Alabama ranks among top states for business in new site selectors survey

Alabama ranks among top states for business in new site selectors survey
Gov. Kay Ivey celebrated an announcement that Wellborn Cabinet is launching growth plans that will ultimately create more than 200 jobs at the company’s plant in rural Clay County. (Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

National publication Area Development reports that a survey of site selection professionals again ranked Alabama among the top states for business, citing a range of factors that contribute to an inviting growth environment.

Alabama ranks No. 6 overall in the magazine’s 2021 “Top States for Doing Business” analysis, same as the previous year. The showing continues a long run in the survey’s Top 10 that reflects Alabama’s longstanding emphasis on facilitating economic growth and job creation.

In addition, Alabama earned Top 10 rankings in 10 out of 13 individual categories in the area development survey, spanning the spectrum of critical economic development issues.

“High-performing companies from around the world have discovered that Alabama provides a favorable business environment, a motivated workforce and a support system that helps foster success,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “These high rankings indicate that Alabama offers the advantages sought by companies when executing their growth plans.”

Area Development’s 2021 “Top States for Doing Business” rankings reflect the results of a recent survey asking leading consultants to industry to provide top state picks in 13 categories that influence companies’ location and facility plans.

The states in each category were ranked based on their number of mentions in the particular category, and total mentions in all 13 categories were calculated to rank the top 20 states overall.

Alabama’s booming auto industry was born in the 1990s with the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County. The company’s Alabama operations continue to grow steadily. (contributed)

High marks

Canfield said Alabama’s individual Top 10 category rankings reflect the state’s comprehensive approach to economic development:

  • Speed of Permitting – No. 1.
  • Overall Cost of Doing Business – No. 2.
  • Business Incentives – No. 3.
  • Favorable Regulatory Environment – No. 3.
  • Workforce Development Programs – No. 5.
  • Cooperative and Responsive State Government – No. 6.
  • Available Real Estate – No. 7.
  • Site Readiness Programs – No. 8.
  • Energy Availability and Costs – No. 8.
  • Competitive Labor Environment – No. 9.

Writing in Area Development, consultant Alexandra Segers of Tochi Advisors noted that auto industry projects are driving growth in many Southern states, including Alabama. In 2020, companies in the automobile manufacturing sector announced plans to invest more than $1.6 billion in Alabama projects, creating more than 2,600 jobs, according to estimates.

“The auto industry is booming and lots of supplier projects are also happening,” Segers writes. “Why are such projects selecting these regions? These states offer a business-friendly environment, competitive utility rates, availability of skilled labor, excellent training programs and fast permitting processes. As projects have to be realized much faster than in the past, an easy regulatory environment is very attractive to clients.”

Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing is the latest major auto manufacturing plant built in Alabama. (contributed)

The Area Development rankings align with a productive year for Alabama’s economic development team, which overcame the substantial challenges posed by the pandemic to attract projects with almost $5 billion in new capital investment during 2020.

These projects will create an anticipated 10,000 jobs across the state and inject economic vitality into many communities, according to an analysis prepared by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

In June, Area Development magazine selected Alabama for its Gold Shovel Award for economic development success in manufacturing during 2020. Alabama was one of three states to claim the award.

Alabama’s ability to overcome the complex economic development challenges posed by the pandemic also recently earned the state a Top 10 ranking in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cups analysis.

Additionally, Alabama in July earned the No. 5 spot in Business Facilities magazine’s flagship business climate ranking, while also earning high marks for workforce training, manufacturing employment and output, and the horsepower of the state’s auto industry.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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