With the pandemic almost in the rear-view mirror, 2022 was a year of recovery in Alabama business.
And considering the fluctuating stock market, continued workforce problems and other woes, it was, to paraphrase a classic song, a pretty good year.
Yes, Sodexo in Birmingham, Parkdale Mills in Alexander City and others closed up shop, and highly visible Landing laid off a hundred workers, but there was a lot of good on the positive side of the ledger, too.
Here’s a look at some of the major projects, expansions and other business news in Alabama in 2022.
Big New Projects
Novelis, an aluminum producer, in May announced a $2.5 billion recycling and rolling plant in Baldwin County. The project is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
At the end of 2021, the J.M. Smucker Co. announced it’s building a $1.1 billion facility in McCalla, where it plans to make its popular Uncrustables line.
Mercedes-Benz, in March, opened an electric vehicle battery plant in Bibb County, just a few miles away from its Vance auto production facility. The battery plant, logistics centers and upgrades to its production line made for a $1 billion investment. In the fall, Hyundai Mobis announced it too would build a battery plant, a $205 million investment in Montgomery. Anovion is also on the EV battery bandwagon, announcing plans for a $117 million battery materials plant in Colbert County.
Montgomery will be the site of a $600 million beverage park planned by Manna Beverages & Ventures.
Canfor, the Canadian forest product company, announced in August plans for a $210 million mill near Mobile.
Tyson Foods announced in May a new $208 million plant near Hanceville.
California-based Niagara Bottling said in March it would build a production facility in Opelika to the tune of $112 million.
RCP Companies announced plans in September for Huntsville’s Anthem House, a $110 million mixed-use project.
Cerrowire said in May it is investing $100 million in a plant for metal-clad wire production in Hartselle.
Drax Group opened a $100 million pellet plant in Demopolis in April.
Some other new projects that top the $50 million mark: Linde announced an $83 million hydrogen plant in Washington County; UAB broke ground on the $78 million Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences building; Koch Foods began building a $60 million feed mill in Attalla; FedEx Ground announced a $57 million distribution center in Dothan; SmartLam North America announced a $50 million facility in Houston County; and ISA Corp. said it would open a plant in Geneva County to make nitrile and latex gloves.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced in June a major expansion in Huntsville, bringing its total investment there to $1.5 billion.
United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture producing rockets in Decatur, announced a $300 million expansion in August, quickly followed by plans for an expansion at Beyond Gravity, on the ULA campus.
Toyota announced in April that it would invest $222 million to expand its manufacturing facility in Huntsville to create a new production line for four-cylinder engines, including a hybrid electric version.
Westwater Resources broke ground on its $202 million graphite processing plant in Kellyton in May.
Evonik, a European chemical maker, said in February it would invest $176 million to expand its Mobile-area manufacturing facility.
The $120 million AUBix data center opened in Auburn in March.
Austal USA opened its $100 million steel shipbuilding factory in Mobile in April.
Though it didn’t put a number on it, in May, Airbus USA announced an expansion that would double the company’s Mobile footprint and create 1,000 jobs.
Shinwha announced a $78 million expansion in Auburn, and FedEx broke ground on a $52 million expansion in Montgomery.
Samford University received a $100 million gift from Lexmark founder Marvin Mann, the school’s largest gift ever from a single donor.
J. Frank Barefield gave $10 million to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to support the criminal justice and entrepreneurship programs. It’s UAB’s largest gift ever from an alumnus.
Major Defense Contracts
$5.2 billion for Boeing Co. in Huntsville for work related to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System.
$3.3 billion for Northrop Grumman Corp. in Huntsville for work on the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System.
$3.3 billion for Austal USA in Mobile to build steel ships for the U.S. Coast Guard.
$1.4 billion for Northrop Grumman for production of the Integrated Battle Command System for the U.S. Army.
$950 million for Radiance Technologies in Huntsville for software, hardware and tech support for the U.S. Air Force. Five companies shared this contract.
$699 million for BAE Systems in Huntsville for computing services for the U.S. Army.
$596 million for Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville to provide services for Marshall Space Flight Center.
$402 million for Madison’s Griffon Aerospace to manufacture various items for the U.S. Army.
$280 million for Huntsville’s Radiance Technologies for geospatial intelligence research and development for the national Air and Space Intelligence Center.
$266 million for Five Stones Research, which has a presence in Huntsville, to provide weapons systems cybersecurity for the Department of Defense.
$207 million for KBR for work in Huntsville on the Patriot missile program.
$156 million for Austal USA in Mobile to construct two ships for the U.S. Navy plus $128 million to build a dry dock for the U.S. Navy.
A study by the Alabama State Port Authority estimated the economic impact of the Port of Mobile on Alabama at $85 billion in 2021.
Alabama’s tourism industry was expected to bring in a record $24 billion in revenue by the end of 2022.
Boeing Co. in Huntsville was credited with a $2.7 billion annual economic impact on Alabama.
Other Bits of Business
The first Mazda CX-50 rolled off the line in January at the new $2.3 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville.
President Joe Biden visited Lockheed Martin’s facility in Troy in May to thank the team making Javelin missiles being sent to the Ukraine.
The James Webb Space Telescope sent stunning images of outer space back to Earth in July with the help of a number of Alabama entities: Marshall Space Flight Center, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, NeXolve in Huntsville, General Dynamics in Cullman and Southern Research, which was succeeded on the project by Kratos Space & Defense.
Longtime political writer Bessie Ford, who wrote Inside Alabama Politics for PMT Publishing, which also publishes Business Alabama magazine, died in September.
National Security Group, an Elba-based insurance firm and one of Alabama’s few public companies, was acquired by VR Insurance Holdings.
The planned move of U.S. Space Command headquarters to Huntsville jumped a few other major hoops, including OKs from the General Accountability Office and the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General.
Sen. Richard Shelby in March announced that the FBI’s investment in Huntsville has topped $2.48 billion.
Alec Harvey is executive editor of Business Alabama.
This article appears in the December 2022 issue of Business Alabama.