Now isn’t time to get frustrated

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2003

In the past five editions of The Demopolis Times, we’ve taken a look at a number of opportunities and challenges facing this community and the surrounding West Alabama area.

We’ve looked at the character of our workforce and questioned the need to improve the moral fortitude of our citizens.

We’ve studied federal funding and asked why that funding has decreased over the past year.

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We’ve touched on transportation and urged state political leaders to make good on an idea that started 40 years ago.

We’ve brushed the topic of education and detailed programs available for those workers who want to be trained.

And finally, we’ve discussed the need to move our region beyond the planning stage and into the implementation stage.

Our report on the economic development of West Alabama and the Black Belt wasn’t the most exhaustive series of stories ever written. We didn’t assign a staff of three reporters to spend six months interviewing every jobless person in our region. And we didn’t flood you with charts and graphs detailing a rise in unemployment rates.

Instead, our series simply touched on the issues most economic developers highlight when discussing the potential for growth in Demopolis and West Alabama. Most of the series focused on the problem areas, citing specific examples of stagnation in this region.

While we believe it is important to discuss those areas &045;&045; for the purpose of one day solving them &045;&045; we also know the importance of optimism and hope, both of which exist in our region.

In today’s edition of The Times, we have reported on a potential industry that has visited Demopolis twice already. Along with that particular industry, there are dozens more that drive down our streets every day.

For the past five decades, the people of West Alabama and the Black Belt have somehow held out hope that things will one day get better. Though our population has dropped, the spirit of promoting progress has not.

The easy way out for every citizen here would be to give up, pack the children, and move to a bustling city in another bustling town. Just as history would prove, we don’t give up easily and that mindset must not change now.

This entire region has as much opportunity as any other in Alabama. We have enormous natural resources. We have clean water and plenty of land. We even have the groundwork for a major roadway that could one day handle heavy loads of traffic.

It may not happen tomorrow or even next year, but the people of Demopolis and West Alabama must hold strong to the optimism that has brought us this far. In doing so, we must all resolve to stake our claim to economic and social prosperity.

Many across this state have grown tired of our plea for help. That can’t stop us now. We have the attention of every state leader, and losing hope in progress would ruin all the work already completed.