MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The influential Alabama Commerce Council’s new chairman has been in office since taking office last December.
President and CEO Helena Duncan is no stranger to council or business needs in Alabama. Before joining BCA, she had a 35-year career as a banker in the Montgomery area, working with businesses to identify their needs—a skill she says has transferred to her current position.
“I was able to translate it here and take that knowledge and apply it to BCA’s mission,” Duncan said.
Duncan joined BCA in 2020 and was eventually promoted to President. Since taking the helm, Duncan said she has spent time meeting with state leaders to secure funding to incentivize businesses to move to Alabama.
“Alabama is open for business and the companies here are growing because of these incentives and the focus the legislation has on businesses in our state,” Duncan said.
Duncan said workforce development issues are a top priority, but she is optimistic that the tide is turning on that front as the state continues to report low unemployment and job growth. Still, the state still has one of the lowest labor force participation rates in the country.
“But again, every day there are things that are put in place that will help make that happen,” Duncan said. “I feel like the momentum is changing, it’s still a priority for all of us, but I do feel like it’s getting better.”
Working with leaders in Washington is also important, Duncan said. She said Yusen. Former BCA chair Katie Britt came in and was a big shot.
“She’s pro-business,” Duncan said. “She understands this fight better than most and what needs to happen here, so having her speak up for Alabama in any capacity, especially for the business community, means a lot to us. major.”
Duncan said the committee will closely monitor the legislative session and advocate for these economic incentives for businesses. Duncan is also the first black president to lead the BCA. Before her leadership, Robin Stone was an interim director after then-President Katie Britt entered the U.S. Senate race.