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Legislators and Entrepreneurs Must Work Together to Improve Economic Development

February 2012 Op-Ed Column

By Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey

As your lieutenant governor, I am happy to report the State of Alabama is leading the nation in reducing unemployment.  More than 41,000 jobs have been created since January 2011, and your lawmakers are working full time to ensure that Alabama’s economic development is a top priority. We know the importance of a healthy dialogue between the business community and those of us who were sent to Montgomery to represent them. It is important for entrepreneurs to stay in touch with their elected leaders and to inform us about what we can do to help keep and create jobs. We want them to take advantage of the incentives state government offers to businesses to ensure their ability to operate without the shackles of bureaucratic interference.

The 2012 Legislative Session started out with a bang when four job-related bills were given a high priority and are currently pending consideration in either the House or the Senate.  Each of the following bills addresses different issues, but with the same goal:  revving the engines of economic development.

The “Heroes for Hire” Tax Credit Act, sponsored by Rep. Duwayne Bridges and Senator Tom Whatley, offers businesses a $1,000 additional income tax credit for hiring a veteran recently returned from war and a $2,000 income tax credit to recently deployed unemployed veterans who start their own business. “The Alabama Data Processing Center Economic Incentive Enhancement Act” by Representative Dan Williams and Senator Slade Blackwell expands the scope of certain incentives to focus on recruiting more data processing centers in Alabama. “The Alabama Job Creation and Retention Act” by Representative Barry Mask and Senator Phil Williams is a bi-partisan constitutional amendment that would allow voters to authorize the use of tax incentives to recruit major projects to Alabama. The corresponding bill sets strict parameters for how incentives can be used to ensure return on investment. These same incentives were used to lure world-class companies like Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, and ThyssenKrupp to our state.

The Legislature’s first priority is boosting private sector growth and getting Alabamians back to work.  The recent employment figures validate our efforts. We, as elected officials, must continue to provide a job-friendly environment to encourage those in the private sector to invest and expand their businesses.

I encourage the business community to watch for legislation that offers incentives for business growth and to take advantage of them. Google “Alabama Senate Audio” or “Alabama Senate Video” to listen in while we are in session. Together, we can work to improve the economic climate in Alabama.

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I am honored by the confidence you vested in me by electing me as your lieutenant governor and am well aware that public service is not a right, but a privilege. The most successful elected officials are those who hear from and listen to folks back home.  My office stands ready to welcome your comments and prepared to respond to your concerns. Please feel free to contact us at 334-242-7900.

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Gov. Kay Ivey is the governor of the state of Alabama.