Aerospace, automotive industries driving healthy business outlook for state

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The message from Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce is that Alabama’s business sector is thriving. According to figures released Tuesday, more than 70 new companies announced facilities in Alabama this past year and more than 300 companies expanded operations. The combined boost to Alabama’s economy, according to their data, was as many as 18,000 new jobs and nearly $3.4 billion in new investment. In 2013, the total was 16,847 jobs and $4.4 billion invested.

“Job creation has been my top priority, and we have worked diligently as a team across Alabama to target well-paying jobs and projects that can make a difference in the lives of our residents and in the communities where they live,” Bentley said in a written statement. “It’s been a successful formula, and we are going to make it even better with new recruiting tools and fresh ideas on improving workforce development.”

The 2014 New & Expanding Industry Report credits the growth to expansion in the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors in Alabama. For example, Science and Engineering Services launched a $70 million expansion of its Huntsville facility last summer and Mercedes-Benz also announced plans to expand its Tuscaloosa operation.

Tuesday’s announcement follows a visit last week by President Barack Obama’s chief official on international trade, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and a discussion on the importance of exports for the state economy.

During his visit, Froman warned that high tariffs in foreign markets for two Alabama’s strongest sectors – automotive and manufacturing industries – could jeopardize growth in the state’s overall economy.

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