Gov. Kay Ivey and legislative leaders unveiled four bills Monday aimed at recruiting economic development and creating jobs.
The legislative package, dubbed “the game plan,” includes renewing and expanding the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama program which are set to sunset this year.
“The Game Plan will position Alabama for a new era of vigorous growth, allowing us to continue our record-breaking economic development success, while providing new levels of support for the state’s innovation economy,” Ivey said. “This package will benefit all Alabamians, those living in both urban centers and rural areas, and ensure our citizens are ready for high-paying careers.”
The first bill of the legislative package would extend the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama program, while adding $25 million to the incentives cap.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, explained last year at a meeting of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama that the cap should be raised to allow room for more offers to be made.
The second piece of legislation will be the Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) Act, which would allow the State Industrial Development Authority to help develop industrial sites.
House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said it is important to compete with neighboring states that have recently funded their own programs to prepare industrial sites.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed, R-Jasper, carried the Alabama Jobs Act through the Legislature in 2015 and said the incentives are crucial to giving Alabama a competitive edge.
“Alabama’s had great success, we’ve put ourselves on a very good financial footing,” Reed said. “These incentives are able to offer opportunities that other states may not offer.”
The third bill, the The Innovation and Small Business Act, establishes the Alabama Small Business Credit and makes $25 million for the Innovating Alabama Tax Credit, focused on new tech accelerators.
“This legislation enables us to expand entrepreneurship, drive economic growth, transform our state for technology and innovation,” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. “As a member of the Innovation Corporation, I believe that enhancing funding opportunities for the tech accelerators and high tech companies in the state of Alabama will spur future growth and long-term growth for the state of Alabama.
The final piece of the plan sets out to ensure that the incentives are used wisely, adding more transparency to the process.
The Transparency in Incentives Act would amend the Jobs Act to require the Alabama incentivized project information on its web site. For each incentivized project, Commerce will publish the name of the company, the estimated capital investment, the number of jobs being created, an estimated hourly wage, the estimated value of the incentives and the project’s location. It will also disclose the value of any cash incentive extended for the project and the projected 10- and 20-year return on incentives to the state. Aggregated performance data on all incentivized projects will also be made available.
“All past and future receipts of incentives would be made public so taxpayers can feel confident on how their tax dollars are spent,” said Lt. Gov Will Ainsworth.
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, R-Greensboro, said he expects the four bills to be divided between the houses, with two starting in the Senate and two in the House. This is the top priority for Alabama legislators as they return from spring break, and Singleton signaled the package could be passed within the legislative week.
Singleton said the package includes “as many people as you possibly can.”
“This bill will also support veterans, women, minorities to incentivize their business ownership to show that Alabama is a working opportunity,” Singleton said.