Alabama is creating new jobs and earning praise

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 9, 2004

Alabamais experiencing an economic recovery that is creating new jobs throughout the state and reaping praise and awards for the performance of our workers. After three straight years of job losses,Alabama’s economy is on track to record a net gain of jobs in 2004. References to a “jobless recovery,” so widespread earlier this year, have all but disappeared as our economy has created good-paying jobs.

From the beginning of 2003 until today, more than 19,000 new jobs have been created inAlabama. This record is earning the state high honors from publications that are widely read by economic developers and leaders of expanding companies. Southern Business and Development magazine declaresAlabamahas perhaps the best economy of any state in the country this year. For this reason,Alabamawas selected as “State of the Year” for 2004 by the publication, an honor we also earned in 2003 for our expanding automotive industry. Plants, Sites and Parks magazine ranksAlabamaas the third best state in the nation to do business. This is the first year thatAlabamahas ranked in the Top 10 in this annual survey. While much attention is focused on the jobs generated by large companies locating or expanding in our state,Alabamais also among the best places in the country when it comes to small business opportunities, according to the National Policy Research Council. Statistics compiled by this Washington-based organization rankAlabamaas the 12th best among small business-friendly states.

In a break with recent history, the new jobs that are being created do not come from mostly one industry or in a few areas of the state. Instead, we are now seeing new jobs in virtually every sector of our economy and every corner ofAlabama. From telecommunications and aerospace, to plastics and agribusiness,Alabamacompanies are growing and adding workers to their payrolls.

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Every politician in this state would love to be able to take credit for our economy’s performance, but the credit truly belongs toAlabama’s workers. They are the reason we’ve been so successful in bringing new companies and new jobs to the state. Alabamians have a work ethic, a sense of pride and a determination to succeed that cannot be equaled anywhere else. Because of Alabamians’ hard work, companies know that when they move toAlabamaor expand their existing businesses here, they will produce better quality products or offer better services, they will become more efficient and they will become more productive. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask the heads of any of the 516 companies that either located or expanded inAlabamaduring the past 17 months.

While we can be excited by our economy’s recent performance, we must work to make it even better. One way to improve it is to increase the amount of goods and services sold byAlabamacompanies to consumers in other countries. More than 92,000Alabamajobs depend on the exports we sell abroad. And we’ve been fortunate thatAlabamaexports are growing. However,Alabamastill lags behind the national average in how much it exports. Just by reaching the national average, we would have an additional 21,000 new jobs in this state for our fellow Alabamians. Over the next few months, Alabamians will see their state government focused like never before on eliminating this export gap so we can create new jobs through expanded trade.

Alabamahas a vibrant, growing economy and is ready to face the economic challenges that lie ahead. We have business leaders and entrepreneurs who work hard and take risks that create opportunities for others. We have a great workforce that is second to none. With these strengths, there is no limit to how far we can grow.