Southern governors tout auto industry in their states at SAC conference

Canfield named to Hall of Fame as Southern Automotive Conference comes to an end.


Lindsay Chappell of Automotive News, left, hosted a panel that featured, from left, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama. (Photo by Joe De Sciose)

The Southern Automotive Conference wrapped up in Birmingham today with three governors participating on a panel about the auto industry and Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield being inducted into the Southern Automotive Manufacturers Alliance Hall of Fame.

More than 800 people in the auto industry in the South – representing OEMs, suppliers and others – attended the three-day conference that featured exhibitors, speakers, panels and receptions for those working in the auto industry in the region. SAMA covers the automobile industry in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association hosted this year’s conference.

The governors panel featured Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster answering questions from moderator Lindsay Chappell, news editor for Automotive News, who called the panel “unprecedented” for SAC.

The governors, while acknowledging competition to land new and expanded companies, touted the cooperation among the Southern states when it comes to wooing the auto sector.

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“I think there’s enough to go around for everybody,” McMaster said.

In addition, they addressed the shortage of qualified workers in the industry across the country and the rise of electric vehicle technology, among other topics, including making sure the workforce is what companies are looking for when they locate in the region.

“We’re dedicated to growing our workforce and keeping it on the cutting-edge of going forward,” Ivey said.

One of the people doing that in Alabama is Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield, who was inducted into SAMA’s Hall of Fame.

“Greg won this award because of his tremendous support of the Southern automotive industry,” said Ron Davis, president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association. “Greg’s leadership has advanced not only the automotive industry in Alabama, but also that in the entire Southern region and the country. He is regarded as a thought leader in the automotive manufacturing industry, both domestically and internationally.”

Canfield, commerce secretary since 2011, was selected via a unanimous vote of SAMA members.

“I am very honored to be named to the SAMA Hall of Fame because I have seen first-hand the transformative impacts the auto industry has spread throughout the South, both on families and on communities,” Canfield said. “For over two decades, the auto industry has been a main driver of economic growth in Alabama and the region, and it’s important we keep that momentum rolling.”

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