Business Report: A Rising Tide Of New Jobs, Investment Rolls Into Alabama

By Johnathan Sanders
From the May/June 2014 issue

Companies launching operations in Alabama or expanding existing facilities in the state announced nearly 17,000 new jobs and more than $4.4 billion in capital investment during 2013, according to a report by Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce.

The 2013 New & Expanding Industries Report outlines another solid year of economic development activity in Alabama, with 445 projects in sectors such as automotive, aerospace, chemicals, metals and technology. The activity resulted in 16,847 announced jobs across Alabama last year, according to the report.

BentleySince 2011, a total of 54,942 new Alabama jobs have been announced, along with $13.9 billion in new investment over the three years. That compares to 47,061 announced jobs and $8.6 billion in investment during 2008-2010.

Alabama’s economic development efforts in 2014 have gotten off to a strong start, with Remington Outdoor Co. announcing plans in February for a $110 million Huntsville manufacturing plant with more than 2,000 jobs.

“We have made significant progress over the last three years to create well-paying jobs for the people of Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “More companies are choosing Alabama because we have the right business climate, low taxes and the best trained workforce of any state in the country. Thanks to the plan we put in place three years ago, Accelerate Alabama, we are targeting the industries we know can be successful in Alabama. We will not stop our efforts to recruit new companies and help companies expand in Alabama.”

Significant projects announced during 2013 reflect the march of Alabama’s economy toward knowledge-based jobs and advanced manufacturing. Aerospace giant Boeing Co., for example, announced plans last year to establish a $6 million research and technology center in Huntsville with 350 jobs, many of them engineering positions.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s auto industry continued to expand in 2013, with Mercedes-Benz announcing plans for a $70 million logistics hub with 500 new jobs on its Tuscaloosa County complex. Honda, Hyundai and Toyota all made large investments last year in their Alabama operations, and dozens of auto suppliers announced new operations or expansions in the state.

“The projects announced in Alabama during 2013 reflect the impressive diversity of the state’s advanced manufacturing sector, while also showing that Alabama’s capabilities in research and engineering continue to expand,” Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said. “Increasingly, products are not just made in Alabama, they also are engineered and designed in Alabama.”

The New & Expanding Industries Report shows that 62 companies announced new operations in Alabama last year, bringing a total of 5,179 jobs and $2 billion in capital investment to the state. Another 383 companies announced expansions in Alabama, involving 11,668 jobs and nearly $2.4 billion in investment.

The top-ranking county for capital investment in 2013 was Mobile, with $1.4 billion. Other top-ranking counties were Montgomery, $333 million; Morgan, $327.2 million; Madison, $266.5 million; and Lee, $231.3 million.

The top-ranking county for new job announcements in 2013 was Jefferson, with projects creating 1,755 positions. Other top-ranking counties were Madison, 1,602 job announcements; Montgomery, 1,176; Tuscaloosa, 1,164; and DeKalb, 882.