Governor Kay Ivey on Friday released a statement highlighting Alabama’s ranking atop “Global Trade” magazine’s list of the best nine states for manufacturing in the nation.
“Alabama has a strong heritage in manufacturing, which remains a key pillar in the state’s growing economy,” Ivey said. “Alabama workers have shown the world that they have the expertise to manufacture high-quality products that set industry standards, and this ranking is more confirmation of that fact.”
There are over 270, 000 manufacturing workers in the state, representing over 13 percent of Alabama’s workforce. That’s the fifth highest concentration in the country, according to data from the National Association of Manufacturers.
“Alabama’s manufacturing workers bring energy and passion to their jobs, and they’re always willing to learn new skills that will enhance productivity,” outlined Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
He continued, “These qualities set them apart from their counterparts in other states and allow them to manufacture a sweeping variety of top-flight products that are in demand all over the world.”
The states named in the “Global Trade” rankings have a “combination of factors, like an existing industrial base, the availability of talent, investment incentives, and favorable tax and regulatory environments.”
Besides Alabama, the states that made the cut were Florida, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio.
Alabama received a glowing write-up from “the authority for U.S. companies doing business globally.”
“The state has seen a continued influx of manufacturing investment—much of it from the international auto industry—and it’s not hard to understand why,” the magazine wrote.
It continued, “Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in auto production, with Toyota, Mazda, Mercedes, Hyundai, and Honda all locating factories here. Vehicles are now Alabama’s number-one export.”
The new Toyota-Mazda plant announcement proved Alabama’s prowess.
“When Toyota and Mazda chose Alabama for a new plant, the state’s package of incentives was reportedly worth over $350 million. The package included jobs and investments credits, capital costs reimbursements, sales- and property-tax abatements, and the building of a training center at the site a state agency,” explained “Global Trade.”
Alabama also has government agencies that understand how to help job creators instead of creating excess red-tape.
“The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) expedites investments by coordinating the work of state and local economic development agencies at the project outset,” the magazine outlined. “Barring any serious issues, all permitting can be completed in 120 days.”
Site selection opportunities are key to Alabama’s ranking, and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) plays a key role in these efforts.
EDPA coordinates AdvantageSite, which is jointly sponsored by the Department of Commerce, the Alabama Power Company, Spire, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
Since 2008, AdvantageSite has fostered 35 projects totaling $1,419,670,000 in capital investment, which has grown 6,435 jobs in the state.
“Pre-certifying development sites tend to attract major projects,” emphasized the magazine, as it highlighted the AdvantageSite program.
Alabama has world-class workforce development initiatives, too.
The magazine noted, “AIDT, Alabama’s workforce development agency, initiates training programs to attract new industries. Training is often provided in mobile training units that meet specific company needs. Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, Navistar, and Airbus are among the companies that have benefited from AIDT training.”
While the automotive industry in the state is well-known, Alabama’s aerospace industry is also set to take off, especially with a possible role in the coming Space Force. The magazine pointed out that Alabama already “enjoys a leadership position in aerospace production.”
The selection of Alabama in the ranking of top manufacturing states comes one month after “Business Facilities,” an economic development focused publication, named the Yellowhammer State as the best in a business-climate ranking.
A 2017 Gallup poll also found that Alabama has the highest percentage of “highly involved and enthusiastic” workers in the nation.
All of these rankings come at a time when the state is moving to streamline and improve its comprehensive workforce development program, with many of these functions centralized in the Alabama Department of Commerce. New initiatives include AlabamaWorks and Apprenticeship Alabama.
Earlier this year, Ivey launched Success Plus – a new strategic workforce development initiative that ambitiously targets the addition of 500,000 high-skilled employees to Alabama’s workforce by 2025 – in response to increasing employer demands for the higher levels of talent needed in modern workplaces.
Success Plus aims “to improve access to educational opportunities, create pathways and defined routes that show people how to advance a career, and encourage collaboration among private and public entities.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn