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Report: 2022 investment projects to generate 1,900 jobs in rural Alabama

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield announced that new capital investment by growing companies in rural Alabama approached $1.8 billion during 2022, building on solid economic development results registered in recent years.

The new investment projects are also bringing 1,900 jobs to rural Alabama, with communities such as Courtland, Selma, Greenville, Fayette and Cusseta poised for enhanced economic growth.

“We’re confident that the momentum we’ve achieved will continue to reap benefits for Alabama’s rural areas throughout 2023 and beyond,” Secretary Canfield said.

“The state’s rural communities are ripe for growth, and we will continue to work to ensure they are equipped to compete for — and win — the high-impact growth projects that make a real difference.”

The Alabama Department of Commerce’s 2022 Rural Economic Development Impact Report, being released today, provides details about 43 growth projects that located last year in the state’s 40 “targeted” counties, all with fewer than 50,000 residents.

The results reflect a continuing uptick in economic development project activity in these counties. Since 2020, communities in rural Alabama have been selected for growth projects involving $4 billion in investment and 5,500 anticipated jobs, according to Commerce data.

The 2022 Report indicates the new investment is being made in a wide range of industries across rural Alabama, including auto parts manufacturing, metals fabrication, aviation and forest products.

Highlights include:

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc., the largest U.S.-based manufacturer of solar panels, plans to build a $1.1 billion factory with 700 workers in Lawrence County, the largest investment project to land in a rural county in recent years.

Valdosta, Georgia-based Advanced ATC is rolling out a remote air traffic control tower center at Selma’s Craig Field that aims to revolutionize air space management in the U.S. through its technology to serve multiple airports from one location.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Ecore International, which transforms reclaimed materials into high-performance flooring products, is investing $25.5 million to open a state-of-the-art manufacturing and recycling facility in Ozark, where it will create 84 jobs.

Secretary Canfield said project announcements for rural Alabama so far in 2023 indicate the trend is set to continue.

Earlier this year, Resicum International announced plans to open an aviation training academy at Craig Field that will prepare the next generation of industry professionals from around the world. The project in Selma will create 70 jobs.

Also, Samkee Corp., a major South Korean auto supplier, announced plans to invest $128 million to open its first U.S. factory in Macon County with a project that will create 170 jobs in Tuskegee.

“Working with our allies across the state, we made significant progress last year toward our goal of fully unlocking the growth potential of rural Alabama,” Secretary Canfield said.

“We aim to accelerate that progress.”

JOBS IMPACT

Thanks to the First Solar factory project, Lawrence County led Alabama’s rural counties in both new investment ($1.15 billion) and job creation (717 new positions) during 2022, according to Commerce’s 2022 Rural Economic Development Report.

Crenshaw was No. 2 for new investment last year, with $133 million; it was followed by Dale ($122 million), Geneva ($104 million) and Chambers ($101 million).

With 180 new positions, Geneva was second for job creation last year, followed by Dallas (179), Chambers (146) and Butler (104).

The Report also shows that foreign direct investment continues to spur economic growth in rural parts of the state.

Between 2015 and 2021, Alabama’s rural counties attracted almost $1.9 billion in FDI through growth projects with over 4,200 job commitments, according to Alabama Department of Commerce data. Last year, rural Alabama received an additional $179 million in FDI through projects that will create another 260 jobs.

This investment has primarily flowed from countries such as South Korea, Canada, Japan and Germany.

Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the results outlined in the Report send a strong signal that the state’s rural communities are well positioned for corporate investment projects of all types and sizes.

“Corporate decision-makers around the world are increasingly gravitating towards the business advantages present in Alabama’s rural communities,” Tuck said.

“The word is out — rural Alabama is home to high-performance companies operating in a diverse array of industries, and all these new growth projects will strengthen that reputation.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

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