Governor Ivey to Alabama Economic Developers: “The Momentum is on Our Side”
Alabama’s two top economic development leaders have urged the state’s economic developers to continue to evolve and move forward to help maintain the momentum Alabama has enjoyed in landing and expanding industry. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield addressed the 2018 Summer Conference of the Alabama Economic Development Association Monday. Both had something to brag about.
Alabama’s economy has roared since the Great Recession a few years ago to post the lowest unemployment rate in state history and some of the biggest names in business now have – or will soon – have major operations in the state.
Unemployment in Alabama in October 2009 was 11.8%. In May 2018, it was 3.9%.
Alabama’s gross domestic product (a measure of total economic output) was 2.5% in 2009. In 2017, it was 3.3%.
In 2017, the state announced economic development projects with $4.4 billion in capital investments that will create approximately 15,456 jobs.
Monday, AIDTthe state’s main manpower training department, said it was working on a record 135 projects with 30,000 jobs.
“Times have improved. The strategy is paying off,” Canfield said. “But we’re not where we want to be yet.”
Ivey credited local economic developers across the state with helping achieve success.
“These jobs are in big cities like Mobile and Birmingham, but they’re also in smaller cities like Brewton and Bridgeport,” she said.
“We celebrated announcements and grand openings with companies like google and Facebook and Boeing and with some growing companies, like Kimber Guns and Coach. All of you, the momentum is on our side and I want Alabama to be every company’s first choice for location.
Ivey said CEOs of companies around the world have told him they succeed in Alabama because of the quality and productivity of their employees in the state. Part of maintaining the momentum the governor has spoken about is directing economic development toward the jobs and businesses of the future.
“We really focus a lot on technology and innovation, growing entrepreneurship,” he said. “It’s really about building the knowledge economy in Alabama that will support the industry that is here.”
Canfield said the state is about to get a major tool to work with in this regard.
“EPSCoR is setting up and is about to launch a searchable digital database for business developers, consultants, and site companies who want to know where they can link their product development and own in-house research to that of public universities or private research institutes, they can actually go to this database and if they want to find something like who’s doing research right now on composite materials, who’s doing research on nickel alloys in the aerospace sector, which does additive manufacturing and powder alloy research in technology development? They can actually come in and be linked to the specific researchers who are doing this work, not just at the academic level, but at the researcher level,” Canfield said.
“So at the state level we will be able to provide that connectivity. This will really help us take economic development to the next level. »
Canfield’s optimism is due, in part, to education at all levels of the state (K-12, community colleges and universities) as well as worker training initiatives working closely together to complement each other. .
“I think the state has never been better aligned in terms of workforce readiness,” he said. “This terminology really includes everything from education – the academic side of education, but also skills development and certifications – anything that is industry-specific, industry-recognized, and provides Alabamians with the right tools needed to be able to do the right job.”
With this alignment, Ivey wants to ensure that worker education and training anticipates needs.
“We have a great workforce, but we need to keep the pipeline full of trained people with higher skills to fill the jobs we know are coming, and some of them are already there,” Ivey said.
Many of these next generation jobs will be in aerospace. Ivey said recent efforts by the state delegation to Farnborough International Air Show are chargeable.
“Even more good news may be on the horizon for Alabama,” she said. “I’m proud of what Airbus and Bomber are in the process of finalizing their plans to create a second assembly line in Mobile for the A220 series. And also, Leonardo is still in the running to win the contract of the United States Air Force to build the T-100 trainers. All of you, if Leonardo succeeds and gets this contract, there will be 750 new jobs in Macon County. It’s enormous.
Canfield, too, is hoping for state chances on the T-100 coach.
“So excited to hear positive news for Tuskegee and Macon County,” he said.
Ivey said watching Alabamians get well-paying jobs is the real goal of economic development.
“All this good news gives me a lot of hope for our good condition,” she said. “We all want Alabamians to be able to achieve their dreams, live in a safe environment, have a quality of life, and create a reputation for the State of Alabama that is envied around the world.”