MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Companies planning new facilities or expanding existing operations in Alabama announced more than 18,000 new jobs and nearly $3.4 billion in new investment during 2014, reflecting growing momentum in sectors including automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing.
The 2014 New & Expanding Industry Report, released today by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce, provides an in-depth look at how economic development activity unfolded last year across the state. Its findings include:
- The number of announced jobs from the 392 Alabama projects in 2014 totaled 18,137, while combined new capital investment topped $3.37 billion. In 2013, those figures were 16,847 jobs and nearly $4.4 billion in investment.
- Madison County ranked tops for new jobs related to projects last year, with 3,418. Lee County was No. 1 for new capital investment, with $482 million. Some rural counties recorded solid new job totals, including Chambers (665 jobs), Marion (628) and Coffee (545).
- Remington Outdoor Co.’s project to build a state-of-the-art firearms manufacturing center in Huntsville was Alabama’s top job-creating project last year. “Project Traveler,” as it was codenamed, will create at least 2,000 jobs.
- Foreign direct investment in Alabama topped $1 billion in 2014, with Japan the leading source for investment and job creation. Japanese companies announced Alabama projects involving almost $346 million in new investment and 1,118 jobs last year.
Another strong year of business recruitment and support builds on the foundation of solid economic development activity established in recent years. Since 2011, when Governor Bentley took office, more than 73,000 new jobs and $17.3 billion in new capital investment have been announced in Alabama.
“Job creation has been my No. 1 goal, and we have worked diligently as a team across Alabama to target well-paying jobs and projects that can make a difference in the lives of our residents and in the communities where they live,” Governor Bentley said. “It’s been a successful formula, and we are going to make it even better with new recruiting tools and fresh ideas on improving workforce development.”
Last year’s momentum has carried into 2015. One example: In January, ATV-maker Polaris Industries announced plans to invest up to $142 million to build a manufacturing facility in Huntsville with as many as 2,000 workers.
KEY SECTORS THRIVE
The 2014 New & Expanding Industry Report shows accelerating growth in the state’s automotive and aerospace sectors, two of the pillars in the Accelerate Alabama strategic economic development plan. An emphasis on knowledge-based jobs also paid off last year, with a number of projects focusing on high-level functions such as research and engineering.
Aerospace projects announced in 2014 suggest robust growth is in store for the sector. Science and Engineering Services (SES), for example, announced a $70 million plan to expand its Huntsville manufacturing operation, adding 450 new workers. Meanwhile, in rural Pike County, Lockheed Martin developed plans to expand its missile plant in Troy with a $55 million investment and 224 new jobs.
At the same time, the auto manufacturing sector continue to expand rapidly. Toyota last year announced a $121 million investment at its Huntsville engine plant and the addition of 189 workers. Honda added nearly $72 million in new investment and 150 workers at its Talladega County facility. In Tuscaloosa County, suppliers announced more than 1,100 jobs as they ramp up to support the growing Mercedes-Benz assembly operation.
“We’ve been very strategic in our approach to economic development in Alabama because we want to develop productive partnerships with companies that will put down roots and expand over time,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We want our efforts to create high-caliber jobs that pay well and have a future for the hard-working people of Alabama.”
The report released today shows that 70 companies announced new facilities in Alabama last year, involving 5,961 jobs and $438.3 million in capital investment. Another 322 companies announced expansions to their Alabama operations, with 12,176 jobs and $2.9 billion in investment.
Following Madison, the top counties for announced jobs were Jefferson (1,929), Tuscaloosa (1,264), Lee (755) and Cullman (704). Trailing Lee, top counties for investment announced in 2014 were Escambia ($376 million), Madison ($321 million), Jefferson ($189 million) and Mobile ($168 million).