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Area Development Magazine ranks Alabama No. 3 in its 2018 “Top States for Business” Survey


Friday, Area Development, a national magazine, ranked the state of Alabama as the number three state for business in its 2018 rankings.

Alabama’s overall ranking in the Area Development survey improved three spots from 2017 and 2016. The state has placed in Top 10 of the publication’s annual ranking of state business-friendliness for nearly a decade. Area Development consistently joins its Southern neighbors as the most business friendly states according to the publication.

“Alabama’s pro business climate has earned yet another top 3 publication ranking!” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on social media. “Thank you @AreaDevelopment for recognizing the tremendous economic development efforts going on here. AL has an unparalleled workforce, & we’re always looking to expand our #MadeinAL family!”

Noted Huntsville area economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Area Development Magazine has been a leading publication in our industry for over fifty years. Alabama’s position as Number 3 in the Top Ten States for Business survey is a testament to teamwork; the public and private sector have collaborated to create an environment conducive for business.”

“As competitive as the environment is, with ever-shifting policies and programs, it’s clear that some states have really figured out how to hit the sweet spot,” Area Development stated. “Regular appearances at or near the top are a reflection of success, and the ongoing success that builds upon past wins and positive reputations,” it adds.

Area Development’s survey identifies 11 separate components that it claims each play a key role in how attractive a state is for doing business. These components include factors ranging from economic development programs and tax policies to regulatory matters and workforce training.
In the 2018 survey, Alabama scored in the Top ten of the nine different individual categories. Alabama was first for most improved economic development policies; tied with Georgia for favorable general regulatory environment; was number one for favorable utility rates; tied for number two for business incentive programs; tied for number two in leading workforce development programs; number three for overall cost of doing business; number three for shovel-ready sites program; number four for a cooperative and responsive state government; and number six for competitive labor environment.

“In Alabama, we have been working to implement the most effective economic development policies and improve our robust job-training programs in order to drive growth across the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “These high rankings confirm that we are on the right course as we position Alabama for new jobs and investment.”

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According to the Alabama Commerce Department between 2011 and 2017, economic development activity brought $33 billion in new capital investment to Alabama, along with 125,000 new and future jobs, according to Commerce data. Last year alone, new capital investment in Alabama totaled $4.4 billion, with nearly 15,500 anticipated jobs.
The publication cited Alabama’s AdvantageSite program, which advances shovel-ready locations for projects, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s hassle-free interactions with businesses as week as convenient pricing options offered by Alabama Power and other utilities.

Alabama trails only Georgia and Texas in the publication’s 2018 rankings.

“The Alabama Department of Commerce unveiled competitive, fiscally responsible tax initiatives and workforce development programs designed from continuous dialogue with industry,” Nicole Jones concluded. “In addition, the AdvantageSite program managed by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) in many cases simplifies the site selection process, which keeps Alabama in a competitive position. It takes a team to build Alabama. We are thankful that companies continue to choose Alabama and recognize the diversity of industries we have a population to support.”

Governor Ivey is hoping that Alabama voters are paying attention to the booming Alabama economy when they go to the polls to vote on November 6. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D) is making the argument that he can do a better job.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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