Grayson: Municipalities make opportunities

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New governor Dr. Robert Bentley has made no secret that the focus of his office will be job creation in Alabama.

Last month Bentley charged his department heads to come up with a method that could put Alabamaians back to work, giving them 120 days to report back with their findings.

The fruits of that labor will be a welcome sight but Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said the seeds of success will be planted and nurtured locally.

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“Progress is local,” he said. “We’ll have to take the reigns ourselves.”

Grayson said while the state’s focus on making jobs is admirable it may be misaligned with tried and true methods of putting people to work.

“It’s not the function of the government to manufacture jobs,” he said. “It’s to lay the groundwork for business and industry to create jobs.”

Ideally, Grayson said, the government could create jobs by getting behind and expediting local projects across the state that, in turn, would put Alabamians back to work.

“The Port of Demopolis is a good example,” he said. “That would be a game changer for five to seven counties in this area because of what it would bring and what it would offer. It would bring international exposure to this area.”

Grayson said much of the work in developing the port would take place in the private sector which would relive that burden from the state. However, support of the project from state and federal officials would be crucial to getting development underway.

“That’s the kind of help in job creation we need,” he said. “For someone to look at a project like the Port of Demopolis and say, ‘This could put ‘X’ number of people to work and it would mean ‘Y’ to this region in terms of potential impact. We need to get behind this and get it going.’”

Other state projects that Grayson said needed support included the expansion of broadband service to rural areas and the four-laning of Highway 80 and Highway 43.

“You have to have the physical and technological infrastructure to compete on the International level if you’re really going to get serious about creating business and industry and jobs,” he said.

“We don’t have that yet here.”