2 years ago

Global consulting firm ranks Alabama a top 5 state for investment, predicts major jobs growth

Companies that could have invested anywhere in the world chose Alabama to the tune of more than $5 billion. (iStock)
Companies that could have invested anywhere in the world chose Alabama to the tune of more than $5 billion. (iStock)

Global consulting firm Ernst & Young says companies from around the world poured more than $5 billion into capital projects in Alabama last year, earning the state a place near the top of its investment rankings.

Ernst & Young’s closely watched “US Investment Monitor” ranked Alabama No.5 among the states for mobile capital investment last year, with a total of $5.3 billion. The firm also ranked Alabama among the top states for foreign investment spending.

The London-based firm describes its Investment Monitor as a “leading indicator showing where new investment spending and jobs can be expected to occur over the next several years.” It defines mobile capital investment as spending for facilities such as office buildings, call centers, factories and distribution centers. These projects are called “mobile” because companies can build them anywhere, regardless of their headquarters locations.

Projects like the Mercedes-Benz $1.3 billion expansion show the level of foreign direct investment in Alabama. (Mercedes-Benz)
Projects like the Mercedes-Benz $1.3 billion expansion show the level of foreign direct investment in Alabama. (Mercedes-Benz)

“There’s no question that 2015 was a significant year for Alabama’s economic development team, with a record level of capital investment and high-impact projects from major international companies,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“But we’re not standing still. We’re pursuing a pipeline of important projects across the state and developing new initiatives that will help us create more knowledge-based jobs in fields such as R&D and engineering,” he said.

Under the direction of Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama’s economic development team continues to attract concentrated capital investments in automotive manufacturing and aerospace, two sectors that received significant investments in 2015.

Companies invested more than $5 billion in Alabama last year. (iStock)
Companies invested more than $5 billion in Alabama last year. (iStock)

Location decisions

Alabama trailed only Texas, Louisiana, California and Kentucky in Ernst & Young’s 2015 mobile investment rankings. Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, New York and North Carolina rounded out the top 10.

Alabama ranked higher – No. 4 – when the 2015 investment figure is considered as a percentage of state GDP, according to the Ernst & Young analysis.

Ernst & Young noted that Alabama’s 2015 mobile investment figure was twice the state’s annual average for the 2010-2014 period, measured at $2.5 billion.

In addition, the firm’s Investment Monitor ranked Alabama No. 4 for foreign investment spending in 2015, trailing only Texas, Louisiana and New York.

Earlier this year, an analysis by the state commerce department showed that nearly half of the new capital investment announced in Alabama during 2015 originated from foreign companies. The commerce report counted 95 projects from 18 foreign countries.

Germany was the No. 1 source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Alabama last year, led by Mercedes’ $1.3 billion expansion at its assembly plant near Tuscaloosa. Companies based in Canada, South Korea, France and Japan also announced substantial investments in Alabama during 2015.

 Germany was the country with the most foreign direct investment in Alabama last year. (iStock)

Germany was the country with the most foreign direct investment in Alabama last year. (iStock)

Alabama’s strong FDI was also noted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, which produces an annual “Global Location Trends” report.

The IBM report ranked the Mercedes expansion as one the Top 20 FDI projects in the U.S. in 2015.

IBM’s Global Location Trends report also said Alabama and several of its Southern neighbors have seen solid growth in FDI linked to advanced manufacturing.

“These Southern states offer competitive operating costs and good logistics infrastructure, and they have benefitted substantially from companies seeking operations closer to the North American market,” the analysis says.

Pinpointing trends

Andrew Phillips, principal at Ernst & Young, said, “Many factors contribute to a company’s decision to invest in a particular location, and awareness of industry trends, workforce development levels and the availability of state and local tax incentives can help businesses choose where to locate their mobile capital investments.

“States should continue to find their competitive edge to attract a wide variety of investment types and maintain a healthy economy,” Phillips added.

Projects like the $600 million Google data center being built in Jackson County helped Alabama to its No. 5 ranking. (Google)
Projects like the $600 million Google data center being built in Jackson County helped Alabama to its No. 5 ranking. (Google)
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47 mins ago

More than 100 conservatives call for Jordan to run for Speaker

A coalition of more than 100 conservatives sent a letter to House Freedom Caucus (HFC) co-founder Jim Jordan Monday urging him to throw his name in to replace outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“There must be a real race for Speaker of the House. Now. No backroom deals. A real race, starting this spring, to make every incumbent and candidate commit on the record, as a campaign issue, whether they’ll vote to save the Swamp or drain it,” the letter reads. “America needs you to declare yourself as a candidate for Speaker at once. We write to you on behalf of millions of Americans who want Congress to Drain the Swamp.”

Ryan rattled Capitol Hill in April when he announced he will retire from the House after nearly 20 years in Congress, telling reporters he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities.

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Two of the top House Republicans — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana — are angling for the position, but neither thought to have a guaranteed lock on the speakership.

McCarthy failed to garner the 218 required votes to become speaker in 2015, but his particularly close relationship with the president has some expecting that, along with Ryan’s full fledged endorsement, it will give him an upper hand over Scalise in the coming months.

Scalise wouldn’t rule out a potential bid for Ryan’s job but is also adamant he would not run against McCarthy, who he considers a “good friend,” he said in March.

Yet, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who is best friends with Jordan, might have the closest relationship with the president over any other member of Congress. During a speech Thursday in which Jordan appeared to preview a bid for the speakership, Jordan joked that Meadows was in the back, taking a phone call from the president, which Meadows is known to do on a regular basis.

The letter Jordan received Monday from conservatives echoes a great deal of what the congressman has said himself since Ryan announced his retirement. Namely, Jordan is adamant that Republicans need to get back to accomplishing what they promised voters during the 2016 election cycle, like dealing with immigration, border security, repealing and replacing Obamacare and stopping out-of-control spending.

Jordan’s response to questions about the speaker’s race have been the same since the day TheDCNF first reported the growing wave of support for his candidacy: there is no speaker’s race, and we need to focus on the issues.

Conservatives are pushing back against Jordan’s assertion that there isn’t an ongoing race to replace Ryan.

“To those who say there is no Speaker’s race at the moment, we say that it’s already underway – in back rooms, behind closed doors, and aimed at preserving the Swamp and making it bigger. The Speaker’s race must be public.  There will be no Republican Speaker in 2019 unless the GOP can appeal to those Americans in its own ranks, among independents and even many Democrats who voted for Donald Trump to drain the Swamp and for the current Republican-led House to help him do that,” the letter reads.

“The present House Republican leadership has failed. It is part of the problem. You are the solution. This is your moment.  We pray you will seize it, knowing that if you do, we will do everything we can to help you succeed.”

The HFC is no stranger to putting leadership on notice.

Jordan, Meadows and HFC members shot down a farm bill in order to secure a vote on an immigration proposal they were promised months ago.

Ryan and McCarthy huddled with Meadows and Jordan in the back of the House chamber before the final gavel Friday, but their 11th-hour attempts were unable to sway the conservative members.

The bill failed with members voting 198-213, dealing a decisive blow to leadership.

Friday’s vote is evidence the HFC has the leverage to sway major policy issues, given the power of the caucus’ 36 members’ votes. If the caucus votes as a coalition, they can kill a bill or get concessions from leadership.

Many believe Jordan’s bid would be to get concessions from either McCarthy or Scalise, but Ryan still has the rest of the year as speaker. That is, if he isn’t pressured to step down earlier.

McCarthy’s folks are reportedly nervous about the potential heat he will take in a drawn out speaker’s race if Ryan decides to stay through the November midterm elections, which he has promised he intends to do.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 hours ago

Hightower runs for Alabama governor on flat tax, term limits

State Sen. Bill Hightower is stressing his background as a businessman as he runs for governor on a sweeping platform of government overhauls that includes term limits for legislators and replacing the state income tax code with a flat tax.

The Mobile Republican says he believes long-serving politicians have become the “enemy of improvement” in Montgomery.

Hightower’s platform includes limiting legislators to three consecutive terms, establishing a flat tax income tax and ending budgetary earmarks. Legislators would have to approve the measures.

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Hightower is challenging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the June 5 Republican primary along with evangelist Scott Dawson and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

A relative newcomer in state politics, Hightower was first elected to the Alabama Senate in a 2013 special election.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

Canary responds to YH News

In recent months, there have been ongoing and coordinated efforts to paint the Business Council of Alabama as an ineffective and financially troubled organization. These attacks are maliciously false.

Those attacking our organization for their own political purposes are resorting to extreme lengths to undermine our organization. They continue to sling one baseless attack after another and hope something sticks.

This tactic was seen in Thursday’s Yellowhammer News editorial that looked at the BCA’s 2016 IRS Form 990 and made the determination that the BCA’s financial health “could be in jeopardy.” Once again, this is a claim that is simply not true.

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In describing themselves the Yellowhammer News asserts in its Declaration: Our Philosophy. Our Principles. Our Promises…states: “We will abide by the letter and spirit of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, developing content with both integrity and perspective.” Somehow this article fell short of that pledge by distorting the facts and knowingly asserting a premise that is false.

Information on a Form 990 does not show an organization’s ongoing financial health. The BCA finished 2016 with a balanced operating budget and a surplus. The BCA has zero debt and more than one-year’s operating budget in reserves. Hardly the picture of a crumbling organization.

One must ask the question – is this election year politics at its worst? Over the last several years, the BCA has built one of the largest political war chests in the state. Legislative success happens when the right people are elected, and that’s what our political action is all about – electing pro-job candidates who understand the issues and are not afraid to step up and lead Alabama in the right direction.

As a business advocacy organization, we continue to look to the future to create a climate in Alabama for new and existing businesses to locate or expand. Past success is no guarantee, but it does demonstrate how a united business community can accomplish worthwhile goals.

As BCA Chairman Perry Hand has said, “We will not be intimidated into bad decision making.” We know all too well that when you are relevant, you put yourself in the crosshairs, and that’s exactly where we are today.

From a national platform, the BCA is Alabama’s exclusive representative to the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here in Alabama, the BCA represents the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies that include businesses of all sizes and virtually every segment of Alabama’s business community-from manufacturing to retail, agriculture to financial services and many, more. Our organization is a deliberative body guided by our by-laws and our legislative agenda that is developed by our active members of all sizes.

The BCA’s legislative agenda is adopted by our board of directors annually in advance of every legislative session and focuses on improving major areas that impact every single business in Alabama: Education/Workforce, Healthcare, Infrastructure and Regulations. Fortunately, we have a governor and legislative leaders who are focused on improving Alabama’s standing in all these areas. Just as in year’s past, we will not be deterred by election year smear tactics.

The BCA’s guiding force is as important today as when first envisioned in 1985 when the BCA was created: We work together to create a vibrant economic climate and an educated workforce. These are the keys to creating and sustaining jobs for employees and their families.

William J. Canary is the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama.

3 hours ago

Dawson: Statements about Gov Ivey ‘dangerous move’ that could ‘tank the election’

Scott Dawson, a Republican candidate for the governor of Alabama, criticized Gov. Kay Ivey and a state agency last week, for funding that went to an Alabama based LGBTQ non-profit organization. Since then, it seems as if the gubernatorial race in Alabama has been turned upside down.

In his statement Tuesday, Dawson said, “Let me be clear. The Ivey administration has betrayed Alabama values by giving nearly one million dollars of taxpayer dollars to Free2Be, an activist organization which promotes transgenderism and alternate lifestyles to Alabama’s children.”

ADECA, which administers the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was responsible for the allocation of funds to Free2Be.

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According to ADECA, Free2Be has received nearly $1.7 million in grants from ADECA since September 2014.

Ivey responded to Dawson’s statements while at a luncheon in Tuscaloosa saying, “That’s nonsense.”

“I certainly don’t agree with the agenda or the values of that organization. The funding is federal funding. It’s been going on since 2014. There are no Alabama tax dollars involved,” Ivey told reporters.

When a reporter questioned Ivey on whether or not she was upset, Ivey responded, “Do I look upset?”

“Lookie here, he’s all over the board,” Ivey said. “He’s not getting any traction. He’s low in the polls. He’s three weeks away from the election. He’s getting desperate.”

Ivey is correct. When personal attacks are being hurled toward a rival, it signals desperation. And desperation this is. I was honestly shocked that Dawson would come forward with such bold accusations towards Ivey.

When a candidate is this close to the election, statements like these, that aren’t backed with sufficient and thorough investigation, should not be made.

During an appearance on Yellowhammer Radio’s “The Wake Up Call with Baylor and Hannah”, Dawson was questioned on his statements regarding the funding that is awarded to Free2Be.

“When we found it, we were like this just doesn’t look right, doesn’t look like it needs to be there,” Dawson said. “That’s when we started investigating the organization.”

Dawson reminded the audience that his intent in bringing up the funds was to warrant transparency for the state of Alabama.

He said, “This is just a statement about transparency. We need to make sure we know where our money is going, that we know why we are taking money, and how in the world these folks get $800,000 from ADECA.”

While I echo the statements Dawson makes here about transparency and ensuring that Alabamians know where their tax dollars are being spent, I must say that only a miniscule amount of research would have shown that ADECA grants are federally funded and in no way utilize tax payer dollars.

In closing the interview, Dawson said, “Quite honestly, you know, it was a dangerous move because it could just tank the election. I am just being forthright with you, but Alabama needs to know what’s going on in Alabama government.”

I think his comments did cost him the election. While I have great respect for Scott Dawson, I believe his coming forward with these statements was foolish. A lack of knowledge and research can really hurt you on the campaign trail and we are witnessing this right now.

It’s difficult for a GOP gubernatorial candidate to unseat a GOP incumbent who has, for the most part, had a good track record.

I understand the motive behind Dawson’s statements. That organization does not represent what most Alabamians see fit for a way of life. I just wish Dawson had gone about things differently and spent more time looking into the matter.

Dawson, along with everyone else running for office in America, should learn that research and getting the facts straight goes a long way. While it may be too late for Dawson, others should learn of the danger of proposing baseless investigations.

Ivey, who has received endorsement from the NRA, has shied from the public eye over the past few months. When you have a good track record as the head of Alabama, you can do these types of things. Since taking office, Gov. Ivey has not had a largely negative conflict.

Ivey’s objective in this election is to ride out her past successes in hopes of another four years as Alabama’s CEO and it might just work, so long as the unsubstantiated claims continue to be tossed her way.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and host of The Weekend Briefing that airs noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 101.1 WDYE

3 hours ago

Any politician not calling for a special session on school security is committing political malpractice

The most predictable thing in America is that we will have another school shooting soon. We don’t know where it will be, but it is coming.

Every delay in addressing these issues is another day closer to more dead kids, and an eventual mass casualty event in Alabama. We can talk about hardening targets via new construction, and limiting access to guns until we are blue in the face, but these things are either expensive or not happening.

Every politician in a heated race in Alabama should be calling for a special session on school safety. State Representative and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth is right on track with a real solution:

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“Every school shooting that takes place in another state around the country brings us one step closer to an active shooter attacking classrooms here, in Alabama, so the governor would be wise to call a special session this summer,” Ainsworth said.  “Signs reading ‘Gun Free Zone’ are a magnet for those who wish to do harm, so we must provide teachers with the training, knowledge, and ability to defend their students with something more lethal than a ruler and a No. 2 pencil.”

Of course there is an ad as well:

Why this matters: This is good politics and good policy. The people have decided on this. The media can pretend all they want that people are torn on this, but they are not. Americans, and Alabamians especially, understand that there is nothing stopping shooters from walking into their kids’ school today and shooting it up. The idea that allowing teachers to carry makes a child less safe is laughable, the teacher willing to do harm is not stopped by a gun-free zone. Good teachers with guns, however, are following the law and the law is protecting school shooters.

The details:

— 69 percent of Republicans are in favor of allowing teachers to carry.

— 78 percent of parents would feel more safe, or just as safe, with their child’s teacher being armed.

— The media is lying and saying there have been 22 school shootings in 2018. They include accidental discharge of a firearm in their count.

— As of May 8th, Gov. Kay Ivey had not ruled out a special session, but she has not responded to Ainsworth’s call.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN