MONTGOMERY, AL—Alabama economic development leaders have rolled out a plan to keep the state competitive in the global manufacturing revolution.

“The manufacturing world is changing rapidly, and we in Alabama…have to answer the bell,” says Ed Castile, deputy secretary of commerce.

Castile and other state leaders came to the Alabama Robotics Technology Park near Decatur, where employees are trained now to work in modern production systems featuring robots and other advance technologies. They unveiled RTP 2, a new plan to focus future training at the park on automation, robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, data analytics and 3D printing.

The plan includes new equipment for the Robotics Technology Park, including laser welding equipment and automated guided vehicles.

Responding to the challenge starts with making sure graduates of Alabama training programs understand basic manufacturing, the leaders said. New technologies and processes will keep coming, but workers first need a general foundation in how plants operate.

State Sen. Arthur Orr praised the state’s commitment. “Too many times in state government, we start something and then allow it to drift, get stagnant, get stale, become less and less effective and the world around it changes,” he says. “We do not want that to happen here at the Robotics Park.”