For the second consecutive year, Alabama ranks fourth overall among national economic development publication Area Development’s “Top States for Doing Business” and placed first in the sub-category of competitive labor costs.
“These high rankings mean that site selection consultants recognize that Alabama possesses the advantages that make the state attractive for companies looking to open new facilities or to expand their existing operations,” Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said in a prepared statement.
The state also placed fourth nationally in the survey’s key categories of both business environment and labor climate.
“We have the skilled workers, training programs and the business climate that companies need to compete and succeed,” Canfield said said.
The annual rankings survey site selection consultants, and Alabama’s strongest showings came in the automotive manufacturing and aerospace sectors, with a nod given by the publication to the state’s “long-term economic development plan known as Accelerate Alabama” and the “strength of its significant and growing accomplishments in transportation manufacturing.”
Launched in 2012, Accelerate Alabama targets 11 key industry sectors for growth and focuses on attracting new investment and high-paying jobs associated with those sectors.
Specifically, the report singles out Alabama’s automotive industry for achieving the following milestones:
The state’s three assembly plants – Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Honda in Lincoln and Hyundai in Montgomery – combined in 2013 to produce a record 915,000 vehicles.
Mercedes in recent months launched mass production of its C-Class sedan in Vance.
Toyota moved forward with a $150 million expansion of its engine plant in Huntsville.
The state’s auto-supplier sector added some 2,300 new jobs in the year ended June 30.
“They’ve done a nice job in Alabama for Mercedes,” Sean McAlinden, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., told Area Development.
Meanwhile, the growth of Alabama’s aerospace sector has not gone unnoticed by economic developers and recruiters with Area Development crediting the state as both “the traditional home of Saturn rocket manufacture during moon-shot days” and the future home of Airbus’ first A320 final assembly line on U.S. soil.
Specifically, the publication singled out Decatur’s United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin formed because the American satellite launching market wasn’t big enough to support both companies. It builds its launch vehicles – the Atlas and Delta families — at a facility employing 1,800 on the Tennessee River.
And although Airbus’ $600 million aircraft assembly plant, still under construction at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, won’t come online until summer 2015, Area Development said the project will serve to bolster an already strong engineering presence in the state.
“It will also prompt development of a supplier infrastructure, joining Boeing’s operations in the state to make Alabama one of America’s air-transportation manufacturing leaders,” the report states.
The 2014 survey results mark the fifth consecutive year Alabama has scored among Area Development’s top five states for doing business.
To read the article online, go to: http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2014/09/site_selection_experts_rank_al.html