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Speaker Ledbetter: We Alabamians are the competitive edge

Alabama is blessed with countless natural resources, vibrant tourism, and internationally recognized automotive and aerospace industries, but most importantly, we are blessed with hard-working citizens.

The state’s economy is stronger than at any other time in our history, and we have an abundance of long-lasting, good-paying jobs. But while our state has already achieved remarkable milestones, Alabama is on the cusp of transforming its economy for generations to come.

Over the next four years, we need to do everything we can to position Alabama to prosper, and in order to do so, it is essential that we hit the ground running during the first session of the legislative quadrennium.

Alabama is running on the strongest track record I have seen in my lifetime, but we cannot let anything fall through the cracks. Right now, it is vital to build on our progress.

In 2015, the Alabama Legislature passed two economic development incentive programs, the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act. Thanks to these strategic efforts, Alabama has witnessed record job growth and $22 billion in new investment, and it is estimated that over the next 20 years, we will see a 173 percent return on those investments.

Now, in 2023, the Legislature stands ready to reauthorize both programs and add innovative economic development incentives to them.

Expanding incentives for site development, for example, will be fundamental to spurring economic growth in rural Alabama. In 2022, there were 10 projects in targeted, rural counties receiving Jobs Act support, and they will bring $978 million in new investment and more than 1,100 jobs to those areas.

Companies want to come here, and we are responsible for ensuring we have good sites for them to build their businesses in Alabama. All of our neighboring states have either recently enacted or aggressively renewed funding for their site development initiatives.

Through reinvestment in site development, we must do more to recruit companies to locate here and hire Alabamians. Overall, it offers our state a competitive edge over our neighboring states, but to build on our success in rural Alabama, we must prioritize investing in site development.

The numbers speak for themselves when looking at these incentives’ impact on our state and our citizens. Reauthorizing and expanding them will help Alabamians by allowing us to compete for the best jobs in the country. Industries across the country are trying to come to Alabama because of our tenacious work ethic, our low taxes, and our affordable and enjoyable quality of life. From a competition standpoint, we want to make sure that we have the tools needed to bring employers here and keep them here.

During my tenure as Speaker, I can guarantee you that the Alabama Legislature will always focus on ways to improve the jobs, education, and opportunities available to all Alabamians.

Growing Alabama’s economy through increased incentives and industry expansion is imperative to keeping our state as the best place to live and work for our citizens. The legislature is working for you, and we look forward to building on our progress.

Nathaniel Ledbetter is the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the people of District 24.

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