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City placed on list of ‘excellence’

At some point, the accolades bestowed upon the city of Demopolis will sound like old hat. For now, economic developers hope they keep rolling in.

On Thursday, a coalition of 14 state development planners named Demopolis an "Alabama Community of Excellence."

This feather in the cap was bestowed on just eight of a possible 117 communities in Alabama, and Demopolis may rank as the "most excellent" community of all those nominated, according to the chairman of the ACE program.

Here’s how ACE works: Through the collaboration of numerous economic development agencies across the state, a program has been put into place to help Alabama communities become more attractive to prospective industries. The program begins by assessing a community’s needs. The second phase includes beginning a leadership program and setting up a strategic plan to attract more industry. The final stage deals with "comprehensive planning, education enhancements, healthcare, and infrastructure improvements."

Indeed, this city already has an effective Leadership Marengo program, it has a three-year strategic plan being put into place, and all that’s left now is work on the city’s infrastructure.

Though a program is only worth the paper it’s written on, there are numerous benefits to being dubbed a community of excellence. For starters, the Alabama Development Office &045;&045; which escorts prospective industries around the state &045;&045; will have a list of eight communities that new industries can’t avoid.

Mayor Austin Caldwell also said the addition to the resume would benefit Demopolis.

And Leverett added that a financial gain could come from the designation.

Howard, who had nothing but positive remarks for Demopolis, said the program’s intention is to help communities like this one carry out long-needed projects.

While Demopolis is in the pilot year of ACE, Howard said this community has more going for it than most others in the state.

Neal Wade, head of the Alabama Development Office, said Demopolis will benefit greatly from this designation.

Other communities selected in this program include: Brewton, Monroeville, Wetumpka, Valley, Guin, Haleyville and Guntersville.