July 7, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

New ADO Leader Ready To Take Field

"But when the opportunity presented itself, it was too great an opportunity," said Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia Hills. "You're creating industry, creating jobs."

Canfield, in his second term in the House, chairs the House Committee on Commerce and Small Business. He owned an insurance business from 1993 to 2008.

"Greg is a salesman at heart and will be a tremendous asset to the Alabama Development Office," Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. "He knows both large and small business."

Canfield will start "on or before Aug. 1," according to a release. The new director said he was approached by the Bentley administration last week, with an agreement settled on Tuesday.

In his new position, Canfield said he wants to continue Alabama's success recruiting large industries from around the world.

"We're going to concentrate on bringing an improved working environment on all levels of the economic development players," he said. "From the local level and county economic development groups, all the way up to the state."

Landing those firms, such as Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and ThyssenKrupp, has often required the state to get into bidding wars with other states over ever-larger tax incentive packages.

Canfield said he hopes to become less dependent on them, "but realistically, we have to have them in the toolbox."

Alabama's total incentives to land the ThyssenKrupp steel plant in Calvert now tops $1 billion, although ThyssenKrupp itself has increased its total investment from $3.7 billion to $5 billion, according to the Press-Register in Mobile.

"Economic development and recruiting industry is a contact sport," Canfield said. "You have to be on the field in order to win. Part of being on the field is going to necessarily include incentive packages."

Canfield also said he also hopes to recruit industries for rural areas and the Black Belt, the latter of which has often seen development suffer because it lacks an adequate infrastructure.Canfield said there might be industries for which that might be less of an issue.

Canfield succeeds Seth Hammett, former Democratic Speaker of the House, in the position. Hammett, who served as vice president of business development for the Andalusia-based power cooperative PowerSouth while director of ADO, was "on loan" under an agreement worked out between Hammett, Bentley and PowerSouth.

"He's really never left," said Mark Ingram, communications manager for PowerSouth. "He's always been instrumental in our activities."

Hammett will continue his duties at PowerSouth.

Canfield has also served as president of the Vestavia Hills City Council, where he says his biggest recruitment was bringing AIG Baker to renovate a dormant mall, creating between 75 and 100 retail jobs.

Canfield said it is too early to discuss industries he hopes to bring to the state.

"We are going to capitalize on where have momentum, and continually prospect for opportunities as we continue to diversify," he said.

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