By Jerry Underwood
Made In Alabama

Alabama’s business climate ranks near the top of the states in a comprehensive new analysis released by Site Selection, a national publication that focuses on economic development.

In the magazine’s 2020 analysis, Alabama ranks No. 7, tied with Arizona and up two spots from 2019. Georgia and North Carolina share the top spot, followed by Ohio, Texas, South Carolina and Virginia. Ranking behind Alabama in the Top 10 are Kentucky and Tennessee.

“Our readers are keenly interested in our annual state business climate ranking, because they seek locations with the greatest prospects for success,” said Site Selection Editor in Chief Mark Arend.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield speaks at an August event announcing Mazda Toyota Manufacturing’s additional $830 million investment at its Huntsville assembly plant, now under construction. (contributed)

In a survey published with the rankings, workforce skills were the most important criteria to site selectors for the fifth year in a row, with workforce development programs at No. 2.

Transportation infrastructure, ease of permitting and regulatory procedures, and state and local taxes complete the top five.

“This ranking validates the diligence and resourcefulness of Alabama’s economic development team as it strives to create meaningful opportunities for the citizens in our state through strategic job-creation efforts,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“On another level, this ranking from Site Selection underscores the fact that Alabama remains a very attractive location for corporate decision-makers because of our pro-business policies, our dedicated workforce and our high-performance job-training programs,” he said.

The Site Selection ranking follows a No. 6 ranking in Area Development magazine’s 2020 “Top States for Doing Business” competition, announced in September.

AIDT, the centerpiece of Alabama’s workforce development efforts, trains job candidates for career opportunities in automotive manufacturing and other industries. Workforce skills and workforce development programs were the top two criteria listed by site selectors in a survey published by Site Selection magazine. (contributed)

Consistent growth

Atlanta-based Site Selection said 50% of the overall Business Climate Ranking is based on a survey of corporate site selectors who are asked to rank the states based on their recent experience of locating facilities in them.

The other half is based on an index of seven criteria: performance in the Site Selection annual Prosperity Cup ranking; total Conway Projects Database-compliant facilities in 2019; total new facilities in 2019 per capita; total 2020 new projects year-to-date; total 2020 projects year to date per capita; and corporate and property tax data from Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Index.

Earlier this year, Alabama’s economic development successes during 2019 earned the state a pair of Top 10 rankings in the national magazine’s annual Governor’s Cups analysis.

Alabama ranked No. 6 among the states in projects per capita, a measurement that places smaller states on a more level playing field in the Site Selection analysis. The state’s per capita ranking in 2018 was 14th.

Alabama ranked No. 9 among all states for 2019 economic development projects that met the criteria of the Site Selection analysis, with 150 qualified projects. In 2018, Alabama ranked No. 19.

It was the first year that Alabama ranked in the Top 10 in both categories.

Between 2012 and 2019, economic development activity brought $44 billion in new capital investment to Alabama, along with 135,000 new and future jobs, according to Department of Commerce data.

Last year, new capital investment in Alabama totaled $7.1 billion, with nearly 13,500 job commitments. Read about the results here.

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