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Horizon part of Regions Bank $1.5 billion commitment to loan pool designed to fuel job growth in Alabama

Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool helping finance business expansions at companies across the state

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Regions Bank (NYSE:RF) today announced the company exceeded its Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool commitment for 2013 and will expand its loan pool commitment in 2014.

“The Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool reflects Regions’ commitment to serving as the economic development bank of Alabama,” said John Turner, South Region president for Regions Bank. “We are committed to helping companies grow and create more jobs. We are providing access to capital that helps drive business expansion and strengthen our economy. Already, this loan pool is supporting business growth and new opportunities for people across the state, and we will build on our commitment in 2014.”

Regions established the loan pool in February of last year and earmarked $1 billion to provide economic development capital and support job growth in Alabama in 2013. In September, Regions exceeded its billion-dollar commitment. Preliminary estimates show loan pool activity topped $1.3 billion by the end of the year. Based on initial data provided by participants, loan pool financing is supporting approximately 2,000 new jobs in addition to existing jobs at more than 350 companies and entities throughout the state.

For 2014, Regions is renewing and expanding its commitment by earmarking $1.5 billion for the Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool. The funding will support businesses and entities that are growing, modernizing or expanding in Alabama.

“Economic development is truly a partnership among many different groups,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Regions Financial made a significant commitment last year to help Alabama companies continue to create jobs by establishing a loan pool for companies to have access to the financial capital needed for growth. I am honored that Regions Financial is going to extend the loan pool into 2014 and commit an additional $1.5 billion. This loan pool will help us build on our job creation efforts, and I appreciate Regions’ commitment to Alabama businesses.”

Regions works closely with the business community and the Alabama Department of Commerce to identify projects that could be candidates for financing.

“Our goal is to help new and existing companies succeed and expand here in Alabama,” said Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield. “In order for that to happen, companies large and small need access to capital. As businesses grow, more jobs are created in our communities, and our entire economy grows stronger.”

Currently, the Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool is fueling growth and expansions among a variety of employers. Consider these examples:

Dothan-Houston County Airport Authority:
Alabama landed a major new employer when Commercial Jet announced it would move into a large hangar facility at the Dothan Regional Airport, bringing 500 new jobs to the area by the end of 2017.

But before Commercial Jet could begin operations, the hangar needed a series of renovations and repairs. The Dothan-Houston County Airport Authority, which was working with local and state leaders to recruit Commercial Jet to the facility, turned to Regions to help finance the hangar upgrades. Regions allocated $6 million from the Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool for the hangar renovation project.

“The whole area pulled together as a team to make this project a success, and Regions was a valuable part of that team,” said Art Morris, director of Dothan Regional Airport. “These new jobs will have a very significant impact on our community.”

Commercial Jet provides commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services and passenger-to-freighter conversions for leading airlines and aircraft owners around the world.

Based in Metro Birmingham, Deshazo is a family-owned business that develops high-tech overhead cranes as well as complex robotic systems for a variety of companies.

Deshazo needed a new facility to increase production and introduce new services to the marketplace. The company announced an expansion in early 2013. Through the Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool, Regions is providing financing to support the expansion as Deshazo enhances its production capacity and hires more employees.

“We’ve been up and running at our new facility since June,” said Phil Mazur, Deshazo’s vice president of finance. “We have hired 15 new, full-time employees now and have the capacity to hire up to 50 before the end of 2014. This is a major project, and there could have been a lot of headaches, but working with Regions, it hasn’t been difficult at all.”

Horizon Shipbuilding:
Horizon Shipbuilding was founded in 1997 by a father-son team who turned their passion and skill into a thriving company.

Today, from its headquarters in Bayou la Batre, Horizon designs, builds and repairs ships, boats and barges for customers around the world.

“We were awarded the largest single contract in our history last year,” said Travis Short, Horizon’s president and general manager. “That made it clear it was time to expand.”

Horizon turned to Regions to help finance the expansion with capital from the Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool. The expansion is resulting in 127 new jobs.

“Regions Bank had been advising me on potential lending opportunities and helped me put it all together,” Short said. “We purchased the best available property and refurbished the dormant shipyard across the bayou from our present facility. Regions facilitated the loan and made it possible for Horizon to begin construction in less than 60 days.”

The expansion is helping Horizon grow its marketability for larger vessels and more projects in the future.

Selma Urgent Care:
Economic development is not only about new jobs and business expansions. It is also about providing access to vital services for people in Alabama communities. Selma Urgent Care was established by emergency room doctors who recognized a need for greater access to urgent care in a region that had few options.

“Both my partners were ER physicians and felt the need for immediate care to bridge the gap between the overloaded ERs and the overbooked primary care physicians,” Sagar Vadlamudi, co-founder of Selma Urgent Care explained. “We realized that unless you had an open primary care physician, you had to drive to Montgomery, Prattville or Birmingham for immediate medical care short of major trauma. Because of that, we felt there was a need for more medical care in Selma.”

With funding from Regions’ Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool, Selma Urgent Care is now able to serve patients not only from Selma, but also from nearby Chilton, Wilcox and Perry Counties. Vadlamudi’s team is also developing plans for an urgent care center in Clanton, which recently lost its only hospital.

Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus:
Nineteen years ago, James Wessel started working as a volunteer firefighter in North Alabama. He felt it was his calling, and he loved the excitement. But he also ran into a major challenge.

It wasn’t easy to find a good fire truck.

“Trying to purchase equipment opened my eyes to some of the inefficiencies and the lack of inventory for used fire trucks, particularly ones that had warranties,” Wessel explained.

So an idea was born. Wessel founded a company, Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, which would connect fire-rescue agencies with the life-saving equipment they need. Since then, his business, located in Union Grove near Huntsville, has grown to serve departments across the country and around the world.

Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus recently expanded through a line of credit from Regions’ Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool. The expansion is helping Wessel increase his inventory to meet the needs of fire-rescue personnel worldwide.

“That meant everything to us,” Wessel said. “I can’t sell a product that I don’t have for sale. The only way to accomplish that is to have credit. And Regions has been a fantastic partner for us.”

Regions Bank is invested in Alabama. A recent study from economic development researcher Tripp Umbach showed Regions had an overall $7 billion impact on the Alabama economy in 2012, supporting nearly 22,000 jobs both directly and indirectly. Also, Regions recently named Jeff Rabren to manage economic development initiatives with a focus on encouraging capital investment and job creation in Alabama. Regions is Alabama’s only Fortune 500 company and is the largest private employer in its headquarters city of Birmingham.

Companies interested in learning more about Regions’ Alabama Economic Development Loan Pool or applying for financing are encouraged to contact a Regions banker or visit a local branch for a referral.

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