The companies choosing Alabama are not selecting the state at random. We're competing on a whole new level to attract investment in this state. Early in my administration, I recognized a need for a long-term economic development plan that streamlined and expedited the state's development efforts.
The plan being implemented is called Accelerate Alabama. It targets 11 specific sectors for growth: Aerospace, Automotive, Corporate Operations, Biosciences, Information Technology, Distribution & Logistics, Enabling Technologies, Agricultural Products & Food Production, Steel & Metal Industries, Forestry Products and Chemicals.
The long-term plan was developed based on a competitive assessment of Alabama and how the state's resources compare to others from an economic development perspective. The result is a comprehensive approach that fosters development across a broad range of employers and industry sectors.
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No matter what type of industry we attract, companies tell us the state's best resource is its people. I truly believe Alabama has the best workforce in the world. We have hard-working, dedicated people who go above and beyond to help our companies succeed.
Our AIDT program (Alabama Industrial Development Training) helps companies attract the highly skilled workers they need in order to compete. AIDT offers training facilities across the state, including on-location training sites at various employers' facilities. The program is attractive to prospective employers who want to ensure they have highly trained workers who are ready to compete from day one.
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Successful economic development also requires a complete package, such as a strong education system, a high quality of life and a superior transportation system. Alabama is aggressively making improvements, and state leaders are committed to keeping up the momentum.
Most recently, I returned from the Paris Air Show with Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and a delegation of state and local officials and developers. There, we met with dozens of companies to discuss how Alabama is a perfect fit for their future plans. Last year's Airbus announcement opened up a new set of opportunities for Alabama. We are very focused on building relationships with companies that could serve as Airbus suppliers and vendors. We want those companies to build their plants in Alabama and bring their job opportunities here as well.
The Airbus announcement was quite similar to the announcement that Mercedes-Benz was coming to Alabama back in the 1990s. Since then, not only has Mercedes opened, expanded and hired additional people, so have other automotive companies and suppliers.Thousands of people now work for automotive suppliers across the state, and people all over the world are driving cars that were made in Alabama. With Airbus jetliner production now on the way, there is tremendous potential for similar growth in the aerospace industry.
As part of Accelerate Alabama, we're working not only to recruit new companies—but also to retain existing businesses and help them expand. We're helping companies find new opportunities in the export markets. Our job training is available to existing companies to help them grow their workforce. And we're also taking new steps to further unite the business community with the education community so more students are graduating with the skills that are needed by today's employers.
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Accelerate Alabama also focuses on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. We're rewarding companies and colleges that are developing new ideas and building new companies from the ground up. We're making investments in projects that will lead to new products and new jobs for people across the state.
This year, we also launched the "Made in Alabama" campaign through the Alabama Department of Commerce. The goal of this campaign is to reach more people in the business community, to share with them our successes, and to encourage them to join us in Alabama. Through earned media, the Made in Alabama website, social media, and other efforts, we're now better prepared to tell Alabama's story of business success.
The words "Made in Alabama" are synonymous with quality, and we're delivering that message to consumers and businesses around the world. Join us today for a visit to our state, or find out what is happening in Alabama by visiting the website of the Alabama Department of Commerce. You'll see that Alabama has a lot to offer businesses. And you'll see how our people are ready to help you succeed.
—By Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley
Read more blogs from U.S. governors here.