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MOBILE, Alabama – Alabama continues to be an attractive site for foreign direct investment. The latest proof: Germany’s Bayer CropScience this week announced plans to build a $396 million, state-of-the-art herbicide plant near Mobile.

Bayer CropScience said the new facility will help the company meet a goal of doubling production of glufosinate-ammonium herbicide. The plant in McIntosh is expected to begin production in late 2015, in time for the 2016 growing season. The project is expected to create 180 jobs.

“In planning this facility, we are responding to urgent calls by farmers and agronomists for an alternative weed control technology to help combat the increasing problem of weed resistance to glyphosate-based products,” Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon said.

This week, the Mobile Industrial Development Board approved tax abatements totaling $32 million over 10 years for the plant, which will be constructed on land leased from another German company, Evonik, according to a report on the web site.

“This is very much the type of project we want to see,” Troy Wayman, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, told the board.

Bayer CropScience markets glufosinate-ammonium as Liberty herbicide. The company says it represents the only nonselective alternative that farmers can use to combat weeds, including glyphosate-resistant weeds. (Glyphosate is a herbicide developed in the early 1970s.)

Bayer CropScience’s plans to increase production of the Liberty herbicide comes at a time when farmers are confronting more glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farms. The company currently manufactures Liberty herbicide at plants in Frankfurt, Germany, and Muskegon, Mich., but projected demand for the product is expected to outpace existing production capacity.

Alabama already has attracted significant investment from foreign companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, ThyssenKrupp and many others. Airbus, the European consortium that produces passenger jets, is investing $600 million to establish a production facility in Mobile.

Alabama ranked No. 7 among the states for foreign direct investment in 2011, and the figure rose 107 percent from 2010 levels, one of the biggest gains for any state, according to IBM Global Business Services’ “Global Location Trends” 2012 report.

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