Consultants rank Alabama among top business-friendly states

Consultants rank Alabama among top business-friendly states
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley stands next to a branded shipping crate displaying the Made in Alabama logo on the steps of the State Capitol. (Made in Alabama)

Site selection consultants surveyed by national publication Area Development rank Alabama among the top states for business, pointing to strong workforce development programs, a competitive labor environment and other pro-business factors.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield (File)
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield (File)

Alabama ranks No. 6 overall in Area Development’s 2016 “Top States for Doing Business” analysis, continuing a long streak near the top of the economic development journal’s annual rankings. The consultants scored Alabama in the Top 10 in nine categories in the 2016 analysis.

“Receiving consistently high marks from site consultants is a strong indicator that these professionals view Alabama as an attractive location for investment and expansion opportunities,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“At the same time, we are fully committed to enhancing Alabama’s competitiveness in economic development, building on improvements we’ve made to the state’s incentives platform and its workforce training programs,” Canfield added.

Leading the way

Southern states dominated Area Development’s 2016 rankings, led by Georgia at No. 1, followed by South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana. With its No. 6 overall ranking, Alabama placed ahead of Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Mississippi, which rounded out the Top 10.

The site consultants ranked Alabama high in nine of 10 categories:

  • Speed of Permitting: No. 3
  • Competitive Labor Environment: No. 5
  • Leading Workforce Development Programs: No. 5
  • Overall cost of doing business: No. 6
  • Corporate Tax Environment: No. 6
  • Business Incentive Programs: No. 6
  • Favorable Regulatory Environment: No. 6
  • Most Improved Economic Development Policies: No. 6
  • Cooperative and Responsive State Government: No. 8
The AIDT Alabama Workforce Training Center in Birmingham trains workers for construction, manufacturing and entertainment industries. (Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

Area Development singled out AIDT, an integral part of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s expanded Workforce Development division, for praise:

“And AIDT — Alabama’s leading workforce development program — has been helping to provide new and expanding industries in the state with qualified workers since the early 1970s,” the report says. “Among AIDT’s latest initiatives is the establishment of the Alabama Aviation Training Center, which is helping Airbus assemble a workforce for its aircraft assembly facility in Mobile.”

Banner year

The Area Development rankings follow a record year for Alabama’s economic development team, led by Gov. Robert Bentley.

An assembly line worker at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery builds a Santa Fe Sport. Alabama's auto industry has been a huge success story for the state. (Jamie Martin/Governor's Office)
An assembly line worker at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery builds a Santa Fe Sport. Alabama’s auto industry has been a huge success story for the state. (Jamie Martin/Governor’s Office)

During 2015, the state attracted more than $7.1 billion in new capital investment from companies announcing new facilities or expansions. These projects will create more than 19,200 new and future jobs, according to a Department of Commerce analysis.

Earlier this year, Area Development presented Alabama with a Silver Shovel award for its economic development accomplishments in 2015.

The record year also brought recognition from Business Facilities, which named Alabama its “State of the Year,” and separately touted Alabama’s workforce training programs and its auto manufacturing industry in its 2016 rankings.

In an analysis, global business service firm Ernst & Young ranked Alabama No. 5 among the states for new investment in 2015. It also cited the state’s strong record on foreign investment spending, particularly in the auto industry.

Alabama has been ranked in the Top 10 of Area Development’s “Top States for Doing Business” report for at least seven straight years, with a No. 5 ranking in 2015.

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

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