McLaney appointed to State Board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Richard W. McLaney, director of the Butler County Commission of Economic Development has been appointed to the Economic Development Association of Alabama (EDAA) Board of Directors.

At the annual meeting of the EDAA, McLaney was one of four new directors appointed to the board, during the election of the board's officers for the 2001-2002 term.

"I have been an active member of EDAA since 1977," McLaney said. "An emphasis is being placed on South Alabama this year, both through my appointment, and that of Louis Lockhart of the Alabama Electric Cooperative in Montgomery."

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McLaney said that he has been placed on a legislative panel, which makes him a "watchdog" for what the legislature does for economic development.

"Everything in economic development will depend, in large part, on how the state-wide proration of the school system effects us," McLaney said.

Speaking of the "trickle-down" effect, McLaney said that there is a rippling effect.

"Everything in the economy ripples down six or seven fold," he said. "Industry's chief attraction to a state or county is based in a large part by the education system."

With regard to Butler County's development, McLaney is very optimistic.

"The numbers are continuing to improve for Butler County," he said. "Our unemployment rate for February of this year was 8.5 percent-versus 12.8 percent for the same month last year."Our

spec building is sold," McLaney said. "One business has already started laying in a foundation for their half of the building, and another tenant company has committed in a lease for the second half-we are looking at over 100 jobs there."

McLaney said that expansion of the county's industrial park is in the works.

"We are going to build another

spec building, in the same park," he said. "Businesses continue to look at Butler County as a possible location for their industries.

"We have consultants coming in Wednesday, representing a data entry business," McLaney said, "They want to tour Image Entry in Georgiana."

Starting with the Alabama State Department of Industrial Relations in 1977, McLaney has been involved in economic development in Alabama for 24 years, the last four as Director of BCCED.

Citing his acquaintance with many of the contacts in the state regarding industry, McLaney said he has little trouble selling Butler County.

This part of the state basically sells itself to industry," McLaney said. "It is because of the people of Butler County's communities…they do excellent work for their earnings, with a friendly attitude about them…it goes a long way."

McLaney said that he expects more businesses to expand their Butler County operations this year, also.

"CorStone and Liebhardt both plan to expand their operations, and Image Entry is looking into property acquisition so they can expand their parking area, to accommodate more employee parking.

"Sylvest Feed Mills still has their property, and we hope to see them setting up house this summer," he said, "And Liebhardt wants to add another 30,000 square feet to their facilities, with plans to increase their staffing to three shifts, for around-the-clock operation."

McLaney said the future looks bright for Butler County.

"I can see good things continuing to happen for Butler County," McLaney said. "But the one thing that continues to attract industry more than any other in Butler County is its people-they are friendly, cooperative, eager to work-these traits go a long way in attracting business.

"We are hoping to put businesses back in Butler Square; hoping to get a bowling alley and movie theater," he said.

A resident of Sprague, McLaney, at the age of 52 lives with his wife Lorraine, and two of their three daughters.

Our oldest daughter is married, and a senior at AUM; we also have a junior and a fourth-grader at SMCA," McLaney said.

While McLaney says that the Butler County area has the "right stuff", it is clear that he brings with him that same right stuff, too, therefore becoming a compliment to the area.