QA Kathryn Friday: New Sumter County plant means good things for area

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Q: With the new U.S. Steel plant coming to nearby Sumter county, how will the addition of this industry have an impact on Marengo County?

A:I think it will create jobs almost immediately, because there will be construction jobs available. Then there will be people from Marengo County that will work there. It should have a positive impact on Marengo as well as Sumter County. It should provide a broad spectrum of jobs. You need management and you need people on the line. Certainly those jobs are needed because we&8217;ve seen job cuts in our area in the last year. Hopefully that will make up for some of those.

How will this new plant factor into the idea of a more regional rather than a county economic development approach?

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Economic development needs to be regional because a plant in Sumter County, a new industry there, affects all the counties around it. So we need to concentrate on helping each other attract industry, because all of us are going to benefit, not just one. If you talk to people in economic development, they will tell you regional is the way to go. For example, (Coastal) Gateway (Regional Economic Development Authority) now includes five counties.

Q: In addition to jobs, what other benefits are there to a regional economic development approach?

A: It gives you more people with more contacts working to get those jobs. It gives you more resources to attract jobs than you can have as a single county. If this plant comes in and it&8217;s very successful in recruiting workers and they are really happy here, the best advertisement you have is an already established business or industry. If they&8217;re happy in the Black Belt then they&8217;re going to talk about it and it helps us all.

Q: What do you think of the work of the Black Belt Action Commission in helping to recruit this new industry?

A: I&8217;m pleased with what they&8217;ve done; they have improved things. We all want immediate improvement, that&8217;s human nature. But I think have truly worked hard. I think we have seen positive impact and hopefully we will soon see more.