Alabama leaders look to improve business incentives

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 8:01 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s a renewed push from state leaders to bring new, higher paying jobs to Alabama. But in order to do that, business experts and state leaders say they need to provide better incentives to attract those new employers. And just this week a newly formed commission met for the first time to do just that.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth chairs the commission where they took a look at the economic impact of the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act.

“We’re looking at reauthorizing our incentive system. We look at what that means to Alabama,” said Ainsworth.

The newly formed Study Commission on Renewing Incentives compared Alabama to nine other business-friendly states: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. Comparatively, Alabama has the lowest tax burden for large businesses.

“With some of the lowest taxes that we have in the state is already an incentive for people to come here,” said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton.

Including existing incentive programs, Alabama drops to seventh place among the states. But Singleton sits on the commission and says that’s not necessarily a negative.

“It’s just a matter of time, and how we approach it,” he said. “Because even though when you say the ranking is low, you have to look at sustainability.”

This is why large businesses like Mercedes and Hyundai haven’t left or gone out of business. But it’s not a one-sided relationship. Companies must have incentives for the state as well.

“We’re not just saying, ‘You come over here, we’re going to give you $10 million just to come to Alabama.’ No, we’re not doing that. You got to put these jobs on the line first,” said Singleton.

Ainsworth says the workforce is another incentive for industries to relocate and expand in Alabama.

“Because of our great employees, because of our low taxes and because of the great quality of life, industries are coming to Alabama,” said Ainsworth. “We want to make sure, though, from a competition standpoint, that we have the best incentives in the country.”

This committee is only for large businesses or industries in the state, however, small businesses continue to be a high priority for the Legislature, as a new innovation corporation will meet Thursday to discuss incentives for locally owned shops.

The Study Commission on Renewing Incentives will meet again in December with their findings and recommendations.

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