Alabama Ups Its Game

Home to some of the biggest names in the auto industry, the state has introduced “The Game Plan” to support economic development.

By Roneshia Thomas
From the May / June 2023 Issue

In 2022, more than 13,000 jobs were generated across the state of Alabama according to the Department of Commerce’s annual report. That was a 3,000 job increase from 2021. In addition to exponential job creation across the state, Alabama topped its record of capital investment set in 2018 with a total of $10.1 billion.

“Strategic economic development has been a top priority of my administration since I first became governor because I fully understand the impact it can have on our citizens, their families, and their communities,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

Alabama Game Plan
(Photo: Adobe Stock/sframe)

 

With Alabama’s skilled workforce and commitment to upskilling the current workforce, it has become an attractive location to manufacturing companies which is important to the “The Game Plan.” Governor Ivey recently signed “The Game Plan” into law, which is four economic development bills that aim to strengthen the state’s competitiveness for job-creating projects.

The first is the Enhancing Alabama’s Economic Progress Act, which renews the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama program and extends the closing dates to 2028 while adding strategic enhancements to increase effectiveness.

The Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy Act (SEEDS) allows the State Industrial Development Authority to speed up the development of industry-ready sites.

“The Game Plan will give Alabama’s team the tools needed to extend our winning record in economic development and help us unleash a new wave of growth and innovation across the state.”
— Governor Kay Ivey

The Innovation and Small Business Act aims to supercharge growth in the state’s innovation economy and support underrepresented businesses and enterprises in rural areas. This will set the state up to be a hub for technology and innovation.

The Enhancing Transparency Act amends the Jobs Act to require the Alabama Department of Commerce to publish certain incentivized project information online. Transparency around important information related to companies receiving incentives will serve a valid public service and increase confidence in the process.

“The Game Plan will give Alabama’s team the tools needed to extend our winning record in economic development and help us unleash a new wave of growth and innovation across the state,” Gov. Ivey said.

The jobs that will be created by these projects will pay a figure that is 31% more than the state’s median wage, according to Commerce data. The hardworking workforce is only one of the many reasons companies are drawn to Alabama.

Gadsden-Etowah Has Wide Open Spaces, A Robust Workforce

Looking for 1,100 acres of land, adjacent to Interstate I-59, with a 100-acre shovel-ready pad, and Norfolk Southern main line rail? Then the Northeast Alabama Regional Megasite (NEAR) is for you. The Etowah County Commission, the sole owner of the property, is ready to negotiate.

Too large a site? Then consider one of four 100-acre sites located 10 miles away and adjacent to the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport.

Or, maybe you want to be an entrepreneur?

Sound interesting? Welcome to Etowah County, Alabama and its eight cities: Gadsden the largest and the county seat, Rainbow City, Attalla, Southside, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Reece City, and Sardis City.

Alabama
Gadsden boasts 1,100 acres of land, adjacent to Interstate I-59, with a 100-acre shovel-ready pad and access to the Norfolk Southern main line rail. (Photo: Gadsden-Etowah IDA)

 

Located strategically in the center of the southeast automotive industry the City of Gadsden is the county seat of Etowah County and is an hour northeast of Birmingham and located centrally between Huntsville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The City of Gadsden’s location is ideal for any manufacturer because of its proximity to OEMs and key transportation networks, interstate, air, and rail.

Transportation, workforce, and quality of life make Gadsden the perfect industrial location for any advanced manufacturing company. Etowah County is located less than a two-hour drive to Honda, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Mazda-Toyota.  There is an additional workforce of 401,439 people living within a 60-mile radius of Gadsden’s airport.

The City of Gadsden has been at the forefront of workforce development for the last decade. With the booming manufacturing industry in Alabama, everything from the automotive to the agricultural industry needs skilled workers and support in adopting new advanced manufacturing practices. For this reason, Gadsden is constantly exploring new methods and projects that can accelerate economic development and growth in the community.

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Gadsden is also supported by many other organizations across Alabama that aid in the development of advanced manufacturing. Groups like Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) provide training with state-of-the-art equipment that prepares workers for the ever-changing industry. Other organizations like the Alabama Technology Network and Gadsden State Community College provide engineering services and other assessment tools to allow Gadsden to develop and maintain a thriving workforce.

The latest community project in the effort to improve and expand the quality of the workforce is a new facility known as The Venue2. The Venue2 is a coworking and event space. It is designed to spur innovation in the community and host events related to community development. The facility will provide office space to allow people in the community to have a physical address to work from at a reduced cost. The space will also allow startup companies a location to grow and collaborate. The main mission of The Venue2 is to grow the healthcare industry in Gadsden and Etowah County by bringing innovation into the sector. Venue2 also sits near Gadsden State Community College, and the two will work together in providing students with training programs needed to grow the healthcare industry. With The Venue2 project, Gadsden looks to foster a new set of emerging businesses and allow economic development in the city to adapt and grow into the future.

Visit gadsdenida.org for more information.