By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday that economic development activity across Alabama last year generated $7.1 billion in pledged capital investment and 13,454 job commitments, providing a potential spark for economic revival once the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic ease.

Ivey said the results include strategic investments that reflect long-term growth plans in Alabama by major global companies, which can help the state regain momentum amid the nationwide economic downturn.

“While the coronavirus crisis has ushered in a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses, we believe that Alabama’s economic foundations remain strong and resilient,” she said.

“I’m confident that the robust economic development activity we recorded in 2019 will help spur growth as we move forward on the road to full recovery.”

Fostering relationships

The $7.103 billion in new capital investment announced in 2019 represents one of the most productive years for Alabama’s economic development team, just trailing the $7.147 billion in new investment registered in 2015. The record for new capital investment through economic development — $8.7 billion — was set in 2018.

The 2019 New & Expanding Industry Report, recently released, provides a comprehensive look at the 323 economic development projects completed across the state last year.

The Alabama Department of Commerce compiles the report each year.

“Our economic development strategy is centered on developing longstanding relationships with high-performing companies so that they will put down roots in the state and grow through expansions over many years,” Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said.

“Those relationships will be key as the broader economy returns to a growth trajectory.”

Canfield said Alabama’s economic development team continues to work with companies based in the U.S. and abroad that could include the state in growth initiatives in the future.


Toyota’s plant in Huntsville produces about 2,500 engines a day, five times the number it produced when the facility opened in 2003. (Toyota)

Key findings in the 2019 New & Expanding Industry Report include:

  • Growth in critical industry sectors including automotive and aerospace remained strong in 2019, building on strategic investments initiated in recent years. Large-scale projects were announced last year by companies such as Lockheed MartinHyundaiToyota and a host of suppliers to Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA.
  • Alabama attracted foreign direct investment topping $3.1 billion in 2019 from companies based in 19 countries, generating 4,938 new and future jobs. South Korean and Japanese companies contributed the most foreign investment last year, primarily related to growth in Alabama’s auto industry.
  • Alabama’s rural or “targeted” counties attracted $905 million in new capital investment in 2019. These projects are expected to create 1,842 jobs. Barbour County will become home to 294 new jobs, tops among targeted counties.

The report shows that Madison County was the leader in new capital investment related to economic development projects in 2019, with $1.3 billion. Just behind were Montgomery, with $1 billion, and Limestone, with $626 million.

Limestone County led the way in job creation, with 1,931 job commitments through projects completed in 2019. Madison was No. 2, with 1,666 anticipated jobs, and Montgomery was No. 3, with 1,221 jobs.

“Despite all the challenges present today, we remain committed to fostering long-term economic growth across Alabama, and we will continue to energetically pursue high-value projects to spark job growth and create opportunities for our citizens,” Ivey said.

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