Shelby County is in central Alabama and is consistently one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and in the Southeast. With a great quality of life, educational opportunities and robust economic development, the county continues to attract more business and residents.
From recreation-based tourism to knowledge-based corporations and value-added manufacturing, Shelby County’s economic base is diverse and growing in innovative ways. County economic developers are focused on growing quality jobs along with supporting successful local services and excellent outdoor offerings.
The county has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. It comprises about 27% of the participating workforce in the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan statistical area, and its major employers and local businesses make up at least 20% — and growing — of jobs in the region and about 20% of the total gross domestic product of the Birmingham-Hoover MSA.
Strong economic sectors, including health care, recreation-based tourism, biotech, software, manufacturing and distribution, are continually growing. In 2022, 58 Inc. assisted multiple company expansions retaining more than 55 jobs, creating 320 new jobs and more than $3.75 million capital investment.
Current target sectors are software and IT, professional services, biotech, automotive, advanced manufacturing and logistics/distribution.
Building a strong workforce with all types of opportunities is a priority. There are several programs in conjunction with the county’s school systems and agencies to offer more ways for students to explore careers.
Educators who wish to learn more about career pathways available for students and how to make their subject matter relevant in the classroom can apply for a paid internship made possible by several companies and organizations throughout the county.
The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce recently released its three-year strategic plan, Forward Shelby County, a collaborative effort between the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and 58 Inc. Goals of the plan include retaining and growing existing businesses, leading business-driven workforce development, partnering with 58 Inc. for economic development and driving public policy and advocacy for a stronger business climate.
The largest employers in the county reflect the diversity of the economy, as well as the county’s recruiting goals. They are Regions Bank, Southern Company, EBSCO Industries, Altec, McLeod Software, MacLean Power Systems, Sysco Central Alabama, Vulcan Steel, Avanti Polar Lipids, Mspark, AGC Automotive Americas, Summer Classics and Lhoist North America.
Shelby County has a healthy service and hospitality industry, supporting many travelers through its attractions, natural amenities and outdoor tourism. Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain State Park, recently grew by 1,600 acres thanks to the Alabama Forever Wild Board of Trustees. The park hosts hundreds of events and offers numerous amenities.
The county has opened other new parks, built a new county service building at the busy U.S. 280 corridor near Dunnavant Valley Road, and collaborates with cities and organizations on their needs, roads and projects.
Cities within the county have added amenities and more are on the books, including community amphitheaters, town centers and entertainment/arts districts.
Lori Chandler Pruitt is a Birmingham-based freelance writer for Business Alabama.
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This story appears in the February 2023 issue of Business Alabama.