On Tuesday, voters across the nation will go the polls to choose a new president. In Alabama, voters will also have the opportunity to consider fourteen amendments to the state constitution. Amendment 11 is key to helping Alabama’s cities and counties compete for new industry in the 21st century.
In 2008, Huntsville was one of three finalists for a new Volkswagen manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, the city lost out to Chattanooga for the plant, which now directly employs more than 3,000 people, with another 9,000+ people employed via supplier companies. The competition for new industry is fierce, and while Alabama has attracted many companies to the Yellowhammer state over the past decade, losing the Volkswagen plant stung. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle believes that if Amendment 11 had been in place, north Alabama would have landed the Volkswagen plant in 2008.
Amendment 11 will give cities the right to create “Tax Increment Financing” (TIF) development zones, which must be sites of at least 250 contiguous acres. Cities and counties can then sell the public land on these sites to large manufacturers at a flexible price, if the manufacturers pledge to put at least $100 million worth of investment in the land. Any incentives used to attract the company will be paid back to the city in higher property taxes on the site, since the land will have dramatically increased in value.
The passage of Amendment 11 could help Huntsville, Ft. Payne, and other cities compete for the next Volkswagen. That is why the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama’s board unanimously endorsed its passage. Currently, there are 84 sites across the state that could qualify as TIF zones if Amendment 11 passes.
On Tuesday, I strongly encourage you to vote “yes” on Amendment 11. Alabama’s cities are competing with hundreds of other locations across the Southeast to land the next Volkswagen or Mercedes plant. Let’s make sure we give them every tool they need to be successful.
Senator Steve Livingston represents District 8 in the Alabama State Senate, which is comprised of all or parts of Madison, Jackson, and DeKalb counties.