Alabama Ranked No. 3 in 2018 "Top States for Business"......

Alabama’s overall ranking in the Area Development survey improved three spots from 2017 and 2016. The state has placed in Top 10 of the publication’s annual ranking of state business-friendliness for nearly a decade, consistently joining its Southern neighbors at the top of the pack.

“As competitive as the environment is, with ever-shifting policies and programs, it’s clear that some states have really figured out how to hit the sweet spot,” Area Development notes in a story posted online Thursday.

“Regular appearances at or near the top are a reflection of success, and the ongoing success that builds upon past wins and positive reputations,” it adds.

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield kicks off a press conference to reveal details about the Toyota-Mazda auto plant in Huntsville. (Image: Rob Culpepper)
Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at the Google groundbreaking ceremony in Bridgeport for the company's new Alabama data center. (Image: Google/Bob Farley)

Area Development’s survey identifies 11 separate components that each play a key role in how attractive a state is for doing business. These components include factors ranging from economic development programs and tax policies to regulatory matters and workforce training.

In the 2018 survey, Alabama scored in the Top 10 in 9 different individual categories. They are:

  • Most improved economic development policies: No. 1
  • Favorable general regulatory environment: No. 1 (tied with Georgia)
  • Favorable utility rates: No. 1
  • Business incentive programs: No. 2 (tied with Georgia)
  • Leading workforce development programs: No. 2
  • Overall cost of doing business: No. 3 (tied with Georgia)
  • Shovel-ready sites program: No. 3
  • Cooperative and responsive state government: No. 4
  • Competitive labor environment: No. 6 (tied with Indiana)

“In Alabama, we have been working to implement the most effective economic development policies and improve our robust job-training programs in order to drive growth across the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“These high rankings confirm that we are on the right course as we position Alabama for new jobs and investment.”

Commerce has been heavily engaged in efforts to increase the state’s competitiveness. These include the adoption of the Alabama Jobs Act, which created a new business incentives platform, and in a major restructuring of the state’s workforce development programs with assistance from AIDT.

Alabama “has continued to pursue legislation aimed at boosting business-friendliness and encouraging regional cooperation for the benefit of all,” Area Development writes.

Between 2011 and 2017, economic development activity brought $33 billion in new capital investment to Alabama, along with 125,000 new and future jobs, according to Commerce data. Last year alone, new capital investment in Alabama totaled $4.4 billion, with nearly 15,500 anticipated jobs.

The publication also cited Alabama’s AdvantageSite program, which advances shovel-ready locations for projects, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s hassle-free interactions with businesses. It also noted convenient pricing options offered by Alabama Power and other utilities.

Alabama trailed only Georgia and Texas in the publication’s 2018 rankings. Tennessee and South Carolina rounded out the Top 5.