The greater Tuscaloosa area's progressive business climate has attracted international attention and investment. With an innovative public-private partnership in place, Tuscaloosa County has emerged as one of Alabama's most dynamic economies. The Tuscaloosa/Birmingham region is among the best places in the nation to start and grow a business, according to numerous economic development and business sources including Forbes and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazines. Tuscaloosa County and its surrounding area offer all of the components necessary for a business to succeed and grow.
With the University of Alabama, Stillman College, the University of West Alabama, Shelton State Community College, Bevill State Community College and strong public and private schools, education is big business throughout west Alabama. Healthcare also plays a significant economic role. DCH Health System has two hospitals, DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center. The Veterans Administration Hospital is a large complex, and Bryce Hospital serves mentally-challenged patients.
Approximately 30 percent of the non-agricultural workforce has jobs in government, healthcare and education. Sixteen percent of the 95,000-plus non-agricultural workforce finds itself in manufacturing. Those manufacturers include Mercedes-Benz, BFGoodrich, Nucor Steel, Johnson Controls, ZF Lemforder, Hunt Refining, Westervelt and many others. Automotive, electronics, plastic injection molding, steel, wood products, food products and chemicals are just some of the areas of manufacturing in the community.
Tuscaloosa is also proud of its homegrown businesses. Large companies like Randall-Reilly, Fitts Industries and Phifer Wire Products were born and raised in Tuscaloosa County and are prospering with nationwide reach today. Our retail trade is growing and is concentrated in the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport mostly, where more than 20 percent of the workforce sells everything from specialty items to clothing to outdoor gear and sport utility vehicles.
Construction, transportation, finance, insurance and real estate also thrive in in west Alabama. Many of these are small businesses, the backbone of the economy and more than 85 percent of the membership in the Chamber of Commerce. Tuscaloosa County has become an outstanding investment opportunity for small business development and new business startups. In fact, the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham corridor consistently ranks in the top 20 markets in the U.S. for entrepreneurial success.
Our strong major banks, credit unions and other financial institutions have combined deposits of several billion dollars and represent an exceptional base for meeting the needs of an expanding economy and growing community. Support for existing business and entrepreneurs comes from a number of sources, including the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, which has professional economic development officials on staff. The Edge - Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and various entities within the University of Alabama provide services to support commercial, retail, entrepreneurial and small businesses throughout the region.
The Chamber can assist with strategic planning, technology development, training, site assistance, marketing and other business-related initiatives. The Chamber also coordinates retail recruitment for the City of Tuscaloosa through a contract for professional services with the Tuscaloosa City Council.