BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The new head of the Alabama Development Office said the state is close to winning eight projects that will bring 3,500 new and potential jobs into six counties in the state.
Greg Canfield, who is a few weeks into the job as the new ADO director, told the Rotary Club of Birmingham at its weekly meeting at the Harbert Center today that project activity in the state is 12.8 percent higher than it was at the same time a year ago.
He said since January, there have been 4,700 new or expansion jobs created or announced in the state.
Projects working in the state range from distribution centers to missile defense systems and come from countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico, France and Germany.
“When you take over as ADO director, you can’t just wade in, you must dive in,” Canfield said. “Today, when you talk about who do we compete against for economic development opportunities in the state of Alabama, the answer is we compete against the rest of the world.”
Canfield said the state is competitive and relies on some of the same tools as others, to include incentives, infrastructure, and prepared sites and properties. He said the state has some other weapons like the AIDT worker training program, the Alabama Technology Network, the Community College System and the Robotics Technology Park in Decatur.
But Alabama’s secret weapon is the teamwork of economic developers from the state, regional and local levels and the top-notch staff at ADO, Canfield said.
Canfield said for years, ADO has enjoyed competitive advantages against other states, but they are now rapidly catching up, forcing Alabama to do more.
“We can no longer sit back and enjoy doing things the way we’ve always done them,” Canfield said.
Which is why Gov. Robert Bentley has established the Alabama Economic Development Alliance, which ties together the economic development efforts of ADO, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the state’s worker training programs, the state’s universities, local economic developers and the corporate economic development efforts.
The group’s first charge is to create “Accelerate Alabama” a statewide economic development master plan. The alliance and its consultants are traveling across the state to seek input from companies and citizens and will be at the Federal Reserve Bank at 524 Liberty Parkway in Vestavia Hills on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon.