Sustainable job growth is the result of a vibrant economy with a strong manufacturing base. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey supports the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Accelerate Alabama economic development strategic plan emphasizing the expansion of advanced manufacturing through coordinated aggressive recruitment, retention and renewal efforts at the local and state level.

The key to Alabama’s economic future relies on nearly a dozen business sectors represented by small and large companies, including aerospace and defense, automotive, agribusiness, bioscience, information technology and distribution.

Our most promising opportunity to develop long-term, sustainable economic growth is the continued expansion of our manufacturing base creating quality high-paying jobs. Strong manufacturing investments are an important contributor to Alabama and our Nation’s economy.

Manufacturing is Alabama’s largest employment sector and accounts for one in five jobs in the state.

Twenty years ago, Alabama did not build a single automobile, but as we transitioned from a manufacturing base driven largely by the textile industry in the mid-nineties, the automotive industry began to emerge when Mercedes-Benz opened its first plant in Alabama in 1997. Today we are the fifth largest automotive producing state in the country with Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai, an engine assembly plant for Toyota, and an ever-growing automotive supplier network serving Alabama and neighboring states – Alabama is the Southeastern hub for automotive production. Alabama automakers Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz built over one million automobiles and trucks in 2015, setting a production record for the state. In less than two decades, the automotive industry, with Alabama skilled workers, has forever changed our economy and standing in the global community.

During the next twenty years, the aerospace industry will have the same impact on Alabama’s economy as the automotive industry had in the previous twenty years. Alabama has a long and rich history in the aerospace industry beginning with the Wright Brother’s first flight school in Montgomery to production of new state-of-the-art commercial jetliners in 2016 by Airbus. Alabama’s aerospace industry has been integral to U.S. Space and Defense programs for nearly a Century. Alabama is literally the foundation for America’s current and future space exploration. Alabama-based Blount Construction built Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral where America’s journey into space begin with the launch of the first Apollo missions and continues today to serve as the launch site for key investments into space. Today, Alabama is home to hundreds of aerospace, aviation, and defense-related companies supporting both government and commercial markets and has attracted investment from companies around the globe.

Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had operations in Alabama for more than 50 years and serve as excellent corporate citizens. Today, Alabama is home to Airbus’ first American jetliner production facility. In April 2013 ground was broken to build Airbus’ first U. S. assembly and production plant; thirty-six months later, almost to the day, Airbus delivered its first Alabama-assembled A321 jet to JetBlue with production projected to increase to nearly one new jetliner per week.

I am committed to promoting STEM education, along with alternative education programs such as dual enrollment ND partnerships between education and the business community to help prepare students so they may participate in the 21st Century job market. Our “Made in Alabama” brand and dedicated skilled workforce will keep on Alabama on the forefront – our limits now go beyond the horizon and sky. I am encouraged by our future job opportunities due to our growing manufacturing investments.