The aircraft maker will want certain things. It wants land at a reasonable (read that, cheap) price. It will want access to transportation — railroad and highways in good repair. It will want a trained or trainable workforce available, along with the institutional support to provide it. And it will want local communities with safe and clean neighborhoods, good schools, health care and entertainment so people recruited for the job will want to settle and stay.
Boeing won’t find a great deal of that in Alabama.
To lure Boeing and other industries, Alabama’s industrial recruiters highlight cities like Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Montgomery and Mobile while ignoring crumbling communities where schools are poor, health care is rudimentary, unemployment is high and crime is on the rise.
We show companies our best and hope they can ignore the rest. When companies relocate, they make the attractive parts of Alabama even more attractive and leave the rest of the state even further behind.
In short, the rich prosper, and everyone else does not.
However, while industrial recruiters and relocating companies can focus on our stronger cities and ignore the rest, our governments — state, federal and local — should not. These communities need and deserve good schools, good hospitals, good roads and safe streets. More than that, if Alabama is to attract more relocating companies, it is to the advantage of the entire state that we should make all of our communities as attractive as the ones that already are.
In that way, Alabama would be providing incentives for companies to relocate here that would be an investment in our future as well as theirs.