ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — On Thursday, the Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2023 State of the State Luncheon. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey gave the keynote speech, updating local officials and the business community about what’s going on around the state.
During her address, Governor Ivey covered a lot of ground but focused heavily on the topics of education, economic development and jobs.
When it comes to education, she spoke about funding for the Education Trust Fund, programs to increase literacy and school choice.
“I recently announced my intention to push next year for education savings accounts for Alabama parents to send their children to the school of their choice,” Governor Ivey said.
Governor Ivey also spoke highly of the north Alabama region and the economic development that has happened over the last few years. She commended state and local officials for helping land many large corporations in the region.
“During the time I’ve been in office, Alabama industries have invested $42 billion, with a B, dollars for new and expanded operations that have already netted 78,000 additional jobs,” she said.
“Today, over 2.1 million people are employed here in Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. “That’s the most in state history, y’all!”
The Governor touted the 2.2% unemployment rate for Alabama, but said there is still some work to do when it comes to labor force participation.
“While we are proud of the unemployment rate at 2.2%, on the other end of that spectrum we rank low in the nation on labor force participation,” Ivey told News 19 “So we’ve got to work on getting some 50,000 folks who are not looking for jobs, get them off their fannies and looking for jobs.”
When giving her speech, the Governor said she is “committed to removing barriers that keep people from seeking jobs.”
News 19 asked the Governor if she thought raising the statewide minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would help get more workers in the door.
Governor Ivey responded, “You’ll have to talk to the legislature about that.”
While closing out her speech, the Governor touched on the recent decision to keep Space Command in Colorado, rather than establish a headquarters on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
The Governor said, “We know this final decision was not objective, nor was it in the best interest of our country. It was based on political science, not rocket science.”