Alabama Power remains among the top utilities in America for recruiting new jobs and industry. That’s according to Site Selection magazine, which has ranked the company in its Top 20 Utilities in Economic Development for 2022.
Last year, Alabama Power’s Economic and Community Development (ECD) team was involved in securing projects by nearly 50 new and expanding companies that added a combined total of approximately 7,400 jobs to Alabama payrolls. Those projects amounted to $6.4 billion in new and expanded capital investment — an increase of more than 150% over 2021.
“We take pride in working closely with our public and private and nonprofit partners, and the business community, to help support Alabama’s economy, drive growth and job creation,” said Leigh Davis, Alabama Power senior vice president of Marketing and Economic Development. “We call it, ‘Powering a Better Alabama.’”
In addition to its recruitment activities, Alabama Power initiated or supported numerous other efforts to keep Alabama growing. The ECD team’s Site Development Program continued to identify new properties, improve existing sites and work with local economic development organizations to develop potential spec buildings. The program was enhanced with assistance from Alabama Power’s Strategic Analytics Team, marrying cutting-edge Geographic Information System (GIS) and drone technology with decades of institutional knowledge to help bring new industrial sites throughout the state to market.
To guide implementation of new approaches to recruitment, Alabama Power commissioned studies of three key target sectors: electric vehicle value chain, life sciences and agri-business. To further assist with lead generation, the company enhanced its digital marketing strategy with a redesign of the Amazing Alabama website, updating and amplifying the services ECD provides to prospective new and expanding businesses.
In the area of innovation and entrepreneurship, the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator welcomed teams from seven states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada and Sweden, as participants in its third cohort. Four teams from that cohort maintained a presence in the Birmingham area.
Established in 2021, the Alabama Mobility and Power (AMP) Center launched during 2022. A partnership of the University of Alabama, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) and Alabama Power, AMP is a research and development hub for creating and sustaining modern mobility and power technologies, developing charging infrastructure and managing power delivery to support large-scale growth in electric vehicles.
In addition, AMP worked with the Alabama Department of Commerce to establish a battery industry strategy team. Through collaboration with UA and other stakeholders, criteria were identified and building specs established for the Smart Communities Innovation Building (SCIB), which will focus on battery research and launch a National Battery Laboratory. The SCIB will provide a working microgrid, solar array and charging infrastructure to support research activities.
Connectivity remains a top priority for Alabama Power and the state as a whole. In 2022, continuing its support of the Alabama Connectivity Plan, Alabama Power completed a 1,259-mile dark fiber lease to the Fiber Utility Network. A first-of-its-kind initiative, the Fiber Utility Network plans to install 2,200 miles of fiber optic cable, reaching 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties and bringing high-speed connectivity to residents and businesses throughout the state.
Meanwhile, Alabama Power continues to connect customers with clean energy options. The company helps customers meet their corporate clean energy goals through a variety of programs.
Alabama Power also maintained its strong support of Alabama’s workforce development strategy. As part of the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama Power helped establish The Alabama Experience (ALEX), a mobile, interactive exhibit that immerses participants in the state’s educational, career and lifestyle opportunities. Special events were hosted for delegates from the 110 participating countries, highlighting opportunities for business expansion in Alabama. In addition, Alabama Power provided grants totaling $24,000 for summer educational camps and nonprofit workforce organizations to bring groups to ALEX.
In collaboration with five Alabama community colleges (three of them historically Black institutions) and the nonprofit Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Alabama Power developed FastTrack HVAC and Lineworker workforce training programs. These programs helped place more than 200 qualified workers in training programs or facilitated employment with more 20 than utilities and utility contractors.
Results from 2022 demonstrate Alabama Power’s ongoing devotion to one of its core missions: supporting and facilitating economic growth. As one of the first utilities in America to establish an economic development department, Alabama Power has supported the growth of Alabama businesses for well over a century, providing the customized insights and guidance that relocating and expanding companies need.
In its efforts to bring new jobs, industries and opportunities to the state, Alabama Power works closely with state and local economic development teams. Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, credits the company for its role in Alabama’s growth and progress over the years, and particularly for another outstanding year in 2022.
“Alabama Power has always been a first-rate ally in the strategic economic development efforts that have forever changed the trajectory of our state’s future,” Canfield said. “It’s played an important role in helping facilitate industrial growth in Alabama over many decades, and today it’s supporting future growth through its contributions to the state’s emerging innovation economy.”