By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
Gov. Kay Ivey announced recently that companies locating new facilities in Alabama or expanding existing operations invested $8.7 billion in growth projects during 2018, establishing a new annual record for the state.
These economic development projects, outlined in the comprehensive 2018 New & Expanding Industry Report released recently, will generate an anticipated 17,000 new jobs in communities across the state.
“By attracting this historic total for new capital investment in 2018, Alabama is showing the world that it is a prime location for business and that our skilled workers can handle every challenge,” Ivey said.
“Companies from around the globe want to be part of the gold standard brand that is known as ‘Made in Alabama.’”
The 2018 New & Expanding Industry Report, compiled by the Alabama Department of Commerce, provides a detailed look at the results of 357 economic development projects successfully completed across the state during the year.
Key findings in the report include:
- Growth in important industry sectors including automotive and aerospace remained strong in 2018, creating momentum for future gains. Other sectors, particularly forest products, also charted a growth trajectory.
- Alabama attracted foreign direct investment approaching $4.2 billion last year from companies in 16 countries, generating 7,565 new and future jobs. Japanese companies led the way, with $1.8 billion in investment and 4,245 jobs.
- Companies announced 2018 projects involving more than $1.1 billion in new investment and 1,128 jobs in Alabama’s rural, or “targeted” counties, making them eligible for enhanced incentives. Bibb County will become home to 337 new jobs, tops among these counties.
- Limestone County was the leader in new investment and job creation through projects in 2018, with $1.7 billion in announced investment and 4,172 new jobs. The auto assembly plant being built by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA in Huntsville accounts for most of those totals.
“The high level of economic development activity in 2018 sets the stage for sustained growth and expanded opportunity across Alabama,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“This success solidifies my belief that we are building a more dynamic economy in Alabama and creating a pathway to greater prosperity for its citizens.”
Alabama’s auto industry recorded an especially strong year for growth, highlighted by the Mazda-Toyota partnership’s decision to locate a coveted joint assembly plant in Huntsville. The project represents a $1.6 billion investment and the creation of 4,000 direct jobs.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz launched construction on a battery assembly plant in Bibb County that will create 325 jobs and facilitate production of Alabama-built electric vehicles. Hyundai and Honda also announced expansion projects in 2018, while several suppliers selected Alabama locations for their growth plans.
Other significant projects included:
- Airbus will open a second assembly line at its Mobile manufacturing facility for the production of A220 aircraft, reinforcing the Port City’s status as aviation production hub. The $264 million project will create 430 jobs.
- Reflecting a strategic push to recruit technology-focused jobs, Amazon and Facebook both announced major projects in Alabama. Also, Birmingham-based Shipt announced plans to hire 880 workers.
- Rural counties benefited from activity in the forest products sector, with Westervelt, Rex Lumber and Great Southern Wood all announcing plans for new Alabama production facilities, creating a combined 335 direct jobs.
Along with Limestone, the top Alabama counties for new capital investment in 2018 were Madison, with $1.1 billion, and Tuscaloosa, with $670 million. In job creation, Jefferson was No. 2, with 3,421 anticipated jobs, and Madison was No. 3, with 1,043 jobs.
Both the investment and job-creation figures for Alabama in 2018 exceed the totals for the previous year.
The previous annual record for new capital investment from economic development projects was $7.1 billion, set in 2015, according to Alabama Department of Commerce data.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.