OFFICE OF GOVERNOR BOB RILEY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 21, 2006
Alabama Named "State of the Year" Four Years in a Row
New Job Announcements Bring Journal's Top Honor in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Alabama has been named "State of the Year" by Southern Business and Development magazine for the fourth year in a row, Governor Bob Riley announced today in a series of news conferences across the state. The trade journal, which covers the economic development activities of 17 southern and border states, bases the award each year on the number of new job announcements in each state. This is the first time in the magazine's history that a state has won the title for four consecutive years.
"When I came into office, I said Alabama would never have to be a follower again. And now for four consecutive years we haven't been a follower, we've been the leader," Governor Riley said. "The strategy we developed to create new jobs, expand opportunities and promote economic growth is working to make Alabama more successful than we've ever been."
The magazine noted several of Alabama's major economic development announcements of 2005 run a wide gamut of industries, from aviation and defense to high tech research and financial services.
"To give you an idea of how competitive Alabama has become, there were 58 deals announced in the state in calendar year 2005 with 200-plus jobs and/or $30 million in investment," Southern Business and Development reports. "Alabama's economic development conquests in 2005 featured a variety of projects, including a couple of large BRAC deals in Huntsville, the new Hudson-Alpha institute bio project in Huntsville, Kronospan's 700-employee wood products plant in Calhoun County, the EADS aerospace project in Mobile and Wachovia's $400 million data center in Birmingham, among many others."
As it did last year, Alabama is sharing the magazine's top honor with North Carolina.
Several Alabama cities were also recognized for awards by the magazine.
Huntsville was named "Mid-Market of the Year" for the second consecutive year. "Economic development just doesn't get any better than it is in Huntsville right now," the magazine says, noting that BRAC will bring an expected 4,000 new jobs to the area and that the Hudson-Alpha Institute represents one of the South's largest life sciences announcements with 1,000 projected new jobs. "Huntsville is the South's newest economic development rock star," it reports.
Mobile was awarded an Honorable Mention for "Mid-Market of the Year" for new industries EADS and the expansion of Austal USA.
Anniston/Calhoun County was also awarded Honorable Mention for "Mid-Market of the Year" based on the new Kronospan wood products manufacturing plant that is being built and will employ 700 workers.
Opelika earned "Small Market of the Year" in part because of announcements by Gambro Renal Products, a medical device manufacturer, and Jo-Ann Stores distribution center.
As he has continually done, Governor Riley thanked the state's workers and local economic developers for Alabama's strong economic performance.
"We've worked together, built partnerships and moved Alabama forward. Just look at the results and there's no doubt we've accomplished a lot," Governor Riley said.
For 2005, a total of 469 new economic development projects were announced with investments of almost $4.7 billion. Those new industries resulted in more than 25,000 new job announcements for that year alone.
Neal Wade, Director of the Alabama Development Office, said the state is also focusing like never before on helping Alabama's existing industries. "We've broadened the definition of economic development to include not only recruitment of new industries, but also the expansion of our existing industrial base," Wade said. "Governor Riley made it clear from the beginning that he wanted our strategy to focus on existing industries. Governor Riley wants a diverse and strong economic development program and he has been at the center of making that happen."
This award is just the latest honor the state has recently received for its economy. The trade journal Area Development last month named Alabama's economic development efforts the best in the nation for the number of new job announcements. In 2005, Site Selection magazine ranked the Alabama Development Office America's number one state-level economic development agency.