Updates for State of Alabama Economy
Despite a large budget shortfall and its resulting budget squabbles which very nearly put the state government into shutdown, Alabama has managed to add jobs and out-of-state businesses as its 2016 fiscal year begins. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines will once again anchor in Mobile Bay after a 4-year absence. The ship is called the Carnival Fantasy, it holds 2,056 passengers, and it will offer both 4-and-5 day trips to Mexico. “We are proud that Carnival has decided to bring a cruise ship back to the Port City,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming the thousands of additional visitors beginning in fall of 2016, and the great impact this decision will have on our economy.”
The move comes after Carnival discontinued a 7-year residency in Mobile in 2011. The current agreement is for 13 months, and will run from November 2016 through November 2017. Part of the reason for the company's renewed interest in Mobile comes from an accident in 2013, in which the Carnival Triumph, another ship, experienced engine trouble and wound up stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with no running water or electricity. The city sprang into action, providing various means of logistical support for rescue efforts. “The city rolled out its help for us … even when they didn’t have a ship,” said Carnival executive Terry Thornton. “That didn’t get lost on us. It was important to have partners stand by you.”
Elsewhere in Mobile, its new Airbus aircraft factory, which opened September 14 in a ceremony presided over by Governor Robert Bentley, will prove another wellspring of job creation. “[The plant] will bring a lot of visibility to the entire Airbus Group,” said CEO Fabrice Brégier. “Not just in Alabama, but across the U.S. Today is a moment of pride, not only for my teammates behind me but for all Airbus people, everywhere. Today Airbus is becoming a truly global manufacturer and a truly American manufacturer.” Airbus will provide 4,000 jobs to Mobile, with A321 jet components being assembled into finished aircraft within the company's $600 million investment.
In terms of legislative measures to promote job creation, the Alabama Public Service Commission approved two new programs at its October 6 meeting. “Small Business is a cornerstone to the American dream," said Commissioner Jeremy H. Oden. "One of my top priorities has always been to protect and promote small business and help provide every man or woman with the opportunity to achieve that dream." the Community Redevelopment Incentive (CRI) will offer yearlong energy incentives and free audits meant to improve efficiency, provided that those businesses open up in established buildings that have been unoccupied for more than six months.
The Economic Development Incentive further aids small businesses by offering a discount on base energy rates in tandem with increased yearly megawatt usage. Businesses joining Alabama Power's new Small Business Solutions Program, under which the CRI operates, could also qualify for a one-time refund of the deposits required to establish their public-service business accounts. The commission hopes that all new measures will encourage further investment and Alabama Power subscription.