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Economic developers take a tour of central Alabama

In an effort to continue economic growth in Greenville, the Butler County Commission for Economic Development welcomed a crew of economic developers to the city on Thursday.

Sites visited by the developers were the WestPoint Stevens blanket plant and the new spec building at the Butler County Industrial Park.

"The purpose of the visit is to become familiar with the sites and the products that are available in Butler County," said Louis Lockhart, an industrial marketing specialist for the Alabama Electric Cooperative in Montgomery. "We are also here to highlight Central Alabama and find out what electric cooperatives do to increase the quality of life for citizens."

While visiting the new industrial park site, the visitors were able to speak with the current tenants of the building, Butch Thurman of Thurman's Tool and Mold, Inc. and Jerry Gibson, plant manager of Jackson Lumber Sales and Manufacturing.

"One unique aspect of the spec buildings (at the industrial park) is that the building was divided in two with a firewall in between. That allowed two different companies to move into the same building," said Richard McLaney, the executive director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. "Both Butch and Jerry were able to tell (the visitors) a little about their business as well as why they moved to the area."

Hilda Lockhart, a manager at the Alabama Development Export Office, also joined the tour. "It is important for me to see what this area has to offer so that I can help to export these products overseas. The more I know about the community, the more I can help."

Other visitors to the area on Thursday included Joe Berry and John Mosley, project managers for the Alabama Development Office; George Howell and Jennifer Hughes, economic development specialists from the Alabama Department of Revenue; Ken Funderburk, an investment banker and specialist in economic development and infrastructure; David Thomas, an economic development specialist for Norfolk Southern Railroads; Timothy Wong, project manager for the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; John Hansen, executive director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama; and Debbie Marcum and George Alford, representatives of the Alabama Electric Cooperative and Pioneer Electric Cooperative.

Also joining the group were Mayor Dexter McLendon and County Commissioner Jesse McWilliams.

"I thought that it was great that the Mayor and Commissioner McWilliams joined us. The fact that both took time out of their busy schedules shows that both the city and the county are working together to help economic development," said McLaney. "It is very important for us to continuously network with people throughout the state to show what our area has to offer."