• 55°

Visit by state officials Thursday a success

The director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) said it had been "a super morning. Everything has gone very well, and we are all really impressed with what you’re able to do in a short time (to show) an industrial prospect what it would be like to live in Demopolis.

All of us are already picking out our house," Payne said.

She praised the neat and clean appearance of the city.

Gov. Don Siegelman sent top cabinet officials Thursday to Demopolis to discuss economic development and workforce training issues with city officials and business leaders.

The team, calling themselves "Team Alabama" arrived at approximately 10 a.m. at Demopolis Airport, took a bus tour of specific locations in the city, was treated to lunch at the civic center and then departed from the airport shortly after lunch.

Cabinet members visiting Demopolis included Alabama Development Office (ADO) Director Todd Strange, Payne, and the Governor’s Policy Director Nick Sellers.

Nexton Marshall, director of ADO’s Center for Economic Growth, Joe Holley, assistant director of the Alabama Department of Transportation, and Dusty Brown of Alabama Industrial Development Training also were included in the tour.

A last minute addition was Jim Buckalew, the governor’s chief of staff, and he said the governor insisted that he make the trip to Demopolis.

…The only way the state is going to grow is for West Alabama and towns like Demopolis to be able to grow."

Officials of Demopolis city government, the Chamber of Commerce, the Demopolis Industrial Development Board, Demopolis City Schools, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital and local industry were included on the bus tour to give the fact finding team information on all aspects of the city.

The governor’s team had stressed the importance of 10 economic development infrastructure criteria, or "steps to success:" education, roads and bridges, regional airport; industrial parks, workforce capability, childcare and healthcare, technological capability, local support and planning, culture and community relations, and media and public relations.

Local officials addressed each of these points on the Thursday bus trip.

The different team members praised the effort of city officials Thursday.

Holley promised completion of the four-laning of Highway 80 West to Cuba by 2005. After the recent "listening post" visit by Governor Siegleman to Demopolis, Holley and transportation officials had been ordered by the governor to finally complete the four-laning project.

Construction on the bridge over the Tombigbee River will begin in 2003, Holley said. The bypass at Uniontown had been slowed by environmental issues, but he hoped that would be settled soon.

Strange said the four-laning of Highway 80 was promised as part of the incentive package for Hyundai to build an automotive plant in Alabama.