“Thank god for Alabama” has been a consistent comment many of us in Florida have made through the years. It seemed in whatever area we were falling short we still had Alabama, Mississippi or Arkansas to make us feel better. But no longer is that the case. While Governor Scott speaks in platitudes about attracting manufacturing jobs, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican has actually worked with the new Republican majority legislature to deliver the goods. After the GOP legislative takeover in 2010 election bloodbath, Alabama Republicans made attracting manufacturing jobs to the state a priority and unlike Florida’s GOP they actually delivered.
Tax incentives can work if they are targeted something Florida Republicans still do not realize. Virginia has For example, attracted five new Fortune 500 companies to the state in the past decade with targeted tax incentives and an aggressive effort of elected officials to target existing company relocations. Florida has attracted none. While having the fourth largest population in the country and total Republican control of state government for 14 years, Florida ranks just 11th in Fortune 500 company headquarters.
Alabama’s courtship of Airbus is instructive. The European aircraft manufacturer sells more commercial airliners than any other company on the planet and Alabama was tireless in pursuing them. Florida on the other hand has drawn blanks in trying to attract manufacturing jobs and despite the nation’s 4th largest population, our state ranks 43rd, yes 43rd in manufacturing jobs. This comes after years and years of tax abatement schemes by the GOP who have held complete control of Florida government since 1998.
It turns out we could learn a great deal from Alabama. Thank goodness for Florida, so many across the nation say these days.