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Alabama’s economic development showing strength through disruptions

Preliminary numbers show Alabama’s economic development efforts added $5.3 billion in capital investment and more than 9,000 jobs in 2021 despite a year disrupted by a global pandemic, supply chain breaks and other issues.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield delivered the news Monday to kick off the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s 2022 Winter Conference in Montgomery.

Canfield had to take a jet from Mobile to make the meeting. That’s because Canfield was in the Port City Monday morning talking about, well, jets. Airbus announced a collaboration with Lockheed Martin to pursue a contract with the U.S. Air Force to build refueling tankers.

That news, along with the opening of the Dura Automotive Systems facility in Muscle Shoals and the launch of production of the Mazda CX-50 at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, has 2022 off to a great start, Canfield said.

Alabama’s success is coming despite the disruptions facing the global, national and state economies, he said.

Those disruptions are creating trends that Alabama is poised to capitalize on, he said, such as:

  • The electrification evolution of vehicles.
  • Industry 4.0 with smart factories and technological innovations in manufacturing.
  • Sustainability as a key industry initiative.
  • Cracks in the supply chain.

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield touts Alabama’s economy at 2022 EDAA conference from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Alabama’s approach to economic development is welcomed by companies during times of disruption, Canfield said.

“We are all about risk mediation,” he said. “Most companies are looking for states that will become a partner to help them avoid disaster.”

With Alabama’s workforce development and incentives programs, Canfield said the state is looking at ways to improve the tools in its toolbox to mitigate disruption and be prepared for trends.

Trends that Alabama is already participating in:

Canfield said initiatives that have focused on innovation and emerging technologies are preparing Alabama for the jobs of the future. He cited the new Alabama Innovation Corporation and the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator among those efforts.

“Alabama’s a state that really has learned to look forward, to have a vision about what our future can be,” Canfield said. “And we’ve learned from our past. I think that’s kind of come together to help us create strategies like the Innovation Corporation that are giving us the opportunity to reimagine how we can focus our resources and leverage our assets to really attract new innovation, to spawn entrepreneurship.

“We’re living in an era where there is high interest in entrepreneurial endeavors and most of those endeavors involve technology and innovation – those thought- (and) knowledge-based jobs that we’re really trying to capture more and more every day,” he said.

Canfield said since Alabama revamped its incentives structure in 2015 with the Alabama Jobs Act, the state has been more competitive for projects and, most importantly, it has created better jobs.

Since 2015, Alabama has added 198 projects with new capital investment of $17.2 billion and the creation of more than 34,000 jobs.

Those are good-paying jobs, Canfield said. The Alabama Jobs Act jobs have a projected average hourly wage of $23.69, compared with Alabama’s median hourly wage of $16.73.

Canfield said there are improvements that can be made to the Jobs Act to make the state even more attractive and competitive.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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