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Industrial board hosts appreciation luncheon

The Demopolis Industrial Development Board hosted its annual industry appreciation luncheon Thursday at Napoleon’s Restaurant.

Those in attendance included State Rep. A.J. McCampbell; David Echols, a senior project manager with the Alabama Development Office; Frank Dobson, the assistant director of the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission; Dr. Ken Tucker of the Marengo County Commission; Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson; Debra M. Fox, the executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority; Angelia Mance, the director of Alabama Southern Community College’s Demopolis campus; Dr. Isaac Espy Jr., the principal of Demopolis High School; and Kelley Smith, president of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jay Shows, the former executive director of the Demopolis IDB, was honored with the Outstanding Service Award by current executive director and luncheon emcee John Laney.

Shows has served on the hospital board, school board and international ministry boards. This year, he was instrumental in bringing CTCO Shipyards of Alabama LLC to Demopolis.

“We had been dealing with someone out in California for several years,” he said. “We kept a relationship going. It looked like we were going to land something with them, but marketing conditions changed dramatically of what he was wanting to do.

“We had a contact with Mr. (Ken) Lackey of CTCO, and it was a good fit for him. It was just something where, in keeping good relationships going, we were able to pair the two up and the facility was an absolute fit for the company that acquired the site, and the company from California sold it for a profit from their standpoint, so they came out — as the cliché goes — a win-win for both parties.

“It’s the type of company that has taken ownership,” he said. “It should be a very stable employer. They are a strong company, and it is an industry that is a good fit for our area.”

The announcement that CTCO would open later this month is good news not only for Demopolis but for the surrounding area as well, Shows said.

“Most of the hires on any jobs — most employers look at about a 30-mile radius,” he said. “It’s not just a home run for Demopolis; it’s a regional effort. Debra Fox and the Marengo County Economic Development Authority take that attitude with us. So, it is a good, good fit for our area, and it will impact three counties.”

The guest speaker of the luncheon was Ron Scott, the executive director for the Economic Development Association of Alabama, an association of more than 500 members. He was an advocate for the American Association of Retired Persons. He was named a certified association executive by the American Society of Association Executives, and has 26 years of experience in non-profit organization management in governmental affairs.

“Economic development and recruitment is the engine that drives the economic success in this state,” Scott said. “From my personal perspective, the state of Alabama, in recent years, has lived in what I could call ‘the golden age of economic development.’

“From 1993 with the announcement of Mercedes selecting Vance, Ala., as its plant for expansion, we’ve seen international company after company — Honda, Hyndai, Toyota, ThyseenKrupp Steel and many others — locate in our state.”

Scott advocated cooperation among separate civic entities.

“We ‘got’ the global game,” he said. “We understood that it was a global economy, and we did this because we were team players. We figured out that if you just stayed in your own little neighborhood and you were just looking out for the common interest or just that individual interest — like your local county or city — that isn’t going to work.

“It’s a team effort. When we win and we land something like the Mercedes project, there’s a ripple effect.”

Laney said the luncheon had a strong turnout, with 52 people in attendance representing about 20 companies.

Laney added that Scott talked about the need to push forward for more training facilities, such as the proposed expansion at Alabama Southern Community College.

“One of the key topics of his speech was the need for an area to provide training for people,” he said. “I think it stressed the importance of why we need the training facility out at Alabama Southern.”