Automobile manufacture, aerospace and defence, life sciences, steel and chemical manufacturing, forestry, food processing, and tyre manufacturing are the leading industries in Alabama. Much of Alabama’s economic progress in the 21st century may be attributed to the expansion of the state’s automobile manufacturing sector. In 2010, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota factories produced more than 700,000 automobiles and light trucks.
Alabama has 280 aerospace and defense-related enterprises, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Teledyne Brown. By 2017, an aircraft assembly plant for the Airbus A320 family is projected to build up to 50 aircraft per year in Mobile. Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal, a U.S. Army installation, is a major employer.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a world leader in medical research and healthcare. In Alabama, steel makers Outokumpu, Nucor, SSAB, ThyssenKrupp, and U.S. Steel employ over 10,000 individuals. As of 2014, the chemical manufacturing business in Alabama is a significant exporter and employer, with over 9,000 residents working for over 200 chemical enterprises. With 850 forestry-related businesses around the state, forestry is a major manufacturing sector that directly employs 70,000 people. The size of Alabama’s forests is equivalent to many New England states combined. In the state’s food processing business, catfish and broiler production are major participants. In 2014, three main tyre manufacturing facilities employed 3,500 Alabama people.