During the 1970s, RSA provided loans to corporations located in Alabama. RSA bought bonds from Alabama Bancorp, Alabama Gas, Alabama Power, South Central Bell, Ford, GM, JC Penney’s, K-Mart, McDonalds, and Sears. In the 1980s, RSA recruited corporations to expand operations in Alabama and provided needed financing to stimulate economic expansion. RSA invested in Alabama when the return rate was equal to or better than in other areas. RSA worked to increase tax revenue in Alabama to better fund public education, and public services.
Prior to 1994, most of RSA’s Alabama investments were in real estate, finance, forestry products, mining, metals, distribution, tourism, and retail sales. RSA’s early investments in Alabama included PPG Industries (1979) and United Technologies (1983) in Huntsville; Springhill Medical Center in Mobile (1981); US Steel pipe mill in Fairfield (1983), a Walmart distribution center in Cullman (1985), Rohr Goodrich Aerostructures in Foley (1988), Alabama Pine Pulp facility in Monroeville (1989), and Dynamit Nobel in Mobile (1993). Beginning in 1995, RSA increased direct investments in companies in Alabama. These companies were CIEBA-GEIGY (1995), Gulf Coast Exploreum (1997), IPSCO (1998), Kvaerner (1999), International Shipholding (2004), Alabama Cruise Terminal (2003), and Signal International (2009) in Mobile. Companies in Montgomery include Embassy Suites (1995), CNHI (1997), Raycom Media (1998), Bell Microproducts (2001), and the Alabama Internet Exchange (2016). Other companies are GKN Aerospace in Tallassee (2001), Wise Metals (now Constellium Metals) (2006) and National Alabama (railcar) in The Shoals (2007), IDB Southwire Cable Company in Heflin (2008), and SiO2 Medical Products in Opelika (2012).
RSA played a large roll in recruiting Mercedes-Benz to Tuscaloosa (1994), Honda to Lincoln (1999), Navistar to Huntsville (1999), Toyota to Huntsville (2001), Hyundai to Montgomery (2002), and Airbus (2005) and Thyssenkrupp (2007) to Mobile. RSA helped secure the Mercedes-Benz agreement with financing. Once the major automotive plants developed, hundreds of automotive part suppliers opened in Alabama. Getting Boeing and Airbus to produce in Alabama created demand for aerospace supplying companies to open in Alabama.
Employment in Alabama’s automotive industry sector now approaches 40,000, surging from just a few thousand before Mercedes-Benz came to Alabama. Mercedes has 51 suppliers with plants near Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, and Opelika. Honda has over 50 suppliers with plants near
Lincoln, Gadsden, Huntsville, and Opelika. Hyundai has 64 suppliers with plants near Montgomery, Greenville, and Opelika. Toyota has 78 suppliers all over Alabama.
Airbus is producing around 50 aircraft per year which includes the A319, A320, and A321. Airbus began producing four A220 aircraft per month in 2020. Alabama is home to over 300 aerospace, aviation, and defense-related companies. These facilities are clustered around Huntsville, Mobile, Decatur, and Montgomery.
Many metal industry plants are located near Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery, the Shoals, and Dothan. Many chemical companies are located near Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham. Alabama’s distribution industry has grown to accommodate the growth in manufacturing output. Alabama’s IT industry is centered in Auburn-Opelika, Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Alabama has bioscience companies in Birmingham, Mobile, and Opelika.
The industry sectors expanding the most in Alabama since 1973 are the ones receiving the most effort from RSA for recruitment and financing. These industry sectors are real estate, finance, mining, medical, tourism, metals, automotive, aerospace, forestry products, chemical, truck manufacturing, railcar manufacturing, maritime, shipping, biomedical, oil and gas, distribution, retirement, and information technology.
RSA’s investments in corporations in Alabama have provided economic advantages for the state beyond what is calculated as return on investment for RSA. RSA has worked to get equity in their investment agreements with companies which leads to increased returns for RSA.