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Alabama competing for $13.5 billion in capital investments after ‘Game Plan’ grant program

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Secretary of Commerce Ellen McNair said Monday the state is currently competing for roughly $13.5 billion in capital investment thanks to a new grant program that state lawmakers adopted last year.

The Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy grant program, known as SEEDS, was one of four bills passed last year aimed at increasing state economic incentives and drawing corporate investment to the state, collectively known as the “Game Plan.”

Under the grant program, local municipalities can receive matching grants for the development of industry ready sites.

The first round of SEEDS funding saw Gov. Kay Ivey authorize $30 million in grants in February, which Alabama Commerce Secretary Ellen McNair told Alabama Daily News Monday led to Alabama being considered for billions of dollars in additional capital investments.

“On those new sites (created from SEEDS), we have 14 active projects that involve $13.5 billion and over 5,000 jobs looking at that new product, just from the first allocation; it’s pretty amazing,” McNair told ADN. 

“Now, we’re competing, none of them have announced and none of them have made final decisions, but this has allowed us to compete on 14 projects. Several of them I know for a fact we did not have sites (for before), and because of this program, we now do have sites and are able to compete on these projects.”

McNair’s comments came after a meeting at the State Capitol of the State Industrial Development Authority, the agency responsible for managing the grant program.

During that meeting, McNair noted that the SEEDS program had $40 million in funding from last year, and was allocated an additional $20 million in a supplemental spending package, leaving $30 million in unallocated SEEDS grants.

That meeting also saw SIDA members vote to open applications for the second round of SEEDS grants on July 1, and to close on Sept. 30, an additional month when compared to the initial application window for SEEDS grants, which was open from Oct. 15 through Dec. 15.

On the billions of dollars of potential capital investment in Alabama now on the table, McNair told ADN that the SEEDS program had been a runaway success.

“Those numbers are way beyond anything I ever dreamed, I think everybody is pretty excited about those numbers,” she said.

“These sites just came into being, so it’s exciting to be able to have these products that we’re able to compete on these projects that we may have not been able to compete (before).”

To put the potential $13.5 billion in capital investment in perspective, Alabama saw a total of around $67 billion in new capital investment since 2012, which included close to 170,000 job commitments, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.

While Alabama has seen continued growth of capital investment, posting a record $10.1 billion in capital investment in 2022, McNair said developing additional industry-ready sites through the SEEDS program was crucial to see that growth continue.

“We have kind of been a victim of our own success in that we have had such success in recruiting new industry, the inventory of our sites – in my career – are at an all-time low,” McNair said. 

“So it is really important to have the local economic developers really be looking to develop new product, and this new resources obviously helps that tremendously.”

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