In 1993, Alabama became the talk of the international business community when Mercedes Benz announced plans to construct a $300 million assembly plant near Tuscaloosa in order to manufacture its M-Class sports utility vehicles.
In the 25 years since that historic decision, Alabama has routinely led the nation in most economic development measures and commonly ranks among the best states in which to conduct business.
While incentives played a large role in attracting Mercedes and jumpstarting our industrial recruitment renaissance, other attractive factors, some of which are unique to Alabama, have helped convince large employers like Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Boeing, Polaris, Airbus, Austal and many others to follow.
Alabama, for example, has among the lowest taxes in the nation along with extremely affordable industrial utility rates, two elements that give us a great advantage over Rust Belt states competing for the same employers.
We are a right-to-work state free from the shackles of labor union domination, and Alabamians just last year approved a constitutional amendment ensuring that no worker may ever be forced to join a union in order to have a job.
But, I believe the reason businesses choose to locate here can best be summed up in two words – the people. Alabama’s citizens have an unparalleled work ethic, and the reputation we carry for being friendly, loyal, devout, faithful and dependable is not just a stereotype, it is the truth. More than a few CEOs have told me that Alabama’s workforce is the reason they chose to locate here and, eventually, to expand.
Luckily, Alabama’s greatest asset in economic development – its citizens – is one commodity we never have to worry about.