MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Business Facilities magazine today ranked Alabama the top state for automotive manufacturing strength, citing accelerated job growth and production gains for Alabama’s auto industry, as well as potential for additional expansion.
In its “2014 Rankings Report,” Business Facilities, a publication that targets site selectors and key industry decision-makers, gave Alabama high marks in eight other important categories such as business climate and workforce training.
In addition, Business Facilities ranked Alabama No. 1 as the biofuel leader in the production of cellulosic ethanol, which is typically made from wood or grass.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the high rankings reflect strategic efforts to position the state for an expansion of advanced manufacturing activity, particularly in the automotive and aerospace sectors. His office also is leading a push to increase exports from Alabama businesses to global markets.
“We have targeted advanced manufacturing because it produces high-wage jobs and because Alabama has a long history of making world-class products with consumer and industrial applications,” Canfield said. “We’re also perfectly positioned to offer these companies what they need to succeed — a skilled workforce, top-rated workforce training programs, business-friendly policies and high levels of cooperation.”
NO. 1 IN AUTO STRENGTH
Alabama claimed Business Facilities’ No. 1 ranking for Automotive Manufacturing Strength one year after finishing in second place and earning praise from the publication as a “rising automotive powerhouse.”
“After rising through the ranks of our Automotive Manufacturing Strength category like one of the Saturn V rockets they used to produce in Huntsville, Alabama finally has reached the summit in our flagship auto category,” the publication writes. “The Crimson Tide rolled into the top spot by edging past Tennessee, our top-ranked state in Automotive Manufacturing Strength for four consecutive years.”
Business Facilities noted that Mercedes-Benz’s 1993 decision to open its first U.S. assembly plant in Alabama was a “game changer” that paved the way for other industrial giants to locate in the state. It also “established the state as front-runner in foreign direct investment and jump-started a torrent of exports from Alabama to the world.”
Last year was a busy one for Alabama’s auto industry. Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai produced more than 915,000 vehicles in the state, while Toyota moved ahead with a $150 million expansion of its Alabama engine plant.
This year, Mercedes launched mass production of the C-Class sedan at its Alabama factory, the first time it has made a sedan there, and Hyundai debuted a redesigned version of its made-in-Alabama Sonata sedan at the New York International Auto Show.
The activity has spurred expansion by auto parts suppliers in the state, leading to the creation of 2,300 new jobs in the sector between June 2013 and June 2014, according to data from the Alabama Department of Labor.
Business Facilities said Alabama “got a turbocharged boost” in the auto ranking from AIDT, a division of the Department of Commerce that helps companies assemble skilled workforces. It called ADIT “an innovative leader in workforce training initiatives that specializes in developing on-site training facilities for key industries, including aerospace, shipbuilding and automotive.” (AIDT recently opened a training center for Airbus in Mobile.)
AIDT is a longtime training partner to Mercedes and last year signed an agreement to expand collaboration with Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa to support the automaker’s technical programs.
For the entire Business Facilities Rankings Report, click here.