Governor Kay Ivey was in Tuscaloosa Thursday to celebrate Alabama's economic recovery and investment in infrastructure at the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama's annual State of the State luncheon.

Ivey kept her comments brief and steered clear of recent hot button topics like the US Supreme Court's potential reversal of Roe v. Wade or her own re-election campaign.

The governor stayed instead in familiar territory, focusing primarily on record-low unemployment, ongoing and planned infrastructure projects and her mission to improve education across the state.

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"Tuscaloosa and West Alabama are growing -- in fact, I say often that it seems like every time I drive into town, something is new and different and things have changed," Ivey said. "Maybe it's a new business popping up, local mom and pop shops thriving, a new apartment complex coming up or a just a crane working here or there, there's no doubt this is a result of your strong local leadership."

Ivey also acknowledged that infrastructure investments at the city, county and state level have sometimes made moving around the Tuscaloosa area a struggle, but said the end result will be some of the best roads and highways in the entire state.

"Alabama's road's and bridges needed some work, and they still do, but we have have made significant progress thanks to Rebuild Alabama, and you all in Tuscaloosa and across West Alabama were strong partners in that effort," Ivey said. "Because of that, you all may have more orange cones than any other part of the state in West Alabama, but you should be proud of that. Investing in infrastructure is investing in our future and the state is proud to partner with Tuscaloosa in those investments."

Ivey said since she became governor, Alabama has spent more than $5 billion to launch more than 1,500 road or bridge projects, including the past, present and future work on Interstate 20/59 and Highways 82 and 69 in Tuscaloosa County.

Ivey also lauded the state's financial recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged economies all around the world.

"We've been hearing for a few months now that the preliminary economic numbers for 2021 were looking good, and today I thought I would share those final numbers with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama first," Ivey said. "I am thrilled to share with you that in 2021 alone, Alabamians saw investments totaling $7.7 billion which generated more than 10,000 new jobs, making 2021 the second-best year in our state's history."

Ivey said the future of the state is bright, but dependent on generations to come. The governor said she is committed to increasing the reading and math scores of students across Alabama, calling improved education the single-most important issue in Alabama and across America.

She also thanked Probate Judge Rob Robertson for his ongoing advocacy for improved mental health resources in the area and statewide, and said his efforts led directly to her announcement last week that the state would fund a $7 million crisis center here in Tuscaloosa County.

"We are making real progress on important issues and we will continue to ask 'What more can we do?'" Ivey concluded. "Folks, if we continue making strategic improvements and investments where they count, I assure you that decades from now, people from all across the country and even around the world will be talking about the Alabama transformation we helped lead. That, my friends, is what is in front of us. There is great possibility here in our state for the future of Alabama. This is our opportunity. Let's not waste a moment."

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