From its earliest years, Alabama Power had a program to recruit new industry to Alabama. As early as 1913, the company established a Commercial and New Business Division. In 1920, Tom Martin officially formed a new industries division, the first at an electric-utility company. He began an advertising campaign to tell the rest of the nation what Alabama had to offer. One of the first new industries the company successfully recruited was the Pepperell Manufacturing Company, which built its plant in Opelika. For decades, Alabama Power's industrial recruitment program was the only one in the state.
The availability of affordable, reliable electricity led the federal government to build several military bases and defense industries in Alabama during World War II, bringing growth and jobs to the state.
When the war ended, defense facilities were abandoned, and Alabama Power led the effort to find new occupants. Under Martin's direction, the company funded research to prove that pine trees - a plentiful commodity in Alabama - could be used to produce paper. That research helped bring the Coosa River Newsprint Company to the state in 1947, as well as other pulp and paper manufacturers in the years ahead.
More recently, Alabama Power played an important role in bringing another new industry to Alabama that would transform the state's economy - the automotive industry.
"As sellers of power, it is the purpose of the company to secure users of large units of power," James Mitchell once noted. "And it then becomes the business of the company to develop the community by every possible means. As Alabama grows, so will the company."
Alabama Power continues to play a major role in economic and community development. The company has helped bring hundreds of industrial and commercial customers to the state, which, in turn, has brought thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and an improvement in the overall quality of life.