TO THE EDITOR:
“Gulf ports play growing role in auto trade” (autonews.com, Sept. 3) brought back memories of my efforts, as governor of Alabama, to create a business-oriented board of directors for the Alabama State Docks, one free of politics, and to modernize Alabama’s facilities at the mouth of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Those changes placed Alabama at a new level in automotive exports.
Just last year, $7.9 billion in Alabama-made vehicles were exported to 86 foreign countries, something no one thought possible as we began our journey. Under my watch as governor, deals were made with Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, a division of Fiat, Hyundai and numerous large suppliers. It takes more than economic incentives to draw in foreign manufacturers. The state’s business climate has to be right, and the attitude of the state’s leadership has to be 100 percent in the game. My personal drive and commitment to the companies and their leadership helped convince them to invest in Alabama.
Alabama was competitive in incentives, but it was our unique job-training program that set the state apart. We recruited, screened and trained an excess number of potential employees. Training was on-site, at a building constructed by the state, and the employees-to-be were trained on the exact equipment they would use. Today, automotive jobs in Alabama are only expected to grow.
I want to encourage the Trump administration to put America’s best foot forward with negotiators who have the drive and desire to make America’s manufacturing sector great again.
DON E. SIEGELMAN, Birmingham, Ala. The writer was governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003.