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Sec. Canfield to depart Commerce with veteran economic developer tapped as successor

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey today announced Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will step down at the end of the year after serving in the post for 12 years. The governor has tapped Ellen McNair, an economic development veteran, to serve as the next secretary of Commerce.

“Throughout my time as governor, we have proudly solidified Alabama as a top state for doing business, and no doubt, Greg has been a key part of that success. Together, we have secured more than $42 billion in new investments in our state, which has created 78,000 good-paying jobs,” Governor Ivey said. “Greg will go down as one of Alabama’s best economic development heads, and he will be noted for projects like Mazda Toyota and credited for branding the Made in Alabama name worldwide.

“I will forever be grateful for all that Greg has accomplished for our state, and I know he will continue having great success in his career,” she added.

Secretary Canfield, in both his role at Commerce and in the Legislature, has been a champion for pro-business legislation. Most recently, The Game Plan, Alabama’s economic incentive package, passed in 2023 and will help the state continue attracting businesses and industry, as well as support existing companies for years to come.

Alabama Department of Commerce
Ellen McNair, longtime economic developer for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, will succeed Greg Canfield as secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

After a long career in the private sector, Secretary Canfield took the helm of the Alabama Development Office in 2011 and reorganized the department as Commerce. During his tenure, Alabama launched its first-ever strategic economic development plan, Accelerate Alabama, established new records in international exports, capital investment and job creation. Secretary Canfield represented Alabama on business and trade missions to 30 countries across the globe and is credited for launching Commerce’s successful rural development strategy.

Since Secretary Canfield began leading Commerce, Alabama has attracted projects involving over $70 billion in new private sector capital investment and over 180,000 jobs.

“I am proud to have been a part of Governor Ivey’s cabinet, and I am proud of the team of professionals we have assembled at Commerce. I am more confident than ever that Alabama is poised for a robust era of economic expansion that will transform the trajectories of communities and families across the state,” Secretary Canfield said.

“I am honored to have made a contribution to the effort to improve Alabama’s future, and I know that the momentum we’ve built will continue to grow in the capable hands of Ellen McNair.”


“She sees past just the investment and jobs numbers and knows that these results are changing the lives of Alabama families.”

McNair, who is taking the helm in the new year, is currently chief economic development officer with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. Throughout McNair’s tenure at the Chamber, she has successfully worked on almost 600 national and international projects with a capital investment of over $8 billion, resulting in almost 30,000 new jobs for the Montgomery community.

“I have known Ellen since my days at the Alabama Development Office, and I know she will be of tremendous value to the state of Alabama. She sees past just the investment and jobs numbers and knows that these results are changing the lives of Alabama families,” Governor Ivey said.

“Ellen has partnered with Greg and I to bring growth to the Montgomery area, and I am confident we will see success like that all over the state.”

She was the senior project manager and a member of the negotiating team that brought Hyundai to Montgomery. Former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and current Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed described McNair as a “smooth bulldog” and “tenacious.”

“I am extremely honored to have been selected by Governor Kay Ivey for this very important role. Economic development has been a passion and focus for the governor her entire career,” McNair said.The success of the state under Governor Ivey’s and Secretary Canfield’s leadership is unprecedented. These will certainly be big shoes to fill.”

Alabama economic development
Governor Kay Ivey joins Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield to celebrate the signing of her “Game Plan” economic growth package, four bills designed to secure Alabama’s economic future, Thursday, 20 April 2023. (Image: Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

McNair continued: “I have great respect for Secretary Canfield and the Commerce team, and we will work together for a smooth transition. The state of Alabama is blessed with many strong local and regional economic development professionals, and I look forward to working closely with them and the entire state team to continue Alabama’s smart and strategic economic development.”

Prior to working with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, McNair worked for the Alabama Department of Commerce. In fact, when McNair first entered the economic development sector after attending graduate school in the Department of Economics at Auburn University, Governor Ivey, at the time, served as assistant director of the Alabama Development Office, now known as the Department of Commerce.

McNair comes to lead the Department of Commerce with 40 years of economic development experience and a handful of firsts. On top of being the first female project manager at the Alabama Department of Commerce, she was the first woman Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) in Alabama and one of a handful of economic development professionals in Alabama with this designation.

She was also the first woman president of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, the first woman to lead a major metro area’s economic development effort in the state, and in January, she will be the first woman to serve as secretary at the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Secretary Canfield will serve until the end of the year. McNair’s appointment is effective January 1, 2024.


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