Demopolis will host Alliance meeting

Published 10:30 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

The Alabama Economic Development Alliance (Alliance), a group created in July 2011 by executive order of Governor Robert Bentley, will hold a meeting next month in Demopolis.

The Alliance brings various agencies and organizations together that are currently involved in economic development activities in the state.

Demopolis joins Anniston, Birmingham, Mobile, Dothan, Huntsville and Montgomery as host sites for the two hour long meeting sessions.

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“It’s really a grassroots effort assessing where we are as a region and where it is we want to go,” Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson said. “From these meetings, and from the feedback at the meetings, they hope to build a formative plan to start the process of getting us as a state moving in the right direction.”

The Alliance has engaged Boyette Strategic Advisors (BSA), an economic development consulting firm, to develop a Strategic Economic Development Plan for the state of Alabama, known as “Accelerate Alabama”.

This plan will ensure a well-balanced, comprehensive, aggressive and progressive economic development program for the state over the next five years in order to make Alabama the most competitive it can be from an economic development perspective.

The plan will include identification of targeted business sectors, along with strategic recommendations designed to position Alabama for economic development success based on its key assets.

“From our region, I see three major things,” Grayson said of the items he will be prepared to present at the September meeting. “We’ve got to find some way to support health care delivery system, i.e. the hospital. We need to support and strengthen the Medicaid system because we have a lot of those patients here.”

“Second, we’ve got to put some dollars and emphasis on education. We’ve got to get a community college here. We want Shelton State. Why is a political process holding us back from getting on par with the rest of the world?”

“Third is infrastructure. We’re well on our way to completing Highway 80 but we need that (Highway 43) four-lane. Yes, up to Demopolis, but all the way I-59. We need help with economic development, i.e. the intermodal complex.”

Input from a broad cross-section of stakeholders will be a key component of developing the plan. One of the ultimate goals of this effort is to gain a vision for the economic future of Alabama for the next five years.

Each session will be led and facilitated by BSA, with participation from a broad cross-section of stakeholders in each area. During this meeting, BSA will give participants an opportunity to share their thoughts and vision for the future of economic development in Alabama and obtain their perspectives on a variety of issues impacting preparation of the plan.

The Demopolis session will be held Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Demopolis Civic Center.