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Photo by: The first dealer-ready M-Class rolled off Mercedes’ Alabama assembly line in 1997.

Alabama used teamwork, training and trust to win landmark Mercedes-Benz plant

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Alabama’s pursuit of Mercedes-Benz’s first U.S. auto plant featured code names, clandestine meetings and plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, but it was teamwork, training and trust that landed the groundbreaking project, according to leaders who were involved in the recruitment.

Next week, Mercedes and Alabama will celebrate 20 years since the company announced it would locate its first U.S. plant in Alabama, and today’s leaders continue to leverage the same strategy as they strive to add more and more new development to the state’s thriving auto industry.

“On the state level, we work as a team with our cities and counties to recruit more new jobs,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “We show companies how Alabama has the best workforce of any place in the world. And we have the best workforce training program with AIDT. We build relationships and trust with the companies we recruit. We let them know that we’ll do everything we can to help them succeed.”

Accounts of how Alabama prevailed over 30 states in the 1993 competition for the coveted Mercedes production facility have focused on the deal’s financial terms or on tiny details that might have tipped the balance for the state. But Jim Folsom, who was Alabama’s governor during the recruitment of Mercedes, says the reasons the company chose Alabama are actually straightforward.

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