Huntsville/Madison County is home to a diverse economy with several key industry sectors. The area’s strengths include technology development, integration and value-added manufacturing. Primary industry sectors are: aerospace/defense, information technology, advanced manufacturing and life sciences. Building on this success of these primary industry sectors, there are a number of emerging technology areas: electronic communications, modeling & simulation, geospatial, energy, cyber security, robotics and small satellites.
Aerospace & Defense changed Huntsville/Madison County from an agriculture community to a high-tech metro. Redstone Arsenal (RSA) is a 38,000-acre diversified federal campus with 60+ different agencies employing nearly 36,000 people who manage more than $50 billion in federal budgets. RSA is the center for R&D, testing & engineering, and acquisition for Army aviation and missile defense. Major tenants are the U.S. Army’s Aviation & Missile Command, Space & Missile Defense Command, the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency, NASA, the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School and Terrorist Explosive Devices Analytical Center and the ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research. RSA is headquarters for the four-star Army Materiel Command, the command in charge of all Army procurement and foreign military sales. NASA operates Marshall Space Flight Center, its lead on space propulsion. Marshall designed the rockets that put man on the Moon and is currently designing the propulsion system for NASA’s Space Launch System. Huntsville/Madison County is home to 12 research and industrial parks, including Cummings Research Park (CRP), which is the 2nd largest research park in the U.S. with more than 300 companies employing more than 25,000 people. Nearly every major U.S. aerospace corporation is represented in Cummings Research Park and the community.
More than 300 international and domestic corporations in Huntsville/ Madison County are involved in the design and production of electronics and computer-related technology. IT in Huntsville/Madison County encompasses a wide range of activities including manufacturing of telecommunications hardware, circuit board and communications subcomponent assembly and design, sensors and radars for advanced missile systems and detection, and software engineering. The TechAmerica foundation listed Huntsville/Madison County’s concentration of high-tech workers 2nd in the Nation only to Silicon Valley.
Huntsville’ s Cummings Research Park is the country's second largest research and technology park, containing 285 companies employing 25,000 people involved in technology research and development.
The Huntsville/Madison County manufacturing base is a diverse mix of traditional and technology manufacturers comprising approximately one fifth of the overall local area employment. Area manufacturing employers include engine plants for Toyota and Navistar, suppliers for the automotive and aviation industries, and other diverse fields. The manufacturing sector has over 220 companies with 32,000 workers, with many workers being highly trained and skilled to perform technology-based precision manufacturing. The area's strong interstate, rail and air cargo infrastructure make for an ideal manufacturing location. The Port of Huntsville's Huntsville International Airport is home to Foreign Trade Zone #83 and the International Intermodal Center, as well as U.S. Customs. The majority of local manufacturing operations are located in one of the area's publicly owned industrial parks with sites and infrastructure currently in place for immediate and future growth.
Huntsville is home to a growing cluster of life science research, development and manufacturing companies. The Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology is the anchor of the 150-acre Cummings Research Park Biotech Campus and is a unique public-private partnership that has more than 20 for-profit companies working alongside non-profit researchers. HudsonAlpha uses the Human Genome Project to develop new, targeted, more efficient treatments for diseases such as cancers and Parkinson’s and applications to such fields as molecular diagnosis and renewable energy. One of Huntsville’s largest employers is Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, which is the sixth largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the United States.