Made in Alabama: Why a skilled workforce is key to our success

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Diverse business people human resources silhouettes follow a team leader

By Secretary
Greg Canfield
Alabama Department
of Commerce

For the past six years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. Economic development continues to be one of my passions. I love Alabama and believe in all of the things she has to offer. Our dedicated team of professionals and our allies share this belief.
Through hard work and dedication, we had a banner year in 2017. Led by Gov. Kay Ivey, our team recruited world-class companies from around the world to locate in Alabama and become part of the growing Made in Alabama movement. Preliminary figures indicate these companies collectively are investing more than $3.3 billion, while creating more than 7,000 jobs.
While this is excellent news, it’s also encouraging that 2018 is off to a strong start. Toyota-Mazda selected Huntsville for a $1.6 billion auto plant with 4,000 jobs. Kimber, a leading firearms maker, announced plans for a manufacturing facility in Troy with 366 jobs. Alabama’s business-friendly climate has garnered national accolades from Site Selection magazine, which receives feedback from corporate real estate executives and site-selection consultants.This has helped propel Alabama into the national and international spotlight as a place that welcomes new businesses and continues to offer programs even after those businesses are established.
Our reputation as a state where companies want to build and expand their facilities didn’t happen overnight. For years, AIDT, which is part of the Department of Commerce, has been a wonderful asset in helping companies hire and educate their workforce.
While AIDT has been a great tool in attracting businesses, we needed a comprehensive system we could present to prospective investors showing that Alabama truly means business via an educated talent pool. This is why AlabamaWorks has become a true asset in the recruitment process.
When a company is selecting a site, it looks at several qualities.
These can include infrastructure, access to roads, railway and waterways, site readiness and proximity to needed resources.
While these metrics vary according to the company’s needs, one remains a constant: a readily available workforce. This is where AlabamaWorks gives us a competitive advantage.
Officially launched in late 2016, AlabamaWorks is an umbrella organization comprised of business and industry, the Department of Commerce (including AIDT), the Alabama Technology Network, the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Labor (including the Alabama Career Center System) and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.
As its focus, AlabamaWorks unites prospective employees, training opportunities and unfilled jobs or new jobs in one place.
The streamlining of these has allowed us to further showcase Alabama as the premier location which provides prime sites that meet business’ criteria while offering a mechanism to locate prospective employees and training services.
AlabamaWorks provides us with a key competitive advantage in recruiting. This will increase in value with the addition of Gov. Ivey’s attainment program to have 65 percent of high school graduates acquire a post-high school certification by 2025. By adding this, companies and industries will further realize that Alabama is strategically planning to meet their workforce needs now and in the future.
I am proud that my department is part of the AlabamaWorks initiative because I see the positive effect it is having on our people, our economy and our national positioning as a business-friendly state. To learn more, visit www.alabamaworks.com.

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