U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Visits Mobile


If you listened to Jay Williams, administrator of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, following an hour and half with Mobile area stakeholders, you would have heard he was impressed with the regional coalition.


“In the five years I’ve been traveling to dozens and dozens of communities, this is the broadest, most diverse coalition I’ve seen,” he said in both his opening and closing comments. “And, not just in discussion,” he added, “but through actions.”


Williams was in Mobile this morning to meet with the leaders of the public-private partnership Advancing Southwest Alabama to discuss ongoing activities of the local “Manufacturing Community” designation.


He was presented an overview and update on the region’s workforce development efforts, innovation and recent economic development successes from representatives of the University of South Alabama, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, Mobile County Public School System, Mobile Works, Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council, Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance and Innovation PortAL.


When asked about his key take-a-ways from the meeting, Williams focused on:


  • The 33 percent increase in manufacturing growth in the region over the last five years, four times the national average of 8 percent;
  • An 18 percent increase in wages – “No other sector (referring to manufacturing) has the impact in raising wages and creating wealth,” he said;
  • The recruitment of Chinese-based Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group and 300-plus jobs – the first manufacturing facility to locate in Wilcox County in 47 years;
  • Significant graduation rate jump at B.C. Rain High School from 51 percent to 91 percent with the school’s aerospace career academy.
  • The region’s ability to shift the ACT Work Ready Community Certification from a county focus, to be the first in the nation to achieve it on a regional level; and
  • The creation of the Innovation PortAL, an incubator to create an advanced manufacturing ecosystem;


“These are the types of things I want to talk about to policymakers in Washington D.C. This is why these type of investments need to continue,” Williams said.