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The manufacturing scene in Alabama is largely a positive one, and the future holds exciting prospects across the board southern state. In a conversation with Steve Engelhardt of Industry Today, George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, talks about what has been going on in Alabama manufacturing this year, particularly in regards to areas that look to see growth and expansion, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in 2014 and further into the future.

The manufacturing scene in Alabama may fly under the radar to some, but the truth is that the state has quietly been building a very strong presence over the years. “Manufacturing has been steadily increasing over the last couple decades, and it really hasn’t slowed down at all,” says Clark. He says that recently there has been particularly strong growth in the aerospace industry as well, largely due to the decision by Airbus to begin construction on a $600 million manufacturing facility in Mobile earlier this year. Clark says that Airbus’ arrival was huge for Alabama’s manufacturing sector, as the global aircraft manufacturer giant will “bring much more investment and overall business to other companies tied to it as well.”

The manufacturing scene in Alabama may fly under the radar to some, but the truth is that the state has quietly been building a very strong presence over the years. “Manufacturing has been steadily increasing over the last couple decades, and it really hasn’t slowed down at all,” says Clark. He says that recently there has been particularly strong growth in the aerospace industry as well, largely due to the decision by Airbus to begin construction on a $600 million manufacturing facility in Mobile earlier this year. Clark says that Airbus’ arrival was huge for Alabama’s manufacturing sector, as the global aircraft manufacturer giant will “bring much more investment and overall business to other companies tied to it as well.”

But aerospace isn’t the only industry that has been experiencing success in Alabama’s economy. Clark says that the steel and iron industries have been picking up recently, and an increased commitment to exports, specifically that of coal, chemicals, and wood and paper products, have created a manufacturing scene that is well represented across the industrial board. “Our broad base of industries and their general level of success and growth over the years has put our state in a position to weather the storm during economic downturns,” Clark says, adding, “there will be slumps from time to time but overall with the exception of a couple industries, we’ve really been able to push through what happened in 2008 with the recession and continue growth.”

He says he has been working with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other manufacturing leaders across the state to compose a new economic development strategic plan that will foster and promote further growth in the manufacturing sector in future, keying in on specific industries like aerospace to further boost Alabama’s economic prowess.

Clark says that while he is quite optimistic about the future, he admits that the Achilles heel of the future of manufacturing, not just for Alabama but for the rest of the country as well, is ensuring that a skilled workforce is trained and ready to take the place of the Baby Boomers as they begin to retire in larger numbers. Clark says his organization and Governor Bentley have been working to set up programs and initiatives throughout the state to better educate and prepare the younger generations for careers in manufacturing. “Governor Bentley realizes that you can have all the best economic development plans in the world, but without the workforce, those skilled workers that set it all in motion, the business won’t take off.”

It’s a tall order, certainly, but Clark says that he has experienced a wonderful display of teamwork at all levels working to make it happen. “I’ve been in the manufacturing business for quite some time, but I’ve never seen the kind of cooperation that’s been going on between the state and local levels, there’s an understanding that we need to make this workforce happen” he says, adding, “everyone is getting behind the cart, so to speak, and putting their shoulders into it to make it go.”

Manufacture Alabama is one of the organizations providing this push, and they, along with their member companies, look to strengthen their impact in the process even more. Clark concluded the interview, echoing his confidence in his state, “Optimism is high as we head into 2014, and as long as we shore up some skills gap issues here and there, I think people will find this sentiment well-founded.”

About Manufacture Alabama
Manufacture Alabama is the only trade association in the state dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

Based in Montgomery, Manufacture Alabama represents hundreds of companies in a wide range of industries that share common interests and goals and that face common competitive challenges in today’s tough global marketplace. Some of our members are among the nation’s largest, most recognized corporations. Many are mid-sized or small family-owned manufacturers or manufacturing suppliers and vendors. All of them are vital parts of a manufacturing base crucial to Alabama’s economy and job base.

Volume:
12
Issue:
10
Year:
2013













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