Sept. 30, 1993, marked a watershed moment in Alabama history. That is the day Mercedes-Benz went against the grain and chose our state to be the home of their first U.S. manufacturing facility. It was a decision that changed the future of our state like no one could have imagined.
Fast forward more than thirty years to January 2024, and Alabama is a top five automotive manufacturing state with five worldclass Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) – Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Mazda. These manufacturers are key drivers of our economy, but who drives their success? The answer is nearly 50,000 hardworking Alabamians in the automotive manufacturing sector.
The men and women who work in Alabama OEM facilities and about 150 supporting supplier employers are highly skilled and highly paid. Helping create these types of opportunities is a major reason I sought public office in the first place. Opportunity is why I focus on education, workforce development and economic development. Every person who wants a good job in Alabama should be given every advantage the state can provide to land that job, turn it into a career and support their family with it.
Let’s take a step back to look at Alabama’s success in automotive manufacturing.
Mercedes-Benz came to Tuscaloosa in the 1990s and brought a host of its suppliers. More followed: Honda began producing vehicles in Lincoln in 2001; Hyundai production in Montgomery began in 2005; Toyota started manufacturing engines in Huntsville in 2003, then in 2018, Toyota announced a joint venture partnership with Mazda to form Mazda Toyota Manufacturing in Limestone County.
Today, all of that investment equates to a 1.3 million annual vehicle production capacity; more than $9 billion in annual exports; production of 15 different cars, SUVs and trucks, including three cutting-edge, all-electric vehicles; and it ranks Alabama the number 3 state for vehicle exports and the number five state for total auto production.
Alabama has become a national leader in automotive manufacturing, and all this was achieved without a unionized workforce. In other words, our success has been home grown – done the Alabama way.
Unfortunately, the Alabama model for economic success is under attack. A national labor union, the United Automotive Workers (UAW), is ramping up efforts to target non-union automakers throughout the United States, including ours here in Alabama. Make no mistake about it: These are out-of-state special interest groups, and their special interests do not include Alabama or the men and women earning a career in Alabama’s automotive industry.
As governor, my special interest is the well-being of our great state and each of the five million Alabamians who live here, who have an opportunity to succeed here and can be proud to raise a family here. I will always stand strong for our hardworking men and women, as well as our world-class employers. When Alabamians are successful, our state is successful.
Alabama has a proud industrial past. Alabama is a leader in innovation and opportunity. It is a state where employers want to do business because they know they can succeed. And Alabama is a state that has proven it can be a worldwide leader in automotive manufacturing.
Alabama embraced a watershed moment in 1993, and we may soon face another watershed decision when the UAW asks nearly 50,000 Alabamians: Do you want continued opportunity and success the Alabama way? Or do want out-of-state special interests telling Alabama how to do business?
For me, the choice is clear. I stand by our proven track record of success. That is why I will always proudly support the great Alabama employers and the best employees in the world. That is why I will continue to make education, workforce development and economic development my top priorities. Alabamians work harder than anyone, we make the best automobiles in the world, and we must not let UAW tell us differently.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey