Report: 2021 growth projects bringing Alabama $7.7 billion in new investment

Report: 2021 growth projects bringing Alabama $7.7 billion in new investment
Officials break ground for an Alabama Graphite Products plant in Kellyton. (contributed)

Economic development activity across Alabama surged during 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey said, with a new report showing that projects launched during the year will inject $7.7 billion in capital investment and bring almost 10,200 jobs into the state’s strengthening economy.

The project activity is outlined in the 2021 New & Expanding Industry Report, a comprehensive analysis of the state’s economic development performance published each year by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

The department said the $7.74 billion in new capital investment stemming from project announcements last year represents the second-highest annual total in state history, trailing only the $8.7 billion registered in 2018. The investment figure for 2020 was $4.8 billion.

“Last year, the Alabama economic development team engaged with companies from around the world to lay the groundwork for significant growth in key strategic industrial sectors,” Ivey said.

“These projects are already creating good-paying jobs, providing an economic spark for families and communities across Alabama.”

‘High-impact projects’

The report, released May 5, shows that robust project activity took place in major economic sectors during 2021, triggering broad job gains totaling 10,190 new positions. Job creation in key industries includes:

  • Distribution/logistics: 2,384 jobs.
  • Automotive: 1,426 jobs.
  • Metals: 1,100 jobs.
  • Information technology: 1,011 jobs.
  • Agriculture and food products: 919 jobs.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the state’s economic development team completed 247 projects across a diverse lineup of industries last year.

“I believe 2021 stands out as a pivotal year for Alabama’s strategic economic development efforts because we delivered high-impact projects that will create meaningful job opportunities and prepare a path for long-term economic growth,” Canfield said. “Looking ahead, a strong project pipeline makes me confident that our team can build on this momentum throughout 2022 and beyond.”

Notable successes during 2021 include the recruitment of Landing, a technology-focused company creating a model for flexible apartment living, which relocated its headquarters from San Francisco to Birmingham, where it is creating more than 800 jobs.

Another is the J.M. Smucker Co. decision to invest $1.1 billion to open a new manufacturing/distribution hub in McCalla, which will generate 750 direct jobs in Jefferson County.

Other high-performing companies, including Facebook, Amazon and FedEx, also announced Alabama projects in 2021.

Rural activity

Meanwhile, activity in rural Alabama was strong during 2021, with projects involving almost $1.7 billion in new capital investment and 1,638 jobs landing in designated “targeted” counties, which have fewer than 50,000 residents.

Over the past two years, Alabama’s rural counties have attracted $2.3 billion in new investment and more than 3,600 jobs, according to Commerce data.

During 2021, Franklin, Chambers and Clay counties all recorded projects that will create more than 170 jobs each, ranking them at the top of the state’s rural counties.

At the same time, Alabama remained a magnet for foreign direct investment in 2021, with 44 projects valued at $1.1 billion and projected to create more than 1,700 jobs, according to the report.

South Korea was Alabama’s leading foreign investor, with companies announcing projects involving $325.5 million in new investment and 865 jobs last year. Lee County was a prime beneficiary, with five Korean companies launching expansion projects valued at $216 million that will create 370 jobs.

Jefferson County was the leader for job creation last year, with 2,303 anticipated jobs stemming from new projects. Other county leaders were Limestone, Montgomery, Lee and Madison.

Madison County was tops for new investment, with announcements totaling $2.4 billion, according to the report. Rounding out the Top 5 counties for new investment were Jefferson, Coosa, Lee and Clarke.

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

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