- Search engine giant Google broke ground Monday on a $600 million data center in Bridgeport, Alabama, its eighth U.S. facility and 14th worldwide, according to the Alabama NewsCenter.
- The Google facility, Alabama's first large-scale data center, will be a hub for the company's Internet traffic. The center will be built with energy efficiency in mind, and the Tennessee Valley Authority is working with Google to supply enough renewable energy to meet 100% of the data center's power needs, a goal that will entail the repurposing of a decommissioned coal-fired plant next to the company's 360-acre site.
- The project, according to WAFF, is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and 100 high-tech jobs once the data center is complete. This is anticipated to be a "game-changing" boon for the area, which relies heavily on a manufacturing economy. Google has already started the area's shift toward high tech with a $100,000 gift to the Jackson County School District, a portion of which will go toward the development of local STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
While high-tech operations like Google's data center could play a big future role in Alabama, manufacturing is still a significant element of the state's economy, and officials are willing to offer impressive incentive packages to companies that can provide good-paying jobs for today's workforce.
Alabama, once rich with textile plants, is now an auto manufacturing powerhouse. The state, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce, manufactured and shipped $7.75 billion of vehicles to 88 countries in 2017, making it the No. 3 U.S. exporter of vehicles behind Michigan and South Carolina.
Toyota and Mazda could soon add to those numbers with a new, joint $1.6 billion auto plant near Huntsville, Alabama. The factory is expected to employ 4,000 workers, but an even bigger economic impact could come from the suppliers and companies in other related businesses that are expected to set up shop nearby. The state reportedly offered an incentive package worth more than $700 million to seal the deal with the two automakers.
The south is an attractive place for manufacturers of all kinds to do business because of relatively low labor and land costs, but investments often rely on what kind of tax breaks or other benefits states like Alabama can offer.
Tennessee also provided an incentive package to Korea-based LG Electronics in exchange for the company agreeing to build a $250 million washing machine factory in Clarksville. As part of the deal, LG, which is already underway with construction, will upgrade infrastructure improvements around the factory site, provide job training and hire veterans.