Last year, state economic development leader Greg Canfield made a prediction during the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville and Madison County meeting, speculating that 2014 would be a successful year for the area. Now, Canfield’s prediction seems to have been proven correct: Madison County is currently considered a leading region in Alabama, due to its thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in capital investment. The only question remaining is how area businesses and individuals will continue this progress as these developments take hold.
According to preliminary estimates, Madison County announced nearly 3,500 new jobs and more than $300 million in capital investment in 2014. Prominent employers like Remington Outdoor, Science and Engineering Services, Verizon Wireless, West Corporation and Toyota Alabama were major contributors to this total, creating a combined 3,248 jobs in the last year. Meanwhile, Polaris’ new off-road vehicle plant in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County added another 2,000 to this total.
These positive changes are only expected to improve thanks to a five-bill package currently in process in the state Legislature. All of the bills are designed to help Alabama compete with other state incentive programs. The first of these bills, called the Alabama Jobs Act, has already passed and is expected to take effect in early July; under this program, new and expanding businesses will receive as much as a 3% annual cash rebate for up to 10 years if they generate at least 50 jobs in the state. However, businesses that don’t need a large workforce but offer high-paying wages, such as chemical manufacturing, could be eligible as well. The bill would also offer a credit of up to 1.5% of a company’s qualified investment expenses for 10 years, allowing them to reduce their income tax liability or utility taxes.
The success of this first bill has created a positive environment for the remaining acts still being considered. Take the Alabama Veterans and Targeted Counties Act, or House Bill 57, for example: this bill would piggyback on the Alabama Jobs Act by calling for extra incentives for businesses that move to rural or low-income counties. The program would also add another 0.5% jobs credit on the wages of veterans. HB57 passed in the Legislature on Thursday, April 9.
Meanwhile, the Alabama Reinvestment and Abatements Act, another incentives bill, has been signed by Governor Robert Bentley and will become law June 24. The act allows companies to extend their non-educational tax abatements on property and equipment for 20 years, instead of the previous 10. Businesses will also receive tax exemptions for utility tax increases as incentive to refurbish, renovate or restart their facilities in the state. These projects must cost as least $2 million to be eligible.
Currently, two bills from the package are still being considered by the state Legislature, called the Alabama Innovation Act and Alabama Renewal Acts. The Innovation Act offers a research and development credit of 5% for connected expenses in the state and up to 25% for research conducted with a state university. Likewise, the Renewal Act would provide a 30% credit to an individual or business that invests in a new Alabama company with a high potential to create jobs. The state does not presently have this type of credit, and supporters say it allows investors to recoup a significant portion of their funding over several years, creating a sizable incentive. The remaining bills could pass over the course of the next few weeks.
As a leading area in Alabama, Madison County can likely expect to see a number of benefits from these incentive programs. But while residents can hope to take advantage of increasing job opportunities and thriving local businesses, it isn’t enough to wait for change. If the changes are going to be sustainable, residents need to get involved. Have you considered investing in a local company or business? Are you thinking about starting your own venture? Now might be the time to start. If the corporate world isn’t for you, however, the Madison property investment industry might also be a profitable opportunity as more people are drawn to jobs in the area. What’s more, the Federal Housing Administration loans has reduced its already low down payment amounts, with Southern states like Florida seeing numbers ranging from $417,000 to $285,000. And with the help of property management services, property owners don’t even have to worry about maintaining these properties themselves. As Alabama prepares to begin competing with other state incentive programs, think about how you can help grow your state economy, as well as your own success.