Area Development ranks Alabama among top business-friendly states

Area Development ranks Alabama among top business-friendly states
Gov. Kay Ivey, center, commemorates one of Alabama's recent economic development wins, the announcement that Conecuh Ridge Distillery, maker of Clyde May's Alabama-style whiskey, will move its operations base to Troy. (Contributed)

Area Development, a national economic development-focused publication, once again ranked Alabama among the top states for doing business. In a new survey, Alabama earned high marks for improved economic development policies, its proven workforce development program and a long-running shovel-ready sites initiative.

Alabama ranks No. 6 overall in the magazine’s 2017 “Top States for Doing Business” analysis, the same spot as the prior year. Alabama has placed in the overall Top 10 of Area Development’s rankings every year for at least eight years, underscoring a consistent high-level emphasis on economic development for the state.

In Area Development’s new survey, Alabama scored in the Top 10 in nine individual categories, which span a wide range of critical economic development issues.

“These high rankings indicate that Alabama offers the advantages that companies are searching for when they are making decisions about opening new facilities or expanding existing operations,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Alabama has the skilled workers, effective training programs and the low-cost business environment that companies from around the world need to compete and succeed,” he added.

Between 2011 and 2016, economic development activity brought $28.5 billion in new capital investment to Alabama, along with 107,000 new and future jobs, according to Department of Commerce data. Last year alone, new capital investment in Alabama totaled $4.2 billion, with 14,700 anticipated jobs.

Comprehensive approach

Area Development said the top six states in this year’s rankings did not change from the previous year — and all of them are in the South. At No. 6, Alabama ranked ahead of Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and Ohio, which rounded out the Top 10 in the survey. Georgia ranked No. 1, followed by South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

Area Development said the top-ranked states share a common characteristic.

“They commit to adding value as an economic development leader and problem-solver, even during lean economic times,” the magazine says. “Any manufacturer will tell you that a big indicator of quality — and sound management — is consistent, repeatable results. This is also true for state government …”

Canfield said Alabama’s individual category rankings reflect the state’s comprehensive approach to economic development:

  • Leading workforce development programs: No. 3
  • Most improved economic development policies: No. 3
  • Shovel-ready sites program: No. 3
  • Speed of permitting: No. 5
  • Favorable regulatory environment: No. 6
  • Favorable utility rates: No. 7
  • Cooperative and responsive state government: No. 7
  • Overall cost of doing business: No. 7
  • Competitive labor environment: No. 8
  • Business incentive program: No. 10

In its analysis, Area Development singled out Alabama’s AdvantageSite program, which has brought in more than 20 projects and $1 billion in investment since its inception in 2008, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for its quick work on permitting.

The magazine also highlighted the accomplishments of AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency and part of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Read Area Development’s ranking story.

Earlier this year, Alabama earned a Silver Shovel Award from Area Development for its economic development successes in 2016.

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

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