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Canfield steps down after 12-Year reign; McNair tapped for Commerce Secretary

Governor Ivey announces Greg Canfield’s departure after 12 years, appoints economic expert Ellen McNair as next Commerce Department Secretary.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce, Greg Canfield, presents representatives from Douglas Manufacturing with the Small Manufacturer of the Year award. CONTRIBUTED

After leading the Alabama Department of Commerce for 12 years, Secretary Greg Canfield will be stepping down at year’s end, Governor Kay Ivey announced. Ellen McNair, a seasoned economic development expert, is set to succeed him.

Governor Ivey praised Canfield, highlighting his role in bringing over $42 billion in investments and creating 78,000 jobs for the state. “Greg has been instrumental in establishing Alabama as a top state for business, and his contributions, including the globally recognized ‘Made in Alabama’ brand, will be long remembered,” Ivey remarked.

A firm supporter of pro-business policies, Secretary Canfield has also championed Alabama’s latest economic incentive package, “The Game Plan.” His leadership since 2011, first with the Alabama Development Office which he later transformed into the Department of Commerce, has marked significant milestones. These include launching “Accelerate Alabama,” a strategic economic blueprint, and successfully propelling the state’s rural development strategy.

“I’ve been honored to contribute to Alabama’s growth and am confident that the momentum we’ve fostered will thrive under Ellen’s guidance,” Canfield said.

McNair, set to take office in January, currently serves as the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s chief economic development officer. With nearly 600 projects and over $8 billion in investments under her belt, resulting in about 30,000 jobs, her credentials are impressive.

Governor Ivey said of McNair, “Her depth of understanding goes beyond mere numbers; she truly grasps the transformative impact of these projects on Alabama families.”

Having played a pivotal role in bringing Hyundai Motors to Montgomery, McNair’s drive and commitment have earned her descriptions like “smooth bulldog” and “tenacious” from city mayors.

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McNair expressed her gratitude for the appointment and noted the big shoes she has to fill. “My goal is to continue the state’s intelligent economic progression, working in unison with our talented economic professionals,” she said.

With roots in the Alabama Department of Commerce, McNair boasts 40 years of experience. As an alumna of Auburn University’s Department of Economics, she crossed paths with Governor Ivey, then the assistant director of the Alabama Development Office.

McNair’s resume is filled with pioneering achievements, including being the first female project manager at the Department of Commerce and Alabama’s first Certified Economic Developer. In January, she’ll shatter another glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to serve as the secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Secretary Canfield will remain in his position until December 31, with McNair’s tenure commencing on January 1, 2024.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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