The passage of the Alabama Jobs Enhancement Act (HB317) is critical to our local economic development efforts. Unfortunately in recent days, this legislation has been incorrectly characterized as an attempt to change the ethics law as it relates to economic development. This is simply untrue. The bill does clarify the definition of lobbying for economic developers, chamber of commerce employees, and other professionals that engage in economic development activities. The requirement that economic developers and others engaged in the process register as lobbyists and consequently, disclose the identity of those we are working with, will put us at a severe competitive disadvantage. For various reasons within their respective industries, the vast majority of economic development projects require the utmost confidentiality.
The issue is even more severe when the requirement is extended to site selection consultants who are tasked in finding the best site location for their client company. If HB317 is not passed and these consultants, who are the source for countless economic development projects, are required to register as lobbyists and disclose their client, Alabama communities will be eliminated from consideration before the site selection process even begins. As our past history shows, I am confident in our ability for the North Alabama region to compete for any economic development project, but we must be considered before we can compete.
This bill also modernizes and updates the current incentives so they align with current statutory requirements. It also removes outdated incentives that are no longer offered or have been replaced by newer sustainable incentives.
Finally, this bill has no impact on the current Ethics laws. It is simply an effort to provide clarity regarding an unintended consequence in previous legislation that if not addressed will hinder our efforts to grow this community, create jobs, and improve the economic vitality of the North Alabama region. Support for the Alabama Jobs Enhancement Act (HB317) is critical for our continued success.
North Alabama Industrial Development Association