Global Trade: Alabama ranks as top state for manufacturing

Global Trade: Alabama ranks as top state for manufacturing
The Mercedes plant in Vance and the rest of Alabama's ever-growing auto industry is a major reason Global Trade named it the nation's top state for manufacturing. (contributed)

Global Trade, a publication focusing on international business, has selected Alabama as the nation’s top state for manufacturing in a new ranking.

Global Trade cited the growth of Alabama’s auto manufacturing industry and its leadership position in aerospace production, as well as job training provided by AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency.

In addition, the publication credited the AdvantageSites program that pre-certifies sites for development, and the rapid permitting coordinated by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that accelerates projects.

“Alabama has a strong heritage in manufacturing, which remains a key pillar in the state’s growing economy,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.

“Alabama workers have shown the world that they have the expertise to manufacture high-quality products that set industry standards, and this ranking is more confirmation of that fact.”

The Airbus assembly line in Mobile is part of Alabama’s robust aerospace industry. (contributed)

‘Energy and passion’

Manufacturing workers in Alabama total more than 270,000, representing more than 13 percent of the state’s workforce. That’s the fifth highest concentration among the states, according to data from the National Association of Manufacturers.

“Alabama’s manufacturing workers bring energy and passion to their jobs, and they’re always willing to learn new skills that will enhance productivity,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“These qualities set them apart from their counterparts in other states and allow them to manufacture a sweeping variety of top-flight products that are in demand all over the world.”

Global Trade’s selection of Alabama as the top manufacturing state comes one month after Business Facilities, a publication focused on economic development, named Alabama the No. 1 state in a business-climate ranking.

“The state has seen a continued influx of manufacturing investment — much of it from the international auto industry — and it’s not hard to understand why,” Global Trade notes, pointing to a 2018 decision by Toyota and Mazda to build a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in the state.

Alabama’s skilled workforce is a key reason reason for these high rankings. A 2017 poll by respected researcher Gallup found that Alabama has the highest percentage of highly involved and enthusiastic workers among U.S. states.

A welder participates in an AIDT training program. Workforce development is a major emphasis in Alabama, with tax incentives available for companies that participate in training programs. (AIDT)

Workforce initiatives

These rankings come at a time when Alabama is moving to streamline and improve its overall workforce development program, with many of these functions centralized in the Alabama Department of Commerce. New initiatives include AlabamaWorks and Apprenticeship Alabama.

Earlier this year, Ivey launched Success Plus, a new strategic workforce development initiative that targets the addition of 500,000 high-skilled employees to Alabama’s workforce by 2025 in response to increasing employer demands for the higher levels of talent needed in modern workplaces.

Success Plus aims to improve access to educational opportunities, create pathways and defined routes that show people how to advance a career, and encourage collaboration among private and public entities.

Following Alabama in the Global Trade rankings were Florida, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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