Ivey, Pate encourage support of ‘Made in Alabama’ products
MONTGOMERY — Enjoying a picturesque day on the State Capitol lawn, Governor Kay Ivey and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate joined the Alabama Grocers Association (AGA) in highlighting the “Buy Alabama’s Best” campaign.
The campaign, which was formed in a partnership between the AGA and the Department of Agriculture and Industries in 2006, showcases food and beverage products from companies that produce, manufacture and/or make their products or are headquartered in the Yellowhammer State. Buy Alabama’s Best has grown to include 50 such companies.
Before introducing Ivey, AGA President Ellie Smotherman Taylor advised those in attendance that the state’s food retail industry supports more than 70,000 jobs, with state grocers paying over $2.2 billion in annual wages and $1.2 billion in annual taxes. The total economic impact of the industry in Alabama is over $12 billion.
Additionally, between them, the food service and production industries support one-in-four jobs in the state.
“Alabama is experiencing tremendous growth, and it’s largely in part of the leadership of Governor Kay Ivey,” Taylor said. “Since day one, Governor Ivey has made it her mission to create opportunities for all Alabamians. That means putting a greater emphasis on improving our state’s education system, fostering economic development and providing more jobs for the men and women of Alabama.”
She continued, “The governor, since taking office, has proudly supported the efforts of the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association and the Alabama Grocers Association and their Buy Alabama’s Best campaign, and for that, we are so incredibly thankful.”
Ivey, fresh off what she called a “historic day” in signing the Rebuild Alabama Act into law Tuesday afternoon, first thanked Taylor for her leadership in such an important industry for the state.
The governor then said, “Folks, we all know that the best products are those that carry the ‘Made in Alabama’ brand. We are proud of that.”
She listed some of her favorite Buy Alabama’s Best companies, including Milo’s Tea, R.L. Zeigler meats, “those tiny but sweet” Bud’s Best Cookies and “certainly” Conecuh Sausage.
“As Alabamians, we not only need to remember to ourselves buy Made in Alabama products, but also to share these products with people from all over the world,” Ivey emphasized. “And when you buy Made in Alabama products, we’re really supporting the economy, we’re supporting Alabama jobs.”
Up next to speak was Pate, who reinforced Ivey’s call for people to buy and promote Made in Alabama products.
“This is what I feel like I’m about,” he outlined. “I traveled this state [during the 2018 campaign cycle] and heard it over and over again from Alabamians. I want to know where my food is from, and I want it as local as I can.”
“I just ask all Alabamians to make a little extra effort – I tell you, it’s really a win-win-win when you’re eating fresher food yourself, you’re helping somebody locally and it’s helping our local community,” Pate added.
Not only does the Buy Alabama’s Best campaign boost Yellowhammer State job creators, but a portion of product sale proceeds also directly supports Children’s of Alabama.
“We hope that people will look for the Buy Alabama’s Best logo when they are shopping at their local grocery store,” Taylor explained. “Purchasing Alabama-made products supports both our local economy and Children’s of Alabama.”
To date, the campaign has raised $777,672 to fight pediatric cancer.
“Children’s of Alabama is thankful for the community partners and the difference made through the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign,” Emily Hornak, Children’s of Alabama community development and cause marketing manager, said in a statement. “By supporting the local economy and purchasing products made in our state, Alabamians can feel good about supporting both local businesses and helping families with children facing cancer.”
Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), even with the legislature out until Tuesday, also spoke briefly, thanking Taylor, the AGA and industry members for what they do for the state. He highlighted the passage of the Rebuild Alabama Act and how it will help the food industry and others in the state ship their products easier – and more cost effectively – by both freight and the Port of Mobile.
“Thank you for taking care of the people of Alabama,” McCutcheon added. “We’re partners, we’re partners moving forward. Never forget that.”
Secretary of State John Merrill and State Auditor Jim Zeigler were in attendance as well, greeting members of the public and sampling some of the “Alabama’s Best” products.
The event concluded with a special announcement.
Wright’s Market in Opelika, an AGA member, is piloting the “Wright2U Freshmobile” delivery van thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ (ADECA) Healthy Food Financing program.
The van is a possible breakthrough in AGA’s “outside the box” efforts to better reach with fresh, healthy food options the 1.8 million Alabamians, including over 500,000 children, who live in underserved parts of the state.
— Sean Ross (@sean_yhn) March 13, 2019
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn