February 21, 2013

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Economic Development Alliance Issues First Report

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Economic Development Alliance today presented its first formal report of the state’s strategic plan to Governor Robert Bentley.

The plan, called Accelerate Alabama, focuses on 11 business sectors targeted for growth in order to provide new economic opportunities for the citizens of Alabama.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said that after a year of implementation, the strategic plan has brought positive results, particularly bringing key education leaders to the table to ensure that students graduating from Alabama schools possess the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

Alabama State School Superintendent Tommy Bice stressed the importance of ensuring that students have the ability to apply the core academic skills they have learned to real-world situations through collaboration with their peers in problem solving. 

BIce said the objectives of Plan 2020 are that all students perform at or above proficiency and show continuous improvement, succeed, graduate from high school, and graduates from college and career ready.

During 2012, the Alabama Community College System also took steps to align workforce services. Plans are underway for the development of a regional center concept with account managers responsible for services that are solely dedicated to existing industry.

Dr. Mark Heinrich, director of the Alabama Workforce Training System, said “earn and learn” programs such as the partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Shelton State Community College are essentially beneficial as business and industry partner with education to build successful programs.

The report says that education options for Alabama students are expanding because of these types of programs. “Shrewd students can now prepare for a career and earn college credits while earning a diploma,” says the report. “More and more students also are pursuing a dual enrollment program in career technical education.”

Renewal is also an important part of the plan and the report highlights the key initiatives the Alliance supported in 2012. In 2012, the Alabama Legislature committed $4 million to fund the Alabama Innovation Fund. Fifteen grants were awarded across Alabama.  The Alabama Launchpad program, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and its President Bill Taylor, continues to grow since its creation in 2006. More than 150 knowledge-based jobs have been created as a result.  The annual innovation and entrepreneurship conference brings more than 150 people from university, entrepreneurial, business and venture capital communities.

Recruitment is another priority of the Accelerate Alabama plan. The state experienced a record year with announcements from Airbus to multiple automotive expansions. The passage of Amendment 2 allowed the state to refinance bonds to increase the Capital Improvement Trust Fund for discretionary incentives for new and expanding companies. The Alabama Legislature also passed key proposals that will heighten economic development.

The state’s Advantage Site program expanded to 40 sites. These sites are marketed to site consultants and other key audiences. Since the creation of the program, 11 projects have located in Alabama, invested more than $525 million in capital investment, and created more than 2,700 jobs.

The report outlines its priorities for the year 2013, including aggressive marketing in key industry sectors, branding the state to raise awareness of its competitiveness as a business location, and the continuation of research to determine the best opportunities and strategies for targeting strong growth companies.


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