the year Japan uses robots to build a permanent base on the moon for…robots.

In Alabama, we’re still trying to get used to the Impossible Whopper, and now Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork, says next year it will give us plant-based shellfish.

Thanks for that.

Meanwhile, your fearless prognosticator correctly surmised in late 2018 that the Legislature might finally dig up some infrastructure money in 2019. He even theorized a gas tax increase might be the path. But didn’t predict that it would be Gov. Kay Ivey who finally got those cattle moving.

He wrongly predicted that Mike Hubbard, former Republican Speaker of the House, might finally be imprisoned on felony ethics charges that he was found guilty of in June 2016. Will it happen in 2020? The Alabama Supreme Court heard the arguments back in June, but don’t rush them.

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Also, don’t hold your breath on a lottery. Meanwhile, watch for these developments.

2020 sees the first phase of Huntsville’s Constellation development. Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood heads up design.

Fun Stuff

Huntsville’s long-awaited, $100 million Constellation development will take shape, with a 219-unit upscale apartment building, dining, hotels and perhaps the city’s tallest building.

The GEICO Bassmaster Classic returns to Alabama for its 50th rendition in spring 2020, the 13th time the Classic has visited our state and the ninth time Birmingham has played host.

Montgomery will be working on bringing a $40 million water park development online on Maxwell Boulevard off Interstate 65, with restaurant, hotel and retail options.

NASA Mars Helicopter team members attach a thermal film to the exterior of the flight model of the Mars Helicopter, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Mind Blowing

Alabama lawmakers created a medical marijuana commission in 2019 to ponder recommendations on whether to legalize the devil’s lettuce for medical uses when the 2020 regular session begins. The Legislature will ponder the further retail possibilities of CBD oil, produced by industrial hemp being grown right here by rock-ribbed Alabama farmers.

NASA sometimes struggles to be cool, but they hit a home run by attaching a helicopter to their 2020 Mars Rover, meaning that the chopper in 2021 will be the first aircraft to fly on a planet other than Earth.

Birmingham, once a bedrock of respectability, will have its own kombucha taproom by spring, to be operated by Harvest Roots.

Milo’s Tea plans to open a $60 million production facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, furthering the cause of Southern sweet tea diplomacy in that western stronghold.

Taking off from the second Airbus assembly line in Mobile in 2020 — an Airbus A220.

Big Movers

Birmingham should see Amazon’s $325 million fulfillment center gear up to full production in Bessemer, with humans and robots working in harmonious accord. It won’t open until 2021, but Auburn University will spend all 2020 building the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a $94.5 million complex to teach boutique hotel and restaurant management.

Toyota Boshoku is scheduled to wrap construction in mid-2020 on its $50 million manufacturing plant in Athens, where up to 400 people will make seat systems for Mazda Toyota.

Also in mid-2020, Tier 1 auto supplier Motus Integrated Technologies is scheduled to open its $15 million plant in Gadsden, making interior parts and headliners.

Airbus plans to deliver its first A220 airplanes off its new final assembly line in Mobile, helping to reduce a years-long order backlog.

BL Harbert International will spend some of 2020 building a $100 million, 500-acre Alabama Farm Center project in Chilton County.

Construction will begin on a $195 million expansion for Daikin America in Decatur, to increase polymer production and R&D capabilities.

The first phase of Shinhwa Group’s $42 million Auburn plant, to make drive shafts for Hyundai and Kia vehicles, should be complete by summer.

The $100 million Ben E. Keith food distribution center in New Brockton will take shape over the summer and eventually employ 80.

Dave Helms is copy editor for Business Alabama.

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