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The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2

Appendix A Overview of Mobile's Economy

A.appendix a

According to the 2007 Economic Census, a third of Mobile's economy is tied to manufacturing (based on the value of total sales or shipments), including chemical manufacturing (28% of manufacturing total) and shipbuilding (6%). Manufacturing is also a sector that Mobile has targeted for future growth (see Table 7).

Table 7: Overview of Mobile's Economy

Sector Percentage (of value of total sales or shipments)
Manufacturing33%
Retail trade24%
Wholesale trade18%
Health care & social assistance10%
Professional, scientific, & technical services4%
Administrative & support & waste management & remediation service4%
Accommodation & food services3%
Other services (except public administration)2%
Real estate & rental & leasing1%
Arts, entertainment, & recreation0%
Educational services0%

Source: Derived from 2007 U.S. Economic Census, available at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml

Retail trade is the second-largest sector, comprising almost a quarter of the economy, although this sector is diffused across many different locations, meaning that no single retail facility appears to be a top employer in the area. Of the retail total, 28% is related to motor vehicle sales, 19% to general merchandise stores, 13% to grocery stores, and 10% to gasoline sales.

Wholesale trade is the third most important sector, comprising 18% of the economy. The Census did not provide further detail for this sector, but wholesale trade is likely boosted by Mobile's deepwater port, and perhaps, the large manufacturing sector.

Healthcare and social assistance comprise 10% of Mobile's economy. Mobile is considered an important medical service area, and several large hospitals and healthcare centers are top employers.

The percentages in Table 7 represent the value of sales/shipments rather than total employees; however, the top sectors roughly correspond to the following primary types of employers: manufacturers, employment related to port activities, healthcare, and retail (such as Walmart).

Mobile is aggressively recruiting new businesses and manufacturing facilities, touting itself as a business-friendly community with a low cost of living and convenient access to major transportation routes. A number of facilities have either opened or expanded in Mobile recently, and Mobile hopes to attract additional facilities. Recent activities include:

Major Single Facility Employers

The Mobile Chamber of Commerce provided data on the largest employers and largest manufacturing sites in Mobile. Table 8 shows the 13 single-facility employers with a workforce of over 500 people. This list is based on the most recent employment figures available for each location. The specific employers who meet the 500-person threshold could change from year to year as the regional economic picture changes.

Table 8: Major Single-Facility Employers (500 or more Employees)

Employer Description Employees General Location
University of South Alabama*Education and healthcare5,000Western Mobile County and west of Downtown Mobile
ThyssenKruppSteel manufacturing2,700Hwy 43 Corridor (north of Mobile)
Providence HospitalHealthcare2,150Western Mobile County
ST Aerospace MobileAircraft refurbishing1,300Brookley Industrial Complex
Springhill Medical Center*Private-Healthcare1,200Western Mobile County
RYLA Inc.Call centerUp to 1,200Hwy 43 Corridor (north of Mobile)
Austal USAManufacturing1,040Port Area
Kimberly Clark Corp.Paper products manufacturing700Port Area
Evonik DegussaChemical manufacturing670Theodore Channel (southern Mobile County)
Ciba Corp (part of BASF)Chemical manufacturing525Hwy 43 Corridor (north of Mobile)
Atlantic MarineShip building and repair500+Port Area
C&G BoatworksBoat manufacturing500Port Area
Press RegisterNewspapers500Downtown Mobile

Source: Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. An Economic Overview: Mobile Bay (page 5). Available at: http://www.mobilechamber.com/regionaloverview.pdf

* These employers actually have a few different facilities in Mobile, but have clear primary employment areas.

Important Multi-Facility Areas

The Mobile Chamber of Commerce noted four geographic areas that are particularly important from an employment point of view for major manufacturing and port-related activities. Individual facilities may not employ particularly large numbers of workers, but in aggregate, these areas are major employment centers (see Table 9 and Figure 11).

Table 9: Important Multi-facility Economic Zones

Employer Description Number of Employees
Brookley Industrial ComplexIndustrial3,200-3,700
Port of Mobile areaShipping, build manufacture/repair, and related activitiesUnknown, but over 2,600 at just the largest employers
US Highway 43 CorridorManufacturing, including chemical and steel manufacturing (ThyssenKrupp)Unknown, but over 2,200 at just the largest employers
Theodore Ship Channel AreaManufacturingUnknown, but over 1,400 at just the largest employers

Source: Personal communication with Ginny Russell and Al Ruffin, Mobile Chamber of Commerce

Brookley Industrial Complex - The Brookley Industrial Complex is located by downtown Mobile, next to Mobile Bay. The complex includes 70 to 100 businesses that employ about 3,200 to 3,700 people (estimates vary). When fully developed, the industrial complex could support an additional 4,400 employees.

Port of Mobile Area - The Port of Mobile covers approximately 4,000 acres across several different complexes. The port itself employs about 570 people.[23] The widening of the Panama Canal, which is expected to be completed by 2014, is anticipated to increase traffic at the Container Terminal.

US Highway 43 Corridor - Extending north from Mobile, US 43 runs through Mobile County to Washington County. This corridor includes a number of manufacturing facilities, particularly chemical manufacturers. The new ThyssenKrupp steel manufacturing location (which will perhaps be one of Mobile's largest manufacturing facilities) is located along this corridor. This highway provides good access to the port and rail lines, as well as transport of freight to the north. Major employers include ThyssenKrupp, AL Power Barry Steam Plant, CIBA (BASF), SSAB Alabama, UOP, Olin, Arkema, Masland Carpet, and Dupont.

Theodore Ship Channel/Canal - This area is located in southern Mobile County and is on Mobile Bay. It is home to several manufacturing facilities, including Evonik Degussa (chemicals), Holcim (cement), Mitsubishi Polysilicon, and ExxonMobil.

Figure 11: Medical Facilities / Major Employers

Figure 11 is a map of the study area. This map shows the location of major employers, key economic zones, and medical facilities. The key economic zones are around the Theodore Ship Canal Area, Mobile Downtown, the Port area, and the US Highway 43 corridor in Northern Mobile. Major employers are concentrated in these economic zones. Medical facilities are generally concentrated around Downtown Mobile and the area leading west of downtown.

Other Important Economic Centers

Two other economic centers within Mobile County, Bayou La Batre and Downtown Mobile, were included in this analysis. Bayou La Batre was added as a direct response to input provided by local stakeholders who provided information on the importance of the seafood industry to the Mobile area. Downtown Mobile is an important center for government and commerce.

Bayou La Batre Fishing Industry- - The fishing industry in Bayou La Batre is an important economic driver for southern Mobile County and a cultural icon of the area. Total employment in the town is estimated at approximately 900, which includes fishing and seafood processing and wholesaling interests Bayou La Batre and Bayou Coden. While not a primary employment site, considering larger employers in the county, it remains an important economic driver in its distribution of seafood products to other areas of the US and internationally.

Downtown Mobile - Downtown Mobile has various government offices, businesses and cultural institutions. With about 6,260 employees, the downtown central business district (2007)[24], is the largest area of dense employment in the Mobile area.

Updated: 03/27/2014
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