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The Alabama We Know Making Strides for Business

By Helena Duncan 

In the competitive business landscape where states battle for investment, Alabama has quietly but steadily ascended the ranks, earning recognition for the nation’s most favorable regulatory environment and the sixth-best overall ranking for doing business.

Contrary to cynics like CNBC, which earlier this year labeled Alabama as one of the worst places to live and work, a close examination reveals why so many businesses, industries, and companies choose to make investments and locate here.

Area Development Magazine annually consults with a panel of experts in location selection and economic development, asking them which states excel in these all-important categories.

When the most recent results were released just a few months ago, the Alabama we know ranked in the top ten of nearly every category. 

Alabamians and business owners have long been aware of our state’s distinct advantages — a highly skilled workforce coupled with a business-friendly environment defined by low taxes and minimal regulations. These elements have set us apart from competing states, fostering an atmosphere conducive to growth and prosperity.

Now, the world is beginning to recognize what companies like Airbus, Mazda Toyota, Mercedes, Hyundai, Honda, Boeing, and scores of others discovered about Alabama long ago.

Alabama’s ranking is not an isolated event but rather a reflection of the coordinated efforts of policymakers, businesses, and communities both large and small across the state.

Our success story is supported by long-range strategic planning implemented through the Alabama Legislature, such as the economic incentives package known as “The Game Plan” that was passed in a special session earlier this year.  The Game Plan’s comprehensive incentives allow businesses here to thrive, grow, and expand while also ensuring that the interests of Alabama taxpayers are protected.

Here’s what we know:

Alabama’s status of having the most favorable regulatory environment resulted from our commitment to cutting red tape and reducing state government interference in commerce and business. By eliminating unnecessary regulations, businesses benefit from resulting cost savings associated with streamlined processes, reduced paperwork, and lower compliance expenses.

Beyond regulatory efficiency, Alabama stands out in energy availability and costs (fourth) and Business Incentives Programs (seventh), further stacking the playbook for potential investors.

These mindful policies, combined with competitive tax rates, tailored abatements, and strategic implementation of Opportunity Zones, demonstrate the state’s commitment to efficiency and earned us recognition as the second-best state in the Overall Cost of Doing Business category.

In Alabama, businesses are not required to jump through hoops or wait interminably for permission to begin or expand operations, a fact that won us the second-best ranking for speed of project permitting.

The state’s commitment to being shovel-ready reflects our proactive efforts, ensuring businesses encounter minimal delays in project initiation.

Time and time again, Governor Kay Ivey, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, the Department of Commerce, our state legislators, and countless others have prioritized economic development by dedicating resources to site development, workforce training, incentive programs, and other pro-business efforts. 

As companies flock to the state to reap the benefits of our pro-business environment, we must ensure that sites are available so they can plant firm roots and call Alabama home. Recognizing the impact of its own success, Alabama has invested in site preparation, earning it the eighth-best ranking for site readiness programs and ninth for available real estate.

Even in the face of national labor force challenges, Alabama remains in the top ten for fostering a competitive labor environment. Our skilled and competitive workforce is a key ingredient of Alabama’s success because businesses understand we can provide the trained, talented, dedicated, and dependable employees that their operations need.

Alabama has long been recognized as the home to national champion football programs, but now we are reaping similar appreciation as the national champion in economic development and industrial recruitment. 

The closets and corridors of the Alabama Department of Commerce are bursting with national awards and honors for business development, and the recent rankings by Area Development Magazine indicate that our winning dynasty will continue for many years to come.


Helena Duncan is the President and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama.

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