Growing Ready Sites In Alabama

With $30 million approved under the recent Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) Act, industry-ready sites across the state are under development. 

By Anne Cosgrove
From the May / June 2024 Issue

 

In February, Governor Kay Ivey announced that the Alabama State Industrial Development Authority (SIDA) had approved more than $30 million in grants under the new Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy Act (SEEDS) to speed the development of much-needed industry-ready sites across the state. This grant program — a key portion of the governor’s “Game Plan” package of economic development bills approved by the Legislature in 2023—takes aim at the urgent need for quality industrial sites in Alabama at a time when other states are spending heavily to expand their site programs.

“By enabling proactive site improvements that will minimize risk to future investment projects, these SEEDS Act grants will directly improve Alabama’s ability to compete for economic development projects on a national scale.”

— Cedric Colbert, Senior Consultant, GLS

A total of $30.1 million in SEEDS funding will be matched with $38.4 million in local funds at 29 different industrial sites across the state, encompassing nearly 8,400 acres.

“SEEDS represents an important tool that will allow us to keep winning those economic development projects that trigger lasting impacts for Alabama citizens,” said Gov. Ivey. “The awarding of the first grants under the program represents a milestone in our efforts to make sure Alabama remains competitive for game-changing growth projects.”

SIDA has contracted with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) to administer the SEEDS grant programs.

industrial sites In Alabama
(Credit: Alabama Dept. of Commerce)

 

Global Location Strategies (GLS), a site selection and incentive negotiation firm, assisted in the evaluation process. “Over the past 10 years, economic development projects in Alabama have resulted in the creation of over 167,000 new jobs and $67 billion in capital investment. To maintain this level of success, it is crucial that Alabama communities continuously work to identify, assess, and develop their inventory of sites toward investment-readiness,” said Cedric Colbert, Senior Consultant at GLS.

“By enabling proactive site improvements that will minimize risk to future investment projects, these SEEDS Act grants will directly improve Alabama’s ability to compete for economic development projects on a national scale,” he added.

The approved SEEDs grants will help facilitate the development of industrial sites in both large Alabama cities and small, rural communities. Both large-scale sites and smaller industrial parks will benefit from funding. For example, a site must be least 50 acres and owned by a local economic development organization to receive a site assessment grant. The organization must match the grant funds under certain conditions. For a site development grant, many of the same conditions exist, except that the site must be 75 contiguous acres.

SEEDS Act Funds Are Planted Around Alabama

In Etowah County, the Northeast Alabama Regional Mega-Site (NEAR) is one location that has procured SEEDS funding. The Etowah County Commission began acquiring land for an industrial park in 2008, and collaborated beginning in 2015 with the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority to develop the property as an industrial megasite.

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When the SEEDS Act funding became available in 2023, the Commission applied for a grant. In early 2024, it was awarded $4.6 million. The SEEDS funding, combined with a $3.45 million local match from American Rescue Plan funds, enables the county to fully connect water service to the 1,100-acre site and extend sewer lines.

And, in the northwest corner of the state, SEEDS Act funding is supporting existing growth in Mobile, AL. In February, the Mobile Airport Authority was awarded $2 million in grant funds to be used toward the purchase of 272 acres adjacent to the Mobile International Airport site at Brookley for light industrial development. The property is owned by the Mobile Housing Authority.

The anticipated expansion of Mobile’s air capabilities due to the SEEDS Act grant, coupled with existing activities at the Port of Mobile in the city sets the stage for continued growth. 

Check out all the latest news related to Alabama economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.

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