By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, economic development activity across Alabama in 2020 generated close to $5 billion in new capital investment and almost 10,000 job commitments, Governor Kay Ivey announced this week.
With significant growth projects recorded in key strategic industrial sectors, Governor Ivey said the activity will strengthen the foundations of Alabama’s economy and help accelerate the recovery that is taking place across the state.
“While 2020 was far from being a normal year, Alabama’s economic development efforts made a steady and important contribution to the state’s growth prospects,” Governor Ivey said.
“Companies from around the world continue to find all the ingredients they need for success right here in Alabama.”
The 2020 New and Expanding Industry Report, being released today, indicates that 230 economic development projects were completed last year, resulting in $4.8 billion in new capital investment and 9,466 new jobs. The annual report is compiled each year by the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Working diligently to overcome obstacles, Alabama’s economic development team managed to bring home solid results last year that will help advance the state’s economic revival,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Looking ahead, the economic development pipeline for 2021 continues to flow with high-caliber projects that are poised to bring new opportunities to Alabama,” he added.
The 2020 report shows that significant projects were launched in traditional Alabama industries, including steelmaking and mining.
AM/NS Calvert, for example, announced plans for a $775 million electric arc steelmaking facility at its mill near Mobile, creating 200 jobs. Warrior Met Coal, meanwhile, is developing a new $529 million underground mine in Tuscaloosa County with 359 new jobs.
During 2020, there was robust activity in the distribution and logistics sector, with large-scale projects from companies including ALDI, Amazon, Dollar General, Lowe’s Home Improvement and FedEx. Altogether, these projects involve over $500 million in new capital investment and the creation of at least 2,000 jobs in the state.
Alabama’s auto sector continues to attract new investment, including more than $1.6 billion in 2020 projects generating 2,600 new job commitments.
Significant projects included Mazda Toyota Manufacturing’s additional $830 million investment in its Huntsville assembly plant, set to open this year, and Mercedes-Benz’s $54 million logistics center in Tuscaloosa County to support electric vehicle production, beginning next year.
Despite the pandemic, Alabama’s rural counties also recorded a high level of project activity, with nearly $615 million in new capital investment and 1,940 jobs commitments announced for the state’s 40 “targeted” counties.
Major projects locating in rural counties during 2020 included:
- Resource Fiber is opening a facility in Sulligent to manufacture bamboo nail laminated timbers and bamboo rail ties, creating 111 jobs in Lamar County.
- Coastal Growers LLC is constructing an $87 million peanut shelling plant in Atmore, creating over 100 jobs and positioning the Escambia County city as a central hub for farmers needing that resource.
- Canada’s Pinnacle Renewable Energy is teaming with two Alabama companies to construct a $95 million industrial wood pellet plant in Demopolis that will create at least 45 jobs in Marengo County.
Foreign direct investment continues to flow into Alabama, the report indicates. Companies from 13 different countries announced plans to invest a combined $2.7 billion in Alabama during 2020, resulting in the creation of 2,700 jobs.
The report shows that Jefferson County was tops for job creation through economic development projects in 2020, with 1,211 jobs. Rounding out the Top 5 counties were Lee, Tuscaloosa, Cullman and Madison.
Limestone County led the way in new capital investment, with 2020 projects worth more than $1.1 billion. Other leaders were Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Lee.
“Right now, there are many exciting developments unfolding across Alabama that showcase next-level innovation, highlight the extraordinary capabilities of our workers and inject additional horsepower into the state’s evolving economy,” Secretary Canfield said.
“While there is still healing to be done, sparks of vitality are flashing in many sectors of Alabama’s economy.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.