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Alabama earns prestigious recognition for 2021 economic development success

The Yellowhammer State experienced massive economic gains in 2021, which was the second-best year for growth in Alabama’s 202-year history.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Friday that the state had been selected by Area Development, a national business publication, to receive the outlet’s Silver Shovel Award for successful economic development efforts.

According to the governor’s office, Alabama in 2021 saw $7.7 billion in new capital investment. Last year’s success trails only the $8.1 billion investment the state recorded in 2018.

The 2021 projects are anticipated to create over 10,000 jobs across the state, spurring economic activity in communities throughout urban and rural Alabama.

In a statement touting the distinction, Ivey asserted that Alabama’s pro-business economic climate paved the way for historic investment in recent years.

“High-performing companies from around the globe have discovered first-hand that they can find all the advantages they need to succeed right here in Sweet Home Alabama,” declared Ivey. “The Silver Shovel Award is a testament to the state’s pro-business environment and to the skilled workforce that makes that success possible.”

Area Development’s report recognized The J.M. Smucker Co. as one of the publication’s “Deals of the Year” for the company’s $1.1 billion Jefferson County project to construct a manufacturing and distribution facility in the Birmingham area community of McCalla, which is expected to create up to 750 jobs.

“The combination of peanut butter and jelly is comfort food for many people, and frozen PB&J sandwiches will be comforting a lot of Alabama lives when a $1.1 billion Smucker’s plant opens in Jefferson County,” the magazine’s report detailed. “The deal promises some 750 jobs that will pay an average of $25 an hour, making the company’s Uncrustables frozen sandwiches.”

Alabama Department of Commerce secretary Greg Canfield outlined that the state’s accomplishments in the field of economic development were a testament to the department’s successful implementation of its comprehensive growth strategy.

“The overarching goal of Alabama’s economic development team is to spark the creation of good jobs and enhance opportunity throughout the state by strategically focusing on high-impact industries with solid growth prospects,” noted Canfield. “This honor is another concrete example showing that our team is executing on its plan and delivering results that make a difference for the state.”

Alabama has consistently been recognized by Area Development since the magazine first launched its awards in 2006 when the state was honored with a Gold Shovel. The state also won the award in 2020 for economic development projects in the manufacturing sector.

Along with J.M. Smucker, additional projects recognized by the magazine include Hanwha Cimarron’s Opelika manufacturing plant, Amazon’s Huntsville and Montgomery fulfillment centers, as well as Alabama Graphite LLC’s Coosa County processing facility investment.

An overview of Alabama’s 2021 economic development results can be viewed in the Alabama Department of Commerce’s “New & Expanding Industry Report.”

Since Ivey assumed occupancy of the governor’s mansion in 2017, the state has seen $32 billion in new investment through the creation of 65,000 jobs, recently updated Alabama Department of Commerce figures show.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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