What Are The Biggest Industries In Alabama?

By Victor Kiprop on January 20 2020 in Economics

Cotton is one of the major crops grown in Alabama.
Cotton is one of the major crops grown in Alabama.

The 14th Business Facility rankings published in 2018 ranked Alabama the state with the best business environment in the country. Alabama seems to have nailed the fundamentals of economic development. In 2021, Mazda and Toyota are set to begin a joint venture manufacturing plant in Huntsville that will create more than 4,000 new jobs. GE Appliances has announced plans to expand its production plant while Amazon is set to open a fulfillment plant in Bessemer. Initially, Alabama was known for the production of steel and coal mining, but the state economy has progressed to create a suitable environment for businesses to thrive. Alabama has proven a favorite destination for entrepreneurs seeking a stable environment to grow their businesses. Thanks to an excellent business climate and skills, there is no single industry in Alabama that can claim the top spot. Some have been in the state for generations, while others are new entrants.

Aviation and Aerospace

Alabama has a lengthy history in the aviation and aerospace industry. Airbus and Boeing both have production facilities in the state. Aerospace creates thousands of jobs and billions in salaries and wages and continues to attract new investments. BlueOrigin and Leonardo are the latest entrants to Alabama's aerospace industry. In addition to clusters in Mobile and Huntsville, aerospace and aviation-related companies are flocking to the state to manufacture components and specialized equipment, thus attracting engineers from across the world. 

Biotechnology

There are about 780 bioscience companies in Alabama. The state has made a mark in international health by hosting some of the largest and most advanced facilities for the treatment and research of AIDS and polio. Cummings Technology and Research Park is the second-largest in the country and has contributed to the success of several Fortune 500 companies. The National Institute of Health provides about $218 million in funding to Alabama for its role in medical research. Southern Research Company, based in Birmingham City, developed cancer treatment drugs, some of which are listed as essential medicines by the World Health Organization. Thousands of medical students and researchers flock to Alabama to seek employment and internship opportunities. 

Agriculture And Forestry

Alabama boasts of about 43,000 farms. About one in every 4.5 jobs in the state is tied to agriculture and food production. The agricultural prowess of Alabama began in the 19th century with a boom in the cotton industry. The sector has since diversified to include peanuts, eggs, catfish, soybeans, poultry, and wheat. The state has the third-highest timber acreage in the country. In total, agriculture contributes about $5.5 billion annually. Urban farming is the new trend in Alabama as some counties grant permits for greenhouse development in urban areas. With all the opportunities and capital, the industry has created avenues for policy analysts, appraisers, marketers and buyers, and farm managers. 

Beverage And Food Production

The non-alcoholic beverage industry employs about 4,900 people and generates more than $408 million in salaries and wages. The sector also supports thousands of grocery stores and restaurants. In late 2018 the industry received a boost with the entry of lemonade and sweet tea manufacturer Southern Visions. Other food processors include Tyson Foods, Southeastern Meats, Zeigler, Coca-Cola, Mayfield Dairy Farms, and Pepsi. Food Production may not be the largest industry in Alabama, but it offers a platform for experts to offer their knowledge as more companies relocate or expand their activities. 

Automotive

Alabama exports about $11 billion worth of motor vehicles annually, making it the state's largest export. Several multinationals have production facilities in the state thanks to the friendly business environment. Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Hyundai have succeeded in doing business in Alabama. In 2018 alone, more than a million light trucks and cars were produced in Alabama, along with 1.5 million engines. Alabama directly ships motor vehicles and related accessories to more than 85 countries. In total, the industry creates about 40,000 jobs. Toyota and Mazda plan to open a new joint facility that will employ a further 4,000. 

Chemical Production

There are about 200 chemical companies in Alabama, of which 25 are spread along the coast. The industry employs more than 10,000 people. Notable companies are 3M Company, Dupont, and Bayer CropScience. Chemical production generates about $2.5 billion. In addition, the domestic market depends on the state for the production of chlorine, oxidants, and light stabilizers. 

Mining

Mining is a historical economic sector of Alabama but still remains significant. There are more than 1,000 mining firms in the state considering its vast deposits of iron ore, limestone, and coal. Alabama became an essential source of steel and iron after the Civil War, and by the early 20th century, it was a cash cow for entrepreneurs and investors. Despite economic challenges and declines, the mining industry continues to thrive in Alabama. US Steel Company recently announced plans to expand its production facility at a cost of over $215 million. 

Tourism

Alabama is not the first-choice tourist destination for many people, but it still attracts more than 20 million visitors annually. In 2017, the governor announced that every part of the state witnessed commendable growth in tourism-related investment. 

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