Bentley Wants Job Master Plan By Year’s End

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced creation of an alliance of business and education groups that will develop a state economic master plan.

The Alabama Economic Development Alliance created by executive order is to produce a statewide economic development guide by Dec. 31, Bentley’s office said.

“Creating jobs is my No. 1 priority,” Bentley said. “This alliance will work to develop Alabama’s first strategic plan to ensure the people of this state have the jobs they need and deserve.”

Bentley campaigned partly on job creation and retention. He signed the executive order creating the alliance six months into his term after securing memorandums of agreement from the participants.

Members of the alliance are Alabama Development Office Director Greg Canfield, who took office Monday; Bill Taylor, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; Greg Barker of Alabama Marketing Allies; Freida Hill, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, representing work force development; Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama System, representing universities and research organizations; and regional economic developers Mike McCain, Ellen McNair and Dus Rogers.

“This will be a first,” said McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority.

“There has never been such an initiative before.”

McCain, a former assistant director of the Alabama Development Office, said Alabama has had industrial development marketing plans, but not an overall coordinated economic development plan.

Bentley said the alliance will focus on recruiting new business and industry, retaining and expanding existing business and industry and creating jobs through innovation, entrepreneurship, research and development.

The chairman of the alliance until year’s end will be former House Speaker Seth Hammett, who until Friday was Bentley’s ADO director. He was on loan to the administration until Bentley appointed Canfield as his permanent ADO director.

Bentley’s second executive order signed Jan. 18, the day he took office, directed state departments to focus on job creation and to send him a report by May 18 how each department intended to implement his directive.

The executive order was amended on June 10 to extend the deadline to for a report to June 30. That report hasn’t been written, but information is being compiled by Bentley’s office, spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said.

“That report will be released once it is compiled,” said Ardis, Bentley’s press secretary. “While the report did not lead to the development of the Economic Development Alliance, the information contained in the final report can be used by the alliance going forward.”

The memorandums of understanding for the alliance groups and the ADO is on the ADO’s website at Click on Alabama Economic Development Alliance highlighted by the Alabama Great Seal.

By Dana Beyerle
Times Montgomery Bureau