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‘Working for Alabama’ signed into law as state sets course for economic, workforce growth

After a landmark legislative effort across both the Alabama House and Senate, identified as a top priority in Governor Kay Ivey’s 2024 State of the State address, leaders celebrated the signing of six bills that make up the “Working for Alabama” plan.

The package is set to address a major vulnerability in Alabama’s workforce and economy: Almost half of the state’s working-age individuals are neither employed nor seeking to participate in the workforce, reflected by one of the lowest labor force participation rates in the nation.

State leaders across government, business and education set out to study the challenge in recent years to provide a comprehensive solution that includes childcare, housing, economic development, and a streamlined approach to workforce development. On Thursday, the final day of the 2024 legislative session, leaders put that plan into place.

“Our state leaders over the past few years have taken up several ambitious challenges to address Alabama’s top areas of need,” said Governor Ivey.

“And the results are paying out in dividends. From broadband to infrastructure to The Game Plan we passed last year and now, Working for Alabama, we have come together to put Alabama first and have paved the way for a stronger economy and a better quality of life for all Alabamians.”

RELATED: ‘Working for Alabama’ to power up state workforce, economy with legislative package

All told, Governor Ivey signed the Alabama Workforce Transformation Act, the Alabama Growth Alliance Act, the Alabama Career Pathways Act, the Childcare Tax Credit, the Housing Tax Credit and legislation to create research and development corridors:

The core piece of legislation, the Alabama Workforce Transformation Act, will merge, consolidate, and streamline duplicative workforce development agencies and programs under a central agency, making way for strong collaboration among employers, agencies, and educational institutions.

Joining Governor Ivey was Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and BCA President Helena Duncan.

RELATED: Working for Alabama: Lawmakers advance bills to position state workforce, economy for gains

“Growing Alabama’s economy and creating more long-lasting, high-paying, 21st century jobs ranks high among my top priorities,” said Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth.

“That is why I created the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce and asked members of the legislature and business community to work together in identifying our biggest obstacles and finding workable solutions. Signing the Working for Alabama package into law, represents a strong step toward more jobs, opportunities and prosperity for everyone who calls our state home.”

One area of need identified by the study group on labor force participation rate is the availability of affordable childcare, which is a barrier to entry for thousands of Alabamians.

RELATED: Ledbetter: Working for Alabama serves job-seekers, employers, families, and the next generation

The Childcare Tax Credit establishes tax credits for employers providing on-site childcare or stipends for childcare expenses, alongside credits for childcare facilities and donors contributing to nonprofit childcare providers.

“Alabama’s economy is growing at a historic pace, but that doesn’t mean we can hang our hats on yesterday’s success – we have to keep pushing forward,” said Speaker Ledbetter.

“The Working for Alabama package is the result of state leaders being keenly aware of what’s standing between Alabama and its full potential. The House Labor Shortage Study Group identified the lack of affordable childcare and housing as two of the most prevalent barriers keeping Alabamians sidelined from the workforce. I have no doubt that our action on these two issues, as well as the other key areas of this package, will help Alabama families and our economy thrive like never before.”

RELATED: Legislative leaders discuss ambitious workforce and economic development package

Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed said Alabama needs to streamline its strategies to better compete against other states in economic development and job recruitment. He carried the Alabama Growth Alliance Act, establishing a public-private partnership to routinely review and refine the state’s economic development strategy with a coordinated, regularly updated plan.

“Our state has positioned itself to be a national economic and workforce development leader for years to come. The investment made by the legislation passed in the Working for Alabama package will pay huge dividends for Alabamians, and we are proud of work done to maximize our efforts to incentivize businesses and industry to choose Alabama,” said Senate President Pro Tem Reed.

“Because of the investments and resources outlined in this legislative package, families and businesses across our state will grow and thrive and Alabama will remain the best place to call home.”

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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