An Economic Development Luncheon was held at Northeast Alabama Community College Tuesday.
The meeting was a continuation of a coalition of various agencies that are discussing rural industrial growth. The first meeting was on Aug. 19 in Henagar, where Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battles discussed the process of incentivising and having ready land available for industries to move into areas.
This week’s meeting was held at the Tom Bevill Lyceum and encompassed local government leaders, state officials, Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson and DeKalb County Economic Development Authorities. Sen. Steve Livingston (R-District 8) and Sen. Clay Scofield (R-District 9) were among the state-level officials present.
Brian Hilson, of Huntsville, was the guest speaker for the event. Hilson is the Rural Development Strategist with the Economic Development Association of Alabama and has had a helping hand in bringing 100,000 jobs to the state of Alabama.
“Our approach is to help our rural communities be prepared and so through this Rural Development Initiative, we make a decision to not work with one county or community at a time, but instead, to group them into regions, because they are.”
One of the key points of Hilson’s program at NACC was what he called “regional mentality,” which in his terms means to break down county and town political boundaries when it comes to welcoming industries into an area.
Other topics Hilson touched on include:
- where people live relative to where they work.
- record-low workforce saturation.
- “leaking population” and the lack of leadership as younger generation moves out of rural Alabama.
- the importance of rural counties to industries and vice versa.