In 2020, the state of Alabama has experienced significant economic growth in its rural counties. The Alabama Department of Commerce estimates that these counties have attracted over $4 billion in new capital investment, resulting in opportunities for 5,400 jobs. This trend has continued into the present year, with targeted rural counties, including Courtland, Selma, Greenville, Fayette and Cusseta, expected to receive a total of $1.8 billion in investments and create 1,900 jobs.
During the Summit, Governor Kay Ivey, who hails from Wilcox County, emphasized her commitment to promoting growth and development across all of Alabama, specifically in its rural areas. She stated that her top priority is to bring new and exciting opportunities to the state, ensuring that all Alabamians have access to high-paying careers. With a focus on initiatives such as education, infrastructure, and economic advancement, Governor Ivey aims to make Alabama the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
Gov. Ivey cited some of the high-impact projects announced last year that are heading to rural areas.
- Arizona-based First Solar Inc, plans to build a $1.1 billion factory with 700 workers in Lawrence County, the largest investment project to land in a rural county in recent years.
- Valdosta, Georgia-based Advanced ATC is rolling out a remote air traffic control tower center at Selma’s Craig Field that aims to revolutionize air space management in the U.S. through its technology to serve multiple airports from one location.
- Pennsylvania-based Ecore International is investing $25.5 million to open a state-of-the-art manufacturing and recycling facility in Ozark, where it will create 84 jobs.
In his statement, Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, emphasized the agency’s commitment to promoting economic development in rural areas as a top priority. He acknowledged the efforts of various allies within the state and the significant progress made in the previous year towards unleashing the full potential for growth in rural Alabama. To accelerate growth, Brenda Tuck, Commerce’s first Rural Development Manager, said the department has launched initiatives like the annual Summit and the Simulated Training and Readiness Program (STAR) to better prepare rural economic developers.