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Alabama earns ‘Silver Shovel’ Award for 2021 economic development

Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Area Development, a national business publication, has selected Alabama for a Silver Shovel Award, recognizing the state’s economic development successes in 2021.

The honor reflects strong recruitment results for the Alabama team, with companies announcing new facilities and expansion projects involving $7.7 billion in new capital investment during 2021. It stands as the second highest annual investment total for the state, trailing only the $8.1 billion recorded in 2018.

These 2021 projects will create over 10,000 jobs across Alabama and inject economic vitality into many communities located in both urban and rural areas.

“High-performing companies from around the globe have discovered first-hand that they can find all the advantages they need to succeed right here in Sweet Home Alabama,” Governor Ivey said.

Alabama rural development
A groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of construction on a first-of-its-kind graphite processing facility being built by Westwater Resources/Alabama Graphite, Tuesday April 18, 2022 in Kellyton, Alabama. The plant will produce an essential material for electric vehicle batteries and other products.(Image: Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

“The Silver Shovel Award is a testament to the state’s pro-business environment and to the skilled workforce that makes that success possible.”

In its new report, Area Development singled out The J.M. Smucker Co.’s project to build a manufacturing and distribution facility in Jefferson County as one of its “Deals of the Year.”

“The combination of peanut butter and jelly is comfort food for many people, and frozen PB&J sandwiches will be comforting a lot of Alabama lives when a $1.1 billion Smucker’s plant opens in Jefferson County,” the magazine writes. “The deal promises some 750 jobs that will pay an average of $25 an hour, making the company’s Uncrustables frozen sandwiches.”


Alabama shared a Silver Shovel Award with Indiana and South Carolina in the category for states with populations between 5 million and 8 million.

“The overarching goal of Alabama’s economic development team is to spark the creation of good jobs and enhance opportunity throughout the state by strategically focusing on high-impact industries with solid growth prospects,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“This honor is another concrete example showing that our team is executing on its plan and delivering results that make a difference for the state,” he added.

Area Development’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards are meant to recognize the overall effectiveness of economic development efforts in states across the nation.

Alabama has been a frequent winner since the magazine launched the awards in 2006, when it won a Gold Shovel. The state also claimed a Gold Shovel in 2020 for success in economic development projects that advanced the manufacturing sector.

Besides Smucker, other top Alabama projects listed by the magazine included Hanwha Cimarron’s plans for a manufacturing plant in Opelika, Amazon’s plans for fulfillment centers in Huntsville and Montgomery, and Alabama Graphite LLC’s investment in a graphite processing facility in rural Coosa County.

A full look at the state’s 2021 economic development results can be found in the Alabama Department of Commerce’s comprehensive “New & Expanding Industry Report,” released this spring.

Since 2017, when Governor Ivey took office, economic development activity in Alabama has attracted over $32 billion in new investment through projects creating 65,000 jobs, according to Commerce figures.


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