This new book is about the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) which manages pensions for 358,000 public teachers and public employees. It tells how RSA grew assets and helped expand Alabama’s economy through RSA’s investments and industrial recruitment for the state. The Oral History chapter includes statements from President Trump, US Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, former Alabama governors Jim Folsom Jr. and Bob Riley, retired Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Janie Shores and retired Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, US congressmen Glen Browder and Jo Bonner, industrial developers Billy Joe Camp and Elmer Harris (Mercedes-Benz), corporate executives locating facilities (Airbus, IPSCO, Bell Micro) to Alabama, and many others. The remaining chapters provide photos and documentation which validate these statements. It serves as a memoir of Dr. David G. Bronner’s activities at RSA and preserves these memories for Alabama history.

RSA’ funds under management grew from some $600 million in 1973 to $43.8 billion in 2018 while earning $52 billion in investment income and paying $51 billion in benefits. RSA’s most famous investment is The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail with its 26 golf courses and 8 resort hotels. RSA’s other alternative investments were in 65 TV stations, 125 newspapers, and 15 buildings in Alabama and New York City. Details are given on how RSA diversified assets into billions of dollars in office buildings, golf courses, hotels, media companies, housing, and other commercial industries which stimulated Alabama’s economy, created higher paying jobs, and increased tax revenue.

RSA played a role in almost every major industrial development project in Alabama since 1993 and assisted with financing for many of the corporations that developed plants in the state. RSA staff helped recruit corporations such as Mercedes-Benz and Airbus to set the foundation for the automotive and aerospace industries in Alabama. RSA developed a massive railcar assembly plant in Alabama and developed facilities for hosting Alabama’s Internet Exchange. RSA worked to develop Alabama companies in the chemical, wood pulp, steel, metals, maritime, and high-tech industries. Details are given on Alabama’s economic expansion since 1973.

The basic information was compiled from RSA newsletters, RSA reports, and news stories and interviews about RSA’s activities over the last 45 years. It was written for RSA members, RSA Board members, RSA staff members, political and business leaders in Alabama, academic professionals teaching about public pension funds, and historians documenting Alabama history over the last 50 years. It was written for future leaders at RSA and Alabama as well as future members of RSA.

Dr. David G. Bronner, CEO of RSA said “Dr. Fagan has done a marvelous job of chronicling the events at RSA over the last 45 years and the impact of these events on Alabama. He presents me as the focus of these efforts and has included many photos of me as the head of RSA. However, the credit for the progress in Alabama goes to the many RSA Board members, RSA staff members, public teachers, and public employees who contributed time and energy to the state.”

Dr. Mark Fagan is professor emeritus at Jacksonville State University and has been writing about economic impacts, economic history, and economic development for 35 years. He is the author of Attracting Retirees for Economic Development; Retirement Development: A How-To Guidebook; The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact; Coastal Alabama Retirement Guide; and Coastal Alabama Economic History. He has been consulted by, appeared in, and quoted in the following national media for stories on retirees and retirement places: The Golf Channel, CBS News, NBC News, CNN News, ABC News, “Good Morning America,” U.S. News and World Report, Governing, Time, The AARP Bulletin, New Choices for Retirement Living, Where to Retire, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Business Week, Mature Outlook, Golf Digest, Smart Money, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Stars and Stripes, and National Public Radio. He assisted RSA since 1992 with The Trail: negotiations for three sites; projected economic impact studies for five sites and access roads for four sites; booklets on RSA’s two resort communities; 19 articles; 11 professional presentations; 24 new stories; 10 TV programs; and four radio programs.

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