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Photo by: Workers at Hyundai plant in Montgomery.

Alabama gets high marks in economic development magazine’s rankings

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – Alabama ranked in the Top 10 in six different categories in Business Facilities 2013 Rankings Report, an annual report card of how U.S. states are performing in economic development.

The publication targets site consultants and economic developers.

This year, the magazine took a close look at states’ energy rankings. Alabama ranked No. 1 in biofuels commercial production (cellulosic ethanol). This year’s edition focused on the availability of cleaner energy at competitive prices as a top priority.

Alabama ranked second in automotive manufacturing strength, up from No. 7 last year. The magazine said Alabama “is coming on strong as a rising automotive powerhouse.” The rankings placed a heavy emphasis on growth potential as well as production figures and industry trends.

Alabama also ranked second in the category of Most Improved Business Climate.

In workforce training, Alabama ranked No. 3. “Alabama has made the development of a skilled workforce a top state priority. In our recent interview with Gov. Robert Bentley, Bentley cited Alabama’s workforce training program as a key draw for world-class manufacturers,” the report said.

“The Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) program is one of the best workforce training programs for companies,” Gov. Bentley said. “We have a maritime training program that includes a shipbuilding training site in Mobile and we’re building a training facility for Airbus. We also have one at the engine factory in Huntsville and all of the automotive plants.”

Read a story on new approaches being taken in Alabama to link educational systems and workforce development.

This year, Business Facilities created a separate rankings category to give states with the most robust automotive supplier networks their own place in the annual spotlight. Alabama ranked seventh in the nation in this area.

“With the improvement in Alabama’s economy has come significant growth in the state’s automotive supplier base,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “With expansions of our assembly plants throughout the state, this growth is expected to improve even more.

“Before 1997 when the first M-Class rolled off the line, there was not a single vehicle produced in our state. Now, Alabama has become a destination state for both the automotive supplier and automotive assembly sectors,” Canfield said.

Alabama also took the No. 10 spot in Economic Growth Potential. Canfield said he expects this ranking to improve even more in the coming years as the state continues to implement Accelerate Alabama, a long-economic development plan designed to increase employment in eleven specific industry sectors.

The full report can be found here.

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